Introduction to Creative Writing
The rules of becoming a writer are very simple: you read and you write. That’s a lie. You read, and write, and taste, and feel, and smell, and listening. That’s a lie. You put pen to paper. That’s a lie. You type on a keyboard. That’s a lie. The truth is that the rules of becoming a writer a very complicated, and if you ask any two writers what those rules might be—they will surely either give you the cliché answer or their answers will be very different from each other. By the end of this semester you will form a definition for Poetry, for Fiction, and for Art—and you will be able to back up your definitions, in the happenstance that you are ever invited to a cocktail party and you’re asked “Soooo… Clarice, what is Poetry?” Ok. The chances of that happening are very slim, but over the course of the semester you will read short stories, you will read poetry, you will read critical theory, you will watch a movie, and you will discuss art and video games. Through all of these experiences, you will encounter things you like, things that disgust you, things you won’t want to keep reading, things that will blow your mind. The goal of this course is for you to have experiences that change the way you define creative writing, and through these definitions learn more about yourself as a writer.
Introduction to Creative Writing
What does it mean to write creatively in the year 2017? How do you get started, and where do you go? In search of answers, we will cross genre and form to wade into the unfamiliar until we find something that is familiar. While there will be a significant amount of reading required, we will place the most emphasis on doing. Writing will occur every week (and hopefully every day!) both in and out of class, and we will move from mode to mode and style to style to knock uncertainty out of the ring and build up the momentum of creativity. By the end of the semester, everyone will have a portfolio of fresh, challenging work.
Introduction to Poetry Writing
By 'introduction', we mean the instigation of a relationship. To forge a relationship with poetry is to draw closer to language and to connect more deeply with oneself; through this process, you will be changed and open your own capacity to change your life. In this course I will challenge you to read intensively, think deeply, and to write experimentally, expansively, and courageously. We will focus on contemporary poetry and poetics that emerge from the margins of social identity and at interdisciplinary boundaries. At every turn, we will consider questions such as: what is the place of poetry today? What are its powers? What can I do with this?
Introduction to Poetry Writing
This class will emphasize experimentation in poetry. This class will ask you to think about your favorite artist, emulate your favorite poems by them, and then deconstruct and reconstruct them: to build your own words from their ruins. This class will ask you to speak from the voice of the dead, the nonhuman, the marginalized, the ghost world. This class will ask you to play, perform, and enact. This class will not have a single definition of what makes a good poem. This class will instead ask you to define your own aesthetic; to define your own definition of “good.” I don’t love giving classes specific themes because I want each and every student to discover and develop their own theme and passion. I will give you the tools to become the poet that you want to become. We will study very different styles, forms, and possibilities. You will grow to understand something about yourself as a person and as an artist. Take this class if you want to experiment. If you want to dream. If you want to really shake things up. Poets we will read will likely include Patricia Smith, Claudia Rankine and Solmaz Sharif. There will be a lot of excerpts and a lot of surprises. Those who don’t like taking risks should enroll with caution.
What do we talk about when we talk about fiction? The short story, the novel, truth, lie, anything imaginary? This class will be an exploration of that: what fiction is and how we use it. In this class, you will write and read and develop a greater understanding of your voice and interests as a writer, through experiencing a range of fictitious forms and learning to navigate the functions of different creative works. Come prepared to figure out what makes you tick, as reader and writer, through new media, new voices, and, of course, new fictions.
Fiction Writing – Writing Women
- this course, we will explore the fundamental elements of craft in fiction, including but not limited to narrative, point of view, dialogue, and voice. This course is a workshop geared toward generative processes and revision. Throughout the semester we will read contemporary fiction and essays written by women to ground our own creative work, with an eye toward the different ways in which women are represented both in literature and the publishing industry. We will ask how politics, both feminist and otherwise, can or should inform our writing.
Point-of-View in the Novel
Section 01: MW 12:30-1:45
Section 02: MW 3:30-4:45
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.
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.
Introduction to Literature and Science
Literature and science are traditionally conceived of as two separate areas of inquiry: surely, there is nothing literary about science which deals in truth and nothing scientific about literature which deals in fiction, right? This course is designed to question these assumptions and explore the representational strategies that literature and science share in common, even as they are put to very different ends. We will investigate the themes of scientific exploration, savagism, primitivism, anthropomorphism, and evolution in the 19th and 20th centuries and how they operate in texts usually taught within the purview of the “literary.” Conversely, we will think about the function of narrative and the autobiographical self in texts usually studied in the fields of biology, ethology, and anthropology. We will read a wide range of literary and non-literary texts, including Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods, Herman Melville’s Typee and The Encantadas, Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Green Hills of Africa, Zora Neal Hurston’s Tell My Horse, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Niko Timbergen and Hugh Falkus’ Signs for Survival, and Jane Goodall’s In the Shadow of Man. By the end of the semester, students will come to appreciate the importance of representation in any knowledge-making enterprise, and they will be better equipped to face the pressing social, ecological, environmental, and political concerns that might face them outside the classroom.
