Graduate Fiction Workshop Steve Tomasula
Spring 2015: This course is a chance for students in the graduate creative writing program to come together as writers/readers with the goal of helping each other develop as authors. Emphasis will be on writing as a contemporary art form rather than on polishing prose for particular genres or markets: in this class we will be more attentive to those aspects of writing that cannot be learned from cookbook approaches to writing. That is, emphasis will be placed on articulating an aesthetic and personal view through the writing of fiction rather than on the "craft" of fiction (and the well-crafted cuckoo clock the word implies) even as we acknowledge that no art takes place in a vacuum, that the personal operates within the constraints of audience and economy, be it the economy of the multinational publishing conglomerate, the not-for-profit poetry press, or the personal journal. It is hoped that students will articulate through their critiques of their classmates' work, through the application of literature and theory read in other classes, but especially through the fiction they write in this class, an awareness of the contemporary moment in literary practice, a reason for doing whatever they are doing in their own fiction, and a practical way to bring the two together. In conjunction with our discussions of the work written in class, we will be reading contemporary novels and short fiction by living authors. Requirements: three short fictions or chapters; presentation of an author/work from our reading list; regular attendance and participation; discussions with visiting authors.
Graduate Poetry Workshop Orlando Menes
Spring 2015: The Graduate Poetry Workshop is designed for the graduate student enrolled in Notre Dame’s MFA program. The principal aim of the course is for each student to generate poetry of publishable quality by the end of the semester, and for the student in the second year of the program to complete the MFA thesis. While the topics for most poems will be determined by each student, those that are assigned are meant to strengthen the student’s body of work. In addition, reading assignments are aimed to encourage and to sustain ongoing discussions on craft and poetics. The operative words here are diversity and plurality. We will also consider the current landscape of poetry publishing, especially that of first books. Another important component of the course will be translation and world poetry.
The Grotesque In Modern and Contemporary Culture Johannes Goransson
Spring 2015: Over the last 100 years, the grotesque (as well as related qualities like the hysterical, the transgressive, the gothic, the excessive, the surreal) has played a controversial and provocative role in a wide range of art and literature, as well as discourses of politics, the body, gender, race, media and morality, often involving all of these at the same time, or even collapsing these categories into each other. Rather than a proper genre, the grotesque has operated as a force of excess that transgresses easy classification, terminologies and boundaries. The class will read, listen to and watch sci-fi novels, punk songs, horror movies, Dada collages and gothic poems by writers, artists and performers like Paul Celan, Sylvia Plath, JG Ballard, David Lynch, Ana Mendieta, Sex Pistols, Julia Kristeva and Mikhail Bakhtin. This class is designed for MFA students (in writing and art). We will work on both critical and creative projects in response to the readering/viewing/listening.
Practicum: Literary Publishing [taught in the spring semester]
For students in the M.F.A. program: a series of seminar meetings on a variety of topics dealing with the practical side of literature, including publishing; making a living as an author; finding a literary home for your work; submitting manuscripts for publication; finding an agent or working without one; “marketplace” constraints that shape writing; and applying for jobs in the academy and in publishing. Class visits by visiting authors, publishers, and others with recent publishing experience will be arranged when possible. Class times are arranged after enrollment in order to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Practicum: Teaching Creative Writing [taught in the fall semester]
For students in the M.F.A. program: a series of seminar meetings on the teaching of creative writing. Discussion will include theoretical approaches and practical teaching situations from introductory to the graduate level. Students will practice their teaching in a live classroom by either directing an undergraduate workshop or giving a lesson in the craft of writing. The class will also introduce students to a wide range of teaching opportunities at both the secondary and post-secondary levels.
Censorship and Controversy in Medieval Texts
George Kane referred to Chaucer and Langland as “the obligatory conjunction” for all medievalists, yet these twin fathers of the “rise of English” are rarely read closely together. This course will involve in-depth study of these two great London writers, and the question of mutual influence. Chaucer and Langland especially, found their initial and most sophisticated audiences in the court, civil service and merchant classes in London. The Ricardian ‘Golden Age’ gave birth to what Chaucer’s and Langland’s disciples suddenly recognized as a national literature, largely attracting a young, under-employed audience of the clerical “proletariat”, that is, those who had found jobs in the burgeoning London civil service, law courts, scribal communities and as household secretaries, often to women. This London audience included aspiring alliterative poets of the West, Continentally influenced writers of the South and East, and clerks from the out-posted colonial civil service in Dublin. We will look at various traditional historicist approaches to the study of Chaucer and Langland, and their first reading circles, along with medieval literary theory, and newer methodologies including material culture and history of the book. Some special features of the course will be a chance to post on the newly created Notre Dame Medieval English blog, and a chance to explore material culture via hands-on workshops in medieval tapestry weaving and book-binding. Topics to be discussed will include genre, authorial self- representation, coterie readership, social, political, and religious dissent, illustrated manuscripts of the two poets, textile history, and the role of women in the Chaucerian and Langlandian rise of a "national" literature.
