Graduate Course Descriptions | Spring 2023

For undergraduate-level courses, click here.

Creative Writing


T 02:00PM-04:30PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Kiki Petrosino

This graduate-level workshop, designed for MFA poets in the first two years of the program, invites students to continue developing their own writing practices while adding new critical & compositional techniques to their repertoires. We’ll devote most class sessions to reviewing peer-generated poetry, but we’ll also discuss published works & take time to explore other aspects of the creative process. For this semester's craft topic, we'll focus on the importance of turns as technical & rhetorical occasions for signaling change, transition, or transformation in a poem. Students should be prepared to engage energetically in “workshop,” or peer review, in addition to polishing their own writing. Each student will serve as First Commenter for select peer manuscripts, preparing robust introductory remarks for workshop. Students will compose several postings on COLLAB forums on relevant topics and, as a final project, prepare a portfolio collecting revised poetry & a portfolio letter. The final grade will be calculated based on the above items, plus attendance, one post-workshop office hours consultation & participation. Instructor permission required. 

ENCW 7610-001 - MFA Fiction Workshop

W 05:00PM-07:30PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Micheline Marcom


English Literature

ENGL 5060-001 - The Sonnet Revised and Revisited

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM (Bryan 332)
Clare Kinney

Please note: this course may be used to satisfy the pre-1700 requirement (with a slight tweaking of the requirements: see instructor).

“A chamber of sudden change”; “a meeting place of image and voice”; “a game with mortal stakes”; “the collision of music, desire and argument”: these are some of the ways that poets and critics have described the sonnet. Starting with the Petrarchan experiments of Renaissance Europe and extending our reach through the Romantics and the modernists to Ted Berrigan, Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Terrance Hayes and beyond, we will consider the persistence and the many metamorphoses of the form. Sonnet writers construct a “a moment’s monument” for religious, political, philosophical and meta-poetical purposes as well as to anatomize desire, and when they present sonnets in sequence they make lyric do something of the work of narrative. Every time a sonnet is written, its author becomes part of a very long literary conversation and may make that intervention the occasion to set thought and feeling in a new dialogue, to reconsider “the contradictory impulses of being in the world,” to talk back to tradition, to make the dead speak again, to re-make and re-break the rules of form. Exploring the history, poetics and the race and gender politics of this tenacious short form, we will consider the craftiness of craft and the particular power of “bound language.” In addition to addressing a wide selection of sonnets written from the 16th century to yesterday, we will also read critical writings on the sonnet by a variety of scholars and poets.

Requirements: lively participation in discussion; a series of email responses to readings, one 6-7 page paper; a presentation on a contemporary sonnet of your own choice; a substantial final project (critical or hybrid creative-critical).

ENGL 5559-003 - Contemporary Jewish Fiction

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM (New Cabell 066)
Caroline Rody

In this course we 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 early and mid-twentieth century Jewish American writers, some from the immigrant New York milieu like Abraham Cahan, Mary Antin, Henry Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and immigrant Yiddish poets (in translation), and then heirs to Yiddish culture with bold American aspirations, such as Delmore Schwartz, Alfred Kazin, Grace Paley, 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 Jewish religious practice and to traditional Jewish texts, to Yiddish and the culture of Yiddishkeit; to memory and inheritance as burdens or as creative touchstones, to humor as an imaginative force. 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 and a long paper

ENGL 5559-004 - The Literature of British Abolition: 1750-1810

T 05:00PM-07:30PM (Bryan 328)
Michael Suarez

Great Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807. Drama, fiction, autobiography, medical testimony, poetry, and even economic treatises all contributed to a marked shift in public sentiment and understanding of the moral enormity of Britain's 'abominable trade'. We will read and discuss a broad variety texts, some canonical and some relatively unexplored, in order to understand the various ways that the literature of abolition transformed hearts and minds to create what is effectively the world's first human rights campaign.