To successfully complete the course, students will be required to submit a book review (15%), a research essay (20%), and a minimum of 6 informal responses as part of their participation grade (20%). Students will also be evaluated in the form of a midterm (20%) and a final exam (25%).
ENGL 20182 / ESS 33629 - Crosslist
Diversity in Young Adult Literature
In this course, we will challenge the single story/ies U.S. schools and curricula have told about books, characters, and cultural groups by focusing on literature by and about people from various populations that have been traditionally underrepresented in the United States. We will discuss young adult literature from parallel cultures (including possible works by and about African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino/as, Native Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, and other ethnic groups), as well as literature by and about populations traditionally defined by class, religion, ability, gender and sexuality. Course participants will investigate theoretical perspectives, issues, controversies, and educational implications for these texts, including race and racism, whiteness and privilege (in society and in the educational system), and critical literacy. As an extension of the course, we will also examine the young adult literature market and how contemporary media may reinforce or resist the stereotypes, labels, and single stories associated with these cultures. Possible texts include All American Boys, American Born Chinese (graphic novel), a Jacqueline Woodson novel, Openly Straight, a canonical text like To Kill a Mockingbird, Every Day, and several choice options, including a Classic/Newberry text, one text representing a non-abled bodied protagonist, and one contemporary text.
Introduction to Shakespeare
This course investigates five key Shakespeare plays - Richard III, Othello, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, The Tempest - on the stage and the page. We will give detailed attention to core philosophical, theatrical, literary, and political questions in each play, and consider the contemporary global encounter with Shakespeare in multiple literary/linguistic traditions and media forms (film, graphic novel, digital media). No previous experience with Shakespeare is required.
Civilization and its Discontents in British Literature
This course takes "civilization and its discontents" as a guiding theme for reading British literature from the 18th-20th centuries. Many key texts from this time period explore, in various ways, one of Sigmund Freud's central arguments in Civilization and its Discontents (1930): that as human beings attain higher and higher degrees of civilization, which Freud defines as mastery over nature, space, and time, they do not gain happiness, as one might expect, but actually become more miserable. This claim and others in Freud's text will serve as touchstones in this course, but we will also perform our own investigation of how the literature of this time defines the terms "civilization" and "discontents," as well as important related terms like "happiness." Our reading list will feature a variety of genres (poetry, novels, essays, short stories) and will include many of the following authors: Samuel Johnson, William Wordsworth, William Blake, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Matthew Arnold, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf.
ENGL 20409 / IRLL 20120 - Crosslist
The Irish Short Story
The Short story continues to be among the most vibrant and exciting literary forms in the Irish language. This course explores 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 traumatic cultural politics of Ireland in the nineteenth century. In addition to comparing it to the American and French traditions, we consider the relationship between folklore and literature, the relationship between orality and print culture, tradition and modernity. 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, 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.
Global Voices in British and Irish Modernism
- immigration and exile to warfare, global issues have a significant impact on our daily lives. In this course, we focus on British and Irish authors who faced international challenges during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries: imperialist conflicts and abuses, total war, and the impending rise of Fascism. Set in locales ranging from London and Paris to the Belgian Congo and the Caribbean islands, these texts compel us to focus on a key query: How did Modernists adapt to the possibilities and dangers of a rapidly changing world, and how might these texts be relevant to our current social, economic, and cultural landscapes? This question will serve as an essential motif for the course, directing many of our preliminary investigations into how these works push the boundaries of national identity. We will also draw on multimedia such as film, audio clips, and the visual arts to enrich our study of these texts.
- addition to driving discussion, a global theme informs our approach to effective writing. For assignments including a midterm paper and final research paper, students are strongly encouraged to discover and pursue their own interests. Class sessions will establish critical resources and successful techniques for writing and research. As the semester progresses, we will develop a working definition of international Modernism and establish foundational tenets for literary analysis. Course readings include Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, among others.
ENGL 20436 / IRLL 20115 – Crosslist
Great Irish Writers I (Survey 1)
Ireland can lay claim to one of the most extensive, unique, and oldest literatures in Europe. By engaging with a wide range of literary texts (saints' lives, poetry, myth and legend, prose epic, laments, placelore and travel literature) from the medieval and early modern periods (ca. 800-1800), participants will consider how changing social, cultural, literary and intellectual contexts, in terms of both authors and audiences, have dramatically transformed Ireland's literature over the centuries. By looking at authors ranging from heroic bards and literary monks to lamenting wives and satirizing schoolmasters, we will examine the dynamics of production and the voices that speak to us from Ireland's past. Additionally, by considering the different topics that scholars have chosen to explore, and by articulating our own, contemporary responses to often arresting works from the Irish literary tradition, we will begin to understand the complexities and rich possibilities for appreciating Irish literature in our own time and place. Participants will read both primary literary texts, which may include but are not limited to the Lives of St. Patrick and St. Brigit, The Táin, excerpts from The Acallam, stories from Early Irish Myths and Sagas, a selection of Old Irish verse, poems from An Duanaire: Poems of the Dispossessed, Merriman's Midnight Court, as well as a number of critical essays.
