Archived Course Descriptions
ETS 107-1 Living Writers AND ETS 107-2 through 9
This class gives students the rare opportunity to hear visiting writers read and discuss their work. The class is centered on six readings and question-and-answer sessions. Students will be responsible for careful readings of the writers' work. Critical writing and detailed class discussions are required to prepare for the question-and-answer sessions with the visiting writers.
ETS 114-4 Survey of British Literature since 1789
Instructor: Mike Goode
This course will examine over two centuries of Britain 's literary history, covering the literature and culture of the Romantic age, the Victorian age, and the twentieth century. Historical topics will include: political revolution; the industrial revolution; urbanization; evolution; religion; social reform movements; race, class, gender, and sexual politics; nationalism; imperialism; colonialism and its aftermath; the World Wars; and postmodernism. Readings will include novels, poems, plays, and other historical texts, covering writers such as William Blake, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Derek Walcott, Eavon Boland, Martin Amis, and Ian McEwan. Assignments will include three five-page papers, short response papers, and a final examination.
ETS 115-1 Topics in British Literary History: Survey of Global Literatures in English since 1890
Instructor: Kevin Morrison
This course provides an introduction to global literary studies and to critical writing. Its goal is to introduce you to a range of influential literatures, to enhance your analytic skills of close reading and textual comparison, and to improve your expository writing ability. We will explore representative texts from English-language modernism and its successors: postmodernism and postcolonialism. We will attend to the effects of each tradition on its successors and, reciprocally, the effect of subsequent traditions on our understanding of the implications and deficiencies of previous movements. Colonialism and racism; the powerful desire for literary and social change at the beginning of the twentieth century; cultural responses to World War II; the recovery of previously unspeakable histories; and the creation of new models of liberation are some of the topics we will consider. Readings will include such texts as Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness ; Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse ; Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot ; Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart ; Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name ; Don DeLillo, White Noise ; and a generous sampling of poetry from each literary tradition.
ETS 115-2 Topics in British Literary History: The Gothic and the Literature of Sensation
Instructor: Amy Leal
Before the Gothic was fashion, it was literature. This course will investigate the rise of the Gothic sensibility in the eighteenth century and examine its various permutations over the next two centuries, from Horrid Mysteries to the Romantic mysterium and the Victorian mystery novel. We will begin by indulging in the midnight reading of the eighteenth century, including Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto , Mad Monk Lewis's The Monk , and Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho . After reading Jane Austen's brilliant spoof of the genre in Northanger Abbey , we will also examine the second generation of Gothic fiction such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein , Byron's vampire fragment, Polidori's “The Vampyre,” Coleridge's “Christabel,” and their unholy spawn in the Victorian era: Bram Stoker's Dracula and Le Fanu's “Carmilla.” Finally, we will take a look at the move from the poets of sensation to the sensation novel, whose motto Wilkie Collins exemplified when he wrote, “Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry, make ‘em wait.” There will be two long essays, shorter assignments, and a presentation.
ETS 118-1 Survey of American Literature since 1865
Instructor: Rachel Collins
In this course we will examine American literature produced between the Civil War and World War II. During this period increasing urbanization, immigration, and industrialization were shaping American culture and manifesting themselves in American literary production. Our course texts are concerned with urban poverty and growing class conflict, African Americans' "great migration" to the North, contestations over women's social place, and the rapid expansion of a consumer-oriented society. We will pay particular attention to the three major fictional modes of the period—realism, naturalism and modernism–and will place them in their sociohistorical contexts in order to understand how the larger social conflicts and upheavals of the period prompted writers to become dissatisfied with inherited forms of literary representation. In addition to fiction, we will read a sampling of poetry, plays, and nonfiction from this period. Writers will likely include: Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, Jane Addams, Edith Wharton, W.E.B. DuBois, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and William Faulkner, among others.
ETS 119-3 Topics in American Literature: Modern American Comedy
Instructor: Sanford Sternlicht
Tragedy is about dying and death. Comedy is about living and life. Like tragedy, comedy is basically a literary form. Although it is about life, it is not a direct replication of life. The world of comedy is a real place (except in the Theater of the Absurd), but the characters in comedy are generally eccentric. That is why we laugh, and laughter is as cathartic as crying. Inheriting comic traditions from Shakespeare and Shaw, American playwrights have written many fine comedies full of romance and satire, the two basic ingredients of the form. This course will try to determine what exactly is American comedy through a study of plays by American playwrights of different periods. As comedy is often the weapon of minorities, it may be significant that most of the chosen playwrights are or were members of ethnic groups treated unequally by American society in the past and even in the present.
Requirements: Three 1500 word essays and satisfactory attendance and class participation.
ETS 121-1 Introduction to Shakespeare
Instructor: Jessica Kuskey
In this introductory course we will read Shakespeare's plays and learn about the world in which he lived and wrote. We will study Elizabethan London, the theater district, the operation and popularity of the theater, and anti-theatrical fear and outrage. We will also consider the kinds of people who populated this world: Shakespeare's literary contemporaries, actors and theater companies, and the diverse audience of theater-goers. A variety of historical documents and film clips will help us to visualize this world. In addition to carefully analyzing the language of Shakespeare's plays, we will learn about their historical and cultural contexts including major cultural paradigms like family and gender roles, racism and hate, authority and power, wealth and social class, marriage and romantic love, and monarchy and sovereignty. Expanding our understanding of Shakespeare's world and reading the plays alongside a variety contextual materials will help us to better understand Katherine's rage in The Taming of the Shrew ; young Prince Hal's slumming in Henry IV, part 1 ; Shylock's abuse in The Merchant of Venice ; the impetuous, hotheaded young men in Romeo and Juliet ; and the topsy-turvy period of licensed misrule in Twelfth Night . This class is discussion based.
ETS 145-1 Reading Popular Culture
Film screening M 7:00-9:50
Instructor: Karen Hall
This course offers a survey of the history of popular culture and the methods critics use to analyze popular culture texts and artifacts. Our discussions will begin with an examination of the rationale which allowed the study of popular culture into the classroom, the literature classroom, no less. Together we will strive to make exploration and play from an analytical distance a new way to enjoy the popular culture you already love. We have daily reading assignments, weekly journal and written dialogue assignments, and three formal essays. This will be a predominantly discussion-based course, so come ready to actively engage.
The weekly screening scheduled for this course is required.
