Graduate Course Descriptions | Fall 2022


Creative Writing

ENCW 7310-001 - MFA Poetry Workshop

M 02:00PM-04:30PM (Bryan 233)
Brian Teare
Restricted to Instructor Permission.

ENCW 7610-001 - MFA Fiction Workshop

M 02:00PM-04:30PM (Dawson's Row 105)
Jane Alison
Restricted to Instructor Permission.

English Literature

ENGL 5559-001 - Violence and Possession, Medieval to Renaissance

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM (Bryan 233)
Dan Kinney

In this course we will study the expansionist foundation-projects set out and explored in a range of medieval and Renaissance genres, Beowulf to El Cid on to Henry V and beyond, winding up with the freelance imperialism of Robinson Crusoe and his followers. Other texts to examine  include Machiavelli's The Prince, the anonymous Famous Victories of Henry V, select essays of Bacon, and select books of Paradise Lost. One short, one longer essay, regular class participation, and a final exam.

ENGL 5559-002 - Lyric and Lyric Theory

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM (Brooks 103)
Elizabeth Fowler

So much of the most brilliant poetry in English is brief, intricate, emotional, musical, and written between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries.  We’ll study Middle English to Early Modern verse (amorous, comic, elegiac, devotional, etc.), refining our sense of what language can do in its most intense, witty, ornate, gorgeous, and sweet moments. We’ll consider phenomenological approaches to many brief texts, consider them as part of the built environments of their uses, think of them as scripts for experiences we might define, notice their sensory overload and their epistemological orientation. We’ll test important strands of current lyric theory against this material, wondering whether we can revise or challenge what scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries are saying. You’ll become a skillful “close reader,” get some experience with researching material culture and entangling that in your literary criticism, and work out some tentative theoretical positionings for yourself. We’ll read these texts in their original language(s), but there is no prerequisite. Beginners at the graduate level welcome as well as intrepid and devoted undergraduates ready to roll up their sleeves.

ENGL 5700-001 - Contemporary African-American Literature

TR 08:00AM-09:15AM (Bryan 233)
Lisa Woolfork

This seminar uses the concept of time as a foundation for exploring selected works of contemporary African American Literature. Time is a useful representational concept in so far as it allows for a wide-ranging assessment of literary and cultural tropes. Time is a noun and a verb; it is the basis for history. It can be on our side or we can lack what seems sufficient.  It can heal all wounds or it can be a wound itself. These are the types of questions that will be used as a beginning for larger and evolving conversations about the works listed below. The course is also committed to helping students develop their own research agenda through formation of a culminating seminar paper and cultivate pedagogic techniques using the discussion-leading portion.

ENGL 5810-001 - Books as Physical Objects

MW 11:00AM-12:15PM (Bryan 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 - Introduction to World Religions, World Literatures: Augustine of Hippo

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM (New Cabell 232)
Kevin Hart
Cross-listed with RELC 3790, ENGL 3515.

St. Augustine (354-430) is certainly the most important writer in early Christianity and his influence, both literary and theological, has been varied, intense, and extensive. This African writer composed an immense oeuvre, including personal testimony, philosophical dialogues, scriptural commentary, thought about God, ecclesial controversy, letters, and sermons, while also, for much of his life, being Bishop of the town of Hippo (near modern Annaba, Algeria). His work marks much medieval literature, the theory of signs, our understanding of history, and rhetoric, as well as medieval and modern concepts of human selfhood and the nature of God.

In this seminar we shall read a rich selection of Augustine’s writings, paying special attention to how he interprets Scripture, what he thinks we are doing when reading texts, what he says about prayer and seeing God, about Christian love, and what he thinks about the human relationship with the divine.

ENGL 5831-001 - Proseminar in World Religions, World Literatures

F 02:00PM-02:50PM
Elizabeth Fowler

This one-credit, pass/fail seminar meets online most Fridays at 2 for an hour and brings together students from many departments and disciplines who are interested in the intersections between religion and literature 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 bring in objects of study (following our rule of fewer than 10 pages of reading per 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, Zoroastrianism, French, Spanish, Arabic, English, more--it’s all in our purview.  Meets together with RELG 5821, its Religious Studies counterpart. This is home base for the master’s program in World Religions, World Literatures as well as for other graduate students whose work makes it a touchstone. Write Elizabeth Fowler for more information:

ENGL 5900-001 - Counterpoint Seminar

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM (Cocke 101)
Cristina Griffin

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 8380-001 - 18th-Century Prose Fiction

MW 02:00PM-03:15PM (Bryan 328)
Cynthia Wall

Other than that they are (mostly) long to very long prose fiction narratives, eighteenth-century British novels have little in common, formally speaking. From the dreamlike (or nightmarish) landscape that is Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, through Haywood’s shrewd amatory fiction, Defoe’s circling first-person narratives, the suffocating epistolarity of Richardson (that’s a compliment, btw), the self-reflexive irony of Fielding, the agonies of sensibility (not to mention punctuation) in Sterne, the psychological labyrinths of gothic, and the innovative interiorities of Austen, each new instance defines and patterns itself anew, and none bears much similarity to the nineteenth-century inheritors. We will look at a variety of historical and cultural contexts, such as changes in architecture, typography, and grammar, and the ways they map onto changes in literary perceptions of space, time, motion, things, narrative, typography, and even prepositions. Student presentations will track the theory and criticism of the novel from the eighteenth century to the present.

