Graduate Prose Workshop
Limited to students in the Creative Writing M.F.A. Program, the workshop's major emphasis is on analysis, criticism, and discussion of participants' fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid manuscripts. Assigned readings in contemporary prose further the discussion of literary movements, critical schools, and publishing realities, as well as the aesthetic and philosophical implications of genre, style, and subject.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
This course is for candidates in the MFA program in poetry. The course places its main emphasis on student writing and will be run as a week-to-week workshop of student work. The objective of the course is to provide students with meaningful feedback on their work, as well as to build students' facility in the critical, constructive discussion of peer and published work. All other course activities, including readings, will vary from section to section.
Gender, Sexualities, and/in (Post) Coloniality
While definitions of, and debates within, postcolonial studies continue to proliferate, theorizing on the centrality of gender, sexuality, and difference to the making of (post)colonial worlds has been more recently reinvigorated by queer and critical race feminist thinking and methodologies. Inspired and informed by these emergent and resurgent forms of intersectional and interdisciplinary knowledge production, this graduate seminar utilizes a critical engagement with postcolonial theory, literature, and film to take up the following questions: How do systems of (post)coloniality construct racial and gendered bodies? What kind of imperialist impulses and/or resistant modalities might be explored within the affective terrains of pleasure, intimacy, and desire? What are the colonizing structures of the bio political? How do cultural producers represent race, gender, and sexuality to historicize and challenge the violence of coloniality and imperialism? What conversations and tensions emerge at the nexus of postcolonial theory, queer studies, and postcolonial feminisms? How are postcolonial subjectivities made and unmade in literature and film? What decolonizing and queer futures are being imagined in contemporary Global South-centered, transnational, and diasporic visual and discursive cultures? We are likely to pair analysis by Audre Lorde, Sara Ahmed, Ania Loomba, Judith Butler, Patricia McFadden, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, Jasbir Puar, John Hawley, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Rosamond King, and Laura Stoler with fiction by Yvette Christiansë, Toni Morrison, Dinaw Mengestu, Assia Djebar, Yvonne Vera, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Bernardine Evaristo, Jamaica Kincaid, Helon Habila, Edwidge Danticat, Shani Mootoo, K.Sello Duiker, and Marlon James and films by the Maria Covan and Deepa Mehta.
In literature and the humanities, we use the term "theory" to demarcate a way of looking at things. For example, a gender theorist insists upon the importance of gender or sexual identities, a Marxist theorist emphasizes how economic conditions affect social and political realities, and a narrative theorist examines the importance of such matters as perspective and plotting in storytelling. In this course we undertake the opposite of promoting any one theoretical perspective. Instead, we survey numerous styles of literary theory and criticism, learning about key features and issues in topics such as: Marxist theory; psychoanalysis; French and Anglo-American feminisms; gender theory and masculinity; structuralism and poststructuralism; postmodernism; history of sexuality; race and ethnicity studies; the development of literary canons; and postcolonial theory. There is a great deal of sheer fun in learning about these various approaches, which confront us with surprising new vistas or--just as often--with surprising viewpoints on ideas that we previously thought to be not so complex or multivalent. Such knowledge is not just enjoyable but also empowering, and in at least two senses for graduate students. At the individual level, a theory survey raises our consciousness concerning our own commitments and interests as readers. At the professional level, a theory survey positions you to be a better teacher, colleague and interlocutor with others—for example, your own work might not impinge on psychoanalysis significantly, but if you have a sound understanding of its principal concepts, you’re in a position to teach more nimbly, to respond better to people at conferences, and much more. Our main text is The Norton Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism (2nd Ed.). It's a typically huge Norton tome but worth the wrist damage as a superb launching point into all areas of literary and cultural theory. I anticipate that graded coursework will involve a series of papers tracking our survey, so it is likely that this course, unlike most graduate courses, will not involve a long seminar paper at the end of the term. Depending on student interests, I might develop optional alternative assignment structures, so that students who desire and could benefit from fashioning an article-length term paper can pursue that end.
Like any living language, medieval English, whether Old or Middle, did not live alone. Cohabiting especially with Latin, Welsh, Norse, and Cumbrian in the Anglo-Saxon period, and French as well in the later medieval period, English also experienced transient visits by Flemish, Dutch, Italian, Hebrew, Irish, and German. As a result, the medieval English experience was fundamentally multilingual and multicultural. In this course, we will explore three general aspects of this experience: institutional multilingualism, such as English-French coexistence in the later Middle Ages; personal multilingualism, whether between individuals or within individual works; and translation theory and practice. Among the questions we will ask (and try to answer) are: how did medieval speakers understand their own multilingual experience? How did multilingualism function as a literary trope? What can literary multilingualism reveal about its counterpart in daily life? How can individual multilingual moments generate larger features of languages and their contact with one another? How did multilingualism affect the character of the English language and notions of English literature? How did medieval multilingualism produce any distinctive sociolinguistic features of the medieval (as opposed to any other) period?
