Contemporary Queer Literature
This course explores contemporary queer literature, meaning mostly literature for and about contemporary queer people. We’ll concentrate on the literature but also approach it in cultural and theoretical context. By “contemporary” I mean 1980s forward, with a focus on recent material; by “literature” I mean a wide range of genres, including long and short fiction, memoir, poetry, and queer theory. Our most basic goal is to develop a working sense of what contemporary queer literature involves and looks like, in light of American culture and politics (note the AML prefix). Reading pace will be brisk. Requirements include short response papers, participation, and several longer essays.
Possible Texts (titles subject to change; check with me before purchasing)
- Alison Bechtel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2007)
- Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (2018)
- Andrew Sean Greer, Less (2018)
- Miranda July, The First Bad Man (2015)
- David Leavitt, Family Dancing (1983)
- Audre Lord, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982)
- Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties (2017)
- Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (2016)
- D. A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys: Poems (2014)
- David Pratt, Bob the Book (2010)
- Gabby Rivera, Juliet Takes a Breath (2016)
- Meredith Russo, If I Was Your Girl (2018)
- Justin Torres, We the Animals (2012)
African American Literature 2
This course is designed as an introductory survey of texts and discourses within the African American literary tradition. As we explore critical works within this tradition, from 1945 to the present, we will frame our close textual readings and literary analyses within the context of critical movements and discourses in social, cultural, and literary history. We will be particularly engaged in examining the manner in which literary works and other forms of African American cultural production reveal and respond to social and cultural ideologies, especially those that impact constructions of difference and the formation of identity, subjectivity, and/or the notion of the self. Possible authors include Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Etheridge Knight, Adrienne Kennedy, Toni Morrison, Ernest Gaines, Sapphire, among others.
Refugees, Illeal Aliens, and Immigrants in 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 Asian Americans. 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.
Possible 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), Viet Thanh Nguyen The Refugees (2017), Julie Otsuka, When the Emperor Was Divine (2002), Craig Santos Perez, from Unincorporated Territory [hacha] (2008). There will also be critical essays that I will upload on Canvas.
Course Requirements: Regular attendance; class participation; one oral presentation; two papers.
American Genre Fiction: The Western and Hard-Boiled Detective
One of the many achievements of 20th century American culture is the creation of several important and lasting popular literary genres. This course will explore the emergence and development of two of these: the Western and the “hard-boiled” variant of detective fiction. These two genres are notable for their popularity in both book and film form, and for their creation of unique and highly recognizable styles of American masculinity. We will examine the formal features of these two genres, consider the social and cultural context of their development, and explore their similarities and differences. We will also discuss how writers throughout the 20th and 21st centuries have employed the established genres of the Western and hard-boiled detective fiction for a variety of artistic purposes that extend and complicate the idea of genre itself. We will probably read works by Zane Grey, Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy, Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, and Chester Himes, as well as a few more contemporary authors.
Students will be asked to write two papers of approximately 3000 words each. Attendance and participation in class discussion will be expected.
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, Melville, Poe, Bierce, Fuller and more.
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 spheres: 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) either in full or in excerpts, 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.
Consumer Society & Beyond
The United States is the largest consumer market in the world. Americans have come to expect access to a wide range of goods and services on demand, and we often define our social status, happiness, and well-being in terms of our capacity to buy things. But this state of affairs has a relatively recent history, in which older values were displaced in favor of a set of new habits and ways of understanding the meaning of the good life. Additionally, many Americans have dissented from the values of consumer society, and some have sought alternatives to consumerism. In this course, we will examine a range of objects including novels, films, poetry, speeches, and essays, in order to explore the history of consumerism and its sore points. We will consider celebrations of consumerism, as well as ethical, political, aesthetic, and environmentalist criticisms of consumerism. We will also discuss the psychological and social implications of consumerism, and its disparate meanings across lines of gender, race, and class.
The syllabus has not yet been finalized, but we may read literary works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Toni Morrison, Ruth Ozeki. Students will be asked to write two papers of approximately 3000 words each. Attendance and participation in class discussion will be expected.
Race & Disability in American History and Literature
Team taught with Steven Noll, Department of History
This course will examine the intersection of race and disability in American history and literature by allowing students to understand the shifting meanings of these terms throughout American history and how American literature both reflected and shaped those changes. We will examine the institution of slavery as in itself a disabling construct, the history of eugenic sterilization in America, and finally end by discussing contemporary issues located at the intersections between race and disability. Possible historical works include Leonard Kriegel
Uncle Tom and Tiny Tim: Reflections on the Cripple as Negro, Douglass Baynton Defectives in the Land, Dea Boster African American Slavery and Disability, Nicholas Wade A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History, and Kathleen Collins’
A DisCrit Perspective on The State of Florida v. George Zimmerman: Racism, Ableism, and Youth Out of Place in Community and School, among others. Literary texts will include William and Ellen Craft Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, Richard Wright Native Son, Adrienne Kennedy The Ohio State Murders, among others.
