Spring 2014

ENGL 13186:01
Writing for Social Justice
John Duffy
TR 11:00-12:15


This course will engage students in literacy practices intended to promote social justice in the South Bend Community. Students will consult with the professor to choose a topic on which to work, consult with interested agencies and community members, conduct research relevant to the project, and finally produce a written work or works that address local needs. The final project might be a research paper, a website, newspaper editorials, grant applications, or other texts.

Possible topics for exploration are immigration, poverty, disability, health care, homelessness, criminal justice, and others.

Please note: this is a writing intensive course. It is especially recommended for students who had the misfortune of being exempted from Writing and Rhetoric. 

ENGL 13186:02
Coming of Age Literature
Sara Maurer
TR 3:30-4:45


Beginning in the eighteenth century, European literature developed a fictional genre called “The Bildungsroman,” which told stories of young people growing toward adulthood in a society that itself was changing and evolving. This class will explore 300 years of such narratives, recovering what is unique and strange about a type of story that now might seem predictable. Students will learn how literary scholars talk about narrative and form as they examine how a text manages all the moving parts necessary to describe the growth of a protagonist in a rapidly changing world. Students will also explore how some of the categories of individual growth that now seem natural to us both responded to and drove larger social shifts, a process in which literature was intimately involved. We will read Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Alex Haley’s Autobiography of Malcolm X, Allison Bechdel’s Fun Home and finally Geoff Ryman’s science fiction tour de force, The Child Garden

ENGL 13186:03
Myth
Christopher Abram
TR 12:30-1:45


A myth is a story with special powers. But what powers—and where do they come from? “It’s just a myth,” we say when we hear a tall story, something we don’t believe. Yet myths are also repositories for deep and meaningful truths. Thinking about myth provides a fascinating route into literary analysis, but it also takes us into the realms of anthropology, psychology, and the history of religions—because a myth is always more than “just” a story. In this seminar, we will read myths ranging in time and space from Ancient Babylon to the contemporary internet. We’ll discuss what myths mean, how they originate, and how they survive. To help us, we will consult many different theories that have attempted to unlock mythology over the years—but students will be expected, through lively discussion and thoughtful writing, to come up with their own opinions about what myth is and why myth matters.

ENGL 13186:04
First Amendment
Elliott Visconsi

TR 9:30-10:45

This lecture course surveys the cultural controversies, doctrines, and principles expressed in the First Amendment protections for free expression and religious liberty. We will be especially interested in some large interpretive questions: what is a speech act? What counts are protected speech? What is the relationship between free expression and democratic-self government? Is there a difference between individual, group, and government speech? Where are the limits of permissible speech, and how have those limits evolved over time? Under what conditions is censorship permissible? Do literary texts enjoy privileged status as forms of expression? Should they? What does the future of free expression look like in light of the rise of digital media? We will consider a selection of exemplary cases, controversies, and literary texts: among out topics will include the following: censorship, hate speech, obscenity and pornography; student expression; cyberspeech; individual religious expression; libel; legislative prayer and government-authored religious speech; establishment of religion; blasphemy. Disclaimer: many of our materials describe potentially offensive topics, while some are themselves examples of offensive speech.

ENGL 13186:05
God and Evil in Modern Literature
Thomas Werge
TR 9:30-10:45

A study of selected modern writers whose concern with God and evil, faith and despair, and the reality and significance of suffering animates their writings. In considering the relationships between the religious imagination and experience and its expression in literature, we will discuss the ways in which writers envision the nature and purpose of narrative and of language itself --as efficacious and even sacred or as ineffectual. Before dealing with particular modern writers, we will reflect on the presuppositions of the Bible and medieval thought and literature in relation to truth, faith, and narrative. Readings will be selected from the following: St Francis, Little Flowers; Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov; DeVries, The Blood of the Lamb; Melville, Billy Budd; Greene, The Power and the Glory or The End of the Affair; Flannery O'Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge or The Violent Bear It Away; Hammarskjold, Markings; Roth, Job; Hawthorne, Selected Tales; Wiesel, Night; and narratives by Primo Levi, Dinesen, and Updike.

ENGL 13186:06
Shakespeare’s Major Tragedies
Jesse Lander
TR 2:00-3:15


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.


ENGL 13186-07
Biography/Autobiography: One’s Life Story
Edward Malloy
U 7:00-9:30


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.

13186:08
Mystery Fiction
Margaret Doody
TR 11:00-12:15


This course will deal with detection and mystery in fiction from Sophocles to Dashiell Hammett. The syllabus includes films to be chosen by the students .We follow the detective and the criminal (often strangely connected); that pursuit encourages us to consider various genres, including classic tragedy, the Gothic novel, the “thriller,” film noir.  Entering the dark Paris streets of Poe’s Dupin, the foggy London of Sherlock Holmes, the pleasant Chinese tea-gardens and rough highways  known to  Judge Dee, we  hope to be surprised. We will consider what kinds of pleasure the “mystery story” offers us, and why such a repellent matter as murder provides such strong entertainment.  The study of mystery turns us towards philosophical mysteries, questions regarding good and evil, revenge and justice, the appeal of the ugly and the sublime.

