English Courses

Spring 2014

ENGL 1360-001 (3196) – THE AMERICAN HEROINE
12:30 TTH – 306 DH – SCHWARTZ

Works of American literature as they reflect and comment upon the evolving identities of women, men, and culture from the mid-19th Century to the contemporary period. Novels will be supplemented by other readings. Several short writing assignments; midterm and final examinations; quizzes.

Texts: Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Erdrich, Tracks; Bechdel, Fun Home; other short novels and short stories

ENGL 1380-001 (5911) – INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURE
 11 MWF – 115 DH – ROSENDALE

What is literature?  Why do people write it?  Why and how should we read it?  English 1380 is a user-friendly introduction to the pleasures of understanding literature.  It will cover the three major genres of literature—poetry, drama, and prose fiction—drawn mostly from the British and American traditions, right up to the present day, and including related contemporary forms like graphic novels, TV, and popular music.  We’ll read a variety of high-quality texts that help us see the world (and ourselves) in new ways, learn about their contexts and methods, and then talk and maybe argue about what (and how) they mean.  UC: CA1 GEC: Perspectives Literature

ENGL 2310-001 (3837) – IMAGINATION AND INTERPRETATION:      "STAGING SHAKESPEARE'S STATE"
10 MWF – 120 DH – JOHNSON

 We do not know for sure what Shakespeare’s political leanings were, but many of his texts seem deeply entangled in political problems. In ten plays from a variety of genres, this course will explore the creation, governance, and dissolution of ten different fictive states, each with its own distinct structures of political control and resistance. If we cannot see what Shakespeare thought of the state in which he lived, we can certainly see what the ones he created were like, and, perhaps, by comparing them to the actual Elizabethan political establishment, come to some interesting conclusions about it.

ENGL 2310-002 (5952) – IMAGINATION AND INTERPRETATION: “SATIRE FROM THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION TO OCCUPY WALL STREET”
12 MWF – 153 DH – ROBBINS

 American writers have long used satire as a means of challenging the status quo. From Benjamin Franklin’s advice to England on the best way to lose an empire to Don DeLillo’s absurdist take on a society driven mad by rampant consumerism and media saturation, American literature is rich with the humor, wit, and ridicule that distinguishes the satirical tradition. In this course, we will study a broad range of American satires, both literary and extra-literary, from the colonial period to the present, with an eye toward how they use irony, sarcasm, parody, and ridicule to travesty their targets. While our central focus will be on the satirical novel, we will have occasion to look at a variety of satirical expressions, including essays, poems, illustrations, songs, a feature film, and even contemporary television programming. Our main objective is to develop a critical sensitivity to the specific tactics satirists deploy to subvert predominant sociopolitical mores. By analyzing precisely how these satires act within and in relation to American culture and history, we will learn to recognize, compare, and write about the specific satirical modes that shape these wildly humorous and irreverent social commentaries.

ENGL 2310-003 --  Imagination and Interpretation: The Literature of Chivalry. Spring 2013. MWF 1:00. DH 120. Charles Wuest.

This course surveys the literature of chivalry from its medieval origins to the present day.  We begin with pre-chivalric literature that allows us to see the development of chivalry, particularly its differences from previous traditions of heroic literature.  We will then read several representative texts of chivalry as it flourished in the late middle ages.  The latter part of the course will consider readings from subsequent time periods, up to the present day, allowing us to see the ongoing influence of chivalric ideals, as well as the interrogation and reinterpretation of those ideals by later writers.  Throughout the course, we will be refining our conception of chivalry as we study an array of works that simultaneously define and undermine traditional conceptions.


ENGL 2311-001(2894) – POETRY
 11 MWF – 107 HYER – BOZORTH

Now in 4D: how to do things with poems you never knew were possible, and once you know how, you won’t want to stop.   You’ll learn to trace patterns in language, sound, imagery, feeling, and all those things that make poetry the world’s oldest and greatest multisensory art form, appealing to eye, ear, mouth, heart, and other bodily processes.  You will read, talk, and write about poems written centuries ago and practically yesterday.  You will learn to spot exotic species like villanelles and sestinas.  You’ll discover the difference between free verse and blank verse and be glad you know.  You will impress your friends and family with metrical analyses of great poems and famous television theme songs.  You’ll argue (politely but passionately) about love, sex, the sinking of the Titanic, witches, God, Satan, and trochaic tetrameter.  You’ll satisfy a requirement for the English major and a good liberal-arts education.  Shorter and longer papers totally approximately 20 pages; midterm; final exam; class presentation.

