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.
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.
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.
(Undergraduate course that is available at a graduate level for Early Modern specialists)
John Milton wrote poetry of astonishing beauty and power. He is a complex and 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 quasi-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 major English author, Milton is present in his works; we will pay close attention to 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 1) to the high level of control Milton exerts over his texts and his readers and 2) to 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. A series of assignments (bibliography, prospectus, etc.) will lead up to completion of a substantial article-length scholarly essay.
Reading Spenser's Faerie Queene
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).
Romanticism and Persuasion
In the preface to Prometheus Unbound, Percy Shelley admits to having a “passion for reforming the world” but also declares unequivocally, “Didactic poetry is my abhorrence.” This seemingly paradoxical desire to change the world through literature, but without recourse to overt instruction, was characteristic not only of Shelley but of many who wrote during an age of revolution and counter-revolution in Britain. But how was it to be achieved? And why was it thought necessary? This seminar considers how, in the context of fervent socio-political debates and an emergent scientific approach to the mind, a range of Romantic writers became centrally concerned with the nature and dynamics of attitude change. We will see how, at once building on and challenging Enlightenment faculty psychology, these writers came to distinguish the rigid, supposedly rational state of mind they called conviction from the more malleable, deeply affective and imaginative state they called persuasion. We will also see how this distinction inspired new forms of literary expression and representation. Our readings will include poetry, drama, and fiction (by William Godwin, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Jane Austen, among others), as well as essays and treatises (by George Campbell, Thomas De Quincey, and William Hazlitt). Our conversations will be informed by current critical debates about Romanticism and persuasion, and by a range of theoretical and methodological approaches. The seminar will also encourage reflection on our own writerly practices of persuasion. The main element of assessment will be an article-length paper, ideally one suitable for eventual publication.
The British Popular Novel
Schooling today generally involves some formal study of "literature," because we take such knowledge to reflect an individual's well rounded education and culture. But what counts as literature? Consider that many educated Victorians would have regarded it as absurd to study a Dickens novel in an Oxford University setting, the idea being that only classical (mostly Latin and Greek) texts really merit elevated consideration. But then again, there were (and are) people who regard Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens as obviously worthy writers while at the same time insisting that we may neglect more broadly “sensationalist" novelists--like Mary Elizabeth Braddon, whose Lady Audley's Secret is possibly the bestselling novel of the whole 19th century. Then again, we should note that even Braddon's work was dwarfed in readership by the potboiler serial fictions that appeared in mid-century magazines and newspapers and were therefore cheaper--an example being The String of Pearls, the origin of the demon-barber character Sweeney Todd. This course explores these varied registers of literature in 19th-Century Britain so that we can think critically and flexibly about how literary works are valued, circulated and canonized. Students will gain historical knowledge concerning the social landscape of this period and the place of fictional narratives in it. But students will also learn to see these issues in a more general light, learning how different levels of taste and distinction take different shapes in other times--such as our own time, with its print media, film, television, internet, and so on. Likely primary works will include: Walter Scott, Waverley; Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; anonymous, Sweeney Todd [The String of Pearls]; Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret; Henry Rider Haggard, She; Bram Stoker, Dracula.
Gender & Sexuality in Yeats & Wilde
This course will consider the impact of W. B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde on the gender and sexual revolution unfolding throughout Europe in art, theater, poetry, and politics from the 1890s through the end of the twentieth century. Beginning with their widely divergent experiences as Irish writers in London during the 1880s and 1890s, the course investigates Yeats and Wilde's work and traces their legacies as they contribute to the exploration, in the Irish revival and in literary modernism more broadly defined, of gender and sexuality. We will focus primarily on poetry and drama, but will also read some of Wilde's prose, as well as the work of other modernists who engaged with it; we will close by looking at post-war, postcolonial, and contemporary responses to both Yeats and Wilde. The course will also incorporate new work being done in queer and feminist theory. Students will give at least one in-class presentation and write a 20-30 page seminar paper as well as a number of shorter assignments.
ENGL 90930/ ENGL 40930
& Now: Literature as Contemporary Art
&NOW is a course focused on writing as a contemporary art form. We’ll be reading novels, short stories, and poetry in which authors have done what authors always do: deform language in order to transform ordinary speech into art. But anyone who steps away from the bestseller lists can see that the literary landscape is just as wild as that of visual art, just as varied: poems in the forms of installations, performance, and demonstrations, or written by machines; novels in the form of dioramas; stories told as recipes or tattoos, poems in skywriting or genetic code, pixels, skin—as well as the printed book. &NOW will take up print novels, print short fiction and poetry as well as electronic writing, and other hybrid forms that push their politics, develop their ideas, or create reading experiences through an exploration of language and/or materials. Sometimes called experimental, conceptual, avant-garde, hybrid, postmodern, innovative, extreme, alternative, electronic, anti-, or new literature, we will read a range of works from the early years of this century to the present. Students will be encouraged to engage with this work either through writing about it, or contributing to it as the course will be held in conjunction with the &NOW Festival of Writing as a Contemporary Art to be held at Notre Dame (visit https://www.andnow2018.com/). Our readings will include prose, poetry, hypermedia and writing of indeterminate breed from authors visiting campus for the festival as well as others. A potential reading list includes Mark Z. Danielewski House of Leaves, Claudia Rankine, Citizen; David Clark, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein <www.88constellations.net/88.html; Salvador Placencia, People of Paper; Nam Le, “The Boat” <www.sbs.com.au/theboat/>; The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud; Ann Carson, Nox; and others….
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.
Practicum: Literary Publishing
A review of the current state of literary publishing in the U.S. and abroad.