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Fall 2018

Lower Division Courses

ETS 105 M001: Introduction to Creative Writing
TuTh 12:30-1:50pm
Instructor: Nana Adjei-Brenyah

This course is designed to introduce the student to three types of creative writing: poetry, fiction and nonfiction (including mixed genres). Our objective is to discover the inaugural steps to writing effectively in each category. The course will focus on inspiration (why write a poem or a story or an essay?) as well as the techniques of evocative, compelling writing across all literary genres (e.g. point of view, concrete detail, lyricism, image, metaphor, simile, voice, tone, structure, dialogue, and characterization). Students will read and analyze work by authors from various traditions, and produce creative work in each genre. ETS 105 prepares students for upper-level creative writing courses in fiction and poetry.

ETS 107-1 Living Writers
W 3:45-6:30 PM
ETS 107-2 through 10
W 3:45-6:30 PM
Instructor: Staff
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. The first class meets in Gifford Auditorium.

ETS 114 M001: Survey of British Literature, 1789-present
TuTh 2:00-3:20pm
Instructor: Mike Goode

Few nations in the world have changed more dramatically over the past 250 years than Great Britain, and these changes are evident throughout its literature. This course moves briskly through just over two centuries of Britain’s literary history, covering the art and culture of four distinct periods: Romantic, Victorian, Modern, and Post-War/Postmodern/Postcolonial. Historical topics will include: slavery; political revolution; the industrial revolution; the Enlightenment; urbanization; evolution; religion; social reform movements; the politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality; nationalism; imperialism; colonialism and its aftermath; the World Wars; postmodernism; the politics of choosing to write in English; and the history of literary forms. Readings will include novels, poems, plays, and song lyrics by writers such as William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Olaudah Equiano, Charlotte Smith, Jane Austen, Robert Browning, Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Wilfred Owen, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Sam Selvon, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Johnny Rotten, Bob Marley, Ian McEwan, and Zadie Smith. Assignments will include three five-page papers and a final examination.

ETS 119 M002: Topics In US Literature and History: Experimental & Emerging Genres 1980-Present
MW 12:45-2:05pm
Instructor: John Colasacco

Because all writing is experimental, and no work considered valuable and excellent fails to test, reconfigure, or broaden the language, a course devoted to the recent history of experimental and emerging genres will need to examine & seek new patterns of expression in a range of exemplary texts and cultural artifacts, with emphasis on close reading practices, attention to rhetorical/historical contexts, and strategies for effective response/critique. In particular, the past forty years will frame our study of the rapidly expanding diversity of voices and forms that lead to our current understandings of literary art. Historically, experimentalism sharpens under regressive regimes; in this class, student writers committed to the idea that the stories that need to be written are the ones that can’t be told will find a through-line to their ambitious forbears, and will better understand how to read and create the texts that define literary/American history.

ETS 121 M001: Introduction to Shakespeare
Lecture: MW 11:40-12:35pm
Discussion: F 10:35-11:30am or 11:40am-12:35pm
Instructor: Dympna Callaghan

Do you love Shakespeare, or do you hate him, or have you never read him at all? No matter which of these is true for you, this course will help you understand his writings. We will read some of his most famous works, such as Macbeth and Richard III and watch performances of them, but we will also cover some of his lesser-known writings, such as The Comedy of Errors and the Sonnets. We will also learn about his life and the society in which he lived. Loving the bard is not a course requirement, but reading him with care and attention is.

ETS 122 M001: Introduction to the Novel
TuTh 2:00-3:20pm
Instructor: Haejoo Kim

This class explores the novel and its form by looking at some of the representative novels in the English and American traditions. What are the narrative conventions of the novel? How do they affect the ways in which we perceive and imagine the world? How do the authors engage with these conventions, playing with them and also challenging them? Practicing close reading and critical analysis, students will develop skills to examine formal elements of the novel in relation to the conceptual frames of race, gender, and class. We will also engage with critical readings of the texts. Readings may include: Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

ETS 145 M004: Reading Popular Culture
MW 9:30-10:25am
Discussions: Th 3:30-4:25pm and 5:00-5:55pm; F 9:30-10:25am and 10:35-11:30am
Instructor: Steven Doles

What place and value do mass forms of entertainment, literature, and art hold for our lives? How are our communities and identities shaped by those same mediated works? Why do fans of Harry Potter or Star Trek place so much importance on these imaginary stories? Do the music subcultures young people are so often invested in have lasting import, or are they merely a means to kill time? Throughout this course we will be exploring these and other questions. To focus our attention on these questions, we will read a number of works of fiction and nonfiction throughout the semester, including John Scalzi's Redshirts, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Simon Reynold's Generation Ecstasy, and William Gaddis's Agapē Agape. Readings will sometimes be supplemented with episodes of TV shows or movies, or with examples of popular and classical music, either to be examined on your own, or with examples provided in lecture. Our two major areas of focus for the semester will be popular media franchises and their fans, and music subcultures and their participants. Students will also become familiar with major approaches in the field of cultural studies, and develop a critical vocabulary to talk about the media that is interwoven with their everyday lives. If we are lucky, we may have some special guests stop by to demonstrate and discuss their own participation in the culture that surrounds us.

ETS 151 M001: Interpretation of Poetry
MW 2:15-3:35pm
Instructor: Bruce Smith

The course will consist of discussions of poems from the various traditions of poetry: from anonymous ballads to spoken word poetry. I’m interested in what makes the poem memorable and moving, how it is a vehicle for the intellect and the emotions. I’m interested too in what ways the poem provokes and challenges us, what gives the poem 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 6 two-page papers in which they examine closely a single poem by a poet from the text. Students may opt to write more papers (up to 8) and receive extra consideration for them. In addition, students will be asked to choose a poet and present the work of the poet in a 4 to 5 page paper. Emphasis in discussions is on style and substance, music and image. Multiple ways of reading poems will help the students expand the range of poetic possibilities.

ETS 153 M001: Interpretation of Fiction
MW 2:15-3:10pm
Discussion F 10:35-11:30am or 11:40am-12:35pm
Instructor: Erin Mackie

Cultures tell many of their most profound truths in their fictions. We will look at the truths of fictions across a range of narrative forms, from the faery tale to the novel. As we read we will develop an awareness of the elements of fiction: plot, setting, character, point-of-view, style, and theme. We will pay attention not only to the story told but also to who is telling it and to whom, its narrator and its audience. And always, we will think about the values, or truths, promoted by the fiction and the ends it seeks to achieve in its telling.

