Spring 2013

Spring 2013

SPRING 2013 COURSES

ENGL 70212                                                            
TRANSLATING ANGLO-SAXON POETRY                                              
TR 09:30-10:45
Chris Abram                                                                                                             

The most famous Anglo-Saxon translator, King Alfred, recommended translating sometimes ‘word for word’ and sometimes ‘sense for sense’. But how would we apply his advice to poetry, where the relationship between the text’s words and the sense(s) it conveys is particularly vexed, fluid, open, or strained? Or where making ‘sense’ is not even the communicative goal of the text?

In this course, we will examine all aspects of the art and science of translating Old English verse. We’ll introduce ourselves to translation theory as it applies to poetry; we’ll delve into Old English verse aesthetics in an attempt to understand what makes these poems worth translating, what we can hold on to and what we have lost from the poetic idioms available to us; we’ll see how the Anglo-Saxons themselves translated poetry by looking at their renderings of Latin texts into the vernacular; we’ll look at the history of translating Old English in the modern era, and we’ll read and discuss many translations by professional Anglo-Saxonists and professional poets alike. Naturally, we will also translate lots of Old English poetry ourselves, but our goal will not be the production of sterile, philologically ‘correct’ glosses to the texts, but to see how we might recapture the force and beauty of the poetry in modern English, or to see what we might gain from transforming or deforming it in a spirit of creative and critical experimentation.

This course is open to all: students of modern poetry, practising poets and Anglo-Saxon specialists alike will have much to contribute to our discussions. Knowledge of the Old English language is not a prerequisite for this course—students will be able to pick up the essentials as we go along. Alongside full participation in classroom activities, this course will require students to submit two polished, annotated translations of their own and one research paper.

ENGL  90138                                                 
BRITISH INTERNATIONALISMS IN THE LONG 19THC 
T 12:30-03:00
David Thomas

This seminar explores British literary history, but with constant attention to the ways in which that national tradition is informed, energized and challenged by transnational and global factors, ranging from formal arrangements of colonialism and empire to more decentralized factors such as commerce, world media, militarism, and technology.  Students taking this course will have leeway to research relevant topics in keeping with their own interests.  Geographic contexts of much interest include Europe, India, Africa, the Arab world, the Caribbean, Australia, Canada and many more.  As regards our theoretical goals, we should all come away with a strong sense of the interrelations between Marxism, liberalism, post-colonialism, and other socio-historical visions of change, progress and the public sphere.

Anticipated Primary Works:

Olaudah Equiano, Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789)
Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan], The Missionary: An Indian Tale (1811)
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (1814)
Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857)
Assorted short travel writings by Anthony Trollope
George Eliot, Daniel Deronda (1876)
Rudyard Kipling, Kim (1901)

Representative Secondary Works:

Anderson, Perry. “Internationalism: A Breviary.” New Left Review 14 (March-April 2002): 5-25.
Boelhower, William. “The Rise of the New Atlantic Studies Matrix.” American Literary History 
              20.1-2 (Spring 2008): 80-100
Burton, Antoinette. “Who needs the nation? Interrogating ‘British’ History”. Cultures of Empire:
               A Reader. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2000. Ed. Catherine Hall. 137-157.
Drayton, Richard. “The Collaboration of Labour: Slaves, Empires, and Globalizations
               in the Atlantic World, c. 1600-1850.” In A. G. Hopkins, ed. Globalization in World History
               (London, 2002): 98-114.
Gikandi, Simon. “Race and Cosmopolitanism.” American Literary History 14.3 (2002): 593-615.
Gilroy, Paul. “The Black Atlantic as a Counterculture of Modernity.” In The Black Atlantic:
                Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1993. 1-40
Hall, Catherine, Keith McClelland and Jane Rendall. “Introduction.” Defining the Victorian
                Nation: Class, Race, Gender and the Reform Act of 1867. Ed. Catherine Hall et al.
                Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. 1-70.
Marcus, Sharon. “Same Difference: Transnationalism, Comparative Literature, and Victorian
                Studies.” Victorian Studies 45.4 (2003): 677-686.
Moretti, Franco. “Conjectures in World Literature.” New Left Review 1 (January-February 2000)
                 54-68.
Said, Edward. “Jane Austen and Empire.” In Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1993.
                 80-97.
Sartori. Andrew. “The British Empire and its Liberal Mission.” Journal of Modern History 78.3
                 (September 2006): 623-642.
Stepan, Nancy Leys. “Race, Gender, Science and Citizenship.” Cultures of Empire: A Reader. Ed.
               Catherine Hall. 61-86.

