Graduate Fiction Workshop
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
This is an intensive Graduate Fiction Workshop. During workshop, discussions will be geared toward learning to protect young work and work-in-progress while simultaneously deepening its emotional and intellectual register through reading, reflection and research. Each text will be critiqued and appreciated on its own terms and evaluated in relation to where the author locates it in the literary and aesthetic imagination. Additionally, in order to build an understanding of the contemporary literary landscape and the traditions that have informed it, we will read novels, short-stories, hybrid texts/prose, works in translation and theory.
Graduate Playwriting Workshop
This course is designed for students in the graduate creative writing program to create original writing for the theater, and is also open to all graduate students. The course will explore the playwriting process, as well as models from contemporary U.S. theater, to present a variety of paths toward creating vibrant plays. Through workshop writing exercises, movement work, visual arts approaches, a critical response process and attending play productions, we will generate resources for rich play material to help each author explore her or his unique voice as a writer for the theater. This course will culminate in a public reading of new works developed during the semester.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
In this course we will turn our attention to the very urgent question of what Poetry is, what it’s been, what it can be. We will ask why, how, for whom, and by whom. We will think our way into these questions via the thirsty reading of a wide variety of canonical and contemporary works from a number of cultures and communities as well as via the assiduous, inventive, and supportive workshopping of peer works-in-progress. We will treat our classroom as a model community in which pluralism is celebrated, supported and sustained.
Practicum: Teaching Creative Writing
This course is mandatory for all MFA students wishing to teach creative writing at Notre Dame. The various readings, talks, activities and discussions we’ll undertake together will help us both to hash out the more theoretical/political implications as well as the more practical aspects of teaching creative writing. We’ll write course descriptions, design practice lessons, and perform teaching ‘apprenticeships’. The final project will be a syllabus you can use for teaching your creative writing course at Notre Dame.
Language and Identity in Medieval England
Beyond conveying ideas, language forms and uses always can be types of social display that offer speakers ways to define themselves, their social status, their ethnic or regional loyalties, and their nationality. They equally can be ways for listeners to fashion the identity of the speakers they encounter. As contextually determined as language is from this perspective, its contributions to the dynamics of social or individual identity vary within any one time period as well as across time periods. The multilingual character of medieval England, involving primarily Latin, Norse, and English early in the Middle Ages and Latin, French, and English later on, rendered these complex dynamics even more complex. In this course, we will survey a range of texts from across the Middle Ages that touch on aspects of how language could be used, by speakers or listeners, to fashion identity. Some attention will be paid to historical shifts across the period, but our focus will be arenas of language use in which the dynamics of identity played out, including institutional and personal language contact, regional culture, text production, nationalizing rhetoric, and spiritual expression. Likely texts (or selections) include the Battle of Maldon, Judith, Old and Middle English lyrics, the Ormulum, Pearl, the Reeve’s Tale, the Second Shepherd’s Play, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Testament of Cresseid, and several period legal and commercial documents. While useful, no prior knowledge of any medieval language is necessary.
ENGL 90109/MI 63788 – Crosslist
Music, Liturgy, and Dramatic Literature in the Middle Ages
Margot Fassler and CJ Jones
The course serves to provide an introduction for graduate students to medieval liturgical drama, with close investigation of the plays and their manuscript traditions. Projects will be based on each graduate student's particular interests and training, and so should serve to advance progress toward exams and thesis work. In the class we will read a play a week, and in the context of a literary genre and liturgical book that relate to it. For student on the Master's level whose Latin is weak, we will provide English translation and will provides scores for students with musical interests.
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 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.
ENGL 90258/ENGL 40211 - Crosslist
Introduction to Old English
In this course – in just one short semester! – students will acquire a reading knowledge of Old English, the form of English used in Anglo-Saxon England. We begin with an intensive introduction to Old English grammar (interspersed with short readings) and move quickly to the translation of representative poetry and prose about battles, visions, journeys, and hope. Though our focus is Old English language, attention is also given to Old English literary strategies and to Anglo-Saxon culture.
