ENGL 13186 – 01
Literature University Seminar: Modernity, Technology, and the American Novel
In this University Seminar, we will consider the intertwined histories of the American novel and technology, and ask what this intersection has to tell us about the varieties of modernity emerging in American culture from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. From media devices such as wireless transmitters, printing presses, and computers to highway and underground transit systems, or from robotics to movement machines such as elevators and escalators, technologies work as the settings for novelistic action, the agents of literary production, and the topics through which novels ask big questions about the place of the human in an increasingly mechanized world.
In novels by Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, Philip K. Dick, Patricia Highsmith, Colson Whitehead and Nicholson Baker, we will bring these technologies, often invisible because of their ubiquity, to the surface, and read their cultural histories alongside the literary texts. Students will be asked to complete an intellectual autobiography, one short close-reading paper and two mid-length papers, as well as short writing assignments related to the course reading. Active participation in class discussions and heightened awareness of the technologies mediating everyday life are a must.
ENGL 13186 -02
Literature University Seminar: Drama, Narrative, Poetry
This course provides an introduction to the three main types of literature: drama, narrative, and poetry. We’ll begin by learning how to see and hear and write about poetry, using Helen Vendler’s textbook Poems – Poets – Poetry. Then we’ll move on to narrative, with a study of Philip Roth’s Indignation, in addition to short stories by Poe, Joyce, and Elizabeth Bowen. At the end of the course we’ll study Shakespeare’s play The Tempest and its filmic adaptations. Students will be expected to participate actively in class, and to meet in groups outside of class to prepare presentations. Grades will be based on four written assignments, regular group presentations, and contributions to discussion.
ENGL 13186 – 03
University Seminar: The Death and Return of God in Radical Poetry
This course will introduce students to several of the key upheavals in twentieth-century thought that rocked spiritually-inclined poets, leaving them without easy paths back to devotional art. We will be particularly focused on those British, Irish and American poets whose cutting edge, radical ideas about themselves and culture would shake apart the very syntax of their medium – language – and cause them to write in forms that seemed very strange and even disturbing to unaccustomed eyes. At the crux of our discussions will be the fate of the idea of God in the works of “postmodern” poets whose secular political projects and views of language – “the word” – would conflict at the deepest levels with their desire for belief in divinity. We will focus closely on the work of small-press writers Brian Coffey (Ireland), David Jones, John Riley, Wendy Mulford (U.K.), Fanny Howe and Hank Lazar (U.S.), all of whom have emerged, with the help of 21st-century hindsight, as part of an important group of poet-thinkers engaged in this crucial project of “reconstructing God.” The course will begin with gentle introductions to the problems of reading twentieth-century philosophy and theology as well as to the problems of reading poetry as a literary genre. During the semester students will be required to write either three short papers or substitute the final one with a creative response (to be accompanied by a written “argument” and approved before start of work).
ENGL 13186 – 04
Literature University Seminar
The purpose of this course will be to examine the tradition of creating stories of mystery, particularly stories involving murder, in different periods. What we know as the “detective story” is first fully developed in the 19th century, but such fiction has a long history, going back at least to the ancient Greeks. Although mystery stories have been classified as light reading, their subject matter has been closely related to central pursuits in literature and culture. Tragedy and mystery story seem to have some kinship.
After starting with the dramatic story of Sophocles’ Oedipus, we shall pursue mystery and murder through many windings, through legal cases, revenge tragedies, gothic fiction and philosophical tale. We encounter the fantastic in Hoffmann and Poe, and go into the cryptic underground of Dickens’s unfinished Edwin Drood. Dealing with the master sleuth Sherlock Holmes we emerge into the twentieth century, to encounter the full formation of the “detective story” as a genre. We pick up authors such as Hammett and Christie, as well as films that take up the task of telling stories of murder, mystery and horror. Our pursuit raises several questions. Why do we like to read about murder? Does such fiction reassure us in displaying the triumph of intellect – or does it unsettle us because it asks whom we can trust? Why do we like to look for something hidden? Do mystery stories offer reassurances about the past, or ways of exploring the unknown? Such questions should occupy us during the semester, even though, unlike the heroic detective, we may not arrive at a full solution.
Objectives: We should learn to think in an analytical way about the genres in which mystery figures. Comedy, tragedy, and characterization are among our concerns, as well as various techniques of narration and their effects.
This course is a writing course, and every student should be able to improve in writing skills. Discussions and class reports should also enhance general communication skills.
Assignments: Four essays (two with revision), electronic journal entries (at last three), and one team report (on a mystery film) .
ENGL 13186 – 05
University Seminar: Self and Society in American Poetry
This course looks at a central dilemma within American culture—the relationship of the individual to the social body—through the lens of seven major American poets: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, and Lyn Hejinian. The poetry we will read covers the time period from the middle of the nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century and it ranges in scope from the short lyrics of Dickinson and Williams to Whitman’s epic “Song of Myself” and the vernacular rant of Ginsberg’s “Howl.”
ENGL 13186 - 06
University Seminar: One Hundred Years of the U.S. Short Story
Our course will examine the literary history and impact of the American short story in the last century. We’ll pay particular attention to the subjects of immigration, poverty, class, and race, and to the themes of individualism, group identity, and alienation. At the same time, we’ll be exploring major literary movements from modernism to post-postmodernism, analyzing writers’ innovations and experiments, and tracing the connections between a story’s form and its content. We’ll read, discuss, and write about some fifty stories over the course of the semester, and we will be especially sure to take pleasure in a surprising and satisfying literary form. Because university seminars are designed for extensive writing and reading, students should expect to write a total of roughly twenty-five pages in the form of journal entries, drafts, and final papers; to lead, with a partner, a discussion session on one story; and to contribute daily to the literary conversation.
ENGL 13186 – 08
Literature University Seminar
ENGL 13186 – 09
Literature University Seminar: Biography/Autobiography: One’s Life Story
U 7:00-9:00 pm
In the course of the semester, we will seek to understand the uniqueness of particular historical persons through an analysis of their stories as created either by themselves or others. We will also be interested in what can be learned about that person is cultural and historical context.
Attendance is expected at each class.
The students in the course are expected to contribute to the seminar discussions and to write papers on each assignment. All regular papers are to be two to three pages. Thefinal paper is to be five to seven pages. It will provide an opportunity to tell one is own story in light of the work of the semester.
ENGL 20000 – 01
Intro to Creative Writing
MWF 3:00 – 3:50
This course serves as an introduction to poetry and fiction writing. Students will read authors in both genres, discuss critical terms, and write and discuss their own creative work with the class.
ENGL 20000 – 02
Intro to Creative Writing
MWF 4:05 – 4:55
This course serves as an introduction to poetry and fiction writing. Students will read authors in both genres, discuss critical terms, and write and discuss their own creative work with the class.
ENGL 20001 – 01
MW 8:00 – 9:15
Have you ever finished reading a novel and thought: “I wish I could do that”? Or: “I think I can do that”? Or: “I want to do that”? Well, this course is for you.
