University Literature Seminar
Introduction to Genre in Early British Literature: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales contain a complete library of the major genres of British Literature before the rise of the novel. This course will introduce students to each of them, including saint's lives, beast fables, romances, moral tales (exempla), bawdy stories (fabliau), epic, mock epic, satire, dream vision and allegory. Prospective English majors will find this course an especially good preparation.
University Literature Seminar
Romance in the Middle Ages
This course will look at one of the most important forerunners of the novel: the romance. After a few of the heroic genres that preceded it (Beowulf, the Song of Roland), we will look at stories of Arthurian knights, French and Roman legends, tales of chivalry and courtly love made popular by Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, Chaucer, the Gawain-poet and Malory to ask how narrative form might shape explorations of the self and society, love and honor. Writing assignments will focus on forms of effective argumentation and some tools about literary analysis.
ENGL 13186: 03
University Literature Seminar
Shakespeare’s Major Tragedies
This course will examine the four tragedies upon which Shakespeare’s reputation most securely rests: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Our objectives will be to acquire an in-depth knowledge of Shakespeare’s four major tragedies; to become familiar with early modern English and develop an appreciation of the importance of linguistic history; to examine tragedy as a dramatic genre, as an experience, and as a cultural preoccupation; and to learn about Shakespeare’s age and his cultural legacy. Along with our modern editions of Shakespeare, we will read Christopher Haigh’s Elizabeth I and a number of recent scholarly essays. Work will include several short written assignments, a midterm, a final, and a paper of 7-10 pages.
University Literature Seminar
Representing the Civil Rights Movement through History, Literature, and Film
The primary focus of this course will be the ways that the civil rights movement has been represented in history and popular culture, focusing on the ways that memory contributes to the story a nation tells about itself. What we choose to remember can also entail forgetting some details in the process of recalling others, such as creating memorials to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King. What does our nation achieve through marking his accomplishments? What do these accomplishments say about us? At the same time that we focus on the life of a single person, what do we lose sight of? What other factors had to be in place for there to be a movement (or perhaps a series of movements) at all? Specifically, we will examine representations of the civil rights movement by reading personal testimonies of those people involved in desegregating the schools and in getting the right to vote, through fictional accounts of how the movement spurred the growth and development of different individuals (and a culture), and through viewing popular and documentary film.
University Literature Seminar
Engendering Renaissance: Chicago, Harlem and Modern America(s)
In answering the question “What was American modernism?” most literary critical perspectives might commonly be expected to focus on a modernity represented by the authors of the “lost generation” in the U.S., such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway. While a conventional understanding of American modernism might serve to underscore the importance of the stylistic, cultural and artistic contributions of these and other canonical moderns, such a view might also give little consideration to the significance of those modern American voices not ordinarily heard in such a context. This course poses the question ”What was American modernism?” to answer it by exploring its roots in two less conspicuous early 20th-century American modernisms: the Chicago Renaissance of 1912-1925, and the Harlem Renaissance of 1920-1929. In “engendering renaissance,” these two moments suggest a literary birth and rebirth of modern American identity that questions its seemingly stable boundaries and borders, reconfiguring the idea of “American” within and opening the door to the larger and more varied cultural fabric that is modern America(s). By locating the rise of American modernism in the relation between these two literary moments, this course will broaden our understanding of the idea of “American” at this time by considering how it is created within a frame determined by the interplay of race, gender, class and nation. In this way, it seeks to deepen our understanding of U.S. American culture and the idea of “American in the early 20th century, while suggesting new ways to engage the global social and cultural challenges facing the idea of “American” in the 21st. Course Texts: Required texts include Henry Blake Fuller, The Cliff-Dwellers; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark; Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio; excerpts, Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery; excerpts, W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk; A. Jean Toomer, Cane; Jessie Fauset, There Is Confusion; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.
American Short Story
A careful look at the history of a particular form of American narrative. Along the way we will construct a methodology for reading stories, a series of critical questions that can serve to open a story to our understanding and appreciation. At times we will give our attention to one or two remarkable stories by a particular writer, stories like Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener and F.Scott Fitzgerald’s Winter Dreams and Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat and Carson McCuller’s Ballad of the Sad Café. At other times we will work through a collection of stories to highlight the aspects of a writer’s particular vision and craft. These collections might include John Updike’s Pigeon Feathers and Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Mosses from an Old Manse and Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America. There will be three papers (5 to7 pages) analyzing a story not studied in class.
University Literature Seminar
Edward A. Malloy
Biography/Autobiography: One’s Life Story
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. The final 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.
Intro to Creative Writing
01: Mary Lattari MW 4:30-5:45
02: Drew Kalbach TR 3:30-4:45
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.
01: Steve Tomasula – TR 3:30-4:45
02: William O’Rourke – TR 9:30-10:45
03: Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi – 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 s they analyze assigned readings, critique peer work, and receive critiques of their own poems from both peers and instructor. Specific readings, activities and assignments will differ from section to section.
Introduction to Poetry
This course will provide an introduction to poetry as a literary art form and develop students' skills of critical analysis and interpretation. The course will address the major poetic genres and a range of literary concepts and devices. We will read a variety of material both past and contemporary, with a special emphasis on poetry from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and particularly the Romantic period.
Point-of-View in the Novel
01: MW 11:45-1:00
02: MW 3:00-4:15
This course will focus on the introduction 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 Warton, 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.
While satire might initially appear to be a morally corrective genre, satirists frequently undermine their own moral intentions by creating works of verbal, rhetorical, and political anarchy. In this course we will examine both the purposes (or lack thereof) of satire and its uses in different literary genres and modes, including irony, humor, sarcasm, fables, etc. After a brief introduction to Roman satire, we will discuss a range of authors from the eighteenth through the twentieth century, such as Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, Alexander Pope, Mark Twain, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Nathanael West, and Walker Percy. The final part of the course will be devoted to the use of satire in American pop culture. We will look at the films Dr. Strangelove and Network and then conclude by watching excerpts from The Simpsons and Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. We will focus not only on the traditional and generic characteristics of satire but also on its historical character, the way that satire speaks to the present.