ENCW 5559-005 - Advanced Nonfiction Writing - REFLECTION/DEFLECTION: WRITING SELF AND OTHER 

F 02:00PM-04:30PM (Bryan 233)
Jane Alison

In this workshop we’ll explore some arts of memoir, especially formally inventive memoir. How do memoirists find shapes in the flows of life? How do they choose the moments and images that reveal patterns that in turn give meaning to experience? How do they create the “I” that will see and translate what’s seen, and how do they know what is “true” and find ways to render it meaningfully? How, above all, do they transform the private to public, transmute life to art? These and other fundamental questions of persona, shape, time, and sense will engage us all term—as will some exciting refusals to craft memoir with such questions in mind. We’ll focus particularly on narratives that employ both reflection and deflection to find and create truths, and narratives that are formally inventive, in order both to look and look away. Readings might include works by Annie Ernaux, Jesse Ball, Maggie Nelson, Marie Ndiaye, Anne Carson, Michael Ondaatje, Kazim Ali. Alongside this reading, you will write and workshop your own memoir projects, which might be several essays, a series of linked fragments, or a single extended work. 

Unless you are in the APLP, instructor permission is required. Please send to Jane Alison (jas2ad) a note saying who you are and why you’re interested in this class, together with a brief (10 page max) writing sample.

ENGL 5559-006 - Intro to Textual Criticism & Scholarly Editing

F 09:30AM-12:00PM (Bryan 233)
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.

ENGL 5805-001 - What is Postcolonial Critique?

MW 12:35PM-01:50PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
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 5830-001 - Introduction to World Religions, World Literatures: The Bible

W 10:00AM-12:30PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
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, Literatures

F 02:00PM-03:00PM (New Cabell 042)
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, 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.

ENGL 8520-001 - Magic and Witchcraft in Early English Drama 

MW 03:30PM-04:45PM (New Cabell 407)
John Parker

This course will begin by examining the place of magic in scripture and the ancient world, focusing especially on magic's overlap with religion, philosophy (particularly natural philosophy or science), and medicine.  We will then move to medieval demonology, (particularly the writings of Augustine, Aquinas, and Caesarius of Heisterbach) in order to better understand the overlap in representations of witches, saints, and heretics.  We will look specifically at the earliest version of the demonic pact in the legend of St. Theophilus, as depicted in a thirteenth-century French play by Rutebeuf, and at the trial of Jesus for witchcraft in the York cycle.  The last half of the semester will be devoted to Renaissance demonology, English witchcraft trials, and the depiction of magic on the commercial London stage.  Plays may include Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Shakespeare's 1 & 2 Henry VIOthelloMacbethKing LearThe Tempest, Jonson's Masque of Queens and The Devil is an Ass, Middleton's The Witch, Dekker, Ford, and Rowley's The Witch of Edmunton and Thomas Heywood and Richard Brome's The Witches of Lancashire. Throughout the course we will be particularly attuned to the so-called Entzauberungsprozeß or "process of disenchantment" that, according to Max Weber, begins with the Hebrew Bible and ancient Greek philosophy.  To what extent is the relationship between witchcraft and theater clarified by the history of magic as Weber, Lynn Thorndike, Henry Charles Lea, Keith Thomas, and Stuart Clark (among others) envision it?  


ENGL 8559-001 - Who's Afraid of Literary Theory?

W 05:00PM-07:30PM (Cocke 101)
Mrinalini Chakravorty

What is literary theory?  Should we be suspicious of it?  Why are some critics nervous about its influence?  Is it possible to have feelings and views about literature without subscribing to any theory?  Does literary theory exclude those who don’t speak its special language?  What are its values and methods? 

In this course we will consider the liveliest works of contemporary literary theory to see what answers they offer to these questions.  We will focus particularly on work that challenges us to consider the limits of theory.   We will probe our reasons for reading literature—our attachments and worldviews—to see how certain theoretical concerns inflect them (or not).  Our survey will include key texts from prominent schools of thought that have influenced literary studies: psychoanalysis, Marxism, New Criticism, New Historicism/reader response, formalism/structuralism, deconstruction, feminism, postcolonialism, critical race theory, cultural/transnational studies, queer theory, and ecocriticism.  Our initial tour of theory will give you a sense of the intense debates that have shaped ideas of literary value.  It will also give you conceptual grounding by introducing key terms that are the lingua franca of each theoretical discourse. To grapple with the singular issue of skepticism about the role of theory in literary interpretation, we will also read selectively.  We will examine various modes of reading literature— closely, allegorically, deconstructively, socially, suspiciously, reparatively, affectively, symptomatically, and on the surface—to discern the philosophical impulses that motivate them.  You should expect to leave this seminar with a good idea of the history and uses of theory in the study of literature.  Additionally, you should have some understanding of what it means to have a ‘resistance to theory’ in the context of reading literature. 