ETS 154 M002: Interpretation of Film
TuTh 5:00-6:20pm
Instructor: Rhyse Curtis

From its humble origins as a sideshow spectacle, film quickly matured into the dominant medium of the 20th century, and remains a towering cultural and artistic form to this day. However, while we are immersed in film culture, how many of us have the interpretative tools necessary to decode cinema, to “read” them as unique and meaningful visual texts? This course aims to foster those skills. Through the course of our discussions, students will become familiar with the terminology, techniques, and historical context necessary for analyzing and writing about film from a textual studies perspective. Along the way, students will be exposed to multiple primarily English language films from across the history of cinema in order to apply and practice their analytical skills, from the early days of proto-cinematic technologies to the post-celluloid films of the digital era. This course will touch on topics such as: formalist concepts of film; narrative traditions in Hollywood cinema; counter traditions in avant-garde works; discussions of genre; and the influence of marginalized voices in cinema.

ETS 155 M002: Interpretation of Nonfiction
MW 3:45-5:05pm
Instructor: Elizabeth Gleesing

This writing-intensive course introduces students to methods of interpreting nonfiction. While we often believe that nonfiction conveys truth and reality, in this course we will focus on how different texts construct their claims to truth and arguments about reality. To do so, we will study and interrogate the rhetorical strategies authors employ, the relationship between form and content, the generic conventions of different nonfiction forms, and how texts construct both a speaking position and an audience. In addition to introducing ways to interpret nonfiction, this course aims to introduce students to a wide variety of nonfiction media forms such as the essay, the graphic novel, autobiography, memoir, poetry, documentary video and digital documentary, reality television, photography, digital games, and digital nonfiction forms like the listicle. We will not just work through these different forms and how they make meaning in a vacuum, instead we will focus on a variety of themes, topics, and issues throughout the course, including food politics, feminism, sexuality, race, photography, disaster narratives, and screen representations of the environment.

ETS 171 M001: World Cinema
Lecture: MW 5:15-6:10pm; Screening: M 7:00-9:45pm
Discussion: F 9:30-10:25am or 10:35-11:30am
Instructor: Roger Hallas

Cinema has often been called a universal language and it is certainly made all over the globe. But world cinema has a richness and complexity that defies a single model, despite the cultural dominance and economic power of Hollywood cinema. This course examines how the international history of film has been shaped by the larger historical processes of modernity, colonialism, postmodernism and globalization. We will explore the diverse pleasures, politics and aesthetics of cinema from around the world, including German Expressionism, post-revolutionary Soviet cinema, French New Wave, Bollywood, postcolonial African cinema, Hong Kong action films, Hollywood blockbusters, Iranian neorealism and contemporary indigenous cinema. We will trace how aesthetics, technologies and economies of cinema have mutually influenced filmmaking traditions in diverse regions of the world. Moreover, we will investigate how cinema contributes to our understandings of the world, our places within it, and our relations to other parts of it. In sum, we will discover how world cinema is always both local and global. The weekly screenings scheduled for this course are required. Film and Screen Studies Course.

ETS 181 M001: Class and Literary Texts
MW 2:15-3:35pm
Instructor: Sean M. Conrey

From William Blake’s descriptions of living conditions in early industrialized England, James Agee’s stories of tenant farmers during the Depression, to Ursula LeGuin’s’s speculative fiction focused on labor exploitation, questions of social class have long been a focus of novelists’, poets’ and essayists’ work. Parallel to the ways that writers affect and engage social class, critical readers can engage with the concepts of social class as they read. Concerned with the social divisions of privilege, wealth, power and status, class, like race and gender, is a social construction that is imposed on, and performed by, all of us as a way of stratifying and defining who we are. Though the restraints of social class readily subject us to the power of others, these restraints may also, when well understood, provide a springboard for advocacy and direct social action. This course provides an introduction to these concepts and exposes students to key texts in literature, film and other media as a way of fostering critical engagement and developing richer social responsibility through textual interpretation.

ETS 181 M002: Class & Literary Texts
TuTh 2:00-3:20pm
Instructor: Evan Hixon

This course will examine the complicated relationship that exists between literary production and concerns of social, economic and cultural class. Looking at a large cross section of Anglophonic literature, we will examine the historical, theoretical and lived experiences of class both as it exists apart from and within a complicated web of intersecting social forces. We will be examining texts which cover a wide range of periods and forms, from medieval poetry to contemporary novels with an eye tuned towards the ways in which these texts serve as mediating objects that help us better understand the construction of classed identity throughout history. The course will focus on the social construction of class and the ways in which class serves to organize and define social commonwealths and communities. Treating literary texts as important objects in the construction and interrogation of classed identities, students will be asked to read several literary texts and produce written work analyzing those works through the lens of class. Possible texts will range from the epic poems of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales to modernist novels such as Nella Larsen’s Passing and E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End. This course satisfies the writing-intensive requirements of the Liberal Arts Core. The purpose of a writing intensive course is to familiarize students with the thought processes, structures, and styles associated with writing in the liberal arts.

ETS 182 M001: Race and Literary Texts
TuTh 5:00-6:20pm
Instructor: John Sanders

As multiple theorists on race have noted, although the concept of race is a historically contingent social construct with no basis in biological fact, it is a construction that shapes our daily lived experience and our relationship to society at large. The influence of race can be felt not just in the world we live in, but in the worlds we explore through art, music, literature, and visual culture – worlds which may mirror, mediate, or resist this influence in equal measure. The aim of this course is to explore some of these textual representations of race in/as fiction, as well as the social and cultural implications contained within such representations. To do so, we will be drawing works from a variety of primarily English language sources across genre and historical contexts, from early explorations of the racial imaginations to 20th century realist novels to contemporary sci-fi and fantasy. Through classroom participation activities, close-reading exercises, and formal essays, students will learn how to utilize close-reading skills to interpret and analyze texts that encourage us to engage with race as an identity and cultural category.

ETS 182 M002: Race & Literary Texts
TuTh 11:00-12:20pm
Instructor: Chris Barnes

Michael Omi and Howard Winant define race as “a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies.” Even though race has been shown to have no biological basis, it nonetheless, as Omi and Winant indicate, is a construction that shapes our daily, lived experience, as well as our relationship to society at large. By taking students through a progression of section topics that together build a coherent understanding of race, the state, history, and cross-racial solidarity, this course will help illuminate the ways in which past issues and concerns surrounding race resonate with contemporary concerns. We will use literary and other cultural texts to interrogate issues of race in America in the twentieth and twenty-first century; to explore how racial categories have been (re)created; and to investigate how categories like gender, class, and sexuality intersect with race. Authors may include Jean Toomer, Nella Larson, Claudia Rankine, and Junot Diaz. Through classroom participation, close reading exercises, and three extended essay assignments, students will learn how to use the practice of close reading to interpret and analyze the ways texts encourage us to engage with race as an identity and cultural category.