ENGL 8500-001 - The Anglophone World Novel: Theory and Criticism

T 03:30PM-06:00PM (New Cabell 187)
Debjani Ganguly

The course will explore theories of the anglophone world novel from the 1980s to the present. We will study the changing shape of the novel in the era of globalization, digital transformation, platform publishing, war on terror, ethnic and civil wars, and accelerating environmental crises. We will read novels by Ian McEwan, Don DeLillo, Ruth Ozeki, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Joe Sacco, and Amitav Ghosh among others. The course will engage with theories of the contemporary novel through the scholarly works of Cheah, Ganguly, Jagoda, Nixon, McGurl, and Walkowitz.

Proposed Novels:

Ian McEwan’s Saturday
Don DeLillo’s Falling Man
Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah
Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being
Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide
Joe Sacco, Footnotes in Gaza

Theoretical Readings:

Pheng Cheah’s What is a World? On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature
Debjani Ganguly, This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form
Patrick Jagoda, Network Aesthetics
Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
Mark McGurl, The Novel in the Age of Amazon
Rebecca Walkowitz, Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in the Age of World Literature
New Literary History
 sp issue, “The Global Novel” Vol. 51:2, 2020

ENGL 8540-001 - World Gothic

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM (Bryan 233)
Alison Booth

Do gothic conventions travel? What elements compose "gothic"--a haunted house, an ancestral secret, an apparition, a protagonist captive or pursued, or others? How do history and nation change the meanings of such elements? What are some psychoanalytic approaches to the genre? How is it symptomatic (or not) of colonialism and capitalism? We will read a range of novels and short fiction that suggests both a history and a geography of gothic conventions, within the limits of a semester's syllabus. Probable selections include short or longer works by Walpole, Radcliffe, Coleridge, Austen, Mary Shelley, Irving, Bronte, Poe, Hawthorne, Stoker, James, Rhys, Wharton, and selections of works identified by BIPOC authors or “world literature” rubrics. Film and current media will be included. In addition to powerful impressions of haunting works, students will gain familiarity with theories of narrative form, feminist/ gender and postcolonial criticism, and political histories of genre. A short essay, a presentation, a project (encouraged to use digital tools such as StoryMaps), and long essay. This seminar can be taken as an elective, Option B, for the DH Certificate.  A more extensive project can be proposed, and the final essay can be short accordingly.

ENGL 8559-001 - Teaching Community, Teaching Collective Actions

Stephen Parks
This one-graduate seminar will focus on models of community-based pedagogies, with a focus on pedagogies designed to enable university students to engage in projects focused on systemic cultural and political change. As part of this class, global human rights and democratic advocates will join in our discussions to speak about the work of developing a public pedagogy within their movements as well as how such models might inform university classrooms. As this is only a one-credit class, there is no final seminar paper required. Instead, the final assignment will be to integrate the pedagogies discussed in class into your Spring 2023 course (if you are teaching). 

ENGL 8596-001 - The Contemporary American Lyric Sequence

W 02:00PM-04:30PM (Pavillion 8 108)
Lisa Spaar
Restricted to Instructor Permission.

This seminar for practicing writers will focus on the lyric sequence in American poetry written since 1980.  We will begin by exploring pointed gatherings of poems by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Jean Toomer, but the focus of the course will be on contemporary poets working in series, both within and across embodiment as a book, including series and sequences by Anne Carson, Lucille Clifton, Shane McCrae, Kevin Young, Lucie Brock-Broido, Maggie Nelson, Claudia Emerson, Jess Rizkallah, Harryette Mullen, Sherwin Bitsui, D. A. Powell, Tom Andrews, Aditi Machado, Arthur Sze, and others.  As we read, we will examine ways in which these contemporary sequences are in conversation with poets working in other cultures, traditions, and lyric modes, both mainstream and experimental.  What poems had to have been written in order for these late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century lyric sequences to exist?  How has the gestalt of the fragment in modernism and post-modernism evolved in recent work?  Or devolved?  What attracts poets to serial thinking?  Is there a poetics of the lyrical sequence?  What various formal ruses do poets working in series and sequences deploy and what might writers learn from them?   We may have the pleasure of hearing from visitors, perhaps watch a couple of films, and make forays into the Fralin Museum of Art and Special collections from time to time, as well.  Course work will involve a seminar paper or a creative project: the writing of a poetic sequence with accompanying poetics statement.   