The Anglo-Scandinavian Middle Ages
Since the Middle Ages, the cultural fortunes of Britain and Scandinavia have been inextricably bound to one another. A Viking presence in Anglo-Saxon England transformed language, social organization, and literature, while to the early medieval Scandinavians England often proved a testing ground for valor and achievement. By the Middle English period, most Scandinavians had assimilated, but stories about them persisted in England, as did forms of their language. And in the early modern period, theologians, historians, and scholars turned to Scandinavia to locate the origins of British culture. When nineteenth-century British scientists, scholars, adventurers, and tourists visited Scandinavia, they did so to view and describe natural phenomena, or to fish, hike, and hunt. But building on historical British interest in Scandinavia, they also saw an image of what they regarded as their own primitive innocence. In effect, going to Scandinavia became like a ride on a time machine. This is a course, then, about time, culture, and representation. And its primary concerns turn on this question: How did British writers of several genres and several centuries use Scandinavia to imagine themselves and their own Middle Ages? To address this our readings will include Old English poetry and prose (in translation), Old Icelandic poetry and prose (again in translation), Havelok the Dane, Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, Morris’s Journals of Travel in Iceland, Collingwood’s The Life and Death of Cormac the Skald, Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and selections from several early modern histories and commentaries.
The Cartographies of Violence in Southern African Fiction
In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon asserts, “The violence which has ruled over the ordering of the colonial world, which has ceaselessly drummed the rhythm for the destruction of native social forms and broken up without reserve the systems of reference of the economy, the customs of dress and external life, that same violence will be claimed and taken over by the native at the moment when, deciding to embody history in his own person, he surges into the forbidden quarters.” In many ways much of the postcolonial literature written in the second half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first has powerfully rendered complex imaginings of Fanon’s charge. In this graduate seminar, we will center the work of writers who explore and complicate violence as a foundational articulation of the colonial project and its postcolonial aftermath in the landscapes of South Africa and Zimbabwe. We will attempt in our study of Southern African literature to trace a broad concept of violence, one that takes up Fanon’s dialectic of violence as colonial domination and decolonizing impulse, while also considering how (post) colonial and (post) apartheid violence manifests in other, perhaps more liminal, epistemological, spatial, ecological, and embodied—racial, gender, sexual—registers. Our focused study of Southern African literature will allow us to investigate how writers from this region grapple specifically with the co-constitutive themes of violence, identity, history, and memory. As we travel the multifarious cartographies of violence as mapped out in selected narratives, we will also grapple with the contention that representation is too an act of violence and/or that tropes of violence ultimately subvert conventional discursive and aesthetic forms and genres. The work of creative writers such as Yvonne Vera, Dambudzo Marchera, Yvette Christiansë, Nadine Gordimer, NoViolet Bulawayo, Sindiwe Magona, J.M. Coetzee, Alan Paton, Alex La Guma, Zakes Mda, K. Sello Duiker, and Zoe Wicomb will most likely be paired with the critical and theoretical work of Fanon, Achille Mbembe, Amina Mama, Albert Memmi, Pumla Gqola, Njabulo Ndebele, Elaine Scarry, Mahmood Mamdani and others.
Beowulf is often called the first great poem in English. But why? In this course, we will explore the nature of Beowulf: is it really English? Is it really a masterpiece? Is it really a poem? (The answers to these questions are by no means simple.) We will read all 3182 lines of Beowulf in the original Old English--although translation won't be the focus of this course, it is only suitable for students with some prior knowledge of the language. Our main goal in our discussions and writing will be to work out where Beowulf's aesthetic and emotional force comes from, and how it persists: why does this work continue to move and inspire us more than a thousand years after it was written down?
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.
