Graduate Course Descriptions | Spring 2021


Creative Writing

ENCW 5310-001 - Advanced Poetry Writing II

T 200-430 (Online Synchronous)
Rita Dove

This workshop is for both graduate students (including MFA fiction students) and advanced undergraduate students with prior experience in writing and revising poetry. The class will involve discussion of student poems and of assigned reading, with particular attention to issues of craft.  Students will be expected to write and revise six to eight poems, to participate in class discussion and offer detailed notes in response to other students’ work, to complete two assignments generated by writing prompts, to attend two virtual poetry readings and provide written responses, to turn in close-reading reviews of two assigned poetry books, and to complete one “wild card” assignment.

Instructor permission is required for registration. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: Sample of student work (4-5 poems) to be submitted IN A SINGLE DOCUMENT electronically in Word to Professor Dove’s email address at by Dec 1; submissions should include a cover sheet with name, year, email address, telephone number, major, prior workshop experience, and other workshops to which you are submitting. Every effort will be made to notify students of acceptance during the week prior to the beginning of classes or before, so that students may finalize their schedules in SIS.

ENCW 7310-001 - MFA Poetry Workshop

M 200-430 (Online Synchronous)
Rita Dove

In this graduate-level workshop, designed for MFA poets in the first two years of the program, students will continue developing their own writing practices while exploring other compositional and critical techniques. We’ll devote most class sessions to reviewing peer-generated poetry, but we’ll also discuss published works and other aspects of the creative process. We will also examine what it means to “manage” a writer’s life, with particular emphasis on writing routines as well as exploring ways to probe, massage and coax poems into revealing their secrets. Students should be prepared to participate energetically in group critique sessions in addition to polishing their own writing. All students will be required to complete one “wild card” assignment; first year MFA students will also assemble a portfolio of poetry at semester’s end. Instructor permission required.

ENCW 7610-001 - MFA Fiction Workshop

M 200-430 (Online Synchronous)
Christopher Tilghman

English Literature

ENGL 5559-001 - Contemporary Jewish Fiction: History, Memory, Rewriting the Past

TR 330-445 (Online Synchronous)
Caroline Rody

This course, designed for both graduate students and upper level undergraduates, will consider creative returns to the past in post-World War II Jewish American literature, a young literature with roots in formidable textual, cultural, and religious traditions. In the texts of this course we will observe an evolving relationship to memory and inheritance as burdens or as creative touchstones in secular, modern cultural forms; to traditional Jewish texts and religious practice; to Yiddish and the culture of Yiddishkeit; and to forms of Jewish humor, spirituality, and political engagement. At the same time, our syllabus will unfold a drama of Americanization, including changing notions about personal, linguistic, and national identity; about gender roles; and about communal and aesthetic affiliation in a multiethnic society. Several authors take up the difficult project of re-encountering and reframing the Holocaust, in startlingly anti-realist, darkly comic literary visions. And some practice writing as rewriting, inscribing themselves in a literary web by reanimating key Jewish texts and writers of the past. A key figure at the course’s opening is the great Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer. Others likely included are Grace Paley, Alfred Kazin, Elie Wiesel, Lore Segal, Art Spiegelman, Philip Roth, Nathan Englander, Allegra Goodman, and David Bezmozgis. A final unit will focus on the remarkable collective reimagination of the work and life of Polish-Jewish surrealist writer (and Holocaust victim) Bruno Schulz, reconjured into contemporary fiction by writers we will read including Cynthia Ozick, David Grossman, Nicole Krauss, and Jonathan Safran Foer. Texts include short stories, novels, and critical essays. Requirements: all reading, active class participation, co-leading of a class discussion, several short reading responses, a short and a long paper, the latter with creative options.

ENGL 5559-002 - Milton and Whitman

TR 1100-1215 (Hybrid) Shannon 107
Mark Edmundson

This course is restricted to 3rd & 4th year undergraduates, and English MAs.

