Introduction to Creative Writing
Section 01: Amanda Utzman, MW 3:00-4:15
Section 02: Sara Leitenberger, TR 9:30-10:45
This course will introduce you to the craft of writing poetry and fiction. Thus, you will study the language, forms, techniques, and conventions of poetry and fiction with the purpose of putting that knowledge into practice. The hope is that by the end of the semester you will have also discovered ways of reading creative works that are stimulating and enriching for you. A large part of the semester will be devoted to the writing and sharing of exercises and original creative works in a workshop setting.
Section 1: Matthew Benedict, MW 1:30-2:45
Section: 2: Matthew Benedict, MW 3:00-4:15
Section 3: William O’Rourke, MW 11:45-1:00
Students will begin with narrative exercises in style and form and ultimately write complete drafts and revisions of literary short stories. Readings in modern and contemporary literature will provide critical perspective and vocabulary, as well as narrative possibilities.
This course invites you to build on the basics, develop your technical abilities, and broaden your approaches to the form, genres, media, language, and performance of contemporary poetry. Students should expect to read and view works from a variety of periods and cultures, and will generate their own poems in response to course readings and prompts as well as their own impromptu in-class writing. Students will also sharpen their critical vocabulary as they analyze assigned readings, critique peer work, and receive critiques of their poems from both peers and instructor. Specific readings, activities and assignments will differ from section to section.
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.
Catholic Film & Fiction
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.
Voracious Reading: Four Centuries of Food and Fiction
This course will explore the role of food, drink, and consumption in a wide range of literature spanning the 18th through 21st centuries. The course aims to whet students’ appetites by introducing them to new and fruitful ways of engaging with texts that are inspired by critical perspectives and methodologies including cultural studies, feminism, and the growing interdisciplinary field of food studies. Reading assignments for the class will be ‘omnivorous,’ including material from many different genres including poetry, fairytales, cookbooks, novels, short stories, and film. Students will be encouraged to think critically about both the texts they read and foods they ingest, though the primary aim of the class is to equip students with the tools necessary to fully savor a rich variety of literary texts.
Seducing God and Other Lovers: Faith, Love, and Devotion in Renaissance Poetry
From the popular series The Tudors to the recent novel Wolf Hall, from the classic play A Man for All Seasons to big-screen films like Elizabeth: The Golden Age, our culture is fascinated by the English Renaissance, that period when religious devotion and erotic love seemed to exist side by side. In this course we will explore the secular and sacred love poetry of this fascinating period of literary history. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—the period of the Reformation and the rebirth of humanism—England experienced an intense flowering of literature, both secular and religious, from the sonnets of Shakespeare to the passionate prayers of George Herbert and John Donne. Paradoxically, the period’s religious verse drew its force from a reaction against “courtly” and “profane” love poetry at the same time as it was deeply influenced by that poetry both in form and content. Hence, we will examine the influences and conflicts within this body of English literature, poetry praying to and seducing lovers both human and divine. We will explore questions such as: how do the secular and erotic influence religious poetry? What are the conflicts (and similarities) between sacred and profane love? How do faith and religion shape literature? How does poetry represent or build love and communion? And what connections can we make between the self, culture, literature, and devotion? Authors covered include William Shakespeare, John Donne, George Herbert, and John Milton.
In this course, we will trace the major developments in the past century of European drama, beginning with the "social problem play" developed by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in the 1880's and ending with the collaborative feminist theatre of Caryl Churchill in the 1980's. We will read plays by playwrights who tried to bring theatre as close to "real life" as possible, and by playwrights who sought to shatter audience expectations with bizarre innovations in acting, staging, and theatrical language. Along the way, we will ask ourselves some of the questions that modern playwrights and theatre audiences have struggled with:
*Should theatre strive merely to entertain, or should it encourage audiences to think about contemporary issues?
*Should plays attempt to uncover the truth about difficult issues and human problems, or should they take the position that all reality is illusory, all human life merely a performance?
*Should plays make sense? Are traditional plots important or is it better to use surprising, nontraditional--even nonsensical—methods to try to affect audiences emotionally or viscerally?
*Should stage sets try to look as much as possible like the places they are trying to represent, or should they reveal that they are stages and props?
*Should actors try to "become" their characters, or should they distance themselves from their characters and think analytically about them?
As we consider these questions, we will read plays and short essays by influential thinkers about the theatre. Students will write five short response papers. 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.
