Spring 2019 Courses
|Course #||Time(s)||Course title||Instructor|
|AML 6027||T 3-5||Refugees, Illegals, Immigrants and Other Impossible Subjects of Asian America and APIA||Schueller|
|CRW 6130||T 9-11||Graduate Fiction Writing Workshop||Akpan|
|CRW 6166||W E1-E3||Forms: Screenwriting||Ciment|
|CRW 6331||T E1-E3||Graduate Verse Writing||Hofmann|
|ENG 6075||M 6-8||Queer Theory||Emery|
|ENG 6077||T 6-8||Being Dialectical: The (Re)Turn to Hegel in the Contemporary||Wegner|
|ENG 6137||T 9-11
|Philosophy and the Cinema||Ray|
|LAE 6947||W 6-8||Modernist Studies and Pedagogy||Bryant|
|LIT 6047||T 4, R 4-5||An Evening with William Shakespeare||Homan|
|LIT 6856||R 9-11||Canonical African Literature and Colonial Anthropolgy||Amoko|
|LIT 6856||T E1-E3||Seeing Differently: Comics and Identity||Galvan|
|LIT 6856||W 3-5
|The Image World||Mowchun|
|LIT 6934||R 6-8||Toni Morrison||King|
|LIT 6934||M 9-11||Cultural Rhetorics||Sánchez|
|LIT 6934||W 9-11||History and Representation in Children’s Literature||Ulanowicz|
Refugees, Illegals, Immigrants and Other Impossible Subjects of Asian America and APIA
What constitutes a refugee? How do we think of refugees? Who is an illegal alien? When do immigrants become citizens or
American? What does it mean to think of the Asian adoptee as
saved? Asian American literature insistently raises these questions. This course will focus on the ways in which histories of militarism, imperialism, and racial exclusion have informed the construction of these impossible subjects of Asian America. We will examine how Asian American literary and cultural production figures the refugee, the illegal alien, the immigrant/non-citizen/citizen as sites of social and political critique that brings to light processes of U.S. colonialism, occupation, war, and violence in Asia and the Asia Pacific. We will also see these texts in relation to specific immigration acts, laws of racial exclusion and restriction, as well as to racialized stereotypes such as
Orientals and model minorities.
This course will introduce you to a variety of Asian American and APIA novels, short stories, autobiographies, graphic novels, and poetry and should be useful to students interested in twentieth and twenty-first century American literature as well as to those interested in postcolonial, US empire, and ethnic studies. Because Asian American studies is interdisciplinary, we will be drawing on fields such as history, sociology, anthropology, as well as cultural studies. We will also engage with critical race studies, critical refugee studies, and collective memory studies.
Possible literary/cultural texts would include Jade Snow Wong, Fifth Chinese Daughter(1950), Frank Chin, Chickencoop Chinaman (1972), Mine Obuko Citizen 13660 (1946), Fae Myenne Ng Bone (1993), Carlos Bulosan America is in the Heart (1946), Loung Ung First They Killed My Father (2000), Viet Thanh Nguyen The Refugees (2017), Julie Otsuka, When the Emperor Was Divine (2002), Craig Santos Perez, from Unincorporated Territory [hacha] (2008). Likely theoretical texts would be Aihwa Ong, Buddha is Hiding (2003) and/or Lisa Lowe, Intimacies of Four Continents (2015) as well as essays/chapters by Omi and Winant, Cheryl Harris, Dylan Rodriguez, Yen Le Espiritu, Giorgio Agamben, Maurice Halbwachs, and Lisa Yoneyama.
Graduate Fiction Writing Workshop
CRW 6130 is a fiction writing workshop. The purpose is to build a community that supports this mode of storytelling. In the course of the semester, we are expected to submit two or three short stories or novel excerpts. We are also expected to write a critique of each submission, to help the class discuss the work in depth and to encourage the writer in the important work of rewrite. As Steven Gillis, author of Benchere in Wonderland says,
The art of writing is in the rewriting.
And since good writing or rewriting begins with good reading (or hearing of the story), we will be exposed to the works of celebrated writers and how they have dealt with key issues like craft, motivation, voice, suspense, characterization, etc. We will also be required to attend two readings by visiting writers.
This class will explore and dissect film adaptations of literary works. Books and films assigned will include, among others: Spike Jonze’s Adaptation based on Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. Mildred Pierce, both the HBO miniseries and the film starring Joan Crawford, based on James Cain’s novel by the same name. Amy Heckerling’s Clueless based on Jane Austen’s Emma.
Each student will write two short screenplays, one based on an assigned short story, and the other based on the student’s own fiction. Screenings and reading will be assigned weekly.
Graduate Verse Writing
The principle of this class is the Biblical ‘do as thou wouldst be done unto’. I want you to write the poems you want to write, and then we will talk about them. Anticipatory guidance &emdash; in the form of pre- or proscription – will be kept to a minimum – or beyond. The only real lever in my hands is the choice of reading, which I hope will affect you in some good way, though it may not be for another five years, or fifty years.