ETS 145-2 Reading Popular Culture
Film screening W 7:00-9:50
ETS 145-3 Reading Popular Culture
Film screening M 7:00-9:50
Instructor: Steven Doles
The texts and objects that make up our everyday lives (the popular culture of our everyday lives) are mass produced, mass marketed, and mass mediated. Historically, scholars have been highly skeptical of these texts, seeing them as overly commodified and inferior to high culture. However, within the past several decades a cultural studies model of popular culture has become more prominent, examining the ways people make use of cultural products rather than how cultural products use and exploit them. In this course, we will learn about both sides of this debate, but the emphasis will be on the latter approach. The course will take us from discussions about how to define popular culture and how to recognize the elements that can make a text available for popular appropriation, to looking at actual instances of fandom, including fan fiction and videos. Specific case studies of popular culture appreciation may include such phenomena as comic book fandom or Star Trek conventions, but students will also be encouraged to bring their own experiences and knowledge into discussion and assignments. Assignments will include Blackboard posts every week, short critical papers, and a midterm and final exam. The weekly screening scheduled for this course is required.
ETS 145-4 Reading Popular Culture
Film screening T 7:00-9:50
Instructor: C.J. Dosch
Many of us live media-saturated lives, but how often do we stop and “read” the ways we engage with and (re)articulate popular texts such as television and film? Through a cultural studies approach, this course will investigate how the production and reception of popular culture texts generate meaning and provide ways of thinking about the world in which we live. Students will become familiar with critical strategies for reading the materials of American culture through historical and analytical approaches. Though emphasizing film and television, the course will also consider music and online sources such as YouTube and fansites as important locations of meaning-making and circulation. Assignments will include weekly discussion board posts, short response papers, and midterm and final exams. The weekly screening scheduled for this course is required.
ETS 145-5 Reading Popular Culture
Film screening T 7:00-9:50
Instructor: Michael Dwyer
As Stuart Hall has argued, popular culture is one of the sites of struggle over cultural power and influence, as well as the stakes to be won or lost in that struggle. So then, how does one read popular culture, critically and analytically? This class will operate largely within the tradition of cultural studies, which is concerned with the ways popular culture challenges, reinforces, complicates, or transforms the way our society works. This is not simply a course about popular culture—it's a course that explores diverse and overlapping practices of reading .
This course aims to interrogate the way myriad products of popular culture—films, TV shows, music, web sites, stand-up comedy, fashion, advertisements, etc.—interact with “the people” they address. Are consumers mindless drones, sopping up the messages placed before them? Can audiences re-invent popular culture texts for their own purposes in new and complex ways? In pursuit of these questions (and more), we will consider a wide array of popular culture texts, as well as multiple theoretical approaches to the study of popular culture. Assignments will include weekly writing, three short papers, and a final essay. The weekly screening scheduled for this course is required.
ETS 151-1 Interpretation of Poetry
Instructors: Bruce Smith & Sarah Harwell
The course will consist of discussion of poems from the various traditions of poetry. We're interested in what makes a poem memorable and moving, how it is a vehicle for the emotions. We're interested, too, in what provokes and challenges us, what gives it its power to seduce and trouble and soothe, what gives it its music and voice as distinct from speech.
Students will be asked to write six short two-page papers in which they examine closely a single poem by a poet from the text. Students may opt to write more papers and receive extra consideration for them. In addition, students will be asked to choose a poet and present the work of the poet in class. The presentation will be the basis of a longer paper on that poet. Memorization of a single poem will also be required. Attendance at readings on campus is encouraged. Emphasis in discussions will be on style and substance, music and image. Multiple ways of reading poems will help the students expand the range of poetic possibilities.
ETS 152-2 Interpretation of Drama
T Th 9:30-10:50
Instructor: William West
Ritual, pageant, mime, dance, vocal display: all have been instrumental in creating drama – a powerful mirror reflecting the lives and customs of a people and of individuals. This course examines this 'mirror' as it has evolved in European and American culture from the Greek Drama of ancient Athens to the present, beginning with a reading of Aristotle's Poetics , and continuing with one of the great 'problem' plays of Shakespeare, Measure for Measure . We will consider the beginnings of modern drama with two plays by Henrik Ibsen ( A Doll's House and Ghosts ), followed by five great twentieth-century American plays: Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night , Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour , Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge , August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, and David Mamet's Oleanna .
ETS 153-1 Interpretation of Fiction
Instructor: Rinku Chatterjee
This course will teach you to critically analyze fiction. We will read the texts not only for their style and the formal aspects of their compositions (plot, characterization, language), but also to examine the historical context of their composition, and the manner in which the meanings of texts change in the political context of their readership. We will be reading texts from the eighteenth century to the present. This is a discussion based class and a writing intensive course.
ETS 153-3 Interpretation of Fiction
Film screening W 7:00-9:50
Instructor: Lizz Porter
In this class students will be presented with pairs of related works of print, television, and film in order to explore how we read different types of texts, how the reading of one text informs our reading of another, and how, even though we may think we are engaging with a film or television show on purely escapist terms, we are never passive receptors but are always shaping and being shaped by what's in front of us. In uncovering the many interpretive layers inherent in translating a work in print to a work on screen, we must not only learn to read texts but must also learn to read ourselves as readers. To aid us in our close readings and discussions, we will familiarize ourselves with many components of fiction such as plot, character, genre, figurative language and narrative structure. Examples of text pairs to be covered include the television show House and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories; the graphic novel and movie The Watchmen ; and various Simpsons episodes based on classic works such as Edgar Allan Poe's “The Raven.” The scheduled screening for this course is required.
ETS 153-2 Interpretation of Fiction
Instructor: Jolynn Parker
In this course we will work to develop an understanding of what fiction is, how it acts upon us, and how we act upon it. Careful examination of plots and masterplots, narration and focalization, characterization, symbol, and figurative language will help us become better critical readers of literary convention and close readers of language. Structured around the topic of marriage and family, readings will include Foster's The Coquette , Austen's Pride and Prejudice , Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway , Bechdel's Fun Home , and short stories by Hawthorne, Conan Doyle, Wharton, Faulkner, Walker, and Lahiri, among others. Assignments will include close readings, two short papers, and a longer final paper.
ETS 154-1 Interpretation of Film
Film Screening M 7:00-9:50
Instructor: Roger Hallas
ETS 154-2 & 3 Discussion section Th 3:30-4:25
ETS 154-4 & 5 Discussion section F 9:30-10:25
ETS 154-6 Discussion section F 10:35-11:25
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the interpretation of film. Regarded as the quintessential medium of the last century, cinema has profoundly shaped the ways in which we see the world and understand our place within it. Focusing principally on classic and contemporary English-language cinema, we will investigate precisely how meaning is produced in cinema. The course integrates a close attention to the specific aesthetic and rhetorical aspects of film with a wide-ranging exploration of the social and cultural contexts that shape how we make sense of and take pleasure in films. We shall also devote attention to questions of history: How may one interpret a film in relation to its historical context? How should the history of cinema be written? Film history incorporates not only the films that have been produced over the past one hundred years, but also an understanding of how the practice of moviegoing has transformed over time. No prior film experience is required. The weekly scheduled screening for this course is required.