The City and Literature
On its most basic level, narrative involves an author and character interacting with their world, engaging it in a manner that entails a beginning, middle, and end. How can such a basic model of storytelling, however, fit the wild variety of sights, sounds, and people which greet anyone upon first entering a city? Thinking of our own experience, how can anyone hope to address the vast size and events of cities such as Chicago or New York, and moreover connect the variety of this environment in an integral way to his or her personal life?It is this basic question that I hope we can begin to answer in this class. We’ll be looking at writers dealing primarily with London in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, asking how they responded to a large metropolis undergoing drastic changes at this time. We’ll look at how these writers responded to the vast crowds and new technologies which emerged in this urban space, and how race and gender impacted these authors’ art. In order to place the experience of London in comparative perspective, we will also examine some literary treatments of Dublin, and of other cities such as New York and Paris by English writers. In these texts, which span from the end of the eighteenth century up to the 1960s, a number of common themes will emerge: the individual’s relationship with massive crowds of strangers, the difference between the country and the city, the close proximity of wealth and poverty, the effects of gender and race on one’s experience of the city, the overwhelming novelty of the city’s new sensations and technologies, and, ultimately, the place of art in such a setting.
Irish Poetry: Swift to Heaney
This class will provide a general introduction to Irish poetry from 1700 to the present. We will cover major English-language poets such as Jonathan Swift, William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney, as well as read selections in translation from some of the major Irish-language poets, including Brian Merriman and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Students will be introduced to basic elements of meter and poetic form, as well as poetic genre. We will also focus on how the poems we read address important themes in Irish history and culture. Among these themes are the question of Irish identity, the relationship between Ireland’s two languages (English and Irish), and how Irish poets have depicted Ireland’s troubled history with neighboring England.
Religious Imagination in American Literature
A critical study of the religious and philosophical dimensions of selected American literary texts with a focus on literary forms, the history of ideas, and cultural and interpretive currents both traditional and modern. Students will be expected to write a series of brief, incisive critical papers.
Modern American Poetry
In his masterpiece, A Season in Hell, French visionary and boy-genius Arthur Rimbaud proclaimed: “One must be absolutely modern.” This remained at the core of the varied, radical artistic explorations that form the category “Modern Poetry.” In the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, to be modern meant to keep up with and try to respond to vertigo-inducing, often brilliant and often shocking changes in technology and politics, including the invention of trains and planes, films and cars, and the horrific violence of two world wars. We will study how the intense and greatly varied impulse of modern poetry took shape in the US, from Walt Whitman through Modernism, to the upheavals of the 1960s. In the process, we will discuss such still pervasive questions as what is the value of "the new"? Must the new always be shocking? Can art be political? Should it be? We will also problematize our own positions as historians of this movement. What thinkers, writers and administrators have determined our views of these poets? Is poetry still “modern”? What does “modern” mean today?
This course will focus on several prominent contemporary Latino poets whose work has enriched and diversified the canon of American poetry in the last 30 years. Among them are such established and acclaimed authors as Gary Soto, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Pat Mora, and Martín Espada. Because Latinos are not homogenous, emphasis will be given to these poets’ diverse ethnic and cultural origins. In this regard, one important component of the course is the various ways that Latino poets respond to the spiritual and the sacred. Other topics to be discussed include social justice, the family, identity (in its multiple forms), and, of course, poetics. Readings will be assigned in individual poetry collections and in one anthology.
ENGL 30101 - 01
Intro to Literary Studies
01: Barbara Green TR 3:30-4:45
02: Susan Harris MW 11:45-1:00
03: Maud Ellmann TR 12:30-1:45
04: Romana Huk TR 2:00-3:15
05: Kate Marshall MW 1:30-2:45
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
Intensive survey of British writers from the early middle ages to Milton.
British Literary Traditions II
Intensive survey of British writers and literary forms of the 18th and 19th centuries.
American Literary Traditions I
Introduction to American literature from its beginnings through the Civil War, emphasizing important figures, literary forms, and cultural movements.
American Literary Traditions II
Introduction to American literature from the Civil War through the 20th century, emphasizing important figures, literary forms, and cultural movements.
Fiction Writing for English Majors
Section 1: William O’Rourke MW 3:00-4:15
Section 2: Matthew Benedict TR 9:30-10:45
This is a course in writing short fiction for English majors who come to writing with a broader literary background than non-majors. It is conducted through a discussion format centered on fiction written by students in the class, and in the context of readings drawn from the contemporary, literary landscape. Students will be encouraged to explore how style and language create aesthetic experience and convey ideas. No one type of fiction is advocated over another, and the emphasis in the class will vary from section to section; however, students will be expected to write fiction that demonstrates an awareness of the difference between serious literature and formula entertainment.