ENGL 90213                                           
MILTON                                                 
R 03:30-06:00
Steve Fallon                                                                                                       

John Milton is a paradoxical figure: a theological writer constantly at odds with religious establishments, a republican political theorist finally mistrustful of the people, an advocate of both patriarchalist and egalitarian understandings of gender, a celebrant of virginity who matured into one of the great singers of erotic love and sexuality.  History has treated Milton paradoxically as well.  A radical figure, pushed to the margins in his own time, he has come to be seen by many as the voice of establishment authority.  In this course we will study the length and breadth of Milton's career, looking for keys to these paradoxes.  Perhaps more than any other English author, Milton is present in his works; we will pay close attention his self-representations.  We will test the possibility that the dissonances in the early self-representations bear fruit in the creative tensions of the mature poetry.  We will pay attention to the high level of control Milton exerts over his texts and his readers, and at the same time we will explore what happens when that control slips. Above all, we will also work toward an appreciation of Milton's aesthetic achievements.   We will read widely in Milton's poetry, with special emphasis on the 'Nativity Ode,' A Mask, “Lycidas,” Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes.  We will study also several of his prose works (e.g., The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Areopagitica, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, and The Readie and Easie Way).  While our focus will be on Milton's texts, we will explore some of the central debates of Milton criticism. Students will complete a series of assignments (bibliography, prospectus, etc.) leading up to completion of a substantial research essay.

ENGL 90269
Dante's World of Books
T 02:00-05:00pm
Zygmunt Baranski

“Dante’s World of Books” aims to examine the oeuvre and career of, arguably, the most original and influential writer in Western culture from three closely interlinked perspectives. First, the course provides an overview of all Dante’s writings, the books he actually produced. Second, it explores his intellectual formation and his attitude towards the literary tradition—the books that were probably present in his ‘library’. Third, it will assess the manner in which Dante synthesized his different ideological and poetic interests in order to develop an incisive and powerful assessment and critique of humanity’s position in the order of divine creation. In the Middle Ages, the created universe was often metaphorically described as “God’s book” or the “book of creation”. The course thus attempts to investigate the complex inter-relationship that Dante forged between his books and the ‘book’ of the Supreme Artist, a popular and highly influential medieval image for God the Creator. 

Can we get ‘back to nature’ by going back in time? Did medieval people perceive and represent their physical environments in ways radically different to ours? When did ‘nature’ divorce from ‘culture’ and why? How do ‘pre-scientific’ communities think the world works? Can we blame René Descartes for our alienation from the world that should nurture us? Or was feudalism at fault? Or Christianity?

In this course, we’ll attempt to answer these questions (and many more) through a cross-cultural investigation of the nature of ‘nature’ in medieval literatures of the North Sea region. Informed by readings of ecocritical theory, we will attempt to navigate worldviews of medieval texts as they react to (and thereby conceive of and produce) space and place, landscape, the non-human, the inexplicable and uncanny, in the most mundane and most exotic surroundings: the worlds that medieval people called home and the worlds they created for themselves.  

This class will be seminar-based and student-led: students will be required to introduce primary texts to the group and will be called upon to lead off discussion when their text comes up in the schedule. The geographical and temporal scope is flexible, but we will potentially be looking at texts in Old English, Old Norse, Anglo-Norman and early Middle English, as well as Latin of different periods and a bit of medieval Welsh and Irish. All texts will be available in translation, although students will be encouraged to bring their linguistic expertise to bear on original texts wherever possible. Medievalists of all backgrounds are welcome—not just literary scholars.