In this workshop-style course, we’ll explore the craft as well as the artistic aspects of writing fiction. We’ll read a sample of contemporary short fiction as “writers,” meaning we’ll dissect the various techniques writers’ employ in the writing of their stories. We’ll also work on several in-class and out-of-class writing assignments (1-4 pages) designed to practice those techniques. Students will then write two original short stories that will be read and discussed by other members of the class. At the end of the semester, students will complete a portfolio of revised work. And, in order to assist us in our explorations, we will be attending campus literary events, to hear “up close and personal” from actively publishing writers.
Writing is a journey. Ours begins now.
ENGL 20001 – 02
This will be a workshop course devoted to the writing of shorter fiction. A good bit of flexibility will be retained (depending upon the level of experience of students who elect the course), but what students may expect is this: brief assignments, at the start, will be made to encourage — and to display — the development of a variety of narrative and fictional techniques. Beyond those exercises, two stories (and two revisions) will be required. Student stories will be duplicated. There will be collateral readings from significant contemporary writers. Regular attendance and participation will be taken for granted. More than casual interest in writing and fiction is expected. Individual conferences will be arranged to discuss student stories.
ENGL 20001 – 03
MW 11:45 – 1:00
In this class we are going to read a number of works of modern and contemporary fiction and use these as jumping-off points and inspirations for our own stories and explorations. We will think of writing in terms of sentences, narratives, images, audiences, genres and materialities, as well as ideas about representation and the role of writing in our world. While the reading will reach back into 19th and early 20th century modernism, most of the reading will be contemporary. Authors might include: Vladimir Nabokov, Italo Calvino, Robert Bolano, Kate Bernheimer and Joyce Carol Oates.
This course aims to prepare students for hearing, speaking, reading and writing poetry, through exercises for ear and voice, and guided adventures in language.
ENGL 20003 – 01
MW 11:45 – 1:00
How are short stories written? Where do they come from? How do fiction writers actually write? In the first segment of the course, we will be looking at several contemporary short stories, “looking at” in terms of how a fiction writer “looks at” short fiction. We will examine how the stories are (and are not!) constructed, what narrative techniques are (and are not!) employed by their authors, what the authors are (and are not!) “saying” in their works. The second segment of the course will be a workshop, in which student-generated stories will be discussed. There will be short (1-4 page) writing assignments at the beginning of the semester; afterwards, students will be expected to produce two (possibly three) full-length short stories. Active class participation will be expected, as will oral and written critiques of student work. At semester’s end, students will submit a portfolio of their revised work. We will also be attending campus literary events as announced. (Note: course fulfills Fine Arts Requirement.)
Point-of-View in the Novel
This course will focus on the introduction of to the novel as a form, a means to view the world of the author/artist and the reader. Literature is an art whereby one consciousness seeks to communicate with another consciousness. One of the artist’s techniques for controlling this flow is the concept of point of view. We will explore various approaches and uses of this “framing” in some nineteenth and twentieth century novels. The goal is to use an understanding of point of view to more fully comprehend, enjoy, and sensitively read this popular genre.
Texts: Henry James, Turn of the Screw; Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary; Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome; James Joyce, Dubliners; William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!; Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter; E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime; Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha; and Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America.
Requirements: regular class participation; two short papers, a mid-term; and a final.
Image and Text in the Reading of Literature
MW 3:00-4:15 pm
For thousands of years privileged literature has been entitled to and honored with illustration by trained artists and artisans. These special texts, preserved because of their illustrations, have provided the basis for much of our knowledge of the history of literature and of art precisely because they were so rare, so valuable, and so attractive. However, illustrating a text alters its reading and interpretation: how do we study what a picture does to the story it is commissioned to accompany? It is important to sort out a decoration from a parallel picture text that may force interpretation, alter, or subvert the writing on the page.
History also shows textual illustration to provide a message too dangerous to say in words, as well as the illustration which provides a companion visual story to be read separately and in addition to the words. Skills in these techniques are necessary in understanding the literatures of our heritage and of contemporary electronic media. This course provides the historical basis to learn to read illustrated texts, ancient and modern. There will be extensive use of the Rare Book Collection of the Hesburgh Library. Class will consist of daily writings, weekly quizzes, two short illustrated research papers, and one in-depth research paper the results of which will be formally presented to the class.
Catholic Fiction & Film
Mary Burgess Smyth
In this course, as you might expect from its title, we will consider representations of Catholicism in the work of a number of authors and filmmakers. Our central texts are as follows:
Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest (novel, French, 1937)
Robert Bresson (director) The Diary of a Country Priest (1950)
Louis Malle (director) Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)
Leo MCCarey (director) The Bells of St Mary’s (1945)
Pat McCabe, The Butcher Boy (novel, 1992)
Neil Jordan (director) The Butcher Boy (1997)
Peter Mullan (director) The Magdalene Sisters
Brian Moore, Black Robe (novel, 1985)
Bruce Beresford (director) Black Robe (1991)
James Joyce, Dubliners (short stories, 1914)
John Huston (director) The Dead (1987)
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (novel, 1943)
Elia Kazan (director) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Frank Capra, John Ford, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Leo McCarey, Robert Bresson, Jean Renoir, Federico Fellini…the list of great (lapsed or otherwise) Catholic film directors is staggering. In the films and novels and stories that we will be reading – for we will be reading the films just as closely as we will read the written words – Catholicism emerges in multiple ways. Some of the issues that will be raised for our analysis and discussion will be: iconography; sacrifice; mortality; sin; original sin; violence and religion; religious corruption; the tensions between the individual and the institutions of the Church, and the clergy; the loss of innocence; grace; hypocrisy; censorship; silence. We will aim, too, to compare and contrast the different treatments of religion and humanity in these films and novels.
Women and War
S. Brooke Cameron
This course looks at the wide range of women’s literary responses to World Wars I and II. Our readings and class conversations will be structured around central themes such as women’s military service, women’s pacifism, women and national boundaries, women and empire, shell-shock, and nursing national wounds. Students will look at an international range of authors, including the French author Marguerite Duras; British authors Virginia Woolf, Radclyffe Hall, and Rebecca West; British-Jamaican authorAndrea Levy; New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield; American authors H.D. and Edith Wharton; and Canadian author J. G. Sime and Japanese-Canadian author Joy Kogawa. We will cover a range of genres, including prose, the novel, autobiography, and the short story.
Assignments: two essays, a response journal, mid-term and final exams.
Science in Fiction
TR 9:30 – 10:45
The influences of constellations, the theory of humors, phrenology, evolution and intelligent design. From early cave paintings in Lascaux to interactive hypertexts, people have endeavored to create stories of themselves, their world, their universe: how does the universe run? How does the world run? How do we run? In the writing of these stories, imaginative writers have often taken great liberties with “fact” and “fiction” dependent on the “verifiable truths” known at the time: one writer’s “science” is another writer’s “fantasy”. Or is it?