Poetry Writing for English Majors
This course invites students to learn about the practice of poetry writing with reference to both contemporary and traditional forms, media and genres. Though assignments and readings will vary from section to section, typically, students will build up the range and depth of their writing through impromptu exercises, homework poems, and the assembling of a final portfolio of revised, polished works. Students receive feedback on their poetry from class members as well as from the instructor and will be expected to give consistent, constructive feedback on peers’ poems. Other topics under consideration might include translation, performance, hybrid genres or multimedia, depending on the section.
Queer Plots: Narrative and Sexuality in 20th and 21st Century Fiction
How do you tell a story that is supposed to be unspeakable? In this course, we will investigate the ways in which gay, bisexual, and lesbian writers have transformed narrative conventions as they explore their experiences and their identities through fiction. Beginning with the short fiction of Oscar Wilde at the end of the 19th century and continuing through the modern and postwar eras into the contemporary period, we will look at gay, bisexual and lesbian British, Irish and American writers whose work engaged with or dramatically departed from the dominant conventions that typically shaped fictions of identity formation, of love and marriage, of sexual experience, of political protest, and of death and loss. We will also investigate the public responses to some of these fictions, and the changing discourses about gender identity, homosexuality, and sexual orientation that have shaped both the realities and the fictions of gay, bisexual, and lesbian writers over the past century. Students will write three papers and be responsible for one in-class presentation.
Shakespeare and Film
This course explores the phenomenon of Shakespeare and film, concentrating on the ranges of meaning provoked by the conjunction. We shall be looking at examples of films of Shakespeare plays both early and recent, both in English and in other languages, and both ones that stick close to conventionalized and historicized conceptualizations of Shakespeare and adaptations at varying degrees of distance towards the erasure of Shakespeare from the text. The transposition of different forms of Shakespearean textualities (printed, theatrical, filmic) and the confrontation with the specificities of film produce a cultural phenomenon whose cultural meanings—meaning as Shakespeare and meaning as film—will be the subject of our investigations. There will be regular (though not necessarily weekly) screenings of the films to be studied.
Shakespeare and Political Theory
This course uses Shakespeare as the focal point for an inquiry into the relationship between literature and political theory, broadly understood. We will read a range of plays across the major genres—The Merchant of Venice, Richard II, Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Othello, Cymbeline, The Tempest—in order to consider how Shakespeare manages the following topics: the tension between retribution and the rule of law, the nature of political community and the limits of pluralism, the emergent idea of the nation, the limits of human dignity and the political character of the household. We will thicken our inquiry by pairing a few of the plays with contemporary legal or literary works: Othello with Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North, Measure for Measure with Lawrence v. Texas (2004), The Merchant of Venice with R. vs. JFS School (2009), The Tempest with Shakespeare Behind Bars. Course Text will be The Complete Pelican Shakespeare, eds. Orgel and Braunmuller.
Books Under Suspicion: Controversial Writers from Chaucer to St. Thomas More
Although the period between Chaucer and St. Thomas More saw the rise of modern English literature as we know it, it was also a period of severe social injustice, political oppression, church controversy and even martyrdom. Starving peasants rebelled against their overlords, knights rode off on crusade amidst anti-war critique, English translations of the Bible were suppressed by church authorities, women writers 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 and early Tudor 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, Christine de Pizan, Margery Kempe, Sir Thomas Malory, William Tyndale, Anne Askew and St. Thomas More, as well as the anonymous ballads of Robin Hood. 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.
Visits to Bedlam
Until visitation was restricted in 1770, London's Bethlem Hospital (popularly known as "Bedlam") attracted as many as 96,000 spectators per year who paid for the privilege of watching mental patients. Like the tigers in The Tower, these patients were not simply chained, but shown, put on exhibition. The cruelty of this practice and the fact that it was stopped both point to the eighteenth-century fascination with madness, with the irrational, with what Freud would call the "unheimlich," the "uncanny." Samuel Johnson's astronomer who comes to believe that he personally controls the weather, Laurence Sterne's mad Maria, piping for her lost lover, John Locke's man who believes himself made out of glass and who acts "reasonably" to avoid hard objects, or Jonathan Swift's modest proposer who concocts a cookbook to save the Irish nation all bear witness to this other side of the eighteenth century, the subject of this course. We will begin with selections from Cervantes'Don Quixote and some short readings in Locke and others who attempted to analyze madness. We will then move on to explorations of Samuel Johnson, Tobias Smollett, Laurence Sterne, and Jonathan Swift. Our major focus will be on Swift, with special attention to his poetry, Gulliver's Travels, and A Tale of A Tub. Swift, who was a Governor of Bethlem Hospital, left most of his money to fund the first mental hospital in Ireland, St. Patrick's, which is still there. As he later said, He gave what little wealth he had, To build a house for fools and mad: And showed by one satiric touch, No nation wanted it so much. For the sake of comparison, we will conclude with several nineteenth century selections.
