Graduate Courses, Spring 2012
|Course no.||Time(s)||Course title||Instructor|
|AML 6017||T 9-11||Sex and the “City upon a Hill”: American Literature & Sexuality to 1865||Schorb|
|AML 6017||R 6-8||American Romanticisms||Smith|
|CRW 6130||T E1-E3||Graduate Fiction Workshop||Robison|
|CRW 6166||T E1-E3||Secrets of Poetic Craft||Logan|
|CRW 6331||M 6-8||Verse Writing||Wade|
|ENG 6137||R 9-11
|Storytelling in Literature and Film||Ray|
|ENG 6138||W 9-11
|New German Cinema and its Legacy||Mennel|
|ENG 6226||M E1-E3||Hamlet: Texts and Contexts||Rudnytsky|
|ENL 6246||M 6-8||Romantic Poetry||Ault|
|ENL 6276||W E1-E3||Joyce & Cultural Studies||Kershner|
|LIT 6856||W 6-8||Desperate Domesticity: American Literature & Culture in the 1950s||Bryant|
|LIT 6856||T 6-8||Introduction to Postcolonial Studies||Amoko|
|LIT 6934||R 9-11||Childhood, Culture, Creativity||Cech|
|LIT 6934||W 3-5||Writing Posthumanism||Dobrin|
|LIT 6934||T 5-6, R 6||Modern Drama: Doing It||Homan|
Sex and the “City upon a Hill”: American Literature & Sexuality to 1865
This seminar introduces students to the theories, debates, and texts central to the study of sexuality in pre-1865 American literatures.
Sodomites, witches, coquettes, libertines, “female marines,“ sporting men, “true women,“ romantic friends—these figures populate the cultural imagination of respective eras in American literary history. We'll analyze the fears and possibilities these figures embodied as we study the links between print culture and the production of sexual discourse in America.
We'll look particularly at genre and form, exploring the power of both enduring genres and emergent forms (particularly the novel) to not only reflect existing sexual knowledge and beliefs, but to proliferate new sexual discourses and desires. We'll also consider the relationship between space and sexual epistemology, considering how specific sites (the frontier, the plantation, the city) are imagined as terrains of sexual possibility, violence, and dread.
Foucault argued that during the long eighteenth century, sexuality transformed from an early modern act to a modern identity: we'll use both literature and theory to interrogate and to complicate this central tenet of sexuality studies. Secondary readings, largely interdisciplinary in scope, will provide contexts and ideas for thinking about early sexual knowledges and practices, and shed light on the role that religion, race, class, urbanization, colonization, cultures of sentiment, moral reform, and the expanding print marketplace play in shaping sexual discourse.
Students interested in the course are encouraged to contact me and offer input on the reading list prior to textbook adoption. Likely authors include Hannah Webster Foster, Charles Brockden Brown, WIlliam Wells Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Jacobs, George Lippard, George Thompson, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Margaret J. M. Sweat, Bayard Taylor, Theodore WInthrop, and Walt Whitman.
Seminar members will be encouraged to apply course ideas to texts in their specific research areas of interest. Periodic seminars will be wholly devoted to presenting original archival work on issues or authors of interest, allowing seminar participants time to pursue their own inquiries and share their discoveries across the semester. Requirements include regular participation, periodic 4-page discovery papers, oral presentations, and a final seminar paper or conference paper.
During the mid-19th century in the U.S., authors, painters, philosophers, musicians and others took up various theories of the romantic, partially inherited from the British romantic poets, and partially forged from German and Swedish philosophies. This mixture became a homegrown fusion of European ideas, transplanted and then translated into an American context. Transcendentalism was the most famous of these explorations, but even writers who considered themselves separate from the circle of Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Alcott and Hawthorne were affected by the idea of the romantic, or the romantic individual. Rising from a rhetoric of salvation, guilt, and providential visions of Puritanism, the wilderness reaches of this continent, and the fiery rhetoric of freedom and equality the American brand of romanticism developed its own character. The height of traditionally understood American romanticism, for most critics, is the period between 1850–1855, a short, intense time of cultural production that many critics understand as also forged in the cauldron of the coming Civil War. With a heritage of optimism about man's possibilities behind them, artists in the 19th century explored the ideals of democracy in a social context of rampant inequality. After the War, this romantic philosophy declined in the face of a new aesthetic of realism, but this course will explore that period traditionally understood as “romantic“ in American literature but with an eye toward how “romanticism“ continued to hold sway in American cultural production.