As of now – late summer, 2018 – I am gravitating towards the great Australian poet Les Murray, for my money the best poet in English, and for a while, in the 90s, the best poet anywhere.
This seminar is designed to serve as a graduate-level introduction to queer theory, attending to foundational texts from Foucault onward. As the semester progresses, we will move on to consider more recent work in the field. Participants can expect to conclude the semester having gained, at the least, (1) solid grounding in the central concerns, methodologies, and texts that formed the field, (2) a good understanding of current debates and developments, and (3) an appreciation of how the perspectives, attitudes, and insights of queer theory may enrich their own work, whatever their field of concentration.
Each participant will be assigned primary responsibility for one class discussion, along with an accompanying short paper and presentation. Short homework assignments, a paper abstract, and a seminar paper (15-20 pages) are also required.
Please email with any questions, or to suggest possible readings: firstname.lastname@example.org
Being Dialectical: The (Re)Turn to Hegel in the Contemporary
Phillip E. Wegner
The premise of our seminar is that dialectics remains the most creative and dynamic mode of reading and thinking currently available to us. One of the most influential contemporary practitioners of dialectics, Fredric Jameson, describes it as
a speculative account of some thinking of the future which has not yet been realized: an unfinished project, as Habermas might put it; a way of grasping situations and events that does not yet exist as a collective habit because the concrete form of social life to which it corresponds has not yet come into being. Our goal in this seminar will be to assist your passage into such a future by
diving in to the work of some of most important thinkers and readers of the last two centuries. This course thus should be of great interest to any student in any program who hopes to follow the untimely vocation of the intellectual. Following a too brief engagement with the work of the founder of modern dialectics, G. W. F. Hegel, the first part of our seminar will take up the writings of some of the most significant practitioners of dialectical thinking and writing from the first half of the 20th century. We will then turn to a group of more contemporary intellectuals who advance the claim that it is time to (re)turn to Hegel in our present, and especially in the aftermath of the great revolution that was structuralist critical theory. (This course can thus also be understood as something of a Part 2 to my Spring 2017 seminar). Such a movement, as Slavoj Žižek would have it, involves no simple return to Hegel’s project, but a far more significant effort to repeat it,
to distinguish between what [Hegel] actually did and the field of possibilities he opened up. Our readings will likely include, G. W. F. Hegel, Hegel’s Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit; C .L. R. James, Notes on Dialectics: Hegel, Marx, Lenin; Theodor Adorno, An Introduction to Dialectics; Fredric Jameson, Valences of the Dialectic; Fredric Jameson, The Hegel Variations: On the Phenomenology of Spirit; Fredric Jameson, Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One; Rebecca Comay, Mourning Sickness: Hegel and the French Revolution; Catherine Malabou, The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality and Dialectic; Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History; George Ciccariello-Maher, Decolonizing Dialectics; Andrew Cole, The Birth of Theory; Slavoj Žižek, Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism.
Philosophy and the Cinema
What counts as acting? How does acting differ from pretending? Can someone pretend to be himself? Why does pretending necessarily involve intention? In what ways does photography differ from painting? How can we tell that a movie character is lying? Is a saddle in a western fictional?
This seminar will take up such questions by reading Plato, Wittgenstein, J.L. Gareth Matthews, Emerson, and Stanley Cavell. Significantly, all of these writers work in what Austin called
ordinary language, and the Matthews books record the philosophical dialogues he conducted with 10-12-year-old children. In other words, you don’t need a philosophy background to take this course.
Readings: Plato’s Defense of Socrates, Euthyphro, Laches; Wittgenstein’s The Blue Book and passages from Philosophical Investigations on aspect perception and rule-following; Austin’s essays on excuses and pretending; Matthews Dialogues with Children; several Emerson essays; selections from Cavell.
Movies will include: People on Sunday, two by Buster Keaton, Blow-Up, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, Anatomy of a Murder, Close-Up, Rules of the Game.
Assignments: bi-weekly two-page essays responding to prompts; a 5-page final paper.
Modernist Studies and Pedagogy
Modernism’s mantra was make it new. This hybrid seminar-workshop will proceed from experience and experiment, drawing on Anglo-American modernist texts, journal articles, and campus resources to create new pedagogies. Instead of writing a seminar paper, students will do a series of short assignments throughout the semester. We’ll connect with cross-campus colleagues from Architecture, Classics, Musicology, the Harn Museum of Art, and UF Libraries Special Collections as their schedules allow. You’ll leave this course with practical and creative strategies for teaching modernist texts in a variety of contexts.
In addition to articles from Modernism/modernity and Pedagogy, our readings will include some of the following: Tender Buttons (Gertrude Stein), Intolerance (D. W. Griffith), The Waste Land (T. S. Eliot), Manhatta (Paul Strand & Charles Sheeler), Cleopatra (Cecil B. DeMille), Cane (Jean Toomer), As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner), Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf), love poems by Mina Loy and W. H. Auden, war poems by Wilfred Owen and H.D., selected image-texts by Stevie Smith, Books 1 & 2 of Paterson (William Carlos Williams), Montage of a Dream Deferred (Langston Hughes). I’ll also share my essays about courses I’ve taught at UF.
