Upper Division Course Descriptions
ETS 303-1 Reading & Writing Fiction
All creative disciplines depend on the study and imitation of the particular art form for mastery of their elements. In this course you will read and analyze a number of short stories in order to deepen your understanding of a variety of concerns in storytelling including voice, point-of-view, stance, sentence style, structure, and character. We will attempt to answer the question: how have authors generated emotion, interest, and power in creative texts? You will be required to display an understanding of these issues by producing creative and analytical responses to the texts studied.
ETS 305-2 Critical Analysis: Reading Feeling
Instructor: Claudia Klaver
One of the main reasons we enjoy literature and film is because of how they make us feel and in the last fifteen years this has become topic of increasing interest to literary and cultural theorists. Theorists of the contemporary cultural moment have explored the way our current social and economic system has created new structures of feelings that undermine the narratives of “the good life” we have inherited. Other theorists look at the way differences of race, gender, and sexuality created different affective or feeling structures in different groups in our culture. Another group of critics has focused on the realist novel to study the way literature teaches readers to feel for others by teaching sympathetic identification with characters.
In this course, we will read these theorists alongside literary texts that are often self-consciously exploring and theorizing structures of feeling, including (but not limited to) Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, and Claudia Rankin’s Citizen. We will also screen a number of films, including Inside Out and First Person Plural. Students will write two short (2-3 page) short essays and two longer essays (6-8 page).
305-3 Critical Analysis: Performance Studies
Instructor: Christopher Eng
Drawing on the interdisciplinary field of performance studies, this course centers on performance as both an object and method of analysis. Performance will guide our conversations into the intimate contacts and frictions between bodies and difference. Examining theatrical performances alongside sets of processes and actions studied as performances, this course asks: how do bodies come to matter through performance? If embodied differences (race, gender, sexuality, nationality) are in part constituted performatively, how have feminist, queer, and artists of color mobilized performance to problematize and reimagine dominant understandings of such differences? Through these inquiries, the course grapples with the politics of performance, contemplating the limits and opportunities for corporeal movements to gesture toward and materialize broader social movements. We will consider a range of performative works by artists such as Marina Abramović, Coco Fusco, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Nella Larsen, and Gene Luen Yang to reassess historical contexts ranging from chattel slavery and U.S. settler colonialism to the AIDS epidemic, as well as social movements such as Occupy Wall Street, Idle No More, and Black Lives Matter. Nuancing the dynamics between oppression and resistance, performance will be our muse for contemplating and enacting the utopian possibilities of queer world making grounded in social justice.
ETS 311-1 Literary Periods before 1900: 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 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. Pre-1900 course.
ETS 311-2 Literary Periods before 1900: People, Places, Nature—The Storied Lands of Late 19th-Century American Fiction
TuTh 12:30-1:50 PM
Instructor: Dorri Beam
This course looks at the outpouring of fiction dedicated to particular places and environments in the years between the Civil War and the turn into the twentieth century. In this period of rapid expansion and industrialization, a period of migration, immigration, and displacements of peoples living in and coming to the U.S., a good deal of fiction hunkered down in specific locales, evoking the particularities of place, imaginatively projecting its social ecologies, and considering the forces that shaped its inhabitants. From rural New England to the emerging cityscapes of the industrial north, from vast expanses of desert and prairie to decaying southern plantations to the wilds of gold rush California: literary environments were invested with questions about the interrelation of space and time, nature and people, and social and national identities. Potential authors include Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Mary Austin, Bret Harte, Frank Norris, Jack London, Sara Winnemucca, Mark Twain, and Jose Marti. Pre-1900 course.
ETS 311-3 Literary Periods before 1900: Eighteenth-Century Worlds
Instructor: Erin Mackie
This course looks at a set of eighteenth-century worlds, social and cultural places, both historical and imaginary, that may seem both familiar and exotic. We will read texts that imagine places such as the beau monde, or world of fashion; the urban metropolis and the rural retreat; the public sphere of news, opinion, and coffee-houses; the market place; and the nation itself alongside its colonial extensions in the West Indies. As we examine the making of these worlds we will look at their distinctive social categories and characteristic values. So we will study how class and status, gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality are figured by the eighteenth-century imagination. And, crucially, we will look at how the imagination itself becomes a standing topic in the literature. We will read periodical literature, poetry, letters, novels, and essays by a variety of authors. Pre-1900 course.