This course is an introduction and doesn’t assume familiarity with literary theory. You only need to be open to engaging texts/ideas that are difficult.

Course requirements: reading journal; annotated bibliography; research paper (~15-20 pages).  This course meets the theory requirement.


ENGL 8570-001 - Literature of the Americas

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM (New Cabell 207)
Anna Brickhouse

This course will explore a wide range of (broadly defined) fictions from and about the Americas, from writings by Columbus and the conquistadors through modern and contemporary novels, novellas, and short stories. Topics will include New World “discovery” and conquest; borderlands and contact zones; slavery and revolution; and the haunting of the global present by the colonial past. One goal of the syllabus is to encourage readings and interpretations that operate at the intersection of fiction and history, using literary analysis to limn aspects of the hemispheric American past that historicism alone cannot. But students should feel free to use the course to develop their own questions, problems, and interests as well.



R 02:00PM-04:30PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Brian Teare

Collage is an early 20th-century technique that originated in the visual arts in France around 1910. In French, collage is derived from coller, which means “gluing,” but it’s always been about first cutting out/decontextualizing image or language and then pasting down/ recontextualizing it among other images or language. After its emergence as a technique in the paintings and works on paper of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, collage quickly moved into the technical vocabulary of writers and artists associated first with Dada and then with Surrealism, whose chief theorist and champion, André Breton, writes in the first “Manifesto of Surrealism” that “Everything is valid when it comes to obtaining the desired suddenness from certain associations…It is even permissible to entitle poem what we get from the most random assemblage possible.” Surrealists viewed such randomness as a gateway to “the marvelous,” but the marvelous was largely a weapon: against dead convention, constraint, propriety, logic, boredom, etc. The marvelous, according to Breton, could, on the one hand, “push man to frightful revolts,” and on the other, offer “an artificial paradise” created by dream, desire, disruption, and the law of chance. This is the legacy Surrealist collage offers poets who come after: revolt and paradise, critique and aspiration, the overthrow of the status quo. As the Martinican author Suzanne Césaire writes in her essay, “1943: Surrealism and Us,” “when liberty is threatened throughout the world, surrealism…can be summed up with a single magic word: liberty.” Thus though Surrealist collage emerged from a deeply colonial and patriarchal culture, both Black and feminist poets have found its weaponization of the marvelous a powerful tool. “Colonial stupidity will be purified,” Suzanne Césaire claims, “Our value as metal, our cutting edge of steel, our amazing communions will be rediscovered.”

This course will present a capsule survey of Surrealist collage and six of its revolutionary inheritors. We’ll begin with Breton, poet and painter Alice Paalen Rahon, and the Negritude poet Aimé Césaire before moving on to three mid-century American poets associated with the “New American Poetry” – Leroi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka), John Ashbery, and Barbara Guest – and end with three contemporary poets – Ann Lauterbach, Douglas Kearney, and CAConrad – whose work repurposes Surrealism’s dual legacy of revolt and artificial paradise for feminist, queer, anticolonial, and purely aesthetic ends. Alongside the poetry of these nine poets, we’ll study manifestos, interviews, and statements of poetics in order to better understand the theories of making practiced by collage-based poets. Intertwined with this survey of the poetry and poetics of collage will be an experiential learning portion of the course, which will allow us to explore collage techniques literally – through poetics exercises with scissors and glue stick. Together we’ll explore the many iterations of collage over the past century, from Surrealist salvos to anticolonial visions to Camp cut-ups to feminist interventions, while slowly each of us will begin to develop and articulate our own personal version of collage poetics. The course will be capped off with a final portfolio containing a reflective poetics statement and a manuscript of collage-based work.

Poets, Prosers, & Scholars welcome.


ENGL 8598-001 - Form and Theory of Fiction: The Short Form 

M 02:00PM-04:30PM (Bryan 233)
Rabih Alameddine

How can a writer contain a narrative? What must be present, what absent? What is said by not being said?  

In this seminar, we’ll read different kinds of short narratives—haikus, prose poems, stories, short novels—studying what is gained and what is lost by absence. 