ENGL 90202/ROFR 63150 - Crosslist
Christine de Pizan: A Woman of Intellectual Context
Christine de Pizan was the foremost woman writer of medieval France, and one of the most important writers of the French middle ages. She was in contact with the major literary, intellectual and political figures of her day, and presented a vigorous defense of women and their role in society. We will examine representative works by Christine, including lyric poetry, narrative fiction, and polemical, political and religious works. The writer and her work will be set in the context of fifteenth-century French literature, politics and society. In addition, we will use digital technology to explore the manuscript setting of Christine’s writings. Works to be read include: La Cité des dames, Le Chemin de longue étude, Les 100 Ballades d’amant et de dame, Le livre du duc des vrais amants, Le dittié de Jeanne d’Arc,Texts will be read in modern French or English translation (as available), and the discussion will be conducted either in French or in English, depending on the composition and preference of the class.
Making Shakespeare in the Digital Age: Product Design, and the Institutions of the Literary
Peter Holland and Elliott Visconsi
The seminar is animated by a structuring tension between the market and the academy, exploring the institutions, practices, and methods through which knowledge and distributed. The method is literary historical and sociological: we will treat the historical practice of editing Shakespeare texts, investigate emblematic episodes of Shakespeare adaption, and query the institutional circumstances and material processes of scholarly production. Our attention to editorial practice (at once shaped by, at arm’s length from, the marketplace) flows into questions of product design. How is Shakespeare designed for the market as a high-culture media product with global distribution potential? How is the dialectic of market and academy, as illuminated through the example of Shakespeare, recast or transformed by the global digital media ecosystem and its underlying systems of prestige and authentication? Any humanities graduate student interested in the institutions and structures through which literariness has been assembled and is being recreated in the present, or those intrigued aby the many forms of creative product design and emerging modalities of authorship now on offer, will find a home in the seminar.
THE LONG AURORA: PHILOSOPHY, “SCIENCE,” AND LITERATURE IN THE TRULY LONG ENLIGHTENMENT
We will pursue “the Long Enlightenment,” examining visions of the universe from c. 1480 to c. 1750. Sages, “chymists,” doctors or “magicians” whom we encounter would have called themselves “philosophers” or “natural philosophers.’ The Ottoman overthrow of the Byzantine Empire stimulated a fresh quest for universal knowledge. A group centered in Florence was in the vanguard of recovery of lost materials. Marsilio Ficino’s translations of Plato and of the works attached to Egypt and “Hermes Trismegistus” became foundational to European thought. The “modern” idea of “progress” was transmitted by “Hermeticists,” followers of Hermes Trismegistus. Islamic philosophy was already part of the culture. So was alchemy, already under development. Pico began learning Hebrew and reached for knowledge of the Jewish Kabbalah. Astronomy contradicted Aristotle and demonstrated that the world beyond the moon was indeed changeable. Paracelsus introduced a different idea of disease, of the body and the growth of the planet.
Bold speculation reigned during one of the most powerful periods of imagination the West has ever known; laying the foundations of our “science” in what may seem to us very weird materials. Available religious views are much more “New Age” than one is likely to expect. The issue of what constitutes “matter” is central the whole period. Light is both central metaphor and subject of enquiry. Argument spreads as to our relation to the world, its resources, and the status of animals and plants.
Rather than seeking a simple “progress,” we should attend to the depth of questioning by these visionary pioneers in the universe. Their burst of imagination in a world of change profoundly affects what we call “literature.” Readings of the 20th -21st centuries have often ignored the issues and vocabularies at play, even within well-known literary works. We will try to recover and recoup some elements less known to us of vitalism and the “seeds of life,” and various terms and ways of seeing derived from Cabala, alchemy, and “Behmenist” mysticism. From Ficino to Leibniz, the new philosophers are engaged in putting a world together which is not the world they first knew.
TEXTS: Many of the texts are short. Along with excerpts of longer pieces, many will be in the Classpack. Texts include the Hermetic Asclepius; Pico Della Mirandola’s Oration on the Dignity of Man ; Paracelsus’ Seven Defenses, the essay “Nymphs, Sylphs , Pygmies,” and excerpts from De Metallibus (“On Metals”); Kepler’s Harmonices Mundi (excerpts); Boehme, selections from Aurora, and The Clavis or Key ; Cavendish’s selected poems and excerpts from Observations on Natural Philosophy; Hooke’s Micrographia (excerpts); Descartes’ Discours de la Méthode ; Les passions de l’Âme ( Passions of the Soul), and sections of De l’Homme (On Man); Leibniz’s Monadology. Works by Newton include alchemical comments and notes as well as selections from Principia and the Opticks. Recent texts: Latour, On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods; Thacker, In the Dust of this Planet: Horror of Philosophy vol. I.