ENGL 90271
(UN) Natural World in Medieval Literature
M 03:00-05:30
Chris Abram

Can we get ‘back to nature’ by going back in time? Did medieval people perceive and represent their physical environments in ways radically different to ours? When did ‘nature’ divorce from ‘culture’ and why? How do ‘pre-scientific’ communities think the world works? Can we blame René Descartes for our alienation from the world that should nurture us? Or was feudalism at fault? Or Christianity?

In this course, we’ll attempt to answer these questions (and many more) through a cross-cultural investigation of the nature of ‘nature’ in medieval literatures of the North Sea region. Informed by readings of ecocritical theory, we will attempt to navigate worldviews of medieval texts as they react to (and thereby conceive of and produce) space and place, landscape, the non-human, the inexplicable and uncanny, in the most mundane and most exotic surroundings: the worlds that medieval people called home and the worlds they created for themselves.  

This class will be seminar-based and student-led: students will be required to introduce primary texts to the group and will be called upon to lead off discussion when their text comes up in the schedule. The geographical and temporal scope is flexible, but we will potentially be looking at texts in Old English, Old Norse, Anglo-Norman and early Middle English, as well as Latin of different periods and a bit of medieval Welsh and Irish. All texts will be available in translation, although students will be encouraged to bring their linguistic expertise to bear on original texts wherever possible. Medievalists of all backgrounds are welcome—not just literary scholars.

ENGL 90328                                                                      
SYMPATHY, CHARITY AND THE VICTORIANS                                         
R 12:30-03:00
Sara Maurer                                   

Modernist rejections of Victorian literature convict it of a gooey sentimentalism, unbecoming to serious aesthetic endeavors. Foucaultian and Marxist analyses of Victorian literature suggest the era’s focus on charity was only an alibi for keeping the powerful in power. This course takes as its central preoccupation the sympathy and charity that have become Victorian literature’s most embarrassing traits. After reviewing theories of moral sentiments that Victorians inherited from the eighteenth century (Shaftesbury, Hume, Smith), we will examine romantic narratives of poverty (Wordsworth and More) and consider how they inform Victorian understandings of sympathy in works by Charlotte Yonge, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens and George Eliot. Our explorations will be thematic, as we examine representations of sympathy and charity meant to refer to action in the wider world, but they will also be formal, as we consider the lyric voice and the novel’s habit of free indirect discourse as in themselves new forms of sympathetic encounter.

ENGL 90506                                                                    
MODERN IRISH DRAMA ON THE WORLD STAGE                                      
MW 01:30-02:45
Susan Harris

When W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and Edward Martyn decided to launch their first effort at an Irish theater in 1897, they were responding not only to a reawakening of Irish national feeling, but to the phenomenon of radical and often national "free theaters" springing up all over Europe during the preceding decades. In this course, we will consider the Irish dramatic revival in both its national and international contexts. While investigating the relationship between the major Irish revival dramatists and the Irish cultural and national politics that so often shaped their plays' reception in Ireland, we will look at how Irish playwrights responded and contributed to international developments in twentieth- and twenty-first century theater. We will also consider, through our study of recent scholarship investigating the possibilities and pitfalls of "global" criticism, whether or how transformative events in international politics should be considered part of the story of twentieth century Irish drama. In addition to major dramatic works by W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, Lennox Robinson, Douglas Hyde, Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw, Denis Johnston, and Samuel Beckett, we will also read the work of playwrights that influenced or were influenced by modern Irish dramatists, possibly including but not necessarily limited to Maurice Maeterlinck, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Henrik Ibsen, Federico Garcia Lorca, Bertolt Brecht, Lorraine Hansberry, Eugene O'Neill, Rabindranath Tagore, Zeami (as filtered by Ezra Pound), and Derek Walcott. (All non-Anglophone texts will be assigned in English translation.) The theoretical questions about gender, sexuality, and the body that are always raised by theatrical performance will be foregrounded in our discussions of all this material.