Catholic Fiction and Film
An examination of Catholicism in modern fiction, cinematic adaptations of those works of fiction, and other free-standing stories and films. 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; and silence. We will aim, too, to compare and contrast the different treatments of religion and humanity in these films and novels.
The Gothic Novel
From ghoulies and ghosties/ And long-leggedy beasties/ And things that go bump in the night,/Good Lord, deliver us!” Why do we enjoy being scared out of our wits? Since its inception in the late eighteenth century, generations have loved the Gothic Novel with its grotesque murders and bizarre terror. The course will study a number of the most celebrated Gothic tales from horrors in castles and monasteries (Lewis's The Monk) to mysterious love stories (Brontë's Wuthering Heights) to the eerie stories of the paranormal (Shelley's Frankenstein) to contemporary horror stories. The purpose will be to study the ways in which the Gothic Novel entertains us and what it is about us that loves to be entertained by the Gothic.
Literature and Ecology
The course will study works of ecological imagination, primarily in contemporary literature but with some attention to classic earlier works. Reading non-fiction, fiction, and poetry, we will explore how ecological awareness figures in various kinds of literature, with a particular emphasis on late 20th- and 21st-century understandings of challenges to sustainability, such as diminishing resources, extinction of species, and climate change. We will attend to the heightened importance of voice, narrative, and metaphor in literary renderings of how to best understand our creative possibilities at what is arguably the “beginning of the most crucial decades in the history of the human species on earth.” Other topics concern how the relation of literature to science and the meanings of “nature” are changing, how to understand current environmental controversies more critically, and how to enter those discussions more thoughtfully.
Readings will include novels by T.C. Boyle, Margaret Atwood, and Ruth Ozeki; non-fiction by Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Annie Dillard, and Bill McKibben; and poems by Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov, A.R. Ammons, Wendell Berry, and Pattiann Rogers. Requirements include several one-page response papers, a more ambitious essay, a midterm examination, and a final examination.
This course is primarily for non-majors; it can also satisfy one of the requirements of the minor in Sustainability Studies.
The Hero’s Journey: The Quest in British and American Literature
In a book geared largely towards undergraduate readers, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster identifies the quest as one of the great themes that recur over and over again throughout the whole of literary history. His first chapter, titled “Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It’s Not),” provides an overview of how the quest appears and reappears in literal, figurative, and even allegorical forms from the early medieval period to the present day. Focusing primarily on English and American literature, this course will take up Foster’s discussion of the literary “quest” by examining different representations of journeys and the many types of travel that can occur under this heading, whether real or fantastical, religious or secular, literal or metaphorical, close to home or far away. It will include examples from a wide range of time periods and genres, beginning with a translations of Gilgamesh and Homer’s Odyssey and ending with modern texts such as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Because the quest can take many forms, the course will consider how the texts represent spiritual, psychological, and cultural journeys. Ultimately, students will be asked to consider what counts as a literary quest and what is its raison d'être. What role do they and did they play in literature and in society? What kinds of audiences do they target? What influences might they have had on history? And, how does the purpose and meaning of a quest change according to its historical context, genre, authorship, and intended readership? In addition to the ones listed above, the course readings will include Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas, and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Christ and Antichrist in Literature
The history of art and expression in the West is filled with representations of two antithetical Christian figures, Christ and Antichrist. Throughout literary history, Christ and Antichrist appear in many different guises: as knights in armor, comic jokesters, tortured individualists, cosmic powers, children, sailors, communists, judges, and even professors. In this course, we will begin with scriptural accounts of Christ and Antichrist and then examine the diverse representations of these figures in English literature, from the oldest medieval English poetry to recent novels, with attention to the aesthetic, theological, and cultural roles such representations play. Why do Christ and Antichrist keep showing up in our literature? How are changing representations of them related to the theological and cultural concerns of the eras in which they appear? What are the effects of representations of Christ and Antichrist on us as readers, on our literary culture, and on our understanding of Christianity and the place of religion more broadly? Among our objectives will be to examine what marks a character as a figure of Christ or Antichrist and to what uses authors put these figures. By examining a wide array of literary accounts of Christ and Antichrist alongside one another, we can begin to answer these questions and sharpen our perception of continuities and shifts across the history of literature, concerned as it ever is with questions of virtue, absolute goodness, suffering, temptation, and evil. We will read texts such as Chaucer’s “Friar’s Tale,” Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor, Mark Twain’s “The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg,” Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Flannery O’Connor’s “Parker’s Back,” and Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, as well as excerpts from Dante’s Divine Comedy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters.
Science Fiction and Literature
Science fiction. Literature. We often think of these two categories as fundamentally separate, even if the occasional author seems to 'cross over' from one side to the other. But the main theme of this course will be that the best of modern science fiction takes up the same questions that great literature has always taken up. What does it mean to be human? What is our place in the universe? What do life and death mean -- biologically, spiritually, or otherwise? In fact, science fiction seems better equipped to examine some of the newer problems human beings have had to face: for example, what comes next now that we have the power to change our environment irreversibly? This course is not a survey of science fiction, and we will instead read some of its major practitioners -- H. G. Wells, H. P. Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, and others -- alongside more mainstream literary texts, including but not limited to Greek tragedy, Romantic lyric poetry, the postmodern novel, and the 20th-century 'literary' short story (Borges, Joyce, Calvino, Rushdie, etc.). As the course will also emphasize the major role science fiction has played in the new media of the last century, we will take some time to consider SF film (including Ridley Scott's Blade Runner), television (such as The Twilight Zone), and even rock opera.