Assignments will include: an archive worksheet, a teaching report, teaching assignments, a conference paper proposal, a magazine assignment, and a museum guide.
An Evening with William Shakespeare
In my graduate seminar our scholarly research involves delving into Shakespeare’s characters, devising a subtext for their dialogue, fleshing out their personalities, molding that personality, that collaboration between the playwright and the actor, as the character existentially interacts with other characters, and then complementing this psychological portrait with gestures and movement, with all the visual signs the characters gives off that complement Shakespeare’s text.
Our seminar paper or, more properly, seminar project involves not writing but performance. At the end of the semester we will stage a two-hour public performance on campus of a collage of scenes from Shakespeare, which I call An Evening with William Shakespeare, before what has always been a large and receptive audience. If possible, we might even be able to do two such performances. Every student in the seminar will get to do five to seven scenes, displaying his or her talent over a variety of roles, from the witty servant Dromio in The Comedy of Errors, to Richard III in that fantastic soliloquy with which he opens his play, to the love scene between Hermia and Lysander from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to Hamlet’s bursting into his mother’s chamber, to Prospero (surely a surrogate for Shakespeare himself) saying farewell to his magic island, fittingly named The Globe.
We will spend our Thursday meetings in rehearsal for this show. On Tuesdays, each member of the seminar, with a scene partner, will do, off-book, scenes from eleven of Shakespeare’ plays. When you are onstage, your fellow students and I will have the double function of director and audience.
One note of comfort. The purpose of this seminar is not acting in itself, but using acting to get at what I think is the heart and ultimate purpose of Shakespeare’s work — plays meant to be performed in the theatre. He must have favored the medium of the theatre, for, given his talent, surely he otherwise could have written an epic to rival Milton, and when he did write those 154 fantastic Sonnets it was, in part, to keep his hand busy when the conservative London council closed down the Globe. No fear: if you’ve never acted before you have nothing to worry about—believe me. I know that, with your help, your imagination, your feel for the character, we — you and I — can bring out the actor in you.
If you have any question, by all means e-mail me at shakes@ ufl.edu.
I take the liberty — will you forgive this shameless display of Trumpery — of putting below my bio from a book I’ve just edited: How and Why We Teach Shakespeare: College Teachers and Directors Share How They Explore the Playwright’s Works with Their Students:
Sidney Homan is Professor of English at the University of Florida and his university’s Teacher/Scholar of the Year. The author of eleven books and editor of five collections of essays on Shakespeare and the modern playwrights, he is also an actor and director in professional and university theatres. His most recent book is Comedy Acting for Theatre: The Art and Craft of Performing in Comedies, with the New York director Brian Rhinehart (Bloomsbury/Methuen)
Canonical African Literature and Colonial Anthropology
This course examines the vexed relationship between, on the one hand, the founding texts of colonial anthropology and, on the other hand, the founding texts of modern African literature. Colonial anthropology first emerged as mode of understanding the radical other, the African subject initially thought to be outside the realm of reason and rationality. Modern African literature first emerged as a mode of knowledge designed to liberate African subjects and worlds from the colonial library; this literature sought to positivize the negative image of Africa normalized in the colonial library. But, paradoxically, the founding texts of African literature depended, for their revisionary power, on the grammar and conceptual infrastructure of colonial social science and, in effect, normalized an anthropological episteme for Africa. As Simon Gikandi, perhaps following the example of V. Y. Mudimbe argues,
The founding texts of African literature claimed to have an African world as their referent but this was the African world which social science had produced for African writers […] These texts are more useful for telling us about their authors’ — and subjects’ — anxiety about colonial modernity than they would ever tell us about ‘traditional’ or ‘precolonial’ Igbo, Yoruba or Gikuyu worlds. To what extent are Gikandi’s radical contentions justifiable? In what ways might Gikandi’s radically anti-identitarian reading of African literature be refuted? Does Christopher Miller’s provocative elaboration of an ethnic-based aesthetic/ethic for African literature — one heavily but critically dependent on the anthropological library — amount to an effective refutation of Gikandi and Mudimbe?
Seeing Differently: Comics and Identity
Comics studies has emerged as a scholarly field of inquiry over the past 25+ years, but many foundational thinkers considered only the form of the comic in their scholarship. Recent scholarship has both extended and challenged this formalist approach by engaging with how race, class, ideology, gender, sexuality, etc. shape comics. Indeed, comics has become a flashpoint for identity-focused theoretical investigations. In this class, we will ask how these theories shift our understanding of comics and how comics themselves represent issues of identity.