Race and Sexualities in Chicano/a and Latin/x Civil Rights
The study of the histories and stories of the Chicana (Mexican-American) and Latinx (in this case, Puerto Rican and Nuyorican) is a fundamental part of how we understand our past and what has shaped us now. In particular, sometimes competing ideas about race and sexuality were mapped on to the terrains of movement politics, cultural nationalism, and the Chicano and Nuyorican artistic renaissance. We will read, then, how representations of race and of sexualities were inextricably intertwined with the histories, thought, art, and fictions of the Chicano Movimiento and the Nuyorican Young Lords Movement.
Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing
This is a traditional Fiction Workshop.
Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing
This 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.
Imaginative Writing: Poetry
Poorly depicted clouds – which most people would not notice as wrong – are so disturbing to Dr. Thornes that they almost spoil visits to museums. For a meteorologist, the distraction is as great as the ordinary viewer being confronted by a figure with three arms. . . . [He added that] too many artists had painted [clouds] as they would a backcloth in a theatre.
—Guardian (London), 9 August 2000
They told stories about [the country and western singer] Bill Monroe biting into his first bagel (Dang! This is the worst doughnut I ever did eat!).
—Burkhard Bilger, New Yorker, May 14, 2007
In this workshop we will attend to words as closely as a painter attends to paint—or to clouds. You will read a broad selection of modern poetry, from Emily Dickinson to Gjertrud Schnackenberg and Henri Cole, and write a poem a week. Every week in addition to poems from students the workshop will consider for discussion poems from poets past and present. This is an advanced workshop in poetry, for students who have already taken at least one lower-division workshop (CRW 1301 or CRW 2300) and who want to press even further their understanding of poetic language.
Email of your manuscript is necessary for early registration. Please submit four poems to in one attachment in .pdf format. Mention the workshops you have previously taken.
Required reading (tentative):
American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 1: Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker
Donald Justice, New and Selected Poems
W. H. Auden, Selected Poems
Robert Lowell, Life Studies and For the Union Dead
Louise Glück, The First Four Books of Poems
The Art of Dialogue
What are the realistic qualities to be imitated (or faked) in dialogue?—Spontaneity. Artless or hit-or-miss arrival at words used. Ambiguity (speaker not sure, himself, what he means). Effect of choking (as in engine): more to be said than can come through. Irrelevance. Allusiveness. Erraticness: unpredictable course. Repercussion.
— Elizabeth Bowen
This section of CRW 4905—the department’s advanced fiction-writing workshop—will focus on dialogue, among the most essential aspects of fiction. Although you will be free to write whatever you like, I am hoping that you will take this opportunity to think about and practice the art of dialogue, bearing in mind the guidelines laid out by Elizabeth Bowen (and quoted above) in her essay Notes on Dialogue. Reading will consist of works in which dialogue is the dominant method for moving the narrative forward: stories by Uwem Akpan, Camille Bordas, Raymond Carver, and Mary Robison; novels and excerpts from novels by Ivy Compton-Burnett*, Henry Green, and Muriel Spark; plays by Samuel Beckett, Alan Bennett, Marsha Norman, and Oscar Wilde.
Performance—the reading aloud of dialogue scenes from works of fiction and plays—will be part of this class. I will also assign a certain number of exercises. Your duties are to take an active part in the conversation—the dialogue—that is the class and to write two stories over the course of the semester, the second of which may be a revision of the first.
*Compton-Burnett (1884-1969), though not as well known in this country as in her native England, took the art of dialogue to new and surreal levels. In her 1944 novel Elders and Betters, for instance, she manages the virtuosic feat of rendering a dinner-table conversation with fourteen participants.
The Art of Constraint
This seminar will focus on works that challenge the rules of storytelling through anomalous structure, stylistic extremity, or bizarre point of view—and sometimes more than one of the above. These are books and stories that teach you how to read them as you read them: a sentence-long novel, an all-dialogue novel, one that starts with the ending, one narrated by animals, one narrated by a geometric shape, one that you can read in any order… We will dissect them all and embrace (or at least attempt to embrace) their idiosyncratic nature: exploring what they gain by their uniqueness, their commitment to their form, unrestraining their constraints, and discovering their hearts.
About Our Class: Our time in class will mostly consist of discussing the works assigned. You are expected to read the works closely and come to class with a list of 5 questions, comments or thoughts you’ve had about what you read. In-class and take-home exercises will be assigned.
Writing the Sonnet
sonnet is derived from an Italian word meaning
a little sound or
a little song. Although it was a form originally perfected in thirteenth century Italy, it continues to be written, played with, and experimented on in 21st century American poetry. We will read through the history of the sonnet from the time it entered the English language to today, and learn to craft our own, culminating in a portfolio with a sonnet sequence or
garland. Strong reading and compositional skills are required for this workshop.
This course will familiarize students with the emerging academic field of digital rhetoric. Digital technologies have profoundly affected the ways in which we produce and circulate writing, and digital networks create new possibilities and obstacles for writing that require new theories, methods, and rhetorical practices. This course will examine the history of writing as a technology, looking to contemporary scholarship on digital rhetoric and multimodal composition in order to theorize and invent new methods for networked writing. Readings will challenge students to consider how digital media reshape the ways we research, compose, and distribute knowledge. Course readings will tap a variety of media, including linear text, video essays, podcasts, and videogames (all of which will be available for free online).