ENGL 20164 / Crosslist IRLL 30114
The Irish Love Poem
This course traces the trajectory of the love poem in Ireland from the Middle Ages to the present day. We will begin with texts such as Liadain and Cuirithir (9th century) continuing through the late medieval genre of the Dánta Grádha as well as considering the corpus of love songs (Amhráin Ghrá) from the oral tradition before looking at the development of the modern love poem in the work of poets from W.B.Yeats to the contemporary Irish language poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. All Irish language texts will be read in translation.
ENGL 20409 / Crosslist IRLL 20120
The Irish Short Story
Brian Ó Conchubhair
This course introduces students to the themes, motifs, approaches and various forms common to the Irish short story as well as the critical debates associated with the genre. We begin with a survey of the literary history and cultural politics of Ireland in the nineteenth and the emergence of the Irish short story and compare it to the American and French story, before considering the relationship between folklore and literature and the origins of the modern short story form. Having discussed various theories of the short story, we proceed to examine the interactive relationship between orality and print culture, tradition and modernity, native and foreign, natural/authentic and artificial/other. Among the authors we read in detail are: George Moore, P.H. Pearse, James Joyce, Pádraic Ó Conaire, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain, Liam Ó Flaithearta/Liam O’Flaherty, Seamus Ó Grianna, Seosamh Mac Grianna, Angela Bourke, Samuel Beckett, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Pádraic Breathnach, Seán Mac Mathúna, Micheál Ó Conghaile, Alan Titley, Dara Ó Conaola and Eilís Ní Dhuibhne. Stories are read primarily as literary texts that shed light on evolving cultural, political and social conditions and provide incisive insights into the Irish literary and cultural tradition. This course is an ideal introduction to literary criticism and cultural studies. No prior knowledge of Irish or Ireland is required. All texts will be available in English.
ENGL 20527 / Crosslist IRST 30362
Introduction to the Irish Song Tradition
The music, the metres, the magic of the Irish song tradition in both the Irish and English languages will be explored in this course spanning, the known history of the most enduring songs; their transmission and migration in oral, written and sound-recorded form; the sources from which they draw inspiration and their influence on writers and performers as diverse as WB Yeats and Sinéad O'Connor. Using recordings, live performance and close textual analysis the course will aim to chart the journeys of these songs through the centuries and offer insights into their lasting appeal.
Religious Imagination in American Literature
01: MWF 11:45-1:00
02: MWF 12:50-1:40
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.
Ezra Pound’s battle-cry to “make it new” encapsulates one of the defining features of Modernism in the early 20th century. The hope was to tear down the old ways of writing, painting, building, and thinking, and to erect in their place something entirely new. As a result, violence—whether political, social, or artistic—constitutes the subject matter and artistic philosophy of many authors and artists at the time. For this course, we will think through the purpose of violence in aesthetic practice and attempt to understand its usefulness on its own terms. Readings will include works by canonical Anglo-American Modernist writers such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway. We will also consider the legacy of “violent Modernism” and its impact on authors in the broader Modernist tradition who similarly feel the need to “make it new.”
Caribbean Women Writers
A sampling of novels written by Caribbean writers, with a particular emphasis on such themes as colonization, madness, childhood, and memory.
Class and Mobility in Latino Cultural Expression
The continuing social marginality of Latinos in the United States has understandably led artists from these communities to emphasize this marginality in their representations cast chiefly in the imagery that the cultural theorist, Hayden White, has called the “Wild Man” and the “Noble Savage.” We will revisit these representational strategies in writers, painters and film makers such as Cesar González, Tomás Rivera, Piri Thomas and Edward James Olmos among others. However, we shall also examine newer representations that are charting the mobility of these communities into the middle class such as the work of Oscar Hijuelos, Oscar Casares and the non-Latino film maker, John Sayles.
Introduction to African Literature: Writing the Colonial Encounter
In his essay “African Literature and The Colonial Factor” literary critic Simon Gikandi asserts, “Colonialism, especially in its radical transformation of African societies, remains one of the central problems with which writers and intellectuals in Africa have to deal . . . the colonial situation shaped what is meant to be an African writer, shaped the language of African writing, and over-determined the culture of letters in Africa.”
In this introductory course, we will grapple with the important postulations put forward by Gikandi as we read significant works in the modern and contemporary African literary tradition. We will consider how African writers, many of whom themselves were colonial subjects, have rewritten and re-imagined the colonial encounter from the perspective of the colonized in the language of the colonizers. We will explore how African literature has become a primary venue through which intellectuals have complicated colonial discourse and sought to historicize the violence, contradictions, ambivalences, and limits within the cultures of British and French colonialism. We will reflect on how colonialism was, in Gikandi words, the “imperial catalyst” for modern African literature even as African literature became a fundamental means to articulate protest against Eurocentric imperialism. We will find that issues and themes which continue to challenge and frame postcolonial studies, such as language, education, modernity, hybridity, gender, and resistance, will be central to our reading and analysis. Texts may include Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Houseboy by Ferdinand Oyono, Death and King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka, The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, A River Between by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, God’s Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembéne and Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga.
Introduction to Literary Studies
01: Barbara Green TR 2:00-3:15
02: Susan Harris TR 11:00-12:15
04: Sara Maurer MW 1:30-2:45
05: Yasmin Solomonescu TR 12:30-1:45
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 studies 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 is an introductory survey of English poetic and prose texts written from the eighth to the mid-seventeenth century. We will study these literary artifacts as imaginative representatives of experience, as cultural maps, and as human messages-in-a-bottle, set afloat in the seas of time.
As we read these selections composed in English from past centuries past, we will be looking for both familiarity and strangeness. We will also be forming a sense of the variety and differing uses of literary genres: epic and romance [Beowulf and Sir Gawain & the Green Knight]; short story [Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and the Lais of Marie de France]; religious diary [excerpts from the mystical visions of Julian of Norwich in Revelations of Divine Love] and autobiography [from the first written in English, authored by Marjorie Kempe, a laywoman who records her business ventures, her negotiations of marital sex life, her adventures on pilgrimage, and her religious examination by the archbishop as a potential heretic].