Texts:  Helen Vendler, Poems, Poets, Poetry (3d ed);  Andrea Lunsford, EasyWriter (4th ed.).

ENGL 2311-003(2894) – POETRY
 3 MW – 116 DH – BOZORTH

Now in 4D: how to do things with poems you never knew were possible, and once you know how, you won’t want to stop.   You’ll learn to trace patterns in language, sound, imagery, feeling, and all those things that make poetry the world’s oldest and greatest multisensory art form, appealing to eye, ear, mouth, heart, and other bodily processes.  You will read, talk, and write about poems written centuries ago and practically yesterday.  You will learn to spot exotic species like villanelles and sestinas.  You’ll discover the difference between free verse and blank verse and be glad you know.  You will impress your friends and family with metrical analyses of great poems and famous television theme songs.  You’ll argue (politely but passionately) about love, sex, the sinking of the Titanic, witches, God, Satan, and trochaic tetrameter.  You’ll satisfy a requirement for the English major and a good liberal-arts education.  Shorter and longer papers totally approximately 20 pages; midterm; final exam; class presentation.

Texts:  Helen Vendler, Poems, Poets, Poetry (3d ed);  Andrea Lunsford, EasyWriter (4th ed.).

ENGL 2312-001H (2846) – FICTION
3 MW – 357 DH – WEISENBURGER

Storytelling is an age-old human expressive activity, giving shape to the ways people understand themselves, others, and their world.  Narrative—whether fictional or nonfictional—structures memory and so is elemental to critical and historical thinking, to knowledge-making. This course walks us through a set of classic fictions. Equal part lecture and discussion, it introduces main concepts and approaches to the study of narrative, builds analytical and critical reading and writing skills, and aims at nourishing smarter story-readers, more attuned to the ways narration operates in and upon us all.  Added bonus: such work increases the pleasures of reading (and viewing). We use a short story anthology, study the writing of master storyteller James Joyce, and compare two novels (and their film adaptations) that exemplify related popular modes—detective story, and suspense-thriller. Several short critical papers; a mid-term and final exam. 

Texts: Hudson Book of Fiction; James Joyce, Dubliners (1914); Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939); Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (2006). GENERAL EDUCATION CURRICULUM: PERSPECTIVES. UNIVERSITY CURRICULUM: PILLARS/CREATIVITY & AESTHETICS LEVEL 1, PROFICIENCIES & EXPERIENCES/WRITING.

ENGL 2314-001H (3030).  DOING THINGS WITH POEMS.  12:30 TTH -- 138 DH --SPIEGELMAN

Introduction to the study of poems, poets, and how poetry works, focusing on a wide range of English and American writers. Some attention to matters of literary history. Writing assignments: approximately five short essays, daily paragraphs, final examination if necessary. Students will memorize 100 lines of poetry.

Texts: Vendler, Poems, Poets, Poetry; Hollander, Rhyme’s Reason

ENGL 2315-003 (3450) – INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY STUDY
 2 TTH –143 DH – CASSEDY

Introduction to the discipline of literary study, covering methods of literary analysis in selected texts spanning a range of genres and historical periods. Assignments: four essays; midterm; final exam.

Texts: Short fiction by Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville; poetry by Dickinson; essays by Michel de Montaigne; the Book of Jonah; Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple; Shakespeare's King Lear; Melville's Moby-Dick; Hitchcock's Vertigo. 

ENGL 2390-001 (3839) – INTRO CREATIVE WRITING
 11 TTH – 137 DH – BROWNDERVILLE

In this course students write poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Class time is devoted to writing exercises and the discussion of published pieces and students' work.

ENGL 2390-002 (3840) – INTRO CREATIVE WRITING
 2 TTH –115 DH – DIACONOFF

 Introduction to Creative Writing. This course introduces students to the practice of writing poems, short stories, and creative essays. Class time is devoted to the study of published pieces, workshop discussion of students' pieces, and in-class writing exercises.

Texts: Richard Hugo, THE TRIGGERING TOWN, and Heather Sellers, THE PRACTICE OF CREATIVE WRITING.