ETS 182 M003: Race & Literary Texts
MW 3:45-5:05pm
Instructor: Chris Eng

Envisioning American Dreams and Realities

Whither the American Dream? Exacerbating skepticism around the honored ideal, recent occurrences—from the housing market crash and economic repression in 2007 to the rising xenophobia after the 2016 election—have prompted some to question whether we should more accurately speak of the ‘American Nightmare.’ Most urgently, race highlights the contradictions embedded within the American Dream: the perils that accompany its promises and the realities that undermine its ideals. For instance, how do we grapple with the fact that the nation’s celebration of ideals such as freedom and equality have historically coincided with harsh realities of slavery, exclusion laws, disenfranchisement, and segregation? This course examines literary works by writers such as Lorraine Hansberry, Toni Morrison, and Bich Nguyen, who explore how race, class, and sociopolitical contexts unevenly determine who has the opportunities and resources for realizing this dream and why it remains an illusion for so many. Elucidating the stark realities for minoritized communities, these writers leverage the American Dream as a platform for social justice to demand changes to the disconnect between ideal and reality. Accordingly, their imaginative works grapple with the possibilities for realizing a more perfect union while radically expanding our vision of what such dreams entail.

ETS 184 M002: Ethnicity & Literary Texts: Great Jewish Writers
TuTh 11:00am-12:20pm (meets with REL/JSP/LIT 131)
Instructor: Ken Frieden

A wide-angle panorama of great stories written by Jewish authors, including S. Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, Franz Kafka, S. Y. Agnon, Elie Wiesel, and Yiddish women writers. Topics include shtetl life, superstition, modernization, alienation, rebellion against authority, radical textualism, love, marriage, and the Nazi genocide. Our literary approach to works in the Jewish literary tradition emphasizes interconnections between theme and rhetoric. Immersion in texts, a particular tendency in traditional Jewish circles, sometimes appears as an escape from Jews’ powerlessness in the outside world. The strategy has limitations.


Classic Yiddish Stories of S. Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I. L. Peretz. Ed. Ken Frieden. Trans. Ken Frieden, Ted Gorelick, and Michael Wex. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004.

Kafka, Franz. The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. New York: Schocken, 1983 [or subsequent Schocken editions of The Complete Stories].

Agnon, S. Y. A Book that Was Lost: Thirty-Five Stories [this edition preferred]. Ed. Alan Mintz, Anne Golomb Hoffman, and Nahum N. Glatzer. New Milford, CT: The Toby Press, 2008.

Wiesel, Elie. Night. Trans. Marion Wiesel. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.

Appelfeld, Aharon. Badenheim 1939. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2001.

Keret, Etgar. Four Stories. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010.

Found Treasures. Ed Frieda Forman et al. Toronto: Second Story Press, 1994.

ETS 184 M003: Ethnicity & Literary Texts
TuTh 3:30-4:50pm
Instructor: Deya Dasgupta

What is ethnicity? Is it just a blanket term for constructing boundaries between “Us” and “Them”, or does it trace itself to certain cultural, social, linguistic and/or political paradigms? In this class, drawing on texts about ethnic as well as cross-cultural diversity, we will consider these very questions, not only to understand the identities that we construct for ourselves but also those that are imposed upon us by others. Consequently, we will reflect on the ways in which literature helps construct and maintain those identities, and how different spaces are created around different ethnic identifications. While we will use some theoretical texts to foreground our discussions, much of our focus in this class will be on the reading and interpretation of literary texts themselves. In this, we will be looking at popular TV shows, graphic novels, science fiction, children’s literature, short stories, and novels, even as we think through the concepts of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, transnationality, intersectionality, race/racialization, etc. Thus, some of the works or authors we may explore in this class include Maus, Persepolis, The Office, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anna Deavere-Smith, Shyam Selvadurai, Cherrie Moraga, Alice Walker, Zadie Smith, Saidiya Hartman and/or Sherman Alexia.

ETS 192 M001: Gender & Literary Texts
TuTh 9:30-10:50am
Instructor: Vicky Cheng

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, short stories, and a graphic novel by Toni Morrison, Alison Bechdel, Randa Jarrar, and David Henry Hwang. This course is reading intensive, so students should be ready to handle rigorous reading assignments, accompanied by writing analytical papers that would reflect the students’ understanding of the issues raised in these texts. The main objective of this course is to develop students’ critical thinking capabilities as well as their analytical readings skills. Cross listed with WGS 192.

ETS 192 M003: Gender and Literary Texts
MW 5:15-6:35pm
Instructor: Melissa Welshans

This course takes as its central premise the idea that gender is a useful category for literary analysis. To that end, this class will use gender as the central lens through which to explore literature from a variety of genres and time periods. But what is "gender" and how has it been defined variously across space and time? This class will answer these questions and more. Texts under consideration may include Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Virginia Woolf's Orlando, James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, and poetry by Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and others. Assignments will include formal essays and at least one in-class presentation. Cross listed with WGS 192.

In this class we will read and discuss American literature that takes up environmental values and makes an inquiry into the relationship between humans and non-human ecological communities. From frontier wilderness narratives and Puritan representations of the wild, to Native American reclamations and revisions of those depictions; from transcendentalist visions of nature as the source of spiritual and intellectual life, to modern-day “cli-fi” that that offers a frightening dystopian look at the impact of human activity on the planet, we’ll read novels, works of nonfiction, and poems that confront us with the uneasy terrain of personal vs. planetary ethics, and compel us to deepen our understanding of our various constructs of — and responsibility to – the natural world. Authors will include a selection from the following: Henry David Thoreau, Mary Hunter Austin, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, James Welch, Joy Williams, Cormac McCarthy, and Paolo Bacigalupi.

ETS 215 M001: Introductory Poetry Workshop
M 12:45-3:35pm
Instructor: Brooks Haxton

Weekly meetings of this workshop will focus on careful, constructive analysis of student poems, and on supplementary readings of other poetry. Besides writing a new original poem every week, everyone will revise at least four poems on the basis of the workshop response. Reading and writing assignments will be handed out as we go. No prerequisites.

ETS 217 M001: Introductory Fiction Workshop
M 12:45-3:35pm
Instructor: Arthur Flowers

Sophomore Fiction. Workshop format critiquing two student stories a week plus chosen readings. Craft. Production. Vision.

ETS 217 M003: Introductory Fiction Workshop
Tu 3:30-6:20pm
Instructor: Nana Adjei-Brenyah

This course will acquaint students with the fundamentals of writing fiction. Each week students will read and critique fiction written by their peers, as well as published work by modern writers. Students must come to class prepared and willing to discuss these stories. There will be in-class writing exercises and prompts which will lead students to create stories of their own. Class attendance and participation are mandatory.

