Graduate Course Descriptions | Fall 2023

Creative Writing

ENCW 5610-001 - Advanced Fiction Writing II - VARIATIONS ON GRIMM'S TALES

T 02:00PM-04:30PM (BRN 233)
Jesse Ball (Kapnick Distinguished Visiting Writer)

This is a multi-arts graduate workshop open to MFA students of fiction or poetry, as well as graduate students in literature, the visual arts, dance, drama, filmmaking, architecture . . . A kind of literary game involving the Brothers Grimm. Posit two groups, A & B. To one of these you belong. Once every fortnight, you & your group present variations on a chosen Household Tale, subverting, extending, or elaborating the original. These variations might elevate a minor character to prominence, or reapply the tale’s schema & shape to a different milieu or landscape. A variation might change the story’s point of perspective or extend it through time. The options are endless, and any imaginable variation is encouraged. We will discuss these variations using an inquiry method known as The Asking.
To apply, send a note and brief sample of imaginative work to Jane Alison at jas2ad.

ENCW 7310-001 -- MFA Poetry Workshop

M 02:00PM-04:30PM (BRN 233)
Lisa Spaar

 This advanced workshop is designed for first- and second-year graduate students in the Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry program.  Enrollment is by instructor permission only. 

ENCW 7610-001 -- MFA Fiction Workshop

M 02:00PM-04:30PM (DR1 105)

 This advanced workshop is designed for first- and second-year graduate students in the Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction program.  Enrollment is by instructor permission only. 

English Literature

ENGL 5100-001 -- Introduction to Old English

TR 03:30PM-04:45PM (CAB 183)
Stephen Hopkins

This course provides an introduction to the language and literature of early Medieval England (also called Anglo-Saxon England, roughly 500-1100 CE), and the goal is to arrive at a sound reading knowledge of the Old English language. Drawing upon Peter Baker’s Introduction to Old English, the first half of the semester focuses on internalizing the basics of Old English grammar and vocabulary. While acquiring these rudimentary linguistic skills, we will practice translating short bits of prose and poetry as supplied in the textbook and on the accompanying website. The course will also include basic readings from Magennis to orient us towards Old English genres, contexts, and critical/theoretical approaches prevalent in the field, with an emphasis on the history of the book and writing technologies. By the end, we will grapple with excerpts from Beowulf, gaining familiarity with Old English poetic diction, accentual-alliterative poetic form, style, syntax, and the basics of paleography by accessing Old English manuscripts via Parker Library on the Web. 

ENGL 5559-001 -- Transforming Desire: Medieval and Renaissance Erotic Poetics

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM (BRN 203)
Clare Kinney

This seminar will focus upon lyric, narrative and dramatic works from the medieval and Renaissance periods which explore the striking metamorphoses and the various (and on occasion very queer) trajectories of earthly—and not so earthly--love. We'll be examining the ways in which desire is represented as transforming the identity and consciousness of the lover; we will also be examining (and attempting to historicize) strategies employed by our authors to variously transform, redefine, enlarge and contain the erotic impulse. We'll start with some selections from the Metamorphoses of Ovid; we will finish with two of Shakespeare’s most striking reinventions of love. Along the way we’ll be looking at the gendering of erotic representation and erotic speech, the intermittent entanglement of secular and sacred love, the role of genre in refiguring eros, and some intersections between the discourses of sexuality and the discourses of power.

Tentative reading list: selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses; the Lais (short romances) of Marie de France; Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde; sonnets by Petrarch, Philip Sidney and Lady Mary Wroth; Philip Sidney’s Old Arcadia; Shakespeare's As You Like It and The Winter’s Tale. (All non-English works will be read in translation.) And occasional critical/theoretical readings. Requirements: regular attendance, lively participation in discussion, a series of reflective e-mail responses to our readings, a short paper (6-7 pages); a long term paper (14+ pages).