Virtue, Sex, and the Good Life
How should I behave? Do I make my own decisions, or rely on the advice of others? Am I defined by my birth and family, or do I make myself. What exactly is ‘Virtue”? Which matters more, the individual or the community? Can I be virtuous if I’m poor—or rich ? Is it not virtuous to be rich in an expanding economy? Is Virtue possible in a mobile society which values flexibility above stability?
Questions such as these are taken up by 18th-century writers of fiction and by philosophers like Shaftesbury and Rousseau. Female “Virtue” supposedly consisted mainly or only in a demonstrable chastity. Women writers of the 18th century demonstrate the degree of artifice in which even “good” women must engage. In Daniel Defoe’s Roxana, a wife abandoned by her husband with five children and no income finds that she can market herself, even acquiring great wealth. Should she have starved instead? Roxana plays with various selves on a road to what looks like success. In contrast. Pamela, the beautiful maidservant in the first novel about sexual harassment, tries to resist the advances of her young master. Is she just being conceited, or trying to raise her value? Can “Virtue” ever exist without conceit and self-consciousness?
Henry Fielding in Tom Jones, the History of a Foundling, follows the fortunes of a male bastard who both is and is not accepted by his adoptive world. What does Virtue mean to the male life? How many affairs can he have—and with whom? Is prostitution an option for him? What does virtue mean in relation to the male life? Gothic novels and courtship novels, including Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, question our desires for both autonomy and social success, for spiritual identity and economic security. Novels and plays repeatedly question how a moral center may be found at a time when social and familial boundaries, sexual manners and permitted behaviors are all changing. Throughout he period, a variety of narrative modes and the development of new styles alert readers to the range of possibilities and varieties of moral reasoning.
Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry
This course is designed to give students a firm grasp of the major developments that occurred in poetry overseas during the last century. That grasp will depend on our linkage of rather spectacular changes in poetic form to changes in culture; students will exit the course with an understanding of how the century’s unprecedented violence in warfare and grand upheavals in philosophy, science, social-psychology and political thought impacted upon the artforms of these nations. The “United Kingdom” contains, more precisely and often uncomfortably, four entities – England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – and requires study as a political “unity” with much internal turmoil. We’ll focus on writing between the great stock market crash of 1929 and the present moment, ending with Simon Armitage’s “Millennium Poem” broadcast on BBC television in the year 2000. Much of our conversation will involve the differences between poetic responses to changing contexts in the “experimental” or small-press world of writing versus the “mainstream” world of poets like Armitage. As we go, we’ll discuss comparative issues, too, like the differences between studying African American and Black British poetry, as well as differences between studying women’s poetry in the States and women’s poetry overseas. Evaluation will be based on two papers, two presentations, and class participation. No prior experience of reading poetry is expected.
Contemporary British and Irish Fiction
This course will introduce students to the contemporary fiction of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, as well as some of the best recent Black British fiction. Some of the authors whose work we will read are: Pat McCabe, Neil Jordan, John Banville, Zadie Smith, Monica Ali, Andrea Levi, Irvine Welsh, James Kelman and Pat Barker. These writers will be read in the context of 'the Break-up of Britain' and a concomitant sense of the changes in British and Irish identity in the past twenty years or so. Expect a lot of reading; but also some superb novels. Assignments will consist of two twelve-page papers and a presentation.
A study of Twain’s life and writings in light of the history of ideas and the literary, political, philosophical, and religious currents of nineteenth-century American culture. We will also consider such figures as Harte, Stowe, Douglass, and Lincoln, who illuminate Twain’s style and social and moral preoccupations. Special concerns: Twain’s place in the tensions between conventional literary forms and the emerging American vernacular; his vision and critique of American democracy, slavery, “exceptionalism,” and later geopolitical expansionism; his medievalism, including Joan of Arc, and larger interpretations of history; his treatment of women, individualism, and the family; and the later gnosticism of No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger. We will also address the current (and perennial) discussions of unity and pluralism in American culture, as in Garry Wills’s delineation of an underlying American identity in Under God, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s fear of “balkanization” in The Disuniting of America. Readings: selected shorter works, including Diary of Adam and Eve; Innocents Abroad; Life on the Mississippi; Tom Sawyer; Huckleberry Finn; A Connecticut Yankee; Pudd’nhead Wilson; No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger; and selections from the Autobiography. Students will be expected to write a series of brief, incisive papers and a longer critical paper.