ENGL 2390-003 (3841) – INTRO CREATIVE WRITING
 3:30 TTH –157 DH – DIACONOFF

 Introduction to Creative Writing. This course introduces students to the practice of writing poems, short stories, and creative essays. Class time is devoted to the study of published pieces, workshop discussion of students' pieces, and in-class writing exercises.

Texts: Richard Hugo, THE TRIGGERING TOWN, and Heather Sellers, THE PRACTICE OF CREATIVE WRITING.

ENGL 3310-701 (2484) – CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES TO LIT
  5:30 M – 102 HYER –MURFIN

What is literature?  How do we read it, and why?  What counts as “literature”?  How can students make sense—and use—of literary criticism? This course addresses these questions by introducing the linguistic, cultural and theoretical issues informing contemporary literary discourse, as well as by studying some literary texts and contemporary interpretations of them.  Writing assignments:  weekly in-class short exercises, one short essay, one longer essay, final exam.

Texts:  Brontë, ‘Wuthering Heights’:  A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism; Conrad, ‘Heart of Darkness’:  A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism and ‘The Secret Sharer’:  A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism; Shelley, ‘Frankenstein’:  A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism. 

ENGLISH 3310-001 (2483) – CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES TO LIT
 11 MWF – 120 DH – CRUSIUS

An introduction to contemporary methods of interpreting literature and to the theoretical assumptions--about language, culture, gender, politics, sexuality, and psychology--informing these methods. Writing assignments: four short essays, final examination.

Texts: Stephen Lynn, Texts and Contexts; Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves.

ENGL 3329 - 001C (5975) & MDVL 3329 (6122) – THE WORLD OF KING ARTHUR: ARTHURIAN LITERATURE AND COURTLY CULTURES
 3:30 TTH – 156 DH – WHEELER

Study of Britain's greatest native hero and one of the world's most compelling story stocks: the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  This interdisciplinary, usually individually taught course develops the student's awareness of how medieval cultures constructed ideas of power, gender, and heroism through the multivalent figure of King Arthur, and how those ideas were (and are) received in  modern and contemporary cultures. The course is both historical and thematic. It assesses various forms of evidence (from history, archeology, art, and literature) and differing biographical paradigms to investigate both the reality and the utility of the Arthurian model. Class debates, comments, short papers, and final exam.

ENGL 3331-001 (5977) – BRITISH LITERARY HISTORY I: CHAUCER TO POPE
  2:00 TTH – 116 DH – SWANN

Love, sex, and power: these topics captured the imaginations of the early British writers we'll read throughout the semester.  We'll discuss works by medieval, Renaissance, and eighteenth-century authors (both men and women) and explore how these fascinating literary texts were shaped by--and sought to shape--the historical moments in which they were written.  Our reading will be richly diverse: we'll examine both comic texts and some of the most profound and disturbing works ever written in the English language; and in the process, we'll analyze many different literary genres, including narrative poetry, drama, prose, and lyric verse.  This wide-ranging course will be especially valuable to anyone who wants to gain a broad background knowledge of British literature. Requirements: participation in class discussions; daily quizzes; two essays (one short paper of five pages, one longer essay eight pages in length); comprehensive final exam.

Texts: The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, 9th edition, vol. 1; Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, ed. A. Kent Hieatt and Constance Hieatt.

ENGL 3346-001 (6103) AMERICAN LITERARY HISTORY I
9:30 TTH – 120 DH – GREENSPAN  

Course description: this course will explore literary responses of a wide array of major American writers from 1775-1900 to questions and problems of individual, group, and national identity emerging in the wake of American political and cultural independence. Central issues will include nationalism as political and cultural phenomenon, individualism and freedom, history of authorship, race and slavery, minority identity, the civil war, capitalism and literary culture.

Texts: Baym, Nina, et al., the Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition, Vols. A & b (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012)Dreiser, Theodore, Sister Carrie (New York: Penguin, 1986)James, Henry, Daisy Miller (New York: Dover, 1995)

ENGL 3360-001 (5982) – EXPERIMENTAL AMERICAN FICTION
10 MWF – 106 DH – ROBBINS

 This course will explore the tradition of experimental American fiction. We will read a variety of texts as creative experiments in language and narrative, with an eye toward how experimental writers manipulate literary conventions to create new ways of making meaning. More specifically, we will consider how these writers revise and subvert traditional ghost stories, fairy tales, mysteries, westerns, and science fictions for a postmodern audience. Reading novels by Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, and William Burroughs, we will ask ourselves: What was experimental fiction in the past? What is experimental fiction in the present? And is experimentation an indispensable part of prose fiction as such? Students enrolled in this course should be prepared to read a range of challenging yet playful short stories, novellas, and novels, and to think about how these texts challenge conventional strategies for reading and interpretation.