ETS 181-2 Class and Literary Texts
Instructor: Tanushree Ghosh
In this course we shall analyze literary and cultural representations of class. Through our examination of instances picked from literature, non-fiction, and film, we shall see how class identities are constructed, affirmed, and/or interrogated. We'll focus on the long nineteenth century to discuss how capitalistic modes of production, the rise of consumer culture, and empire impacted the construction of class as a marker of difference. We shall also engage with Marxist and post-Marxist theorizations of class divisions and privilege and use them as critical lenses for the texts we encounter. Some of the texts we'll read as part of this course are: Austen's Emma , Thackeray's Vanity Fair , selections from Mayhew's London Labour and London Poor , Morrison's Tales of Mean Streets , and Forster's Howards End .
ETS 184-1 Ethnicity & Literary Texts
Instructor: Meera Lee
This course will seek to understand the historical, cultural, and political representations of ethnicity through the examination of literary texts. In this trajectory, students will investigate to what degree stereotypes and ethnocentric representations come into play in relation to ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, and religion. We will also try to examine the complexity of legal ethnicity-minority relation and the contradictions of the exclusion-inclusion claims in social agendas that promote diversity in order to ask whether ethnicity is a politically constructed notion from a dominant perspective, or a mechanism to encourage political hegemony. Especially given that the current geopolitical circumstances are very complex, the course attempts to explore the narrative of ethnicity not only from the western multicultural perspective, but also from within cultures both inside and outside the west, particularly in the transnational context. The literary texts selected for the course will include a broad range of contemporary ethnic and multicultural novels, films, and documentaries. We will, tentatively, read works by Sherman Alexie, Chang-rae Lee, Orhan Pamuk, etc., and watch films including Children of Men , Hiroshima Mon Amour as well as documentaries. There will be some mandatory film screenings on Monday evenings.
ETS 184-2 Ethnicity & Literary Texts
Instructor: Silvio Torres-Saillant
This course takes a close look at Latino texts that set out to narrate the self, focusing on the question of Latino identity as a subject of investigation, the difficulty that the project of narrating the self poses at the level of form, the sociopolitical background that frames the rise of life-writing as the preeminent writing activity of our times, and the critical problem that any representation of the self entails. Authors will include Norma E. Cantu, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Cherrie Moraga, Edward Rivera, Richard Rodriguez, Jose Yglesias, Esmeralda Santiago, Nicholasa Mohr, Gloria Anzaldua, Rafael Campos, Julia Alvarez, and Gustavo Perez-Firmat, among others. Through a close reading of their texts, the course will explore the ways in which Latino and Latina writers deploy autobiographical representation as a cultural metaphor.
ETS 192-3 Gender & Literary Texts
Instructor: Carol Fadda-Conrey
In this course students will read and analyze the portrayal and role of gender in a collection of literary texts, focusing on the ethnic, cultural, racial, sexual, historical, and creative implications of gender in relation to the texts' writers and characters. The selected literature includes novels, poetry, essays, drama, short stories, and a graphic novel by writers from the United States , Great Britain , and the Middle East . Texts will likely include works by Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, David Henry Hwang, and Marjane Satrapi, among others. This course is reading intensive, so students should be ready to handle rigorous reading assignments, accompanied by writing analytical papers that reflect their understanding of the issues raised by the texts. The main focus of this course revolves around three thematic divisions: Gender, Writing, and Creativity; Gender and War; and Gender, Race, and Sexuality.
ETS 192-4 Gender and Literary Texts
Instructor: Gohar Siddiqui
In this course we will be analyzing the representation and construction of gender through various cultural texts. In addition to paying attention to how constructions of masculinity and femininity shift through history and across cultures, we will also analyze gender in terms of its intersections with other identity categories such as race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality. Texts will likely include but are not limited to fiction (Bronte's Jane Eyre , Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea , and Austen's Pride and Prejudice ) and film ( Bridget Jones's Diary and Fight Club ).
This class is discussion based and writing assignments are designed to help you develop close reading skills. The assignments will include short papers, one long essay, and weekly Blackboard posts in addition to the midterm and final exam. There will be some mandatory film screenings, mostly during the second half of the semester, to be held on Thursday evenings.
ETS 215-1 Sophomore Poetry Workshop
Instructor: Michael Burkard
In this workshop we will discuss poems from class members on a weekly basis. There will also be assigned readings of much contemporary poetry. We will also study form and prosody issues. This is a discussion class. Students will conduct weekly presentations regarding the reading we are doing.
ETS 217-1 Sophomore Fiction Workshop
Instructor: Aimee Pokwatka
This course is an intensive workshop in the art and craft of writing fiction, primarily the short story. We will read each other's work, as well as the work of more established contemporary writers. Students are expected to do extensive revisions and to participate in discussion.
ETS 235-1 Classics of World Literature I
OPEN TO HONORS STUDENTS ONLY
Instructor: Harvey Teres
This course will introduce you to some of the most valued and enduring literary works from cultures around the world. We will begin with some of the earliest surviving texts from Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures ( Gilgamesh and Egyptian love poems), and go on to read sections from the Hebrew Bible (the “Old” Testament), Sanskrit and Greek epics ( The Ramayana and The Iliad ), classical Chinese philosophy (Confucius and Chuang Tze), Greek and Roman lyric poetry (Sappho, Catullus, Horace, and others), The New Testament, Saint Augustine's Confessions , Tang and Song dynasty Chinese poetry (Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei, and others), and Japanese (women's) lyric (Murasaki Shikibu and Ono No Komachi).
This is an interdisciplinary course that will feature a number of guest lecturers who are distinguished scholars of the books and cultures they will talk about. Each week will feature one lecture period, followed by one discussion period. You may choose to write traditional interpretive essays or more personal (though probing) responses to the readings. There will be a midterm and a final exam.
We will consider these remarkable works with several questions in mind: What is a classic and why have these books attained this status? What are the historical, cultural contexts of these works and their reception over centuries? What moral and religious values do these works impart and are these values relevant to our own? HONORS
ETS 242-1 Reading and Interpretation
Instructor: Claudia Klaver
Instructor: Patricia Roylance
ETS 242 introduces students to the discipline of English and Textual Studies, stressing not what is read but how we read it—and the difference that makes. Its goal, in other words, is not only to show how meanings are created through acts of critical reading but also to demonstrate the consequences of pursuing one mode or method of reading over another. This course is designed to enhance your ability to read and interpret contextually as well as closely, to help you to articulate your understanding effectively, and to draw connections through reading and writing. Through close, deep, and thoughtful reading of literary and non-literary texts as well as essays by critics and theorists, we will explore the ways texts mean and the ways readers produce meaning. Each section of ETS 242 takes up issues of central concern within contemporary literary and cultural studies. These include representation; author/ity, textuality, and reading; subjectivity; and culture and history.