A genre approach to film through the filter of “love” in many of its Hollywood forms including romantic love. What does love look like in a film and how is it used to account for the actions of characters and the developments of plot? We’ll begin with romance comedy while taking a careful look at its twisted sister, film noir. Then we’ll explore other versions of love such as filial, sexual, parental, creative, and obsessive.
The primary written requirement will be a research paper in which you work with a film of your choice. 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, The Lady Eve, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Body Heat, Basic Instinct, Lars and the Real Girl, A Beautiful Mind, Searching for Bobby Fischer, The Godfather, Bound, Silence of the Lambs, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Don Juan de Marco, Moulin Rouge, The Hours, The Maltese Falcon and others.
Class, Labor, and Narrative
An exploration of short stories and novels depicting the “working stiff” in the U.S. from 1920 to the present. Our reading list will include many of the usual suspects (James Farrell, John Steinbeck, Richard Wright, Nora Zeale Hurston, William Saroyan, Langston Hughes, Grace Paley, Tillie Olsen, and Raymond Carver); writers not usually associated with labor (Jean Toomer, Gertrude Stein, and Donald Barthelme); and contemporary writers (Sherman Alexie, Sandra Cisneros, Aleksandar Hemon, Edwidge Danticat, Juno Díaz, Gish Jen, and George Saunders). We’ll question the representation of labor, laborers, and class differences, and we’ll also pose aesthetic questions: What narrative forms most provocatively explore particular kinds of work? What work do experimental texts perform that more conventional narratives cannot (and vice versa)? Many of the theorists we’ll rely on for insights about workers, class, and writing (Tillie Olsen, James Agee, and Barbara Ehrenreich) make good use of narrative themselves, and will help us contemplate how writing about labor can also reflect the labor of writing. Short response papers, group presentation, midterm, and a final project.
American Culture as Collage
One of the exciting aspects of American culture is that we make it up as we go along: there is no historical or traditional or divine template that we all agree to follow. Without a template, American artists and thinkers have often resorted to a “kitchen-sink” approach to representing American culture, which begs the question of how to create a form to contain all the marvelous odds and ends. We will trace this urge to capture American culture through the form of a collage in R. W. Emerson’s essays, H. D. Thoreau’s Walden, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, Ezra Pound’s Cantos, Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, Charles Reznikoff’s Testimony, Langston Hughes’ Montage of a Dream Deferred, Assemblage art of the fifties and sixties, Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems, and A New Literary History of America.
A multicultural study of the historical, cultural, and political circumstances behind what has come to be known as the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. The course will focus on the many different cultural voices that were a part of the movement, and examine their contributions to the cultural meaning of race at this time in literary history.
Advanced Fiction Writing
This course is intended for students who have already taken a Fiction Writing course (or the equivalent) and who are seriously interested in writing fiction, and graduate students who are not in the Creative Writing program. The expectation is that the student is beyond the point of requiring assignments to generate stories. Over the semester, in a workshop setting, student stories will be taken through various stages: due attention will be paid to revision, rewriting, polishing, editing, with a goal that the stories be brought as close as possible to the point of submission as finished work. Practical as well as theoretical issues will be investigated; there will be assigned readings from a variety of fiction authors.
Censorship & Literary Freedom in Medieval England and Ireland
Medieval writers operated in a world fraught with political and ecclesiastical controversy, sometimes extending to censorship, imprisonment and judicial execution. Yet at the same time, evidence survives of a surprising degree of tolerance for certain radical ideas. This course will examine how the major writers of late medieval England negotiated official censorship, but also exploited or earned tolerances extended by the authorities. English authors to be studied will include Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, John Wyclif, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Marguerite Porete (the only medieval woman author to have been burned at the stake for her writings). These texts will be read alongside excerpts from some anonymous English texts, including political lyrics like the Kildare poems, popular imitations of Piers Plowman and the Canterbury Tales, and Wycliffite writings. Articles of inquisition, statutes, legal defenses, trial records, petitions and broadsides will also be available for research. 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: reception of visionary writing, attitudes toward women’s learning and preaching, controversial religious doctrines (like universal salvation, millenarianism, and intellectual freedom), and political controversies over the Commons’ control of royal tyranny, the Rising of 1381, the deposition of Richard II, and the problems of colonial Irish literary culture.