ETS 242 M001 and M003: Reading & Interpretation
TuTh 12:30-1:50PM (M001)
MW 12:45-2:05PM (M003)
Instructors: Chris Forster (M001)/Silvio Torres-Saillant (M003)

ETS 242 introduces students to the discipline of English and Textual Studies, stressing not what we read but how we read it. We will learn how meanings are created through acts of critical reading as well as demonstrate the consequences of pursuing one way 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 readers produce meaning. These meanings are produced both from the perspective of each reader’s unique experiences, and through various critical and theoretical approaches. Each section of ETS 242 takes up issues of central concern within contemporary literary and cultural studies. These include representation, language, reading, authorship, subjectivity, ideology, culture, history and difference.

Upper Division Courses

ETS 301 M001: Reading & Writing Prose
MW 2:15-3:35pm
Instructor: Jules Gibbs

Students will discuss, analyze and eventually reproduce the various techniques of published prose writers in various nonfiction genres, including the personal essay, the polemical essay, literary journalism, and the lyric essay. Authors to be studied as models could include: John McPhee, Cheryl Strayed, Joy Williams, Terry Tempest Williams, Martin Espada, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Jamaica Kincaid, James Baldwin, and Mary Gaitskill. Students will be required to produce both creative and analytical responses to the texts studied.

ETS 303 M002: Reading & Writing Fiction
TuTh 9:30-10:50am
Instructor: Sarah Harwell

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, style, description, story, and character. We will attempt to answer the question: how have authors generated emotions, 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. Possible authors include Flannery O'Connor, Alice Munro, James Joyce, Edward P. Jones, Anton Chekhov, Donald Barthelme, ZZ Packer, Grace Paley and Raymond Carver.

ETS 305 M001: Critical Analysis: Introduction to Cultural Studies
TuTh 9:30-10:50am
Instructor: Crystal Bartolovich

What does it mean to be a “cultural critic”? This course will provide you with basic concepts and strategies to be able to answer this question and begin to call yourself a cultural critic. By comparing and contrasting the strategies of literary texts with other cultural forms and practices in specific situations 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. Hence, we will study literature alongside mass cultural forms such as advertising, television shows, or digital culture 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. 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 M001: Literary Periods: U.S. Modernism
TuTh 12:30-1:50pm
Instructor: Susan Edmunds

This course focuses on U.S. modernist fiction. Modernism was a late-nineteenth and early-twentieth- century international movement that rejected earlier norms of literary and aesthetic representation, and instead created narratives that resemble dream, cut up and rearranged linear narrative time-lines, and/or rejected the rules of ordinary syntax. In the course, we will focus on how U.S. modernist writers responded to changing models of individual and collective consciousness, and sought to use their writing as a space in which to promote human consciousness as both an index and agent of social change. We will read texts associated with High modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, the proletarian literature movement, and mass cultural modernism. Likely texts include: Stein, Tender Buttons; Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises; Toomer, Cane; Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; Hammett, Red Harvest; Larsen, Quicksand; Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night; and Hughes, The Ways of White Folks.

ETS 311 M001: Literary Periods Before 1900: Romanticism & the Environment
TuTh 11:00am-12:20pm
Instructor: Mike Goode

The modern environmental movement found early expression in British poetry, novels, and painting between 1770-1845. This course examines how British artists in this period responded to a variety of dramatic developments: the Industrial Revolution and the privatization of public lands creating radical changes to the landscape, ecologies, and rural communities; natural scientists challenging religious beliefs about the Earth and its organisms by introducing the notions of “geologic time” and “extinction”; new religious movements fueling conservation efforts by promoting the idea of nature’s divinity; new aesthetic tastes for landscape contributing to nature tourism and to new media (panoramas, photographs, stereographs, picturesque gardens); and politicians turning “nature” into a political football through debates over “natural rights” and “natural law.” Writers, artists, and landscape designers covered will include: William Blake, Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Byron, John Keats, Percy Shelley, John Clare, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Mary Shelley, Thomas Gainsborough, Robert Barker, John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, George Washington Wilson, Lancelot “Capability” Brown, Richard Payne Knight, and Humphrey Repton. Assignments will include three five-page papers. Pre-1900 Course.

ETS 315 M001: Ethnic Literatures & Cultures: Literature of the Caribbean Diaspora
MW 3:45-5:05pm
Instructor: Silvio Torres-Saillant

This course explores the rapport between Here and Elsewhere in the works of North American and European writers who trace their ancestry to the Caribbean region. The course looks at their accomplishments as literary artists, the place of ancestral heritage in their systems of significance, and the ideological negotiation of their diasporic location. Considering the tension stemming from their speaking as American, Canadian or European writers while upholding the banner of their Caribbean ancestral origins, we examine their tendency to fuel their literary imagination by drawing from the cultural, existential, and political tension emanating from the counterpoint of home and location, origin and destination, as well as from their problematic citizenship. The readings will cover texts by Cristina Garcia, Junot Díaz, Rhina P. Espaillat, Rosa Guy, Merle Collins, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jamaica Kincaid, Edwidge Danticat, and Paule Marshall, M. Nourbese Philip, Denis Henriquez, Ellen Ombre, Astrid Roemer, Gisèle Pineau, Caryl Phillips, Andrea Levy, Pauline Melville, and Zadie Smith. We will cover issues of language, transnationalism, exile, ethnic identity, and literariness while engaging contemporary criticism and theory pertinent to the study of diasporas. Cross listed with LAS 300.

ETS 315 M002: Ethnic Literatures & Cultures: Yiddish Literature in Translation
TuTh 2:00-3:20pm (meets with REL/JSP/LIT 333)
Instructor: Ken Frieden

A survey of the great works in modern Yiddish fiction and drama. Our readings focus on four areas:

  1. the three classic Yiddish authors—S. Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I. L. Peretz;
  2. Yiddish drama by J. Gordin and S. Ansky;
  3. modernist trends in Yiddish— Lamed Shapiro and David Bergelson, and
  4. Yiddish women writers—Serdatsky, Dropkin, and others.

While placing each author’s work in historical and biographical context, we will pay special attention to the role of satire, parody, and narrative techniques. We will also watch clips from Yiddish films of the 1930s and listen to some Jewish music. This is a writing intensive class, fulfilling that requirement with four short papers and three revisions.


Abramovitsh, S. Y. Tales of Mendele the Book Peddler: Fishke the Lame and Benjamin the Third. Ed. Dan Miron and Ken Frieden. Trans. Ted Gorelick and Hillel Halkin. New York: Schocken, 1996.

Classic Yiddish Stories of S. Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I. L. Peretz. Ed. Ken Frieden. Trans. Ken Frieden, Ted Gorelick, and Michael Wex. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004.

Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers, ed. Frieda Forman et al. Toronto: Second Story Press, 1994.

God, Man, and Devil: Yiddish Plays in Translation. Trans. and ed. Nahma Sandrow. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1999.

