The Modern Novel
What are stories for, where do they come from, how are they put together? Using stories and novels drawn from a variety of literary traditions, this course examines theories, principles, and ideas of narrative form.
Graduate Fiction Workshop
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
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.
Graduate Translation Workshop
Perhaps the most famous definition of poetry in American literature is Robert Frost's quip that poetry is that which is "lost in translation." Translation, it appears, is both central and marginal in the way we think about literature in this country. Through translation seemingly stable texts and notions of authorship become volatile. That is in large part why translation has at times been a source of anxiety in American literature, and at times a source of inspiration. In this class we will explore this volatile zone of translation by translating literary texts (prose, poetry, drama etc), reading theoretical texts, and by bringing our experiences as writers and readers, artists and scholars to the topic. Although it would be helpful, fluency in a foreign language is not required. Translation Studies is in the middle of an exciting moment - conventional ways of viewing translation are being questioned and US literature is becoming increasingly interested in foreign literatures - and this class will participate in this moment.
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.
The novella is in its Golden Age, enjoying the attention of major publishers, spawning popular book series, and drawing the attention of readers as the form best suited to our contemporary habits of reading. But what is it about the form, and its history, that informs its current ascendancy in reading culture? In this course we will read across the contemporary novella and several key texts from its history. At stake will be questions of form and the phenomenology of reading, and we will place these texts in conversation with contemporary literary journalism, studies of narrative, and media theory. Each class will put a pair of novellas together in conversation (for example, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Cristina Rivera Garza’s The Taiga Syndrome). Short presentations and a longer final writing project required.
This class will focus on medieval Christian mystical literature, beginning with Augustine and Dionysius and ending with Margery Kempe. Special attention will be paid to English mystics, but we'll also look at important works from continental Europe, such as those by Bernard of Clairvaux and Hildegard of Bingen. We'll see that, over the course of the Middle Ages, mysticism changes from being a genre associated primarily with highly educated men in religious orders to one shaped by women and lay people. The genre of mysticism in fact gives us our first known women writers in English. We'll devote a good deal of class time to mystical language and the role that figurative language plays in mystics' efforts to describe the ineffable. We'll also talk about the philosophy and theology of the texts. All readings will be in Middle or Modern English, but no prior knowledge of medieval literature or Middle English is expected.
17th Century Women Writers
The seventeenth century in Old and New England saw an exciting and unprecedented flourishing of writing by women. This course looks at a rich and diverse range of women’s writing, primarily from the second half of the century. Genres to be read and discussed include autobiography, letters, recipe books, poetry, fictional and non-fictional prose, and private and public drama. Authors include such now well-known figures as Aemilia Lanyer, Lady Mary Wroth, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson, and Aphra Behn. Primary texts will be read and discussed in biographical and historical context, alongside literary scholarship setting out current critical interests and debates. Among the questions to be addressed: How do women fashion themselves in and through their writing? How do gender concerns intersect with class, religion, politics, and race? How do early women writers use and boldly revise different literary forms?
The Political Origins of Romanticism
It was once a commonly held belief that the development of Romanticism involved a retreat from the world of politics into the aesthetic domain. Over the last several decades this has been robustly disputed and the on-going political engagement of Romantic-period writers has been the focus of much scholarly attention. Yet still, the nature of the relationship between politics and aesthetics is hotly contested, and recent work suggests the time is ripe for a reconsideration of how and why the Romantic movement developed. This seminar assumes that it’s a complex business, one that is best understood by attending to both politics and aesthetics, and reading historicist approaches to literature alongside literary theory and political theory. While our principle area of focus will be British literature of the late eighteenth century, the course should appeal to anyone interested in the politics of aesthetics and/or the aesthetics of politics. Authors to be studied may include Jane Austen, William Blake, Edmund Burke, Olaudah Equiano, William Godwin, Elizabeth Inchbald, Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, Thomas Spence, and Mary Wollstonecraft.
Yeats & Heaney
***This is a cross-listed course***
A study of the evolving poetic careers of the two most famous Irish poets of the early and late 20th century respectively, W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney. Emphasis will be on collective close reading rather than historical or political contexts. Reading load is an average of 50 pgs per week, but requires intense preparation. In-class presentations also required.
Poetry and Religion
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.
American Literature before 1865
In this class we will explore the rich traditions of belles lettres, religious and political writing, and the early novel that took shape in the British colonies of North America and the early republic. Our readings will extend through the American Renaissance, that great outburst of literary creativity that occurred in the decade leading up to the Civil War, and include works by Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Whitman, Dickinson, and Douglass. The colonial period was above all a contest of empires, and hemispheric and transatlantic methods will be integral to the course. We will also consider the textual practices of colonization, early Native writings, and alternative media including oratory, wampum, and pictographs. The mediascape of nation formation will likewise be a focus of attention. This course will be of interest to students specializing in the Renaissance, the 18th century, or Romanticism, to those with an interest in colonialism, or in revolutionary or religious expression, or in reform movements, as well as to specialists in American literature.In addition to works by the American Renaissance writers already listed, we will read standard works by Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Samson Occom, Olaudah Equiano, Thomas Jefferson, Phillis Wheatley, Charles Brockden Brown, and James Fenimore Cooper, as well as selections from John Smith, John Winthrop, Roger Williams, the Jesuit Relations, and Quaker writers John Woolman and Elizabeth Ashbridge. Many of our texts will be drawn from the Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vols. A and B, supplemented with some longer works.
***This is a cross-listed course***
English 90773 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.
African American Criticism
This course will examine many of the major critics, texts, and theories central to the creation and development of African American literary history and criticism. Beginning with a pre-history of sorts, the course will explore the foundational criticism for what would become a field recognized in the American academy. The course will then examine a range of critical theories and practices including post-structuralist African American literary theory, black feminist theory, sound theory, black queer theory, and race theory. In addition to the examination of specific critical texts, the course will apply to theories to primary works. The list of primary works will include Invisible Man, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Beloved, and Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Practicum: Teaching Writing
The aim of English 92001 is to prepare you to teach Writing and Rhetoric (WR) in the University Writing Program at Notre Dame. The course does this in two ways: first, by introducing you to readings in rhetoric and composition that provide a basis for making informed choices in the classroom. Second, by providing you with opportunities to practice skills such as lesson planning, designing writing assignments, responding to student papers, managing writing groups, and planning a syllabus. To these ends, you will read selectively in rhetoric and composition theory, observe faculty currently teaching in the University Writing Program, and complete a series of short assignments. By the end of the course, you will be prepared to teach Writing and Rhetoric at the college level.
Practicum: Preparation for the Profession
Article Writing Practicum: this course will follow the 12-week article revision and publication model outlined in Wendy Belcher’s workbook on article publishing. Students from all fields and stages are welcome to participate in this practicum, and to prepare an article for submission to academic journals at the end of the semester. Students who have taken the practicum and would like to attend again for structure and accountability are welcome.
Practicum: Literary Publishing
A review of the current state of literary publishing in the U.S. and abroad.
Practicum: Public Writing for the Humanities
Workshop-style practicum for humanities graduate students who would like to write for more public venues. Focus on identifying appropriate public venues for scholarly topics, writing style, and the essay form.