Graduate Fiction Workshop
Xavier Navarro Aquino
A fiction workshop for graduate students in the MFA in Creative Writing program, with an emphasis on students developing their own aesthetic and personal vision, juxtaposed to and within the larger movement of the contemporary literary world.
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
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.
Early Modern Books and Readers
This course will treat the history of book production and reading in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. The first part of the semester will focus on book history and the emergence of print. The second part of the semester will focus on reading practices and the variety of ways that books were used in the period. Case studies will include works by Shakespeare and Milton.
Introduction to the Gothic Language
Gothic, the subject of this course, might be considered a distant relative of not only English but also modern German, Dutch, and the various Scandinavian languages. It is in fact the oldest recorded Germanic language, and was spoken, in one form or another, by related groups who spread southward, eastward, and westward across Europe from the first to the sixth centuries, remaking much of the political landscape but leaving a very small written record. Gothic survives primarily in a late-fourth-century translation of the New Testament, prepared by Ulfila, an Arian bishop of the Goths. This is primarily a language course, in which we will learn the grammar of Gothic and translate passages from the New Testament and the Skeireins (a fragmentary commentary on the Gospel of John). We will also ponder the peculiar purple manuscript with silver script in which Ulfila’s translation survives (the Codex argenteus), speculate on the character of the Crimean Gothic recorded over a millennium after Ulfila’s death, explore the structural relations among Gothic and the other Germanic languages, and discuss the conceptual roles the Goths have been made to play in the formation of European states, Germanic ethnicity, nationalism, horror fiction, and modern racial separatist movements. No prior knowledge of an older language is required, although, since this is a language course, curiosity and an agile mind are.
Humor is universal in human culture. Scholars in many different disciplines have attempted to understand its pervasiveness, but it is a phenomenon that does not seem susceptible to a singular explanation. Different people in different times and places laugh at different things for different reasons. Although understanding other people's sense of humor can be challenging - perhaps especially when we are at so great a temporal and cultural remove from them as we are from medieval people - it can provide a singularly revealing insight into their lives, their attitudes, their fears and aspirations - how they saw the world and how they tried to change it. In this class, we will interrogate humor in medieval literature from multiple perspectives in an attempt to discover what made people in the past laugh, why and how it made them laugh, and in what ways premodern senses of humor differed from our own. We'll study a range of texts in many genres from western and northern European traditions that cover the period from ca. 600CE to ca. 1400CE. All texts will be read in translation.
Victorian Literature: Liberalism and Care
This course centers on Victorian literature’s ethical commitments by exploring its investments both in Victorian liberal thought as well as in the concerns probed by 20th and 21st century care ethics. Victorian liberalism is noted for its commitment to impartiality, individuality, and models of rational consensus-building among subjects who consent to be governed. Care ethics is deeply rooted in making women’s labor visible to philosophy and so focuses on ethical behavior in situations of vulnerability, dependence, and concrete particularity. And while this description makes the two lines of thought sound entirely opposed, Victorian literature routinely fuses their concerns together. We will read classics of Victorian liberalism such as John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty and Matthew Arnold’s “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” alongside writing on care ethics by Nel Noddings, Joan Tronto, and Virginia Held. We will also read a wide sampling of Victorian fiction including Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, Hannah Crafts’ slave narrative, The Bondwoman’s Narrative. Poetry will include Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s abolitionist poetry, her bildungsroman in verse, Aurora Leigh, as well as poems by Christina Rossetti and Augusta Webster. PhD and MA students will produce a 20-30 page seminar paper as their final projects. In consultation with the instructor, MFA students will produce a 20-30 page review or equivalent project
Gender, Print Culture, and Modernity
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 in modern print culture. At the center of the course will be the complex and varied periodical cultures of modernity: little magazines that advanced literary and artistic experiments, “slicks” and fashion magazines that advertised a modern lifestyle, feminist papers, women’s and men’s magazines, and more. Topics may include the role of the 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 a queer modernity in the pages of British Vogue during the early 1920s. We’ll also consider literary representations of women’s encounters with new information systems: novels of the “typewriter girls” of modernity or new woman novels of encounter with the new journalism. Along the way, we’ll explore theories of seriality, intermediality, and periodical time. We’ll be exploring a number of new digital archives and much of our material will be encountered on a screen. The goal of the course will be to give participants a number of ways of bringing periodicals into their teaching, writing, or research. Requirements include leading a discussion, brief submissions, and a final project selected from a menu of possibilities including traditional research essay, conference papers, pedagogically-oriented projects, and other options that we can determine individually and collectively.
Master's Media: Race, Class, and the Technical Production of Difference
This multidisciplinary seminar draws upon insights from literary cultural studies, science and technology studies, and media and communication studies to expand on a newly emergent intersection of scholarship—race and technology—by adding questions of political economy into the mix.
For far too long, media and technology studies have taken the position that the media determine our situation, necessarily putting themselves at odds with studies of political economy, where economic materialities are in the driving seat. It was only recently that a renewed attention to racial capitalism - including studies of how certain forms of racialization and capitalism are originarily intertwined - began to gnaw at these longstanding methodological and theoretical binaries. This seminar considers the histories of these recent scholarly turns towards racial capitalism and computational inequalities to ask: In what directions do these casualties and entanglements between cultural techniques and historical materialisms run? How best can we study race, capitalism, and media technologies together? And how might these studies help us delineate a critical and creative orientation towards our contemporary mediascape? Reading works ranging from Karl Marx to Cedric Robinson and Harold Innis to Sylvia Wynter, we will together explore how to think about/with our media technologies as difference(-production) engines.
Students are welcome to engage in critical making, design approaches, or present any other creative output that engages with the questions of race, class, and technology that we will be discussing throughout the course.
Literature and Social Theory
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 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 settings; about the human interactions that literature models for us and their problems; and about the connection between literary studies and globalization. Rather than regard “the social” as simply a shorthand for “social problems,” and literature’s relationship to it as merely indexical or diagnostic, we will explore more complex versions of both sociality and its relationship to literature. Course materials take up bodies of knowledge that fall in the contact zone between sociology and literary theory—Marxian hermeneutics, discourse-network theory, media studies, book history, and systems theory--and assess their worth for changing conversations in literary studies without rendering literary criticism obsolete. In fact, we will seriously consider the idea that literary criticism has much to say about truly complex sociological and social phenomena, and conditions of modernity, perhaps doing sociology better than sociology in its present form. Another question we will ask is if aesthetics can be reconciled with Bourdieuian sociology, studying pieces of interpretation and theory that do exactly that. Aside from many canonical sociological texts, students will be given a solid introduction to British Cultural Studies, the Frankfurt School, Media Theory, Systems Theory, and Book History.
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.