Graduate Fiction Workshop
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
***this course will only be taught the first 8-weeks***
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.
A Divine Vernacular: Old Irish
***this is a cross-listed course with IRLL and only available to Medievalists***
A Divine Vernacular: Old Irish Language and Literary Culture Early Irish sources record that at the Tower of Babel, when faced with the disordered confusion of languages Fénius Farsaid and Goídel Glas deployed a team of scholars to take "what was best of every language and what was widest and finest"; from these choice linguistic elements they made the Irish language, Goídelc, 'Gaelic' or (Mod. Irish) 'Gaeilge'. These origin myths tell us that Irish was created to restore and preserve God's language and heavenly speech, and that eventually it was brought from the Holy Land to Ireland, where Irish linguistic and literary culture flourished. Old Irish was at a very early period used extensively as a language of learning and literature: Irish is Europe's oldest vernacular, or native, literary culture, and Old Irish texts are some of the most diverse and intriguing of the Middle Ages, as we will explore in this course. When the Irish began to create literature in their native language, what ideas, stories and aspects of their culture were they most interested in exploring? Operating in a culture with a vibrant oral, story-telling bardic culture, how did the Irish use their native language to preserve and develop these spoken traditions in writing? In this course participants will divide their time between 1) learning the fundamentals of the Old Irish language (no previous experience necessary!) and 2) studying key texts which give us insight into medieval Irish thinking about the role and importance of language and literary culture. We will examine early heroic sagas, saints' lives, myths about legendary poets and the act of literary creation, stories of pre-Christian women warriors and otherworldly prophets, monstrous human heroes and poems as diverse as those celebrating the natural world, praising God, recording fears about Viking raids and even pondering the difficulty of getting thoughts down on paper. All literary texts will be available in English translation, though as our Old Irish skills develop over the course of the semester, we will also increasingly engage with the texts in their original Old Irish forms. No previous knowledge of Irish (modern or otherwise), or other medieval languages, is necessary for this course. Course requirements will include completion of language exercises, translation of a text of the participant's choosing (creative adaptations as well as linguistically precise translations are possible), a paper on any aspect of medieval Irish literary, linguistic or textual culture, and 1-2 exams. Graduate students will be expected to undertake additional reading, writing and translation.
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?
In the wake of the Reformation-era's massive upheavals came the greatest flowering of devotional poetry in the English language. This body of literature offers its readers the opportunity to explore questions pertaining broadly to the study of lyric and to the study of the relationships between religion and literature. Early modern devotional poetry oscillates between eros and agape, private and communal modes of expression, shame and pride, doubt and faith, evanescence and transcendence, mutability and permanence, success and failure, and agency and helpless passivity. It experiments with gender, language, form, meter, voice, song, and address. We'll follow devotional poets through their many oscillations and turns by combining careful reading of the poetry with the study of relevant historical, aesthetic, and theological contexts. You'll learn to read devotional poetry skillfully and sensitively, to think carefully about relationships between poetry and religion, and to write incisively and persuasively about devotional poems. Authors we'll read may include Sir Thomas Wyatt, Anne Locke, Mary Sidney, Sir Philip Sidney, St. Robert Southwell, S.J., Henry Constable, John Donne, George Herbert, Robert Herrick, Henry Vaughan, Richard Crashaw, John Milton, and the great hymn writer Isaac Watts.
The (Un) Natural World in Medieval
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 crosscultural 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—and students of other periods with interests in ecocriticism or the history of ideas may also find this course congenial.
Law, Race, and Political Economy 1650-1800
This cross-disciplinary seminar explores the development of key epistemological frameworks and structural formations that remain core features of modernity, Specifically, we will study the ways in which the emergence and flourishing of transnational capitalism reorganizes fundamental political, cultural, and legal conceptions of a.) race, identity, and political community; b.) the colonial-imperial administration of sovereignty at a distance; and c.) public and collective responsibility. After some attention to core theoretical frameworks, we will focus in depth on three episodes (each about four weeks) that illustrate the broader pattern. Our case studies will be: a.) seventeenth century Atlantic settler colonies and political ventures from Massachusetts Bay to Carolina and Barbados; b.) the English East India Company from inception to the early Raj; c.) the transatlantic slave trade from 1619 through the early abolition movement.