We will also read lyric poems from the Old and Middle English periods, and from the Renaissance and seventeenth centuries, including some of Shakespeare's sonnets; political satire [excerpts from Utopia, a prose fiction authored by Sir/Saint Thomas More]; and at least on play - possibly two - from the Medieval and/or Renaissance performing tradition. The semester's literary pilgrimage will conclude by coming full circle, back to the epic revisited, with selections from Milton's Paradise Lost.
Regular short quizzes. Midterm & final examinations. Two short (5-10 pp.) Essays, due at mid-term and end-term.
Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. I, 7th edition.
American Literary Traditions I
Introduction to American literature from its beginnings through the Civil War, emphasizing important figures, literary forms, and cultural movements.
Fiction Writing for English Majors
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
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 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.
This is a course in writing short fiction. It is conducted through a discussion format centered on fiction written by students in the class. Readings drawn from the contemporary, literary landscape will be included. 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, depending on the instructor.
In literature and the humanities, we use the term "theory" to demarcate a way of looking at things. For example, a gender theorist insists upon the importance of gender or sexual identities, a Marxist theorist emphasizes how economic conditions affect social and political realities, and a narrative theorist examines the importance of such matters as perspective and plotting in storytelling. Rather than promoting one theoretical perspective, this course surveys numerous styles of literary theory and criticism. Students will come to understand key features and issues in topics such as: Marxist theory; psychoanalysis; French and Anglo-American feminisms; gender theory and masculinity; structuralism and poststructuralism; postmodernism; history of sexuality; race and ethnicity studies; the development of literary canons; and disability theory. There is a great deal of sheer fun and surprise in learning about these various approaches. But such knowledge is also empowering, raising our consciousness concerning our own commitments and interests as readers. This course is therefore of special value to students anticipating subsequent thesis writing or graduate study in the humanities, social sciences, and law. Our main text is The Norton Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism (2nd Ed.). It's a typically huge Norton tome but worth the wrist damage as a superb launching point into all areas of literary and cultural theory. Graded coursework involves a midterm and a final exam, a paper documenting a point of theory controversy that interests you individually, and a paper in which you critique a theorist or apply a theoretical approach to a literary or cultural context of your choosing. Active participation is also important.
This course will examine the preeminent narrative form before the novel: the romance. Beginning with some French and Anglo-Norman precedents (Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France), we will look at the romances of England, including works by Chaucer, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Malory's Morte Darthur, while the discussing the roles of chivalry and love in the late Middle Ages.
Shakespeare & the Supernatural
This course will explore Shakespeare’s extensive treatment of the supernatural (ghosts, witches, soothsayers, spirits, fairies, and pagan gods). We will read, in chronological order, the plays that focus most insistently on supernatural issues: The First Part of the Contention, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, Cymbeline and The Tempest. Discussion will concentrate on the ways in which theatrical practices and literary texts respond to the “disenchantment of the world” that followed the English Reformation. Students will be asked to develop individual research projects that make use of EEBO, the electronic archive of early modern English books. Additional requirements include: an OED exercise, two short (4-5 pp.) essays, one long (8-10 pp.) essay, a midterm and a final examination.
Introduction to Old English
In November 1882, Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote to his friend and fellow-poet Robert Bridges: "I am learning Anglo-Saxon and it is a vastly superior thing to what we have now." Auden was similarly moved by his first encounter with Old English: "I was spellbound. This poetry, I knew, was going to be my dish . . . I learned enough to read it, and Anglo-Saxon and Middle English poetry have been one of my strongest, most lasting influences." ENGL 40212 is an introduction to the language and literature that so captivated Hopkins and Auden, that later inspired Tolkien and Lewis, and that remains the historical and linguistic foundation of English literary studies. Our focus for about half the term will be the grammar of Old English, but from the very beginning we will read from a variety of texts in verse and prose (including riddles, a monastic sign-language manual, and King Alfred's prefatory letter to the Old English translation of Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care), and the course will culminate in a focused study of The Wanderer and The Dream of the Rood. This course may be especially useful for students interested in historical linguistics and the history of the English language, in the Anglo-Saxon foundations of British literature, and in medieval literature in general. Requirements include two exams, a series of grammar quizzes, and a translation project. The final exam will involve a short oral recitation. Graduate students will meet for two extra class periods and will be assigned some additional reading.
Chaucer: Canterbury Tales
An introductory study of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this course will cover a range of genres (romance, fabliau, saint’s life, mock-epic, legend, dream vision and allegory). We will read Chaucer’s texts in the original language, and examine the historical, literary, and cultural contexts of his poetry, exploring themes like popular piety, anticlerical satire, women's issues, courtly love, magic, heresy, and social unrest.
Medieval Literary Imagination
In this class we will read nine (9) representative texts that trace and track the formation, and creative development, of literary imagination in the European Middle Ages. All readings will be in Modern English translation.
We will begin with one foundational text from each of the three fields of theology [Augustine, On Christian Doctrine]; philosophy [Boethius, Consolation of Philosphy]; and literary criticism [Boccaccio, “On Poetry’]. Building on these three highly influential master-texts, we will then read a variety of poetic and prose works composed by medieval artists who are named and anonymous, male and female, laity and religious, whose creative range includes the genres of romance; lai; drama; chanson de geste; lyric; dream vision and Norse saga.
In addition to the 3 titles, above, by Augustine, Boethius and Boccaccio, our readings will include Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” and Book of the Duchess; the Lais of Marie de France; The Song of Roland; the Play of Adam and the great Njal’s Saga, often identified--on the basis of its striking stylistic compression and acute psychological representations of fatefully intersecting public and personal events--as the ancestor of the modern historical novel.
