Course Descriptions Fall 2012
INTRO TO GRADUATE STUDIES
Introduces students to research techniques, literary theory, and the scholarly profession of literature. Frequent guest lectures by the English faculty will enable students to become acquainted with research activities taking place in the department.
INTRO TO MEDIEVAL ENGLISH MANUSCRIPT STUDIES
This course will examine the culture of the book in late medieval England, including the important literary writers who made it a national literary language, the scribes who transmitted and often transformed their works, and the wide range of readers they reached. Among the writers to be studied will be Julian of Norwich, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, the Gawain Poet, Thomas Hoccleve, Margery Kempe and many anonymous writers of Early Middle English and Anglo-Irish verse; among the topics to be discussed: trilingual collections, book illustration, literacy, marginalia, social conditions of authorship, the rise of heresy, women and book production, nun's libraries, patronage, household books, religious and political trends, and attempts at official censorship. Students will also be introduced to editorial theory and practice, and learn how to transcribe and edit for publication.
ECOLOGIES OF POETRY
An exploration of (1) ecological consciousness in representative poems from the 18th century to the present, (2) ecocriticism and its approaches to poetry, (3) recent ecological theory, especially as inflected by the discourse of climate change, and (4) the variable ecological niche of poetry in print culture across different eras.
Probable poets: Alexander Pope, James Thomson, Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Robinson Jeffers, Gary Snyder, Denise Levertov, A.R. Ammons, Pattiann Rogers, Wendell Berry. Ecocritical and theoretical readings will include some and parts of these: Clark, Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment (2011); Felstiner, Can Poetry Save the Earth? (2009), Gardiner, A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (2011); Garrard, Ecocriticism, rev. edn (2011); Goodbody and Rigby, eds., Ecocritical Theory: New European Approaches (2011); Latour, Politics of Nature (1999, trans. 2004); Morton, Ecology without Nature (2007); Skrimshire, ed. Future Ethics: Climate Change and Apocalyptic Imagination (2010).
A broad, graduate-level survey of issues and methods in digital humanities. We'll begin with relevant theoretical treatments of new media and digital objects, including work by McLuhan, Heidegger, Galloway, and Kirschenbaum. We'll then spend the larger portion of the semester working on questions of quantitative analysis in literary and cultural studies, reading theoretical texts by Moretti and Ramsay alongside recent research results from the journals. This second portion of the course will also introduce students to practical tools and techniques for computational analysis. Final projects related to students' own research interests strongly encouraged. No technical expertise is assumed, but students will develop limited relevant skills with assistance as necessary.
THE ATLANTIC WORLD: 1650-1800
This cross-disciplinary graduate seminar surveys some of the major primary texts, ideas, and events in the transatlantic culture of England and British America. These years witness a set of sweeping transformations sometimes bundled together under the sign of "modernity" in this course, we consider the ways in which emergent concepts of racial identity, political belonging, constitutional law and political economy are mediated in the domains of literary, theatrical, and political culture. Writers will include Hobbes, Locke, Sidney, Dryden, Marvell, Selden, Behn, Tompson, Addison, Defoe, Hume, Equiano, Jefferson, Wheatley, Paine, Burke; secondary readings will be drawn from the work of scholars and theorists such as J.G.A. Pocock, Steve Pincus, Reinhard Koselleck, Hans Blumenburg, Jonathan Sheehan, David Armitage, Joseph Roach, Nicholas Hudson, Paul Gilroy, Kathleen Wilson, Michael McKeon, Laura Brown, and others. The seminar welcomes early modern specialists and nonspecialists alike.
DONNE AND HERBERT
This course focuses on the poetry and prose of two of the early modern period's most influential literary figures: John Donne and George Herbert. We will study their works in their literary, political, and religious contexts; we will consider as well their afterlives in published editions of the seventeenth century This course focuses on the poetry and prose of two of the early modern period's most influential literary figures: John Donne and George Herbert. We will study their works in their literary, political, and religious contexts; we will consider as well their afterlives in published editions of the seventeenth century.
GENDER, PRINT CULTURE, MODERNITY
Both the rapid transformation of existing communication technologies and the emergence of new media made possible the expression of new gender norms and roles in modernity. At the center of the course will be the complex and varied periodical culture of modernity: little magazines that advanced literary and artistic experiments; “slicks” that advertised a “modern” lifestyle; feminist papers; women’s magazines, and more. We’ll explore the “mediamorphosis” of modernity (during the period 1880 to 1940 or so) by taking up a few key sites of experiment and contest. These will include the role of feminist periodical press in advancing a counter public sphere; the role of the little magazines such the Little Review and the New Freewoman in entwining questions of literary experiment with the cultivation of new identity categories for modern (‘advanced’) women and men; the role of popular magazines in circulating a “pulp modernism” marked as masculine; the circulation of images of a “queer” modernity in the pages of British Vogue. We’ll also consider literary representations of women’s encounters with new information systems: novels of the “typewriter girls” and secretaries of modernity; “new woman” novels of encounter with the “new journalism” and more. Readings may include theoretical texts on the public sphere and on modernism’s relation to mass culture by Habermas, Huyssen; key works from the “new periodical studies” by Ann Ardis, Catherine Keyser, Sean Latham, David Earle, Mark Morrisson, Lucy Delap, Maria DiCenzo, Mary Chapman, and more; exploration of a number of modern periodicals, some housed on the Modernist Journals Project; novels such as The Typewriter Girl (Grant Allen) or The Story of a Modern Woman (Ella Hepworth Dixon). Requirements include leading a discussion, the production of a research essay, brief response papers. Cross List GSC 63655
WILDE AND SYNGE: ART AS SUBVERSION
On the surface Oscar Wilde and John Millington Synge seemed very different kinds of artist. Wilde won fame for his witty portrayals of the English aristocracy, whereas Synge was celebrated for his lyrical depiction of an impoverished Irish peasantry. Wilde pursued a career on the London state and in high society, whereas Synge embraced a life of austerity and wrote for the nascent Irish national theatre in Dublin. Wilde was often dismissed as a mere entertainer, who was so fixated on his audience that he risked the alienation of his audience. Yet these products of Protestant Dublin had much in common: a fascination with fairy tales and folklore: an anarchist ideal in politics; a belief in the artistic value of lying and in the truth of masks; and a distrust of merely representational art. For both men art should be an improvement on rather than a reflection of nature; and they saw their writing as a utopian project, addressed not just to present realities but to future possibilities. This course will offer an in-depth reading of the work of Wilde and Synge, assessing the differing opportunities and constraints faced by playwrights in London and Dublin in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It will consider the ways in which both dramatists, by challenging their audiences and subverting traditional forms of art, helped to create a modern Irish literary movement.
KNOWLEDGE/BELIEF IN AMERICA
Hawthorne said of Melville that he could neither believe nor be comfortable in his unbelief - a phrase that puts Melville at the center of the bitter struggle waged by American intellectuals in the nineteenth century as religious skepticism, commercial gain, and scientific knowledge seemed to tear belief apart from knowledge, even as politics tore apart the nation and consolidated it as an empire. This course will use several of Melville's novels, together with his poem Clarel, to launch a transatlantic inquiry into the conditions for scientific knowledge, religious belief, and democratic community: our texts will likely include Shelley's Frankenstein, Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, and Tennyson's "In Memoriam," and will certainly include Emerson's essays, Thoreau's Cape Cod, works by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Dred, Hawthorne's Marble Faun, and the poems of Emily Dickinson. We will conclude our inquiry with a look ahead toward Henry Adams and American Pragmatism.