ETS 315-2 Ethnic Literature & Cultures: The Holocaust in American Literature
Instructor: Harvey Teres
This course will explore the moral, religious, and artistic challenges faced by American writers who have represented the Holocaust and its aftermath in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Students will begin by reading a historical account of the Holocaust, followed by efforts to link the Holocaust to trauma studies and to other examples of genocide. We will spend the rest of the semester reading literary representations of the Holocaust and its aftermath. Texts will include Philip Roth’s “Eli, the Fanatic” and The Ghost Writer; Bernard Malamud’s “The Last Mohican” and “Lady of the Lake”; Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird, Cynthia Ozick’s “The Pagan Rabbi,” “The Shawl,” and “Rosa”; Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated; Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem; Art Spiegelman’s Maus I and Maus II; Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution; Nathan Englander’s “The Tumblers”; and selected poetry by Jacob Glatstein, Charles Reznikoff, W.D. Snodgrass, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Anthony Hecht, Elie Wiesel, and others. Students will have the option of producing a traditional final interpretive essay or producing a collaborative “publicly-engaged” presentation to local high school students. Meets with JSP 300.
ETS 325-1 History and Varieties of English
TTH 11:00 AM-12:20 PM
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. Equally important, the course aims to develop critical awareness of contemporary language issues and the complex ways in which language embeds attitudes.
ETS 350-3 Reading Nation & Empire: Gender and Sexualities in the “War on Terror”
Instructor: Carol Fadda-Conrey
In this course, we will analyze the ways in which gender has been employed in developing narratives of US national security and the “War on Terror” after 9/11. Even though we will focus in our analysis on the period following the events of September 11, 2001, we will also be questioning the notion that 9/11 is an exceptional traumatic event that produces exclusive forms of US trauma and citizenship. This course focuses on feminist, queer, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist engagements with and responses to the events of 9/11 and the ensuing “War on Terror,” looking closely at the role of gender and its intersections with race, sexuality, and religion in mobilizations of the US security state. In studying the ways in which such intersections have been deployed in constructions of national identities, war projects, and imperial agendas since 9/11, we will pay special attention to depictions of some of the first responses to the attacks, moving on to analyze the rhetoric informing much of the dominant narratives about the US-led war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the torture practices at the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons. The readings include theoretical, literary, and cultural texts by various writers including Judith Butler, M. Jacqui Alexander, Moustafa Bayoumi, Sunaina Maira, Jasbir Puar, Susan Sontag, and Wafaa Bilal. Crosslisted with MES 350 and WGS 360.
ETS 351-1 Reading Nation & Empire before 1900: Nineteenth-Century London and Paris
Instructor: Kevin Morrison
Over the course of the nineteenth century, London and Paris were transformed from dark, congested, and dangerous cities into the modern, organized capitals we experience today.
But the vast improvement projects that greatly altered each city, such as Haussmann’s grand boulevards in Paris and Josh Nash’s Regent’s Park and Regent Street in London, were not undertaken in isolation. Rather, they were part of an ongoing competition between the two cities. With a focus on architecture, commerce, and the literature that recorded but also helped to shape perceptions of the new urban experience, this course will explore how Paris and London emulated, copied, and learned from one another in their respective efforts to become the world’s greatest city. We will read novels, poems, historical studies, and sociological theories by English and French writers that help us consider a range of urban issues requiring, because they are not confined to one country alone, a comparative approach. Pre-1900 course.
ETS 361-1 Reading Gender & Sexualities before 1900: Other Women in Victorian Britain
Instructor: Claudia Klaver
The domestic ideology that dominated the culture of bourgeois Victorian England dictated that in order to be a “true” woman must be firmly rooted in the domain the home, with her primary identity as that of a virtuous daughter, wife, and mother. Because of the rigidity of this ideology, deviations from its ideals catapulted a woman from the status of “angel” to that of “demon.” Such “other” Victorian women—fallen, odd, evil, or perverse—occupy center stage in many nineteenth-century narratives. Even when such novels punish or banish these wayward women, their figures still trouble the snug domestic scenes with which the texts often conclude. A further and equally important complication of the domestic ideal was its hidden racial and class assumptions. Indeed, many of the characters who novels mark out as morally flawed are also represented as racially marked or of a lower-class origin. In order to explore the complexities of class- and race-based femininities in Victorian English, we will read a number poetry and life-writing by British women of color and working-class women. We will also read more canonical fictional representations of “other women,” including Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, and possibly Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s long narrative poem, Aurora Leigh. Students will be responsible for a formal oral presentation, three 6-7 page essays, and frequent in-class writings and/or reading quizzes. Pre-1900 course. Crosslisted with WGS 360 and QSX 300.
