Graduate Course Descriptions Fall 2024

For undergraduate course descriptions, see here.
More descriptions are forthcoming, check back soon!

Creative Writing

ENCW 5310-001: Advanced Poetry Writing II - Poets' Memoirs

Kiki Petrosino
TR 02:00PM-03:15PM

In this advanced course, we'll explore several published memoirs by contemporary poets, reading them alongside their books of poetry. Through discussion, workshop, writing exercises & other coursework, we'll attempt to imagine our way through several related questions: how do poets approach the forms & possibilities of memoir? How might a "poet's memoir" work within & against the constraints or expectations of autobiographical writing?  How does what we think of as a poet's "voice" shift & change when their writing encompasses both verse and prose? And what new connections--among emotions, narratives, mysteries, & astonishments--can we make in our own writing practice, once we witness how poets work across genres? This class will engage a combination of seminar & workshop-style techniques. For a final project, students will compose & revise a group of original poems alongside one or more works of original lyric prose (short essays, memoir, &c). This class is open to graduate & undergraduate students via instructor permission.      

To apply: send Professor Kiki Petrosino ( a sample of 4-5 original poems + a cover letter specifying whether you are in any programs or special concentrations for which this course may be needed/required. Please also specify any other creative writing workshops to which you may be applying. Make sure to send an official request for instructor permission on SIS along with any e-mail requests. Enrollment for returning students begins April 8 & will continue until the section is filled. For full consideration, please apply as soon as possible. Confirmation of your spot in the class may arrive in early summer, but hopefully much sooner.

ENCW 5610-001: Advanced Fiction Writing II - Looking & Writing: Ekphrastic Prose

Micheline Marcom
R 03:30PM-06:00PM

This class is open to graduate and undergraduate students via instructor permission.

An experimental prose-writing class where we will look at works of art, take walks and look closely at our world, contemplate the night-sky, read works of literature, and consider how we might write not merely about what we are looking at or reading, per se, but how to create something new from the experience. We will read an array of stories and essays by Bruno Schulz, Robert Walser, William Blake, Clarice Lispector, and Walter Benjamin as well as writings by visual artists from the contemporary David Hockney to Kandinsky, Delacroix, Vasari and others. We will do a lot of looking! Students will do weekly creative responses. To apply: send a 1 page letter specifying your past experience in creative writing and interest in the course.

ENCW 7310-001: MFA Poetry Workshop

Brian Teare
M 02:00PM-04:30PM

ENCW 7610-001: MFA Fiction Workshop

M 02:00PM-04:30PM

English Literature

ENGL 5559-001: Anne Spencer & the Harlem Renaissance

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

This discussion-based seminar will focus on the celebrated woman poet Anne Spencer (1882-1975), part of the Harlem Renaissance while living in segregated Lynchburg, Virginia. Spencer’s lasting presence in 30 published poems, a preserved house and garden museum, and the papers at UVA as well as in Lynchburg inspire a planned exhibition in Harrison-Small Library September 2024, along with a slowly expanding body of critical studies. We can advance Spencer studies together in light of reading her work in relation to some other writers she interacted with and our theoretical questions about race, gender, place, environment, and cultural heritage, with some consideration of digital humanities. Our work will include exploring unpublished archives (Special Collections), taking a field trip to the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum, attending the exhibit and associated events, reading biographies and criticism, practicing skills of reading and interpreting poetry, writing two essays, experimenting with digital tools. The Library hopes to generate support for digitizing images and manuscripts in the UVA collection of many of her papers, as well as examination of her books also archived here. There is no scholarly edition of her works, and our studies will advance scholarship on the evolution of her multi-faceted writing practice (in used notebooks, on walls; prose segueing into poetry and back again).

ENGL 5810-001: Books as Physical Objects

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

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 5900-001: Counterpoint Seminar in Teaching Modern Literature - “Teaching Literature with Equity and Justice”

Cristina Griffin
TR 12:30PM-01:45PM

This seminar is about how and why teaching literature matters today. How do secondary school and college instructors teach literature in challenging times? How do teachers make tough decisions about what to teach and why? What responsibility do teachers have to promote equity and justice through the literature they teach and the methods they use? In this course, we will tackle these big questions together as we explore what it means to pursue a career in teaching literature to middle school, high school, or college students. Each week, we will weave together your existing knowledge of literature and your emerging knowledge of pedagogy. You will be introduced to theories of learning-focused, culturally relevant, and culturally responsive pedagogy, and you will put your newfound knowledge into practice as we work step by step through designing your own teaching philosophy and materials.

This course will bring together students who already have experience as classroom instructors, students who are in the process of teaching for the very first time, and students who have yet to step up to the front of a classroom in the role of teacher. We will build on this diversity of experiences, learning together how to bring transformative pedagogies into our present and future classrooms.