ENGL 90527                                                                                              
ULYSSES                                                                       
W 09:00-11:30
Barry McCrea

A close study of James Joyce's masterpiece.

ENGL 90722                                                                              
MODERN AMERICAN POETRY & MEDIA                                  
T 03:30-06:00
Steve Fredman & Kate Marshall

If we live in the Age of Media, then what difference has this made to poetry?  How do media signify in modern American poetry?  Modern poetry begins in the nineteenth century with the recognition by poets like Mallarmé that language has to be considered a “medium” of poetry and investigated as such.  What is the relationship of subsequent American poetry to media such as print technologies, the poster, the manifesto, the book, radio, cinema, the typewriter, audiotape, video, the poetry reading, performance art, the computer, hypermedia?  To what extent do media function like genres in modern poetry?  Does the collage form of prominent modern poems represent the interpenetration of several media? What can the study of modern American poetics offer to media theory? In this course we will read a wide variety of poetry and poetics and explore a range of key texts in media theory.  The poets we might consider include: Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Laurie Anderson, and Susan Howe.  In addition to contemporary literary criticism, we will survey central thinkers in media studies, including Friedrich Kittler, Joseph Vogl, Matthew Fuller, N. Katherine Hayles, Adalaide Morris, and others.

ENGL 90723                                                                              
MATERIALITY AND THE BLACK TEXT                                         
W 03:00-05:30
Kinohi Nishikawa

This graduate seminar aims to cultivate a broad understanding of the African American literary tradition while mapping out new directions in the study of texts as nodal points in what Robert Darnton once termed the “communications circuit” of modern print culture. By attending to the publishing, distribution, and reception contexts of key black-authored works, we will seek to displace a transhistorical conception of racial textuality in favor of one that is grounded in material practices such as composition and patronage, editing and design, bookselling and marketing. During the semester, the umbrella term “materiality” will index our negotiation of methodologies drawn from bibliography, textual criticism, book history, literary history, and cultural studies. Primary sources may include work by David Walker, James Weldon Johnson, Toni Morrison, and the Broadside poets. Theory and criticism may be drawn from McKenzie, Bourdieu, and Radway, as well as Goldsby, Edwards, and Warren.

ENGL 90811                                                                     
CARIBBEAN LITERATURE: CONQUEST TO POST-MODERNITY                        
TR 11:00-12:15
Orlando Menes

English 90811 is a graduate-level introduction to Caribbean literature (Anglophone, Hispanophone, and Francophone) and to seminal texts in post-colonial theory.  (All texts will be in the original English or in English translation.)  One important question that will be asked throughout the semester is whether these texts construct a single and unified Caribbean identity, despite the region's obvious linguistic, cultural, and racial heterogeneity.  Assignments will include weekly response papers, class presentations, and a final project of substantial scope, which can either be scholarly, creative, or a combination of both.     

ENGL 90904           
PHILOLOGY AND WELTLITERATUR                        
T 06:30-09:00
Joe Buttigieg

The Literature Programs course on Literary Theory deals with theories of different time and places with emphasis on the critical problems that arise when what we call "Literature" is investigated in a multicultural context. Issues that may be expected to arise include the following the problems of translation, the meaning of metaphor, hermeneutics complexity, the meaning of the word "style" the relation between oral and written literatures. Eric Auerbach's essay "Philology and Weltliteratur", from which this course derives its title, serves as a point of departure for exploring the possibility of developing an approach to literary history and literary interpretation that: (a) attends to the historical, cultural and aesthetic specificity of the individual literary work and (b) at the same time, brings into relief the complex ways in which cultures interact, overlap, and modify one another. The course will focus primarily on the pertinent works of Vico, Herder, and the German Romantics, Auerbach (and other historicists), Arnold, C. L. R. James, Raymond Williams, and Edward W. Said, as well as selections from the writings of Fanon, Ngugi, Lamming, Cesaire, and others.