ENGL 3362 – 001 (3453). African American Literature.  11 TuTh. 0107 Hyer Hall. Prof. Dickson-Carr

This course is devoted to the study of crucial texts and authors in African American literary history. We will read works considered essential within the tradition of African American literature as well as recent works that may be either nontraditional or not yet widely read. We shall pay special attention to the means through which these works demonstrate how African Americans have constructed and developed individual identities as well as communities through shared experiences. In the process, we will explore the following: definitions of “race,” class, and gender; the nature of oppression; common tropes and literary figures; possibilities of transcendence. The ultimate goals of the course are to comprehend through the literature the historical situation and cultural dynamics of communities and the individuals they comprise, and to help broaden our understanding of American history and culture via the particular insights African American literature provides. Our main text will be The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, but we will supplement this with additional materials, as needed. Written requirements: regular reading examinations; regular short writing assignments, including responses to take-home and in-class prompts and one minor paper; two major papers (one requiring research); midterm and final examinations.

Texts (subject to change): Gates, McKay, et al., The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, Second Edition; Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Schuyler, Black No More; Ellison, Invisible Man; Morrison, Beloved; Beatty, The White Boy Shuffle; additional essays, stories, and criticism.

Engl. 3366-001 – American Literary History II. Dr. Ezra Greenspan. 12:30 T Th. 115 Dallas Hall. Office: 233 Dallas Hall

This course will provide a broad history of American literature and culture from 1900 to the present. Major works of fiction, poetry, and drama will be covered.  Writers will include: Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams, Flannery O-Connor, Philip Roth, Art Spiegelman, Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Michael Chabon.

Texts: Baym, Nina, et al., The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th edition, vols. C, D, and E (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012); Morrison, Toni, Song of Solomon; Spiegelman, Art, Maus, vols. 1 and 2


ENGL 3367-001H (5989) – ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

9 MWF – 102 DH –Satz

An opportunity to revisit childhood favorites and to make new acquaintances, armed with the techniques of cultural and literary criticism. Examination of children's literature from an ethical perspective, particularly notions of morality and evil, with emphasis upon issues of colonialism, race, ethnicity, gender, and class. Writing assignments: four essays, final examination.

Texts: “Snow White,” accompanied by critical essays; picture books such as Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, Amazing Grace, Curious George, Babar; chapter books for young children such as Wilder, Little House on the Prairie; White, Charlotte’s Web; Erdrich, Game of Silence; books for young adults such as L’Engle,Wrinkle in Time; Alexie, The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian; Yang, American Born Chinese ;and one adult book, Morrison, The Bluest Eye.

ENGL 3370-001 (5990) – SPECIAL TOPICS: “ETHICS AND LITERATURE
11 MWF – 101 DH – Satz

Because of their complexity and density, literary works are fruitful texts for the study of moral philosophy. The works studied in this course evoke questions about individual responsibility, free will, the nature of evil, and the resolution of conflicting moral claims. We will read such works as  Dubus, House of Sand and Fog; Gordon, Pearl; James, Washington Square; Lessing, Doris The Fifth Child; Morris, Bluest Eye; Roth, Ghost Writer; Schlinker, The Reader.

ENGL 3374-001C (5991)/CF 3345: LITERATURE OF RELIGIOUS REFLECTION: “THEOS AND LOGOS: GOD AND THE TEXT”
12 MWF – 115 DH – JOHNSON

Theology claims the divine as its object of study, but theologians’ claims about God often influence the claims both they and the faithful make about politics, the self, and the place of the self within society. In this course, we will examine theology in literature from three directions. First, we will read theological texts alongside political and literary works to try to understand what, precisely what role God plays in the state's understanding of itself. Second, we will analyze texts that engage God in order to dissect, expand, or mortify the self. Finally, we will look at theology’s impact on social change, reading authors who see the divine either as encouraging or discouraging it. Each of these sections will cover a wide variety of texts from a number of different periods, and, in our final weeks, we will look to current pop

ENGL 3376-001 (3851) – LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHWEST
 9 MWF – 156 DH – CRUSIUS

An introduction to the literature of New Mexico, especially fiction written by and about Native Americans in the last fifty years.

