Graduate Fiction Workshop
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.
In this course, we will examine the intersections of migration with LGBTQ* identities. We will begin with James Baldwin’s Another Country (1961) and explore the ways that migration and movement (in multiple senses), as seemingly fundamental aspects of queer identity, further intersect with race, ethnicity, and gender. Throughout the course, we will be asking—and responding to—several questions, such as: How is the idea of home, as space and place, explored by LGBTQ* writers? Is migration a necessary paradigm for thinking of and through the LGBTQ* community? How have cities been shaped by queer identities? How is migration expressed through textual form in LGBTQ* texts? How do race and ethnicity intersect with gender and sexuality?There are many more questions that will be raised, and these five are just some of the first that we will think through.This is an interdisciplinary course with a bit of an international focus. Because this course works through a range of film and literature, we will be discussing various formal strategies and methods used by each medium, and how these textual qualities map onto and explore content. We will be concerned with “movement” as a paradigm, and as such, will examine how movement is conveyed in film and literature, especially in regards to LGBTQ* identities.
Humor is a 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.
Middle Scots Literature
This course will explore the wealth of literature associated with Scotland from about 1300 to 1603 and the unification of the Scottish and English crowns. During this time, Scots writers (or makars) drew widely on models from the Continent (especially Latinate traditions), England, and Scotland itself. They addressed political issues like Scottish independence, literary issues like the fashioning of native Scots traditions, social issues like the legal infrastructure of Scotland, cultural issues like the impact of Humanism, and whimsical issues like the wisdom of animals. Often bypassed because of its language and because it does not fit neatly into paradigms of English literary history, Middle Scots literature produced some of the greatest and least read masterpieces of medieval Britain, including John Barbour’s Bruce, Robert Henryson’s Moral Fables and Testament of Cresseid, William Dunbar’s lyrics, Gavin Douglas’s Palis of Honour and Eneados, Richard Holland’s The Buik of the Howlat, and David Lindsay’s Dreme. We will read many of these works for their intrinsic and historical significance, and also consider relations between Middle Scots literature and textual production, including the importance of large individual manuscripts (like the Bannatyne, Asloan, and Maitland manuscripts), the repurposing of Scots poems in southern Middle English works, and the impact of Edinburgh’s nascent printing trade.
Tudor and Stuart Drama
An introduction to non-Shakespearean drama, this course will cover approximately 14 plays by Beaumont and Fletcher, Chapman, Dekker, Ford, Heywood, Jonson, Kyd, Marlowe, Middleton, and Webster. We will focus on the emergence of London's professional theater as well as the development of a market for printed plays. Along with standard reference works and resources, we will make use of new electronic databases, such as DEEP (Database of Early English Playbooks) and EEBO (Early English Books Online). In addition, we will visit Special Collections to examine some printed plays, including Jonson's Workes (1616). Students will be asked to make multiple in-class presentations, prepare an annotated bibliography, and write a research paper of 20-25 pp. Spanish Tragedy, Shoemaker's Holiday, The Changeling , Chaste Maid in Cheapside, White Devil, Volpone, Duchess of Malfi, Bussy D'Ambois, Woman Killed with Kindness, Arden of Faversham, Westward Ho!, The Honest Whore, Faustus, Tamburlaine, Knight of the Burning Pestle.
Early Modern Forms and Fictions: Thomas More to Richardson and Voltaire
The course the creation and development of fictional forms during a period of enormous conflict and change. Imagination takes on fresh importance as we envisage the possibilities of the future in science and in politics. The production of multiple new literary forms and styles matches or even anticipates the startling developments in science enabled by the telescope and the microscope and a revised “atomic theory.” Focus on literature allows the inclusion not only of English texts but also of classical influences and contemporary European experiments such as essays by Paracelsus, some novellas of Cervantes, the fairy tales of Perrault and Mme. D’Aulnoy, or Fontenelle’s Plurality of Worlds. This is a major era for science fiction, such as Kepler’s Somnium and Godwin’s The Man in the Moone. As well as lunar voyages, our texts include alchemical fables and images, as well as satiric poems reformulating current events. The era becomes rich in philosophical speculations, and in both fantasy and fresh realistic fictions engaging odd narrators in highly varied voices. Differing viewpoints are emphasized. Fictions bring frictions. Thomas More’s Utopia asks us to consider our social organization afresh-- and so does Voltaire in Candide. So too does Richardson’s Pamela in inviting us to reconsider the social world and constitutional order when these are seen through the eyes of a teenaged working- class girl. Early Modern fiction is attracted to the frictions, to the sites of philosophic difference, to the energies of Leibniz’s indivisible monads thrashing about in their imaginary pond.
