Graduate Course Descriptions Spring 2024

For undergraduate course descriptions, see here.  

ENCW 7310 MFA Poetry Workshop

M 02:00PM-04:30PM (Bryan 233)
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 by established writers and other aspects of the creative process. In addition, we will 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 MFA Fiction Workshop

M 02:00PM-04:30PM (Bryan 332)
Kevin Moffett

ENGL 5530-001 The Literature of British Abolition c. 1750-1810

T 03:30PM-06:00PM (New Cabell 415)
Michael Suarez

How did Great Britain come to abolish the slave trade in 1807 and what roles did literature play in enlightening readers to the barbarities of this human traffic? Reading works such as Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, Quobna Ottobah Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery, Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, and a variety of poems, both canonical and from relatively unknown voices, we will attempt to immerse ourselves in the literature of British abolition. Juxtaposing such writings with visual materials (viz., the slave ship Brooks), abolitionist political pamphlets, and letters in the C18 public press will give greater depth to our discussions. Finally, we will read Caryl Phillips’ novel Cambridge and reflect on how a literature of abolition might function in our own time.

This course satisfies the 1700-1900 requirement.

ENGL 5559-002 The Ode

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM (New Cabell 066)
Rebecca Rush

The ode has long been a place for poets to test their own mettle—and the meaning of greatness. Starting with Pindar and Horace, this course will explore how generations of poets reinterpreted the ode and its traditional celebration of athletic beauty and valor. We will look closely at poems that praise (or blame) particular people such as Cleopatra, Brutus, Cromwell, Napoleon, and Freud; call upon abstractions such as wit, solitude, and liberty; and address such non-human listeners as nightingales, Greek urns, and western winds. We will ask how each ode reckons with the idea of heroism and the purpose of praise. How do they imagine and depict greatness, fame, knowledge, beauty, good fortune, and strength? Do they see these as consistent with goodness, justice, and delicacy? How do poets ironize and critique—both their objects of praise and bygone views of greatness? When and why do odes shift to meditating rather than praising, and do these meditative odes still respond to the heroic tradition? What do odes have to say about the distinctive tools and aims of poetry and about poetry’s role in immortalizing? We will approach the thought of each ode with seriousness and its language with rigor, but we will also enjoy the unique sonic pleasures of poets like Keats, Spenser, Cowley, Wordsworth, Marvell, Gray, Byron, and Auden.

This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement for the English major and counts toward the Medieval and Renaissance Concentration in English.

ENGL 5559-005 The Modern Long Poem: British and American

TR 03:30PM-04:45PM (Cocke Hall 101)
Walter Jost

In his book Colors of the Mind, the literary theorist and critic Angus Fletcher identifies a relatively untilled field in literary study that he calls “noetics”: “Noetics names the field and the precise activity occurring when the poet introduces thought as a discriminable dimension of the form and meaning of the poem.” Noetics must be a very large field indeed, so that a university course wishing to include aspects of it needs some way of delimiting its interests to deal with our American poets. Of course, “thinking” has many possibilities—among them opining, believing, conceiving, inferring, imagining, reflecting, musing, meditating, as well as deliberating, speculating, reasoning, and arguing. In this course we will focus on select matters of “thinking” to give point to various aspects of what Fletcher calls “thinking the poem.” This semester we will feature modern British and American “long” poems, including G. M. Hopkins’ “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” A.R. Ammons’ Sphere, and Gary Snyder’s book-length “Mountains and Rivers Without End.”

ENGL 5580-001 Material Culture: Theories and Methods

M 03:30PM-06:00PM (Kerchof 317)
Lisa Goff

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

This class fulfills the theory requirement for the English MA/PhD.

ENGL 5580-002 - 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 Criticism and Theory requirement for English graduate students and the seminar requirement for English undergraduates.

