Graduate Course Descriptions | Fall 2021


Creative Writing

ENCW 7310 - MFA Poetry Workshop [Restricted to Instructor Permission]

M 02:00PM-04:30PM
Debra Nystrom

This is the graduate poetry writing workshop for the ten students enrolled in the first two years of the MFA Program in Poetry.  The class will emphasize development of each student’s own work, with the help of peer commentary, and will also explore published texts, focusing on various aspects of poetic craft and creative growth.  Students will regularly turn in poems for workshop and will be ready to engage deeply in discussion of each other’s work, as well as of outside reading.  A final portfolio and participation in one group presentation will be required.  

ENCW 7610 - MFA Fiction Workshop

W 02:00PM-04:30PM
Micheline Marcom

English Literature

ENGL 5100 - Introduction to Old English

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM
Peter Baker

In this course, open to both undergraduates and graduates, you will learn to read the language of Beowulf—that is, the English language as preserved in sources from around 700 to 1100. After a brief introduction to the language (which is alarming at first glance but much easier to learn than any foreign language), readings will include prose excerpts from historical and religious sources and several verse classics, including The Battle of Maldon, The Wanderer, The Dream of the Rood, and The Wife’s Lament. Work for the course includes bi-weekly quizzes, a brief final exam, and a term paper. This course is a prerequisite for Beowulf, offered in the spring term.

ENGL 5559-002 - Reinventing Shakespeare

MW 02:00PM-03:15PM
Clare Kinney

Shakespeare’s works have been regularly appropriated by both literary critics and creative artists to serve very different cultural agendas at various historical moments. In this course we will take a close look at four plays and their afterlife, in each case exploring the resonance of their reshaping and revision in a variety of media (while also paying some attention to the critical reception of the works and to contemporary scholarship on Shakespearian adaptation). Why is Shakespeare such a malleable cultural icon? What do these creative re-productions suggest about the cultural forces underlying the apparently unceasing need to remake and/or “correct” and/or supplement “Shakespeare’s genius”?

Tentative list of plays whose metamorphoses we will explore: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Hamlet; King Lear; The Tempest

Course requirements: lively participation in discussion, an oral presentation, one short research exercise, one long term paper, a portfolio of e-mail responses.

ENGL 5559-003 - Rhetoric and Affect

R 03:30PM-06:00PM
T. Kenny Fountain

What part does language and representation play in our construction and experience of emotion?

This course will engage that question by exploring the intersection of rhetorical studies, literary studies, and affect studies. Specifically, we will examine how emotion, sensation, and affect have been conceptualized, condemned, and celebrated—from Plato to contemporary neuroscience. Rather than answer this animating question once and for all, we will read primary and secondary works across a vast historical period to better understand the often-connected ways thinkers have wrestled with the question and its philosophical and practical implications.

We will begin with ancient Greek and Roman debates about the dangerous power of rhetoric and poetry to stir emotions by engaging one’s imagination and memory. Next, we will turn to a host of medieval and early modern works (from philosophical and literary treatises to ars rhetorica and ars poetriae) that build from this ancient tradition as a means of taking seriously emotion and passion as sources for both art and ethics. Finally, we will end in the 20th and 21st centuries, where scholars of rhetoric, literature, and digital media argue with and against the work of philosophers and scientists—each seeking to explain the role emotion and affect play in the formation of self, the work of politics, and the experience of contemporary life.

Course requirements will include class participation, short reading-based responses, a longer paper, and an op-ed designed for a public audience.

Important Note on the Course: For decades, scholars from within rhetorical studies have critiqued the field for its narrow focus on white, European rhetorical traditions, a focus that frequently excludes or marginalizes the perspectives of non-white, non-male, non-US, and non-western scholars and theorists (Godfried Agyeman Asante, “#RhetoricSoWhite and US Centered,” 2019). This course takes seriously that critique and responds by expanding what we think of as “the” rhetorical tradition and including work on rhetoric, affect, and emotions by scholars from backgrounds and perspectives often overlooked by dominant approaches to rhetoric.

This course fulfills the Theory requirement.

