SPRING 2014 COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
ENG 601-001 Graduate Writing Practicum: Beyond the Academy
In recent years, with the revival of the cultural role of the “public intellectual,” many scholars have begun to imagine careers that involve contributions to and participation in conversations that extend beyond the academy. Unfortunately, our training rarely prepares us for or provides opportunities to practice the kind of writing (and public speaking) that can communicate to readers/audiences outside our areas of specialization. This course is designed for graduate students who are interested in developing the skills and confidence that will enable them to reach such an audience. With that goal in mind, we will discuss the obstacles, both personal and institutional, that lie in the way, we will read and practice genres of writing (e.g. Op-Ed pieces, memoir, “hybrid” pieces) that encourage clarity and creativity, and we will work to create a supportive community for criticism and revision. Students will also develop a more substantial writing project (journal article, dissertation proposal, book proposal, magazine article), individually tailored to their goals. Approval of the instructor required for admission to this course.
ENG 651-001 American Studies and Nineteenth-Century Historical Fiction
In recent years, scholars have increasingly turned their attention to questions of time in the study of nineteenth-century U.S. literature and culture. Despite being a recognizable part of the critical argot—the term “temporality” seems to occupy a spot in nearly every recent journal issue and conference brochure—American time studies calls for further mapping. Our task as a class will be to limn this emerging sub-field. As we trace the temporal turn in American studies, students will gather tools for temporal analysis of literary texts. We will hone our inquiry (for the most part) on the genre of historical romance. Possible authors include: Eliza Bleecker, Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, William Gilmore Simms, Catharine Sedgwick, Caroline Kirkland, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Pauline Hopkins, and Charles Chesnutt. It is worth emphasizing that this is an American Studies-style seminar; a considerable portion of our readings will come from fields and disciplines outside of literary study. Our investigations will range across literary criticism, narratology, affect studies, memory studies, Atlantic history, transnationalism, postcolonialism, philosophy, anthropology, and social theory. Weekly responses, presentation, short theory paper, and final “conference paper.”
ENG 656-001 Black Am. Lit: The Contemporary African-American Novel: Influences and Traditions
This seminar will take the unique approach of pairing a “contemporary” novel (see Bernard Bell’s The Contemporary African American Novel ) with a classical canonical one, e.g., Andrea Lee’s Lost Hearts in Italy (2006) with Larsen’s Quicksand (1928) or Fauset’s Plum Bun (1929); or Randall Kenan’s postmodernly queer Visitation of Spirits (1989) with James Baldwin’s modernist Go Tell It on the Mountain. The aim of such pairings is to allow investigations and discussions of traditions and the literary discourses the texts take up and that they generate. In addition to a set of 7 or so primary texts that range from the performance novel to the epic, seminarians will also engage theoretical works on the contemporary African American novel and its relation to African American culture and history, e.g, Bell’s text on the topic, Kenneth Warren’s provocative What Was African American Literature (2011) or Abdur-Rahman’s Against the Closet: Black Political Longing and the Erotics of Race (2012). The assignments for the course are designed to immerse students in the scholarly and cultural (that is popular) tradition of African American literature (i.e., seminar paper, class presentation, rigorous participation, and working bibliography on a pair of texts). If you’re still wondering whether to take this course, ask: Would I like to deepen my knowledge of African American literature and its cultural traditions? If so, then this course is for you! In fact it’s for anyone with serious interest in the academic study of this distinctively American tradition.
ENG 700-001 Ph.D. Tutorial
This course allows Ph.D. candidates who have completed all course work requirements to work together under the direction of a senior faculty member in preparing for and taking the Qualifying Examination. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve credits. Prereq: Admission to the Ph.D. program and instructor’s consent.
ENG 738-001 Class, Status, and Cultural Capital in Victorian England
In an age of political upheaval, over-heated and under-regulated investment capitalism, the factory system and urban poverty, commodity culture, and the increasing power of the middle classes to represent if not to rule society, questions of class, status, and identity pressed urgently on writers as well as politicians and capitalists. This semester we will explore attempts to come to terms with these phenomena from different social perspectives, tracing conflicts among shifting forms of power and markers of status.
Readings include Anthony Trollope’s massive and wonderful The Way We Live Now, often cited as particularly relevant to our own era because of its representation of financial shenanigans and conspicuous consumption; George Eliot’s problematic Felix Holt, whose uncomfortably bourgeois version of the good factory worker has challenged scholars to understand and perhaps rehabilitate it; G. W. M. Reynolds’s The Seamstress, a populist potboiler that recycles the conventions of melodrama to represent Victorian class struggle; short fiction and poetry of the Chartist movement, the most robust and literate working-class movement in British history; and Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, preeminent among journalistic attempts to make sense of the urban scene, with its new forms of poverty and class contact zones. We will also examine theoretical and critical frameworks for understanding the period, including Pierre Bourdieu, E. P. Thompson, Dror Warhman, and Jacques Rancière. Expect to write a weekly blog, a brief research project, a medium-sized paper, and a seminar paper.
ENG 771-001 Special Topics: Global Literature, in Theory
What is global literature--or world literature, as some of its critics call it--and how is it different from English and comparative literary studies? Only a decade ago, the discipline of English was pegged almost exclusively to two national traditions--those of Britain and the US--and comparative literary studies seemed as if it were on the brink of extinction. Now, the category of world literature has shaken national literary traditions in English and given comparative literature departments a new lease on life. In this course, we will survey the recent debates and theoretical interventions of global literary studies. We will explore the relationship between it and the closely related fields of English, comparative literature, postcolonial theory, and globalization studies. The syllabus will include readings by David Damrosch--who defines world literature as a canon travelling texts--Franco Moretti--who makes a case for "distant reading" as the new method of global literary study--and Pascale Casanova, who theorizes the mechanics of a world republic of letters. Assignments will include class presentations, a paper proposal with annotated bibliography, and a seminar paper.