We will start by reading three recent volumes—How to Read Nancy (2017), Why Comics? (2017), and Queer about Comics (2018)—that present different methods to understanding the form, asking how these approaches are both specific to comics and how they apply to and connect with other forms and fields. Through examining a range of contemporary comics that theorize identity in their own right, this course will train students in interdisciplinary approaches, inflected by queer theory, feminisms, affect and trauma theory, critical race and disability studies. This course should be of interest to students who study identity in visual and popular cultures. Scaffolded professionalization activities will accompany the completion of a seminar paper.
The Image World
An exploratory course on the nature of images as we experience them today (from art objects to historical objects to fundamental facts of our everyday life), we will be driven by some very basic yet demanding questions: What do images do? What do different kinds of images do differently? What do wedo with images when we view them thoughtfully, and how are we affected in turn when we allow ourselves to be carried away by them? Why do some images enthrall while others barely scrape our awareness? Why has the image become so vital to our way of life and how have technologies of visual representation like photography and film changed our way of life? The image-based mediums of painting, photography and film will be considered individually and in light of each other, as
image fields within the increasingly complex and rapidly changing contexts of contemporary visual culture. Today, amidst a dense saturation and daily consumption of images, it is more important than ever to learn how to view such images critically without diminishing their remarkable powers of illumination and arrest. To this end, classes will feature a cluster of questions and contexts designed to expand our everyday habits and horizons of viewing. Ideas within and between film studies, aesthetics, art history, philosophy, psychology and ethics will be developed in relation to various motifs, movements, and epiphanies from the visual arts. With text and image in either hand, some ideas to be considered are as follows: the ambiguity of the image, the historical evolution of realism, the ruptures of abstraction, chance, the psychology of analogue and digital images, the optical unconscious, the candid versus the staged, shock value, image pollution, and the ocularcentrism of the West.
In addition to being interdisciplinary, the methods of this seminar on the image are also of a hybrid nature encompassing both theoretical and creative modes of inquiry. Students will be encouraged to think openly and freely, to develop their own methods of interdisciplinary research and creation, exploring the resonance between readings and screenings through response papers and a final video essay project. The video essay will also be studied as a way of thinking in audiovisual terms, with a selection of screenings devoted to exemplars of this relatively recent genre of
cinematic scholarship. (Students will be provided with access to the English department’s production and post-production equipment; basic proficiency in video editing in particular is recommended but not required. Collaborations on the video essays are possible and encouraged.) Regardless of the forms of thought developed throughout this course, our primary mandate will be to stage a meaningful dialogue between ideas and images in an effort to intellectualize our senses and sensitize our intellect. The absence of a single method or overarching paradigm to tackle
the image world calls for an expansive, deeply engaged perspective that is both theoretical and hands-on, one with an openness for intellectual and creative experiment. Be prepared for an intense and exciting semester of reading, viewing, thinking and making.
Debra Walker King
Course Description: This course introduces students to an extraordinary woman whose work, both fictional and critical, has shaken the foundations of American literature (and criticism) to reconstitute both it and the boundaries of its canon. Students will investigate why critics herald Toni Morrison as the
most formally sophisticated novelist in the history of African-American literature while also discovering why she is its most renowned. Morrison’s work has earned the highest accolades in contemporary literary circles: The National Book Critics Circle Award and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Song of Solomon in 1977, the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Beloved in 1988 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 (among others). Her novels explore themes of naturalistic fiction while also engaging the more dramatic themes of modernism: death, love, rebirth, responsibility, and memory. They are lyrical prose memorials to suffering and loss that move beyond characters’ victimization towards rectification, reconciliation, renewal and revival.
Course Focus: Toni Morrison has published ten novels, a play, short stories, children’s books and several critical pieces. This semester we will read most of her fiction (and some nonfiction), focusing on several themes. Among them are the relationship of the sacred to the secular, history and heritage, identity and subjectivity, language and rhetorical strategy, motherhood and self, life and love. We will also evaluate what critics have to say about Morrison, how they construct and reconstruct the artist and her work, as well as evaluate the author’s own creative and critical perspectives.
This seminar will introduce you to theories and practices of cultural rhetorics, a mode of inquiry that proceeds, in part, from rhetorical studies’ longstanding engagement with cultural studies. Initially, cultural rhetorics enhances that particular conversation by expanding its theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical contexts to include questions of race, indigeneity, materiality, decoloniality, sexuality, technology, and others. But ultimately, cultural rhetorics aims to transform the discipline of rhetoric entirely, using these questions (and others) to reconstitute its theoretical and methodological premises.
History and Representation in Children’s Literature
The child’s entrance into the world, as Marah Gubar has observed, is always belated: young people, she writes,
are born into a world in which stories about who they are (and what they should become) are already in circulation (6). The task of children’s literature, then, involves introducing the young reader to — and suturing her firmly within — a social formation whose existence preceded her own. Little wonder, then, that so many works of children’s literature have taken as their subject the (often idealized) past.