Students will study and use emerging writing technologies as they address the new ethical challenges facing contemporary writers in digital media environments. Students will learn digital research methods and create critical multimedia projects as they consider how new media affect the rhetorical frameworks through which we communicate and think. Assignments will follow a project-based learning model and include print media writings, a digital image-tracking project, and a location-based augmented reality installation. Students will learn digital rhetoric practices that bolster their ability to better describe the effects of digital media as they familiarize themselves with emerging tools for digital writing.
Modern Criticism and Theory
Our age, French intellectual Louis Althusser once declared,
threatens one day to appear in the history of human culture as marked by the most dramatic and difficult trial of all, the discovery of and training in the meaning of the ‘simplest’ acts of existence: seeing, listening, speaking, reading. The heterogeneous body of texts that comprise modern criticism and theory has contributed to this
dramatic and difficult trial, challenging received wisdom and teaching us to see, hear, speak, and read in new—and newly sensitive, self-conscious, and self-questioning—ways. On the one hand, literary critics and theorists spent much of the twentieth century refining techniques of reading, developing theories of interpretation, and arguing over the nature of their object of study. On the other hand, thinkers working in such diverse fields as semiology, sociology, psychoanalysis, Marxism, speech-act philosophy, post-structuralism, feminism, postcolonial studies, critical race theory, and queer theory, have been developing ways of analyzing the psyche, the economy, the operations of ideology, power relations, logics of cultural production, speech acts, self-subverting structures of meaning, and the problematic codings that produce and reproduce differences of sexuality, gender, and race. Together, these projects have transformed the intellectual scene, rendering problematic any return to the unexamined categories of common sense.
This course will be an intensive introduction to modern criticism and theory. The readings, though often brief, can be quite challenging, and we will spend much of our time carefully reading and assessing the arguments we encounter. On the one hand, we will work to appropriate the crucial terms of arguments and to understand how those arguments unfold; on the other hand, we will try to discover perspectives from which to interrogate these arguments.
Our central text will be The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (3rd edition, 2018; ed. Vincent B. Leitch et. al.). Early in the semester, we may also read I.A. Richards’ 1929 book, Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgment, which notoriously exemplifies the difficulties that inhere in the “simple” act of reading by quoting and discussing readers’ responses to 13 poems.
I anticipate that students will be evaluated on the basis of attendance and participation, two brief exercises introducing texts for discussion, a mid-term examination consisting of short-answer questions, a discussion panel, a 6-8-page essay, and a final examination consisting of short-answer questions.
History of Film 2
This part of the film history sequence covers the years 1930-1965.
- 1. The consolidation of the Hollywood Studio System, derived from the model of Frederick Taylor’s industrial management and Henry Ford’s mass production. (Readings: Taylor, Ford, Schatz’s The Genius of the System) (Films: 42nd Street, Grand Hotel, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca)
- 2. The rise of Hitler, the issue of documentary, and the emigration of filmmakers and actors to Hollywood. (Readings: Stern’s Hitler) (Films: M, Triumph of the Will)
- 3. Jean Renoir (Readings: interviews with Renoir) (Films: A Day in the Country, Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, The Rules of the Game)
- 1. Film noir and Sartre’s existentialism. (Readings: Vernet on film noir, Sartre’s “Existentialism Is a Humanism”) (Films: It’s a Wonderful Life, In a Lonely Place, The Narrow Margin
- 2. Italian Neorealism. (Readings: Zavattini’s manifestos, Cahiers du Cinéma essays on Rossellini and Neorealism) (Films: Rome, Open City; Paisà, he Bicycle ThievesT)
- 3. The French New Wave. (Readings: Cahiers du Cinéma essays by Truffaut, Godard, et. al.; interviews with Truffaut and Godard) (Films: Breathless, Les Mistons, Shoot the Piano Player, Masculine-Feminine)
Assignments: 1. Brief daily quizzes on readings and screenings (20%). 2. Class participation (20%). 3. Two essay exams based on questions distributed in advance (60%). Attendance required: after two unexcused absences, further absences will reduce your course grade.
Note: ENG 3122 is a film history course that involves regular, and often lengthy, readings detailing the historical contexts of the movies we will watch. If such readings and the quiz and participation requirements do not suit your interest or habits, you should not take this particular course.
Note to Journalism Students: Many Journalism students, especially those in Telecommunications, take English Department film courses. In the past few years, some of these students have disliked and ignored ENG 3122’s requirements; the result has often been failing grades. While I have seen many fine Journalism students in this course, the numbers of the discontented and failing have recently increased. Like any university course, taking ENG 3122 involves a commitment. Look over the syllabus (when it appears over the summer) to see if you want to make this particular commitment.