Novels of London
In the Sherlock Holmes story “The Scandal of Bohemia,” Irene Adler dresses in men’s clothes to walk alone in London and outsmarts the detective. Over a hundred years later, an adaptation of the story on BBC’s Sherlock makes Irene Adler a London dominatrix dependent on her smart phone. Why? This course explains how one Irene Adler became the other by examining gender, technology, and London as they evolved in British novels from 1900 to the present day.
Comparison of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories and BBC’s Sherlock set the stage. We’ll then read novels by early 20th-century literary icons H. G. Wells and Virginia Woolf, who, in very different ways, imagine the city, men and women’s places within it, and the consequences of new technologies, from telegrams and automobiles to airplanes. The second half of the semester will be devoted to literature of our time. These contemporary novels will most likely include Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and Tom McCarthy’s Remainder. When possible, we’ll pay additional attention to how our novels, both popular and experimental, find another life in film.
ENGL 20549 / IRST 20200 – Crosslist
Twentieth-Century Irish Poetry
The course follows the development of twentieth-century Irish poetry beginning with the unusual career of W.B. Yeats and continuing through the poets of the ‘Ulster Renaissance.’ This approach will necessitate treating the century as a long one. During the semester we will discuss topics such as Regionalism, Nationalism, Myth-making, Skepticism, Pastoralism, and Cosmopolitanism. Many of these notions are at odds with one another, and this tension will highlight the poetry’s contemporary relevance. Just as importantly, we will pay close attention to the craft of Irish poets, and to how different aesthetic strains evolved from one end of the century to the other. Writers include W.B. Yeats, Austin Clarke, Louis MacNeice, John Hewitt, Patrick Kavanagh, Thomas Kinsella, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Eavan Boland, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, and Paul Muldoon.
Detectives and Reporters: Investigating Media
Even in the newly labeled post-truth era, it is indisputable that both media technologies and the mass media play an integral role in shaping American democracy. But what are media and what do they actually do? How do different media forms correlate with how we perceive our world and make sense of ongoing political and social issues? Moreover, why are so many contemporary artists anxious about the status of truth and obsessed with forms of documentation and tropes of direct, unrehearsed recording? In this course we will study a selection of texts that are about finding and presenting knowledge. We will unpack the paradox of a “true story” and examine a number of socially-minded investigative thrillers, detective stories, and docudramas. We will together examine what these kinds of artworks do and unpack how they model ways of thinking about our participation in the information worlds around us. This will include examining how we think about the relationship of fiction and nonfiction sources. By considering how a variety of novels, films, television programs, graphic novels, and news reports frame (or reframe) a number of important social issues and historical events, we will think critically about the interrelationship of media, the media, and the cultural work of narrative art.
Possible course texts include:
Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, James Agee and Walker Evans’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; the films Zero Dark Thirty, All the President’s Men, Stories We Tell, the graphic novels The Icognegro, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, and The Dark Knight Returns; the television shows The Wire and Orange is the New Black
Searching for America: Literature about New York
“The collision and the intermingling of these millions of foreign-born people representing so many races, creeds, and nationalities make New York a permanent exhibit of the phenomenon of one world.” E.B. White, “Here is New York”. For E. B. White, the diversity of the city of New York represents a single world. In this class we will consider the diversity of New York as a test case for the people who make up the United States. By reading from novels, poems, plays, and autobiographies about New York, we will encounter many characters who differ from one another in many ways – creed, race, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background – and ask what makes each of them an American. The reading list covers the time period between the 17th and the 21st centuries and will be organized thematically rather than chronologically. Among the texts will be Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (both the play and the HBO miniseries), Washington Irving’s A History of New York, Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth, and Allan Ginsburg’s Howl. Through these and other works, we will identify the particular concerns and conditions that shape the lives of New Yorkers, analyze how they are represented and how they interact with one another, and discuss how each part of this complex mosaic contributes to the whole of the city and of America. Class work will include in-class discussion, individual presentations, and written assignments.