ENGL 5559-002 - The Queer Novel

TR 06:30PM-07:45PM (BRN 233)
Mrinalini Chakravorty

What is “queer” about the novel? Our course will grapple with this question by examining the rich legacy of non-normative sexual expressions and orientations in the literary arts. The aim of the course is—

  1. To understand what constitutes ‘queer literature’ as a meaningful genre or archive. Is the queer novel unique in its expressivity, in terms of style and content? Does the queer novel have its own canon? Should this canon be more open to revision than others given the constant evolutions in how we understand gender?
  2. To see how novels engage political ideas of sexuality germane to thinking about queerness, such as of ‘homophobia,’ the ‘closet,’ 'inversion’ ‘gender bending,’ ‘cis-acting,’ ‘coming out,’ ‘failure,’ ‘deviance,’ ‘camp,’ ‘cruising,’ ‘queer futurity,’ ‘queer feeling,’ ‘homonationalism,’ ‘disidentification,’ ‘performativity,’ ‘flamboyance,’ etc.
  3. To confront radical questions about subjectivity and embodiment that the analytic of sexuality enables us to ask about the worlds we inhabit and the texts that represent these worlds.

To accomplish these goals, we will read sweepingly across the whole breadth of the queer canon. We will begin with early classics of queer literature and then shift our attention to more contemporary transnational contexts concerned with representing queerness as a part of, and not apart from, affiliations of race, culture, religion, geography, class etc. Our reading includes works by Radclyffe Hall, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Ali Smith, Michael Cunningham, Shyam Selvadurai, Alison Bechdel, Saleem Haddad, and Akwaeki Emezi among

others. In other words, we will think of the important ways that the evolution of the queer novel involves a perpetual re-queering of the genre itself by the insistent heterogeneity of racial, transnational, and transgender contexts. While most of the novels we read will come from the Anglophone tradition, some will be translated from other languages.

This course will require that students be prepared to engage directly and fearlessly with the field of queer theory. Queer theory will inform how we contextualize the subcultures of queerness (from Bloomsbury or Stonewall to Queer-of-Color activisms), as well as understand why notions of reproductive normality, eroticism, pleasure, kinship, and indeed queer identity have been transformed in recent literary and aesthetic works. Ultimately, we will ask how queer aesthetic works speak to, revise, and must be re-evaluated given the shifting dynamics of queer thought. Here our reading includes, among others, work by Michel Foucault, David Halperin, Judith Butler, Jasbir Puar, Monique Wittig, Adrienne Rich, Lee Edelman, José Esteban Muñoz. Finally, a selection of salient films, poems, and short stories will allow us to see useful connections between the aesthetic and political charge—often one of transgression—that the sign of the “queer” carries.

This course is a graduate level course but it can also be taken to satisfy the Modern and Global Studies seminar requirement for undergraduates in that concentration.

ENGL 5559-003 -- Contemporary Jewish Fiction

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM (BRN 233)
Caroline Rody

This course for graduate and advanced undergraduate students will explore a literature positioned between tradition and modern invention, between the spiritual and the mundane, and—as Saul Bellow once put it—between laughter and trembling, in the emotionally rich territory where Jewish people have lived a spirited, talkative, politically engaged, book-obsessed modernity in the face of violence and destruction. We will read mainly Jewish American texts but also some by Jewish writers from other countries, taking up short stories, essays, poems, jokes, Broadway song lyrics, and a few complete novels, as well as short videos clips and a film, surveying a diverse array of modern Jewish literary and popular cultural production. About the first third of the course examines mid-twentieth century Jewish American writers, some from the immigrant New York milieu like Isaac Bashevis Singer, and then heirs to Yiddish culture with bold American aspirations, such as, Alfred Kazin, Grace Paley, Delmore Schwartz, Chaim Potok, Bernard Malamud, Elie Wiesel, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and Lore Segal. For the rest of the term we will read fiction from the booming field of contemporary Jewish fiction, including authors such as Art Spiegelman, Allegra Goodman, Nathan Englander, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, Michael Chabon, Joshua Cohen, Christophe Boltanski, David Bezmozgis, and Etgar Keret.

The course will focus on the ways writers shape and reshape a new literature with roots in a formidable textual, cultural, and religious tradition. We will observe an evolving relationship to traditional and sacred Jewish texts, to Yiddish and the culture of Yiddishkeit; to humor as a social practice and imaginative force; to memory and inheritance as burdens or as creative touchstones. We will also consider changing conceptions of Jewish identity, of American identity, and of gender roles; the transformations wrought by assimilation and social mobility; socialist, feminist and other political commitments and visions; forms of engagement with history including the Holocaust, the founding of Israel and its ongoing conflicts; and life in multiethnic America. Requirements: reading, active class participation, co-leading of a class discussion, multiple short reading responses, a short paper, and a longer paper with a creative, Talmud-inspired option: a “scroll” of interlaced interpretation. 