These six (6) fictional titles--individually and collectively--constitute exemplars of both continuity and creative departure that will form the basis of our individual and collective study during the semester. Together, the foundational texts of Augustine, Boethius and Boccaccio + the syllabus of nine fictional readings can be seen as mapping many of the personal and political tensions that attended the emergence and evolution of amorous, social, political, mythic, ethnic, legal, religious and secular strands of culture in England, France, Italy, and Scandinavia between the 5th and 15th centuries. Additionally, while providing a rich, representative introduction to western medieval literary imagination, the class can also supply a sound basis for understanding certain subsequent developments and departures in British and American literary culture.
Requirements: Midterm and final exams; class attendance and participation; possible, occasional short quizzes; occasional short supplementary readings. A literary/critical term paper: topic chosen and plan of development submitted in 1st quarter (for feedback); written & revised in 2nd quarter.
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.
The Victorian Universe
The Victorian world was one made unsettlingly strange by industrialism, capitalism, technology, changing gender roles, and an increasing class mobility. Victorian authors dealt with this strange modernity by writing stories about the ways that society remained interconnected. The average Victorian novel was three volumes long and contained multiple plots in which characters were intertwined through romance, politics, money, secret identities, blackmail, disease and sometimes the sheer accident of sharing the same train. In order to become thoroughly acquainted with the Victorian novel's ambition to offer its reader a vision of society's totality, this class will focus intently on just three novels - Charles Dickens's Dombey and Son, George Eliot's Middlemarch, and Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now. We will closely study the formal techniques that each writer used to try to reproduce a sense of vast interconnectedness in Victorian society. We will also read excerpts from other Victorians who tried to explain the complexity of society - Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Stuart Mill and John Ruskin among them. Students can expect to be graded on class participation, a series of short response papers, a presentation, and three longer formal writing assignments.
Thinking With Abbeys
The startling success of the TV seriesDownton Abbey in the USA as well as in England demonstrates the enduring appeal in the English speaking world of an abbey as an image connected with change. What do we keep of the past and what do we discard? The Dissolution of the Abbeys in the 1530s under Henry VIII was a monumental change, religious and social, as well as the most sweeping and immediate privatization. Private owners took over land once used for education, medical care and care of the poor. The buildings were often torn down for sale of valuables ( such as lead roofing); some were reconditioned as private abodes. Through the following centuries, to own an abbey became a sign of great wealth and status. The treatment of Church lands in France during the early French Revolution revived questions regarding England’s own history. In the late 18th and early 19th century abbeys begin to figure in English literature as settings, as social signs, and as bones of contention. They are associated with issues of class, gender and sexuality—not least in the notorious real-life case of Sir Francis Dashwood and the “Hellfire Club” of Medmenham Abbey. Abbeys are signs of change, as well as of economic and political power—and power shifts. They exhibit or stand for personal growth or loss, acquisition and dispossession, and conflicting aesthetic and moral values. To William Gilpin the travel writer they are aesthetic adornments; their ruins are a benefit to the “picturesque” but the institutions were rightly destroyed.Abbeys raise questions of social usefulness—or waste.
We will pursue some persistent questions that seem constantly to be raised by literary contemplation of abbeys. What does England want to keep, and what should be changed and modified? Who is disinherited and why? Who is in power—and why? Frustration and anxiety are often associated with contemplating an abbey. Authors use both real and imaginary places; women writers –not least Jane Austen--are particularly skillful in creating imaginary estates with developed social, economic and historical backgrounds. The “Gothic” mode is only one approach to the puzzles and hidden pain associated with the inheritance of an abbey and the endeavor to suppress the past. As we learn how to think with an abbey, students will be invited to explore the use and significance of abbeys in fiction ( both “high” and “low”) of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and of our own times.” and “low”.
Texts will include: Downton Abbey (script by Julian Fellowes); William Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey; William Gilpin, Observations ( selected travel writings); Charlotte Smith, Ethelinde; Regina Maria Roche, The Children of the Abbey; “Mrs. Carver,“ The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey: Jane Austen, ”History of England,”Northanger Abbey, Emma; Thomas Love Peacock, Nightmare Abbey; Sir Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, The Monastery; Margaret Powell, Below Stairs.
Modern Revolutions in Poetry
This course introduces students to twentieth-century “modernist” writing by familiarizing them with several of the period's most infamously groundbreaking texts, such as T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” Edith Sitwell's “Façade’” Hugh MacDiarmid's “A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle,” and David Jones's “In Parenthesis.” Its pace will slow down at times to close read, as a class and as carefully as possible, several of the major, longer works of the era, and speed up at others in order to survey, in brief flights, the full and enormously colorful expanse of experiment that would change the genre irrevocably. Contextual study of revolutions in the other arts - like painting and music - as well as of Britain's “war culture” between 1914 and 1945 will give our growing understanding of the period more depth and help to illuminate the pressures that produced revolutionary art forms from figures as various as D. H. Lawrence, Stevie Smith and W. H. Auden. The ultimate goal of the course is to generate confidence in reading what Eliot would describe as that inevitable product of modernism: “the difficult poem.” Two papers will be required, as well as one presentation and a reading journal.
Culture and Politics in Northern Ireland
This course explores the politics of culture, and the cultures of politics, in the north of Ireland during the twentieth century. Using a multiplicity of genres - drama, fiction, poetry, film, painting, and documentary material - we will unravel the history behind partition, the causes of the Troubles, and the nature of the conflict. Among the key moments or events upon which we will concentrate are the Somme, the sinking of the Titanic, Bloody Sunday, the hunger strikes, Drumcree, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and the Shankill Butchers. Certain key themes will stretch through our semester's work. Among these are sectarianism, the relationship between violence and culture, the role of religion in the state, borders, hatred, identity, and issues of social and political justice. Some of the writers whose work we will read are Seamus Heaney, Frank McGuinness, Sam Thompson, John Montague, Seamus Deane, Eoin MacNamee, Robert MacLiam Wilson, Colin McCann, and Thomas Kinsella.