ENGL 20001
Introduction to Fiction Writing

Christine Texeira
MW 2:00-3:15

This is a beginning course in writing short prose fiction. No experience in the form will be necessary. Students will be writing every week, primarily short fiction and other prose forms, guided by assignments. There will be in-class student discussion of each other's work. There will be readings in both traditional and contemporary fiction.

ENGL 20002
Introduction to Poetry Writing

Alice Ladrick
TR 2:00-3:15

This course introduces students to the basic elements of poetry writing: language as matter and its creative organization through rhythm, form and different kinds of patterning. The course emphasizes the preeminence of sound as the distinguishing feature of poetry, with listening and speaking poetry as a necessary basis for writing it. Technical exercises, language games, writing exercises both collective and individual, and encounters with poetry in print and through attending readings are required. Original poetry by participants is discussed both online and in workshop sessions.

Fiction Writing
ENGL 20003:01 - Steve Tomasula – TR 12:30-1:45
ENGL 20003:02 - Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi – MW 3:30-4:45
ENGL 20003:03 - Johannes Goransson – MW 12:30-1:45

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. 

ENGL 20004
Poetry Writing 
Joyelle McSweeney
TR 3:30-4:45


Poetry in the 21st century is not dead: instead, it’s undead, a morphing thing which inhabits and moves through an entire spectrum of media, from online platforms to live performances to good old fashioned books. In this class, you’ll be introduced to the variety of contemporary poetry, the way poetry’s forms and voices have been complicated and expanded by  new media  and audiences,  and the sometimes surprising ways poetry continues to connect to canonical texts and forms. You’ll learn to read as a writer; to devise, revise, and perform poems; to respond to peer work with insight and ingenuity; and to develop a small selection of poems which is uniquely your own.

ENGL 20104
Introduction to Poetry
Laura Betz
TR 3:30-4:45


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.

ENGL 20106:01
ENGL 20106:02

Point-of-View in the Novel

Noreen Deane-Moran


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 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.


ENGL 20154
The Gothic Novel
Noreen Deane-Moran
TR 2:00-3:15


“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.

ENGL 20172
Prize Winning Literature
Kara Donnelly
TR 2:00-3:15


What makes a book the “best” of the year or a writer among the “greatest” alive? Who gets to decide? We will explore these questions by reading literature that has won major prizes, including the Nobel, Pulitzer, and Booker. We will read poetry, plays, novels, short stories, and nonfiction and watch film adaptations of prize-winning literature. We will consider the quality of the work alongside other factors that influence prize committees’ decisions such as the author’s race, gender, language, and nationality. In addition to completing traditional assignments, such as reading responses and formal papers, the class will simulate a prize committee and select your own winner for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. We will consider works by Rudyard Kipling, Rabindranath Tagore, Wole Soyinka, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison, and Kazuo Ishiguro, among others.

ENGL 20173
English Mythmaking.
Emily Ransom
TR 9:30-10:45


Dragons and demons and gods, oh my!  This course explores mythology in English literature from Gawain to the twentieth century. We will begin by braving adaptations of classical myth (Marlowe, Shakespeare, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson), and then challenge the monsters of Faulkner and Milton to pursue the ways a culture discovers its own mythology.  Armed with these tools, we will spend the second half of the course in the land of faerie (Mallory, Gawain, Spenser, Tennyson, Yeats), where English poets adapt, discover, and create their hybrid legends from Mordred to Smog.  The prize for the valiant will be to finish The Hobbit in anticipation of the final cinematic installment in December.

ENGL 20229
Northern Mythology and Epic
Melissa Mayus
TR 12:30-1:45


The myths and legends of the Vikings and the rest of the medieval north have begun resurfacing in interesting, and occasionally very strange, ways in modern literature. We will begin by reading about the heroes of Old English and Norse literature with the stories of Beowulf, Sigurd the dragon-slayer, and Grettir. We will discuss what makes someone heroic in these texts and also what defines the villains or monsters the heroes defeat. We will then look at modern interpretations of these stories and question how the definition of hero and monster changes. Next, we will take up stories of the most famous of the Norse gods: Odin, Thor, and Loki. Interspersed with these older stories, we’ll read modern works that feature the same characters or stories under different guises. We will consider how these stories were used in their medieval contexts to build community and promote certain values and we’ll also question how authors use the same stories and characters today. Finally, at the end of the course we will read Norse fairy tales and a couple of modern children’s stories based on Norse mythology in order to examine how these serious (and often violent) medieval stories have been reappropriated as light entertainment or morality lessons for modern children.