In this course, we will explore how fiction writers use science in their works. Not to be confused with “science fiction”, we will examine how scientific concepts (cognition, memory, time, the origins of the universe, etc.) feed a writer’s imagination. Just as the Earth was once thought to be flat and the center of the universe, fiction writers, ancient and contemporary, have employed “science” as a storytelling element, often with shocking and provocative outcomes that are not “scientific” at all.
Required texts will include (subject to change; others to be announced): Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow; Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale; Megan Heyward, Of Day, Of Night; Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2; selections of ancient, medieval, and pre-modern literature; excerpts from PBS’ Nova and other movies/television shows/medias. Required work: quizzes, two essays, midterm, final exam. (Note: course fulfills Literature Requirement.)
Jane Austen, Writer and Reader
MWF 9:35 – 10:25
Jane Austen’s hugely popular novels are even more rewarding when read together with the eighteenth-century literature that shaped her art. We will study in depth four of Austen’s novels in relation to novels, essays, poems, and plays that influenced her. These works will enrich our examination of Austen’s engagement with some of the intellectual, ethical, and social questions that vexed eighteenth-century Britain: the difficulties of coming of age in the modern world, the proper roles of men and women, the promise and perils of romantic relationships and marriage, and the significance of class divisions. Finally, we will consider the eighteenth-century ideas about literature which informed Austen’s novels as well as Austen’s innovative and influential narrative technique. Students will give a group presentation on a film adaptation of one of Austen’s novels in order to explore the continuing relevance of her work and the interplay between medium and meaning.
Performing Irishness: A Century of Irish Drama
As members of a school whose sports teams are called the “Fighting Irish” and whose mascot is a leprechaun, Notre Dame students are no strangers to performances of Irish stereotypes. Yet these types of performances extend far beyond the football field, and have histories of which many Domers are unaware. In the 19th century, the “stage Irishman” was a popular comic figure on the British and American stage. Drunken, fiery-tempered, and full of blarney, the stage Irishman represented a popular and enduring stereotype of what it meant to be Irish. This course will examine how Irish playwrights of the 20th and 21st centuries have reacted to the stage Irishman in creating their own versions of Irishness: sometimes by accepting (or cashing in on) the popular stereotype and sometimes by challenging it. Students will read works by some of the best-known Irish playwrights: W.B. Yeats, Sean O’Casey, and Brian Friel, while also exploring the work of some less familiar playwrights, like Lady Augusta Gregory and Dion Boucicault.
Class participation will be a vital part of this course as students interpret, stage, and act out portions of plays, both as a regular part of class discussion and as a graded group presentation. Students will also be required to write three short response papers (2 pages each) and one longer paper (7-10) pages, on a text or production of their choice.
Narrating the Mind in Modern Literature
Anyone who has ever engaged with a great work of literature knows that it opens up new avenues of thinking. But how does one think about thinking? Better yet, how does one write about thinking? We will ponder these questions as we take a careful look at works from perhaps the most recognizable figures of modernism: Marcel Proust, Dorothy Richardson, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. As we investigate these authors’ preoccupation with thought processes, we will think about the texts in relation to various psychoanalytical attempts, beginning with Sigmund Freud’s, to conceptualize consciousness and unconsciousness (How do we distinguish the self from the other? Do our conscious and unconscious selves involve our intellect, emotions, sensations, perceptions, and/or dreams?). We will invade characters’ minds to ask: How does one transfer an intangible thought to paper? How does one write a male’s consciousness compared to a female’s? What about an adult’s compared to a child’s? Can sentence structure, punctuation, and word choice articulate these differences? Finally, we will expand our inquiry to another media form to question: How does one film consciousness?
Students will be responsible for regular class participation (which includes submitting questions to Concourse), keeping an informal reading journal, and writing two short papers (3-4 pages), one of which will be expanded into a final paper (8-10 pages). There will also be a final exam.
Major Texts: Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (vol. 1, Swann’s Way); Dorothy Richardson, Pointed Roofs; James Joyce, Ulysses (selected chapters); Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse.
Second City: Literature on Location in Chicago
Home to the three African American Senators in US History and the first Black President, Black Chicago has played a significant role in shaping 20th century American culture. With the “Great Migration” tens of thousands of southern African Americans settled in this city where they contributed to the development of an urban culture reflected in the visual and performing arts, literature, and music. In the aftermath of migration and modernism, Chicago's black literary output rivaled the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. This course considers Chicago’s “new negroes” and the primary influence of the second city on African American life and literature beginning in 1910 with Chicago resident Jack Johnson winning the World Heavyweight title through the 1959 staging of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.”
Coming of Age in the American Novel
What does it mean to ‘come of age’ in America? How do we know when we’ve become adults? How have twentieth century American novelists depicted the struggle of leaving childhood behind and embracing new responsibilities? What are the consequences of growing up?
In this course we will approach how select groups of American youth struggle to come to terms with what it means to be an adult in America; from Sylvia Plath’s harrowing narrative of a gifted young woman’s psychological breakdown in The Bell Jar to Ernest Hemmingway’s fictionalization of post-WWI anomie in his classic The Sun Also Rises. We will explore this theme in novels by authors including Horatio Alger, Jr., Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Junot Díaz in order to better imagine how different social, racial and economic groups deal with what it means to grow up in America. Course requirements include four short response papers (2 pages each), a midterm and final exam, presentation, and final research paper (8-10 pages). Films will include “The Graduate,” “Igby Goes Down,” “Harold and Maude” and “Juno.”
We will read, discuss, and study selected novels of significance within the American literary tradition. As we explore these novels within their historical and cultural context, we will consider the various reasons for their place within the canon of American literature. Indeed, we will scrutinize the very nature of this literary canon and self-consciously reflect on the inevitably arbitrary nature of this, or any, reading list. Even so, we will see, I hope, that these authors share deep engagement with ideas and themes common to American literature and do so through their art in ways that both teach and delight. Required texts: Moby-Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Awakening, The Great Gatsby, Invisible Man, The Old and the Sea, The Bluest Eye.
God and Evil in Modern Literature
A study of selected modern writers whose concern with God and evil, faith and despair, and the reality and significance of suffering animates their writings. In considering the relationships between the religious imagination and experience and its expression in literature, we will discuss the ways in which writers envision the nature and purpose of narrative and of language itself--as efficacious and even sacred or as ineffectual. Before dealing with particular modern writers, we will reflect on the presuppositions of the Bible and medieval thought and literature in relation to truth, faith and narrative. Readings will be selected from the following: St. Francis, Little Flowers, Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, DeVries, The Blood of the Lamb, Melville, Billy Budd; Greene, The Power and the Glory or The End of the Affair; Flannery O'Connor, Everything that Rises Must Converge or The Violent Bear It Away; Hammarskjold, Markings; Roth, Job; Weil, Waiting for God; Hawthorne, Selected Tales; Wiesel, Night; and narratives by Primo Levi, Dinesen, and Updike.