Marxist Ideology Critique
Instructor: Donald Morton
"If the designing of the future and the proclamation of ready-made solutions for all time is not our affair, then we realize all the more clearly what we have to accomplish in the present—I am speaking of a ruthless criticism of everything existing, ruthless in two senses: The criticism must not be afraid of its own conclusions, nor of conflict with the powers that be." —Karl Marx, Letter to A. Ruge, September, 1843
At the present time, literary/cultural studies are the scene of an ongoing contestation among—to simplify the issues—humanist, (post)structuralist, and Marxist theories. As against the other two ways of understanding social issues and problems, Marxism sees these matters not simply as problems of representation, prejudice, or personal attitudes, but rather as the effects of labor relations . . . This course will go "against the grain" of dominant forms of inquiry in the humanities by foregrounding the difference of class as a way of understanding developments in literary and cultural studies today and by focusing on the divergence of the Marxist understanding of "the material" from the understandings of that concept found in today's dominant forms of literary and cultural inquiry.
ETS 305-3 Critical Analysis: Cultural Studies
Instructor: Crystal Bartolovich
What does it mean to be a “cultural critic”? How does such a critic's reading practice differ (for example) from a “formal” or “psychological” or “deconstructive” approach to a literary text or other work of art or popular culture? This course will provide you with basic concepts and strategies to be able to answer such questions and begin to call yourself a cultural critic. We will study mass cultural forms such as advertising, television shows, and fashion as well as everyday practices, such as shopping, reading the newspaper, or going to the movies, to try to understand how we learn to make sense of a globalizing world and live a particular culture—or cultures—in the U.S. today. By comparing and contrasting the strategies of literary texts with other cultural forms and practices we can consider what makes literature particular as a mode of signification (meaning-making). We will also learn the importance of situating everything we study—and ourselves—historically. As the course progresses, you should become a more sophisticated, creative, and critical reader of the world in which we live as you learn to see how literature works in, with, and against that world.
ETS 310-1 Literary Periods: The American Renaissance
Instructor: Patricia Roylance
By any measure, the early 1850s were tremendously fertile years for U.S. literary production. This “American Renaissance” produced famous novels (like Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin ), short stories (like Herman Melville's “Benito Cereno”), orations (like addresses on the institution of slavery by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Henry David Thoreau) and long poems (like Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha ) . We will be analyzing these seminal texts, and also studying the social, political, and cultural events of this period and how they influence its literature. Furthermore, as academic trends have shifted, critical interest in this period has moved from “classic” literature by white men to, for example, popular bestsellers written by women authors and abolitionist texts written by people of color. We will study the immense symbolic value of this period as a battleground on which these kinds of shifts in critical priorities are negotiated.
ETS 310-3 Literary Periods: Post-1945 American Fiction
Instructor: David Yaffe
When the New York Times Book Review recently polled hundreds of writers and critics to determine the "best work of fiction" over the past 25 years, a debate ensued. We will use the resulting controversial list as a starting point for this course, while also looking back further to the beginning of the period after World War II in search of the best. As we do so, we will examine how the "best" is chosen and which texts are likely to remain relevant in the future. Readings may include works by Vladimir Nabokov, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O'Connor, J.D. Salinger, Philip Roth, Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, Lorrie Moore, and Mary Gaitskill. Particular attention will be paid to bringing these novels and short stories to the "way we live now," but we will also put these works in their proper context. We will examine relevant developments in music and film (competing and complementary media in an era like no other) as well as attitudes about race, sex, and politics. How a cultural moment results in a particular literary style will also be important. Presentations will be on film adaptations of fiction on the syllabus—we will use an inquiry into filmmaking as a way to get closer to the text. Two papers and a presentation are required.
ETS 315-1 Ethnic Literatures and Cultures: Yiddish Literature in Translation
Instructor: Ken Frieden
This course will examine readings in translation of the major Yiddish writers from 1864 to 1939. After studying three classic authors––Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and Peretz––we will turn to modernists such as S. An-Ski, Sholem Asch, Dovid Bergelson, Moshe Kulbak, and Lamed Shapiro. In several instances, we will compare the fictional works to film adaptations such as The Dybbuk, Tevye, and Fiddler on the Roof . Klezmer wedding music is an incidental topic. The final section of the course turns to important Yiddish women writers of the twentieth century, especially Blume Lempel, Fradel Schtok, and Yente Serdatsky. Readins will include: Abramovitsh, Tales of Mendele the Book Peddler ; An-Ski, The Dybbuk; Bergelson, The Stories of David Bergelson; Classic Yiddish Stories of S. Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I. L. Peretz . Ed. Ken Frieden; Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers. Ed. Frieda Forman, et al.; Aleichem, Nineteen to the Dozen: Monologues and Bits and Bobs of Other Things; Aleichem, Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories; and A Treasury of Yiddish Stories . Ed. Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg.
ETS 320-2 Authors: Three British Playwrights
Instructor: Sanford Sternlicht
Modern drama is international. It had its origins in the Continental European intellectual, cultural, and aesthetic movement called Modernism. The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw brought modern drama to Britain . Shaw adapted Ibsenism and social drama to comedy, but most other writers for the English stage followed Ibsen with realistic and naturalistic dramas that explored the political and social dynamics of their time. Modern British dramatists looked to Chekhov to learn how to portray psychologically tormented lives. Pirandello forced British playwrights to contemplate the relativity of reality. Brecht became the model for British radical epic drama. Finally, Beckett infused existentialism into the drama. His influence led to the popularity of British versions of the Theatre of the Absurd. Ibsen, Shaw, Chekhov, Pirandello, Brecht, and Beckett also influenced the work of the three most important living British playwrights: Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, and Caryl Churchill. This course will study select dramas of these playwrights as works of art as well as philosophical and social documents.
Requirements: Three 1500 word essays, dates to be announced. Satisfactory attendance required.
ETS 325-2 History and Varieties of English
Instructor: Patricia Moody
This course aims to provide students with as much knowledge as possible, as interactively as possible, of the basic structures of the English language and representations of its history. For at least two hundred years, the story of English has been the story of Standard English triumphant. This course works against that deceptive hegemony, demonstrating through readings, exercises, and research into actual language use from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Thomas Jefferson and a lively range of contemporary speakers, that no standards of correctness have ever really contained the surging energy of English, in all its multiform varieties. Equally important, the course aims to develop critical awareness of contemporary language issues and the complex ways in which language embeds attitudes.
ETS 340-4 Theorizing Forms and Genres: Black Prison Writing
Instructor: Greg Thomas
Nowadays, many in U.S. circles refer to the “prison-industrial complex,” a rhetoric which literally comes from The Wall Street Journal itself. But before imprisonment would be defined according to contemporary economics, it had already been defined by scholar-activists in the Black radical tradition in terms of enslavement. The large-scale transfer of Black persons from antebellum plantations to today's prisons (where “old” official slavery remains perfectly legal) can therefore be easily understood as an “internal slave trade” as opposed to slavery's actual “abolition.” This course confronts this Pan-African problematic of the politics of prison (and mass criminalization) without losing sight of this connection between imprisonment and enslavement, whether past or present. We'll focus on North America as a historic site of struggle for recent Black writing from and about prisons, confinement, incarceration, jailing, etc. Reading from Nat Turner to George Jackson and Assata Shakur, for example, students should in the end be able to think critically about incarceration; identify connections between old and new forms of captivity; analyze the cultural as well as socio-economic operations of jailing or imprisonment; and also interrogate established concepts of law, crime, order and the like, as encouraged by Black or African Diasporic movements of thought.