ETS 321 M001: Authors Before 1900: Chaucer and Contemporaries
TuTh 2:00-3:20pm
Instructor: Patricia Moody

This course will provide a substantial background for understanding the literature of the late middle ages. The fourteenth century is a vital period, marked by significant changes in major institutions of the time: the court, the church, and the very social structure of late-medieval England. This setting of stress was also the environment in which three remarkable writers, in whose works one can see attempts at creating order in literary, moral, and social senses. Examining the ways in which Chaucer, Gower, and Langland focus their attention on order and decay in the England of their day, the course includes readings representing a wide range of genres from all three writers, as well as from that most prolific of all writers, Anonymous. Pre-1900 Course.

ETS 325 M001: The History and Varieties of English
TuTh 11:00am-12:20pm
Instructor: Patricia Moody

Want to understand IPA? Study runes? Be able to read literature written in Anglo-Saxon? Middle English? Understand Shakespeare? Learn why and how English speakers across the US and globe sound so different from “us”? This course aims to provide students with as much knowledge as possible, as interactively as possible, of fundamental linguistic concepts, 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 360 M001 Gender & Sexuality: Queer Youth – LGBTQ Narratives of Coming-of-Age and Coming Out
MW 2:15-3:35pm (meets with WGS 360 M001 and QSX 300 M001)
Instructor: Chris Eng

Does it get better? Confronting unprecedented rates of suicide and depression among queer and trans youth, the “It Gets Better” campaign promised a brighter future, urging these youth to endure. Yet, the encouragement to wait does not adequately address and challenge the conditions that make the world inhospitable for those of non-normative gender and sexual identities. Indeed, dominant “coming-of-age” narratives inhibit the flourishing of queer youth insofar as they prioritize heteronormative milestones that discipline children into sanctioned gender roles. Meanwhile, common understandings about ‘coming out’ and LGBTQ identity also fail to fully account for the needs and experiences of these youth. Looking at works by writers such as Alison Bechdel, Audre Lorde, and Rakesh Satyal, this course examines how queer and trans youth navigate their social worlds and the precarious uncertainties of growing up. These texts underscore how the dangers they face—of bullying, homelessness, homophobia, and heterosexist violence—are intimately shaped by race, class, and other sociopolitical contexts. Yet, far from suggesting a life defined exclusively by sorrow and threat, these writers illuminate the imaginative practices by which queer and trans youth craft possibilities for beauty, pleasure, joy, friendship, and fabulosity, compelling us to envision alternative, better worlds. 

ETS 361 M002: Gender & Sexuality Before 1900: What Was Sex? Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the History of Sexuality
TuTh 12:30-1:50pm
Instructor: Dorri Beam

This class explores the possibility that sex and sexuality have histories and may mean differently across time. Before the relatively recent invention of heterosexuality and homosexuality in the late nineteenth-century, what was sex? What did it include and exclude? How did people understand their intimate relations? Into what categories did people fit their self-stylizations of gender, affect, and pleasure? Did they have an idea of sexuality as an identity? As something stable and belonging to them? How did social structures--for instance, marriage and the family or the nineteenth-century color line and legal segregation--organize sex, feeling, affiliations, and identities? The nineteenth-century is arguably the period of the emergence of “sexuality,” and we will examine the use of literature itself for thinking about the history of sexuality while also dipping into other areas such as health reform, marriage advice, utopian manifestos, and sex radicalism; practices of polygamy and celibacy; and African American and Native American resistant formations of marriage or family. Texts may include Queer Nineteenth-Century Short Stories, ed. Christopher Looby; Julia Ward Howe, The Hermaphrodite; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass; Charles Chesnutt, Stories of the Color Line; Kate Chopin, A Vocation and A Voice. Pre-1900 Course; Crosslisted with WGS 360 and QSX 300.

ETS 401-2: Advanced Writing Workshop: Poetry
Tu 5:15pm-8:00pm
Instructor: Sarah Harwell

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 M001: Advanced Writing Workshop: Fiction
Tu 12:30-3:20pm
Instructor: Jonathan Dee

This fiction workshop will develop and expand upon the skills introduced in ETS 217. The primary focus will be on how to write better, more effective, more technically sophisticated short stories and/or novel excerpts; the secondary focus will be on how to critique constructively others’ work in these same forms. Most of the class will center on the writing and subsequent discussion of original work created by you; there will be some for-credit in-class writing exercises and previously published work to critique as well.

ETS 406 M001: Advanced Critical Writing in ETS: History of the Book
MW 2:15-3:35pm
Instructor: Patricia Roylance

This course is designed as an introduction to the field known most commonly as “the history of the book.” We will investigate what difference it makes to consider the materiality of a text when interpreting it. How do a text’s material form (its actual paper, ink, binding, etc.) and the modes of its production, circulation and reception affect our sense of its content? We will cover a wide range of texts and topics, from medieval manuscripts and Shakespeare to romance novels and e-readers. We will sometimes meet at Bird Library, to examine archival materials in Special Collections related to our course topics. A research project will require you to work with Special Collections archival material, on an aspect of book history of particular interest to you. This Advanced Critical Writing course will help you to hone your research and writing skills and engage in deep and sustained critical inquiry. This course can be used in place of ETS 305.

ETS 410 M001: Forms & Genres: Cinema and the Documentary Idea
MW 3:45-5:05pm with Screening on W 7:00-9:45pm
Instructor: Roger Hallas

From 13th to Amy, from Exit Through the Gift Shop to The Jinx, documentary is enjoying a boom time right now, but its longer history reveals even richer and more diverse means to engage the world. Invented in the late nineteenth century, cinema was inevitably shaped by the modern demand for evidence. But the medium has also long been a tool for personal self-exploration. These widely differing aspects of the documentary idea have shaped film’s rhetorical capacity to construct sophisticated arguments about the real world using sound and image. We will examine not only classic and contemporary documentary films, but also fake documentaries, wildlife films, docudramas, experimental film and reality television. Moving from the euphoria and anxiety around the first public film screenings by the Lumière Brothers in 1895 through the radical decoding of the world in early Soviet cinema and 1960s political film to the subversive playfulness of the contemporary mockumentary, the course explores the power, appeal and impact of the documentary idea within different national, historical and political contexts. The weekly screenings scheduled for this course are required. Film and Screen Studies Course.

ETS 410 M004: Forms and Genres: Modern American Fiction
TuTh 9:30-10:50am
Instructor: Susan Edmunds

In this course, we will examine a range of fiction written between 1880 and 1945. Discussion will place the three major literary modes of the period--Realism, Naturalism and Modernism---in a sociohistorical context. We will try to understand how the larger social conflicts and social upheavals of the period prompted writers to become dissatisfied with inherited forms of literary representation and to devise new modes of representation which they claimed were more suited to bringing about–or protesting--social change. Throughout the semester, we will return to texts that focus on acting, masking, posing, and “passing”--as well as social climbing, falling, and drifting--in order to explore how changing codes of social performativity challenge and transform existing categories of race, class and gender. Likely texts include: Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Wharton, House of Mirth; Larsen, Passing; Faulkner, As I Lay Dying; Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night; West, The Day of the Locust.