Intro to Literary Studies
Section 01 Barbara Green TT 3:30-4:45
Section 02 Susan Harris TT 9:30-10:45
Section 04 Sara Maurer MW 4:30-5:45
Section 05 Chris Vanden Bossche MW 11:45-1:00
This course provides beginning English majors with experience in the analysis, interpretation, and appreciation of literary works of different kinds and eras. Texts assigned will vary from one section to another, but all sections will include attention to poetry and at least one other genre (fiction, drama, non-fiction prose). Frequent writing about works studied will introduce students to the practice of critical argument and consideration of how to read criticism as well as literature critically.
British Literary Traditions I
This course is an intensive survey of literary history in England from the seventh to the seventeenth centuries. Early British literature is anything but dull: dragon fights, scatological humor, scheming devils, cross-dressing, seduction poetry -- it's all here. You'll learn about major periods and authors during this long history, about changes in the English language, about the development of genres, and about key questions with which writers struggled. You will also learn how to read poetry well. To accomplish these goals, you must make three commitments: to read carefully with an openness to the power and pleasure of early literature, to express freely your thoughts about what you read, and to write (and rewrite) with passion and precision. Course requirements will likely include several 4-5 page essays, short take-home written assignments, occasional quizzes, an oral class presentation, and a final examination.
American Literary Traditions (History B)
This course is designed to introduce students to the critical study and aesthetic enjoyment of early American literature. The phrase “early American literature” raises a number of questions. What does it mean to call writings produced by European colonials “American”? In what sense are oral genres such as Native American creation tales or Puritan sermons “literature”? And perhaps most importantly, in what sense is this literature “early”? What is “punctual” American literature? Taking the question “what is early American literature” as our starting point, we will examine a range of works from initial European contacts with the (to them) New World through the American Renaissance writings of Emerson, Melville, Hawthorne, and Dickinson. Themes and practices of voice will provide a common interpretive framework for our readings. We will explore the literatures of America with particular attention to oral traditions, vernacular influences, and narrative and poetic forms.
Course objectives include introducing you to the major themes and texts in American literature before 1865; familiarizing you with the primary tools of literary study, including key concepts (such as allegory and Romanticism) and important research tools (such as the OED and the MLA Bibliography); developing skills of close reading, attention to literary form and historical context, and literary argumentation; and developing the ability to write an effective interpretive essay. Requirements include regular attendance and active class participation (10%); quizzes and short exercises (15%); a midterm exam (25%); a research paper (25%); and a final exam (25%).
HISTORY C (NB: TWO COURSES)
American Literary Traditions II (History C)
The emphasis of this course will focus on the plurality of American literary traditions and their interesting intersections. Consequently, we will read not only works by men and women and by members of different ethnic groups, but also works representing different genres. We will spend significant time on five novels (written by Mark Twain, Kate Chopin, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alice Walker), five shorts stories (by Stephen Crane, Jean Toomer, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin and Flannery O’Connor), and a variety of poems, ranging from those by Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens, to Elizabeth Bishop and Adrienne Rich, concluding with Lorna Dee Cervantes, Li-Young Lee, and Joy Harjo. The course will be demanding, but rewarding, especially as it seeks to explore the various contradictions and rich overlappings of our rich American literary heritage. Course Requirements: class attendance and discussion, two papers, a midterm, and a final (worth 25% each)
Texts: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; [“The Flying Africans; ”][Ghost Dance Songs;] Stephen Crane, “The Open Boat; ”Kate Chopin, The Awakening; Robert Frost, selected poems; Jean Toomer, “Karintha; ”Ernest Hemingway, “Big Two-Hearted River” or “Indian Camp; ”Wallace Stevens, selected poems; William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues; ”Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find; ”Elizabeth Bishop, selected poems; Alice Walker, The Color Purple; selected poems by Adrienne Rich, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Li-Young Lee, and Joy Harjo.
ENGL 30120 (History C)
Jonathan Swift to Jon Stewart
This course fulfills the Literary History C requirement and can also count as an English major Elective.
A study of literary satire from the early 18th century to the present with some attention to visual satire and current popular culture. Authors to be studied will certainly include Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Voltaire, William Blake, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Nathanael West, and probably one or more of the following: Aldous Huxley, Langston Hughes, George Orwell, Don DeLillo, and T. C. Boyle. Some of the questions we will consider are: Does great satire, which is often highly historical, complicate ideas of art as timeless or universal? How does satire differ from comedy and irony, while frequently incorporating both? Is satire fundamentally a form of moral engagement or anarchistic play? What links aggression and laughter in verbal art? What do traditional satires tell us about recent phenomena such as The Daily Show and Colbert Report — and vice versa?
Fiction Writing for English Majors
This is a course in writing short fiction that explores language as an art medium in many of its various manifestations: prose-poems, word-image hybrids, electronic writing, as well as the more traditional short story. It is conducted through a discussion / studio format centered on fiction written by students in the class, in the context of prose and poetry by notable contemporary authors. Students will be encouraged to think of fiction in terms of the form used to express it: how form creates aesthetic experience and conveys ideas. Over the semester, students will present three short fictions for class discussion. Alongside the stories written by students in the class, we will be reading a variety of published short works that emphasize the ways working writers have used to stretch the boundaries or otherwise create word-art that resonates with our times (fiction by, for example, William Gass, Michael Martone, Lydia Davis). Additional work will include: a detailed critique of each piece submitted for discussion, analysis of reading assignments, and attendance at readings given by visiting authors. At the end of the term, students will turn in a portfolio of the stories they have written and revised during the semester.
Fiction Writing for English Majors
Building on skills and ideas learned in the introductory fiction class, this course will challenge students to expand their notions of what fiction can be. We will explore sentences that become unwieldy, unyielding, or stuttering; images that melt; and narratives that implode or collapse. The reading will stretch from 19th century fairytales to the videogrammes and manifestos of the digital age. Authors might include: Vladimir Nabokov, William Burroughs, Wolfgang Borchert, Jean Genet, Aase Berg and Lydia Davis.
Poetry Writing for Majors
This class is a reading and writing workshop. You will be required to write and revise your work with your classmates. Good poets take in the world, and through the poets we will read, and the prompts and exercises you will be given, you will be encouraged to go out and examine it. Students will be required to write and revise poems, leading to a portfolio of revised work as a final project, keep a writers’ journal, write response papers to the books we read (there will be at least four, plus hand-outs), attend at least one reading, and commit to memory a poem to be recited by the end of the semester. This course fulfills either the Fine Arts requirement or the English major Elective requirement.
Religion and Literature
A consideration of the forms, ideas, and preoccupations of the religious imagination in literature and of the historical relationships between religious faith and traditions and particular literary works. The conflicts and tensions between modern gnosticism, in literature and ideology, and the sacramental imagination will constitute a recurring point of focus. We will also lend special attention to the vision and imagery of the journey and wayfarer and the conflicts and affinities between private and communal expressions of faith.