- Cooper, James Fenimore, The Last of the Mohicans (Penguin: 01040390243)
- Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The Blithedale Romance (Bedford: 0312118031)
- Child, Lydia Maria, A Romance of the Republic (Book Jungle: 1604246073)
- Thoreau, Henry David, Walden (Everyman’s: 046087635X)
- Melville, Herman, Moby Dick (Penguin) and Billy Budd and Other Stories (Penguin: 0140390537)
- James, Henry, The Bostonians (Modern Library: 0812969960)
- Chopin, Kate, The Awakening (Norton: 0393960579)
- Morrison, Toni, Beloved (Vintage: 1400033411)
Required Reading Links:
Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Nature“ (1836): http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/emerson/nature-contents.html
- “Uses of Great Men“: http://www.emersoncentral.com/greatmen.htm
- “Flesh in the Word“: http://www.genders.org/g37/g37_greven.html
Instructor retains the right to add or subtract from these readings.
Graduate Fiction Workshop
No description is available for this course at this time.
Secrets of Poetic Craft
“The whole frame of the Poem is a beating out of a piece of gold, but the last clause is as the impression of the stamp, and that it is that makes it currant.”
Poetry workshops discuss aesthetics more than craft. This course will devote itself to the nuts and bolts of poetry: titles, enjambment, syntax, allusion, metaphor, simile, closure, even a little meter and rhyme, everything that contributes to the internal architecture of the poem. Many of these are covered superficially during workshop, but we will look deeper at what in each case causes the effect as well as the affect.
Critics rarely write about these things, perhaps because they are felt to be only craft. Yet there are times when the internal-combustion engine is more relevant to discussion than Detroit’s latest shades of paint. We will concentrate on matters often mentioned only in passing or given a paragraph or two in the front matter of a textbook.
The reading will include a few set texts (Pendlebury on rhyme, Smith on poetic closure, Scott on the poet’s craft, these books out of print but widely available used), as well as a pile of samizdat chapters – Hollander on titles and enjambment, Ricks on hyphens and endings, Brooke-Rose on metaphor, Berry on poetic grammar. Each class will cover one or two subjects, and two students each week will give short (10–15 minute) presentations, with specific examples for discussion.
There will be six poetic assignments as well.
In this graduate poetry workshop, we will study poets who love language above all, who are able to turn language into light. We’ll start from the very contemporary and work backwards to modern masters. Terrance Hayes – “Lighthead,” Paul Violi – “Fracas,” Anne Carson – “Glass, Irony, and God,” Les Murray – “Learning Human,” Sylvia Plath – “The Collected Poems,” and Wallace Stevens – “The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens.”
Storytelling in Literature and Film
When a character in Doris Lessing’s Golden Notebook suggests that she could turn a serious novel into a romance simply by leaving out certain kinds of words, we remember the old lesson: how stories get told makes all the difference. This course will examine the storytelling choices made by writers and filmmakers by starting with the effect those choices have on us as readers or viewers. Since the course assumes no previous study of the cinema, English majors concentrating on literature should not fear starting from behind. Conversely, however, students interested primarily, or exclusively, in film should note that we will devote more than half our time to literature.
Readings will include stories by Hemingway, Chekhov, Turgenev, Doyle, Borges, and Hardy; novels by Penelope Fitzgerald, and Anthony Powell. We will watch movies by Kiarostami (Tickets), Antonioni (L’Avventura), Cukor (The Philadelphia Story), Capra, (It Happened One Night), and others. We will read criticism by Barthes (S/Z), Forster (Aspects of the Novel), Seymour Chatman, Stanley Cavell (The World Viewed), V.F. Perkins, and Andrew Klevan.
Assignments: weekly reading quizzes, two oral presentations, two written assignments (short papers or take-home exams).
New German Cinema and its Legacy
In 1962, a group of young filmmakers at the Oberhausen Film Festival boldly declared: “The old cinema is dead! We believe in a new cinema!” Out of this movement to overcome the 1950s legacies of fascism and Heimatfilm (homeland film) emerged a wave of filmmaking that became internationally known as New German Cinema. Heavily funded by the West German government and its public television stations, the films were indebted to the student movement and a vision of filmmaking and distribution based on the notion of the director as “Autor” (auteur). Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder embodied a new generation untainted by the Nazi legacy as they were both born in 1945. Similarly, Fassbinder’s untimely death in 1982 coincided with the demise of New German Cinema as the result of a changed political climate and funding structure.
This course offers a survey of the films made in this brief period of enormous output and creativity. We will discuss films by Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Alexander Kluge, Helke Sander, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta, and Wenders. We will trace the influence of the feminist movement on questions of feminist aesthetics, and situate the films' negotiations of fascism and terrorism in debates about the cinematic representation of history and memory. We conclude with the works of directors in the context of German unification, on the one hand, and the globalization of the film industry, on the other. Readings will include Thomas Elsaesser’s New German Cinema (1989). Participants will produce a publishable book review, an abstract, an anonymous response, and a final research paper.