ETS 411 M001: Forms & Genres before 1900: Realism’s Others
MW 3:45-5:05pm
Instructor: Coran Klaver

The Victorian novel is often associated with realism, the idea that fiction strives to provide an accurate representation of reality. For many nineteenth-century novelists, however, the literary conventions of realism were too limiting—they chafed against or outright rejected elements of realist literary form, as well as with the values, priorities, and definitions of what counted as “real” that inhered in realist conventions. Instead of the “reality” of social norms and hegemonies, many Victorian novelists’ turns to the realities embedded in more marginal or contested literary forms such as melodrama, Gothic, ghost stories, sensation fiction, imperial romance, science fiction, and detective fiction. This course will use these “other” genres as lenses into the issues and experiences of Victorian life that this not fit into the heterosexual, middle-class norm of domestic realism. In addition to reading novels by Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, students will write three papers, keep an in-class journal, and have either a final examination or regular reading quizzes. Pre-1900 Course.

ETS 420 M001: Cultural Production and Reception: Experiencing Film
TuTh 5:00-6:20pm; Screening Th 6:30-9:15pm
Instructor: Steven Doles

How can we best describe what we are doing when we watch a film? How do the spaces and contexts in which we watch shape our response to the film? Are we all having the same experience when we watch, or do different audiences respond in their own ways? This course is designed to explore questions like these in two ways. On the one hand, we will discuss various topics in film studies connected to these concerns, including audience reception, exhibition, theories of spectatorship, cinephilia, and cult movies. We will also develop a set of practices of attentive and imaginative viewing through a series of exercises, drawing upon perspectives that are sometimes called “contemplation” or “mindfulness.” These might include exercises such as journaling or free-writing, repeated rewatching of scenes or extended looking at frame captures, silent reflection, and trip reports of spaces of exhibition outside the university. Our first-hand experiences will thus become evidence for thinking about and exploring the approaches that film scholars have developed to these topics. In addition to our viewing of narrative fiction films ranging from the accessible to the challenging, selected nonfiction and experimental films will allow us to explore how our experience changes when viewing these other film modes. Film & Screen Studies Course.

ETS 421 M002: Production & Reception before 1900: Shakespeare and the Natural World
MW 12:45-2:05pm
Instructor: Stephanie Shirilan

Global virus epidemics, drought, flood, deforestation, toxic water and air, food-insecurity: these are but a few of the effects of climate-change brought on or accelerated by human agents, and Shakespeare has much to say about them. His plays witness and reflect on a period of radical transformation of deep-set ideas and the social and cultural institutions (gender, church, city, state, family, market, etc.) that housed them. Reading a selection of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry, we will explore ways that meditations on the natural world shape his reflections on these social and political transformations, and vice versa. Our investigations will be guided by attention to the relationship between form and matter in Shakespeare’s work and in the early modern period. To that end, our reading of the plays will emphasize dramatic technique and foreground aspects of theatrical performance, which we will consider through experiments in staging and performance wherever possible. Together, we will learn to read, observe, and listen for the ways that live, embodied, multisensory theatrical experience shapes our capacity to observe and imagine the dynamism of Shakespeare’s natural worlds. This course will address the interests of students in the sciences and theater/literary studies alike. No prior Shakespeare experience required. Pre-1900 Class.

ETS 441 M001: History and Culture Before 1900: Milton and the English Revolution
TuTh 12:30-1:50pm
Instructor: Crystal Bartolovich

This course offers an in-depth reading of John Milton’s poetry and prose in the context of the political, religious and social ferment of England in the seventeenth century. Because Milton was a participant in—as well as a critic of-- the revolutionary government of the 1650s, his is an intriguing case for examining the relation of poetry and politics. Paradise Lost raises questions that are still with us: what does “freedom”--of religion, the press, speech, franchise, and the individual--mean? How do we achieve a good society? Why is it so difficult to make justice prevail in a “fallen” world? To what extent do people make their own histories? By situating Milton’s work in the full range of discourses available—from the far left of the Diggers to the far right of the Monarchists—we can tease out not only the major debates of the period, but the relation of cultural forms to how these debates unfold. Pre-1900 Course.

ETS 444 M002: Theoretical Modes of Inquiry: Game Studies in Practice
TuTh 3:30-4:50pm
Instructor: Chris Hanson

What are the roles of games and play in contemporary culture and how are these roles shifting? How do we “read” and interpret a game such as Grand Theft Auto or Super Mario Bros. or virtual reality (VR) experiences via the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive? Just as digital games have grown profoundly more complex in the last fifty years, theoretical and critical approaches to games have proliferated and diversified, moving well past early debates between those studying games as narratives and those who examine games as systems of play. Of course, the study of games predates the digital age, and we will engage with the foundational texts which serve as precursors to the contemporary critical approaches which we will also explore. We will trace the historical development of game studies as a discipline, while also examining both non-digital and digital games as case studies for our critical consideration. We will explore core game studies concepts through writing analytically and creating games that illustrate or challenge these theories. In addition to a variety of games, our study will include screen-based media texts which explicitly or implicitly engage with the concepts of game studies. Film and Screen Studies Course.

ETS 494 M001: Research Practicum
Th 3:30-6:15pm
Instructor: Crystal Bartolovich

This one-credit course introduces students to the scope and demands of an honors/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, taking notes effectively, and writing a thesis proposal. Our work should prepare you to write your thesis in the spring semester. The texts covered in class will be your own writing and research for the most part, but some supplemental readings will be posted on Blackboard, so you should budget funds to print these out as well as to make copies of your completed assignments for me, your classmates and your adviser, as directed. The exercises and workshops are designed to prepare you for ETS 495: Thesis Writing Workshop in the spring.