ENGL 20324
Deviant Selfhood: Love, Faith and Criminal Activity in the Victorian Novel of (Self)-Development
Jessica Hughes
MW 11:00-12:15


Seduction, imprisonment, bigamy and murder hardly seem like part of a routine young adulthood. However, in Victorian novels tracing the development of an individual character, such sensational plot twists are common. While anti-social, violent and criminal acts help to make novels popular, novels about the formation of the individual do much more than tell a sensational life story. By depicting the maturing individual such narratives establish what is “normal” for middle-class identity, incorporate the outsider into society, and raise questions about the stability of the self. These novels also challenge the economic, social, and religious structures of Victorian society that narratives of social incorporation apparently endorse. In looking at  novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, this course will examine topics ranging from love and Victorian religion to what constitutes criminal behavior and insanity. More importantly, we will consider the relationships between the developing individual, self-determination and social norms, asking ultimately what these novels say about being human.

ENGL 20513
Introduction to Irish Writers
Christopher Fox
MW 10:30-11:20


As the visit to campus of the most recent Irish winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature suggests, this small island has produced a disproportionate number of great writers. Designed as a general literature course, the class will introduce the student to a broad range of Irish writers in English from the eighteenth century to the present. Writers will include Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Brian Friel, and John McGahern. We will also look at recent film versions of several of these writers' works, including Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest. Themes to be explored include representations of national character and the relationships between religion and national identity, gender and nationalism, Ireland and England, and "Irishness" and "Englishness." Students can expect a midterm, a paper (5-6 pages typed) and a final.

ENGL 20731
Latinos in American Society
José Limôn
TR 12:30-1:45


This course will examine the sociology of the Latino experience in the United States, including the historical, cultural, and political foundations of Latino life. We will approach these topics comparatively, thus attention will be given to the various experiences of a multiplicity of Latino groups in the United States.

ENGL 30101
Introduction to Literary Studies
Sec. 1: Jésus Costantino – MW 2:00-3:15
Sec. 2: Z’Etoile Imma – TR 11:00-12:15
Sec. 3: Matthew Wilkens – 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 studied will introduce students to the practice of critical argument and consideration of how to read criticism as well as literature critically.

ENGL 30111
British Literary Traditions II
John Sitter
TR 9:30-10:45


This course follows the main tradition of British literature by studying major writers from the end of 17th century to the beginning of the 21st. We will read selected poems, fictions, and essays intensively and in light of social contexts, the history of ideas, and connections with other arts. Informal lectures will engage texts, contexts, and illustrative parallels in the visual arts; at least half of each class period will be devoted to discussion. Particular attention to the capacities that knowledge of a literary tradition can contribute to one's life-long reading, thinking, and writing. Requirements include frequent short response papers, class participation, midterm and final examinations.


ENGL 30116
American Literary Traditions II
Kinohi Nishikawa
MW 12:30-1:45


This course conducts a broad survey of American letters since the Civil War. It will cover work by major authors from the tradition while outlining the importance of periodization to American literary study. In the process students will gain a deeper understanding of the historical conditions that gave rise to aesthetic “movements” such as realism, naturalism, and modernism. Novels, poetry, a film or two, and aesthetic theory.

ENGL 30850
Fiction Writing for English Majors
Steve Tomasula
TR 3:30-4:45


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.

ENGL 30851
Poetry Writing for English Majors
Orlando Menes
TR 2:00-3:15


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.

ENGL 30853
Fiction Writing
Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
MW 2:00-3:15


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.

ENGL 40016
Narrative
Barry McCrea and Kate Marshall
MW 9:30-10:45


What are stories?  Where do they come from and how to they work? This course provides an introduction to narrative theory, by reading key texts of narrative theory in conjunction with novels, short stories, and films which lend themselves to structural analysis.  We will learn how to analyze the hidden structures of all kinds of narratives, from nineteenth-century novels to Hollywood blockbusters.
Theoretical texts may include structural narratology (Bal, Chatman, Barthes), psychoanalytical ideas (Freud, Brooks), contemporary theories of narrative (Herman, Phelan), or feminist writing on narrative form (de Lauretis).  The primary texts may include classic works of fiction (Great Expectations), detective fiction (Sherlock Holmes), films based on suspense (Hitchcock), experimental films (Jeanne Dielman), and a variety of contemporary forms of narrative, both fictional and nonfictional.

ENGL 40205
Shakespeare and the Supernatural
Jesse Lander
TR 11:00-12:15


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.

ENGL 40209
Classic Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Kathryn Kerby-Fulton
MW 12:30-1:45


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. We will read Chaucer’s texts in the original language, and examine his brilliant ability to create enduring characters. Reading the Tales in their historical and cultural contexts, we will explore themes like chivalry, pilgrimage, anticlericalism, courtly love, sex, marriage, magic, heresy, social unrest and rebellion. 