We’ll read with care and imagination what are perhaps the two greatest long poems in the English language, John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. Both are works of palpable genius, but of very different kinds. Milton’s poem is committed to hierarchy, order and degree. In his cosmos, justified subordination and command are the highest ideals. His world at its best is firmly and yet in its way flexibly ordered. He is a brilliant exemplar of true conservatism. Whitman is rather different. “Unscrew the locks from the doors / Unscrew the doors themselves from their jams,” Walt chants. Whitman wants to dissolve all needless boundaries in the interest of perfect democratic equality. He wants to undo the barriers between old and young, Black and White, rich and poor, women and men. And he does so, at least imaginatively, in Song. We’ll read the poems for what they are in and of themselves. But we’ll also consider them as brilliant exemplars of the progressive mind and its conservative counterpart. Students may be surprised as to where they fall in this mapping. With any luck, we’ll find ourselves, in the words of the Whitmanian, Wallace Stevens, “more truly and more strange.”

ENGL 5559-003 - Narratives of Teaching

M 630-900 (Hybrid) Wilson 214
Jim Seitz

This course will examine a variety of ways in which teaching has been represented through narrative—sometimes by teachers and sometimes by students—in memoir, fiction, scholarship, and film. We’ll work on sharpening both our critical resistance to the shortcomings of these narratives and our critical appreciation of their accomplishments. All narratives of teaching are inevitably partial: nobody can say it all, even when representing a single class, much less what they managed to teach or learn during the course of a month or a year or the duration of their time at a particular school. Yet writers do try to portray a teacher’s work over long as well as brief periods of time, and we can learn from their struggle to do so convincingly.

ENGL 5830-001 - World Religions & Literatures: The Bible

F 1000-1230 (In Person with Remote Option) New Cabell 332
Stephen Cushman

The stories, rhythms, and rhetoric of the Bible have been imprinting readers and writers of English since the seventh century.  Moving through selections from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation, this course focuses on deepening biblical literacy and sharpening awareness of biblical connections to whatever members of the class are reading in other contexts.  Along the way we will discuss English translations of the Bible; the process of canonization; textual history; and the long trail of interpretive approaches, ancient to contemporary.  Our text will be the New Oxford Annotated Bible, 5th ed.  All are welcome.  No previous knowledge of the Bible needed or assumed.

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

(Online Synchronous)
Elizabeth Fowler

ENGL 5831 (cross-listed as RELG 5821), the Proseminar in World Religions, World Literatures is a 1-credit, pass/fail workshop open to graduate students in any department whose work brings religion and literature together.  Past and continuing members have been specialists in French, English, Spanish, Arabic, and other literatures and art, as well as scholars of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and more—it’s a chance to think comparatively in good company.  Facilitated by Peter Ochs (Religious Studies), Elizabeth Fowler (English), and frequent invited guests.

ENGL 8380-001 - Women and the Rise of the Novel

MW 330-445 (Online Synchronous)
Brad Pasanek

This is a class about women’s writing in the eighteenth century that puts emphasis on gender and genre. We’ll focus on the fictions of Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Scott, Frances Burney, Elizabeth Inchbald, and Jane Austen. In the main our readings follow and complicate Ian Watt’s foundational The Rise of the Novel (1957); secondary assignments will look to the ways in which his historical claims have been revised in the work of Jane Spencer, Janet Todd, Terry Castle, Catherine Gallagher, Michael McKeon, Frances Ferguson, Laura Doyle, and others. In this course then we investigate eighteenth-century literary history with an agenda, queering and querying Watt’s canon and providing a place for the anonymously authored The Woman of Colour (1808).

ENGL 8500-001 - Intro to Digital Humanities

MW 330-445 (Online Synchronous)
John Unsworth

A graduate-level introduction to the history, theory, and methods of the digital humanities, and a required course for the new graduate certificate in digital humanities.

This course fulfills the Theory requirement.