Seminar: Jane Austen and Her World
Jane Austen's novels constitute a corpus of comic works about love and human relationships, a body of work regarded as "classic" yet accessible. Sometimes seen as creating a timeless pastoral world of elegance, she has also been commended as shrewd historian of manners, morals and values in a period of immense change - literary, social and economic.
Jane Austen, born at the beginning of the American War of Independence, lived and wrote during a time of almost constant war. Her too-short adult writing life is largely lived in the shadow of the Napoleonic Wars. She produced six novels, which have been praised and perhaps sometimes misframed as extremely elegant stories of courtship among very refined people. Yet her earliest works (not printed until the 20th century) show her hearty sense of humor, and a taste for absurdity and violence which led the admiring G. K. Chesterton to compare the Austen of these early works to Rabelais. If we look at the six novels after examining the earlier works, we may see more of conflict and a higher sense of the absurd than more decorous versions of Austen have led us to expect.
Who is Jane Austen and what are her works really like? Is she always saying the same things? Are all her moral characters "good" in the same way, or does she contract herself - after all, would Fanny Price really approve of Elizabeth Bennet? What kinds of conflict is she best at representing? It is noticeable that there was something of a "boom" in Austen during the last decade, with a proliferation of versions of her stories in dramatized form in television serials and movies. Why is this? What do we expect her to do for us? We admire Austen as the writer of comedy - but what do we mean by the term "comedy"?
All of these are questions for us to pursue together as we enjoy reading not only all six of the mature novels but also the early works and unfinished novels such as "Catherine,” "The Watsons," and "Sanditon.” Some copies of certain of Jane Austen's letters will be supplied. As Jane Austen liked plays and was influenced by comic drama, we will read (and act bits of) Sheridan's The Rivals. We will also look at some works of prose fiction by predecessors whom Austen admired, like Samuel Johnson and Frances Burney. We will try to get a clearer idea of her context, looking at the options open to her as a writer of fiction.
Each student will be expected to act as a member of a team producing a class report. Journals will be kept, and the assignments will consist of the report, one quiz, two essays, and a longer paper at the end of the semester.
TEXTS: Austen: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, "Catherine”, and Other Writings. Frances Burney: Eve/ma, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World. Samuel Johnson: The History of Rasselas, Prince ofAbyssinia. Richard Brinsly Sheridan: The Rivals (play).
Sem: Identifying with Charactrs
Readers of the novel report taking pleasure in identifying with characters, assuming their points of view, and feeling their emotions along with them. This course is designed to explore the strange process through which readers come to feel they share traits with entirely imaginary beings. We will base our investigation on both the philosophy of identification (David Hume and Adam Smith), the psychology of identification (Sigmund Freud), novels featuring beloved literary characters (Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre", and Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations") and novels that respond to or even recapitulate those same characters (Bharati Mukherjee's "Jasmine" and Lloyd Jones's "Mister Pip"). Through a series of short response papers, students will form a research question touching on this topic which they will then develop into a seminar-length paper through research, rough drafts and revision.
Seminar: The Institution of Henry James
In this research seminar, we will examine the forms of institutionality that inform literary study in the American academy and beyond by looking at the many lives of Henry James. Objects that will be included in this study include: the novels and essays of James himself; his literary legacy; the influence of James studies on literature departments and scholars; his celebrated biographer Leon Edel; film adaptations of key works; and the figure of “the Jamesian’ in recent fiction by Colm Toibin and Alan Hollinghurst. Students will encounter a range of methods – from new critical readings to the statistical analysis of titles of James criticism – in their project to develop a broad view of modern institutionality as indexed by this fascinating figure.
The Honors Colloquium will introduce students completing the Honors Thesis to research methods in literary studies. Students will complete a series of assignments designed to enable them to develop her thesis topic. They will conduct research in consultation with their thesis advisor and begin work on the thesis project, which will be completed in the Spring semester.
Undergraduate English majors may take graduate courses but must the permission of the instructor and the Director of Graduate Studies. Graduate creative writing course, however, are not open to undergraduates.