ETS 350-3 Reading Nation and Empire: Hip-Hop Eshu: QUEEN B@#$H Lyricism
Instructor: Greg Thomas
This course on lyricism is all about Hip-Hop and, necessarily, Black life in Africa 's Diaspora. It is no less about certain “gender” and “sexuality” issues at the center of contemporary Black struggles, cultural and political. Our focus will be on the lyrical texts of one phenomenal figure: Lil' Kim, “Big Momma/Queen B itch.” In place of bourgeois literature and bourgeois criticism, there will be rap audio and lyrics, oral history, musicology, folklore and spoken word, magazine articles, interviews, film and video as well as Black Studies of all kinds: Toni Morrison on the Million Woman March, Angela Y. Davis on Blues women, Carolyn Cooper and Denise Noble on Dancehall Ragga, Cheryl Keyes on female rappers, E. Franklin Frazier on the brown middle-class elite, Sonia Sanchez on Black Puritans, various scholars on Yoruba trickster-god(desse)s, Sylvia Wynter on modern sexual categories, and Ifi Amadiume on African matriarchy and pre-colonial/flexible gender systems. We'll also seriously examine recent work on state repression and “Rap COINTELPRO,” state violence not covered by corporate media. All will be critically engaged to provide ample understanding of Lil' Kim's “Queen B itch” lyricism, her sexual revolution in rhyme, her very own work in the musical revolution that is Hip-Hop.
ETS 360-1 Reading Gender and Sexualities: Queer Fictions
Instructor: Amy Lang
Gertrude Stein once said, “Literature—creative literature—unconnected with sex is inconceivable.” Taking up the central role sex plays in the novel and the novel has played in the literary, cultural, and political representation of same sex desire, this course asks how Anglo-American culture has thought about sexuality and art, love and literature, and how we might think again. To explore the literary impact and cultural importance of the work of lesbian, gay, and queer writers demands new interpretive skills. While cultivating the close reading of texts, this course will require as well that students learn unfamiliar modes of reading attuned to a range of references that challenge or reconfigure our customary assumptions about the novel. The “heterosexual plot”—the apparently inexorable progress of Anglo-American narratives toward resolution in/through marriage—for example, or the conventions of gender representation, take on altered significance when queer writing is highlighted, when sex, “a part of something of which the other parts are not sex at all,” in Stein's words, is central to literary discussion. This course requires that students commit themselves to close reading and that they bring with them a willingness to entertain the ambiguous, the difficult, the problematic.
ETS 360-2 Reading Gender and Sexualities: Gender and Sexuality in the Arab World
Instructor: Carol Fadda-Conrey
This course explores the ways in which gender and sexuality are represented in an array of visual, historical, and literary texts from the Arab world and its diaspora, starting from the pre-Islamic era up till the contemporary period. Some of the main issues that will be addressed include the historical development of feminism in the Arab world, the construction of gender roles in the context of war and conflict, as well as the outspokenness of many of the region's writers on topics such as love, sex, and homosexual desire. In studying these issues, we will also be focusing on texts by writers of Arab descent living in the US who respond to and engage with their counterparts in the Arab world on some of the same topics but from a diasporic perspective, thus emphasizing a transnational and transcultural approach to our study of gender and sexuality.
ETS 360-3 Reading Gender and Sexualities: Other Women in Victorian Fiction
Instructor: Claudia Klaver
The domestic ideology that dominated the culture of bourgeois Victorian England dictated that in order to be good or “true,” a woman must be firmly rooted in and largely confined to the domain of the home. Her primary identity was to be that of a virtuous wife and mother, and before that a chaste and dutiful sister and daughter. Because of the rigidity of this ideology, almost any deviation from its ideals catapulted a woman from the status of “angel” to that of “demon,” or from “Madonna” to “Magdalene.”
Such “other” Victorian women—fallen, odd, evil, or perverse—occupy center stage in many nineteenth-century novels. Even when such novels impugn, punish, or banish these wayward women, their figures still trouble the snug domestic scenes with which the texts often conclude. In other novels, these figures play such a powerful role in the text as to make any such a turn toward a happy ending impossible.
In this course we will explore a number of nineteenth-century fictions of these “other” Victorian women, reading novels and short stories by Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, George Gissing and others. We will supplement our readings of the novels with contemporary feminist theory and criticism, as well as with selected primary source material.
ETS 401-2 Advanced Creative Writing Workshop: Poetry
Instructor: Mary Karr
This is an advanced course, so I assume you're all passionate about poetry and motivated enough to a) read, b) write, c) critique each other's work with utmost care and respect, d) rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. Your notes on each other's poems should be detailed and serious. I'd also like to see your revisions fairly regularly in conference, and for you to keep different drafts of the same poems. What I value first and foremost is a) clarity in communication and b) strong feeling (in the reader NOT the writer). I expect everyone to rewrite based on workshop comments. You'll bring in poems as often as possible—once per week, or every two. You'll also memorize poems I bring in.
ETS 403-2 Advanced Creative Writing Workshop: Fiction
Instructor: Arthur Flowers
Workshop format. Craft. Vision. Professionalism. MFA preparation.
ETS 405-1 Topics in Medicine and Culture: AIDS in American Literature
Instructor: Deirdre Neilen
This course will examine attitudes (cultural, national, professional, medical, personal) towards those who have HIV/AIDS. The literature will present a combination of fictional and real characters; through their lives we will follow the progression of the disease from its initial incarnation as mysterious, frightening curse to its current status as a chronic illness that can be managed with proper treatment and medication. We will explore the ethical dilemmas AIDS brought to the forefront of medicine, law, and politics and analyze today's responses with those from the first days of the epidemic.
ETS 410-4 Forms and Genres:
Victorian Poetry of Love and Desire
Instructor: Kevin Morrison
Victorian love poems are often dismissed as embarrassingly mawkish and sentimental. Although we will read a representative selection of poems that have helped to establish this reputation, a central premise of this course is that Victorian poetry of love and desire frequently wrestles with the epistemology of love (how does one know love? how does one know the other through love?) as well as the phenomenology of love (how do we experience it?) and is therefore far more complex than critics have often assumed. Some of the likely poets we will encounter include Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Algernon Swinburne, Thomas Hardy, and George Meredith. Our discussions will be enriched by theories of emotion and human/nonhuman animal relations, as well as recent scholarly reappraisals of Victorian love poetry.