Some of the most enduring stereotypes of British Romanticism involve the cultivation of solitary genius, the return to a pristine Nature, and the celebration of local, rural community. Compelling as these cultural ideals may seem, they have been complicated and enriched by recent scholarship that situates the literary productions of Romanticism within the larger geopolitical frameworks of their historical epoch?such as Britain's colonial enterprise, the Napoleonic wars, transatlantic and worldwide commercial systems, the slave trade, travel and exploration, the collision of regional environments and the worldwide migration of catastrophic diseases, global feminisms and the rights of woman movement. To become alert to the interaction of these global forces with the period's literary activity is to develop a new, complex appreciation of multiple forms of "Romanticisms" operating and clashing together in relation to rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected world developments. Building on the new scholarly fascination with such larger maps of "Romanticisms," this class will explore the intersections of the local, the national, and the global in well-known canonical writers such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron and the Shelleys as well as works by such lesser-known figures as Baillie, Smith, Hays, Morgan, Cowley, and Starke, among others. Readings and discussion will range generically across fiction, drama, poetry, journalism, travel writing, abolitionist writing, and political prose. Particular concentration will center on the differences and similarities between the conventionally separated first ("Lakers") and second ("Cockneys") generations of romantic era writers. We will also focus substantially on women writers, especially in their movements toward global feminisms. Readings and discussion will also attend to recent theories of "Romanticism" and "Cosmopolitanism," and our overall investment will be keenly sensitive to relationships between global culture during the romantic era and the global crises of our own time.
Afro-Cuban Literature and Culture
From the earliest moments of European contact, race and Afro-Cubans have played central roles in the history and cultural development of Cuba. Slavery, the struggle for Cuban independence, and the ensuing (perhaps still ongoing) struggle for Afro-Cuban political and social equality have driven Cuban history, while Afro-Cuban cultural expression has become deeply woven into the national social fabric. This course will examine Afro-Cuban history and culture from the last decade of the eighteenth century to the contemporary moment. Divided into three periods, colonial (1791-1895), early republic (1895-1959), and revolutionary (1959-now) the course will address the history, political movements and cultural forms of expression (religion, music, literature, film, etc.) that have helped to create an identifiable Afro-Cuban culture. So too, the course will examine the tensions between Afro-Cuban culture and “mainstream” Cuban culture, the ongoing push and pull between the two, and thus the impact of an African presence in the ongoing evolution of cubanidad.
Titles for the course will include Biography of a Runaway Slave, A Black Soldier’s Story, Reyita: The Life of a Black Cuban Woman in the Twentieth Century, Afro-Cuban Tales, Man-Making Words, Afro-Cuban Myths, Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba and Looking Within/Mirar Adentro.
New Sociologies of Literature
What if the social doesn't just "contain" literature but takes its cues from it? This course will address the fundamental and ongoing questions about the role of books in reflecting and changing the way people live and the role of social practice in defining, producing, and using literature. In this course we will ask about the material production of texts; about the role of readers in appropriating them; about the alliance of literature to class and institutional setting; and about the connection between literary studies and globalization. The aim of the course will be to think through key theoretical and political interventions that have taken shape as responses to these questions. We will also take up bodies of knowledge that fall in the contact zone between sociology and literature--discourse-network theory, media studies, object-oriented ontologies, and systems theory--and assess their worth for changing conversations in literary studies without rendering literary criticism obsolete. Students will be given a solid introduction to British Cultural Studies, the Frankfurt School, Affect Studies, Book History, Transnationalism/Translingualism Studies that has emerged out of China Studies, as well as new methodologies and philosophies offered through the digital humanities.
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.