Graduate Courses

ENG 630 M001: Graduate Proseminar: Genres of Victorian Fiction
Th 9:30am-12:20pm
Instructor: Coran Klaver

This course will examine the wide array of types of popular and canonical fiction in Victorian period. It takes as it starting assumption that literary form, including genre, co-evolves in relation to the pressures and possibilities of particular historical formations. In nineteenth-century Britain, those historical formulations included “The Woman Question,” imperialism, urbanization, radical changes in the status and content of scientific theory—particularly the status of the human, and the diminishing status of religion, to name a few of the most prominent. In addition to realism, the most canonical of the genres that developed in relation to these social formations, this course will examine the wide array of less familiar genres that articulated different and competing visions of reality to that presented by domestic realism. These include genres such as the sensation novel, new woman fiction, fairy tales, and ghost stories. We will also look at genres that seem less to challenge realism’s version of reality, than to turn away from it, such as young adult adventure stories and science fiction. Finally, we will look several different kinds of children’s fiction—pedagogical, didactic, and escapist—often all at once. We will read both novels and short fiction. The course will begin with two canonical “realist” texts—texts that will both establish a foundation for the course and ask questions about that foundation. Texts for the course are still under consideration. Students will write weekly discussion questions, do one class discussion facilitation focused on genre and history, and write a 20-25 page seminar paper. For more information, students are encouraged to contact Prof. Klaver directly at 

ENG 630 M002: Proseminar: Genres Across Media Forms
Th 12:30-3:15pm
Screening: Tu 7:30-10:30pm
Instructor: Chris Hanson

What differentiates film, television, and game genres? The goal of this seminar is to provide an advanced introduction to the critical consideration of genre in film and screen studies. We will examine the ways in which conceptions of genre are complicated when examining them through and across time-based media forms. Our focus will be the ways in which genres are articulated and understood in film, television, analog and digital games, and virtual reality (VR) experiences. We will also investigate how genres and specific generic transmedia texts mutate and transform as they are expressed in differing forms, looking at the “same” genres or texts across multiple media forms. This will include exploring the ways in which genres have been theorized and analyzed in these different forms and looking at the complex relationships between texts, authors, audiences, industries, and institutions. Our consideration of genres will be somewhat historical as well, by examining the ways in which particular genres emerged at certain moments and in conjunction with industrial practices such as the development of narrative techniques in early cinema or gameplay mechanics as digital games have evolved.

ENG 631 M001: Critical Theory
Tu 3:30-6:20pm
Instructor: Chris Forster

“Critical Theory” introduces some of the most influential and relevant modes of inquiry shared by criticism across fields. We will attempt to understand both the theoretical underpinnings of these approaches as well as how theory comes to inform literary critical practice. The result is a class that will be neither a totally coherent survey of critical theory nor a practical “methods” course, but an uneasy balance between these competing goals. Topics we may cover include the “New Criticism,” Marxist and feminist criticisms, deconstruction, the “new historicism,” a variety of materialisms, as well as debates about “distant reading” and “postcritical” reading. Likely theorists and critics include foundational figures like Frederic Jameson, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Eve Sedgwick, Edward Said, Judith Butler, and Donna Harraway, as well as recent accounts of criticism by Rita Felski and Joseph North. Ultimately the class serves to help bootstrap graduate-level research and inquiry in “English” (conceived as broadly as possible). Assignments will include short presentations to the seminar, shorter written assignments that provide interpretations of works based on theoretical readings in the class, and a final, longer essay.

ENG 650 M001: Forms: Dickinson/Whitman Seminar
M 3:45-6:35pm
Instructor: Bruce Smith

Whitman’s “barbaric yawp” in “Song of Myself” counters Dickinson’s “stapled” songs (“The Soul has bandaged moments”) in the 1789 poems she wrote in her lifetime. Whitman is among the first to stake out forbidden territory (race, masculinity, morality, slavery) for American poetry and to find a form that persuasively enacts the poem's content. Dickinson, the scholar of the interior, torqued the language to create lyric cries and arresting moments. In her famous remark to Higginson, Dickinson said: "If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?"

Students in this course will be asked to read the poems of Whitman and Dickinson and accompanying essays assigned by the instructor. The emphasis of discussions will be both on the language, the shaping and forming of the writing, and the imagination -- the vision that's unique to each author. We’ll consider the continuances and the ruptures that each new style demands as well as what surrounds each work of art in the way of culture and biography. Students will be asked to lead discussion of three poems by each poet. And additional writing assignment for each poet will be a response in a poetic form.

ENG 650 M002: Forms: Contemporary American Poetry: Influence
Tu 9:30am-12:20pm
Instructor: Chris Kennedy

We will read the work of "contemporary" American poets and consider who their influences are and which poets they may have influenced. Students will be asked to discuss poets who have influenced them, as well as other writers, artists, musicians, directors, etc. who have influenced their work. There will be weekly writing assignments, consisting of brief response papers (creative and/or analytical).

ENG 650 M003: Forms: Fragmented/Fractured Narrative
F 10:30am-1:15pm
Instructor is Robert Lopez

One of Donald Barthelme’s narrators claimed “Fragments are the only forms I trust.” We will examine how writers use fragments to their advantage and how we can do likewise. We can think about fragmentation/fracturing in the same way visual artists do with collage, an assemblage that adds up to something greater than the parts alone. We will see how liberating it can be when we eliminate or alter the traditional elements of fiction like plot, linearity, scene depiction, etc. Fiction provides a unique opportunity to fracture both time and our perception of reality. The writers we will read and discuss might include David Markson, Mary Robison, Juan Rulfo, Renata Adler, Toni Morrison and others.

ENG 650 M005: Writing the Self: Memoir & Poetry
Th 12:30-3:20pm
Instructor: Mary Karr

We’ll read and discuss about ten memoirs. Here is a tentative reading list:

Richard Wright Black Boy
McCarthy Memories of Catholic Girlhood
Primo Levy Survival at Auschwitz
Nabokov Speak, Memory
Conroy Stop-Time
Michael Herr Dispatches
Hong Kingston Woman Warrior
Crews Childhood: Biography of a Place
Wolff, This Boy’s Life
Lockwood Priestdaddy

Topics will include mostly how good ones get written. A history of the form in the US from mid-twentieth-century to present. The lies of history versus the lies of memory. Voice development. Rewriting. Economy. Interior versus exterior writing. Management of information. Character development. Dealing with family. Reversals. Managing your own emotions with regards to difficult periods in your history. Making a physical world—your body as avatar for your past.

Work for the semester is mostly reading and discussion. I’ll give writing prompts every week, but you are free to work in any nonfiction form—memoir, history, reportage, critical thought, etc. Maybe we’ll have a few workshop classes if students feel bold? Otherwise, you might read from your work.

  1. Discussion on books and fellow students’ writing: 40%
  2. FIVE memoir pieces or critical papers (50%)
  3. Commonplace books (10%)


ENG 650 M006: Forms: One City, Ten Years
Th 9:30am-12:15pm
Instructor: George Saunders

In this course, each student will be asked to become an expert on the literature and culture of one city, anywhere in the world, during a ten-year period that she selects. The student will be expected to read novels, story collections, poems, plays, essays and criticism from this period and become acquainted, as well, with other artistic products (movies, dance, the visual arts, etc.) and attain a grasp of the essential political moment. The student will attempt to come to an understanding of that moment in time and space, especially as regards and benefits her own creative journey. The thinking is that deeply involving oneself in one such time/place will help the young writer understand any time/place, as well as the larger ways in which art comes out of a particular culture at a particular time. The course will require a great deal of individual initiative; the products of the course will include written documentation of research and classroom presentations.