History of Film 3
Concentrating on the post-new wave and new Hollywood cinema, this course will examine the international history of film from 1970 to the present. The goal is to awaken an understanding of the historical use of film form by exploring changes that have taken place in film industries and technologies. Each week we will view a film, examine its form of expression (looking closely at editing, set design, acting styles, dialogue, and narration). We will examine digital technologies, special effects, and 3D. We will also look at aesthetics that shun spectacular filmic action in favor of a more minimal approach. This will lead to our discussion of the film’s place in film history, as well as social history. We will look at issues of industry and audience, considering representations of gender, race and political change. Students will learn how to see films with a greater depth of visual understanding. Films to be screened include genres of Hollywood filmmaking, Independents, European, and Japanese films. We will look at directors whose talent shaped the development of cinema; we will also examine the role of actors and actresses, screenwriters, designers and producers in shaping the history of film.
Active Participation in class and on CANVAS is required, as is close reading of history texts assigned.
Defenses of Humanism
According to Nietzsche,
it is precisely facts that do not exist, only interpretations. Now, we are in an era of
alternative facts where
Truth isn’t truth. Beginning with Michiko Kakutani’s The Death of Truth, this course will focus on George Orwell and Erich Fromm, the former a creative writer and the latter a psychoanalyst, who in the twentieth century took a stand against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism. The major works we will read are Orwell’s Animal Farm, 1984, and A Collection of Essays, and Fromm’s Escape from Freedom, Man for Himself, and The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. Course requirements include a midterm, a final exam, one five-page paper. and active participation in class discussions.
In this course, we will analyze narrative film from the perspective of film trailers. We look at the earliest film trailers as well as the most recent in relation to narratology, sountracks, and sound design. We will also spend time focusing on opening title sequences and end title sequences. Requirements: Two papers and a film trailer of your own making; TOTAL ATTENDANCE; Co-lead class discussion twice, once on a Tuesday and once on a Thursday; two discussion questions; three film shots; and three or more
BIG WORDS for each class; student formulated quizzes each class; three 500 word papers; an openess to experiences and topics outside your comfort zone; and a willingness to challenge yourself, reflect, think, respond creatively and imaginatively, by paying very, VERY, VERY close formal attention to texts and films.
For more information, please go to Course Link
East/West: European Art Cinema
This course will cover European films within an international and interdisciplinary framework, focusing on dialogue between Eastern and Western Europe as represented in art cinema and film festivals. Particularly, we will study contemporary art cinema from the post-socialist Eurasian region and its political context. We will also study these films’ aesthetic foundations in Western European cinema, particularly Italian neorealism and modernism. As well, we consider differing thematic concerns between contemporary Western and Eastern European art cinema.
Situated stylistically between Hollywood and the avant-garde, art cinema commands a heightened formalism of the image and is often created with international audiences in mind. We consider the circulation of the medium through European film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, and Berlin. We question, for instance, the political implications of screening at Cannes a sharp critique of Putin’s Russia: does the director play to anti-Russian sentiments? In all, we examine films from Russia, Poland, Hungary, Georgia, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany, Great Britain, and China. A variety of readings from cinema studies, politics, and history will contextualize the films. The course includes a weekly film screening time, and students will watch some movies independently.
While primarily a film course, students will also gain knowledge of issues confronting post-socialist countries, such as privatization, corruption, economic disparity, ideological shift, nostalgia, and the political uses of history. Students will be encouraged to think in terms of international relations considering the global circulation of the art cinema. Additionally, the course models how to meld aesthetic and political critique into film analysis.
The course will begin with films that confront the Soviet period, which we place in dialogue with two opposing views: on the one hand, post-communist nostalgia and on the other, mourning for an unresolved, violent past. We will consider the Western European co-production The Death of Stalin (2018) and the Kremlin’s censorship of the film. Next, we will study French-Polish productions which allegorize East/West relations and the move away from communism. For example, we will discuss how the representation of the French Revolution’s terror in Danton (1983) metaphorically advocates for nonviolence in Polish Solidarity.
After thinking through introductory issues about the Soviet past and the transitional period, we study the roots of art cinema, exemplified by Michelangelo Antonioni’s oeuvre. We also consider contemporary permutations of the style with recent Cannes films from Western Europe. We read theory about the genre’s form and history on the post-WWII political foundations of the film festival. Following this, we see how Hungarian and Russian directors appropriate the style.
In the following unit, readings will contextualize two Hungarian films around the memory of the 1956 Revolution, the image of the political corpse, and the post-socialist economic transition. Next, we discuss Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev’s work within the context of Putin’s rule, the petrostate, and the 2011-12 Moscow protests against election fraud. Additionally, we consider how Aleksandr Zel’dovich and Vladimir Sorokin’s Target (Mishen, 2010) imagines the future of Russia and its elite.
In the final unit of the course, we compare the stylistic and contextual similarities between Italian post-WWII cinema and contemporary Chinese cinema, particularly films by Jia Zhangke. Scholars, such as Angelo Restivo and James Tweedie, have argued for a comparative approach between art cinemas from Italy’s earlier postwar modernization and China’s later modernization in its opening to Western capital.