Readings will be selected from the following: Criticism by Tolstoy, T.S. Eliot, John Gardner, Flannery O'Connor, Hillis Miller, Elie Wiesel, Martha Nussbaum, Wayne Booth, George Steiner and others on the relations among ethics, religion and literature; selections from the Bible, Dante, and saints' lives; Emily Dickinson, Final Harvest; Roth, Job; Kazantzakis, Saint Francis; Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor; DeVries, The Blood of the Lamb; Greene, The Power and the Glory and The End of the Affair; Wiesel, Night; Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment; Emerson, Sermon on the Lord's Supper; selected O'Connor short stories or The Violent Bear It Away; selected Updike short stories and criticism; Weil, Waiting for God; Singer, Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories; Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest; Bergman (director), The Seventh Seal; Hemingway,The Old Man and the Sea.
This course is an introduction to Old English, the language spoken and written in England from about the mid-fifth century until shortly after the Norman Conquest. The primary goal of the course is to develop your reading skills in Old English to the point where you can read some prose and poetry with minimal reliance on a dictionary or grammar. This means that from the outset the course is intended to be a grammar-intensive language class, and you won’t be misled in thinking of the first half of it as an introductory foreign language class, complete with memorization exercises, translation assignments, and paradigm quizzes. But as we approach the midterm, our emphasis will shift toward reading and discussing literary texts, and an ultimate goal will be to develop your understanding of the language, form, and meaning of Old English poetry.
To that end, we will spend all of our time after the midterm reading poetry, including excerpts from Genesis B and Beowulf plus a few riddles, and we will undertake an intensive reading of The Dream of the Rood, for which I will ask you to submit a polished translation and commentary. By the end of the semester, if all goes as planned, you can expect to acquire a basic reading ability in Old English, improve your understanding of the early history and structure of the English language, introduce yourself to a few fundamental elements of Anglo-Saxon society and culture, and become intimately acquainted with a sample of Old English prose and poetry. To help us achieve these goals, I will give two exams (a midterm and final) along with a series of short scheduled quizzes during the first half of the term, plus I will assign a translation project due the last week of class.
The midterm will require you to parse, translate, and discuss passages from the texts we have read together in class. The final exam will ask you to parse, translate, and discuss a new passage that you have not seen before. Attendance and class participation will be of vital importance in determining your final course grade.
The Renaissance Imagination: Thinking with Shakespeare and Spenser
This course focuses intensely on two of the Renaissance period's most influential writers -- William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser. Both writers reflect on the work that fiction can do in addressing the deepest desires and fears; both theorize the imagination's powers as well as its distortions and limitations. Both writers are also deeply concerned with the processes of interpretation that are at the heart of the English major. Good readers of Spenser and Shakespeare promise to be good readers of much else: through a careful study of these writers, students will learn to reflect carefully on their own reading and interpretive processes, as well as on the capacities and horizons of imaginative writing. Texts will include The Faerie Queene as well as a selection of Shakespeare's plays -- probably Henry V, As You Like It, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale. Major assignments will include short response pieces, a brief performance assignment, one longer paper, and a final exam.
Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Medieval English Literature
Late medieval writers operated in a world distressed by social injustice, political oppression and church controversy. Although this period saw the rise of modern English literature itself, it was also a time when starving peasants rebelled against their overlords, knights rode off on crusade amidst anti-war critique, English translations of the Bible were suppressed, women mystics struggled to be heard amidst gender prejudice, and the king Chaucer worked for was deposed and murdered. This course will examine how the major writers of late medieval England negotiated these troubled waters, writing sometimes candidly and sometimes secretly about dangerous or disturbing matters. Authors to be studied will include Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, the Wakefield Master playwright, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, and Marguerite Porete (the only medieval woman author to have been burned at the stake for her writings). The aim is to help illuminate how literary writers sought to defend or enlarge their religious or political orthodoxies in response to the challenges of the time.
Topics to be discussed will include: knighthood, visionary writing, attitudes toward women’s learning and teaching, Jews and Muslims, emerging struggles for intellectual freedom, parliamentary rights and free speech, the Peasants Rising of 1381, and the rise of dissent.
Texts: From Chaucer to Spenser, ed. Derek Pearsall (Longman’s, 2001); William Langland, Piers Plowman: An New Annotated Edition of the C-text, ed. Derek Pearsall (University of Exeter, 2008): The Book of Margery Kempe, trans. Barry Windeatt (Penguin, 1987); The Mirror of Simple Souls by Marguerite Porete, trans. by Edmund Colledge et al., (Notre Dame: UNDP, 1999).
Assignments: Two short quizzes (10% +10%); Two essays (20% and 30%); One report (10%); One Final Exam (20%).
In this course we will read several of Shakespeare’s plays (including tragedies, comedies, and romances), as well as a number of contemporary “re-visions” of those works by authors of varying cultural, ethnic, or gender backgrounds. The purpose of this course will consequently be fourfold: first, to gain an in-depth understanding of one of our most important writers, particularly in relation to his own time period; second, to discover what qualities, vision, dilemmas, and/or artistry keep this author very much alive; third, to examine the various ways in which contemporary authors are modifying, if not codifying, Shakespeare’s work in their own important new works; and last, to develop the critical skills and vocabulary for discussing and writing about these issues and texts. In terms of the latter goal, we will learn how to do the most effective research through the MLA Bibliography (and a few other research indexes which our university offers on-line).
Texts: William Shakespeare, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, and King Lear; Amira Baraka (Le Roi Jones), Dutchman and the Slave; Toni Morrison, Tar Baby; Alice Walker, The Color Purple; and Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres. In addition, please get for yourself either Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day or John Edgar Wideman’sPhiladelphia Fire (both of which rely on Shakespeare’s The Tempest) or Richard Wright’s Native Son. Requirements: In addition to class attendance and participation, you may be asked to attend a few out-of-class engagements, such as visiting a museum, attending a play, or watching a film.
Written assignments will include an initial close reading of an individual work (4 to 5 pages), followed by a comparative essay bringing one contemporary play and one of Shakespeare’s into play (6 to 8 pages), then another comparative paper involving research (also 6 to 8 pages), and a highly focused reading of one work of your choice, again including research (6 to 8 pages). The last assignment will ask you to apply what you have learned in this course to the text you have chosen to read independently and will therefore draw upon any of the other works we have read, as well as relevant criticism.
Gender and the 19th Century British Novel
S. Brooke Cameron
In this class, we will look at how gender is addressed through a variety of nineteenth-century novels. Our conversations will focus on historically-specific figures such as the single woman, the married woman, the factory girl, the prostitute, the mother, the fallen woman, the type-writer girl, and the modern New Woman. We will also consider various representations of masculinity, including such figures as working-class and middle-class men, the heterosexual male, the modern New Man, the effeminate man, and the emasculated male. We will read these novels in conversation with nineteenth-century legal, political, and scientific texts and conversations on gender and sexuality.