ENG 715 M001: First Year Graduate Poetry Workshop
Th 3:30-6:20pm
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 M002: Second Year Poetry Workshop
W 12:45-3:35pm
Instructor: Chris Kennedy

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 model or target 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 M001: First-Year Fiction Workshop
Tu 12:30-3:20pm
Instructor: Arthur Flowers

Workshop format. Craft. Vision. Production. Introduction to the Literary Life.

ENG 718 M001: Second-Year Fiction Workshop
Th 3:30-6:20pm
Instructor: Jonathan Dee

This workshop will focus on fiction writing and the useful critique thereof. We will read and discuss two or three student-submitted stories/novel excerpts each week.

ENG 719 M001: Third Year Poetry Workshop
W 12:45-3:35pm
Instructor: Mary Karr

This is an advanced course, so I assume you’re all passionate about poetry and motivated enough to a) write, b) critique each other’s work with utmost care and respect, c) 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, b) strong feeling (in the reader NOT the writer), and c) economy. I expect everyone to rewrite.

Attendance: Required
I suggest you turn in two packets of 6-10 poems each time (depending on length) and rewrite based on workshop and my comments. Facing your thesis semester, the goal for this class is also to begin to look at your work as a whole and see what themes and leitmotifs you can highlight and what repetitions you can pare back.

You’re graded 50% on your comments on other people’s work. Do not slack. 50% comes from your own poetry packets.

ENG 721 M002: Third-Year Graduate Fiction Workshop
W 12:45-3:35pm
Instructor: George Saunders

This course is required of, and restricted to, third-year students in the graduate fiction program. Students will read and critique work by their peers, in an attempt to gain new insights into revising and editing. We’ll also occasionally read and discuss published work, with the same intention.

ENG 730 M001: Graduate Seminar: Shakespearean Ecologies
W 3:45-6:35pm
Instructor: Stephanie Shirilan

While popular in earlier epochs, studies of the natural world in Shakespeare fell to the wayside of research deemed to be more urgent to the social struggles of the later twentieth century. The rise of early modern ecocriticism, born partly in effort to historicize modern environmental crises, has prompted scholars to recognize the centrality of ideas about nature to the history of race, gender, sexuality, national and religious identity, and empire. Our seminar will draw on recent developments in ecocritical scholarship to consider how these and related social and political constructs emerge out of ecological and epistemological entanglements between human and non-human bodies, agents, energies, and interests. We will consider what it avails us to think of these constructs as ecologies in their own right, informed by principles of ancient and neoteric natural philosophy and aesthetic theory and in relation to one another. How, we will ask, are the problems of interpretation and communication prominently featured in Shakespeare’s plots associated with the distributed ecology of cognition and affect that accounted for the play’s perception and consumption? How are unconventional sexual practices and gender performances in the plays presented as both unnatural and typical of nature’s irregularities – nature at play? How are themes of insularity and exploitation explored as features of island and/or colonial ecology in the Tempest and in depictions of Britain’s “sceptered isle(s)”? How might the purportedly ‘transcendent’ problems of youth and old age be complicated by consideration of the changing ecologies of age, family, and community under pressures of urbanization, emergent capitalism, globalism, and climate change? Our reading of Shakespeare’s plays and poems will be paired with historical documents and sources that students will take turns introducing from a class-curated research bibliography. Discussions will engage closely with new and established work in the fields of literary and philosophical ecocriticism, new materialism, object studies, and environmental activism, especially as these intersect with other activist criticisms. Time and supplementary resources will be provided to introduce students new to Shakespeare and early modern literature to historical terms and tools. We will, accordingly, limit the number of assigned plays and early primary documents to a number that will allow for their maximally engaged reading and discussion.

ENG 730 M002: Graduate Seminar: What Was Sex? Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the History of Sexuality
Th 3:30-6:20pm
Instructor: Dorri Beam

Before the relatively recent invention of “sexuality” and “sexualities” in the late nineteenth-century, what was sex? What did it include and exclude? Into what categories did people fit their self-stylizations of gender, affect, and pleasure? Did they have an idea of sexuality as an identity? As something stable belonging to them? How did people understand their intimate relations? What worlds spin out from past organizations of gender and sex or are foreclosed by them? How does sexuality, and the host of concerns we might gather under it, function as a lens when we examine the past?

Literature itself will be our laboratory for thinking about the history of sexuality and its import. That is, we will take literature seriously as a form that fashions characters, solicits responses, and organizes relationships, as well as exploring its involvement in the discursive production of sexualities. The course will be grounded in queer theory, gender studies, and critical race theory. Readings in queer temporality, kinship studies, new ontological and materialist theories, and debates on reading, form, and aesthetics will help us assemble our approaches to the sheer variety of relational arrangements and attachments to places, things, and people that occupy our texts. Many of our texts will strike us as legibly and productively “queer;” others confront us with questions about the plasticity of the term and its import for another era. Against the emerging institutionalization of marriage and romantic love, we will consider the challenge presented by African- and Native American resistant formations of family and community, and by same-sex love, polygamy, celibacy and pan-marriage (including a field trip to the nearby Oneida mansion house, the fascinating site of the longest-lived communal experiment of the nineteenth century!).

The texts are primarily from the second half of the nineteenth century and are likely to include short stories, novels, and poetry by Julia Ward Howe, Donald Grant Mitchell, Walt Whitman, Charles Chesnutt, Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Bret Harte, Elizabeth Stoddard, Pauline Hopkins, Zitkala Sa, and Sui Sin Far.

ENG 730 M003: Graduate Seminar: History of the Book
Tu 12:20-3:20pm
Instructor: Patricia Roylance

This course is designed as an introduction to the field known most commonly as “the history of the book.” We will investigate what difference it makes to consider the materiality of a text when interpreting it. How do a text’s material form and the modes of its production, circulation and reception affect our sense of its content? Over the course of the term, this question will lead us to consider topics including: manuscript versus print culture; printing technologies; models of the book trade; writers, publishers and readers as key nodes in the circulation of print; illustration, serialization, copyright, censorship, bestsellers, marketing and the digital book.

We will explore these and other issues through content drawn from the medieval to the modern period, focusing primarily on Britain and the Americas, examining a series of exemplary moments, authors, texts and genres with relevance for book history studies. The typical pattern for our weekly reading will involve one focal primary text and one or more secondary readings that illuminate issues of materiality germane to the primary work, but also applicable more broadly. This course will make use of the resources available at Bird Library’s Special Collections, and you will be required to do some archival work there, on materials of your choosing, for a short mid-term paper. There will also be a seminar-length paper due at the end of the term, in which you will bring to bear the theory and methods of the history of the book on materials of your choosing. The course will therefore be appropriate for students specializing in any field within literary or media studies, because the critical lens of materiality can complement any given content. Due to the inherently interdisciplinary nature of book history, students from other disciplines are also welcome.