Gender and Irish Drama
In this course, we will examine the relationship between national and sexual politics through our study of gender and twentieth-century Irish drama. Beginning with the first controversies surrounding the representation of women on the Irish stage at the beginning of the twentieth century, we will study representations of gender and sexuality in the major canonical figures of the Irish renaissance--W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Sean O'Casey--while investigating lesser-known female and queer Irish playwrights from that time such as Lady Augusta Gregory, Lennox Robinson, and Teresa Deevy. We will also look at how the treatment of gender and sexuality changes in the work of postwar and contemporary Irish playwrights, including Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, Brian Friel, Anne Devlin, Frank McGuinness, and Marina Carr. Along with the plays we will study their historical and cultural context and the sometimes quite vehement responses that these plays evoked in their audiences. Students will write three papers and do one in-class presentation.
"To read any of my work you must read all of it." That might seem an arrogant claim, but there is a sense in which Joyce's writings from first to last form part of a lifelong project. That project grew in scope and ambition, as Joyce in successive works pulverized the traditional forms of literature. In extending the range of language, he also came up against its limits. From the sumptuous minimalism of his early stories of colonial Ireland in Dubliners, through the coming-of-age narratives in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Exiles, to the dazzling experiments with word and image in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, Joyce was adamant that "the style is the subject." While critics scoffed that his texts developed only at the instigation of language, he tried to shape sentences which would register the pressure of felt experience - and to claim new zones of consciousness for art. This course would locate Joyce against his backgrounds in revival Ireland and modernist Europe, attempting also to establish the distinctive nature of his artistic vision.
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 features, particularly genre characteristics, the work of directors, and the performance of "stars." Possible films: It Happened One Night, French Kiss, The Lady Eve, Double Indemnity, Body Heat, Basic Instinct, Zero Effect, Shane, Unforgiven, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Die Hard, The Godfather, Bound, Silence of the Lambs, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Don Juan de Marco, Moulin Rouge, Crash, The Hours, The Maltese Falcon and others.
Performance: Avant-Garde Poetry and the Arts
This course considers how poetry informs and is informed by the other arts. In particular, we use the lens of “performance” to view how poetry interacts with the avant-garde arts of the last hundred years. We explore forms such as sound poetry, ritual art, storytelling, intermedia, chant, collage, and video art in the work of artists such as Allen Ginsberg, John Cage, Spalding Gray, Claudia Rankine, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, and Laura Mullen. Course work involves both written essays and group performances. What this class requires is an open, exploratory mind and a keen spirit of fun. Caution: exposure to the avant-garde can be habit-forming.
Contemporary U.S. Novel
This course is devoted to the last decade of U.S. fiction. Its aim is to provide an overview of currently developing -- and often competing -- trends in contemporary literature and to offer a preliminary theorization of the literary-cultural present in the United States. To this end, we'll read a bit of theory and six American novels published since 1996. These texts present an array of responses to the changing cultural landscape of what we might call late postmodernism, a period concerning which there is as yet little critical consensus. The books we read will provide us with material for an emerging understanding of what this moment and its aesthetic production look like; the ways in which they embrace, differ from, and reject the cultural dominants of postmodernism proper; the paths they suggest for twenty-fist century fiction; and the ways in which they adapt and redeploy earlier cultural forms. By the end of the semester, you will be in a position to offer your own analysis of contemporary cultural production and to speculate on the future of American literature. Note that the reading load will be fairly heavy, especially during the first half of the semester. Primary readings: David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (1996, 1104 pp.)Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible (1998, 576 pp.)Uzodinma Iweala, Beasts of No Nation (2005, 142 pp.) Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005, 368 pp.) Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007, 352 pp.)Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances (2008, 256 pp.)
Literature of the Modern U.S. South
This course will deal chiefly with the literature of the U.S. South in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with some emphasis on fiction. Among others, we will examine writers and movements such as Richard Wright, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, the Southern Agrarians, Bobbie Ann Mason and Cormac McCarthy in relation to questions such modernity and modernism, race, and the world beyond the South.
Black Skin, White Masks
This course explores the literary and cultural implications of W. E. B. Du Bois’s famous contention, made in 1903, that African Americans’ life under segregation had given them special insight into the paradox of race and citizenship in American society. Our aim will be to situate Du Bois’s notion of “double-consciousness” in historical context on the way toward surveying texts that alternately reflect and revise this concept from the Jim Crow era to the present. Discussions will touch on key issues in racial (dis)identification, from passing and assimilation to sexual relations and authenticity. Texts will include novels by James Weldon Johnson, Paule Marshall, and Adam Mansbach; two films (Nothing but a Man and Training Day); and biracial memoirs by Barack Obama and Thomas Chatterton Williams.
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.
Advanced Poetry Writing
This is the most advanced undergraduate course in poetry writing offered by the Department, and while it does not require existing skills in writing poetry, it assumes an existing interest in poetry developed through reading. The course will extend students' knowledge of lyric poetry both as readers and as writers, emphasizing its distinctive, performative qualities. A safe but critical workshop environment is offered for adventures in reading and writing; the course will enrich an understanding of poetic language for those seeking to enhance their enjoyment, as well as opening creative possibilities for those drawn primarily to writing poetry.
Sem: Virtue, Sex and the Good Life
How should I behave? What exactly is “Virtue”? Is one defined by birth, or can the “self” be redesigned? Virtue may not seem relevant in a competitive world and an expanding global economy. Can I be “virtuous” in a mobile society which values flexibility above stability? Yet the ideal society, the virtuous Republic, demands a shared concept of “Virtue’.