ETS 410-5 Forms and Genres: Styling the Self in Seventeenth-Century Prose
Instructor: Stephanie Shirilan
The genre we use to publish our ideas in nearly every academic discipline is prose—specifically, the prose essay. Coined by Montaigne to describe a mode of writing that imagines itself as an attempt or trial, the ‘essay' as we know it was born at the end of the sixteenth century. Marking the wane of humanism and the rise of empiricism, the essay, and the prose styles it fostered, initiated a century of intellectual revolution centered on questions of individual sovereignty. This course will study the relationship between seventeenth-century prose and literary selfhood. We will consider how the development of English prose enabled writers to imagine their relation to their physical, spiritual, and political surroundings, asking the following questions: What suasory, consolatory, or incendiary aims did their prose aspire to? Who could write prose, when, and why? What were the conditions of writing and reading in the period that led us to think of its prose as the somber cousin of poetry and plays? We will read from key Continental texts translated into English at the start of the century as contexts for the theological, scientific, political, and autobiographical prose of John Donne, Francis Bacon, Thomas Browne, Thomas Hobbes, Lucy Hutchison, and others.
ETS 420-2 Cultural Production and Reception: The Shakespeare Industry
Instructor: Patricia A Moody
From Al Pacino's Looking for Richard (1996) to John Madden's Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love (1998), and with major contributions from Kenneth Branagh, the past ten years have seen numerous film versions of Shakespeare's plays. Why? This course examines issues of production and reception of Shakespeare's plays, particularly in their most recent film adaptations. We'll make case studies out of several plays (read in their entirety) to see how they are cast, staged, directed, and received.
ETS 420-4 Cultural Production and Reception: The Bloody Argument: Jacobean Revenge Tragedy
Instructor: Stephanie Shirilan
In the Jacobean revenge play, illicit desire, jealous fury, and boundless ambition culminate in dizzying scenes of death and dismemberment: severed hands, skewered hearts, poisoned skulls, lycanthropy, and accidental suicide. Incest and necrophilia, body-swaps, bartered maidenheads, and all varieties of murder and madness feigned and real are commonplaces of the Jacobean stage. Were Ford, Webster, Middleton, and Tourneur the Tarantinos of their times? How might we compare contemporary dramas such as The Godfather and The Soprano s to the seething plots of corruption and retribution of the Italianate families on the Jacobean stage? What did violence ‘do' for the late-Renaissance playgoer? What did it enable playwrights and audiences to think and say? We will closely consider how the Jacobean plot stages contests for power over the possession and display of the female body. We will debate whether the Jacobean tragedy upholds or subverts the values and virtues of the late Renaissance church and court—carefully weighing the villain's highly seductive arguments against the blander virtues of the play's moral authorities. Studied plays and screenings of film adaptations will include The Revenger's Tragedy , ‘Tis Pity She's a Whore , The Atheist's Tragedy , Women Beware Women and The Duchess of Malfi.
ETS 426-1 Literature, Culture, and Social Change: Is Literatue Dying?
Instructor: Harvey Teres
Most of you read literature because it's assigned to you in school. Some of you will continue to read it once you graduate, but most of you won't. This is a course that will explore the literary life of the nation, both on and off the college campus, to determine just how vital or languid that life is. We will explore the reading experiences of people outside the academy, and a range of issues relevant to those experiences. We will look at literacy and literacy rates, how much and what people of different ages and demographic groups read, the impact of the internet, the changing publishing industry, book reviewing and the function of critics, how literary canons are made, multiculturalism and its impact on literary culture, “political correctness” and censorship, the pleasures of reading, and the moral and political impact of literature. We will relate these issues to the function of English departments and their changing relationship to the wider world with an eye toward the possibilities of developing stronger connections to the public. To this end, students will be encouraged to produce research papers (perhaps working as teams) based on their involvement with literary or cultural groups in the surrounding community—perhaps through the CNY Reads program, through some other of the many initiatives at S.U., or by creating their own project.
Reading and Writing U.S. Consumer Culture
Instructor: Amy Lang
This senior seminar interweaves the history of the emergence of a “culture of consumption” in the United States with an exploration of its literary expression. Beginning with the rise of the department store—the “ladies paradise”—in the late nineteenth century and ending with the age of advertising in the 1920s, we will investigate changes in the way goods were marketed, advertised, bought and sold, the way Americans thought and felt about goods, their uses, and themselves, and attendant changes in the stories they told and how they told them. Keeping in mind the tension between the liberatory and the oppressive built into this history, we will explore the cultural and imaginative significance and the novelistic renderings of the new roles, attitudes, and states of being—“just looking,” “trying on,” “window shopping”—that accompanied the rise of what one historian has called a “consumer republic.”
In the first portion of this seminar, we will read the histories and historical documents that frame this dramatic change in U.S. culture alongside the fictions to which it gave rise. The second portion will be focused on original research on projects that might range across the wider history of consumer culture, from the post-World War II “malling” of America to current anti-consumerist and DIY subcultures. Instructor permission required.
ENG 630-1 Graduate Proseminar: US Modernist Fiction
Instructor: Susan Edmunds
This course offers an introduction to modernist fiction in the U.S. We will begin by reviewing early critical accounts of a modernist tendency to reject time-governed narrative structures and their overt engagement with history in favor of “spatial organization,” aesthetic experiment, and formal self-reflexivity. Next we will consider more recent critical efforts to understand modernist formal innovations as so many attempts to engage history in a new way: one that foregrounds the role of language and ideology in constituting lived reality and that confronts as such a crisis of representation intrinsic to the organization and experience of modern life. We then turn to fictional texts caught up in numerous social conflicts of the early twentieth century, including: the betrayed legacy of Emancipation and the fight for racial justice; sexual revolution, women's suffrage, and the creation of new sexual subcultures; capitalist expansion, labor radicalism, and the ethical role of the state; tensions and transfusions between high art and mass culture; and the pro-nationalist bid to forge a distinctly “American” voice. Modernist texts are usually difficult; class participants should be prepared to take a scholarly approach and to work hard.
ENG 630-2 Graduate Proseminar: Reading the Early Modern
Instructor: Crystal Bartolovich
In this class we will read a wide range of early modern texts across genres to think about the role of literature and other cultural forms in the emergence of a market economy and modern European colonialism. Beginning with Thomas More's Utopia and working our way through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, we will pay particular attention to the appearance of novel or transformed institutions and practices that arise in this extended moment of “transition” to modernity, including print culture, the public playhouses, pamphlet and news circulation, pedagogy, and translation.
This course will be of particular value to those students wanting to clarify and explore a “Historical Materialist” approach to literature, those wanting to hone their understanding of the “long history” of capitalism and colonialism by studying the crucial moment of “primitive accumulation,” as well as those planning to specialize in early modern studies. 20-25 pages of writing is expected, but I am open to dividing it up into 2-3 shorter papers for students who would prefer that option, and topics are negotiable depending on the special needs/interests of students enrolled (you can write about the film version of an early modern play, for example, or nineteenth-century editions of Shakespeare, etc., depending upon how your study of the early modern suits your own interests).