Intro to Literary Studies
Section 01 – Laura Betz (MW 11:00-12:15)
Section 02 – Cyraina Johnson-Roullier (MW 12:30-1:45)
Section 03 – Susan Harris (TR 12:30-1:45)
Section 04 – Yasmin Solomonescu (TR 3:30-4:45)
Section 05 – Romana Huk (MW 3:30-4:45)
This course provides beginning English majors with experience in the analysis, interpretation, and appreciation of literary works of different kinds and eras. Texts assigned will vary from one section to another, but all sections will include attention to poetry and at least one other genre (fiction, drama, non-fiction prose). Frequent writing about works studied will introduce students to the practice of critical argument and consideration of how to read criticism as well as literature critically.
British Literary Traditions I
This course will introduce students to the beginnings of English literature. We will start with arguably the first piece of literature written in English, Caedmon's hymn, and revel in the beauties of Old English, Middle English, and early modern literature. We will read texts from different genres, including riddles, lyric, epic poetry, drama, allegory, and romance. Texts we might read include Beowulf, The Owl and the Nightingale, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Julian of Norwich's Revelation, Spenser's Faerie Queene, Shakespeare's The Tempest and King Lear, Lady Mary Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, and Milton's Paradise Lost, among others. No prior knowledge of early English or early English literature is expected. Students will write several short papers and at least one long (7-10 page) paper. There will be a mid-term and a final exam.
American Literary Traditions I
“Nations are narratives”—so our historians tell us. That means the voices of a nation’s artists and writers help to tell us who we are, even to create our very identity as a nation. So what are the narratives of our nation, the United States? This course traces the emergence of what we now know as “America” from the small and struggling British colonies of Virginia and New England, founded early in the 1600s on lands cultivated for millennia by Native Americans. We will consider the early “contact zones” in which settler societies from Europe met and mingled with indigenous Native American cultures, languages, and literatures; the institution of slavery as the foundation of American economies, and the growing contributions of free and enslaved African-Americans to the development of a distinctive American voice and literary tradition; and the literature of the American Revolution that established the United States as an independent nation. Finally, we will conclude with several works from the American Renaissance that characterize an emerging modern American literary tradition.
In this class, we are going to write poetry, think about poetry and talk about poetry from a number of different perspectives. We're going to read modern, contemporary and not-so-contemporary poetry, as well as works that move across genres (prose poetry, poetic films), media (print, photography, the Internet, the desert of the real), and languages and cultures. We will consider what poetry means in this spectacular age, but we will also explore more pragmatic concerns: where does one find out about poets? Where does one publish poems? Where does one discuss new poetry? In addition to weekly writing exercises, we will engage in three longer projects allowing the students to develop and work on their own particular lines of aesthetic inquiry.
Fiction Writing: Walking, Writing, Thinking
Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
In her book Wonderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Sulnit writes, "The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts." In this course we will examine notions of journey, pilgrimage, space and subjectivity through the lens of walking. We will look at representations of walking in a variety of genres: essay, graphic novel, fiction, film, prose and poetry and use the practice of walking as a platform to write provocative texts that contemplate the body, architecture, language, philosophy, religion, nature, music and film. Students will engage with course themes and motifs by writing fictions, poems and essays of their own.
Can there be such a thing as children's literature? Or is the writing so named most often produced by adults to answer adult needs? If there is such a category, why did it emerge most notably in the heyday of empire, the nineteenth and early twentieth century? Some critics find children's literature subversive of the orthodoxies of the age in which it was produced, while others see it as a deeply conservative practice, forever lamenting the loss of tradition and of a "green world". Does the experience of childhood vary from age to age or from one nation to another. This course will explore these and other questions by offering close readings of texts by such authors as Jonathan Swift, William Blake, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Louisa M Alcott, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, L Frank Baum, Oscar Wilde, P L Travers, C S Lewis, J D Salinger, Roddy Doyle, Philippa Pearce, Edna O'Brien, Kate Thompson and J K Rowling.
African Women Write the (Post) Colonial
In this upper-level course, we will explore the diverse expressions of the (post)colonial experience from the myriad of voices that constitute African women’s writing. Traversing various landscapes through African women’s writing will allow to us entry into their significant yet often overlooked perspectives on history, power, identity, and agency. We will focus primarily on the novel and short fiction as the genres of focus, along with one book of poems and one film. Undoubtedly, questions regarding the (post)colonial, gender/the body, race, sexuality, nation, class, modernity, space, exile, violence, resistance, and language will arise. Informed by various theories, we will attempt to define and grapple with these terms. Specifically, we will deconstruct the postcolonial as a gendered experience, study various postulations on African feminisms, learn to recognize significant themes that appear inter-textually, offer our own analysis of the profound work we have collectively examined, and enjoy the company/challenge of our own diverse standpoints.