Women and Film
This course will examine how women have been represented in film, how they have participated in film production, and how they consume film images. We will look at several feminist approaches and the range of debates as to how to address these issues.
The course will have several goals:
- To introduce you to the history of women in film,
- To increase your skills in viewing and reading film, and in reading critical writing about film,
- To increase your understanding of feminist theory
- To teach you how to appreciate different genres of filmic expression
- To engage you in debates and discussion, and to stimulate you to think
- To give you a deeper understanding of the struggles of women in the twentieth and twenty-first century
- To help you write your best research papers
Emphasis will be on such basic issues as viewer identification, the articulation of social values, and the function of cultural context, as currently formulated through various feminist and post-structuralist methodologies. We will explore how feminism intersects with psychoanalysis, ideology, deconstruction, and related approaches. We will examine the conjuncture of theoretical issues with an experience of specific films. We will look at the function of these films in the past, and in present reworkings of history.
Discussion posts on Canvas, attentive attendance at all screenings and class meetings, and careful reading of all assigned material is required.
New German Cinema
In 1962, a group of young filmmakers at the Oberhausen Film Festival in West Germany boldly declared:
The old cinema is dead! We believe in a new cinema! Out of this movement to overcome the 1950s legacies of fascism emerged a wave of filmmaking that became internationally known as New German Cinema. Its filmmakers were indebted to the student movement and a vision of filmmaking and distribution based on the notion of the director as auteur. This course offers a survey of the films from this brief period of enormous output and creativity, including the films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Alexander Kluge, Helke Sander, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta, and Wim Wenders. We will trace the influence of the women’s movement on feminist aesthetics and situate the films’ negotiations of history and memory in postwar West German politics. The course requirements include attendance of required weekly screenings.
Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Global Cinema
Since the last two decades of the twentieth century, a new wave of Chinese cinema from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, emerged to capture the attention of some of the most significant international film festivals. Today, with the dynamic forces of global capital flow, multiculturalism, and accelerated migration, this unique phenomenon of Chinese-language film, or
Sinophone film, has transformed itself into a broader movement that not only draws on the multifarious aspects of Chinese identity and culture but also has been, more than ever, increasingly linked to Euro-American paradigms, global market, and transnational collaborations. To follow the first-semester survey of mainland Chinese productions (the two courses may be taken jointly or separately), this spring we will explore Chinese-language film from the perspectives of Hong Kong and Taiwan. With a particular emphasis on how the two discourses of national and transnational inform and shape these two distinct yet interrelated films, we will place our subjects in a historical and transnational context, and trace their genealogies, kinship ties, transformations and divergence through the twentieth century to the new millennium. A comparative and interdisciplinary approach is also adopted in the class to investigate their complex interactions and negotiations with mainland, Hollywood, and other forms of cultural practices. Filmmakers and stars to be discussed include Tsui Hark, John Woo, Wong Kar-wai, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang, Tsai Ming-liang, and Ang Lee. Screenings cover a wide variety of genres from martial arts to melodramas to ghost stories and musicals.
Basic Video Production
This course is a meditation on the creative process and an exploration of the unique and inexhaustible ways that the cinematic medium activates such processes and leads the imagination into free uncharted territory. We will begin with a survey of various creative principles, methods, tools and general philosophies of
making as expressed by artists, teachers, critics and theorists from diverse backgrounds, with particular attention paid to the insights of independent and experimental filmmakers. The goal of this
study phase is to open a window into the inner workings of the creative process, analyze films from the perspective of their own making, and ultimately enrich, stimulate and guide creativity throughout the entire filmmaking process from concept to screen. Along the way we will be concerned with a view of cinema as a unique, evolving, visionary artform with great individual and social impact. Students will be introduced to the expressive and experimental potential of cinema through a variety of short exercises or
sketches exploring the medium’s technological, aesthetic and hybrid facets (i.e. image, silence, sound, time, space, movement, montage, the frame, the face). These short films (1-2 minutes each) will be compiled and arranged into two timelines to be submitted as film sketchbooks throughout the semester: the first installment requires minimal editing whereas the final installment should be more cohesive. Students will also be encouraged to keep a written notebook related to the activities of the film sketchbooks, documenting creative processes, inspirations, concepts and ideas, research findings, aesthetic and technological problems, etc., in addition to written responses to readings and screenings assigned in class. The final project will emerge from a rigorous process of selecting, organizing, revising and expanding material from the film sketches, resulting in an aesthetically coherent and personal work of filmic expression.
Students will be provided with access to the English department’s production and post-production equipment. Students are also free to use their own film equipment with prior approval from the instructor.
Students registering for this course must have taken one of the 3000-level prerequisites. Those prerequisites are ENG 3115, ENG 3121, ENG 3122, or ENG 3125.
Registration for this course will proceed in two stages:
- Departmental Registration Based on Application to the Instructor.
Students will submit a brief application to the instructor in order to be considered for inclusion in the course. Interested students should contact the instructor, Professor Trevor Mowchun, at email@example.com to receive an application. The deadline for applications is October 18, and students selected for inclusion will be registered by the department by the time advance registration begins on October 29. Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the application process as seats are limited.