Graduate Fiction Workshop
Limited to students in the Creative Writing M.F.A. Program, the workshop’s major emphasis is on analysis, criticism, and discussion of participants’ fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid manuscripts. Assigned readings in contemporary prose further the discussion of literary movements, critical schools, and publishing realities, as well as the aesthetic and philosophical implications of genre, style, and subject.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
This course is for candidates in the MFA program in poetry. The course places its main emphasis on student writing and will be run as a week-to-week workshop of student work. The objective of the course is to provide students with meaningful feedback on their work, as well as to build students’ facility in the critical, constructive discussion of peer and published work. All other course activities, including readings, will vary from section to section.
Graduate Translation Workshop
This course will serve as a graduate-level introduction to the theory and to the practice of literary translation. We will read an eclectic selection of essays by leading practitioners throughout time as well as some prominent examples of the craft, both in poetry and in prose. Students’ translation projects can be in either genre or in both. Translators of any language are welcome.
Introduction to Graduate Studies
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.
ENGL 90110, Section 01
English for Non-Native Speakers
A course designed to improve spoken English of non-native speakers, at the intermediate level, with a specific goal of increasing communication skills for teaching, research, and discussion purposes.
ENGL 90110, Section 02
English for Non-Native Speakers
A course designed to improve spoken English of non-native speakers, at the intermediate level, with a specific goal of increasing communication skills for teaching, research, and discussion purposes.
John Milton is a paradoxical figure: a theological writer constantly at odds with religious establishments, a republican political theorist finally mistrustful of the people, an advocate of both patriarchalist and egalitarian understandings of gender, a celebrant of virginity who matured into one of the great singers of erotic love and sexuality. History has treated Milton paradoxically as well. A radical figure, pushed to the margins in his own time, he has come to be seen by many as the voice of establishment authority. In this course we will study the length and breadth of Milton's career, looking for keys to these paradoxes. Perhaps more than any other English author, Milton is present in his works; we will pay close attention his self-representations. We will test the possibility that the dissonances in the early self-representations bear fruit in the creative tensions of the mature poetry. We will pay attention to the high level of control Milton exerts over his texts and his readers, and at the same time we will explore what happens when that control slips. Above all, we will also work toward an appreciation of Milton's aesthetic achievements. We will read widely in Milton's poetry, with special emphasis on the 'Nativity Ode,' A Mask, "Lycidas," Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. We will study also several of his prose works (e.g., The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Areopagitica, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, and The Readie and Easie Way). While our focus will be on Milton's texts, we will explore some of the central debates of Milton criticism. Students will complete a series of assignments (bibliography, prospectus, etc.) leading up to completion of a substantial research essay.
The Works of the Pearl Poet
While most literate citizens are familiar with the great medieval Arthurian romance, Sir Gawain & the Green Knight [SGGK], far fewer know the three other spectacular poetic narratives included with Gawain in a unique manuscript [British Cotton Nero Ax] produced in the north of England in the late 14th century. These four fictions, Gawain, Patience, Cleanness and Pearl, along with the short hagiographical romance Saint Erkenwaid, almost certainly composed by the same anonymous artist, will constitute our poetic and textual pursuit for the semester.
In the course of our close reading of these 5 works and the generic plenitude they exemplify—romance, hagiography, homiletic sermon, biblical paraphrase and dream vision—we will work together toward a deepened literary and historical understanding of the trope of allegory and its rich recourse to remarkable varieties of figural language and literary forms that took root in the vernacular fictions of the middle ages and have survived into the contemporary moment by imaginative strategies of modification and adaptation that will engage us, individually and collectively.
Occasional short (1-2 pp.] position papers on topically focused questions, to serve as seminar discussion topics, and one longer critical essay, envisioned as a publishable article of 15-20 pp., due atthe end of the semester.
TEXTS: The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript, eds., Malcolm Andrew and Ronald Waldron; Saint Erkenwald, ed. Clifford Peterson; The Complete Works of the Pearl Poet: Facing-Page Middle English Texts Edited by Andrew, Waldron & Peterson, tr. & intro. Casey Finch.
Historicism and History in the Literature of Late Medieval England
Until the mid-1980s, the Middle Ages was seen as having had no very sophisticated literary theory, no serious engagement with realism and no great interest in the individual; culturally the period was characterized as an era of unquestioning credulity and unmitigated historical pessimism. Twentieth-century critical trends (from New Criticism to Deconstructionism) did little to test the accuracy of these views. New Historicism, a critical approach developed in part from ethnography and which first took Renaissance literary studies in the 80s by storm, offered an alternative methodology for understanding medieval literature in its cultural and ideological contexts. Since then various kinds of historicist and historical approaches have been developed, some intensely historical, and with more recent emphasis on formalism, a return to literary history itself.