Introduction to Old Norse
"A person should be wise enough - but never too wise; life is most pleasant for those who know just enough". Old Norse proverb, from Hávamál. In this course, students will come to grips with Old Norse - a term that encompasses the medieval vernacular languages of Scandinavia and the vernacular literatures that flourished in Norway and Iceland between the Viking Age and the Reformation. The Old Norse literary corpus is remarkable for its breadth and variety, its literary quality and its cultural value: Norse manuscripts preserve our fullest record of pre-Christian mythology from northern Europe; traditional Germanic narrative and poetic traditions are uniquely well-represented in Old Norse versions, some of which date back to well before the Conversion; in the Icelandic sagas, one of Europe's most distinctive medieval genres, we see an unprecedented forerunner of "realistic" prose fiction. Knowledge of Old Norse also gives access to many primary sources relating to the perennially controversial and fascinating Vikings, who took their language as far afield as Russia, Rome, Reykjavik and Rouen. (And Old Norse was probably the first European language spoken in North America.) Over the course of a semester, we will learn the fundamentals of Old Norse grammar, syntax and vocabulary. Although it has some quirks, Old Norse is not a particularly difficult language to pick up, and students will soon be able to read a saga in the original. We will introduce students to the history and literature of medieval Scandinavia, using translations at first but gradually bringing in original language material as our mastery of Old Norse increases. This course will be assessed by means of regular grammar quizzes and translation exercises, and a final exam.
ENGL 40206 / FTT 40600 - Crosslist
Shakespeare on the Big Screen
This course explores the phenomenon of Shakespeare and film, concentrating on the meanings provoked by the "and" in the course-title. We shall be looking at examples of films of Shakespeare plays both early and recent, both in English and in other languages, and both ones that stick close to conventional concepts of how to film Shakespeare and adaptations at varying degrees of distance from his language, time, plot, reaching a limit in versions that erase Shakespeare from the film. The transposition of different forms of Shakespearean texts (printed, theatrical, filmic) and the confrontation with the specificities of film production have produced and continue to produce a cultural phenomenon whose cultural meanings will be the subject of our investigations. There will be screenings of the films to be studied in the Lab.
Co-requisite: ENGL 41206
One of the most prolific authors in the modern period - the author of the twentieth century, according to one admirer - Tolkien is also one of the most influential, controversial, and challenging. He inspired a craze for fantasy literature that persists today and that itself has influenced the movies, games, and images of pop culture. As often as readers praise his novels, however, critics (particularly scholars) vilify them for their plots, style, and characters. Further complicating this reception is the fact that as a writer Tolkien, who by trade was a medievalist and philologist at the University of Oxford, produced far more than his well-known books on Middle Earth. In an effort to get a broad understanding of Tolkien as a writer and of the continuities that run through everything he wrote, we'll read these blockbusters, but also some of his original poetry, several of his academic articles, and his translations of medieval poems. We'll consider what it meant to be a writer when Tolkien was, including the way he balanced teaching and writing, the importance of his writers' group (the Inklings), and the process by which his sometimes illegible handwritten drafts found their way (changing in the process) to the finished products that shook the literary world.
The Reformation and Literature
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Europe occurs in fall 2017 -- come learn what all the fuss was about! The Reformation brought tremendous social, cultural, literary, and of course religious upheaval and change. This course offers an in-depth survey of the literary culture of the English Reformation era. Our guiding questions will be both literary and methodological: in what ways may the Reformation be considered a literary phenomenon, and, conversely, what do literary scholars have to offer to the study of the Reformation? What features of Reformation literary culture represent a break from late medieval cultural practices, and what features are best described using models of developmental continuity? How might the period’s religious dissidents – including English Catholics – complicate our readings of the period’s religious poetics? How, in short, do religion and literature inform, shape, and distort each other in this period of enormous transformation? Our readings will be taken mostly from the era’s poetry and prose, with a brief excursion into drama. Readings will cross religious boundaries, as the “Reformation” will be allowed its many Protestant and Catholic dimensions. Authors we'll read will include Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Mary Sidney Herbert, John Donne, George Herbert, Robert Southwell, Edmund Spenser, John Milton, and William Shakespeare.
This course focuses on mystics and dream visions from medieval England, and will likely address Chaucer's "House of Fame", "Book of Duchess", and "Parliament Fouls", along with the first seven books of Landland's "Piers Plowman", "(Anonymous) Pearl", Marie de France's "Saint Patrick's Purgatory", and perhaps "(Anonymous) Saint Erkenwald". On the side of mystics, the course will certainly take up Julian of Norwich's "Revelations" and Margery Kempe's "book of Margery Kempe".