Romanticisms, Gender, and the “Uses” of the Cultural Past
One of the more stimulating developments in recent studies of “British Romanticism” has been the intensive scholarly questioning of the category of “Romanticism,” itself, and its historical parameters. With the field of “Romanticism” ever expanding in terms of “recovered” or “new” authors, resuscitated genres (such as the drama), and hitherto unexamined global terrains (such as China), recent scholarship in the period increasingly debates the challenge of how to define its very object of study. As compelling as this interrogation is, particularly in response or resistance to concurrent formulations of “the long eighteenth century,” it is not an unprecedented type of inquiry. In fact, romantic-era writers extensively questioned the nature of the “Spirit” of their own “Age,” as Hazlitt and PB Shelley put it, particularly in relation to eighteenth-century and Renaissance cultural traditions. This course will examine the various ways in which such writers as Wordsworth, Blake, Smith, Inchbald, Barbauld, PB Shelley, Hazlitt, and Keats constructed in their poetry and prose models of the cultural past that could empower and authorize their own creative endeavor. Even more broadly, we will examine the ways in which “History,” itself came to emerge as a new category of analysis during the romantic era, which could be revisioned and re-written, especially in gendered terms, so as to advance the progressive dimensions of national politics in the present. Attention to this gendered revisioning of the past will center on such women authors as Wollstonecraft, Hays, Austen, Owenson, and MW Shelley, as well as recent feminist historiography.
Theory and Theater
In this course we will explore the theoretical questions raised by the history and practice of theater from Aristotle's time to the present. We will focus especially on problems of identity and of embodiment which are fundamental not only to performance theory but to psychoanalytic, feminist, and queer theory. In addition to theoretical texts produced by playwrights, directors, and performers, we will also read theory that engages with questions of performativity, phenomenology, subjectivity, semiotics, and affect from outside the boundaries of performance studies. We will use the history of Western theater to organize our explorations of these texts, and we will periodically ground our theoretical discussions in our readings of selected dramatic texts. Authors will include Aristotle, Diderot, Emile Zola, Constantin Stanislavsky, Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, Edward Gordon Craig, Nietszche, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jacques Lacan, Peggy Phelan, Judith Butler, Lee Edelman, Sianne Ngai, and others. Students will write one 20-30 page paper and will give at least one 15-20 minute oral presentation.
Wilde, Joyce, and Beckett
Irish modernists have always marked themselves off from one another. Joyce once described Wilde as a court-jester to the English. Beckett suggested that rather than what in Wilde, Joyce and Beckett put "everything in" he left "everything out". Yet all three artists had much in common---- a concern with the possibilities and perils of "style"; a conviction that critical and creative writing energised one another; a determination to explore the multiple self even to the moment when the self disappears through its own sheer multiplicity. None was like Ireland's official idea of itself but each writer offered radical and original responses to the invention of a modern Ireland in the texts of the Irish Revival as pioneered by Yeats.
W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney: Poetic Vocations
Seamus Heaney praised Yeats’s work for proclaiming ‘the reality of the poetic vocation’. The present course, by examining the work, lives, and times of both poets, will explore how far this is an apt description of both men’s procedures and achievements. The method of the course will be to immerse ourselves in the work and thought of both writers through a close reading of major poems and texts, and, growing out of this, to compare their approaches to poetry and the themes that engaged and occupied their imaginations. We shall resist any temptation to force the two into a false symbiotic relationship, and their differences will be as significant in our attempts to ‘place’ them as their similarities.
In the first part of the course we shall aim to acquire a thorough grasp of Yeats’s creative career; in the second part we shall do the same with regard to Heaney. We shall then proceed in the third part to draw upon this knowledge to compare and contrast the two writers. We shall analyse what Heaney had to say of Yeats, and how, in his term, Yeats ‘corroborates’ his work; discuss how and why they learned to be public poets; compare how they addressed the question of violence; assess their achievements as ‘private’ and love poets; and explore the nature and scope of their criticism (especially their writings on the art and practice of poetry). We shall conclude by attempting to assess their contribution to, and place in, the modern literary tradition.