Fiction and the Enlightenment
The period sometimes called “the long Eighteenth century” has long been known as “the Age of Reason.” The term “Enlightenment” can refer to the era as a historical period associated with new intellectual and moral light. The new age of Reason manifests an enormous appetite for fiction. Highly varied forms of fiction borrowed, invented or reinvented. The Novel is always central to study of Western literature of this period, but conventional separation does injustice to the lively forms of short fiction ( in poetry and prose) as well as to the nature of the eighteenth-century novel .itself. Fiction infiltrates all forms of discourse, insistent on its powers. It is employed as argument, and feeds—or feeds upon-- both realism and the fantastic. What happens to the Enlightenment under the pressure of Fiction? What happens to Fiction under the pressure of the Enlightenment? Authors of periodical essays, a new invention bursting forth in the Tatler and Spectator, develop fictional devices and motifs in finding ways to comprehend the modern world. The classical background should be taken into account; we shall look at samples of narrative insets taken from Vergil and Ovid, and from Horace, whose “country mouse” proceeds from age to age. Fables are recycled and revised. The fairy tale may truly be called “an Enlightenment form” rising into prominence with Charles Perrault’s Contes, the genre branching into fresh inventions by various male and female writers ( in stories such as “The White Cat.”) Animals and objects get to tell their own stories. The advent of The Thousand and One Nights brings a new fountain of story material and formulation, finding outlets in variations on the “Oriental Tale.” Sermons, biographies,(including criminal lives), history books and texts of philosophy repeatedly resort to anecdote and inset tale, employing the devices of both classical and popular narrative.
Texts include poems by John Dryden ( “Absalom and Achitophel,” The Hind and the Panther”), Alexander Pope ( “Epistle to Bathurst, “Dunciad”) , Ann Finch, Jonathan Swift and other poets. Religious writings include William Law’s Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. Historical works are represented by extracts from Clarendon, Hume and Gibbon. We shall read at least one of Cervantes’ witty and puzzling short tales, Novelas Ejemplares. Developments in the non-realistic short story can be seen in a short story by Goethe, Polidori’s “The Vampyre,” and a couple of tales of E.T. A. Hoffmann.
Novels include Heliodorus’ Ethiopian History (an influential ancient novel); Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa (first half); Voltaire’s Candide; Francis Coventry’s The History’s of Pompey the Little: or, The Life and Adventures of a Lap-Dog; Frances Sheridan’ s “Oriental tale” Nourjahad, and “Mrs. Carver’s” short “Gothic” novel, The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey.
Some of the most enduring stereotypes of British Romanticism involve the cultivation of solitary genius, the return to a pristine Nature, and the celebration of local, rural community. Compelling as these cultural ideals may seem, they have been complicated and enriched by recent scholarship that situates the literary productions of Romanticism within the larger geopolitical frameworks of their historical epoch—such as Britain’s colonial enterprise, the Napoleonic wars, transatlantic and worldwide commercial systems, the slave trade, travel and exploration, the collision of regional environments and the worldwide migration
of catastrophic diseases, global feminisms and the rights of woman movement. To become alert to the interaction of these global forces with the period’s literary activity is to develop a new, complex appreciation of multiple forms of “Romanticisms” operating and clashing together in relation to rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected world developments. Building on the new scholarly fascination with such larger maps of “Romanticisms,” this class will explore the intersections of the local, the national, and the global in well-known canonical writers such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron and the Shelleys as well as works by such lesser-known figures as Baillie, Smith, Hays, Morgan, Cowley, and Starke, among others. Readings and discussion will range generically across fiction, drama, poetry, journalism, travel writing, abolitionist writing, and political prose. Particular concentration will center on the differences and similarities between the conventionally separated first (“Lakers”) and second (“Cockneys”) generations of romantic era writers. We will also focus substantially on women writers,
especially in their movements toward global feminisms. Readings and discussion will also attend to recent theories of “Romanticism” and “Cosmopolitanism,” and our overall investment will be keenly sensitive to relationships between global culture during the romantic era and the global crises of our own time.