ENGL 40259
Devotional Lyric: Wyatt to Watts
Sussanah Monta
TR 2:00-3:15


In the wake of the Reformation-era’s massive upheavals came the greatest flowering of devotional poetry in the English language. This body of literature offers its readers the opportunity to explore questions pertaining broadly to the study of lyric and to the study of the relationships between religion and literature. Early modern devotional poetry oscillates between eros and agape, private and communal modes of expression, shame and pride, doubt and faith, evanescence and transcendence, mutability and permanence, success and failure, and agency and helpless passivity.  It experiments with gender, language, form, meter, voice, song, and address.  We’ll follow devotional poets through their many oscillations and turns by combining careful close reading of the poetry with the study of relevant historical, aesthetic, and theological contexts. You’ll learn to read lyric poetry skillfully and sensitively, to think carefully about relationships between lyric and religion, and to write incisively and persuasively about lyric.  Authors we'll read may include Thomas Brampton, Richard Maidstone, Francesco Petrarca (in translation), Sir Thomas Wyatt, Anne Locke, Mary Sidney, Sir Philip Sidney, St. Robert Southwell, S.J., Henry Constable, Fulke Greville, Edmund Spenser, John Donne, George Herbert, Robert Herrick, Henry Vaughan, Richard Crashaw, John Milton, and the great hymn writer Isaac Watts.

ENGL 40262
The Icelandic Sagas
Christopher Abram
TR 9:30-10:45


The Icelandic sagas represent an unparalleled flowering of imaginative prose literature in medieval Europe. They have been called the first modern novels, but their utterly distinctive voice arises from their position on the periphery of the known world at a time when story-telling was in a state of flux: oral traditions were blending into literate compositions; pagan mythology was being supplanted (though never effaced) by Christian doctrines. Icelanders were in the process of creating an entirely new nation in an entirely new environment, and the sagas record their successes, failures, fears and aspirations with great drama, humor, and insight. In this course, students will read extensively in the corpus of Icelandic sagas. We will gain an understanding of the various genres of sagas in existence and how they relate to one another and to other contemporary forms of literature. We will study the history of medieval Iceland and relate changing political situations to the development of new literary modes over time. While most of the texts will be approached through translations, we will also study one saga in detail in its original language. Students who have not completed ENGL 40203 Introduction to Old Norse must contact the instructor before registering for this course. Assessment will include two papers and a translation exercise.

ENGL 40326
Romantic Revolutions: British Literature and Culture 1790-1830
Yasmin Solomonescu
TR 9:30-10:45


This course examines British literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the context of the period’s profound social and political upheavals. Our readings and discussions will focus on how writers of poetry, fiction, argumentative prose engaged with ideas concerning the rights of men, women, and slaves; the circumstances of poverty and war; the nature and powers of the imagination; and the social role of the writer. We will read selections from some of the best-known poets of the age – including Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Byron – alongside works by some of their most innovative and influential contemporaries. Instances of contemporary visual art and propaganda will help broaden our understanding of this intensely creative period in British literary history.

ENGL 40337
Thinking with Abbeys
Margaret Doody
TR 2:00-3:15


The startling success of the TV series Downton 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.

ENGL 40344
Bards and Balladmongers: Traditional and Popular British Song in the Eighteenth-Century Ballad Revival
Ian Newman
TR 11:00-12:15


In this course we will examine traditional ballads and the revival of interest in the figure of the bard from Addison's Spectator  to Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, taking in Thomas Percy, Robert Burns, and Thomas Moore along the way. We will then examine popular urban broadside ballads and will trace an alternative history of the ballad from Joseph Ritson to Mayhew's London Labor and the London Poor, by way of the flash ballads of the eighteenth century and the printed broadsides of Catnach and Pitts. Here we will consider the ephemerality and topicality of printed ballads and their interaction with newspapers and print satires. Finally, we will consider where these two traditions of balladry overlap, and whether they can or should be considered as distinct traditions. The course will focus on the interaction of print and oral culture and will examine both recorded versions of traditional ballads and the materiality of the printed text. Students will have an opportunity to spend focussed time in Special Collections, as well as with several online ballad collections, as we ask what role the ballad played in the development of ideas about literature, at a time of rapidly expanding literacy rates.

ENGL 40606
Mark Twain
Thomas Werge
MWF 9:25-10:15


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.

ENGL 40771
American Modernisms
Cyraina Johnson-Roullier
TR 12:30-1:45


Discussions of the late nineteenth, early twentieth century literary and cultural movement of modernism often center on those qualities of the movement described in the work of early modernist literary critics, such as Harry Levin or Edmund Wilson.  Such examinations emphasize the modern movement’s experiments in form, structure, linguistic representation, characterization, etc., while paying much less attention to the role of the modernist movement in the larger context of a given culture.  In this course, we will explore the significance of the modern movement from the perspective of American culture, as well as the manner and meaning of American literary participation in the movement.  To that end, we will consider not only the work of authors generally accepted as modernists, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein; we will also consider the role of authors such as Sherwood Anderson and Waldo Frank, of the early Chicago Renaissance (1910-1925), and a number of authors from the Harlem Renaissance.  We will examine the work of these authors not only in the context of modernism, but also as it relates to many issues of the day, including progressivism, primitivism, race and ethnicity, immigration, cosmopolitanism vs. regionalism, and the importance of the vernacular, in addition to the question of “Americanness” and its importance to an understanding of American literature during this time.   Considering these different vantage points in American literary modernism, we will try to imagine the contours of “American modernisms,” and draw some conclusions about their significance within the larger modernist context.  In so doing, we’ll seek to arrive at a more comprehensive, more nuanced perspective on the meaning of the modern in American literature and culture.