ENGL 5559-004 - Women Poets, Race, Land, and Memory

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM
Alison Booth

This seminar will focus on celebrated female poets Anne Spencer (1882-1975), part of the Harlem Renaissance while living in Lynchburg, Virginia; and E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake (1861-1913), a Canadian international star representing Mohawk heritage. These poets presented their relationships to Nature and place in different ways, and explored poetic voices that responded to British and American poets, including Longfellow and the Brownings. We will also read other female poets of color of the 19th-21st centuries, centered on ideas of race, gender, place, and environment. Our work will include exploring unpublished archives (Special Collections), reading biographies and criticism, getting comfortable with reading and interpreting poetry, writing two essays, brief experimentation with digital tools, a brief take-home exam. The course welcomes all; no previous dissatisfaction with your experiences of poetry, research, or technology should make you hesitate! Note: we have an opportunity to collaborate with a course offered TR 11:30-12:15 in Architecture/Architectural History, and studies of design/landscape related to a UVA Three Cavaliers grant (options for paid internships in 2022).

ENGL 5700 - Contemporary African-American Literature

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM
Lisa Woolfork

ENGL 5810 - Books as Physical Objects

MW 11:00AM-12:15PM BRN 233
David Vander Meulen

We know the past chiefly through artifacts that survive, and books are among the most common of these objects. Besides conveying a text, each book also contains evidence of the circumstances of its manufacture.  In considering what questions to ask of these mute objects, this course might be considered the "archaeology of printing"—that is, the identification, description, and interpretation of printed artifacts surviving from the past five centuries, as well as exploration of the critical theory that lies behind such an approach to texts. With attention to production processes, including the operation of the hand press, it will investigate ways of analyzing elements such as paper, typography, illustrations, binding, and organization of the constituent sections of a book.  The course will explore how a text is inevitably affected by the material conditions of its production and how an understanding of the physical processes by which it was formed can aid historical research in a variety of disciplines, not only those that treat verbal texts but also those that deal with printed music and works of visual art.  The class will draw on the holdings of the University Library's Special Collections Department, as well as on its Hinman Collator (an early version of the one at the CIA).  Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

ENGL 5830 - Intro to WRWL: Prayer and Material Culture Across the Reformation

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM
Elizabeth Fowler

This course meets with ENGL 8110, but students enrolled in it will have slightly different (and slightly fewer) assignments, in line with its role in introducing cross-disciplinary work in religion and literature. The course will focus on devotional practices and their instruments and supports: texts, objects, body techniques. The English Reformation provides a fascinating laboratory in which we can see a rapid transformation of devotional culture and see how it matters whether, for instance, a prayer or a poem concerns an altar or a table. Research and writing about the relation between words and other instruments (beads and badges, books, relics, candles, icons, furniture, architecture, and so forth).  WRWL students: either 5830 or 8110 can count towards your requirement; choose according to your interests.

ENGL 5831 - Proseminar in WRWL

F 02:00PM-03:00PM
Elizabeth Fowler

This one-credit, pass/fail seminar meets most weeks for an hour (probably Fridays at 2) and brings together students from many departments and disciplines who are interested in the intersections between religions and literatures in their work. All are welcome, MAs and PhDs; our syllabus is student-driven and often invites guests from around the university, offers a place to present work (following our rule of fewer than 10 pages of reading a session), and is ongoing from semester to semester, giving a home to scholars who prize comparatism, lack of boundaries, and warm collegiality. Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, French, Spanish, Arabic, English, more--it’s all in our purview.  Meets together with RELG 5821, its Religious Studies counterpart. Write Elizabeth Fowler for more information:

ENGL 5900 - Counterpoint Seminar

M 06:30PM-09:00PM
Hallie Richmond

The “Counterpoint Seminar” is a hands-on, practical seminar designed to help you think like a teacher. In this course we juxtapose two sometimes dissonant fields of study: literary studies and pedagogy. During the semester you will consider how to combine your skills developed in previous literature classes with your emerging knowledge about pedagogy. I recognize that seminar members come to this course with different levels of familiarity with literary theory, culturally responsive pedagogy, and antiracist literature instruction. Our seminar will enable each member to increase fluency with these critical teaching skills. We will read literary texts that are frequently taught in the high school English classroom and practice applying pedagogical strategies that reflect best practices in English education. We will also read selections from pedagogical and theoretical texts to improve your ability to help students of different reading levels access rich, difficult texts and achieve depth and complexity in their textual interpretations. There will be time in this course to deepen your knowledge and reflect on your assumptions about education and yourself as an educator.