In this course, then, we will study the representation of history in children’s literature. We will read theories of history offered by Michel Foucault, György Lukács, Karl Marx, Pierre Nora, and Hayden White. Additionally, we will read studies of studies of children’s (non-) fiction, as well as discussions of theory and praxis in archival research, offered by scholars such as Katherine Capshaw, Kenneth Kidd, Sara Schwebel, Joe Sutliff Sanders. Finally, we will visit and complete work in UF’s Baldwin Collection of Historical Children’s Literature.
Fall 2018 Courses
AML 6017: “Scientia” in the American Renaissance
“Scientia” in the American Renaissance
Despite the definition (above) that science is knowledge, the definition and communal acceptance of what knowledge constitutes remains a moving target in political and cultural debates, or in some cases, shouting matches. What does it mean to know something for a fact, when facts are subject to violent political revisions or socio-historical change? Galileo’s reaffirmation of the Copernican heavens gained him censure from the Catholic church; AIDS was initially and widely believed by Americans to be a disease that would only infect gay men, despite the well-known biology of the virus, a dangerous and bigoted belief that epidemiologists at the time warned was farcical. Few today would argue that the earth is the center of the universe or that
only gay men died of AIDS (I hope).
Facts can and do change, but those changes should always “be based on demonstrable and reproducible data,” as has been standard scientific practice since at least the 17th century. Of course how such scientific data is acquired, revised, revisited or rejected has also changed drastically over time, so that what was once considered a fact in 1848 can seem quaint in 2018 (to a majority). In this class, we shall read 19th c. American literatures from the period still considered by many scholars as the “American Renaissance” that either depend upon, question, or seek to revise or revisit what the majority in that time considered factual, common-sense, “scientific” knowledge, in order to shed some historical and cultural light on similar, current debates. Readings will include works by Hawthorne, Child, Melville, Poe, Bierce, Fuller and more.
Times: W 6-8
Race, Gender, Sexualities in Modernist Afro American Literature
Times: R 3-5
Times: T 9-11
Fiction Forms: The Writer as Critic
A significant difference between literature and the other arts—painting, acting, dance, music—is that its practitioners must often do double-duty as critics; increasingly so, as the number of dedicated book critics diminishes. In print publications such as The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, and Bookforum, as well as online forums such as The Millions and Slate, fiction writers and poets routinely review the work of their fellow fiction writers and writers. Not only that, over the course of the last couple of centuries, many writers of fiction and poetry have become as famous, if not more so, for their critical writing as for their novels, stories, and poems.
In this course we will investigate the writer as critic in several different ways. First, we will read examples of critical writing by fiction writers such as E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, John Updike, Cynthia Ozick, Francine Prose, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Zadie Smith, and recent MFA@FLA graduate Aaron Thier. Second, we will consider a couple of recent works that have proven to be flashpoints for disagreement among critics. In the case of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, we will compare reviews by Francine Prose, James Wood, Stephen King, and Michiko Kakutani; in the case of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, reviews by Dwight Garner, Zadie Smith, James Wood, and William Deriesewicz. Finally, you will write reviews of your own, beginning with a Publisher’s Weekly length (150 word) review of a classic novel and concluding with a 1200-word review of a novel or story collection due to be published in early 2019. For these final reviews, I will obtain ARCs (advance reading copies) of forthcoming books, effectively putting you in the position of the writer who has received a review assignment from a newspaper or magazine.
Questions to be considered include the following:
- What is the difference between a piece of literary criticism and a book review?
- In writing a review or a piece of criticism, is your ultimate responsibility to the author, to the reader of the future, or to the reader of today—the consumer?
- In light of the surfeit of “reader reviews” now available on the internet, has the professional reviewer’s voice been diluted? Is it more important? Less important?
- Is the book review, as we have traditionally defined it, dead? (On this, we shall read Lee Siegel’s important essay “Is the News Replacing Literature?”)
Times: M 9-11
Studies in Literary Form (Poetry)
Rhetoric is key to the art of persuasion; poetry has often rejected persuasion as its object—as John Keats would have it, “We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us.” And yet, poets have deployed rhetorical strategies to create
powerful, memorable language that, over time, has insinuated itself into our history and our consciousness. Why, and how, do poets use tropes, to the extent that tropes have even displaced rhyme and meter, stanza and form, as chief
organizing devices in the twentieth century?
This course will examine a different rhetorical trope each week, comparing their uses between a diverse range of poets in the English language, from Chaucer to Anne Carson. We will see how enlightenment and amusement converge in common
devices like irony, metonymy, and metaphor, and explore some of the more obscure ones like anthimeria, apophasis, litotes, non sequitur, paronomasia, and sesquipedalianism.
Times: M 9-11
Graduate Poetry Workshop
Whenever [the Mauretania] was asked by a French island, “What ship are you?” she would reply, “What island are you?”
—Terry Coleman, The Liners
Apsley Cherry-Garrard described polar exploration as the “cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time that has ever been devised.”
—TLS, July 14, 2006
When asked if he had ever tried out the [swimming] stroke in the water, Sir Nicholas replies, “No Sir, but I swim most exquisitely on land. I content myself with the speculative part of swimming. I care not for the Practick.”