- Open Registration on ONE.UF
If there are any remaining seats in the course after the application process is complete, students who meet the official prerequisite will be able to register themselves on ONE.UF beginning on October 29.
Faculty Member of Choice
An Independent Study course may be taken for 1 to 3 credit hours, but will only count toward the fulfillment of the 10-course requirement for the English major if a student registers for 3 credit hours.
This course is for advanced students who desire to supplement the regular courses by independent reading or research under the guidance of a member of the faculty. The student must find a faculty member who is willing to supervise the semester-long study, and together, the two create a project. The student must meet with the professor at designated times, agreed upon in advance, and complete all assignments in a timely manner.
Undergraduate Research in English
Honors Seminar: Literature and Medicine
This course will explore the relationship of medicine and literature after 1800. We will read a variety of texts, including fiction, medical writing, critical and historical work. Key questions will be: how does the advent of modern medicine shape literature? How has the role of both clinician and patient changed over time? What are some key themes in the literature? How does the emerging conversation about
narrative medicine and
medical humanities relate to the history and literature of health and disease? Etc. The reading list may include works by Edgar Allen Poe, Harriet Martineau, George Eliot, Arthur Conan Doyle, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, and Kazuo Ishiguro.
This course provides upper-division credit in the major, and will be taught with that in mind; however, interdisciplinary work is encouraged, and there is room to tailor your final paper to individual interests. There is a considerable amount of reading. Carefully consider your reading speed and the expectations of the other courses you are taking before committing to this course. The course requirements include a short paper, a long paper, reading quizzes and a creative project.
Honors Seminar: Sci Fi: The Pulps
The Pulps were illustrated fiction magazines published between the late 1890s and the late 1950s. Named for the inexpensive wood pulp paper on which they were printed, they varied widely as to genre, and included titles specializing in aviation fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction, detective and crime fiction, railroad fiction, romance, science fiction, sports stories, war fiction, and western fiction. In the pulps’ heyday a bookshop or newsstand might offer dozens of different magazines on these and other subjects, often from the same publishers and featuring work by the same writers, with lurid, striking cover and interior art by the same artists. Pulp magazines came into and went out of publication with little fanfare; they changed titles without warning. The pulp canon represents one of the most innovative and dynamic periods of modern fiction publishing.
In this seminar, we will focus on pulp science fiction (sf) published during the Anglo-American
Golden Age of sf, from 1938 to 1946. We will review magazines such as Air Wonder Stories, Amazing Stories, Astonishing Stories, Astounding Stories, Marvel Science Stories, Planet Stories, Science Wonder Stories, Tales of Wonder, Unknown Fantasy Fiction, and Wonder Stories. We will read short fiction by authors such as Ray Bradbury, Edmund Hamilton, Fritz Leiber, Murray Leinster, Eric Frank Russell, Theodore Sturgeon, Clifford Simak, E.E. Smith, Leslie F. Stone, and Donald Wandrei. We will examine the work of pathbreaking illustrators such as Earl Bergey, Howard V. Brown, Margaret Brundage, Virgil Finlay, Frank Kelley Freas, Frank R. Paul, and Norman Saunders.
The cheap paper and binding methods favored by pulp publishers were never intended to last; many issues of the magazines are now rare because they have turned to dust. The widespread assumption that sf was an ephemeral genre unlikely to endure, wartime paper shortages, and the postwar rise of cheap paperbacks and comics, did not help. A lot of pulp sf was tossed after reading, became impractical to publish, or was abandoned as audiences moved on.
Yet the origins of contemporary sf are clearly discernible in this uniquely energetic literature; the pulps pretty much invented sf as a genre and that alone makes them worthy of study. (Moreover, much of the fiction remains hugely entertaining!) Fortunately, historical and critical work on pulps has been transformed by the emergence of scholarly and enthusiast, crowd-sourced online archives such as Archive.org and The Pulp Magazine Project. It is now possible to read complete and accurate digital versions of many of the magazines.
Assigned course readings will include contemporary writing by sf historians and theorists such as Mike Ashley and Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. Most of our reading will be from digital facsimiles of the pulps themselves. The course will have a strong digital humanities component. The principal writing assignments are collaborative critical online essays and exhibits of pulp sf on subjects selected by students in the course.
The English Department at the University of Florida offers three* credit hours of internship to its majors who provide the following to the Undergraduate Coordinator for approval:
Once the Undergraduate Coordinator has approved the internship requested by the student, the department will register the student for the internship credits.
Upon completion of the internship:
*For two credit hours, the student would need to work 8 hours per week in a Fall, Spring, or Summer C semester; and 16 hours per week for Summer A or B.
*For one credit hour, the student would need to work 4 hours per week in a Fall, Spring, or Summer C semester; and 8 hours per week for Summer A or B.