ENG 630-3 Graduate Proseminar: Visual Culture
Film Screening T 7:00-9:50
Instructor: Roger Hallas
It has become a critical commonplace to note that we live in a visually saturated world where images play a dominant role in shaping how we think, how we communicate and how we conceive of ourselves. Yet our contemporary relationship to images is profoundly complex, caught between an enthusiasm for their sensuous immediacy and a skepticism towards their potential veracity. If we ask what an image actually is and how it works, then we are asking a deeply historical question. While modernity stripped the image of the sacred power it had held in the pre-modern world, it also relied increasingly on the image's enhanced scientific functionality, which manifested itself most clearly in the new media of photography and cinema. Moreover, the complex social, economic, and cultural transformations of modernity necessitated new ways of seeing, what has come to be known as a distinctly modern visuality , in which these new media would play a particularly vital role. Visuality was also key to the development of certain modern disciplines of knowledge, including Marxism, psychoanalysis, and anthropology. The contradictions of the image persist in the postmodern era when the ubiquity and proliferation of images, especially in television and digital media, seem only to ensure the critical challenge to their truth claims. In exploring how we can critically analyze such visual culture, this course offers an introduction to visual studies, the interdisciplinary field of scholarship that has developed around these theoretical and historical questions about visuality and the image. In our close critical engagement with some of the key thinkers in the field, we shall examine a range of visual media, particularly photography, film, television, and digital media. Since the emergence of this new interdisciplinary field has generated substantial critical debate, we shall conclude the course by considering the varieties of critical skepticism toward the field and discussing its impact on the discipline of English and the fields of cultural studies, media studies, and film studies.
ENG 631-1 Critical Theory
Instructor: Donald Morton
“Theory signals ‘speculation.'” --Culler, “What Is Theory?”
“Where speculation ends. . . there real, positive science begins.”
--Marx and Engels, The German Ideology
This course will be a rigorous inquiry into a range of contemporary theoretical discourses, drawing on texts from such zones (among others) as language and rhetorical analysis, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, feminism, performance theory, race theory, queer theory, historical materialism, postcolonial and globalization theory, . . . . In addressing the fundamental question of what the term “critical” means in the phrase “critical theory,” the course will explore the significant differences between traditionalist criticism, deconstructive critique, Foucauldian genealogy as critique, Deleuzean creative critique, Marxist ideology critique, Pan Africanist critique, . . .
The course will organize these diverse inquiries by addressing several overarching issues. One such issue will be the competing claims of both (post)modernist/(post)structuralist theory and Marxist theory to constitute “materialist” critiques that provide more productive knowledges than the now “outmoded” idealist theories represented by traditionalist/humanist/modernist thought. This will lead to a sustained investigation of the divergent and incompatible meanings of “materialist” in these competing “materialist” theories and therefore into the question of the theory and politics of theory. Christopher Butler has recently argued (2002) that “Most of the French intellectuals responsible for the theoretical inspiration of postmodernism worked within a broadly Marxist paradigm.” In terms of “materialist” theory, what does such a claim amount to? Does it in fact conflate important intellectual and theoretical distinctions?
Another larger issue will be the question of whether by the late 1990s the American academy had in fact entered into—and is perhaps still in—what some have called a “post-theoretical moment.” What is the meaning of the expression? Is theory itself now somehow irrelevant and unnecessary, or does the phrase simply refer to the passing of a specific theoretical development that has in recent times exhausted itself? In another phase, the course will inquire into the relation of critical theory to critical pedagogy.
ENG 650-1 Forms: Poets and Collaborators
Instructor: Michael Burkard
As writers/readers, we are the collaboraters. In discussion and in writing we will respond to poets in translation, including Transtromer, Syzmborska, Vallejo, and to a wide range of contemporary American poets, including Fanny Howe and Lucille Clifton. As a class, we will also write some collaborative work among ourselves. We wil explore various means of adapting to issues of translation, subject matter, and forms.
ENG 650-2 Forms: Contemporary Poetry
Instructor: Christopher Kennedy
In this class, we will read and discuss the work of four American poets—Frank Stanford, Weldon Kees, Elizabeth Bishop, and Robert Hayden—whose poems represent four very different approaches to the art and craft of poetry.
The books we will read for this class are Frank Stanford's The Singing Knives , about which critic Victor Schnickelfriz wrote: "In short, The Singing Knives might be best described as: Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch collaborate to direct and write a script for a psychological thriller about fishing, hunting and butchering starring the cast of the grown up little rascals who have matured into bloodthirsty criminals;" The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees , which elicited the following comments in Poetry Magazine : “Kees was both a gifted lyric poet and a restless experimenter, whose diverse background as an abstract expressionist painter, a jazz pianist and composer, and a filmmaker enriched his sense of formal possibilities;” Elizabeth Bishop's The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 , which prompted James Merrill to remark, "Of all the splendid and curious works belonging to my time, these are poems that I love best and tire of least. And there will be no others;” and Robert Hayden's Collected Poems , about which Major Jackson wrote: “Richly humane in vision and profoundly elegant in craft, the Collected Poems of Robert Hayden reflect an American poet's commitment to the magic of language and its inherent ability to illuminate the human condition—a commitment that at times borders obsessiveness. In this sense, Robert Hayden is a poet's poet, and incarnate proof that all poets are not created equal.”
Assignments will include creative and/or analytical responses to the readings.
ENG 650-3 Forms: The Russians
Instructor: George Saunders
In this course we'll read the short fiction of Gogol, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and
Isaac Babel, alongside a sampling of that of some other Russian writers
(Turgenev, Doestoyevsky, Kharms) in an attempt to deepen our understanding
of the story story¹s techniques, aims, and history. I¹m still working on
the texts, but these will be the collected sho rt works of the four main
writers listed above, along with Nabakov's "Lectures on Russian Literature,"
and photocopied selections from other writers, as necessary.
ENG 650-4 Forms: Research and Imagination
Instructor: Dana Spiotta
We will examine how different writers use research in their work. We will look at fiction that uses historical events. We will look at fiction that uses figures from real life. We will look at fiction that uses the theories and language of science. We will discuss how using newspapers, encyclopedias, dictionaries, films, diaries, letters, case studies, and interviews can inspire the writer's imagination and concentration. We will contemplate the things that fiction can do that a biography or a book of history cannot do.
Our focus will be on contemporary fiction, but we will begin by discussing the newspaper article that inspired Dreiser's An American Tragedy and a short in-class reading from Dos Passos.