Jane Austen and Her World
Jane Austen's life spans the American War of Independence, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Her novels are often treated as idyllic romantic stories set in a gentle past, elegant tales of refined courtship. Yet she lived in turbulent times, and her earliest works exhibit a taste for absurdity and violence linking her to Rabelais and Dickens. Her novels present us with the pressures of change and adaptation. "Jane Austen's world" encompasses the world Jane Austen knew, a geographical, political, historical and social reality that was England. We shall consider the implications of the counties her heroines live in. How does Elizabeth's Hertfordshire differ from Darcy's Derbyshire? How might England's first census of 1801 illuminate the world she knew? First names and surnames often define or reflect a political outlook a class or an ethnic background, and may relate characters to historical figures including criminals and "celebrities". Why is Fitzwilliam Darcy's name contradictory? Marriage is of great importance; we shall examine not only the Anglican Service of Holy Matrimony but also laws and customs affecting dowries, inheritance, and women's access to income. We will read all the fiction that Jane Austen wrote, not only the six novels, and the novella Lady Susan but also the youthful stories and the unfinished novels, including her last work, "Sanditon." A selection of Austen's letters will also be on our reading list. Is there only one "Jane Austen"? Would Fanny Price really approve of Elizabeth Bennet? What kinds of conflict does Austen explore? Looking at works that Jane Austen read, including favorite novels, will help us to get closer to her and her era. Interpretations of Austen in our own time abound in TV dramatizations and films. These demand our investigation, as we inquire into the significance of the recent Austen "boom" and what it may tell us of our own tastes and times.
TEXTS: Austen: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, "Catharine" and Other Writings; Letters, ed. Deirdre le Faye. James Edward Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen; Frances Burney: Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World (novel); .Maria Edgeworth (selected children's stories); Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal (play); Charlotte Smith, Emmeline, or the Orphan of the Castle; Walpole, The Castle of Otranto; Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (non-fiction treatise, selections).
Reading Revolutions in the Eighteenth Century
The distinctive feature of the long eighteenth century lay partly in the rediscovery of classical values, but above all in the impetus created by a series of revolutions--scientific, religious, political, social, and economic--in the ways people looked at the world and themselves. We will explore representations of these revolutions in writers from Dyden to Johnson.
The Nature of Poetry
The title of this course points in two directions: first, toward some ways in which poets of the last three hundred years have experienced nature and, second, toward some major attempts to understand the distinctive nature of poetry itself. We will read and discuss poets of the 18th century (Pope, Thomson, Anne Finch), 19th century (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Whitman, Hopkins), 20th century (Denise Levertov, Pattiann Rogers, A.R. Ammons), and 21st century (Wendell Berry, Juliana Spahr). In addition to some of the usual literary questions one might expect a course of this sort to raise, we will also explore how our ecological awareness and experience of poetry affect each other.
Discussion is an essential component of the course; other requirements will include, depending on the disposition of the class, some combination of reports, short papers, a longer essay, and a test.
Rebels, Rakes, and Reactionaries: British Fiction 1790-1830
Long associated chiefly with the genre of poetry, the Romantic period in Britain (ca. 1790-1830) saw a remarkable surge in the publication and popularity of novels. This course examines the genre’s development at a time of momentous change, including experiences of war and revolution, debates about the rights of men and women, major scientific discoveries and innovations, and rapidly changing social structures and mores. Tracing the recurrences of three major character types—the rebel, the rake, and the reactionary—we will examine the Romantic-era novel’s exploration of individual psychologies, its relationship to cultural and political developments, and its role in forging a sense of intellectual, regional, or national community. We will also consider the novel’s place in the traditions of romance and realism, and its array of narrative resources for engaging and challenging the mind of the reader. Our readings will include works by Ann Radcliffe, William Godwin, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, and Walter Scott, encompassing the subgenres of the Gothic novel, the political novel, the novel of manners, and the historical novel. We will also engage with a range of critical and theoretical perspectives, with contemporary visual art and, where possible, with theater and/or film to help enrich our understanding of the genre and this formative period in its history.
British Romantic Drama
"Dramatic genius... is kindling over the whole land." (Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine review; 1823)This class approaches British Romanticism through the spectacular fecundity of its staged drama, which is not usually considered in conventional assessments of the period. 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 herics of "Carlo the Wonder Dog" and "Jocko the Brazilian Monkey." We will explore the ingenious ways, both in print and on stage, playwrights utilized these and other stage practices to 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.
ENGL 40544 / IRLL 30118 - Crosslist
Storied Landscapes from Ireland to Chicago: Walking, Talking & Writing Place from the Middle to the Modern Ages
Stories from and about Ireland are filled with details, descriptions and events that pull us into Ireland and help us imaginatively experience important Irish places as pilgrims, high-status warrior-queens and heroes, poets and artists, scholars and sailors, tourists and travel-writers. How can words be used to convincingly map out and entice us to enter into new and often fantastic verbal geographies? In this class, we will think about how narratives are constructed, and how stories gain power by being anchored in highly detailed and evocative depictions of specific places, both real and imagined.