Formal Habits of the Victorian Novel
This class is designed to give students 1) A thorough overview of the Victorian novel 2) Experience in the formal analysis of the novel that will be relevant beyond the Victorian period 3) A chance to perform original research drawing on both established theorists of the novel and recent scholarship in the field. Students can expect to explore the strategies Victorian novels shared to refer to the outside world, to manage reader’s relationships with both characters and authorial voices, to filter events through multiple viewpoints, and to create a sense of changing speeds within a static text. We will also take into account some of the abiding cultural concerns that impacted how Victorian novels were narrated – the moral aspiration to be impartial; the rise of bureaucracy and ever more complex divisions of labor; scientific discoveries that revised received ideas about cause and effect; and a British imperial structure which allowed increasing political participation and economic mobility to those in Britain while blocking access to the same in areas of the globe subjugated to Britain. Our readings will include Jane Austen’s Emma, Walter Scott’s Heart of Midlothian, Charles Lever’s The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Anthony Trollope’s Phineas Finn, as well as a significant load of secondary scholarship.
This semester’s version of the class will carry two opportunities to engage personally in the broader world of scholarship. In coordination with this class, the SENS seminar will host two outside scholars presenting original research on the marriage plot in Victorian novels. This semester’s class will also pay special attention to the Victorian art critic and social commentator John Ruskin’s theories of knowledge and vision, so that students might be prepared to attend the “John Ruskin at 201” conference to be held at Notre Dame in February of 2020. Please contact me if you would like more information.
The Habits of Modern Life: Gender, Mobility and Everyday Life
This team-taught graduate course, cross-listed with Gender Studies, is intended to introduce students to the contours of two conversations currently animating gender studies approaches to modernism/modernity: discussions of the everyday and of modern mobility. Interdisciplinary approaches to everyday life in modernity draw our attention to the habits, routines, and patterns of ordinary life, to the non-events of modernity and the organizing practices that governed behavior and sensibilities. Discussions of mobility, especially when combined with gender analysis, focus our attention on the new freedoms for women offered by modernity—the movement of women "out of the cage" as one classic history of the period puts it. When brought together, these two approaches highlight the ways in which the interwar period in Britain has been read as both a period of enhanced freedoms for women and a period of great retrenchment. Additionally, the combination of these two discussions allows us to begin parsing the relationship between the "event" and the "non-event" as well as the transformation of one into the other—the radical "shock" of the street becomes the "blasé" attitude of the city dweller, the emergence of the airplane as a mode of transport accompanies an "airmindedness" that governs modern sensibilities. We will read texts by Benjamin, Simmel, de Certeau, Highmore, Lefebvre, Woolf, Rhys, West, and others, as well as explore women's magazines and feminist papers of the interwar period. Students will develop an article-length essay, a brief book review, and will guide a class discussion.
Ulysses: The World of Work and Play
Ulysses was intended to be art's celebration of the ordinary man and woman---and yet it has proven to be forbidding for most prospective readers. Given that each episode takes as its focus a profession----teaching, acting, singing, medicine, journalism, sex-work, bartending, and so on---this course will cut through the complications of style and form in order to assess how well (or badly) the book captures the everyday lives of such figures, as well as students, priests, ad-men, undertakers and hangers-on in the Dublin of 16 June 1904, "the dailiest day in literature". The leaders of the seminar with be Enrico Terrinoni, winner of Prix Napoli for his translation, and Declan Kiberd, author of Ulysses and US: The Art of Everyday Living. They will provide running commentary: but their intent is also to invite many guests to join the group on the basis of a professional expertise which should cast new light on an appropriately-selected episode. It is hoped that from these encounters, as from follow-up seminars run by Notre Dame in Rome, Paris and Dublin, we may put together a wholly new kind of study of Joyce's masterpiece, which draws not so much on established scholarly debates as on the skill with which Joyce rendered so many aspects of the world at work and at rest.
Knowledge, Belief, & Science in Melville's America
Hawthorne said of Melville that he could neither believe nor be comfortable in his unbelief - a phrase that puts Melville at the center of the bitter struggle waged by American intellectuals in the nineteenth century as scientific knowledge, religious skepticism, and capital accumulation seemed to tear knowledge apart from belief, even as politics were tearing the nation apart and consolidating it as an empire. This course will use several of Melville's works, including his poem Clarel, to launch a transatlantic inquiry into the conditions for scientific knowledge, religious belief, and democratic community. Our texts will include some briefer selections from eg. Humboldt, Darwin, Carlyle, Tennyson, and Emerson, as well as works by Frederick Douglass, Thoreau (Walden), Harriet Beecher Stowe (Dred), Hawthorne (Marble Faun), Emily Dickinson, and William James, plus some theory (eg. Latour's Factish Gods, perhaps Charles Taylor, others tba). Students will complete an original research paper, and there will be room for students to introduce additional authors or readings (including from science or philosophy) which they wish to explore in this context.
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.