Please note the following limitations on the English Internship:
Course Description: Social media was once regarded as a democratic vehicle of public opinion. More recently, it has been derided by many elite who think social media have been overrun by trolls or worse, and social media platforms like Facebook and Spotify have taken it on themselves to oust people who
violate their rules. You can say what you want online. Or can you? What can be published? What
violates a media platform’s rules? Or must your keep your opinions, especially when non-conformist, to yourself? We will focus on three literary thinkers of moral philosophy who sought refuge in the literary forms of the essay and the aphorism who were on the same strand. Nietzsche read Emerson, keeping a copy of Emerson next to his bed, and Emerson read Montaigne and wrote an essay entitled “On Montaigne.” We will follow this strand of literary, experimental, individualistic, reflective, and democratizing moral philosophy (and theology) in light of a return to the Greeks for an alternative as a model of reason as the basis for morality, mostly Stoicism (Seneca), on the one hand, and, on the other, against the late-eighteenth century political philosophy that inaugurated the Enlightenment and Cosmopolitanism, the idea of civil society, and the public sphere, focusing on selected works by Kant, Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, Lichtenberg, and Hume. Literature as a challenge to Stoicism and the Enlightenment and as challenged by it. Selections from Kirk Wetters, Jurgen Habermas, Reiner Kosseleck, and Jacques Derrida.
Three short papers; discussion questions and “BIG WORDS” due before each class; two student co-led classes; two meetings with me for “Live Grading” of your papers; two unexcused absences allowed (three or four will mean a drop in your final grade; more than four and you will have failed the class). To get a final grade higher than a “C,” you will have to participate productively in class discussion. For more information, please go to: Course Site”
Honors Thesis Project
Faculty Members (2) of Choice
Students must have have completed at least one semester of ENG 4936, Honors Seminar. Open to English Honors students.
The student must select two faculty members: one to direct the reading, research, and writing of a thesis on a topic of the student’s and director’s chosing, and another as the second reader. An abstract (100 to 200 words) must be delivered to the CLAS Academic Advising Center on Fletcher Road at least 10 days before graduation.
The English Novel: 19th Century
This course analyzes key developments in the nineteenth-century British novel through a consideration of the British novel’s historical, literary-historical, and critical contexts. Given that the nineteenth-century saw the rise of the novel alongside a new enthusiasm for narratives of growth (this was, after all, the age of the rise of Samuel Smiles’ 1859 bestseller, Self-Help, and the popularization of the
self-help genre), we will be focusing on narratives that explore concepts of
development. That is, our course will center on nineteenth-century literary depictions of
growing upduring a period in history when everything from the human population, to the market economy, to industrial technology, to print culture itself also seemed to be growing—and in alarming ways. How do nineteenth-century British novels attend to these anxieties about growth? Why do nineteenth-century British novels so persistently turn to narratives of development? These are the questions we will attempt to answer by semester’s end.
Many of the texts we will be examining in our study of the British novel are primarily examples of the Bildungsroman, or novel of development. However, most of our works are also representative of a range of other literary genres, from the gothic to the realist novel (and even, if we dare to call it so, the novelistic poem). Our study of these generic crossovers will bring us to carefully consider developments in nineteenth-century novel genres. Possible course texts include Jane Austen’s Emma, Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh, George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Please note that this is a seminar-style class with a substantial reading load that requires active participation and daily attendance. Graded assignments include (a) submitting notes taken during the reading of each text; (b) 2 short argumentative close-reading papers; and (c) a final paper that synthesizes literary analysis, genre analysis, historical contexts, and literary criticism.
This course will survey several genres of Victorian literature, including fiction, drama, poetry and non-fiction prose. It will be organized thematically. The reading list may include Browning, Tennyson, Barrett-Browning, Rossetti, Gaskell, Dickens, Braddon, Eliot, Oliphant, Boucicault, Wilde, Shaw, Pater, Carlyle, Ruskin, and/or others. This is not a course on the novel (that course is ENL 3122), and we will be reading some fiction, but mostly in forms other than the novel itself. Themes may include the following: nature and culture; sex and gender; class, economics and poverty; science and morality; past and future/nostalgia and utopia; race and empire. This course provides upper-division credit in the major, and will be taught with that in mind; therefore, students will be expected to know how to do research in the field and to attempt the application of critical frameworks. Expect a considerable amount of reading. Assignments will likely include three short papers, quizzes, and one presentation.
In addition to being at once one of the most intellectual and the most passionate poets in the English language, whose metaphysical wit fuses the realms of erotic and religious experience, John Donne was also an incomparable preacher of sermons and fascinating prose writer. This course will explore the full range of Donne’s achievements through close readings of his major works, accompanied by John Carey’s critical study, John Donne: Life, Mind, and Art. Course requirements include a midterm, a final exam, one five-page paper, and active participation in class discussions.
Poetics of Justice: Law, Literature, and Film
In his brief yet complex parable “Before the Law” Franz Kafka describes how a man from the country searches for the law but is stopped outside the gates by a menacing guard, never to gain entrance to the law. What is the significance of this failure to grasp the law? How does Kafka’s perplexing tale shed light on questions pertaining to the interplay between justice, law and violence, and how do we as individuals encounter these conflicts within the social and political spaces in which we live?