ENGL 5700-001 -- Contemporary African-American Literature

TR 08:00AM-09:15AM (CAB 042)
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 5805-001 -- What is Postcolonial Critique?

MW 12:30PM-01:45PM (BRN 233)
Nasrin Olla

What is postcolonial critique? Is it a way of reading a text? Does it refer to the processes of historical decolonization in places like Africa, India, and the Caribbean? Or is it a practice of critical thought that can be used to think across multiple spaces and times? In this course, we will approach these questions by reading a wide range of writers including Gayatri Spivak, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Édouard Glissant, Achille Mbembe, Susan Buck-Morss, and C. L. R. James. The final project invites students to reflect upon the themes of revolutionary thinking, the global and universal, and questions of ethics.

ENGL 5810-001 -- 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 5830-001 -- Intro to World Religions, World Literatures -- Medieval Christianity: Thomas Aquinas

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM (BRK 103), R 11:00AM-12:00PM (DR1 105)
Kevin Hart

This lecture course offers a general introduction to the writings and thought of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), the pre-eminent Catholic theologian and one of the greatest thinkers of the middle ages. His influence is extensive; it embraces many Protestants as well as most Catholics. It’s simply impossible to understand many writers, from Dante to T. S. Eliot, without knowing Aquinas. Students will read a mixture of Aquinas’s treatises and his almost unknown popular writings. Among the popular writings will be Aquinas’s explanation of the Lord’s Prayer and his exposition of the Apostle’s Creed; and among the treatises will be readings in all three parts of the Summa theologiæ. Students will have the opportunity to compare Aquinas on the same topics (Trinity and sacraments) in the Summa theologiæ and in less well-known works. What did Aquinas say about aesthetics (especially his teachings about beauty, pleasure and play), about God, about the sacraments, and about love? How does he work rhetorically when preaching and commenting on Scripture? Are there ways in which Aquinas can help us be better readers of medieval literature? These are some of the questions we shall consider.

The course can be taken at BA level through Religious Studies (RELC 3181). It can also be taken at MA level (ENGL 5830 or RELG 5820). MA candidates will take an additional seminar of “enrichment” and will focus on Aquinas’s commentary on the Gospel of John.

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

M 04:30PM-05:30PM (Online)
Kevin Hart

The proseminar provides a place and opportunity for discussion of themes relevant to the MA in world religions and literatures. Students will read short excerpts from a range of texts related to the theme of "reading" in order to focus and generate discussion.

ENGL 5900-001 -- Counterpoint Seminar

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM (CAB 183)
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 8520-001 -- Staging the Renaissance City

MW 02:00PM-03:15PM (BRN 334)
Katharine Maus

English Renaissance drama was an urban phenomenon, specifically a London phenomenon, since a repertory theater performing in a fixed location required a large population base to support it. So, unsurprisingly, many plays consider the exigencies of urban life both in London and elsewhere. In this course we will read plays sited in Rome, Venice, and London, three cities with strikingly different traditions of representation in and out of the theater.

ENGL 8540-001 -- Predictive and Unforeseen Jane Austen

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM (DR1 105)
Alison Booth

In a surge of interest in generative language models, we turn to the current Jane Austen, in print and remediated forms, in scholarship and general-interest modes. Are genres like training sets for machine (reader) learning? We will be careful readers of the texts, combining narrative theory with formal and stylistic interpretation. We will be historians of reception: how has “Austen” changed since her death over two hundred years ago? She has shaped archives and tourism and upped the stakes for costume, hair and makeup, dance, etc. in historic productions (including recent series or feature films about queens). The biographical and current adaptation (film, vlog, chic-lit serials) frameworks are always illuminating. Further, our methods and theories range widely, but everyone in the class will experience some work with digital tools with the plain text of the Austen corpus and will note varied efforts (before and after computers) to explore Austen’s style with quantitative or keyword approaches. All commitments to critique and scholarship are welcome as well: the postcolonial, race and nation, gender/queer, materialist/economic/class, post-critique, book history/bibliography, etc. Students may take this as an elective for the Graduate DH Certificate.