ENGL 8810-001 - Forms of Marxism

MW 02:00PM-03:15PM (Brooks 103)
Brad Pasanek

This course surveys major works of Marxist literary theory with an emphasis on theories of form and ideology. The core reading is Karl Marx’s Capital, which we will read carefully for the first two thirds of the semester, following lines of argument out into literary-critical applications. Thus, Marx’s account of commodity fetishism is followed by readings from Georg Lukács on reification and realism, Bertolt Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt, and the Frankfurt School analysis of the culture industry. Marx’s account of machinery and work-day discipline leads on to Walter Benjamin on mechanical reproduction and Sianne Ngai on the gimmick; primitive accumulation brings out Frantz Fanon and Silvia Federici. Weekly reading assignments will also be paired with a packet of miscellaneous excerpts from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. We’ll settle in at midterm for a reading of Walter Scott’s Waverley and Marxist interpretations of the novel. Later in the term we’ll turn to twentieth-century cinema: The Spook who Sat by the Door (1973), Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), and They Live (1988). This final third of the course turns our attention to social reproduction and the categories of race, gender, and sexuality. We’ll study efforts to amend and extend Capital: reading from W.E.B Dubois’ Black Reconstruction in America, Federici’s Caliban and the Witch, and Mario Mieli’s Towards a Gay Communism.


ENGL 8900 - Pedagogy Seminar (3 sections)

T 09:30AM-12:00PM (Bryan 233)
Kevin Smith

This course prepares first year doctoral students for the teaching they will do here at UVa in both literature classes and the writing program. Covers topics such as classroom management, leading discussion, grading papers. 

W 10:00AM-12:30PM (Bryan 233)
Steph Ceraso

 This course prepares first year doctoral students for the teaching they will do here at UVa in both literature classes and the writing program. Covers topics such as classroom management, leading discussion, grading papers. 

M 12:00PM-12:50PM (New Cabell 594)
Jeb Livingood

This course prepares MFA students to teach ENCW 2300/2600. Covers topics such as classroom management, leading discussion, grading papers. 


ENGL 9542-001 - Victorian Realism

MW 03:30PM-04:45PM (Shannon 111)
Stephen Arata

Our primary texts for this course will be six novels: Bleak House, Middlemarch, The Way We Live Now, Villette, Hester, and The Portrait of a Lady. Our primary goal will be to engage at close quarters with these capacious, complex, contradictory, stimulating, often puzzling, sometimes maddening, more than occasionally exhausting works of Victorian fiction. Our equally primary goal will be to engage at close quarters with, and to put our novels in productive conversation with, key works of novel theory. I have provisionally gathered our inquiries under the loose, baggy heading of “Victorian Realism” because the term “realism” was first applied to literary narratives in the 1850s; because attempts to define realism are central to early and mid-twentieth theories of the novel; because characterizing the term as critically meaningless, as many do, is at once justifiable and beside the point; and because some of the best and most innovative work on novelistic realism has been published in the past twenty-five years.

Requirements will likely include 2-3 short responses to designated works of theory or criticism, 1-2 short class presentations, and a 15-20 pp essay. If you plan to enroll in this course, you can get a jump start by reading read Trollope’s The Way We Live Now over Winter Break. It will be the first novel we take up in the opening weeks of the semester.


ENGL 9580-001 - Criticism and Attachment

M 06:30PM-09:00PM (New Cabell 042)
Rita Felski

In this course we’ll look closely at attachments in literature as well as attachments to literature and consider their implications for method and interpretation. The premise of the course is that “attachment” is to be understood broadly; as not just subjective, but intersubjective; as not only emotional but also cognitive, intellectual, and political. How might literary and cultural criticism change if attachment were to become a key concept?

We’ll begin by reading two academic novels about attachments to literature and to theory. These will be followed by portrayals of other kinds of attachments (to a color, a bird, a city, a language, a profession…) in works of fiction and autofiction. We’ll look at relevant theoretical essays on affect, relationality, and resonance. While the course makes a case for the necessity and value of ties, we’ll also direct our attention at examples of misdirected or failed attachments.


ENGL 9580-002 - Critical Race Theory

M 02:00PM-04:30PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Sylvia Chong

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.



ENGL 9995-001 - Dissertation Seminar

M 09:30AM-12:00PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Bruce Holsinger

Digital Humanities

DH 8991 - Intro to Digital Humanities

Tu 2:00-4:30 (Wilson 244)
Alison Booth

A graduate-level introduction to the history, theory, and methods of the digital humanities, this course is required for the new grad certificate in DH. Students will gain an understanding of the origins of DH, the kinds of work done under that label, the opportunities to participate in DH research at UVa, the research insights offered by DH methods, and the applicability of those methods to the student's own research interests.