Required Texts: Emma (Jane Austen), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë), Mary Barton (Elizabeth Gaskell), The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins), Dracula (Bram Stoker), and The Typewriter Girl (Grant Allen).
Seducers, Stalkers and Women with Guns: The Romantic Novel in the 1790s
When Verney reflects, in Charlotte Smith's Desmond (1792), "I found that if I would really satisfy myself with a certain view of Geraldine, I must seek some spot, where, from its elevation, I could, by means of a small pocket telescope, have an uninterrupted view of these windows," and the eponymous heroine of Mary Hays's Memoirs of Emma Courtney (1796) observes "I shall, I suspect, be impelled by an irresistible impulse to seek you […]. Though you have condemned my affection, my friendship will still follow you," they represent an extreme unrequited devotion that is part of the period's preoccupation with passion. The novel of the 1790s teems with rapists, stalkers, abusive employers, weeping men and fighting women who confront prison, madness, murder, jealousy and suicidal melancholy. This course aims to explore the significance of passion for understanding developments in the representation of femininity, masculinity, social virtue and humanitarian reform at the end of the eighteenth century.
What counts as a “place”? Can a place determine one’s identity? Does an expanding mass media and communication infrastructure make place irrelevant? As they experienced unprecedented urbanization, migration, and globalization, the Victorians were preoccupied with these questions. To get a sense of how these questions seeped into Victorian literature, we’ll sample a wide array of Victorian literature from the poetry of Emily Bronte and John Clare to the urban investigations of Friedrich Engels and Henry Mayhew to the sketches of country and city life by William Carleton, Mary Russell Mitford and Charles Dickens. We’ll end with a look at the strange placelessness of late-century fiction by William Morris and Henry James. Students will write several short papers, produce one long paper, and do original research on a Victorian “place” of their choosing.
Gender and Space
This course is focused on an encounter between gender and space in modernity. Through planning and design, as well as through habitation and use, spaces both public and private take on specific, and varied, gendered meanings. Though the course will be grounded in modern literature (mainly the novel), we will also include a range of materials—theoretical texts, architectural plans, histories, philosophical texts--to survey the complexity of various gendered meanings attached to space in the cultures of modernity. We will examine spaces both public and private (the department store, the cinema, the street, the apartment, the country home, etc.) as traversed and inhabited by a variety of 20th century figures (the flaneur, the New Woman, the shop girl, the sapphist, the suffragist, the single girl, the bachelor etc.). Students will examine issues of gender and the public sphere, the significance of public spaces such as department stores, and cinemas; the mapping of gendered hierarchies into office spaces; voyeurism in private spaces including the home and the apartment; the specific meanings that attach themselves to separate spaces within the home such as the kitchen or the bedroom. Literary texts may include George Gissing's, The Odd Women, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and her London essays, Jean Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight, Janet Flanner's Cubical City, Nella Larsen's Passing, Mary McCarthy's The Group, and selections from various materials on single life in the city, like The Girls in Apartment 3B and Sex and the Single Girl. A few films featuring spaces both public and private may be included, such as the fifties melodrama All that Heaven Allows or the office film The Best of Everything. In addition, we will consult theories of space, place and gender by Benjamin, Lefebvre, Bachelard, Dolores Hayden, Daphne Spain, Doreen Massey, Beatriz Colomina and others.
Requirements will include two substantial essays (8-10 pages), a few short submissions, contribution to class discussion and a presentation.
19th and 20th Century Scottish Literature
Mary Burgess Smyth
This course will trace the major literary movements in two centuries of Scottish fiction and poetry. We will read works by the following writers: James Hogg, The PrivateMemoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824); Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), and some of his short stories; JM Barrie,Peter Pan (1904) and some stories; George Douglas Brown, The House with The Green Shutters (1901); Lewis Grassic Gibbon, A Scots Quair (1932); Alan Warner MorvernCallar (1995). In terms of poetry, apart from Robert Burns, we will read works from the Faber collected Modern Scottish Poetry, with particular attention paid to Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig. We will also be screening a few films, including Brigadoon, Whiskey Galore and Morvern Callar.
War, Economic Depression and Ideologic Contest in British Writing of the 1930s
British writing of the 1930s was shaped by economic and political crisis, and the resulting ideological and aesthetic struggles begin to look all too contemporary. This course will look at the poetry of the Auden circle and Marxism; at the early sociological work of Mass Observation and the documentaries of Humphrey Jennings; at the scientism of the Cambridge group around William Empson, Jacob Bronowski and J.D. Bernal; at responses to the Spanish Civil War, both left and conservative, including those of George Orwell, Wyndham Lewis and Roy Campbell; and at the fiction writers Elizabeth Bowen, Christopher Isherwood, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and Edward Upward and their different treatments of social and political pressure points. This broad range will be focused through a group of texts selected for their mutual contentiousness. Throughout, the responsibilities and irresponsibilities of writers during perilous times will be in question.
Modern Irish Drama
In this course, we will study both the drama produced by the playwrights of the Irish literary renaissance--W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Lady Gregory, and Sean O'Casey--and the political struggle for Irish independence that was taking place at the same time. We will read the texts of the plays alongside the reviews they generated and the debates that were taking place at the time in the nationalist press. We will be paying particular attention to the relationship between national and sexual politics, and how representations of gender--and audience responses to them--shaped it. Students will write three papers and produce at least one staged scene.
Texts: Eleven Plays by W. B. Yeats. Modern Irish Drama. (Norton anthology.) Ed. John Harrington. The Aran Islands. J. M. Synge. The Complete Plays. J. M. Synge. Plays Two. Sean O'Casey.
Studies in American Literature
Atmospherics: Twentieth-Century Fiction
What do we mean when we say that something is “in the air”? Are we referring to messages transmitted over a broadcast network, the foment of revolution, the shifting winds of fashion, or a powerful critical trend? In this course, we will take up the atmospheric quality of each of these forms of cultural transmission as they appear in American fiction. In doing so, we will ask how they provide models of reading, receiving messages, and decoding information. Surveying a broad range of twentieth-century fiction through to contemporary digital narratives, we will discuss both technologies and techniques for “tuning in” to broadcast media, mass movements, and ideologies. What happens to the persons populating fictional narratives when they participate in, or are even constituted by, their relations to these communication networks?
This course will survey a series of prose works from the American twentieth century, beginning with turn-of-the-century spiritualism and broadcast aesthetics (DuBois, Adams, Hopkins), moving to the realm of fashion, contagion and the zeitgeist (West, Porter, Cather), taking up the spirit of revolution in the sixties (Didion, Pynchon, rock), and finishing with the future of the broadcast in what is sometimes referred to as “liquid modernity” (Markson, Baker). Short readings from media and cultural theory will accompany each topic.