ENGL 8560-001 -- Comparative Approaches to Long Modernisms

W 03:30PM-06:00PM (Rotunda 152)
Joshua Miller

Both modernist studies and American studies staked claims to having been made “new” in the globalizing, neoliberalist 1990s, thus participating in the discourse of exceptionality that has led these domains of thought and cultural production to produce both fascinating and, at times, troubling results. The inclusionary frameworks of “New Modernisms” and the “New American Studies” fall under several rubrics: comparative studies, global/planetary cultures, new & mixed media, multiethnic literatures, and expansive modernisms, among others. These areas of research have opened up a wide range of inter- and intra-national comparative questions, such as those of genre & form, trans/gender, migrancy, labor, environmentalism, Anthropocene and nonhuman temporalities, language & translation, sexualities, race, states of precarity, and visual & sound studies.

We’ll examine key trends shaping multiethnic modernist fiction in a broad historical context, starting with emergent U.S. imperial and racialist modernity, from 1890s views of U.S. immigration and territorial expansion to 1930s and 40s depictions of migration and racialized labor. Then we’ll pursue aspects of late-20th and early-21st narrative and transmedia experiments with the novel form to ask if modernisms endure not only in the postmodern period, but also in contemporary Information Age cultures. Approaching plural modernisms in this capacious historical framework enables a wide range of comparative contexts regarding language, media/platform, nationalism/globality, gender and sexuality, narrative form, and memory/futurity.  

ENGL 8580 - Critical Refugee Studies

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM (New Cabell 187)
Sylvia Chong

Pioneered by Southeast Asian American scholars in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Critical Refugee Studies names an interdiscipline that approaches the "refugee" not as an object of rescue or sociological problem to be solved, but rather a site of social and political critique that calls into question the nation-state and its histories of war, militarism, colonialism, and displacement. This graduate seminar will examine some key methodological and theoretical writings about critical refugee studies (Espiritu, V. Nguyen, M. Nguyen, Hong, Vang, Schlund-Vials, Um, Sharif, Bascara) alongside literary and filmic works by Vietnamese, Khmer, Hmong, Lebanese, Afghan, Pakistani, Haitian, and Mexican American/diasporic artists (Ocean Vuong, Anthony Veasna So, Kao Kalia Yang, Rabih Alameddine, Khaled Hosseini, Mohsin Hamid, Roxane Gay, Reyna Grande, among others). We will consider what it means to organize a literary canon around the figure of the refugee rather than around ethnic or racial identities, and how refugee artists participate in as well as resist the discourses of gratitude, debt, victimhood, and trauma that govern the legal, political and sociological construction of the refugee.

ENGL 8596-001 -- Form and Theory of Poetry

W 02:00PM-04:30PM (DR1 105)
Kiki Petrosino

ENGL 8800-001 -- Intro to Literary Research


ENGL 8830-001 -- Feminist Theory

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM (CAB 594)
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 8832-001 -- Contemporary Disability Theory

MW 03:30PM-04:45PM (MON 114)
Christopher Krentz

This seminar will provide an in-depth look at the theory and methodology of literary disability studies, a vibrant field that has emerged over the last few decades.  Like identity-based approaches to literature such as race theory, feminist theory, and queer theory, disability theory relates to a specific and often marginalized group: disabled people, who make up approximately 15% of the global population.  Narrative deployments of disability may work on multiple levels, from disabled characters to metaphors of disability to devices for exploring countless aspects of human thought and experience.  We will start with a classic twentieth-century theorist like Michel Foucault or Erving Goffman, and then turn our attention to how, beginning in the 1990s, a succession of scholars has developed the field.  We’ll consider not only foundational work by Davis, Garland-Thompson, Mitchell and Snyder, Siebers, and Quayson, but also more recent contributions by scholars like Wu, Samuels, Schweik, Berger, and Bérubé.  We will read such theory and criticism alongside primary sources.  The syllabus is still being developed, but possible texts include novels like Dickens’ The Cricket on the Hearth, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Garcìa Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Morrison’s Sula, Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K, and Sinha’s Animal’s People; short stories by O’Connor, Desai, and Lahiri; and a feature film.  Animating our work will be a sense of the connection between literature and issues of rights, bioethics, and conceptions of the human.  Requirements will include two presentations, a short close-reading essay, a longer research paper, and a final exam.

ENGL 8900-001 -- MFA Pedagogy Seminar

M 12:00PM-12:50PM (CAB 042)
Jeb Livingood