ENGL 8110 - The Art of Prayer: Lyric Theory and the Senses

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM
Elizabeth Fowler

An investigation into the relation of lyric texts and material culture. Meets with ENGL 5830, but has somewhat different research and writing projects. The goal is to develop your facility with poems, poetics and lyric theory, with research into your choice among things like books, painting, icons, reliquaries, statues, tombs, furniture, landscape, or architecture, and with thought about language and objects over historical time. The sequence of exercises, pursued independently and collaboratively, is designed to help you draft an essay aimed at publication.

We start with medieval books of hours, psalters, and prayers by the likes of William Herebert, John Lydgate, and the ubiquitous and probably female Anonymous. Then we enter the Reformation with the Book of Common Prayer and prayers by Mary Sidney, Edmund Spenser, John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, and more. Concepts of linguistic temporality, habitus, speech act theory, syncretism, ductus, spatiality, presence, virtuality, and the history of the senses and emotions will be part of our toolbox. No need to know Latin or Middle English beforehand, but I hope you'll be open to acquiring a little.

ENGL 8400 - The Romantic Period

R 2:00PM-4:30PM
Andrew Stauffer

ENGL 8500-001 - Oceanic Connections: Black Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds

T 03:30PM-06:00PM
Debjani Ganguly

The course will explore the emergence of the ‘oceanic’ as a paradigm in global and hemispheric literary studies. The fluidity of the ocean as against terrestrial borders gives new meaning to categories like empire, diaspora, postcolonial, slave, settler and indentured labor.
Through novels, philosophical tracts, and theories of history, we will study the import of the transatlantic slave trade and its traumatic entanglement with global histories of modern maritime colonialism including those of Indian Ocean worlds. Specifically, we will trace connections across the Black Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds through the novels of Barry Unsworth, Fred D’Aguiar and Amitav Ghosh, and the narrative non-fiction of Paul Gilroy. The course will include excerpts from the work of Edouard Glissant, the famous exponent of Caribbean Creolite, from an anthology of black narratives that emerged during the transatlantic slave trade, and from Ian Baucom’s philosophical history of the Zong massacre of 1781.
Primary Texts
Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger
Fred D’Aguiar, Feeding the Ghosts
Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies
Amitav Ghosh, River of Smoke
Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic
Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation
Ian Baucom, Specters of the Atlantic  
Vincent Caretta ed. Unchained Voices 

ENGL 8520-001 - Afterlives of the Epic

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM
Dan Kinney

What becomes of the epic, especially (but not only) in Renaissance England? Where has it been, and where does it still have to go? Why does the most elevated of literary modes in traditional reckonings end up seeming passe or impossible to so many moderns? Works to be read include Homer's epics, The Aeneid, The Inferno, Paradise Lost, Robinson Crusoe, The Dunciad, and The Waste Land. Class requirements: lively participation including brief email responses, two shorter or one more substantial term paper, and a final exam.

ENGL 8560-001 - Multiethnic American Fiction: Toni Morrison & Louise Erdrich

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM
Caroline Rody

In this course we will study two great contemporary writers as novelists as well as thinkers, public intellectuals, shapers of our culture: Toni Morrison (1931 – 2019), author of eleven novels (among other texts) and a Nobel Laureate, and Louise Erdrich (1954 - ) author of eighteen novels (among other texts) and winner of a National Book Award.  Morrison and Erdrich write as daughters to rich legacies of, respectively, African American and Native American storytelling, struggle, and survival; as heirs to European and American literary traditions; as advocates for their peoples; and as contributors to a broadly humane vision of a shared, contemporary life.  In a challenging era, we’ll seek sustenance from their artistic invention, their social critique, and their cultivation of imaginative power and beauty.

We will read three to four novels by each writer, along with lots of background and critical material, including these writers’ essays and interviews. Some of the novels have not yet been selected, but the following are definite choices:  Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Beloved, and Erdrich’s Tracks and The Sentence (forthcoming in early November).  Requirements: Very active reading and participation, joint leading of one class, frequent short essays, and a longer final essay.

