Graduate Fiction Workshop
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
This course is a chance for students in the graduate creative writing program to come together as writers/readers with the goal of helping each other develop as authors. Emphasis will be on writing as a contemporary art form rather than on polishing prose for particular genres or markets. That is, emphasis will be placed on articulating an aesthetic and personal vision through the writing of fiction more so than on the craft of fiction and the well-crafted cuckoo clock the word implies even as we acknowledge that no art takes place in a vacuum, that the personal operates within the constraints of audience and economy, be it the economy of the multinational publishing conglomerate, the not-for-profit poetry press, or the personal journal. It is hoped that students will articulate through their critiques of their classmate’s work, through the application of literature and theory read in other classes, but especially through the fiction they write in this class, an awareness of the contemporary moment in literary practice, a reason for doing whatever they are doing in their own fiction, and a practical way to bring the two together.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
Our goal in this class is to lock in on our vision for our own writing and help others to lock in on theirs. We will do this by reading widely and diversely and thinking about the aesthetic, occult and political powers of poetry in our contemporary and pre-contemporary publishing universes. We will read across cultures and languages with an open and receptive ear, eye, heart and brain, ready to be changed by poetry. We will think about poetry as a medium among media and we will test our ideas by encountering texts and artworks that we do not normally think of as poetry at all.
Practicum: Teaching Creative Writing
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
In this course we'll work collaboratively to think through the practical, theoretical, institutional, interpersonal, political, and, oh yes, artistic implications of teaching creative writing at various types of academic institutions as well as in community settings.
Old and Middle English Philology
This course focuses on four inter-related aspects of medieval English: translation, pronunciation, dating, and regional localization. With the aid of modern grammars and critical studies of both language structure and usage, we will examine a range of texts dating from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries. Familiarity with at least either Old or Middle English is necessary. Requirements include weekly readings and assignments, presentations, and brief papers.
This course will provide a rich introduction to English Renaissance culture through a study of Edmund Spenser's epic romance The Faerie Queene. The poem was published in two installments, in 1590 and in 1596, and was composed as Spenser was stationed in Ireland as a functionary in England's colonial regime. The epic is a hungry form, and Spenser's version is no exception: The Faerie Queene consumes and remakes myths, saints' legends, chronicle histories, and iconographic traditions and in so doing schools its readers in the practices of interpretation as no other poem in the period can. Because of its intense, self-reflexive focus on interpretive practices and its insistence on working by induction, through interpretive trials and errors, the poem has occupied a central place in literary criticism from C.S. Lewis to Northrop Frye to Stephen Greenblatt. A good reader of The Faerie Queene promises to be a good reader of much else; the poem still serves as a laboratory for methodological innovations in literary scholarship. Because Spenser's poem is encyclopedic in its range (even featuring the first robot in English literature), students will gain experience not only with Spenser's work but with the Renaissance culture it emerged from and shaped. Special areas of emphasis will include Reformation culture, classical myth, early colonial discourses, and gender, sex, and marriage. During the last weeks of the course, we'll consider later authors' engagements with Spenser (possibilities include Aemilia Lanier, John Milton, John Dryden, John Keats, W. B. Yeats, and C.S. Lewis).
Poetry & Religion: from Hopkins to Howe
Yeats famously suggested that "poetry and religion are the same" - and while many might have thought such ideas died with him in 1939, or even much earlier, changing conceptions of what both poetry and religion do (or might be) have recently reopened the debate in rather spectacular ways. My interest is in bringing students into the increasingly busy intersection between these once opposed modes of thinking (and into the site of my own current book project). The course will introduce them to several of the major movements in philosophy and literary theory that most powerfully impacted "theopoetics" - among them phenomenology, Wittgensteinian linguistics (or his "philosophy of religion," as some have described it), and deconstruction (which Derrida late in life admitted had been "structured like a religion"). Starting with (Lutheran convert) Edmund Husserl's claim that the whole point of his phenomenological project was to discover a "path back to God," the course charts collisions between essentially Christian existential phenomenology and, for example, the Jewish thought of its later critics by focusing on how poets on both sides of the Atlantic absorbed and continued to process such ideas. Neo-Thomist thinking as put forward by figures like Jacques (and Raïssa) Maritain will also be studied, alongside various mystical and Gnostic alternatives. A relatively small number of poets will be picked for attention and close-reading, among them Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, Mina Loy, David Jones, George Oppen, Denise Levertov and living poet-thinkers Hank Lazer and Fanny Howe. Seminarians will be expected to take turns leading class discussions and presenting their own developing research for the course; each will write one article-length essay by its end.
Rethinking U.S. Fiction of the Twentieth & Twenty-first Centuries
In this class, we will explore alternate routes of theorizing and conceptualizing America, especially given the changing political environment and the shifting identity of the United States, its literatures, its people, and its artists. By attending in particular to American prose fiction, we will consider how literary movements are shaped, articulated, and geographically instantiated by works that thematize and formalize gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and migration.
Literature and Peace Studies
This newly redesigned graduate seminar will draw on methodologies from the field of peace studies to read works of Anglophone literature. The syllabus will include historical works, such as James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer (1841) read in connection with William Jay's War and Peace: The Evils of the First, and a Plan for Preserving the Last (1842), an important early contribution to the literature of peace by a lifelong friend of Cooper's. We will also read Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony (1977), a novel that exemplifies the "peacebuilders hermeneutic." (On the peacebuilder's hermeneutic, see Gustafson, "Literature and Peace Studies" available through the Hesburgh Library site in the volume Peacebuilding and the Arts.) Theoretical readings will include John Paul Lederach's Little Book of Conflict Transformation (2003) and The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Peacebuilding (2003), along with selections from David Cortright's Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas (2008). The remainder of syllabus will be shaped by student interests and may include Chimamanda Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun (2006); Pat Barker's Regeneration (1991), read in connection with the war poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegried Sassoon; J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarian (1980); and/or Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide (2004) and The Great Derangement (2016). We may also study Carolyn Fourché's anthology Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500-2001 (2014).
***This is an MFA literature course****
Catastrophic global climate change presents intractable challenges to global politics, inherited notions of human progress and possibility, privileged Enlightenment understandings of freedom and liberation, and the very idea of literary narrative as it has emerged in imperial fossil fuel culture. This reading seminar will explore the predicament of the postcolonial anthropocene through scientific, historical, theoretical, and literary approaches, with special attention to the relationship between literacy and extractive capitalism. Readings may include work by David Abram, Aimé Césaire, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Silvia Frederici, Amitav Ghosh, Hans Jonas, Achille Mbembe, Carolyn Merchant, Peter Sloterdijk, and Sylvia Wynter.
Practicum: Preparation for the Profession
A workshop on professional publication, conference activity, and job search procedures.
Practicum: Introduction to the Profession for PhD Students
Familiarizes PhD students with the forms through which professors of English communicate their research. Covers basic issues related to the study of literature in U.S. universities and colleges.
Practicum: Introduction to the Profession for MA Students
Familiarizes MA students with the forms through which professors of English communicate their research. Covers basic issues related to the study of literature in U.S. universities and colleges.