Texts: Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop; N, Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn; The Man Made of Words; Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony; Storyteller; Yellow Woman and A Beauty of the Spirit.Popular culture--film, specifically--to find theology alive and well today.

ENGL 3390-001 – THEMATIC STUDIES IN CREATIVE WRITING: “BASED ON A TRUE STORY”
3 MW – 153 DH – HAYNES

All writers rely to some extent on research to create their fiction, poems and creative nonfiction.  For this class, students will select a topic to explore and work with the library staff and others to create a research agenda.  Projects must include original sources and may also include travel or interviews.   Some projects may qualify for support from the Engaged Learning program.  We will study writers whose work draws heavily on research, including Jim Shephard, Andrea Barrett, John McPhee, Tracy Kidder, Tyehimba Jess, and C.D Wright. Texts: TBD

ENGL 3390-002 (3991) – STUDIES IN CREATIVE WRITING
11 TTH – 357 DH – DIACONOFF

 Welcome to the “business” side of creative writing. Whether you’re submitting work for publication or promoting published work, it helps to understand the world of contemporary literary publishing, fragmented and ever-changing as it is. In this course, students will identify a literary journal or press to research in depth. In addition to the required course texts, students will assign each other to read issues of the journals or books from the presses that each other are researching. For this project, an 8-10 page critical paper about the history and aesthetic of the journal or press will accompany a class presentation. During the latter part of the term, students will work to revise a story, creative essay, or brief collection of poems which they wish to send out for publication. These will be discussed in workshop; revised drafts will also be submitted and discussed by the workshop. Students will compile a submission list of journals/presses; each student will also make a website to showcase and promote their work.

Texts: Travis Kurowski, ed., PAPER DREAMS: WRITERS AND EDITORS ON THE AMERICAN LITERARY MAGAZINE and 2014 edition of WRITER’S MARKET. A subscription to a journal such as KENYON REVIEW will also be required.   

ENGL 3390-003 (3992) – STUDIES IN CREATIVE WRITING
 2 TTH – 157 DH – BROWNDERVILLE

Poetry and Song: This course is devoted to the study of songs, particularly songs with interesting lyrics. We will study such writers as Regina Spektor, The National, Jay-Z, Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, William Butler Yeats, and Homer. Students will introduce each other to music, producing playlists for the purpose of class discussion. Students need not have any musical training, skill, or knowledge prior to taking this course. Projects will vary in accordance with students’ predilections and abilities: some students might focus on analyzing songs, some might write song lyrics or lyric poems, and others might compose songs and perform them for the class.

ENGL 4323-001 (6071). CHAUCER: “CHAUCER AND MEDIEVAL CULTURE”. 9:30TTH. 156 DH. WHEELER.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—amusing and inspiring tales and tellers in a variety of poetic and prose forms—in relation to other social and intellectual contexts. Class debates, comments, short papers, and final exam.

ENGL 4332 (6073). STUDIES IN EARLY MOD BRIT LIT: “LITERATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT”. 12:30 TTH.  120 DH.  SWANN.

The age of Shakespeare was also an age of environmental crisis.  Air pollution, acid rain, climate change, deforestation, destruction of wetlands, endangered species, debates about the ethical treatment of animals, theologies of stewardship and domination of the natural world: Shakespeare and his contemporaries faced issues that continue to affect us today.  How did these English writers respond to the environmental problems and questions that confronted them?  We will develop answers to this question by reading and discussing plays, poems, and prose by authors including William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Margaret Cavendish, Andrew Marvell, Aemilia Lanyer, Sir Thomas Browne, and Izaak Walton.  At the end of the semester, each student will have the opportunity to develop his or her own independent research project.  Don’t worry if you haven’t done much research before: as a group, we’ll develop strategies for devising research topics, as well as finding and using sources.  Requirements: regular attendance; frequent open-notebook quizzes; active participation in discussions; comprehensive exam; oral presentation; six-page essay; ten-page research project. 

Texts: TBA.

ENGL 4340-001 (4693). ROMANTIC WRITERS: THE ENGLISH ROMANTIC LYRIC. 

From Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge at the end of the 18th century, through Byron, Keats, and Shelley several decades later, English poets were re-imagining and re-configuring the forms, subjects, figures, and styles of lyric poetry. This course will examine what happened to poetry in the crucial years from the French Revolution in 1789 through the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo and the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), to the death of Lord Byron in 1824. Special attention to the six "canonical" poets above, as well as to newly recuperated or "lesser" figures like John Clare, Charlotte Smith, and Felicia Hemans. Short writing assignments; mid-term exam; longer paper; final.

Texts: Texts will include volumes of poetry and prose by William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy B. Shelley, Wiliam Wordsworth, and supplemental material by other poets.

ENGL 4349-001 (6077). TRANSATLANTIC STUDIES II: “GOING NATIVE”. 11 TTH. 116 DH. CASSEDY.

This course is about two related narratives in Anglo-American culture: the narrative of being taken captive, and the narrative of going native.  Captivity narratives took a number of different forms in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including stories of whites being carried off by Indians, women being imprisoned by nefarious men with sexual designs on them, sailors being stranded in strange lands and waters.  Some of those captives resisted their captivity.  Others embraced it, "going native" and finding that their solitude or captivity allowed them access to parts of themselves that their home societies did not. 

Texts: Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe; The Female American; Henry Thoreau's Walden; The Life of Mary Jemison; James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers; Herman Melville's Typee or Moby-Dick; Royall Tyler's Algerine Captive; Leonora Sansay's Secret History; and James Cameron's Avatar.

ENGLISH 4392. STUDENT-DIRECTED PROJECTS IN CREATIVE WRITING. 5 MW. 120 DH. HAYNES.

This class is designed for students who have finished the sequence of courses in creative writing and wish to work on a final capstone project.  Projects can involve individuals or a group of writers and may include off-campus components, including internships and/or travel.  All project proposals must be submitted before the first day of the spring semester and permission of the instructor is required for enrollment.

ENGL 6340-001(6078). BRITISH LIT AGE OF REVOLUTIONS. 2 TH. 137 DH. NEWMAN.

Scholarship in Victorian literature and culture has entered into a reflective and self-critical phase.  Walter Houghton’s important book The Victorian Frame of Mind (1963) was published a half-century ago, and two flagship journals of the field, Victorian Studies and Victorian Poetry, have recently reached their fiftieth year of publication.  (A third, Nineteenth-Century Literature, has a slightly longer life and more complex pedigree.)  In that half-century plus, the canon has expanded and critical approaches and methodologies have proliferated.  One question that has emerged in some of the conference sessions and journal issues devoted to the question is whether we can even speak of a unified “field.”  If the task at hand is “to see the object as in itself it really is,” can we even discern clear outlines of this particular object?

We will engage with this question by in order to identify trends, issues, and debates.  The syllabus will be determined by class interest, but topics, drawn largely from contemporary journal articles and book chapters, will include some of the following: contemporary responses to Victorian liberalism; approaches from cognitive science, and/or evolutionary approaches; recent trends in gender, queer, and history-of-sexuality approaches; contemporary formalisms; materialisms, including “thing theory” and eco-criticism; global Victorians and global Victorian studies.  Each student will present once; the final paper will be either an extensive annotated bibliography on a subject of the student’s choosing, or a survey of the field over some finite period of time as seen through a specific text or author.

Finally, we will determine a scant handful of Victorian texts to read over the break—perhaps one canonical novel, one important book of poems, and one or two other texts, possibly less canonical.  We will determine this before break begins.

ENGL 6360-001 (3869). [Mod and Cont American Lit.] 2 M. 137 Dallas Hall. Siraganian. (P65).

This proseminar examines the changing conceptions of American poetry, poetics, and the art object—broadly conceived—from modernism to postmodernism. In particular, we will test the claim that a range of twentieth-century American poets throughout the twentieth century took seriously the “problems of painters,” as Wallace Stevens puts it. Many poets and painters seemed to ask similar questions: what counts as a poem or a work of art? Is it a thing in the world or a creation of the spectator’s (or the artist’s) mind? Does a poem do more or less than capture a view of the world or a piece of the reality? How do these aesthetic or formal questions relate to social or political concerns? By examining influential American poets from the first half of the twentieth century (Eliot, Pound, Stein, Williams, Stevens), through the second half of the century (Hughes, Bishop, Olson, Plath), and onto the present (Cruz, Sphar, Rankine), we will study poets’ answers to these questions and formulate our own responses too. In addition to studying some art, literary criticism, and theoretical writing on aesthetics, we will pay close attention to the relationship between poetics and literary theory in the period. Requirements: In-class presentations, four short papers, and one conference-length paper.  