ENGL 8380-001: The English Novel I

John O'Brien
MW 03:30PM-04:45PM
The novel and modernity arrived together in the course of the eighteenth century, and they’ve been intricately interwoven ever since.  In this course, we will read some of the landmark works of fiction of this period as a way of exploring the relationship between the novel and the modern world that it described, heralded, mocked, celebrated, and helped bring into being. We will taste the heroic romances of the seventeenth century against which the English novel of the eighteenth frequently set itself against (while occasionally ripping off) before reading a list that includes Eliza Haywood’s erotically-charged short novels of the 1720s, Daniel Defoe’s pseudo-autobiographical “histories,” Samuel Richardson’s compulsively-readable epistolary fictions, Henry Fielding’s “comic-epics in prose;” the late-century emergence of sensational Gothic fictions, and Jane Austen’s wry social satires. We will contextualize these works within the eighteenth-century’s own deep and broad river of writing on prose fiction, and also sample a number of modern critical approaches to the eighteenth-century novel, from Ian Watt’s paradigm-setting The Rise of the Novel to contemporary theorists of the cognitive work involved in reading prose fiction like Blakey Vermeule and Natalie Philips. Requirements: active participation, one short and one more substantial final paper.

ENGL 8520-001: Afterlives of the Epic

Dan Kinney
TR 03:30PM-04:45PM
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 8520-002: Sources of Shakespeare

John Parker
MW 03:30PM-04:45PM

Shakespeare rarely thought up plays on his own.  Instead he borrowed plotlines, characters, and, often enough, verbatim wording from previous works while combining them with other materials that he had read.  We'll examine his dramas alongside these sources toward the end of developing a deeper understanding of terms like influence, imitation, inspiration, invention, collaboration, allusion, adaptation, quotation, renaissance, revival, remake, and plagiarism.

At the same time we'll need to look at our sources for Shakespeare's plays: some of the most famous exist in multiple, equally authentic versions, though they differ from one another substantially.  How do editors decide between these competing sources when they produce contemporary editions?  How do you know which version you're reading in a modern textbook?

We'll use this double focus — on the sources Shakespeare adapted to write his plays and on the earliest printed sources for modern editions of Shakespeare — as a way to investigate larger questions about authorship, textual authority, authenticity, and originality.  Plays to be considered will likely include The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, The Winter's Tale, plus some plays by others: Seneca's Medea (translated by John Studley in1566), the anonymous King Leir, Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy and Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta.

ENGL 8540-001: Perspectives on Austen

Susan Fraiman
TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

A semester devoted to the patient close reading of Austen’s work, with attention to its historical context as well as formal attributes. Novels will be paired with critical essays illustrating diverse theoretical approaches. Any notion of Austen as a harmless spinster—narrow in her purview, complacent in her outlook—will quickly be dashed. Possible secondary materials include Eve Sedgwick’s queer perspective on Sense and Sensibility, Claudia Johnson’s feminist defense of Pride and Prejudice, Joseph Litvak’s deconstructive analysis of Emma, and Robyn Warhol’s narratological discussion of Persuasion. We may also consider an adaptation or two for screen or stage. Requirements include an article-length paper and a final exam. This course satisfies the 1700-1900 requirement.

ENGL 8570-001: Latinx Literature and History

Carmen Lamas
M 05:00PM-07:30PM

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 8580-001: Novel Theory: Current and Emergent

Adrienne Ghaly
TR 12:30PM-01:45PM
This course introduces students to the novel’s social, cultural, and political power through its most significant critical imaginaries, from established theories to emergent ideas. We’ll map a broad range of theoretical and literary historical developments of thinking about ‘the novel’ and its core structures: character, description and reality effects, worlds, centers and peripheries, interiority and free indirect discourse, race, planetary crisis, and more. We’ll investigate the durability of ‘canonical’ thinkers such as M.M. Bakhtin, Raymond Williams, Fredric Jameson, Toni Morrison, and Deleuze and Guattari, and explore how recently published and emerging work on the novel from Roland Barthes, Caroline Levine, Alicia Mireles Christoff, and Tim Bewes, among others, offer exciting new ways to the think about the novel now.

ENGL 8580-002: Intro to Critical Theory

Nasrin Olla
TR 03:30PM-04:45PM
This course introduces students to a wide range of 20th and 21st century theoretical paradigms. These approaches include: poststructuralism, structuralism, postcolonial thought, African diasporic thought, and gender & queer theory. Authors will include: Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Achille Mbembe, Frantz Fanon, Simone de Beauvoir and others. This course would be of interest to a wide range of students interested in thinking about continental philosophy, traditions of critique, and postcolonial worlds.