Course Texts:  Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence; Willa Cather, O Pioneers!; Sherwood Anderson, Dark Laughter; Waldo Frank, Holiday; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Ernest Hemingway, Torrents of Spring; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Gertrude Stein, Three Lives; Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun; Jean Toomer, Cane; William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom!

Course Requirements:  Two 5-page essays, two 5-page drafts,  presentation

ENGL 40772
American Modernismo: Twentieth-Century Literature of the US and Latin America
Jesús Costantino
MW 11:00-12:15


It is a commonplace to treat American modernism as a transatlantic affair—with special attention given to the relationship between the US and Western Europe. Less common, at least from the US side, is to delve into American modernism’s “second axis” between the US and Latin America. This class will attempt to rectify, in its own small way, the Eurocentric approach to American modernism by instead looking at the literary interchange between the US and Latin America throughout the twentieth century. While the inflection will be toward writers in and from the US, we will also read (in translation) work by Latin American authors. Possible authors include: José Martí, Gertrude Stein, Alejo Carpentier, Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter, William Carlos Williams, Rubén Darío, Jorge Luis Borges, Jack Kerouac, Oscar Acosta, Carlos Fuentes, Gloria Anzaldúa, Toni Morrison, and Roberto Bolaño.

ENGL 40850
Advanced Fiction Writing 
Valerie Sayers
MW 5:05-6:20


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.

ENGL 40910
Literature and Empire: Colonial and Postcolonial British and Anglophone Literature
Elizabeth Evans
TR 3:30-4:45


This course investigates the role and representation of empire in British and Anglophone literature of the long twentieth century. “Anglophone” literally means writing in English, but in current critical discourse it generally signifies writing in English from nations once colonized by Britain, with the exception of the United States. As we’ll see, the colonial legacy of English becomes an important issue in postcolonial writing. If you’re not sure what “postcolonial” means, you’re not alone—the term has provoked much debate (“Is it a historical notion or an ideological term?” “When does the postcolonial begin?”)—and one of the goals of this course is to give students a robust understanding of those debates and their enormous significance in twentieth- and twenty first-century literature and culture. Our task is not so much to define, or even survey, the significance of empire in literature, for the material circumstances of colonial and postcolonial eras, even when limited to the British context, differ vastly among geographic and cultural sites (Think, for starters, of the disparate histories of Australia, India, Ireland, South Africa, and Sudan). Rather, our approach will be episodic, consisting of a series of loosely connected themes and issues, and it will consist of more questions than answers. What are the connections between ideas of the nation and narrative? How has literature been both complicit in the imperial project and a form of anti-colonial resistance? How are private identities (for example, of gender, class, and sexual orientation) and intimate relationships between people (as parents and children, as siblings, as friends, as lovers) entangled in national identities and international relations?

The course is organized in five roughly equal parts. The first unit of the course will explore narratives of empire written by the likes of Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, and H. Rider Haggard. The next three examine colonial resistance and the empire’s violent legacy through writings from three different regions of the world of particular significance in British literature and culture: the West Indies, South Asia, and nations in Sub-Saharan Africa that were formerly part of the British Empire. These postcolonial texts are likely to be drawn from such writers as Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, Amitav Ghosh, Bessie Head, Jamaica Kincaid, George Lamming, V.S. Naipaul, Jean Rhys, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Our final unit will focus on contemporary writing situated at the ideological center of the former British Empire, London, that grapples with what Louise Bennett termed “colonization in reverse” from the perspective of former imperial subjects and their British descendants. Such authors include Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi, Anita Levy, and Zadie Smith.

ENGL 43106
Rethinking Lyric and Universalized Self-Expression
Romana Huk
MW 11:00-12:15


This seminar will examine the contradictory burdens placed upon the lyric genre by readers over the last hundred years, beginning with its (and the writing subject’s) fracture in the late nineteenth-century and the critical scramble that nonetheless ensured its enshrinement in both the newly institutionalized “study of English” and modernism’s new “art religion.”  Readings for the course will trouble such formulations from within the poetry itself, watching it absorb the various crises of thought, history and literary theory that would lead, by mid-century, to such deep suspicions about the lyric subject’s mandate to “express selfhood,” and the form’s supposed/opposed universal and cultural work, that it becomes something of a “genre non grata” – up until, that is, our new century, which has rather surprisingly resurrected it in what scholars have called “the new lyric humanism.” Why has the lyric such a volatile critical history – one that at times even erupts in quasi-military language – and what continues to be at stake? Though the course’s focus will remain largely upon British poetry, it will spend a good deal of time too on transatlantic episodes like the infamous “Movement” against “Modernism” (with a capital M) in postwar Britain, where the term was associated with both ideological extremism in pre-war, 1930s (“Red Decade”) 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,” with “choosing a leader out of the ruck” (Purity of Diction in English Verse, 1952). Students should emerge from the course with a good sense of not only a crucial and current debate in literary studies, but also of what’s been happening on the British poetry scene, particularly since the last world war. They will be encouraged from the start to tease out what’s at stake for each of them individually in this emotional debate, and to begin to research critical and/or theoretical responses their chosen issue early on in the semester so that the writing of their required term paper (20-30 pages) happens slowly and comfortably, even enjoyably, with ample feedback from me and from others in the class. Taking turns leading class discussion will be our practice, and students will be required to deliver a final presentation of their work at the end of the course.