ENGL 6370-001 (6079). African American Literature: 20th-Century Literary and Cultural Movements. 2:00 Tu. Dallas Hall 0120. Dickson-Carr.

This proseminar  will focus upon African American literature’s developments in the twentieth century, including the cultural movements that undergirded it. The course will be divided roughly into four parts: 1) The New Negro or Harlem Renaissance and the Great Depression; 2) Post-World War II and Civil Rights; 3) The Black Arts Movement and the Black Aesthetic; 4) Contemporary or “Post-Soul” Literature. Our goal will be to understand how each of these movements coheres intellectually—or not—and the historical, intellectual, and artistic imperatives that provided their impetus. As with most surveys, we will cover a great deal of time and material, which means we will touch quickly upon a great deal of representative primary and secondary literature. Assigned authors will likely include, but not be limited to, the following: W.E.B. Du Bois; Nella Larsen; Claude McKay; Countee Cullen; Langston Hughes; Zora Neale Hurston; George S. Schuyler; Wallace Thurman; Richard Bruce Nugent; Rudolph Fisher; Alain Locke; Jean Toomer; Richard Wright; Sterling Brown; Chester Himes; Dorothy West; Ralph Ellison; Gwendolyn Brooks; Amiri Baraka; Sherley Anne Williams; Hoyt Fuller; Robert Hayden; Ishmael Reed; Toni Morrison; Alice Walker; Percival Everett; Paul Beatty; Mat Johnson; Hilton Als; Edward P. Jones. Requirements: Regular attendance and active participation; regular written responses to the reading; one or two in-class presentations; two research papers. Texts: TBA

ENGL 7340. SEMINAR IN BRITISH LITERATURE: “AGENCY AND ACTION IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND”. 2 W. 137 DH. ROSENDALE.

The problem of agency—that is, humans’ [in]capacity for freely willed action—has been a central concern of Western philosophers, theologians, and literary writers for many, many centuries.  What are the causes, scope, nature, potential, ethics, and limits of human action?  To what degree can we act as we want, and how responsible are we for what we do?  This course will focus primarily on how, having been made newly acute by the seismic shifts of the Reformation, these questions circulated in the early modern period (though we will also consider the before and since of it).  Our study of political, social, philosophical, and especially theological and literary discourses of agency will demonstrate that these issues are a) fundamental, b) very complex, c) everywhere, and d) consequently very productive to think about.  Writers considered will likely include Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Tyndale, Calvin, Hooker, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Buchanan, Hobbes, Langland, Chaucer, More, Sidney, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Ford, Donne, Milton, Lanyer, Pope, Beckett.

ENGL 7350.  COLD WAR AMERICAN LITERATURE. 5:30 W. 157 DH. WEISENBURGER.

Taking a broadly historicized approach to American literature of the Cold War Age, 1945 – 1990, this seminar will concentrate on the flowering of satire, historical fiction, and confessional and activist poetry.  The aim will be to put these literary movements in context with the legacies of total violence (the Holocaust, thermonuclear warfare), socio-political paranoia (McCarthy-era persecutions, “Containment Culture”), liberation struggles (civil rights, speech rights), and the “Counterculture” (alternate sexualities, consciousness).  This is a survey designed for those expecting one day to teach American literature. It is further designed to help ferret-out potentials for research in a period whose print (and visual) archive tumbles outside the bounds of contemporary literary study, well beyond what scholars do with the period, and despite their coming to this profession from a Long Sixties epoch dedicated in every sense to, uhmm, blasting canons. 

Texts:  Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1955); Allen Ginsberg, Howl (1956); Loraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1959); Robert Lowell, Life Studies/For the Union Dead (1959/1964); Sylvia Plath, Ariel (1965); Norman Mailer, Why Are We In Vietnam? (1967); Joan Didion (several essays); Amiri Baraka (selected poems); Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo (1971); Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973); Robert Coover, The Public Burning (1976), and (time permitting) Don DeLillo, Libra (1988). Lots of ground to cover:  we obey speed limits, but fasten your seatbelts please.