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

W 10:00AM-12:30PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Steve 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 5830-002 World Religions & Literatures: Poetry and Theology

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM (Gibson 142)
Kevin Hart

This seminar focuses on the writings of two important poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Geoffrey Hill. The one is Catholic, and the other questions religion at every level while also remaining open to the possibility of faith. Each poet raises major theological issues: belief, doubt, ecstasy, martyrdom, revelation, transcendence, and theodicy, among them. We will read, as closely as possible, some poems and prose writings by each poet, consider their theological contexts, and examine the ways in which theological issues are folded in their poems. Students will write two essays, one on each poet.

ENGL 5831-001 Proseminar in World Religions, World Literatures

F 10:00AM-10:50AM (Kerchof 317)
Elizabeth Fowler

The Proseminar in World Religions, World Literatures is a one-credit, pass/fail forum that welcomes all graduate students whose work brings together literature in any language with study of any religion, and it is open to interested undergraduates by permission of the instructor. It supports the concentration called WRWL that is offered within both the English MA and the Religious Studies MA, a concentration students may join as part of the terminal degree but also, if doctoral candidates, en route to the PhD. We meet most weeks of the semester for a single hour, under the Scholar’s Tree by Dawson’s Row, weather permitting. We read short texts together, perform thought experiments, write manifesti, invite guests we admire from the UVA faculty to be interviewed on their own work, mull over the challenges we face, and brainstorm about how we can best support one another’s work. Please email with questions.

ENGL 8005-001 Intro to Environmental Humanities

R 02:00PM-04:30PM (Warner 113)
Adrienne Ghaly

Cross-listed with ENVH 6000.

How do the arts and the humanities contribute to conversations about the environment and the fate of our planet? How are they responding to the environmental challenges of the Anthropocene, the geological age in which humans (some more than others) shape Earth systems? This course introduces the questions, methods, and arguments that organize work in the environmental humanities (EH). The seminar’s primary objective to is to advance graduate student capacities to use skills, knowledges, tools, and archives of the humanities to advance pluralist, integrated understandings of environmental issues. In support of that purpose, the seminar develops critical reflection on conceptual, theoretical and methodological questions in EH about disciplinarity, collaboration, innovation, and public engagement. The course materials draw from literary and cultural studies, philosophy, history, anthropology, and religion. This graduate seminar is open to MA and PhD students from any discipline, including the sciences and social sciences.

This class is collaborative by design, with guest speakers from across UVA presenting over the course of the semester. It also fulfills one of the requirements for the graduate certificate in Environmental Humanities (info can be found here)

ENGL 8500-001 History and Theory of Digital Humanities

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Alison Booth

Cross-listed with DH 8991.

This course is a graduate-level introduction to the history, theory, and methods of the digital humanities.  We will cover a range of historical, disciplinary, technical, and contemporary issues in the field, primarily in the context of literature, textual studies, and history, but also spatial matters, database and network analysis, machine learning and its critiques. Our plan is to introduce diverse cultural and epistemological issues and methods. Examples include how maps and other spatial and temporal perspectives are enabled by the digital; the conditions of print and archival materials in the age of digital reproduction; emergent/cy concerns about textual analysis, AI, privacy, security, surveillance.  This course is also designed to introduce students to areas of DH activity at this university.  Students should come away from the course with a solid understanding of the origin of digital humanities, the kinds of work done under that label, the opportunities to participate in DH research at UVA, the research insights offered by digital methods, and the applicability of those methods to the student’s own research interests. The course is required for all students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities.