ENGL 43312
Romantic Theater and the Power of the Humanities
Greg Kucich

TR 12:30-1:45
“Dramatic genius . . . is kindling over the whole land.” (Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine review; 1823)
“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” (Shelley, A Defence of Poetry; 1820)

This seminar approaches British Romanticism through the spectacular fecundity of its staged drama.  One of the conventional stereotypes about British Romanticism involves its alleged failure to produce significant public drama.  However, a new wave of revisionary scholarship has tracked the prolific, often manic richness of the period’s stage life while demonstrating its strong political importance, especially for women playwrights.  Alongside serious, often disturbing new tragedies, hilarious new comedies, and stunning revivals of Shakespeare, Romantic theater offered frenetic audiences a staggering range of experimental or fringe genres such as melodrama, Gothic drama, nautical drama, pantomime, and quadruped entertainments featuring live horses in cavalry charges and the heroics of “Carlo the Wonder Dog” and “Jocko the Brazilian Monkey.”  Critics were alternatively amazed, enthralled, threatened, and appalled, fomenting vigorous attempts by the state to censor the stage.  We will explore the ingenious ways, both in print and on stage, playwrights managed to resist such regulation and engage with the burning political issues of the time:  the French Revolution, slavery, imperial might and global strife, women’s rights, among others.  Readings address major canonical figures-- Coleridge, Shelley, and Byron—as well as less well-known figures who ruled the stage, such as Joanna Baillie, Elizabeth Inchbald, “Monk” Lewis, and Hannah Cowley.  Our interest focuses on the ingenious pyrotechnics of romantic stage practices, with particular scrutiny of the political impact of live theater and its relation to one of the biggest questions now facing English Departments and English Majors: What is the value or power of the humanities and fine arts in a world of astronomical tuition costs and massive government cutbacks in funding for artistic endeavor and university level study of the humanities?  (Does Shelley’s famous statement, applied to poet-playwrights, have any currency in this world?)

ENGL 43771
American Modernisms
Cyraina Johnson-Roullier
TR 2:00-3:15


Discussions of the late nineteenth, early twentieth century literary and cultural movement of modernism often center on those qualities of the movement described in the work of early modernist literary critics, such as Harry Levin or Edmund Wilson.  Such examinations emphasize the modern movement’s experiments in form, structure, linguistic representation, characterization, etc., while paying much less attention to the role of the modernist movement in the larger context of a given culture.  In this course, we will explore the significance of the modern movement from the perspective of American culture, as well as the manner and meaning of American literary participation in the movement.  To that end, we will consider not only the work of authors generally accepted as modernists, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein; we will also consider the role of authors such as Sherwood Anderson and Waldo Frank, of the early Chicago Renaissance (1910-1925), and a number of authors from the Harlem Renaissance.  We will examine the work of these authors not only in the context of modernism, but also as it relates to many issues of the day, including progressivism, primitivism, race and ethnicity, immigration, cosmopolitanism vs. regionalism, and the importance of the vernacular, in addition to the question of “Americanness” and its importance to an understanding of American literature during this time.   Considering these different vantage points in American literary modernism, we will try to imagine the contours of “American modernisms,” and draw some conclusions about their significance within the larger modernist context.  In so doing, we’ll seek to arrive at a more comprehensive, more nuanced perspective on the meaning of the modern in American literature and culture.

Course Texts:  Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence; Willa Cather, O Pioneers!; Sherwood Anderson, Dark Laughter; Waldo Frank, Holiday; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Ernest Hemingway, Torrents of Spring; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Gertrude Stein, Three Lives; Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun; Jean Toomer, Cane; William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom!

Course Requirements: One 2-page Annotated Bibliography, One Critical Literature Review, One 2-Page Introduction, One 8-Page Draft, one 15-Page Literary Critical Essay, mini-presentation.

ENGL 90011
Graduate Fiction Workshop
William O’Rourke
T 5:00-7:00


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.

ENGL 90031
Graduate Poetry Workshop
Joyelle McSweeney
TR 12:30-1:45


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.