Hamlet: Texts and Contexts
This seminar will examine in depth the texts, sources, contexts, and reception of Shakespeare’s enigmatic tragedy. The guiding thesis will be that Hamlet can be viewed as a “replacement child,” and the overarching theoretical perspective psychoanalytic. Among the works to be read are: Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy; Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit; Nashe, Pierce Penniless, as well as interpretations of the play by Freud, Ernest Jones, Joyce, A. C. Bradley, G. Wilson Knight, Frank Kermode, Joel Fineman, Harold Bloom, and others. Particular attention will be given to the question of Hamlet as “woman,” the lost “Ur-Hamlet,” and the connections between the play and Shakespeare’s life. Seminar requirements include regular attendance, an oral presentation, and a substantial paper.
This seminar will focus on Blake and Coleridge, with some readings in Byron, Shelley, as well as selected theoretical texts. The work in the course will emphasize close reading of texts that present interpretive difficulties at the level of their material production (including variant editions, revisions, different versions, spatial layout of syntax, etc.), taking into account the tendency of Romantic texts to resist being “finished.” We will read these texts against the grain in order to explore interferences within their ideological and textual fields.
Joyce & Cultural Studies
The course will be an introduction both to James Joyce and to the broad field of cultural studies, using Joyce’s fiction as examples of literary texts with particularly rich cultural resonance – both representationally and as artifacts. We will read Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist, and Ulysses in conjunction with the ideas of various thinkers whose work has impacted cultural studies, including Foucault, Bakhtin, Said, de Certeau, Benjamin, and Jameson.. Our emphases will include the areas of
- negotiations of “everyday life” (urban walking, recreation, etc.);
- high and popular culture interactions (especially with reference to modernism and the birth of “mass media”);
- subject construction and gender relations;
- postcoloniality and Orientalism; and
- political/economic dimensions.
Although the course obviously will engage with theory, the stress will be upon specific implications of the literary texts rather than upon the theory in and for itself. As an aid in reading Ulysses, we will use Blamires’s guide to that novel entitled The New Bloomsday Book. I will bring in copies of newspapers and advertisements of the time as well as some examples of the popular reading to which Joyce alludes, show slides of Eugen Sandow the bodybuilder and memorial photography of children, and discuss other examples of material culture from turn-of-the-century Ireland. Since I have been involved in the production of a hypertext Ulysses, we may discuss aspects of that project as it relates to issues raised by cultural studies.
Texts: The new Norton Critical edition of Dubliners (ed. Norris) and the 2nd Bedford Books edition of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (ed. Kershner); Hans Walter Gabler’s edition of Ulysses (the ‘corrected text”) and Harry Blamires’s New Bloomsday Book, 3rd ed. Introducing Cultural Studies is also required. For students interested in pursuing the subject in greater depth my own Joyce, Bakhtin, and Popular Literature is recommended; my Twentieth-Century Novel: An Introduction would be useful for the broader literary background. I will also be distributing material as handouts during the course.
Requirements: Two papers incorporating literary-critical research, the first 8–10 pages long, the second 12–18 pages. An oral presentation in class of a book from a list I will provide. These three requirements will weigh roughly the same in determining 85% of your grade; an additional 15% or so will be determined by class participation.
Desperate Domesticity: American Literature & Culture in the 1950s
This course examines fraught constructions of domesticity in American literary and popular culture of the 1950s, focusing on the family, gender roles (especially the housewife and Organization Man), the rise of suburbia, and alternative domesticities. Our writers will include John Cheever, Gwendolyn Brooks, Flannery O’Connor, Patricia Highsmith, Tennessee Williams, Sloan Wilson, Vladimir Nabokov, Elizabeth George Speare, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath. To enrich the cultural contexts of our discussions, we will work with the magazines Ebony, Ladies’ Home Journal, and The New Yorker. We’ll also sample sitcoms (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver), as well as the iconic film Rebel Without a Cause. We’ll end with a cultural study of Tupperware and recent revisions of the 1950s in Pleasantville and television, including Desperate Housewives.