ENGL 8598-001 - Kafka and His Precursors

W 06:30PM-09:00PM (Dawson's Row 105)
Micheline Marcom
Restricted to Instructor Permission.
In 1951 Borges published a short essay entitled “Kafka and His Precursors” where he writes: “The word ‘precursor’ is indispensable to the vocabulary of criticism, but one must try to purify it from any connotation of polemic or rivalry. That fact is that each writer creates his precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.” In this studio-seminar we will read many of Kafka’s works as well as several of his ‘precursors’ including parts of The Kabbalah, Marcus’ Aurelius, Thomas Mann, Bruno Schulz, Clarice Lispector, Borges, Roberto Calasso and others. Students will work towards a final project in which they will be asked to consider their own constellation of precursors.  

ENGL 8800-001 - Intro to Literary Research

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

Introduces UVa's research resources and the needs and opportunities for their use. The library and its holdings are explored through a series of practical problems drawn from a wide range of literary subjects and periods. Required of all degree candidates in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs.

ENGL 8800-002 - Intro to Literary Research

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

Introduces UVa's research resources and the needs and opportunities for their use. The library and its holdings are explored through a series of practical problems drawn from a wide range of literary subjects and periods. Required of all degree candidates in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs.

ENGL 8820 - Critical Methods: How Should a Critic Be?

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM (Warner 110)
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.

ENGL 8830-001 - Feminist Theory

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM (Bryan 233)
Susan Fraiman

An introduction to US feminist theory and criticism, considered in relation to literary/cultural texts from nineteenth-century narratives to contemporary fiction and film. The syllabus is also in dialogue with queer theory, critical race theory, media studies, postcolonial studies, and disability studies. Most units juxtapose older, foundational texts with more recent scholarship building on and revising these; others assemble pieces suggesting divergent feminist methodologies or positions. The idea is to trace the development of thinking about gender, sexuality, race, and culture over the last four decades, identifying major concerns and delving into key debates. Primary texts will be considered in their own right but will largely serve to launch our exploration of such theoretical topics as canon formation and questions of literary value, feminist vs. queer vs. trans perspectives, the cinematic gaze, epistemologies of the closet, intersectional notions of identity, and the relevance of feminist scholarship to oppositional politics and everyday life. Figures likely to appear on our syllabus include Audre Lorde, Eve Sedgwick, Susan Gubar, Jack Halberstam, Chandra Mohanty, Janice Radway, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Laura Mulvey, Donna Haraway, and Sara Ahmed.  Requirements: two papers and a final exam.

ENGL 9542-001 - Nineteenth-Century Epic: The Mastodon in the Room

TR 03:30PM-04:45PM (New Cabell 066)
Herbert Tucker

With the Romantic-era rise of the bourgeois novel into the Victorian noon of its heyday, the epic poem became the nineteenth century’s best kept secret. Even as everybody kept supposing the genre dead – a half-regretted casualty of enlightened industrial modernity – poets kept writing epic poems anyhow, by reforging the generic rules. In this course we’ll read a generous sampling of these modern survivals by the likes of Blake, Southey, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, Tennyson, both Brownings, Morris, Swinburne, Blind, Hardy; with holiday trips into prose narratives by Scott, Carlyle, Eliot. Lots and lots of reading, therefore; but there’s no other way to take the measure of a genre for which the panoramic and the encyclopedic were defining criteria. Students will write one short and one long essay, and will take turns making in-person presentations that introduce the class to a generically salient feature of our epic for the week.

ENGL 9580-001 - Aesthetics and Politics

M 06:30PM-09:00PM (Bryan 312)
Rita Felski

This course considers the relationship between aesthetics and politics via a survey of key terms in literature and the visual arts, including realism, modernism, the avant-garde, kitsch, camp, postmodernism, and the sublime. Other topics to be discussed include the museum, the role of race and gender in aesthetics, old and new directions in the sociology of literature and art, and the recent “return to beauty.” 

ENGL 9580-002 - American Material Culture: Theories and Methods

T 03:30PM-06:00PM (New Cabell 111)
Lisa Goff

“Material culture” is the stuff of everyday life: landscapes and street corners, skyscrapers and log cabins, umbrellas and dining room tables and Picassos and Fitbits. Every thing in our lives, those we choose and those that are thrust upon us, conveys meaning—many meanings, in fact, from the intentions of the creator to the reception (and sometimes the subversion) of the consumer. Interpreting objects, buildings, and places provides insight into the values and beliefs of societies and cultures past and present. In this course we will study theories of material culture, many of which now intersect with literary criticism, from a variety of scholarly disciplines including anthropology, historical archaeology, art history, geography, environmental humanities, American Studies, and literary studies. And we will apply those theories to texts and artifacts of all kinds, from novels and short stories to movies, photographs, historic sites, visual art and culture, fashion and clothing, landscapes, parks and monuments, and more. We will read theorists familiar to students of literature, such as thing theorist Bill Brown, cultural theorist Walter Benjamin, and philosopher Bruno Latour, but also folklorist Henry Glassie; archaeologist James Deetz; anthropologists such as Elizabeth Chin and Daniel Miller; and political theorist Jane Bennet. The class will prepare you to interpret things in ways that illuminate texts, and to read texts in ways that reveal and cultivate the meanings of things. 

Graduate Courses