We will examine verbal and visual stories, from medieval manuscripts like the Book of Kells, tales of Queen Medb, Cú Chulainn and St. Patrick as they travel around Ireland (Táin Bó Cúailnge, Acallam na Senórach, Tochmarc Emire); place-lore dindshenchas poetry from medieval and modern authors; urban landscapes through contemporary animated film (The Song of the Sea), architectural narratives (political murals from Northern Ireland) and science-fiction (Kevin Barry’s apocalyptic City of Bohune). We then cross the Atlantic to consider how Irish immigrants created new Irish-American spaces. Looking at the massive 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and its nostalgiac Irish Villages, and Old St. Pat’s Church decorated by Gus O’Shaughnessy of Notre Dame fame, we contemplate how Irish immigrants used narratives and images of Ireland to forge new storied landscapes in America.
Primary texts will be drawn from Irish, Latin and English sources and all readings will be available in English translation. Critical readings will be wide-ranging and will include material from anthropologists and scholars of space, literary and cultural theory. Assignments will include frequent brief writing assignments, two longer papers, oral presentations, participation in a debate or film panel, as well as two or three examinations (outlined below).
This class should be cross-listed with English, Irish Studies and the Medieval Institute, and should also fulfill the University Literature Requirement.
Grade Breakdown (400 Points Total):
• 3 Sets of 2-3 Discussion Questions and Exploratory Answers ((15 points each=45 points)
• Presentation on Background Topic: 5-6 minute presentation (timed!) of most important and interesting points on topic to illuminate readings for the day; PowerPoint or Handout presenting main points; setting and pre-circulating 2 engaging questions linking your presentation topic to class readings; leading class through discussion of your questions (ca. 7-8 minutes for Q&A discussion minimum), and conclusion (40 points)
• Presentation as part of Film Panel or Debate Team (20 points)
• Group work and write-up on travel/pilgrimage project (40 points)
• 1 2-page double-spaced paper (20 points)
• 1 5-page double-spaced Paper ( plus 1-page bibliography) (60 points)
• 1 10-page doubled-spaced Paper (based on expansion and revision of Paper 1, with inclusion of new material) OR 5-page Creative Paper/Project (plus 1-page analysis). (60 points)
• Two Exams (40 points each=80 points total)
• Peer Review with 4-page draft, and Tutorial with Prof Mulligan (15 points)
• Class Participation (20 points)
Gender and Sexuality in American Drama
Ever since Nora Helmer walked out on her husband and slammed the door in Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play A Doll's House, modern drama has been closely connected with the struggles to redefine gender and sexuality that have shaped the twentieth and twenty-first century. In this course, we will look at how this story plays out on the American stage, as we examine the works of American playwrights who have participated in the many long-running debates about gender and sexuality in modern and contemporary America. We will read both canonical modern playwrights - Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Lorraine Hansberry, etc. - and a variety of contemporary playwrights, including but not necessarily limited to Tony Kushner, Larry Kramer, David Mamet, Sara Ruhl, Melissa George, and Susan Lori-Parks. Students will write at least two papers, keep a journal, and give at least one in-class presentation.
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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
Early African-American Prose
This course will address the various roles assigned African American narratives from just before the Revolutionary War through the end of the nineteenth century. Attending to issues of citizenship, community, freedom, and black identity, we will examine the various ways in which African American writers responded to their particular political moment through multiple forms of prose. Through autobiography, essays, and fiction, what claims did black writing make for itself and the community it sought to represent? How ultimately does literary art function for the disfranchised? Why does black writing matter?
Authors for this course will include, John Marrant, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, William Wells Brown, Elizabeth Keckley, Solomon Northup, and Harriet Wilson.
American Migrant Communities
In this class, we will explore various American migrant communities. Along with Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance, we will begin with W.E.B. DuBois’s classic sociological and literary text, The Souls of Black Folk, initiating the semester with a provocative and urgent question: Should we consider the European colonists to be the paradigms of American identity, or rather, the people whose labor and/or land was used to build the United States? By pursuing this question, I hope we will vigorously and rigorously explore the many facets and difficulties of American identity.
We will end the semester with Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues. Thus, rather than positioning American Indians at the beginning of American history—and thus repeating the myth of their disappearance—we will end with an exploration of what it means to survive, renew, and flourish in contemporary America, a question made particularly poignant and potent in Alexie’s novel.
The various migrant communities we will explore are: African Americans, Chinese Americans, Caribbean Americans, Filipino Americans, Anglo Americans, Southern Americans, “Okies,” Armenian Americans, Mexican Americans, Dominican Americans, and American Indians. While this is by no means exhaustive, it gives us an idea of the diversity of peoples who find themselves in “American”—and what it means to navigate this identity as a migrant. What are the benefits and pitfalls of migration? What should one’s relationship be to assimilation? What does migration do to the idea of homeland? As you can see, we will also tackle tough political issues while keeping in mind the role of literature in creating identities: national, local, ethnic, and racial (and that’s just the beginning).