ENGL 8596-001: Form and Theory of Poetry: To Be Grounded: Understanding Space, Place, and Setting as a Growth Templates for Poetry

Camille Dungy
T 02:00PM-04:30PM
This semester we'll be thinking about the role of place and space in poetry. How do specific settings shape the poem on the page? Reading works by poets such as Molly McCully Brown, Anne Spencer, Remica Bingham, Brenda Hillman and others, we'll consider  how intersections of geographies, histories, landscapes, flora, demographies, and purpose influence poetic practices. The course will be offered in a hybrid manner, with one in-person synchronous class per month and the rest of the synchronous classes on an online platform. Students will be expected to attend class for each session both in-person or online, to write and revise their own poems in response to class prompts, to regularly participate in class discussion, to offer detailed responses to other students’ work, to attend one poetry reading (in person or virtual) and submit a written response to, to turn in close-reading responses to assigned readings, and possibly to participate in a group presentation near the end of the term. Priority enrollment will be for 1st & 2nd year MFA poetry students, but graduate students from other programs may be admitted, pending instructor permission.

[If you are *not* in the MFA program, but are a graduate student who would like to add this course, contact Professor Kiki Petrosino at with a brief request & rationale. Professor Petrosino will consult with Professor Dungy on permissions. All e-mail requests for permission should be accompanied by a request on SIS. Enrollment for returning students begins April 8 & will continue until the section is filled. For full consideration, please apply as soon as possible. Confirmation of your spot in the class may arrive in early summer.

ENGL 8598-001: Designing a Novel

Jane Alison
W 02:00PM-04:30PM
Writing a novel can feel like being mid-ocean, in the dark, with only a bedsheet to float on. Where is structure? How do you move forward? Do you even know where you are? How on earth do you reach the end? In this course we’ll explore ways of composing longer fictional narratives by examining both classic and more extravagant forms some have taken: we’ll consider linear works based on the dramatic arc, and others that find looser or more experimental shapes; we’ll sample novels that are fabulist or journalistic, densely textured or line-broken, lyrical or faux-documentary. We’ll pay attention to many ways in which narratives create movement and how writers deploy points of view, manipulate time, employ varying techniques of discourse, and press image and syntax into serving vision. Texts might include works by Sándor Márai, Jean Rhys, B. S. Johnson, Edna O’Brien, Alison Mills Newman, Mariama Bâ, Murray Bail, Marie Redonnet, W. G. Sebald, Annie Ernaux, Anne Carson, Alejandro Zambra, Mary Robison, Jim Crace, Jamaica Kincaid, Mieko Kanai. In addition to reading, you’ll experiment weekly with your own writing. To apply, send me a note (jas2ad) telling me about your writing and reading practice, and what draws you to this class.

ENGL 8800-001: Intro to Literary Research

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

ENGL 8800-002: Intro to Literary Research

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

ENGL 8810-001: Criticism in Theory & Practice - Criticism in the First Person

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

In this course, we’ll discuss the theory and practice of subjective knowledge in literary criticism. Is there such a thing as subjective knowledge (knowledge that depends on and is irreducibly routed through the knower’s perspective), or are such viewpoints mere opinions? What are we saying, exactly, when we say that a work of art is beautiful? We’ll spend about half our time learning to understand Stanley Cavell’s theory of what happens when we make a value judgment about a work of art, with a focus on the role the first person has in such claims. Our study of Cavell’s theory will include some of the aesthetic theorists he has influenced (Sianne Ngai, Imani Perry, Michel Chaouli, and others). We’ll spend the remainder of the semester reading the work of various writers who use first-person perspective in their work. We’ll read critics practicing in the academy, critics working as reviewers in the periodical press, and writers of creative nonfiction. Writers we may read include Maggie Nelson, Christina Sharpe, Nathalie Léger, Roland Barthes, T. J. Clark, D. A. Miller, Elizabeth Hardwick, Cristina Rivera Garza, Monica Huerta, and others. Students will have the opportunity to write criticism in the first person as part of the final assignment.

ENGL 8900-001: Pedagogy Seminar

Jeb Livingood
M 12:30PM-01:45PM

ENGL 9580-001: Critical Race Theory

Sylvia Chong
TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Critical race theory has been in the news recently as an object of right-wing derision, but the actual body of theory dates from the early 1980s, coined to describe a growing body of scholarship in legal studies but building upon developments in ethnic studies, black feminist studies, sociology, American studies, and social and intellectual history. This seminar will delve into the origins of CRT, examining key texts by Kimberle Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, Cheryl Harris, Mari Matsuda, and Derrick Bell, as well as the expansion of the field into non-legal academia, particularly in American Studies and critical ethnic studies, and include concepts such as intersectionality, queer of color critique, critical whiteness studies, settler colonialism, racial capitalism, racial triangulation, and Afro-pessimism. Readings may include George Lipsitz, Matthew Frye Jacobson, Jasbir Puar, Jared Sexton, Justin Leroy, Judith Butler, Jose Estaban Munoz, Iyko Day, Claire Jean Kim, Audra Simpson, Eve Tuck, and Alexander Weheliye, among others.