ENGL 8520-001 - Renaissance Experiments

MW 200-315 (Online Synchronous)
Clare Kinney

This course will examine a wide range of early modern writings (with some particular attention to Shakespeare) within certain broader early modern literary contexts, paying particular attention to the re-imagination of literary kinds and to the way in which such experiments in genre inflect narratives of desire and the representation of gendered agency. We will read Shakespeare’s Sonnets in dialogue with Mary Wroth’s Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (addressing both sequences as Petrarchan “counterdiscourses” crafted by social outsiders), explore As You Like It and The Winter’s Tale in relation to such genre- and gender-bending pastoral romances as Sidney’s Arcadia, Thomas Lodge’s Rosalynde and Robert Greene’s Pandosto, and examine the interplay of power relations, gender and tragedy in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, John Webster’s Duchess of Malfi and Elizabeth Cary’s Tragedy of Mariam. We’ll discuss the heuristic capacities of genre (and the gendering of genres), we’ll attempt to historicize the period’s fascination with literary hybridity, and we’ll reexamine rather rigorously the question of Shakespeare’s “exceptionality” within his historical moment. Throughout the course, our primary texts will be supplemented by a variety of lively historical/critical/theoretical readings.
Course requirements: lively participation in discussion, an oral presentation, a series of reflective e-mail postings and a final long paper.

ENGL 8530-001 - English Poetry 1660-1789

TR 1230-145 (Online Synchronous)
Michael Suarez

This class will focus on the close reading of eighteenth-century poetic texts.  The course is arranged topically around such themes as The Poetry of Loss (Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard), The Poetry of Love, Courtship, and Marriage (Alexander Pope’s Eloisa to Abelard & Mary Leapor’s An Essay on Woman), and The Poetry of Land and Nation James Thompson’s Rule, Britannia & Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village. Students will be given opportunities to explore the alternative canon, to consider the relationship between the C18 publishing world and literary celebrity, to learn about the roles of poetry in the construction of public and private identities, & to explore the practice of poetry by women authors. Together we will learn how to read poetry both extensively and intensively. This seminar is demanding, but those who stay the course will find that, with time and effort, the primary texts will yield genuine intellectual and aesthetic rewards.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  -- Prof Suarez

ENGL 8540-001 - Word Magic in the 19th Century

T 500-730 (Online Synchronous)
Herbert Tucker

This survey of Romantic and Victorian poems, novels, tales, and plays having to do with magic will plot the enchantment represented within the text against the enchantment the text designs to work on its reader.  Changing configurations within this plot are likely to emerge as our syllabus moves from the turn of the 19th century just past the turn of the 20th.   As we go, we’ll compare otherwise disparate writings under such rubrics as charm language, witchcraft and gender, the historical backdating and imperial outsourcing of magic, the weave of glamour, the might of the occult book – all eligible, among other topics, for the papers students will prepare: two shorter essays (7-10 pp) and one longer (12-15 pp).  Students will also report to the class on outside readings in a couple of informal class presentations.  All will transpire, inescapably though contestably, under the baleful aegis of the disenchantment of modernity, and the dialectic of enlightenment it entails.  Poems unimpeachably canonical (e.g., Coleridge, Shelley, Browning, Tennyson, the Rossettis, Yeats), fiction from a mixed bag of tricks (e.g., Lewis, the Shelleys, Ainsworth, Bulwer-Lytton, Stevenson, Twain, Chesnutt, Wilde), plays where we can find them.

ENGL 8540-002 - Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century

TR 330-445 (Online Synchronous)
Paul Cantor

This course will study the impact of science on nineteenth-century literature and in particular the development of science fiction as a genre, with emphasis on the epoch-making works of H. G. Wells. We will examine the ways in which science posed a challenge to literature and called into question the very notion of artistic truth. But we will also consider the ways in which science served as a new form of inspiration for fiction writers, beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. One of the main subjects of the course will be the impact of Darwin and Darwinism. We will discuss the relation of science to the Victorian crisis of faith and also explore the interrelation of science and the British Empire. Writers studied will include Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edwin Abbott, and Arthur Conan Doyle. One class presentation, one long paper, and class participation.

ENGL 8540-003 - Women Novelists of Queen Victoria’s Reign and DH Methods

TR 930-1045 (Online Synchronous)
Alison Booth

Working with materials, tools, and data from Collective Biographies of Women (CBW), a Scholars’ Lab and IATH database project, we will branch out from the Jubilee volume of 1897: Women Novelists of Queen Victoria’s Reign, in which living women novelists write chapter-length biographical critiques of deceased novelists who wrote since the Regency. A prevailing question in the course will be the force of identity- and periodization-politics, so to speak: the categories that classify as “Victorian” a range of women writers of fiction (and their literary settings) from various regions or nationalities (Irish, Scottish, etc.). Students will be encouraged to design research projects on biographies of women of color, other genres of literature, other occupations than writers, and many variations on the career and gender narratives as indicated in CBW. Readings will include novels and other writings by some in the 1897 list (Brontes, Eliot, Gaskell, and lesser-known), and essays on literary periodization, cultural geographies, space, life writing, and digital humanities. No prior familiarity with digital methods is expected; we will learn some aspects of XML editing and working with data. This course can serve as an elective in the Graduate DH Certificate.