Although we will be working chronologically through the 20th Century, our progress will be atypical. Our circuitous route through the literature in this class will be a literary journey that echoes the various movements of people in the American 20th Century.
Potential course texts include: Mrs. Spring Fragrance, Sui sin Far (Edith Maude Eaton); Bread Givers, Anzia Yezierska; Quicksand, Nella Larsen; Whose Names Are Unknown, Sanora Babb; My Name is Aram, William Saroyan; Migration, Jacob Lawrence; American Is in the Heart, Carlos Bulosan; Maude Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks; …y no se lo tragó la tierra, Tomás Rivera; The Rain God, Arturo Islas; How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez; Reservation Blues, Sherman Alexie.
Advanced Fiction Writing
Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
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 a class for students with some background in poetry. We will write & read intensively & widely, exploring what it means to write, read & publish poetry in an era of small-press & Internet publishing, cross-genre & cross-media explorations (poems that invoke film or novels or essays for example). The class will ask for extensive independent work, as students will work on their poems & develop their portfolios. Part of the class time will be spent discussing readings, but much of it will consist of discussing student work. We will develop an artistic, creative & supportive community to help each student grow as readers & writers. The course is ideal for students who are thinking about applying to graduate programs, or for students who simply want to hone their skills in a supportive but dynamic environment.
Advanced Fiction Writing II
Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
This course is intended for students who have already taken an Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction.
Advanced Poetry Writing II
This course is intended for students who have already taken Advanced Poetry Writing and who are seriously interested in writing poetry. 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 Fiction Writing III
Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
This course is intended for students who have already taken an Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction. 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 41206 / FTT 41600 - Crosslist
Shakespeare on the Big Screen
Certain films will be viewed for further discussion in class.
Co-requisite: ENGL 40206
Seminar: Fin-de-Siecle Literature and Culture
The French term Fin de Siècle means simply "end of the century," but cultural historians conventionally understand the end of a particular century to be at issue: the 19th. Focusing primarily on Britain, this course exposes students to literature, artworks, periodical discourse, and other aspects of this period, looking especially to the 1880s and 1890s. We encounter a kaleidoscopic array of writers and artists and social activists who were pursuing new artistic and social innovations, hatching radical political philosophies and utopian social schemes, rethinking women's roles in the public sphere, and fashioning new understandings of human psychology, sexuality and race. Oscar Wilde is the most notable literary figure of this period, and we will consider his works at some length. We will also read some other familiar writers, such as Robert Louis Stevenson and his Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But a centerpiece for the course will be the anthology Literature and Culture at the Fin de Siècle, edited by Talia Schaffer and perfect for this course, as it gathers, organizes, and introduces numerous smaller works and enables students very quickly to understand potential research areas of greatest appeal. As with all Research Seminars, the goal is to work incrementally through various small assignments to support the development of an extended, research-based argument by the end of the term.
Seminar: The New Thoreau
This year marks Henry David Thoreau’s bicentennial, and his name is everywhere these days. Not only is he central to the American literary tradition, he’s also a national icon claimed by a range of often-conflicting groups, from the Tea Party to 350.org to Black Lives Matter. What’s more, the latest scholarship—including my own biography, forthcoming in July—reveals a whole new Thoreau: far from being a hermit in the woods, he was a socially-engaged intellectual and reformer who returned from Walden Pond determined to build a more sustainable community and envision a new moral ecology—who believed that “living deliberately” would save the world. This seminar explores this new Thoreau, from Walden to his lesser-known writings, to open a wide range of topics: the Anthropocene, environmental apocalypse, and American environmentalism; the philosophy of social justice and political resistance; the pluralization of modern American religion; Thoreau’s relationship with Native Americans; the rise of a new American poetics. Finally, pursuit of a single author in depth opens new insight into the craft of writing: how did this awkward student writer transform himself into one of our greatest authors? Our research seminar will emphasize the construction of knowledge through “Conversations”—a form perfected by Thoreau’s own friends as a means of democratic education—and will center on your own independent research, ranging from close literary examination to widely interdisciplinary projects; all students will complete a substantial and original research paper of their own design.
The Honors Colloquium will introduce students completing the honors thesis to research methods in literary studies. Students will complete a series of assignments designed to enable them to develop her thesis topic. They will conduct research in consultation with their thesis advisor and begin work on the thesis project, which will be completed in the Spring semester.
Creative Writing Honors Colloquium
This is a class for students working on their creative honors thesis. It will serve three main purposes: to support the writing of the thesis as well as the required essay that accompanies the thesis; to introduce students to a range of skills which support literary careers (writing reviews, editing publications, events and promotion, etc); and, if they are so inclined, to help prepare students to apply for graduate programs.