Poetry and fiction will include early sci-fi or fantasy novellas such as Bacon’s The New Atlantis, Cavendish’s The Blazing World, Cyrano de Bergerac’s L’autre Monde (as Voyages to the Moon and Sun), and the Rosicrucian Chemical Wedding. Other texts include Milton’s L’Allegro and Il Pensoroso; Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and the Dunciad; Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels; Thomson’s The Seasons; Richardson’s Clarissa (first volumes); Voltaire’s Candide .
The Blank-Verse Tradition from Milton to Stevens
The aim of this course is two-fold: to provide students with an understanding of an important development in the history of English poetry, and, at the same time, to increase their knowledge of and familiarity with the mediating formalisms governing English poetry since the Renaissance—including meter, rhythm, and such figures of condensation and elaboration as metaphor, metonymy, and allegory. The course is unusual in that it focuses not on a period, genre, or major author but rather on a poetic mode or form as the latter develops from the
seventeenth to the twentieth century.
Blank verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter—has played a crucial role in the history of English poetry. Being metrical, blank verse is measured (the root meaning of “meter”); but lacking the recursive tendency of rhyme—the fact that rhymed verse returns even as it moves forward—blank verse lends itself not only to the drama and the long poem but also to discursive, narrative, and meditative poetry. Blank verse is thus situated, formally, between rhymed poetry and prose, and, symbolically, between the “poetic” and “prosaic” registers. Moreover, because Milton makes it the vehicle of Paradise Lost (1674), the first original, non-dramatic poem in English to be written in blank verse, it becomes one of the anchors to what has been termed the “Miltonic-Romantic tradition,” which stretches beyond the Romantics themselves to poets in the Victorian and modern eras. Beginning with a consideration of sections and passages from Paradise Lost (not for the purpose of interpreting the poem as a whole but rather to establish a foundation for our understanding of the subsequent tradition), this course will focus intensively on a series of poems (many of them canonical) in the blank-verse tradition and on the ways in which these poems are connected to one another both stylistically and thematically. Wordsworth’s autobiographical epic The Prelude (1805; 1850) will be studied in its entirety along with passages from other long
poems in blank verse and shorter poems by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, and Stevens. The course will also involve a consideration of prose writings on poetry by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Stevens as well as examples of relevant twentieth-century criticism. In addition to participation in the class discussion, the requirements for the course will include a shorter paper (around 5 pages), several one-page responses to the short papers of other members of the class, and a long paper (around 20 pages).
ENGL 90527/ENGL 40522- Crosslist
A close study of James Joyce’s masterpiece
“U.S. Fiction in the Twenty-First Century”
An advanced seminar on the relationship between fiction and contemporary culture after 2000. We will read as widely as possible in the primary literature of the last two decades, beginning with David Foster Wallace's _Infinite Jest_ and including novels by Junot Diaz, Colson Whitehead, Uzodinma Iweala, Jenny Offill, Claire Messud, and others. We we also read theoretical works that attempt to deal with the periodization of the present, including Fredric Jameson's seminal _Postmodernism_, other theorists of the postmodern, Alain Badiou on the philosophy of the event, and very recent attempts to characterize U.S. culture after the potential end of postmodernity.
Family and the Modern Novel
This course will examine the relationship between the form of the novel and ideas of kinship and genealogy. The emphasis will be on primary texts rather than novel theory, and novels may include some of the following: Mann Buddenbrooks, Proust Swanns’ Way, Brookner Family and Friends, Zweig The Confusion of Feelings, Ferrante My Brilliant Friend.
Practicum Teaching Writing
The aim of English 92001 is to prepare you to teach Writing and Rhetoric (WR) in the University Writing Program at Notre Dame. The course does this in two ways: first, by introducing you to readings in rhetoric and composition that provide a basis for making informed choices in the classroom. Second, by providing you with opportunities to practice skills such as lesson planning, designing writing assignments, responding to student papers, managing writing groups, and planning a syllabus. To these ends, you will read selectively in rhetoric and composition theory, observe faculty currently teaching in the University Writing Program, and complete a series of short assignments. By the end of the course, you will be prepared to teach Writing and Rhetoric at the college level.
Practium: Preparation for the Profession
A workshop on professional publication, conference activity, and job search procedures.
Practicum: Literary Publishin
A review of the current state of literary publishing in the U.S. and abroad.