ENGL 8559-002 - Music, Mimesis, Modernity

T 930-1200 (Online Synchronous)
Michael J. Puri

“If human beings suddenly ceased imitating, all forms of culture would vanish.” Drawing inspiration from this striking claim by René Girard, this seminar will ask and seek to answer several questions. In the history of mimesis, what has been imitated, by whom, with what means, and to what end? How and why have western attitudes toward mimesis changed, particularly over the past two centuries? And how does mimesis figure into western musical theory and practice? The ability to decipher western musical notation will help you to read certain assigned texts, but is neither expected nor required.

This course fulfills the Theory requirement.

ENGL 8560-001 - Literature and Human Rights

MW 330-445 (Online Synchronous)
Christopher Krentz

What does literature have to do with human rights, with the aspirational effort to ensure the protection of persons everywhere from persecution and deprivation?  In this course we will begin by considering the history of human rights, including debates over their legitimacy.  Then we will study recent theory on the relationship of rights to literature and read a variety of relevant contemporary fiction.  The syllabus is still under construction, but possibilities here include Danticat’s The Farming of Bones, Coetzee’s Disgrace, Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost, Sinha’s Animal’s People, Abani’s Song for Night, and Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis.  These works often deal with difficult, troubling topics, but they do so with grace and occasionally unexpected beauty.    

ENGL 8570-001 - Latinx Literature and Histories

R 330-600 (Online Synchronous)
Carmen Lamas

This seminar provides a comprehensive overview of Latinx literature and histories by engaging the major critical debates in the field of Latinx studies (critical race theory, border studies, hemispheric frameworks, et al). We will explore the writings and histories of different national-origin Latinx groups and explore the construction of the term Latinx. Methodological strategies for researching Latinx topics will be addressed. Those who wish to increase their knowledge of Latinx topics; who wish to contextualize their own projects within Latinx literature and history; and/or who are considering a chapter or a thesis that include Latinx literary expression are encouraged to take this course. Proficiency in Spanish is not required.

ENGL 8596-001 - Form and Theory of Poetry

T 200-430 (Online Synchronous)
Debra Nystrom

In this MFA craft seminar, we’ll be examining the many formal possibilities for making poems.   Beginning with a focus on poetry’s origins in magic and spell, we’ll explore the ways such effects are available to us now in language, considering received forms and their contemporary variations: sonnet, ghazal, sestina, pantoum, villanelle, blank verse, terza rima, haibun, free verse and numerous other shapes, including the kinds of opportunities that open up at the liminal space between poetry and prose.  The interplay of sound, rhythm and syntax in creating suspense and interweaving designs whose relations are registered in subliminal ways (“a more than usual state of emotion in a more than usual order”) will be an ongoing study as we discuss and try out different formal arrangements.  Students will help to lead a conversation on a particular poetic structure, will try out a number of formal possibilities in their own writing and receive workshop discussion, and will write a final paper concerned either with one form’s effects in a number of different poems or one poet’s use of form across a body of work.  Readings may include poems and essays by Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Robert Hayden, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Philip Larkin, Sylvia Plath, James Wright, Yusef Komunyakaa, Seamus Heaney, Louise Glűck, Robert Hass, Agha Shahid Ali, Claudia Emerson, Amy Hempel, Li-Young Lee, Terrance Hayes, Lydia Davis, Alberto Rios, Natasha Trethewey, Ross Gay, Sinead Morrissey, Mary Szybist, Natalie Diaz, Jericho Brown, Chloe Honum, Paisley Rekdal, Olivier de la Paz, Layli Long Soldier and others, including work by poets on our faculty.