—Sprawson, Haunts of the Black Masseur
Within the high seriousness of verse, we’ll find a place for absurdity and laziness, hoping that between out serious studies cheerfulness will keep breaking in. The workshop will include readings in the poetry of the past century
as well as the poetry of the age—that is, modern American, British, and Irish poetry, all in service of meticulous discussion of your own delightful work. Also, philosophical dentistry and fan-dancing.
You will need to show some sand, as Americans in the day of General Grant would have said.
- an anthology of modern poetry
- four volumes of postwar poetry
Psychoanalytic Theories of Film & Literature
Our goal is to explore Lacanian and post-Lacanian psychoanalysis as theories that have played fundamental roles in the theorization and analysis of literature and film. Given that some have turned away from such approaches, this seminar
will ask, what is worth remembering and rethinking. This process is all the more crucial as gender theory asks us to scrutinize all assumptions about sexual difference and objects of desire, and therefore not take at face value the
way psychoanalysis positioned gender and subjectivity historically. Yet understanding the psyche in its relationship to history may be as crucial as ever, not to be simply replaced by theories of the body or mind that evacuate the
unconscious. The course is organized around key concepts in Freud’s and Lacan’s writings, but it will examine critiques of their positions, and some of the contemporaneous contributions of others to the reinterpretation of Freud as
well. We will concentrate on psychoanalytic texts rather than on the commentaries on and applications of these texts (though I will assign some of these) as an effort to reexamine the complexity and contradiction of these works. Participants
will be expected to read all assignments thoroughly and come to seminar prepared to participate in an ongoing exploration and discussion of these texts. The literary texts are chosen for their appearance in the psychoanalytical writings
and the film screening include films that have attracted psychoanalytic scrutiny. Others are ones I will chose as an attempt to link films with the key concepts in new ways.
Times: W 6-8
Screenings: M E1-E3
Secularism and Its Discontents
Secularization, secularity, secularism: these terms encompass a complex and contested set of historical processes, all having to do with the retreat of religion from our public and private lives. Secularism, in particular, denotes a worldview that seeks to organize and explain the world without appealing to religious principles. We recognize it when we speak of the separation between Church and State, of religious neutrality in national education, or of the modern scientific method. And within these contexts many of us have come to see secularism as a good thing, as a check on tyranny, dogmatism, and superstition. But secularism also has its discontents, even among those who do not affirm a religious alternative. There are many reasons for this — beginning with the issue of whether Western societies are indeed as secular as we like to think — but two issues that have never ceased to inspire debate have to do with ethics and the meaning of life. Is there a place for objective moral values or for the meaningful life within a secular framework?
This question is at the forefront of much recent scholarship on secularism, as best illustrated by the work of the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. But it is, again, an old question, and in this course we will consider how an earlier historical period — the Age of Enlightenment — engaged with it. Already in the seventeenth century, critics of what we now call secularism found that to dispel religion would be to jeopardize ethics. In the absence of divinely sanctioned moral principles (the reasoning goes), we are left with individual judgments that each of us is free to tailor to our own convenience. Right and wrong become just words bandied about by self-interested individuals. Similarly, the life unsupervised by God was denounced as meaningless by early critics of secularism, who felt demoted from their central role in a narrative about sin and redemption to find themselves drifting in an indifferent cosmos with animals, rocks, and trees.
We will be discussing how the philosophy and the literature of the Enlightenment addressed these concerns. We will read philosophers whose work was seen to undermine the foundations of morality, as well as poets and novelists who either confirmed or rejected their views; in the process, we will consider attempts to found politics or ethics on naturalistic principles, as well as the critiques that followed from them. These readings will include the shocking literature produced by the Earl of Rochester and the Marquis de Sade; novels by Sarah Fielding, Mary Shelley, and Denis Diderot; and philosophical texts by Thomas Hobbes, Francis Hutcheson, and Ottobah Cugoano. At the center of our discussion will be Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, a founding work in Western sociology, which captures like no other the perceived association between secularism and cultural relativism.
Times: W 9-11
Victorian Genders: Masculinities
This course will focus on Victorian genders with a special emphasis on masculinities, especially as manifested at mid century (mostly the 1840sâ€“1870s) in the novel. Additionally, we will spend time reading and thinking about secondary
works which interrogate and historicize our principal terms. Many of you have indicated interest in gender issues generally and specifically in masculinities, a topic which has received increasing attention in recent years. By the
end of the course, you will have read a substantial amount of important secondary work regarding mid-century masculinities, as well as a good selection of both canonical and less-known Victorian novels.