The main texts for the class will be Yeats’s Collected Poems and Heaney’ Open Ground: Poems 1966-1996 and New Selected Poems: 1988-2013. These will be supplemented by a Course Book which will make available further poems by Heaney and extracts from both writers’ critical, dramatic, and autobiographical works, as well as providing the texts of poems or other relevant writings by those who influenced them and whom they admired.
Law and Utopia in Atlantic America
Is it possible to think of the 21st century as a post-racial, post-feminist world? In her provocative 2012 study, Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender, Janell Hobson suggests that rather than having been eradicated, millennial hopes that the historical difficulties represented by race and gender have lost their significance in the present day are as far, if not even further away from the mark as they have ever been. For Hobson, policing the body, whether that be in terms of its race, its gender, or its sexuality, has remained paramount. “…[W]hile the early-twenty-first century discourse of ‘postracial’ and ‘postfeminist’ often declares the loss of meaning attached to race and gender,” she argues, “…the global scope of our media-reliant information culture insists on perpetuating raced and gendered meanings that support ideologies of dominance, privilege, and power.” In Hobson’s view, the body and how it is imagined rests at the center of such ideologies, pointing also to a number of crucial questions that become particularly important when considering the significance of race and gender through the lens of modernity. How might a reconsideration of race point also to a rethinking of gender and vice-versa? How can the conversation on race be continued without becoming trapped in what seems to be an ongoing critical circle, endlessly vacillating between an irreparable past and a tentative future? What does race actually mean? How does/can it alter the way we understand gender? Is it possible to think race beyond the idea of race? What might a new conception of race actually look like, and how might this influence our thinking on gender? Would it help us to break through familiar stereotypes tired from overuse to a new blueprint for racial, gendered and democratic possibility? How are the problems of race and gender intertwined, and how is/has the body been imagined in and through them? What can such questions tell us about today’s racial and gendered realities, both inside and outside of the university, both in the past and the present? This course takes a step backward to investigate these and other like questions in the context of the utopic impulse and its emphasis on the imagination in several 19th-century
American authors whose work may be viewed as participating in a broad yet under-acknowledged vision of race, gender and Atlantic modernity that seeks to interrogate hierarchies of race and gender as these have been constructed and maintained within dominant ideologies. Grounding our analysis in a number of 16th-, 17th- and 18th--century political philosophical texts on law and utopia and drawing on the theories of Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida and others in addition to insights from critical race theory, gender studies, feminist theory, theories of law and literature, and utopian studies, our goal will be to gain a more nuanced understanding of our racialized past and its troubled link to questions of gender both then and now, so that we may better hope to imagine—and reimagine—the shape of our collective democratic future in the 21st century’s global community.
Course Texts: To be determined, but will most likely include some of the following, either in their entirety or in the form of relevant excerpts: Plato’s Republic; Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince; Thomas More, Utopia; Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis; James Harrington, Oceana; Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; Robert Filmer, Patriarcha, Or The Natural Power of Kings; John Locke, Two Treatises of Government; Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract or The Discourse on Inequality; Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America; Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia; Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations; Frances Wright, Views of Society and Manners in America; Nathaniel Hawthorne, Blithedale Romance; Moncure Conway, Pine and Palm; Walt Whitman, Democratic Vistas; Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Iola Leroy; Pauline Hopkins, Contending Forces or Of One Blood; Sutton Griggs Imperium in Imperio; W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk.
Course Requirements: To be determined, but will most likely include an oral presentation, two or three digital projects, and a formal article-length research paper.
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: Preparing for the Profession
Topics include career planning, search strategies, letters of application, portfolio preparation, and interviewing techniques. Open to advanced standing graduate students.
Practicum: Introduction to the Profession
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.