Introduction to Postcolonial Studies
This course will examine canonical theories and fictions in postcolonial studies. The field refers to an effort by scholars in diverse disciplines to come to terms, from a global perspective, with the legacy of European colonialism. In the wake of the voyages of exploration and “discovery” from the fifteenth century onwards, a handful of European powers (England, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands), came gradually to exercise sovereignty over vast territories covering roughly eighty percent of the world. In political, social, economic and cultural terms, the colonial situation effected epochal transformations of not only the conquered societies but also imperial Europe. The colonial encounter resulted in the consolidation of the idea of a European or Western modernity at the apex of human civilization. It also resulted in incomplete, chaotic, and traumatic attempts forcibly to transform other societies in the image of Europe. By the end of the twentieth century, virtually all formerly colonized territories had become independent nations but the effects of colonial rule continue to be powerfully felt at multiple levels. For example, the practice of everyday life in vast sectors of the both the imperial and the colonized worlds continue to be governed, often with devastating consequences, by ideas about racial, national, continental, gender, sexual and other identities invented in the context of the colonial encounter. As well, the political economies of many formally independent nations continue to be characterized by fundamental contradictions, inequalities and dependencies brought about by colonial rule. Finally, the global economic, political and cultural order continues to be organized in terms of a contest pitting the interests of a handful of wealthy and disproportionately powerful nations against a multitude of poor and relatively powerless nations. The writers studied will likely include such canonical thinkers as Frantz Fanon, Gayatri Spivak, Simon Gikandi and Homi Bhabha as well as diverse authors such as Chinua Achebe, Chiekh Hamidou Kane, Tsitsi Dangrembga, Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, George Lamming and Joy Kogawa
Childhood, Culture, Creativity
A graduate seminar that probes the connections between how we construct our cultural ideas of childhood (in and through film, literature, toys, games, music, and other “texts”) and the kinds of works of the imagination that we create for and about the children who inhabit these (and our own) cultural moments. The seminar fuses the historical and the experimental, the received and the innovative; and it relies on the creative openness and the initiatives of the participants. One of the concerns we will have in the seminar is to look at those boundaries that have been drawn, arbitrarily or consciously, to define children’s books, and thus what creative works we believe are important to bring into the lives of young people. We will look at “classics” as well as unusual works that are testing accepted assumptions. Throughout the term, along with examining these texts from a number of critical perspectives, we will also be responding to them in creative ways, producing works that build imaginatively on these possibilities.
Set in the shadows of Jacques Derrida’s linkage between cybernetics and writing, Donna Haraway’s cyborg and her examinations of interspecies encounters, N. Katherine Hayle’s informatics and cybernetics-based posthumanism, Bruno Latour’s critique of modernism, and Cary Wolfe’s systems theory “monster,” this course turns the posthumanist gaze upon writing. Working not to define or codify either posthumanism or the posthuman as its desideratum, this course initiates an overview of posthumanism and the posthuman toward the end of better understanding what posthumanism reveals about writing. This course identifies posthumanism as a moment of inquiry in which the human subject is called into question via its imbrications with technologies such as cybernetics, informatics, artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation, psychotropic and other pharmaceuticals, and other bio-technologies, as well as species interactions (as ventures in Animal Studies have begun to make evident). This course will consider the prosthetic subject, the psychic-altered subject, and the (becoming) animal subject in relation to writing. That is to say, the particular avenue of entrance into posthumanist inquiry is of less importance than is that avenue’s projection upon writing. Ultimately, this course asks as to the relationship between posthumanisms and writing.
Modern Drama: Doing It
We will look at the following works:
- Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot, Embers, All that Fall, Eh Joe, Play, Come and Go, and Not I – in effect, his works for the stage, television, and radio;
- Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead;
- Harold Pinter: Old Times, No Man’s Land, Betrayal, and two of his revue sketches, Last to Go and The Black and White; and
- Sam Shepard: Buried Child, Curse of the Starving Class, and True West.
Though the works will be put within the context of critical theory and the plays’ theatrical history, the focus will be on the works as performed, as a transaction among the playwright, the director/actors, and audience. To this end, our seminar will involve performing various scenes from the four playwrights. Each student will work with an acting partner, and they will stage short scenes, off-book, with Mr. Homan’s serving as their director, assisted by the other members of the class. Hence the sub-title of the course “Doing It.”
No acting experience is necessary; the course uses acting not as an end in itself but as a way of seeing the text as something meant for performance, rather than as a literary or historical document, valuable as these perspectives can be. Again, no one should be inhibited by lack of experience on stage. After all, in life, we are all perfect actors and in the theatre the “trick” is to transfer what we do naturally to the impersonation of a fictive being.
One hour of each week will be devoted to our class project, which will be the staging of a two-hour production, An Evening with Tom Stoppard, a collage of scenes from his various works for the theatre, which we will perform in a theatre before a large audience at the end of the semester. Each student actor will get to play a variety of roles.
This focus on performance reflects Mr. Homan’s own “hybrid” career as a teacher/scholar on campus – his fields are Shakespeare and Modern Drama – and as an actor/director in professional and university theatres. To be sure, if you want to discuss the course further or have questions, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.