The Book of Daniel, E.L. Doctorow
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Michael Ondaatje
Libra, Don DeLillo
The Tree of Life , Hugh Nissenson
A Mercy , Toni Morrison
Saturday , Ian McEwan
The Seal Wife , Kathryn Harrison
We will read shorter pieces by David Foster Wallace, A.M. Homes, Robert Coover, Richard Price, Peter Carey, and Richard Powers.
We will also read some primary source documents and some author interviews. There will be an average of 150 pages of reading a week.
ENG 650-5 Forms: Art and Craft of Poetry
Instructor: Brooks Haxton
The governing idea of this course is that a piece of writing is always a deliberate construction that uses what the writer has learned from others to generate an intense experience in the reader. We will spend several weeks on various rhythmic traditions, and stanza patterns, not because everyone should use these, but because any writer who gets the sense of these patterns has better access to most of the best poetry written in English, and greater freedom in the act of composition. Other topics will include image, diction, tone, point of view, and argument. Weekly handouts will describe principles to be studied in poems assigned as reading, and in that week's writing assignment. Prose writers as well as poets may find this course useful.
ENG 715-1 First Poetry Workshop
Instructor: Brooks Haxton
Students in this workshop will write one poem each week and revise at least four of these into carefully considered versions on the basis of workshop analysis. Reading and writing assignments will address issues that arise in workshop. Admission is strictly limited to first-year students in the MFA Program in Poetry.
ENG 716-1 Second Poetry Workshop
Instructor: Bruce Smith
Students in this course will be asked to write twelve poems, one “free” poem to push back against the world with the imagination per week. The emphasis will be both on the craft—the language and the shaping and forming of the writing, and the imagination—the vision that's unique to each individual. Classroom work will consist primarily of workshop-style discussion of student work, although each class will begin with poems, ancient and modern, as models or targets for discussions of technique as well as examples of tapping the resources available to the writer. This term I'll begin class with what I call an “exemplary” poet—avoiding the more proscriptive term “essential.” Exercises will include ways to locate the source of your poems as well as ways to "music" them, to shape them, and to revise them.
ENG 717-1 First Fiction Workshop
Instructor: Dana Spiotta
ENG 718-1 Second Fiction Workshop
Instructor: Arthur Flowers
Second year workshop for students in the MFA Program in Fiction.
ENG 719-1 Third Poetry Workshop
Instructor: Mary Karr
This class is based almost entirely on revision, so your notes on each other's poems should be detailed and serious. I'd also like to see your revisions fairly regularly in conference, and for you to keep different drafts of the same poems. What I value first and foremost is a) clarity in communication and b) strong feeling (in the reader NOT the writer).
We'll also be looking at entire books with an eye to building a thesis. In the first class, you'll bring in copies of tables of contents and actual, physical first books that you like a lot. Also at the first class, you'll bring in a poem each, but thereafter, one poet will bring in groups of 6-8 poems, rather than our looking at one per human.
ENG 721-1 Third Fiction Workshop
Instructor: George Saunders
This course, required of and restricted to third-year students in the MFA Fiction program, is a workshop-based critique course, designed to prepare the student for his/her spring thesis work.
ENG 730-1 Graduate Seminar: Colonialism and Cultural Formation: The West Indies
Instructor: Erin Mackie
Concentrating on British colonialism in the West Indies from 1655 to 1834, this seminar will examine West Indian cultural formations whose production begins in the early modern period and, in many cases, continues through to the present. The guiding topics of the course include: the discursive production of the West Indies; the establishment of central colonial institutions, especially the plantation and the merchant navy; the notion of creolization as a cultural process; the formation of Caribbean countercultures, such as Maroon and pirate societies; and the production of modern ethnic categories. These topics will be approached through readings in historical ethnography; novels and poems; biography; travel narrative; and contemporary cultural theory. Primary texts include: Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea ; Richard Ligon, A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes ; Aphra Behn, Oroonoko and Thomas Southerne , Oroonoko: A Tragedy ; Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe ; A General History of the Pirates ; Bavia, or, The Jamaican Lady ; Inkle and Yarico narratives; Richard Cumberland, The West Indian: A Comedy ; The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano ; and The Life of Mary Prince.
ENG 730-2 Graduate Seminar: The Red Progressives: Pan-Indianism and theNative American Public Sphere, 1875-1934
Instructor: Scott Lyons
In this course we will read Native American literature from the Assimilation Era, a time when boarding schools and other such assimilation policies ironically created possibilities for the emergence of a new, and often critical, public sphere in Native America. It is a complicated period. The term “progressive” is typically understood in the context of this age to refer to the emergence of left-wing politics; its opposite is “conservative.” But in Native American circles, the word was synonomous with “assimilated,” and its opposite was “traditionalist” (also “conservative”). Making matters all the more confusing, race was ascribed to these monikers; a “red progressive” was typically called a “mixedblood,” while a “traditionalist” was a “fullblood,” regardless of one's so-called “blood quantum.” In this seminar we will sort out these kinds of complexities and in so doing perhaps come to appreciate writers who, while occupying the now-unattractive position of assimilated mixedbloods, were in their own time important critical intellectuals and writers. We will read Charles Alexander Eastman, Zitkala-Sa, Francis LaFlesche, Luther Standing Bear, E. Pauline Johnson, and others who offered some devastating critiques of white society and colonization, even though they didn't sound very much like Crazy Horse.
ENG 730-4 Graduate Seminar: Conspiracy and Crime in Long Nineteenth-Century British Literature
Instructor: Mike Goode
British criminal law has long localized and individuated responsibility through the figures of the criminal and criminal conspirator. This course examines how various novels from Britain 's long nineteenth century (1789-1914) critiqued and helped to construct the notions of individuated historical responsibility upon which the modern criminal justice system relies. To focus our own historical inquiry, we will be paying particular attention to the questions of how, why, where, to what ends, and with what effects the genre of the mystery novel came to be. Part of the historical task of the course, then, will be to identify the particularity of the mystery as a genre by looking at a wide variety of writings about mystery, secrecy, conspiracy, the law, and detection drawn from every corner of British culture during the long nineteenth century: everything from late eighteenth-century Gothic novels and conspiracy-mongering political pamphlets; to early nineteenth-century Newgate novels, historical novels, realist novels about secrecy and mystery, and serial potboilers like The Mysteries of London ; to later nineteenth-century “sensation” novels, newspaper crime blotters, journalistic accounts of urban poverty and underworlds, detective novels, and vampire novels. But our broader task—as much a theoretical as an historical one—will be to think about the relationship between historicism and legal inquiry by studying how different genres of nineteenth-century crime, mystery, and conspiracy literature constructed and critiqued different notions of historical responsibility, determination, and cultural systematicity. Primary texts covered will include a variety of non-fiction materials, as well as fiction by Ann Radcliffe, William Godwin, Walter Scott, Harrison Ainsworth, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Charles Dickens, G. M. Reynolds, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Morrison, and Joseph Conrad. Writing assignments will be bi-weekly Blackboard posts, a critical literature review, and a longer seminar paper.