ETS 401-1 Advanced Writing Workshop: Poetry
Instructor: Michael Burkard
This course is devoted to the poem and seeks to answer the question that all artists face: how does one transform feeling and experience into something more than the original impulse, how does one create art? You will develop your poetic skills by reading the work of published poets, writing a poem every other week, and critiquing one another’s poems. You will be expected to extensively revise four of the poems you write. The course is open to anyone who has taken the introductory poetry workshop, ETS 215. Juniors and seniors who have not had a workshop may submit a portfolio of seven pages of original poetry to be considered for admission.
ETS 403-1 Advanced Writing Workshop: Fiction
Workshop format critiquing two student stories a workshop, with discussions of selected published stories as called for. Emphasis will be on craft, production, and literary vision. The course is open to anyone who has taken the introductory fiction workshop, ETS 217. For those students who have not taken the prerequisite, you must submit samples of your fiction to the instructor for permission to enroll.
ETS 405-1 Topics in Medicine & Culture: Death and Dying in American Literature
Instructor: Deirdre Neilen
This course intends to provoke thoughtful discussion and analysis about how we approach the subject of death and how we do or do not prepare ourselves for its actuality. Our youth-worshipping culture wants to deny or at least delay aging for as long as possible. Consequently, many people have difficulty facing their own mortality and handling serious illness. Some controversy surrounding current health care issues is connected to the proposition that physicians should have conversations with patients about end of life treatment and goals. What do people mean when they say, “do everything”? What do physicians mean when they say treatment would be “futile”? What does it mean to be a health care proxy? These are some of the questions we will explore through our analysis of fiction, poetry, drama, memoir, and film. We will begin to see some of the universal responses we have to death, dying, and grief as well as some culturally specific ones.
ETS 410-2 Forms and Genres: Television Genres as Practice
Film Screening M 6:45-9:30PM
This course will explore American television genres, as part of an examination of genre theory and the evolution of generic forms and conventions on television. The function of genre in the production and reception of television will be considered as we assess genre simultaneously as a cultural practice and an industrial strategy. Genres covered in the course will include iterations of the drama and melodrama, sitcoms, reality programming and others. We will engage with the historical and aesthetic development of genres, in addition to exploring shifts in televisual modes of address and the role of emerging technologies in shaping generic practices. Attendance at weekly evening screenings is required. Film and Screen Studies Course.
ETS 410-3 Forms and Genres: The Historical Novel
Instructor: Mike Goode
Historical novels, or novels about the past, always raise questions about how one can know and represent the past, why understanding or refusing to understand a particular past might be important for those living in different historical moments, and what it means to represent the past in a novel as opposed to in a non-fictional text, film, painting, reality show, or video game. In this course we will look at how and why these questions get formulated and answered differently at different historical moments. We will do so by studying a few of the earliest examples of national historical novels alongside some contemporary examples, and also alongside other historical media from their respective eras. In general, the course looks at how a novelistic genre emerges, dissolves, and reforms. But more broadly, it will examine the artistic, political, and theoretical projects of contemporary national historical literature by thinking about its relationship to an earlier period characterized by intense interest in, and deep anxiety about, representing the national past. Fiction readings will likely include works by Walter Scott, Sydney Owenson, James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, E.L. Doctorow, Michael Ondaatje, Angela Carter, John Fowles, Julian Barnes, Sarah Waters, and Laurent Binet.
ETS 421-1 Cultural Production and Reception before 1900: Medievalism
Instructor: Patricia Moody
The Middle Ages remain present in modern consciousness, both through scholarship and through popular media such as stage and film, video and reenactment games, poster art, television, and print media. This course investigates responses to the Middle Ages across all periods since a sense of the mediaeval first began to develop. It is concerned, then, with creative reception of the Middle Ages, including attempts to “reproduce” the Middle Ages, as well as with both academic and political-ideological reception of the Middle Ages. In short, we may look at selections from a very broad historical and cultural spectrum: Lord of the Rings to Batman, the Pre-Raphaelites to Shrek, Chaucer to Mark Twain and John Steinbeck, or Joan of Arc and Robin Hood. Pre-1900 course.
ETS 430-1 Theorizing Representation: Documentary
Film Screening Th 6:45-9:30PM
This course will examine questions of representation in documentary film and related media. We will consider a number of related questions, which might include the following: What is documentary, and how does it relate to and differ from fiction film as well as from other forms of non-fiction media, such as the newsreel, docudrama, essay film, serious games, or photography? How do documentaries deploy sound and image to tell stories and make arguments about the world? To what extent do documentaries put us in touch with the real world, or merely provide an illusion of doing so? What ethical problems do documentaries raise, and how have filmmakers resolved (or failed to resolve) those problems? Attendance at weekly screenings is required. Film and Screen Studies course.