Possible Primary Texts:
- Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship
- Gaskell, North and South
- Hughes, Tom Brown’s Schooldays
- Meredith, Ordeal of Richard Feverel
- Ouida, Under Two Flags
- Collins, Man and Wife
- Kingsley, Westward Ho
- Pater, “Diapheneite” (1864) and “Winckelmann” (1867) [two short essays-handout]
- Darwin, From Selection in Relation to Sex (VII, Part II, Chapters XIXâ€“XXI: “Secondary Sexual Characters of Man” (two chapters) and “General Summary and Conclusion” 1871
- Haggard, She 1886
The course will focus on novels (probably seven or eight) and secondary readings about gender and especially masculinity. Most of these readings will be critical and historical, rather than theoretical in the strict sense, and so you
should either be familiar with basic concepts in gender theory or be prepared to do a little extra reading on your own. However, the class discussion will be tailored to (and by) the class members, so you if need to know more about
something, please ask. I would also like to emphasize that, although the course will focus on the construction of masculinity in the period, that topic cannot be discussed without reference to female identity, class, and sexuality,
among other issues. The use of the plural in the course title is not simply a convention; it reflects the imbrication of gender with other identity categories, despite the increasing sense of a widely shared masculine “essence”
which marks the period and which it left as a legacy. In short, I expect seminar conversation to be rather wide-ranging.
Requirements include regular attendance and participation, eight short (1–2 page) responses to the reading, posted to the class email list, substantial contributions to discussion of response papers over email, one full length paper
(21–25 pages), and possibly one formal oral presentation (based on outside reading).
Response papers are due each week. You may choose which eight weeks you will turn something in, but please do not turn them in late. Response papers should be circulated and shared; you must post them electronically at least 48 hours
before class. (I will create an email list for the class, to which you may post papers, responses, questions, etc.) Response papers should be short (one to two pages), focused essays which engage the reading (primary, secondary
or both) directly.
You are also expected to contribute substantively to discussion on the list, as well as, of course, in class. The class will be conducted as a seminar; each member will be expected to speak during each class meeting and to discuss
collegially with other class members. I will contribute as a discussion facilitator and resource person, but not, generally, as a lecturer. You should plan to use the class to explore and expand your own research interests wherever
possible. If you would like to tailor your final project for a particular purpose (dissertation chapter, for example), please let me know.
Times: T 9-11
19th-Century African American Literature
In 1966 Margaret Walker published Jubilee, a quasi-fictional novel that recounts a black woman’s experience through slavery, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction. This text would serve as the beginning
of a genre of African American writing that Ishmael Reed would later pen neo-slave or freedom narratives. As Ashraf Rushdy posits in The Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel,
neo-slave narratives were not created in a vacuum, but rather are a continuation of African American oral and literary traditions, specifically the slave narrative. In order to understand the tradition by which the neo-slave narrative
arose, it will be important to first identify the traditions of the slave narrative. Other than for the abolishment of slavery, what were the purposes of slave narratives? How did African American authors consider issues of violence,
agency, authenticity, and sponsorship when crafting their slave narrative? What are the larger themes in slave narratives and how do neo-slave narratives rework those themes? Possible authors and texts may include the narratives of
Olaudah Equiano, Elizabeth Keckley, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Israel Campbell, William Grimes, Margaret Walker Jubilee, J. California Cooper Family, Toni
Morrison A Mercy, Octavia Butler Kindred, Ishmael Reed Flight to Canada, Dolen Perkins-Valdez Wench,
and Sherley Anne Williams Dessa Rose, among others.
Times: T 3-5
The World of James Baldwin & Critical Race Theory
This course employs an interdisciplinary approach that requires students to familiarize themselves with James Baldwin’s literary and sociopolitical writings. The course expects that students apply critical race theory in their analysis.
Such theorizing will borrow from writing by scholars as Frank B. Wilderson III, Jared Sexton, Saidiya Hartman, Calvin Warren and essayists like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Class discussion and written work will discern whether there exists evidence
of Afro-Pessimism and or postNegritude moments in Baldwin’s oeuvre that easily dismisses postracial fantasies and the machination of neoliberal gestures.
The seminar critically surveys James Baldwin’s writings, lectures, and selected biographies that explore Baldwin’s life in the United States, France, and Turkey. Baldwin was engaged in the socio-political world that surrounded and sometimes
consumed his artistic and moral energies. He was active in the U.S. Civil Rights movement and international concerns about the construction of nation, race, and sexuality. One critic wrote of Baldwin in these words: “Following publication
of Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s literary star approached its peak during the turbulent 1960s. His burgeoning role as celebrity, prophet, and leader heaped an unsustainable amount of pressure and responsibility
onto his slight frame in an American landscape that doubly punished Baldwin for being both black and gay, and he often turned to Turkey for sanctuary.”
This course will reveal the artistry, compassion, and moral commitment of one of America’s greatest writers. Students will critically study how James Baldwin fared as an American writer and social critic and how critical race theory might
reveal or deny the persistence of anti-black violence in words and deeds. Class discussion will consider how Baldwin imaginatively exposed and fervently articulated the coming consciousness that generates “Black Lives Matter” awareness
Times: M 6-8
Rationality, Irrationality, Modernity
A nearly axiomatic definition of modernity, usually associated with Max Weber, emphasizes the increasing rationality — and rationalization — of social, economic, political, intellectual and other spheres of human life, and a concomitant
“disenchantment” of the world: the inevitable and progressive banishment of the “irrationalities” of religion, “superstition,” emotion, propaganda, aesthetics, and so forth. Yet other great theorists of modernity, notably Freud, exposed
a pervasive irrational core to modern life. In this course, we’re going to explore the problem of rationality versus irrationality in the context of Western modernity, particularly with regard to the meaning and persistence of “irrational”
belief (what is “belief,” anyway?). We will also consider the modern project of attempting to “rationally” explain the “irrational,” and thus also delve into questions of the relationship of science to other fields of human experience
and inquiry, including religion, the arts, and humanities.