This course will introduce the students to historicist and literary historical methodologies; texts will range across literary and documentary sources, autobiography, legal and chronicle sources, medieval library catalogues, as well as to some of the problems of textual criticism and manuscript study. We will begin with an examination of both the achievements and the blindspots of “classic” New Historicism, and proceed to a study of more recent approaches that draw upon history. Topics to be discussed will include "self-fashioning," authorial self- representation, political dissent, patronage, scribal and official censorship, nationalism, and the role of women in the rise of a "national" literature. This course will examine Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, Trolius, the most influential of the Canterbury Tales, Wycliffite texts, the fifteenth-century “Piers Plowman Tradition” poems, Hoccleve, Lydgate, the Robin Hood ballads, Margery Kempe, Sir Thomas Malory, the Findern women poets, the Paston women’s letters, the ‘Scottish Chaucerians’ (James I, Henryson, and Dunbar), Skelton, Thomas More, John Foxe, and Ann Askew.
The Church Fathers in Anglo-Saxon England
Even though there was no clearly defined concept of “the Church Fathers” until late in the Anglo-Saxon period (with the regular designation of Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory as the four great Latin patres coming into vogue only late in the eleventh century), English scholars from Archbishop Theodore onward made a concerted effort to acquire a thorough command of early Latin ecclesastical literature. Old English and Anglo-Latin literature are consequently profoundly indebted to the writings of many Church Fathers, and there are many cases of patristic texts that were more intensively studied in England than anywhere else in medieval Europe. This course will undertake a survey of the patristic literature known in Anglo-Saxon England, culminating in a focused study of the Old English translations of Augustine’s Soliloquies and Gregory’s Dialogues. Requirements include regular reading in Latin and Old English, weekly response papers, a bibliographical essay and oral report, and a research paper.
18-Century Poetry and Theories of Poetry, Dryden to Blake
An exploration of selected poetry of Dryden, Pope, Anne Finch, Gray,
Collins, Anna Barbauld, Smart, Cowper, and Blake, with complementary
attention to theories of poetry, from both the 18th century and the last few
decades of our own period. Several short papers, one or two reports, and a
final seminar paper.
The British Social Novel in the Nineteenth Century
This course spotlights 19th-century novels that aimed to paint a large picture of British society. Seeking to move beyond the narrative mode in which the interior life of an individual predominates, these works show us authors trying to take stock of the complicated social circumstances within which all interior lives must inevitably exist. In many cases, our texts are simply those that any regular survey of this period's novels would privilege. George Eliot's Middlemarch, a panoramic vision of provincial life, is by any account one of the English language's greatest novels. And Walter Scott's Waverley, an effort to represent the complexities of political and cultural union between Scotland and England, was one of the most enduringly popular novels of the whole 19th century. But our thematic focus will also take us a bit off of the beaten path at times. Thus rather than read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, we look instead to the author's Shirley, a text more patently seeking to reckon with the social and political challenges of early industrialization.
Our readings can support research projects drawing from many literary and critical concerns, including philosophical questions of morality or justice, economic theories, gender studies, regionalism in literature, and much more. But the readings are designed especially to support research on the period's evolving liberal culture, including the mechanisms of law, politics, and social life making up the Victorian public sphere. How do these people get along and acknowledge (or fail to acknowledge) the diversity and rationales of various social positions and conventions? How do persons or groups with conflicting interests reach an understanding (or fail to reach it)? And, finally, how do dominant social interests assert or interrogate the legitimacy of the status quo?
The course will proceed in typical seminar format, employing assigned presentations and exercises culminating in a final research paper of 25-30pp. We will also stage a mock conference toward the end of the term to present our work in progress to each other and to gain some understanding of the conference-paper form.
Required texts: Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent (Oxford 0199537550); Scott, Waverley (Oxford 0199538026); Disraeli, Sybil (Oxford 0199539057); Bronte, Shirley (Oxford 0199540802); Gaskell, North and South (Oxford 0199537003); Eliot, Middlemarch (Oxford 0199536759); Trollope, Phineas Finn (Oxford 0199537739); Gissing, New Grub Street (Oxford 0199538298).
Modernism and Magazines
A study of literary modernisms in relation to the vibrant periodical culture of the early twentieth century. We will explore a variety of periodical forms dominant during the modernist period: little magazines, slicks, daily newspapers, socialist papers, feminist papers, women’s magazines, papers from the African-American press and more. We will take up conversational threads that are organizing the new periodical studies: discussions of the public sphere, of the marketing of modernism, of gender and the periodical press.