ENGL 90041
Graduate Translation Workshop
Johannes Goransson
MW 9:30-10:45


Perhaps the most famous definition of poetry in American literature is Robert Frost’s quip that poetry is that which is “lost in translation.” Translation, it appears, is both central and marginal in the way we think about literature in this country. Through translation seemingly stable texts and notions of authorship become volatile. That is in large part why translation has at times been a source of anxiety in American literature, and at times a source of inspiration. In this class we will explore this volatile zone of translation by translating literary texts (prose, poetry, drama etc), reading theoretical texts, and by bringing our experiences as writers and readers, artists and scholars to the topic. Although it would be helpful, fluency in a foreign language is not required. Translation Studies is in the middle of an exciting moment – conventional ways of viewing translation are being questioned and US literature is becoming increasingly interested in foreign literatures -  and this class will participate in this moment. 

ENGL 90143
Marxism and Culture II
Terence Eagleton
TR 11:00-12:15


Last semester, we examined various meanings of the term culture, as well as a number of reasons for its centrality in modern thought.  This semester, we shall look more directly at Marxist and other materialist conceptions of the origin, value and function of culture, with some attention to Marxist approaches to literary criticism. Readings: as before.
 
ENGL 90127
Digital Humanities
Matthew Wilkens
R 5:00-7:30


A graduate-level survey of issues and methods in digital humanities. The majority of the semester will be devoted to quantitative analysis in literary and cultural studies, reading foundational texts alongside recent research results from the journals. The course will also introduce students to practical tools and techniques for computational analysis and to allied topics in media studies and theory of technology as time allows. Final projects related to students' own research interests strongly encouraged. No technical expertise is assumed, but students will develop basic skills in programming and quantitative analysis.

ENGL 90141
Lyric Poetry in Theory
Romana Huk
W 3:30-6:15


This course (which satisfies the “Theory” requirement) is a revised version of my 2012 seminar, “Lyric Poetry and Society,” built around its title’s allusion to Theodor Adorno’s famous essay by that name. This seminar will examine the contradictory burdens placed upon the lyric genre over the last hundred years, beginning with its (and the writing subject’s) fracture in the late nineteenth-century and the critical scramble that nonetheless ensured its enshrinement in both the newly institutionalized “study of English” and modernism’s new “art religion.”  Readings for the course will trouble such formulations from within the poetry itself, watching it absorb the various crises of thought, history and increasingly iconoclastic literary theory that would lead, by mid-century, to such deep suspicions about the lyric subject’s productions of a speaking presence, and the form’s supposed/opposed cultural/universal work, that it became something of a “genre non grata” – up until, that is, our new century, which has rather surprisingly resurrected it in what forums in PMLA, for example, have called “the new lyric humanism.” Why has the lyric such a volatile critical history – which at times even erupts in quasi-military language – and what continues to be at stake? Though the course’s focus will remain largely upon British poetry, it will spend a good deal of time too on transatlantic episodes like the infamous “Movement” against “Modernism” (with a capital M) in postwar Britain, where the term 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,” with “choosing a leader out of the ruck” (Purity of Diction in English Verse, 1952). And the course will end with comparisons of transatlantic 21st-century avant-gardes, like the post-postmodern poets stateside who refrain from politics, calling themselves “post-avant,” and those in the UK who assert that they write “political lyric.” Students should emerge from the course with a good sense of not only a crucial and current debate in literary studies, but also of what’s been happening on the British poetry scene, particularly since the last world war. And though all with take part in leading seminar discussion and presenting work, each student will have options to choose from when it comes to writing requirements.

ENGL 90274
Medieval Interiorities and Modern Readers: Historical and Formalist Approaches
Kathryn Kerby-Fulton
M 3:30-6:15


This course will examine issues of interiority in the major Middle English writers, especially Chaucer, Langland, Hoccleve, Julian of Norwich, and in some anonymous English and Irish lyrics. We will begin with brief extracts from key introspective texts originating in Latin (by St. Perpetua, St. Augustine and Christina of Markyate) and from the Early Middle English period (e.g. Ancrene Wisse, La3amon’s Brut, the "Kildare" Lyrics, the Arundel Lyrics). We will move then to the introspective works of the major Edwardian and Ricardian writers, especially Langland (Piers Plowman), Chaucer (Prologue to Legend of Good Women, the “women’s” Canterbury Tales, his Retraction, and selected lyrics), and Hoccleve (Complaint and Dialogue). We will finish with a look at the London Carthusian house as a "leaky conduit" (in Vincent Gillespie's words) for sophisticated, daring writing by women, notably Julian or Norwich and Marguerite Porete.

The methodological threads of the course will follow the most influential of the critical trends for medievalists to date. 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 Deconstruction) did little to test the accuracy of these views.  New Historicism, a critical approach developed in part from ethnography that took Renaissance literary studies by storm in the 80s, offered medievalists an alternative, if somewhat flawed methodology for understanding their literature in its cultural contexts. Since then various kinds of historicist and historical approaches have been developed, now encompassing an emphasis on formalism and aesthetics in newer literary histories. 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 to interiority that involve cognition (“embodied” or otherwise), material culture, and theories of narration (Spearing’s “textual I”).  We will finish with some very new ways of looking at modern response, especially those that supersede “medievalism” approaches by focusing instead on formalist ways that scholars of 21st c. art and literature understand Medieval (rather than “Early Modern”) art forms as the true forerunners of the contemporary.  Topics to be discussed will include "self-fashioning," authorial self- representation, the impact of the under-employed clerical proletariat on secular writing, political and religious dissent, the pressures of patronage, scribal censorship, and the role of women in the rise of English literature. We will also sample how the top discoveries in Manuscript Studies and medieval reading practices (focusing on performative, meditational, allegorical, mnemonic, and cognitive methods) have changed the way we approach the “medieval self.” 