ETS 440-1 Theorizing History & Culture: Game Histories and Cultures
Instructor: Chris Hanson
This course will explore the cultural and historical trajectories of games both within the United States and larger global contexts. While our focus will primarily be digital games, we will also explore analog games and trace their shared histories and associated game cultures. As we examine different eras and key moments within the emergence of games as a cultural form, we will look at particular representative games and texts to critically analyze their significance. In our consideration of cultural and historical contexts, we will also map the role of social, economic, and political factors in the creation of particular games, genres, and platforms. The course will study “canonical” games such as Super Mario Bros., Sid Meier’s Civilization, and Grand Theft Auto, as well as influential lesser-known and independent titles such as Rogue and Colossal Cave Adventure. In addition to a variety of games, we will also study relevant screen-based media texts which explicitly or implicitly engage with the key aspects of the histories and cultures of games. Film and Screen Studies course.
ETS 441-1 Theorizing History & Culture before 1900: Milton and the English Revolution
Instructor: Crystal Bartolovich
Paradise Lost is widely considered to be one of the most influential poems ever written. This course offers an in-depth reading of John Milton’s great epic, along with his shorter poetry and prose, in the context of the political, religious and social ferment of seventeenth century England. Because Milton was a propagandist for—as well as a critic of-- the revolutionary government of his time, his writing provides an intriguing case study for examining the relation of poetry to politics. Paradise Lost raises questions that are still with us very urgently today: what does freedom--of religion, the press, speech, franchise, and the individual--mean? How do we achieve a good society? What role does education play in forming a desirable and sustainable Republic? Why is it so difficult to make justice prevail in a “fallen” world? To what extent do people make their own histories? Through slow and thoughtful reading, we will consider the special contribution that poetry can make to address such questions. Pre-1900 course.
ETS 444-1 Topics: Theorizing Modes of Inquiry: Early Modern English Feminism(s)
Instructor: Melissa Welshans
This course will explore literature from early modern England (1500-1700) that illuminates gender relations of the period, paying particular attention to authors whose texts have been read through the lens of feminist theory or who themselves seem to espouse a proto-feminism. At a moment when our own culture is teeming with debates surrounding women’s equality and the definition of “feminism,” an examination of earlier cultural iterations of female liberation and women’s rights can prove useful for our understanding of contemporary arguments. Texts under investigation will include works by female authors such as Aemilia Lanyer, Elizabeth Cary, and Aphra Behn, as well as texts by male authors including William Shakespeare, Thomas Dekker, John Donne, and John Milton. Assignments will include formal essays and written exams. Pre-1900 course.
ETS 450-1 Reading Race & Ethnicity: Reading African American Literature in (Post)Racial America
Instructor: Meina Yates-Richard
Kenneth Warren’s 2011 monograph What Was African American Literature? asserts that the end of legal segregation (Jim Crow laws) also marks the end of African American literature as a coherent field of literary practice. Using Warren’s textual provocation as our point of entry, this course interrogates African American literature from its nascence until our contemporary moment. We will trace the contours of the field over time, situating our study within the contemporary framework of American post-racial discourse, as well as contemporary counter-discourses deployed in movements like Black Lives Matter, to assess the continued significance of African American literary production in the 21st Century. Students will examine a variety of literary and cultural artifacts in order to gain an understanding of the historical, social, political, and cultural events and forces that continue to shape this rich body of literature, as well as its enduring influences upon American history and culture. Readings may include the literary and critical works of writers ranging from Phillis Wheatley, to Richard Wright, Imani Perry, Ta’Nehisi Coates, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ntozake Shange, Matt Johnson, Jacqueline Woodson and Michelle Alexander, among others.
ETS 494-1 Research Practicum in ETS
Instructor: Crystal Bartolovich
This one-credit course introduces students to the scope and demands of an honors or distinction project in ETS. Enrollment is by invitation to participate in the distinction program, and/or honors program, only. In five formal meetings, we will cover choosing an adviser, developing a suitable topic with engaging research questions, compiling a bibliography, reading critically, making (and accepting) assessments of writing effectively, taking good notes, and writing a useful thesis proposal. These skills and activities are designed to prepare you for ETS 495, the Thesis Writing Workshop, in the spring.