ENGL 8596-001 - Form and Theory of Poetry - "Thomas Jefferson for Poets"

W 02:00PM-04:30PM
Kiki Petrosino

The memory of Thomas Jefferson is everywhere in Charlottesville. His house. His words. His image. His University. What does it mean to live and write here, in the “Academical Village” he designed for the sons of wealthy planters? In this seminar, we’ll contemplate Thomas Jefferson as an occasion to study how we, as artists, connect place, space, and imagination. If the creative process, by definition, invites poets to forge new pathways of language, then what happens when we gather in a centuries-old place suffused with the spirit—and contradictions—of one Founding Father? 

Our approach to these questions will be multi-layered. Together we’ll explore contemporary works that contemplate aspects of Jefferson’s legacy, with particular attention to the contributions of women, indigenous peoples, and African Americans. We’ll begin by examining Jefferson’s own writings alongside contemporary historical analyses and commentary. We’ll also read craft texts and theory on documentary poetics, the practice of combining research and poetic composition. Coursework, including two field trips (one self-guided), will give students the opportunity to produce a research-based poetic text engaging themes inspired by the course material. Though this is a readings-based course, students should be prepared and willing to participate in writing exercises, to exchange works-in-progress, and to offer constructive critique. 

ENGL 8598-001 - Form and Theory of Fiction - Bricks and Threads: The Many Forms and Structures of Books

M 02:00-04:30PM (New Cabell Hall 042)
Rabih Alameddine

Many writers build a novel as one would a beautiful house, brick by brick, wall by wall, from the ground up. Or using another metaphor, a writer gathers her yarn, and with good needles and structure, knits a wonderful sweater or scarf. Other writers weave their threads this way and that, above and below, inside outside, and end up with a carpet. Of course, most do both—bricks and threads. In this seminar we will examine how writers like W. G. Sebald, Claudio Magris, Olga Tocarczuk, Marie NDiaye, Han Kang, and Tayeb Salih use form, structure, time, POV to create their work.

ENGL 8800-001 - Intro to Literary Research

F 09:30AM-12:00PM
Andrew Stauffer

ENGL 8800-002 - Intro to Literary Research

W 09:30AM-12:00PM
Andrew Stauffer

ENGL 8820 - Critical Methods - "How Should a Critic Be"

MW 02:00PM-03:15PM
Emily Ogden

How should a critic be? This course approaches the question of critical method in terms of ethos rather than in terms of technique. Our focus in considering the history of critical method from the twentieth century to the present will be on ethos, the characteristic spirit that governs practice and self-understanding for practitioners in a certain period or within a certain school of thought. Following historians of science Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, the course assumes that we can learn a great deal about scholarly practice by looking at the various “regulative ideals” to which critics hold themselves. A focus on ethos directs us toward considering criticism as having intrinsic value for the communities that practice it (rather than instrumental value for “society” or “democracy”). It also can serve as an invitation to us to ask how we want to be, as critics, in the present and future.  

This course surveys critical methods from the twentieth century to the present, with a special though not exclusive focus on practitioners who identify themselves as “critics” and who are trained or work in English departments. It is not a practicum course; that is, you shouldn’t expect to emerge with a set of tips about how to produce critical writing. Instead, we could call it an interested history: we will consider the open question of how we should practice and who, as critics, we might decide we should be, in relation to the way fellow critics have answered these questions. 

We will likely read such critics as: T. S. Eliot, I. A. Richards, William K. Wimsatt, Zora Neale Hurston, Lionel Trilling, Hortense Spillers, D. A. Miller, Fredric Jameson, Stanley Cavell, Robert Reid-Pharr, Saidiya Hartman, Christina Sharpe, Merve Emre, Rachel Buurma, Laura Heffernan, and Toril Moi. Course members should expect a significant reading load and near-weekly short writing assignments.

This course fulfills the Theory requirement.

ENGL 9580 - Race, Space and Culture

T 05:00PM-07:30PM
K. Ian Grandison, Marlon Ross

This course fulfills the Theory requirement.

Graduate Courses