Questions about “Virtue” occupy 18th-century philosophers ( like Shaftesbury and Rousseau) and writers of fiction. Female “Virtue” supposedly consists mainly or only in a demonstrable chastity. Women writers like Aphra Behn (The History of the Nun) and Eliza Heywood ( Fantomina) demonstrate the artifice in which women of all kinds feel compelled to 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 raising her market value? Can “Virtue” exist at all 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 a man have—and with whom? Is prostitution an option?
Personal virtue is supposed to relate to public virtue. Popular advice works such as sermons and “conduct books” advocating honesty, modesty and prudence. Yet the 18th century experienced a huge “Bubble,” the first stock exchange crash, and the first defined crisis of addiction (to Gin.). Caricatures of celebrities, gossip and news regarding crimes and sexual misconduct were spread by engraving and the printing press. How do central concepts like “scandal” or “crime” operate?
Novels such Pride and Prejudice investigate our contradictory desires for both autonomy and social success, for spiritual identity and economic security. Novels, plays and essays investigate the difficulties of finding a moral center when social and familial boundaries, sexual manners and permitted behaviors are all changing. Throughout the century, new styles of narration and representation alert us to the range of experience and varieties of moral reasoning.
Research will entail contact with primary materials as well as reading novels and plays in modern editions, and some recent theoretical works. Each student should investigate an 18th- century work on morality or conduct such as The Gentleman’s Calling, Defoe’s Family Instructor, or Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women.--so disliked by Lydia Bennett. On-line databases offer access to newspaper gossip, accounts of civil trials regarding “criminal conversation” as well as trials for “common felonies” (e.g. theft, rape and murder) in The Old Bailey Sessions Papers, and biographies of recently hanged criminals in the Ordinary’s Report. . Students are expected to report their findings to the group, as well as using the materials in their major essay.
Sem: Rebels, Rakes, and Reactionaries: Politics in the Romantic-Era Novel
Long associated chiefly with the genre of poetry, the Romantic period in Britain saw a remarkable surge in the publication and popularity of novels. This seminar focuses on the lively and controversial novels that variously advocated or satirized the “new philosophy” of moral, political, and sexual freedom arising out of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Our readings will center on works by the English “radicals” William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and their circle, as well as by their conservative critics. We will examine these novels in their historical and literary contexts and from several key critical perspectives. The main element of assessment will be the step-by-step composition of a research paper of 15-20 pages.
Sem: Postwar British Poetry: Lyric and Society
This course will, among other things, introduce students to genre studies – but its polemics will soon exceed them (at least as they tend to play out in the U.S.), and therein lies much of the point of the exercise. It’ll begin with reactionary postwar poetry in Britain: the infamous “Movement” against “Modernism” (with a capital M), as the latter was associated with both ideological extremism in pre-war Europe and with American-driven poetic experiment’s displacements of lyric subject and syntax – which Movement poet-critic Donald Davie allied with “theaten[ing] the rule of law in the civilized community,” “choosing a leader out of the ruck” (Purity of Diction in English Verse, 1952). The course will end with Britain’s 21st-century avant-garde, which has developed something that post-postmodern poets Stateside – now referred to as “post-avant” –have yet to fathom: what John Wilkinson in The Lyric Touch (2007) describes as “political lyric.” Students should emerge from the course with a good sense of what’s been happening on the British scene since Auden left it in 1939, since both sides of its radically (all but pathologically) divided terrain, mainstream vs. experimental, will be studied. They should also have formed an understanding of why, say, Adorno is the main theorist British experimental poetics still engages with – rather than Heidegger, the muse of the U.S. scene – and why “lyric” has had a completely different ride there: i.e., why it was never relinquished as it was in the U.S., with some fanfare, at the outset of “postmodernism,” and why it’s returned – the ultimate irony! – to power Britain’s post-911 avant-garde.
Introduction to Medieval English Manuscript Studies
This course will examine the culture of the book in late medieval England, 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 many anonymous writers of Early Middle English and Anglo-Irish verse; among the topics to be discussed: trilingual collections, book illustration, literacy, 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 be introduced to editorial theory and practice, and learn how to transcribe and edit for publication.
Ecologies of Poetry
An exploration of (1) ecological consciousness in representative poems from the 18th century to the present, (2) ecocriticism and its approaches to poetry, (3) recent ecological theory, especially as inflected by the discourse of climate change, and (4) the variable ecological niche of poetry in print culture across different eras.
Probable poets: Alexander Pope, James Thomson, Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Robinson Jeffers, Gary Snyder, Denise Levertov, A.R. Ammons, Pattiann Rogers, Wendell Berry.
Ecocritical and theoretical readings will include some and parts of these: Clark, Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment (2011); Felstiner, Can Poetry Save the Earth? (2009), Gardiner, A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (2011); Garrard, Ecocriticism, rev. edn ( 2011); Goodbody and Rigby, eds., Ecocritical Theory: New European Approaches (2011); Latour, Politics of Nature (1999, trans. 2004); Morton, Ecology without Nature (2007); Skrimshire, ed. Future Ethics: Climate Change and Apocalyptic Imagination (2010).
A broad, graduate-level survey of issues and methods in digital humanities. We'll begin with relevant theoretical treatments of new media and digital objects, including work by McLuhan, Heidegger, Galloway, and Kirschenbaum. We'll then spend the larger portion of the semester working on questions of quantitative analysis in literary and cultural studies, reading theoretical texts by Moretti and Ramsay alongside recent research results from the journals. This second portion of the course will also introduce students to practical tools and techniques for computational analysis. Final projects related to students' own research interests strongly encouraged. No technical expertise is assumed, but students will develop limited relevant skills with assistance as necessary.
Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England
Donne and Herbert
This course focuses on the poetry and prose of two of the early modern period's most influential literary figures: John Donne and George Herbert. We will study their works in their literary, political, and religious contexts; we will consider as well their afterlives in published editions of the seventeenth century This course focuses on the poetry and prose of two of the early modern period's most influential literary figures: John Donne and George Herbert. We will study their works in their literary, political, and religious contexts; we will consider as well their afterlives in published editions of the seventeenth century.