Students will be asked to put pressure on their conceptions of how the interaction styles that accompany media in the twentieth century and beyond might influence, derive from, or appear in the particular medium of literature across multiple flashpoints in the histories of technology and literary innovation. They will develop critical frameworks for analyzing media and narrative forms together, and use this attention to form to ask questions about the boundaries of modern selfhood and the consequences of information movement throughout the twentieth century and through to our contemporary moment.
A look at what makes a film American. The course will be structured by pairing films from the “classic” period with films from the more recent past in order to highlight essential critical features, particularly genre characteristics, the work of directors, and the performance of “stars.”
The primary written requirement will be a research paper in which you create your own pairing of films. There will also be a mid-term and final exam.
There will be no scheduled showings of the films. Instead, I will ask you to join Netflix or some comparable service. Thus, you can work with the films according to your own schedules. I expect that we will work with at least twenty films.
Possible films: It Happened One Night, French Kiss, The Lady Eve, Double Indemnity, Body Heat, Zero Effect, Shane, Unforgiven, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Godfather, Bound, Silence of the Lambs, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Don Juan de Marco, Moulin Rouge, Crash, The Hours, The Maltese Falcon and others.
American Women Writers
This course will provide students with an approach to the literary concerns of modern women’s writing as they are mediated through the dual lens of ethnicity and domesticity. We will examine the way that various authors throughout the 20th century forged links among middle-class family, the space of marriage, the production of acceptable sexualities, and a sense of national or social entitlement. We will focus on how these texts deploy and also offer critiques of the various discourses through which a gendered social identity is formed. Some of the concerns that will guide our discussion of each reading include language, history, gender, migration, sexuality, class, and nation. Course text will engage issues of gender identity from various "other" perspectives and readings may include work by Kate Chopin, Nella Larsen, Edith Wharton, Jessie Fauset, Toni Morrison, Paule Marshall, Maxine Hong Kingston, Meridel LeSueur and Julia Alvarez.
Discussions of the late nineteenth-, early twentieth-century literary and cultural movement of modernism often center on those qualities of the movement described in the work of early modernist literary critics, such as Harry Levin or Edmund Wilson. Such examinations emphasize the modernist movement’s experiments in form, structure, linguistic representation, characterization, etc., while paying much less attention to the role of the modernist movement in the larger context of a given culture. In this course, we will explore the significance of the modernist movement from the perspective of American culture, as well as the manner and meaning of American literary participation in the movement. To that end, we will consider not only the work of authors generally accepted as modernists, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein; we will also consider the role of authors such as Sherwood Anderson and Waldo Frank, of the early Chicago Renaissance (1910–1925), and a number of authors from the Harlem Renaissance. We will examine the work of these authors not only in the context of modernism, but also as it relates to many issues of the day, including progressivism, primitivism, race and ethnicity, immigration, cosmopolitanism vs. regionalism, and the importance of the vernacular, in addition to the question of “Americanness” and its importance to an understanding of American literature during this time. Considering these different vantage points in American literary modernism, we will try to imagine the contours of “American modernisms,” and draw some conclusions about their significance within the larger modernist context. In so doing, we’ll seek to arrive at a more comprehensive, more nuanced perspective on the meaning of the modern in American literature and culture. Course texts: Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence; Willa Cather, O Pioneers!; Sherwood Anderson, Dark Laughter; Waldo Frank, Holiday; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Ernest Hemingway, Torrents of Spring; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The GreatGatsby; Gertrude Stein, Three Lives; Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun; Jean Toomer, Cane; William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom! Course
Requirements: two 10-page essays, one mini-presentation, one larger presentation.
New African-American Poetry
This course is designed as an exploration and showcase of African American poetry and poetics, as seen through the poetry and essays of the post Civil Rights/ Black Arts Movement generation of poets. Although this course will also examine the historical elements of the African-American voice, the main focus of our reading and discussions will concentrate on the different and various faucets of present day African-American poetry. While some of the writers we encounter during the semester may be known to many: Elizabeth Alexander, Terrance Hayes, Harryette Mullen, many more will prove to be poets with only first or second books under their belts. Though their pages, we will attempt to trace the path their poetry leads; what is their sense of voice? What obligations (if any) do they feel with the writing that’s come before them? What new territories do they claim? It is hoped that the student will come away with a deeper understanding of what elements and issues define the 21st African American poetic voice.
Advanced Fiction Writing
Our chief business in this demanding course will be to give attention to the prose manuscripts of the writers in the class. Writers in any creative prose genre are welcome (fiction, creative non-fiction, graphic novel, hypertext fiction, prose-poetry, and so on). Beyond workshop, we will read and view contemporary texts in various genres and will consider theoretical and practical questions of interest to contemporary writers, including the relationships of writers to the language(s) in which they work; the implications of form, genre, and new and traditional media on the creation and exchange of texts; the relationship of writers to local, regional, national and global communities, and more. Our reading and viewing list will be extensive, and course members will be expected to present and write on assigned texts in addition to submitting their own creative work and weekly written critiques of peer work.
FALL 2009 GRADUATE COURSES
Graduate Fiction Workshop
The major work of the semester will be analysis, critique, appreciation, and discussion of our own fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. Because we work in two major genres (as well as hybrid and in-between forms), we’ll certainly examine the aesthetic and even ethical implications of labeling work ‘fiction’ or ‘nonfiction,’ and we’ll be particularly interested in the innovations that cross-pollination might encourage. Our outside reading list will include contemporary stories by Aleksandsar Hemon, Junot Díaz, Louise Erdrich, Annie Proulx, and Roberto Bolaño; memoirs by J.M. Coetzee and Hilary Mantel; graphic memoirish narrative by Art Spiegelman; and novels by Melanie Rae Thon, Lily Hoang, and Zadie Smith, whose On Beauty is a reconsideration of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End. We’ll get a jump on Smith and Forster over the summer; look for an e-mail describing the first class assignment. All semester long, we’ll commiserate over the state of contemporary mainstream publishing, but we’ll also celebrate and encourage against-the-odds and alternative success.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
Our chief business will be to give attention to the work of the writers in the class, but we will also consider such questions as the relationship of literary production and publication to local, regional, national and global communities; the concept of textuality; the relationship of an individual poet to the language(s) in which he or she works; the co-implications of form, genre and media on the creation and the exchange of texts; and other issues for the contemporary poet. Our reading and viewing list will be extensive, and class members will be responsible for presentations and short assignments in addition to preparation for workshop and the submission of single poems and groups of poems for class discussion.
Intro to Graduate Studies
Jesse M. Lander
Introduces students to research techniques, literary theory, and the scholarly profession of literature. Frequent guest lectures by the English faculty will enable students to become acquainted with research activities taking place in the department.
Introduction to ME Manuscript
This course will examine the culture of the book in late medieval English, including the important literary writers who made it a national literary language, the scribes who transmitted and often transformed their works, and the wide range of readers they reached. Among the writers to be studied will be Julian of Norwich, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, the Gawain Poet, Thomas Hoccleve, Margery Kempe and James I of Scotland; among the topics to be discussed: literacy, book illustration, marginalia, social conditions of authorship, the rise of heresy, women and book production, nun’s libraries, patronage, household books, religious and political trends, and attempts at official censorship. Students will also learn both editorial theory and practice, and have a chance to transcribe and edit for publication in a forthcoming anthology of Middle English writings restored to the their manuscript context.