ENGL 8598-001 - Form and Theory of Fiction

F 200-430 (Online Synchronous)
Micheline Marcom

ENGL 8900-001 - Pedagogy Seminar

W 1000-1230 (Online Synchronous)
Anastatia Curley

A seminar focusing on the pedagogical theories and techniques teachers can draw upon to conceptualize and design an undergraduate Writing course.

ENGL 8900-002 - Pedagogy Seminar

W 1000-1230 (Online Synchronous)
Steph Ceraso

A seminar focusing on the pedagogical theories and techniques teachers can draw upon to conceptualize and design an undergraduate Writing course.

ENGL 8900-003 - Pedagogy Seminar

M 100-150 (Online Synchronous)
Jeb Livingood

A seminar focusing on the pedagogical theories and techniques teachers can draw upon to conceptualize and design an undergraduate Writing course.

ENGL 9545-001 - American Renaissance

T 1000-1230 (Online Synchronous)
Jennifer Greeson

We will study "classic" U.S. literature of the decades between 1830 and 1860 (Poe, Emerson, Hawthorne, Douglass, Melville, Stowe, Whitman, Dickinson, etc.), both to get a grounding in the literature itself and to consider how the construction of "American Renaissance" as a period has been foundational to U.S. literary study as a field.  Areas of focus may be as diverse as the members of the seminar, but will include literary nationalism; aesthetic experimentation; race, gender, and geography in the construction of canons; and literature and politics (reform, elitism, radical democracy).

ENGL 9560-001 - Poetry in a Global Age

MW 330-445 (Online Synchronous)
Jahan Ramazani

How does poetry articulate and respond to the globalizing processes that accelerate in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? In this seminar, we will consider modern and contemporary poetry in English in relation to transnational, global, world literary, and postcolonial theory and history. Above all our focus will be on the poetry. The writers we will read range from modernist poets like Eliot, Yeats, Stevens, and McKay to postcolonial poets of Ireland, India, Africa, Britain, and the Caribbean, such as Walcott, Heaney, Goodison, Philip, Kolatkar, Okot p’Bitek, Okigbo, and Daljit Nagra. Requirements include active participation; co-leading of discussion; and two conference-length papers (8-10 pages). Our texts will be from volumes 1 and 2 of The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, third edition, as supplemented by other poems and critical and theoretical texts.

ENGL 9580-001 - Criticism and Attachment

M 630-900 (Online Synchronous)
Rita Felski

In this course we’ll look closely at attachments in literature as well as attachments to literature, and consider their implications for literary criticism, theory, and method. The premise of the course is that “attachment” is to be understood broadly; as not just subjective, but intersubjective, collective, or institutional; as not only emotional but also cognitive, intellectual, and political. There are many reasons why people become attached to literature; we’ll consider what some of those reasons might be.

Critics, moreover, form ties not only to literature, but also to methods, theories, and fields of study. What does it mean to become invested in a method (close reading versus distant reading); a theory (being a Foucauldian or a Lacanian), or a disciplinary identity (looking down on “mere sociologists” or “naïve” psychologists)? In short, attachments are everywhere in literary studies. The focus of the course is less on explaining attachments by resorting to pre-given frameworks than on describing them: detailing their distinctive features and paying attention to what they are and do.

This course fulfills the Theory requirement.

ENGL 9800-001 - Intro to Textual Criticism and Scholarly Editing

F 930-1200 (Online Synchronous)
David Vander Meulen

This course in textual criticism deals with some of the fundamental problems of literary study and of reading in general: if a work exists in multiple forms, and with different wording, what constitutes "the text"?  How are such judgments made and standards determined?  How are verbal works as intellectual abstractions affected by the physical forms in which they are transmitted?  If one is faced with the prospect of editing a work, how does one go about it? How does one choose an edition for use in the classroom?  What difference does this all make? The course will deal with such concerns and will include: a short survey of analytical bibliography and the solution of practical problems as they apply to literary texts; study of the transmission of texts in different periods; and considerations of theories and techniques of editing literary and non-literary texts of different genres, and of both published and unpublished materials.  The course "Books as Physical Objects", ENGL 5810, provides helpful background but is not a prerequisite.

This course fulfills the Theory requirement.

Graduate Courses