We will be reading canonical texts of theory, cultural studies, and the interpretive social sciences, including works by Weber, Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, William James, Horkheimer and Adorno, as well as more recent works. The course
should therefore be widely relevant for those graduate students wishing to better ground themselves in the intellectual history of the late-19th to 21st centuries. Students will produce 25–30 pages of written work for the course,
which can be tailored to their academic needs and levels of preparation.
Times: F 3-5
Transnational Feminist Theory
The graduate proseminar has three objectives. One, it serves as an introduction to academic research processes, scholarly writing, and professionalization. Two, it offers a survey of diverse career paths in the humanities and feminist
approaches to academia. Three, it covers transnational feminist theory with a focus on the oeuvre of scholar Inderpal Grewal. In our discussions of her publications from the early 1990s to the contemporary moment, we will pay particular
attention to the development of arguments within individual and across multiple texts. We will situate her work in the context of feminist theory, postmodernity, postcolonialism, transnational and security studies, and read the foundational
texts, with which her work engages. Finally, we will pay close attention to methodology and the formation of key terms. We will host Professor Grewal at the end of the semester for a public lecture and a seminar discussion of her scholarship,
as well as her feminist approach to academia.
In its practical dimension, the seminar addresses research and writing for graduate school, conference presentation, and publication. Guest speakers will address grant applications, library research, dissertation preparation, conference
participation, and the academic job-market. Members of the seminar will have ample time and opportunity to apply materials to their research areas. Course assignments include research activities, minor academic genres (e.g. abstract),
drafts of and responses to research projects, and active involvement in hosting the guest speaker. For the final assignment, students may write an original seminar paper or revise a previous paper with an eye toward publication.
Readings include complete works, selections, and excerpts from Inderpal Grewal’s Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices (2004, co-edited with Caren Kaplan),
Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel (1996), Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms (2005), Theorizing NGOs: States, Feminism, and Neoliberalism (2014,
co-edited with Victoria Bernal), Saving the Security State: Exceptional Citizens in Twenty-First Century America (2017), Sidonie Smith’s Manifesto for the Humanities: Transforming Doctoral Education in Good Enough Times (2016),
Gregory ColÃ³n Semenza’s Graduate Study for the 21st Century(2010), Eric Hayot’s The Elements of Academic Style: Writing for the Humanities (2014),
Karen Kelsky’s The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your PhD into a Job (2015), and Greg ColÃ³n Semenza and Garrett A. Sullivan Jr.’s How to Build a Life in the Humanities: Meditations on the Academic Work-Life Balance (2015).
Times: R 9-11
The Carceral Imaginary
In his influential work of cultural studies Imagining the Penitentiary, John Bender argued that early modern fiction enabled the construction of the prison in the late eighteenth century, essentially
claiming that the development of the English novel and the modern prison were intertwined. This seminar posits Bender’s hypothesis as a launching place to investigate the carceral imagination in British and American literature as well
as the literary effects of the modern (i.e. post-18th century) prison. The seminar begins by tracing the “transformation of punishment”—the shift from what Foucault described as the “spectacle of the scaffold” to the discipline and
punishment of the modern penitentiary. Foucault offers just one account on the development of the prison and its wider social and cultural effects. We will then read a sampling of 18th-20th century fiction (novels, short stories, memoirs)
and select secondary scholarship designed to help us more fully consider the origins and development of the modern prison and its literary representations/responses. A secondary goal is to familiarize students with the emergent field
of critical prison studies and how key scholarship accounts for rise of the prison, the crisis of mass incarceration, and the prison’s polymorphous effects; a full introduction to this interdisciplinary field is beyond the scope of
the seminar, but may include: the intersections of prison studies with critical race theory, law, disability studies, queer studies, and indigenous studies. Likely assignments include periodic short analytical responses to readings,
and a final seminar paper or conference paper.
Times: R 6-8
Digital Writing and Emerging Technologies
This seminar considers the relationship between emerging writing technologies and the ways in which we produce and circulate writing. This course will consider histories of the technology-writing relationship, but will focus primarily
on theories and practices of digital writing. Included in these discussions, this course will examine civic writing, public writing, and place-based writing. The course will address the role of mobile technologies in how we understand
writing. Likewise, the course will take up the role of multimodal and assemblage writing. The course will also look specifically at Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) as emerging writing spaces. Similarly, the course will
address digital literacy and digital creativity, as well as the idea of electracy.