ENGL 8500-002 The Anglophone World Novel: Theory and Criticism

W 03:30PM-06:00PM (Bryan 235)
Debjani Ganguly

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

Proposed Novels

Ian McEwan’s Saturday
Don DeLillo’s Falling Man
Chimamanda Adichie’s Americana
Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being
Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

ENGL 8540-001 Romanticisms and Enlightenments

R 11:00AM-01:30PM (Bryan 233)
James Chandler

The aim of this seminar will be to develop research projects under two closely related rubrics that are historically contested (perhaps never more so than now) but also still critically valuable (which is why they do not go away). The point of using these rubrics in their plural form is in part to acknowledge the transnational aspect that each has come to acquire. Although France and its lumiéres might be understood as providing the ur-site of the Enlightenment itself, we have come to speak of enlightenments in other national contexts, such as Britain (esp. Scotland), Germany, and Ireland. And although Romanticism has important roots in Britain, Ireland, and Wales--with their early involvement in what Katie Trumpener calls “bardic nationalism”--it is common enough to speak of romanticism in the context of German, America, and even France. But another reason for using the two primary rubrics in the plural is to acknowledge that romanticism has different meanings in different conceptual frameworks. For us, the primary emphasis will be on literature, though questions about romanticism in music and the visual arts need not be excluded. Finally, some categories will come from historical disciplines: social history, political history, the history of science and technology, and the history of empire. Romanticism registers in each of these disciplines in a different way. The main focus of the course will fall on English language literary materials produced in England, Scotland, Ireland, and America. But key texts by such non-British writers such as Voltaire and Rousseau, may also come into play. Finally, our procedure over the course of the seminar will be to work backward from some central Romantic texts to the Enlightenment texts and contexts the lie behind them. We will move, roughly, from Keats, Shelley, and Scott in the period after Waterloo, back to work by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Edgeworth, and Madame de Staël, then through to about the 1740s, concluding with eighteenth-century debates about race and slavery, e.g. in Hume and Coguano. There will be opportunities for presentations by participants in the seminar, and a final paper, 20 pages or so, that will be drafted, workshopped, and resubmitted.

ENGL 8560-001 Poetry in a Global Age

MW 02:00PM-03:15PM (Kerchof 317)
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 consider modern and contemporary poetry in English in relation to transnational, global, world literary, and postcolonial theory and history. Issues to be explored include the historical memory of colonization and enslavement, global challenges such as war and the climate crisis, and transformations of world-traveling poetic forms and strategies. We closely read the vibrant anglophone poetries of India, Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Ireland, Black and Asian Britain, and diasporic and Indigenous America, which bring new worlds, new idioms, and new literary possibilities into English. Postcolonial writers enrich poetry in English by hybridizing local traditions with the poetic inheritances of the global North. Forged in response to an increasingly globalized world, the innovations of transnational modernist writers provide crucial tools that the poets of the global South repurpose. Featured writers include postcolonial poets such as Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, Lorna Goodison, NourbeSe Philip, A. K. Ramanujan, Okot p’Bitek, Christopher Okigbo, and Daljit Nagra, and modernists like T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, and Claude McKay. Requirements include active participation; co-leading of discussion; and two conference-length papers (8-10 pages).

ENGL 8580-001  Fictionality: History, Theory, Practice

T 03:00PM-05:30PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Bruce Holsinger

Fictionality is a distinctive quality of literary writing that has come under intense critical scrutiny in recent decades—though often with little regard for how contemporary authors practice the hands-on making of fiction. How, why, and with what leaps of intuition does a novelist begin to make things up, to fictionalize the world? What does this process have in common with the fictional strategies of past writers—the narrative poets of the Middle Ages, the experimental novelists of the eighteenth century? This seminar will study the history and theory of fictionality with close attention to the imaginative craft of fiction. We will consider a range of approaches to the fictional impulse across a variety of literary writings: contemporary autofiction and literary suspense, narrative poetry from the Middle Ages, the eighteenth-century novel, and others. We’ll also consider theoretical and practical writings on fiction and fictionality by Catherine Gallagher, Wayne C. Booth, Monika Fludernik, Brandon Taylor, Ursula K. Le Guin, Julie Orlemanski, Stephen King, and others. The seminar will include class visits from several contemporary novelists and critics who will help us think together about the relation between the creative and the critical. Participants will also have their own opportunities to fictionalize, to assay the cognitive and creative processes entailed in the remaking of the world through fictional narrative.

Students may use the seminar to satisfy the pre-1700 requirement and/or the history of criticism/literary theory requirement.