ENGL 90411 / Crosslist: GSC 63655
Gender, Print Culture, Modernity
Both the rapid transformation of existing communication technologies and the emergence of new media made possible the expression of new gender norms and roles in modernity. At the center of the course will be the complex and varied periodical culture of modernity: little magazines that advanced literary and artistic experiments; “slicks” that advertised a “modern” lifestyle; feminist papers; women’s magazines, and more. We’ll explore the “mediamorphosis” of modernity (during the period 1880 to 1940 or so) by taking up a few key sites of experiment and contest. These will include the role of feminist periodical press in advancing a counter public sphere; the role of the little magazines such the Little Review and the New Freewoman in entwining questions of literary experiment with the cultivation of new identity categories for modern (‘advanced’) women and men; the role of popular magazines in circulating a “pulp modernism” marked as masculine; the circulation of images of a “queer” modernity in the pages of British Vogue. We’ll also consider literary representations of women’s encounters with new information systems: novels of the “typewriter girls” and secretaries of modernity; “new woman” novels of encounter with the “new journalism” and more. Readings may include theoretical texts on the public sphere and on modernism’s relation to mass culture by Habermas, Huyssen; key works from the “new periodical studies” by Ann Ardis, Catherine Keyser, Sean Latham, David Earle, Mark Morrisson, Lucy Delap, Maria DiCenzo, Mary Chapman, and more; exploration of a number of modern periodicals, some housed on the Modernist Journals Project; novels such as The Typewriter Girl (Grant Allen) or The Story of a Modern Woman (Ella Hepworth Dixon). Requirements include leading a discussion, the production of a research essay, brief response papers.
Wilde and Synge: Art as Subversion
On the surface Oscar Wilde and John Millington Synge seemed very different kinds of artist. Wilde won fame for his witty portrayals of the English aristocracy, whereas Synge was celebrated for his lyrical depiction of an impoverished Irish peasantry. Wilde pursued a career on the London state and in high society, whereas Synge embraced a life of austerity and wrote for the nascent Irish national theatre in Dublin. Wilde was often dismissed as a mere entertainer, who was so fixated on his audience that he risked the alienation of his audience. Yet these products of Protestant Dublin had much in common: a fascination with fairy tales and folklore: an anarchist ideal in politics; a belief in the artistic value of lying and in the truth of masks; and a distrust of merely representational art. For both men art should be an improvement on rather than a reflection of nature; and they saw their writing as a utopian project, addressed not just to present realities but to future possibilities. This course will offer an in-depth reading of the work of Wilde and Synge, assessing the differing opportunities and constraints faced by playwrights in London and Dublin in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It will consider the ways in which both dramatists, by challenging their audiences and subverting traditional forms of art, helped to create a modern Irish literary movement.
ENGL 90522 / Crosslist: IRST 40145
W. B. Yeats and ‘the Consciousness of an Age’
T. S. Eliot said that Yeats was “one of those few whose history is the history of their own time, who are a part of the consciousness of an age, which cannot be understood without them”.
This course will examine this claim through a close reading of Yeats’s actual works – in poetry, drama, and prose – and by comparing and contrasting his work with that of his major Irish contemporaries – George Russell (AE), John Synge, James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, and Samuel Beckett – and also by relating his development to his encounters with the major Modernists, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and W. H. Auden.
We shall look at the early construction of the ‘Celtic Twilight’, Yeats’s place in the Symbolist Movement, discuss what Yeats meant when he said that in 1900 ‘everybody got down off his stilts’, attempt to ‘place’ the influence of Synge in the evolution of Yeats’s cultural theory and his drama, look at the ways in which writing for the Abbey Theatre helped reshape his style and his thinking about Irish culture more generally, try to assess the importance of Ezra Pound in the development of his later style, discuss the impact of the political and historical tumults from 1914 to 1924 on his poetry, drama, and thought, his growing awareness of Joyce and Eliot, and his reaction to the apparent polarisation to the Right and to the Left of writers and politics in the 1930s, including his involvement with the Mercury Theatre project and acquaintance with Auden and MacNeice. We shall conclude by looking briefly at Yeats’s varied legacy, particularly in the work of Patrick Kavanagh, Samuel Becket, and Seamus Heaney.
Recurrent themes to be debated will include the relationship of literature to its audience, as well as to political and historical events, an examination of they ways in which Yeats is or is not a Modernist, and the extent to which there is a distinctive form of Irish Modernism. The seminar will aim to provide a detailed overview of the development of modern Irish literature and also to assess the ways in which this development conformed with, or differed from, Anglo-American and European experiences.
This is an ambitious agenda but will be focused in and through specific Yeatsean texts. Thus the core books will be the Collected Poems and Collected Plays. Readings from other writers will be provided through extracts which I shall distribute and which will combine to constitute a Course Book.
Knowledge, Belief, & Science in Melville's America
Hawthorne said of Melville that he could neither believe nor be comfortable in his unbelief—a phrase that puts Melville at the center of the bitter struggle waged by American intellectuals in the nineteenth century as religious skepticism, commercial gain, and scientific knowledge seemed to tear belief apart from knowledge, even as politics tore apart the nation and consolidated it as an empire. This course will use several of Melville’s novels, together with his poem Clarel, to launch a transatlantic inquiry into the conditions for scientific knowledge, religious belief, and democratic community: our texts will likely include Shelley’s Frankenstein, Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus, and Tennyson’s “In Memoriam,” and will certainly include Emerson’s essays, Thoreau’s Cape Cod, works by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Dred, Hawthorne’s Marble Faun, and the poems of Emily Dickinson. We will conclude our inquiry with a look ahead toward Henry Adams and American Pragmatism.