ENGL 90326
British Romantic Literature and Science
Yasmin Solomonescu

R 12:30-3:15

“Then, what is Life?” Percy Shelley’s unfinished poem The Triumph of Life (1822) concludes with a question that resonates throughout the Romantic period, when writers and scientists often made common cause in their exploration of the workings of nature – physical, animal, and human – and what Coleridge called “the one Life within us and abroad.” Focusing chiefly on the British context, this seminar examines the creative intersections between literature and science with particular attention to the sciences of the body and mind, including debates about “animal vitality” or the principle of life; ideas about generation and monstrosity across species; and theories of perception and cognition, notably as they relate to language and the imagination. Figures to be covered include Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Byron, the Shelleys, and Kant, as well as the scientists Joseph Priestley, Erasmus Darwin, Humphrey Davy, and Michael Faraday, among others. Our readings and discussions will also take stock of a wide range of critical approaches to literature and science, in the Romantic period and beyond. One aim of the seminar will be to explore the aesthetic and ideological ramification of scientific concepts and theories in Romantic literature; another will be to examine the relationship between materialist and vitalist or idealist modes of thought and expression. The main element of assessment will be the stage-by-stage composition of an article-length paper, ideally suitable for eventual publication.

ENGL 90523
Finnegans Wake
Barry McCrea
W 12:30-3:15


This collaborative seminar, open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates, will be devoted to James Joyce’s final, elusive work.  Each week two students will be responsible for researching a substantial section of the novel and presenting it to the seminar.  We will closely read individual passages from each of these sections together as a group.

ENGL 90724
Black Mountain Poetry
Stephen Fredman
TR 3:30-4:45


This course looks at the highly influential, mid-twentieth-century American poetry movement known as Black Mountain. The movement was named for Black Mountain College in North Carolina and for the Black Mountain Review, edited by Robert Creeley. In addition to Creeley, the most prominent poets associated with the movement are Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, and Edward Dorn.

Notre Dame is a unique site for studying these poets because we own nearly the entirety of Robert Creeley’s personal library, which includes presentation copies of books by these poets as well as his own copies of his books, many of these volumes acting for Creeley as files for the storage of unique materials relating to them. In addition, we have two other recent library acquisitions: important correspondence and notebooks from Edward Dorn, and a capacious collection of little magazines from 1960-1980—often featuring these poets. An exhibition of items from the Robert Creeley Collection will be on display for the semester in Special Collections, and there will be a one-day symposium, to include participation by Notre Dame graduate students, that will celebrate the exhibition and the simultaneous publication of Creeley’s Selected Letters.

In addition to reading extensively in the work of these five poets, we will examine several important contexts for understanding them: Black Mountain College, which gave birth to many important artistic movements; the other poets who were joined with them by Donald Allen in his groundbreaking anthology, The New American Poetry (1960); the Objectivist poets, including Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, who provided much of the inspiration for Black Mountain poetry; and the philosophical background for the movement, including figures such as John Dewey, Alfred North Whitehead, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In developing a seminar paper, students will be encouraged to engage in exploratory archival research in the new poetry collections in our library, which you will be among the first to visit.

ENGL 90725
Our Realisms
Kate Marshall
M 12:30-3:15


“The return to realism” is how prominent critics of American literary history characterize the present era of literary production in the United States, yet the boundaries of this realism remain much contested. This course will invite students to examine several formal aspects of the recent realisms, and to account for the varieties of realism circulating in critical discourse. Background readings in the critical history of American realism (Kaplan, Jameson, Pizer, etc.) will also be required. Readings for the course will include the realism debates among contemporary writers, including a discussion of how definitions of the genre have been articulated and policed by writers such as Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides, or Zadie Smith’s dismissal of “lyrical realism” as a benign yet persistent mode. We will also survey the status of realism in current debates about the category of the contemporary, and then turn to the recent reevaluations of realism as a productive category for thinking about world literature, as in the “peripheral realism” described by Jed Esty and Coleen Lye, the “speculative realism” claimed by Ramon Saldivar as the emergent genre of ethnic American writing, and the “weird realism” available to literary theorists interested in the figure of the nonhuman. Guiding our excursions through this recent critical history will be a range of exemplary novels of recent American realism or its contested counterparts. Authors may include Cormac McCarthy, Marilynne Robinson, Colson Whitehead, Rachel Kushner, Mat Johnson, Teju Cole, Don DeLillo, and Ken Kalfus.