Old English Seminar: The Exeter Book
The Exeter Book is the largest collection of Old English poetry to survive in a single manuscript, a tenth-century anthology containing some of the best-known poems in Old English (The Wanderer, The Seafarer, Deor, the Exeter Book Riddles) as well as others drawn from multiple literary traditions. We will read as much of this poetry as we can set against the background of the shaping events and concerns of tenth-century England, especially those set in motion by the Benedictine Reform and by contemporary developments in Anglo-Latin and Hiberno-Latin literature and Old English prose. A secondary goal of the course will be to introduce students to methods of research in several of the disciplines essential to the study of Old English poetry, including the liturgy, hagiography, eschatology, cosmology, biblical exegesis, mythology, and folklore of the early medieval West.
Early Modern Devotional Literature
This course will examine Reformation-era devotional prose and poetry in liturgical, political, literary, and theological contexts. We will place special (but not exclusive) emphasis on the development of devotional lyric in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Langland and Allegory
This course will examine concepts and uses of allegory, focusing primarily on the seminal yet difficult poem, Piers Plowman. Though a significant amount of time will be spent deciphering Langland's 14th century work, our focus will always consider the larger implications of Langland's writing for our understanding of literary history and allegorical writing more broadly conceived. Comparisons to allegorical writings by other writers and from other periods will be encouraged.
Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats
One of the things that draws Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats together is that all three poets are responding to what might be called the post-Enlightenment religious crisis, the loss of what had been a shared belief in the immortality of the soul and the Christian afterlife. These poets are responding not only to Milton’s Paradise Lost but to the “loss of paradise” symbolically articulated by Thomas Gray in the eighteenth century. Shelley and Keats, Wordsworth’s two most important followers in the second generation of English Romantics, are also responding to the “program” for poetry (I borrow this term from M. H. Abrams) that Wordsworth enunciates in response to the religious crisis, a program aimed at recuperating a sense of hope and restoring faith in the meaningfulness of human existence. Our readings will include philosophical and narrative poems in blank verse (e.g., Wordsworth’s Prelude, Shelley’s Alastor, and Keats’s Hyperion fragments) as well as odes, sonnets, and poems in stanzaic forms of various kinds. In addition, we shall read Wordsworth’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads,” Shelley’s Defence of Poetry, and a substantial selection from Keats’s letters. Our emphasis will be on developing close readings of the primary material and on coming to grips with the philosophical perspectives on poetry that the three writers delineate, but attention will also be given to recent theoretically oriented criticism focused on the Wordsworthian tradition. Requirements will include several oral reports and a substantial research essay.
Reading Revolutions: Studies in the Eighteenth-Century
The eighteenth century is often seen as an age of revolution--a revolution in the ways people looked at themselves, at their relation to society and at, with the discovery of the Pacific, the new, "global" world around them. It was also a time to attempt to come to terms with the implications and aftershock of the great revolutions of the seventeenth century. Chief among these were the Civil Wars of 1642-1646--which wiped out a larger percentage of the population than World War I--and the so called "bloodless" or "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. As a class, we will examine how these earlier revolutions influenced later writers, how the eighteenth century "read" the seventeenth. The writers we will look at include Marvell, Dryden, Behn, Defoe, Swift, Pope, and Johnson.
Expect a short paper, a review of scholarship, and a longer paper.
This course surveys the major trends in Anglophone modernism (circa 1908-1948) centered in London and Paris. We will be focusing on “high modernism,” including such figures as Eliot, Conrad, Pound, Joyce, Beckett, Stein, and Woolf, in relation to so-called “middle-brow” writers of the period, such as Elizabeth Bowen, Henry Green, Patrick Hamilton, E.M. Forster, Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, and Rebecca West. There will also be opportunities to discuss modernist art in relation to literature. Contextual themes to be considered will include imperialism, feminism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Students will be expected to lead many of the discussions, and to experiment with innovative modes of presentation.
What does it mean to study American history, literature and culture from a hemispheric perspective? From the 1994 publication of Carolyn Porter’s seminal essay, “What We Know That We Don’t Know: Remapping American Literary Studies,” scholars and critics have continued to engage in a lengthy, often contentious, broadly interdisciplinary debate over the relation between conventional approaches to the study of American literature and culture and what many have come to call the “transnational turn.” While the study of American literature has traditionally concentrated on the exploration of several centuries’ worth of literary expression in the U.S., the study of literature of the Americas emphasizes the interrelationships between U.S. literature and the literatures of other cultures and countries contained within the appellation “New World”--and often, through historical interconnections (as well as the larger significance of the notion of the Western Hemisphere)--even those of countries and cultures that lie beyond this spatial construct. In this course, we will study the origins of the hemispheric perspective in the work of the early 20th-century historian Herbert Bolton and his subsequent debate over its terms with the Mexican historian Edmundo O’Gorman, as a foundation for our examination of the cultural, historical, literary and institutional implications of this line of inquiry, in addition to historical accounts of the beginnings of the Americas. Because the scope or our examination is potentially quite broad, this course is meant to serve as an introduction to this fascinating and emergent field. Our goal in this course, then, will be to study important issues in the historical development of the debate from the 1940s to the present, as well as the theoretical underpinnings and impact of the hemispheric perspective, with an eye toward helping you to establish your own particular approaches to, and within, its vast terrain.
Course texts are to be determined, but will probably include texts and/or excerpts from Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, The Americas: A Hemispheric History; Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other; Herbert Eugene Bolton, “The Epic of Greater America”; Edmundo O’Gorman, “Have the Americas A Common History?: A Mexican View”; Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism; Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space; Antonio Gramsci,Selections from the Prison Notebooks; José Martí, Our America: Writings on Latin America and the Struggle for Cuban Independence; Edouard Glissant, Caribbean Discourse;C.L.R. James, Beyond a Boundary; Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth; Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness.
Avant-Garde American Poetries
To look at American poetry as an avant-garde enterprise is to see it participating in aesthetic trends that span all of the arts. From this perspective, the most defining trend in the arts of the past hundred years has been the dissolution of fixed genres and the ascendancy of collage. Collage develops from early cubist experiments and continues in Dada and surrealist disruptions of the boundary between art and life, in mid-century assemblage and Happenings, and in late-century appropriationism and the present ubiquity of sampling. American poets have sometimes pioneered and other times responded to these methodological breakthroughs, making poetry a key participant in the avant-garde remaking of cultural life. Figures or works we will likely consider: Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Langston Hughes, Charles Reznikoff, Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, Lorine Niedecker, Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry, John Cage, Jerome Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred, Laurie Anderson, Susan Howe, Laura Mullen, and D.J. Spooky. Requirements include a class presentation and a seminar paper.