Graduate Fiction Workshop
The major work of the semester will be the analysis of our own fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid manuscripts, presented by small groups to the workshop as any published literary text might be, then discussed by all. Outside readings will suggest a broad range of aesthetic possibilities. Finally, we'll explore publishing options of all sorts.
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.
Reading the Body Politic
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
***This course will only be available to MFA students***
In this course we will examine the strange intimacy between experience and writing as it manifests in literature that engages notions of the body, language, community, memory and history. We will ask: How do experiences of violence, oppression, anxiety and indignity manifest in language? How do current and past humanitarian crises across the globe impact the production and study of literature? How does literature resist, update or corroborate the fantasy of the American Dream? What does it mean to be American? How do writers invent linguistic structures in order to document community histories and respond to personal, political, social, economic and moral crises? In order to inhabit these questions, we will read texts that explore the outer limits of language. What the margins of language offers writers is the necessary distance from which to exert pressure on centralizing forms of speech, to expose subtle forms of censorship, and to record and respond to historical crises. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are—the very grammar of those narratives—shapes our perception of self and world. Manipulating grammar, targeting limiting or exclusionary forms of speech, can lead to a shift in consciousness both for the writer and the reader. That kind of rigor allows literature to have an impact on the social body. That kind of rigor allows us to probe what’s been kept off limits and obscured by secrecy or state-sanctioned violence. That kind of rigor allows us to think of literature as a practice of “beloved community.” We will read authors who navigate the subtle constraints placed on our speech in order to bring previously invisible forms of suffering into the realm of public discourse. Readings will include works by authors such as Amir Ahmadi Arian, Alexander Chee, Ocean Vuong, Natalie Diaz, Solmaz Sharif, Roger Reeves, Natasha Tretheway, Tommy Orange, Viet Than Nguyen, Kevin Young, Jericho Brown, Mahmoud Darwish, Edward Said, Elias Khoury, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leila Lalami among others.
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.
Milton is also a pivotal figure in intellectual history. The seventeenth century saw fundamentally new developments in philosophy, theology, natural philosophy (or science), and politics, and Milton contributed to the intellectual ferment. We will observe surprising resonances between Milton’s thought and that of his younger contemporary, Isaac Newton.
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. 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,” "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 to Establish a Free Commonwealth). Students will write a substantial article-length scholarly essay (with preliminary stages of prospectus and bibliography and outline) and a final exam.
You pick up a copy of Shakespeare - but what is the object you are holding? This course will explore the history, theory and practice of editing Shakespeare as an example of the complex issues in editing literary/dramatic texts. From the work of early modern printers, through the tradition of 18th century editions (Rowe to Malone), towards current, 21st century editorial practice and the future of online/print editions, we will investigate how practice has shaped theory and vice versa. In particular, we will be concerned with the problematics of the representation of performance (early, recent, possible) in text/paratext/commentary. Work required will include editing segments of Shakespeare plays (generating text, collation, commentary), attending performance(s) as well as experimenting with possible new ways in which a Shakespeare edition might be conceived and, of course, writing a substantial research paper.
This course provides a detailed introduction to the medieval genre of romance. We will at least dip our toes in various of romance’s pools--Alexander romance, Arthurian romance, lyrical romance, prose romance, travel literature, and others--and we will read works originally composed in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic. On the whole the class de-emphasizes historical romance in favor of otherworldly romances, and particularly favors works with a strong interest in marvels. Marvels have long held a privileged role in the history of literature, and we will think about their special claim to literariness, whether they anticipate the realist novel, and why scholars are disposed to read them as foreshadowing later developments. The Middle English selections are more inclusive, as befits the fact that this is an English class, but our interest will remain on the operation of marvels in romance.
Modern Irish Drama on the World Stage
When W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and Edward Martyn decided to launch their first effort at an Irish theater in 1897, they were responding not only to a reawakening of Irish national feeling, but to the phenomenon of radical and often national "free theaters" springing up all over Europe during the preceding decades. In this course, we will consider the Irish dramatic revival in both its national and international contexts. While investigating the relationship between the major Irish revival dramatists and the Irish cultural and national politics that so often shaped their plays' reception in Ireland, we will look at how Irish playwrights responded and contributed to international developments in twentieth- and twenty-first century theater. We will also consider, through our study of recent scholarship investigating the possibilities and pitfalls of "global" criticism, whether or how transformative events in international politics should be considered part of the story of twentieth century Irish drama. In addition to major dramatic works by W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, Lennox Robinson, Douglas Hyde, Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw, Denis Johnston, and Samuel Beckett, we will also read the work of playwrights that influenced or were influenced by modern Irish dramatists, possibly including but not necessarily limited to Maurice Maeterlinck, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Henrik Ibsen, Federico Garcia Lorca, Bertolt Brecht, Lorraine Hansberry, Eugene O'Neill, Rabindranath Tagore, Zeami (as filtered by Ezra Pound), and Derek Walcott. (All non-Anglophone texts will be assigned in English translation.) The theoretical questions about gender, sexuality, and the body that are always raised by theatrical performance will be foregrounded in our discussions of all this material.
The Crisis of Literature in the Anthropocene: The Nineteenth Century
The Anthropocene—as both concept and reality—is having a seismic impact across the humanities because it breaches our founding principle: that whatever is human is not-nature. Given that this problem is not solved by "postmodern," "post-human" or "post-natural," we will assume, first, that we are not "post-" anything: the historical moment we call "Modernity" has always been plural, contested, and parochial. Second, that the historical and cultural (as cf. the geological) Anthropocene was initiated by the long 19th century's two crucial innovations: the invention of the steam engine—the literal engine of industrial capitalism—and the assertion of Earth as a geologically ancient and self-creating planet writing its own narrative, its geo-history. Both innovations were recognized, sometimes together, as posing an existential threat to human exceptionalism; the shock waves are still reverberating. We will trace those shock waves in American writers (Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Poe, Melville, Hawthorne, Copway, Norris, Jewett, William James) as well as selected scientists (Humboldt, Lyell, Darwin, Vernadsky). For help we will draw on theorists who have tried to name our condition and suggest what we must do about it: likely readings include selections from Critical Zones: The Science and Politics of Landing on Earth, ed. Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel; Anahid Nersessian (Calamity Form), Isabel Stengers, Michel Serres, Amitav Ghosh, Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, Donna Haraway, Peter Sloterdijk, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Roy Scranton, and Timothy Clark. This is designed as an inquiry course: the boundaries of our readings are open to suggestion, and students of all periods are welcome.
Law & Utopia in Atlantic America
In her provocative 2012 study, Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender, Janell Hobson underlines what we know today be true in the face of police brutality and the energy of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as those of #MeToo and #Time’sUp—that rather than having been eradicated, millennial hopes that the historical difficulties represented by race and gender have lost their significance 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 what can be called the literary utopic impulse and its emphasis on the imagination in several 19th-century American authors whose work participates in a broad yet under-acknowledged vision of race, gender and Atlantic modernity interrogating 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.
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
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
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.