ENGL 8596-001 Embodied Ecologies: Ecofeminist Poetry & Poetics

W 02:00PM-04:30PM (Shannon 109)
Brian Teare

“How can we listen across species,” asks Alexis Pauline Gumbs in Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals, “across extinction, across harm?” And how can the practice of poetry extend the senses, aid us in listening and speaking to, touching, and moving in ethical relation to the imperiled world? Much contemporary ecofeminist poetry focuses of course on fostering ethical relations to the more-than-human, and it often does so by situating these relationships in the Anthropocene, a geological epoch sometimes reframed by ecocritics as the Plantationocene or the Colonialocene. Ecofeminist poetics often makes visible how chattel slavery, imperialism, industrialization, settler colonialism, and militarization take advantage of and thrive off of the intrinsic interconnectedness between species, ecosystems, humans, and human systems. Thus this interdisciplinary course will begin with brief introductions to ecofeminist theory, ecopoetics, and Black and indigenous environmental theories before moving on to books of contemporary ecofeminist poetry, which we’ll read alongside short selections from the ecocritical discourses that inform the work. Lichen, birds, wolves, trees, oysters, and insects will accompany us through the semester as we too attempt to listen across species, “to see what happens,” writes Gumbs, when we “rethink and re-feel” our own “relations, possibilities, and practices” in conversation with the more-than-human world. Assignments will range from the creative to the critical, with an emphasis on process-led ecofeminist research, culminating in a final project.

ENGL 8598-001 Knowledge and the Imagination: Literature, the Supernatural, the Real

R 04:00PM-06:30PM (Dawson's Row 1 105)
Micheline Marcom

"The imaginative world is the only real world after all." --Wallace Stevens

This course will be an investigation through readings of literature into the imagination and its relationship to knowledge and to reality. We will read a wide array of books from Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Jung's Red Book, The 1001 Nights, Pessoa's Book of Disquiet, Stevens' Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Rilke's Malte Laurids Brigge, Lorca's Duende, as well as essays on the imagination by the likes of Baudelaire, Coleridge, Ted Hughes, and sufi scholar, Henri Corbin. There will be creative responses, consummate notetaking, and a final project.

ENGL 8900-001 Pedagogy Seminar

M 11:00AM-01:30PM (Bryan 233)
Kevin Smith

ENGL 8900-002 Pedagogy Seminar

W 05:00PM-07:30PM (Bryan 203)
Kenny Fountain

ENGL 8900-003 Pedagogy Seminar

Jeb Livingood

ENGL 9580-001 Aesthetics and Politics

M 06:30PM-09:00PM (Bryan 310)
Rita Felski

How have art and politics been connected or opposed over the last two centuries? We'll approach this question via a survey of such key concepts as realism, modernism, the avant-garde, kitsch, camp, postmodernism, and the sublime. Other topics to be discussed include the museum, the role of race and gender in aesthetics, the sociology of literature and art, and the recent surge of interest in aesthetic experience.The approach is primarily theoretical, although combined with numerous examples from literature and painting, and to a lesser extent from film and music.

This class fulfills the theory requirement for the English MA/PhD.

ENGL 9900 - Teaching of Literature Practicum

Meeting TBD.
Clare Kinney

This course may be of particular interest to doctoral students who’ll be teaching their own introductory literature seminar in their 4th year—but all graduate students are welcome to enroll (including MFAs). It will emphasize hands-on teaching skills, addressing all aspects of teaching literary texts at the college level (syllabus planning, discussion leading, grading, teaching writing within the particular context of a literature course, teaching techniques for particular genres, the particular challenges of teaching older literature, etc. etc.). Students will also have the change to observe/shadow the teaching of experienced instructors. There will be small, ad hoc assignments during the semester and a final project involving expanded syllabus design.

ENGL 9995-001 Dissertation Seminar

T 02:00PM-04:30PM (Pavillion 8 105)
Emily Ogden