This seminar will examine the contradictory burdens placed upon the lyric genre by readers over the last hundred years, beginning with its (and the writing subject’s) fracture in the late nineteenth-century and the critical scramble that nonetheless ensured its enshrinement in both the newly institutionalized “study of English” and modernism’s new “art religion.” Readings for the course will trouble such formulations from within the poetry itself, watching it absorb the various crises of thought, history and literary theory that would lead, by mid-century, to such deep suspicions about the lyric subject’s mandate to “express selfhood,” and the form’s supposed/opposed universal and cultural work, that it becomes something of a “genre non grata” – up until, that is, our new century, which has rather surprisingly resurrected it in what scholars have called “the new lyric humanism.” Why has the lyric such a volatile critical history – one that at times even erupts in quasi-military language – and what continues to be at stake? Though the course’s focus will remain largely upon British poetry, it will spend a good deal of time too on transatlantic episodes like the infamous “Movement” against “Modernism” (with a capital M) in postwar Britain, where the term was associated with both ideological extremism in pre-war, 1930s (“Red Decade”) Europe, and with American-driven poetic experiment’s displacements of lyric subject and syntax – which Movement poet-critic Donald Davie allied with “theaten[ing] the rule of law in the civilized community,” with “choosing a leader out of the ruck” (Purity of Diction in English Verse, 1952). Students should emerge from the course with a good sense of not only a crucial and current debate in literary studies, but also of what’s been happening on the British poetry scene, particularly since the last world war. They will be encouraged from the start to tease out what’s at stake for each of them individually in this emotional debate, and to begin to research critical and/or theoretical responses to their chosen issue early on in the semester. MFA students may replace the required term paper (20-30 pages) with two shorter interventions if they prefer. Taking turns leading class discussion will be our practice, and students will be required to deliver a presentation of their final work at the end of the course.
ENGL 90524 / IRLL 60112 - Crosslist
Storied Landscapes: Ireland, Britain, and the Medieval Poets of Place
Medieval Irish, English and Welsh literature (Latin and vernacular) feature a high concentration ofsophisticated narratives invested in mapping persons and places. All unified by their conscientious use of a poetics of place, the texts we will examine variously focus on the movement of heroes, saints and colonizers through challenging and transformative geographies; some tales probe both individual and community reactions to being shepherded to or driven from the places, both mundane and otherworldly, they would like to call home; bountiful hunts and rich harvests to demonstrate the happy union of a people with their intended homeland; the land?s own agency, its ability to catch fire and its rivers rise in fury to protest a leader?s bad judgments. Rooted in the physical geographies of Ireland, England and Wales (and to a lesser extent, the Holy Land), these narrative topographies nonethelessmove beyond the land itself and become powerful, portable worlds that can be accessed and occupied by readers anywhere and at any time; this becomes particularly clear as we examine the historical contexts of the different texts and consider how they are written and circulated as responses, often recuperative, to experiences of disenfranchisemen
Nineteenth-Century American Literature: Theories of Transnationalism and Transnational Methodologies
This graduate seminar uses the literature and literary culture of nineteenth-century America to ground an exploration of the theories and methodologies of transnationalism. It is guided by the proposal that transnationalism is not (just) phenomena or supralocal identification but a discursive technology afforded by modernity. We know, for example, that Frederick Douglass visited Ireland, borrowed from Jane Eyre and Bleak House, and, in Haiti and elsewhere, participated in polities larger than the nation-state. The discussion of Douglass’ transnationalism, however, should not end with these observations. We will look at transnationalism as ways of delinking text from national ideology, from progressive, linear history, and from interpellations of subjectivity based in rituals of consensus. In nineteenth-century American literature, transnationalism also names the fantasies of participating in bibliographic, as opposed to geopolitical, networks, fantasies which generate very particular interpretations of the pathways between language, agency and utopian possibility. In addition to thinking about transnationalism as an enabling positionality, we will examine it as a form that conditions expectations of synthesis, and thus belonging with other positivist formations in the nineteenth-century such as international law and Hegelian historiography. Historicizing transnationalism in this manner means being very self-conscious about using transnationalism as a methodology, since transnationalism is itself a genre. The question to ask as literary historians then is not “how is this piece of literature or writer transnational,” but rather, “how do they position themselves vis-a-vis the genre of transnationalism?” We will explore the possibility that instead of transmission of ideas and engagement with the world, transnationalism can function as the ways of compartmentalizing and cordoning off, of being open to the world and yet ideologically contained, that actually describes much of modernity.
Coverage will include the writings of Washington Irving, Alexander Hill Everett, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, and Henry James; critical literature from the “transnational turn” in American Studies; and theories of materiality, media, affect, sociology, translation, systems, and identity that engage with historical transnationalism.
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: Preparing for the Profession
A workshop on professional publication, conference activity, and job search procedures.
Complete list of current Department courses: here.