This interdisciplinary course sets out to explore these very questions and collisions by juxtaposing shifting modes of representations. By turning to the works of history (Thucydides), Religion (Book of Job), philosophy (Plato, Nietzsche and Arendt), literature (Sophocles, Dostoyevsky and Kafka) and film (the Coen brothers and Tarantino), our objective is to trace the narrative of justice through ancient Greece, the Enlightenment, the modern and postmodern periods. In particular, we will examine the realm of trials (both real and imaginary) to probe the relation between justice and ethics along with the various questions pertaining to law, guilt, responsibility, violence and punishment. How do writers critique the institutions of law and justice through works of literature and art? Our goal is to rethink these dynamic relationships by turning to the spaces of history, philosophy, political thought, literature and film.
Final Research Paper (8-10 pages) 25%
Participation 20%/attendance 5% 25%
Midterm Essay Exam (take home) 25%
Final Essay Exam (take home) 25%
Contemporary African Literature
This course survey canonical African literature from the late 1950s to the present. We will begin by studying the inauguration of the field in the shadow of a fading European colonialism and the emergence of a triumphant, or at any rate optimistic, anti-colonial nationalism. We will then address the rise in the late 1960s so-called literatures of postcolonial disillusionment as the optimism of anti-colonialism gave way to the recognition of neocolonialism as well as the ugly reality of enduring poverty, endemic corruption and repressive dictatorship. We will then our attention to the difficult and traumatic 1980s and 90s, the age of Afro-pessimism and the so-called Africa crisis during which period the continent’s problems seemed beyond meaningful resolution. What kinds of writing or literatures of crisis arose in these troubled times? Finally, we will conclude by addressing 21st century African literature. To what extent are the paradigms of the previous century useful for understanding the continent’s newest writers? Among other writers we will likely study Chinua Achebe, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Flora Nwapa, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and Yvonne Owuor.
Literature for the Adolescent
This course examines literature primarily for but also about adolescents, across a range of genres and with attention to the political and social history of adolescence as a concept and a lived experience. We’ll concentrate on what’s now called “young adult” literature from the 1960s forward, but we will read and discuss that material in light of earlier narrative traditions. The modern adolescent is of course intimately connected to material culture in particular ways. We will focus especially on contemporary literature in the hopes of assessing what’s happening in young adult publishing and media culture. The course will be conducted as a seminar and participation is crucial. We will read one YA book per week, plus some criticism and theory. Requirements include weekly response papers, regular participation, and 2 essays to be negotiated later.
Possible Texts (titles subject to change; please check with me before purchasing)
- Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak (1999)
- M.T. Anderson, Feed (2002)
- Cris Beam, I Am J (2011)
- Maureen Daly, Seventeenth Summer (1942)
- S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders (1967)
- Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun (2014)
- Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008)
- Nnedi Okorafor, Akata Witch (2011)
- Erika L. Sanchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (2017)
- Adam Silvera, They Both Die at the End (2017)
- Mariko and Jill Tamaki, Skim (2008)
- Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give (2017)
- Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese (2006)
Intersectionalities: Theory and Visual Rhetoric
In feminist theory, the concept of intersectionality dominates contemporary conversations. First theorized by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, conceptualizations of intersectionality can be traced across earlier texts including the 1977 “Combahee River Collective Statement” where the authors develop an analysis of the interlocking oppressions that
reates the conditions of our lives. In this course, we will study the evolution of these theories across the 1980s and then focus on their deployment in a wide variety of forms from the 1990s onward.
The 1990s, often marked as the start of third wave feminism, fostered a flourishing of women self-publishing hybrid, image-text creations that often focused very personally on issues of identity. Known as zines (a shortening of “magazine”), these do-it-yourself (DIY) creations circulated widely across America even prior to the connectivity of the Internet. Throughout the course, students will learn how to make zines and use this knowledge of process to heighten their analytical skills.
Course assignments will include digital reflections on a shared course website, a short formal essay, and multiple zine-making assignments culminating in a larger-scale assignment.
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. And Charles Portis’ True Grit.
Each student will write two short screenplay adaptations, based on an assigned short stories.
Screenings and reading will be assigned weekly.
A course on writing about people and places. The reading-list might have been drawn from nature writing or science or biography, but I have come down in favour of history: from Tacitus and John Aubrey (if available), to Ryszard Kapuscinski and Andrzej Stasiuk. We will read the late cult-author W.G. Sebald, Joseph Roth, Peter Handke, Bruce Chatwin, and others. Spoken contributions will be encouraged. Participants will do much writing of and on their own, whether on an array of different projects, or on a single task. Reading and writing, research and style, should all benefit. (I would rather you came wanting to write a book about cuttlefish than on the first twenty years – or indeed the first six months – of your lives, but the latter may be allowable under certain circumstances; I should like it, however, not to preponderate.)
Blending Boundaries, Breaking Barriers: An SF Workshop
From the inaugural work of body-modification, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, fictions that engage deeply with science have often sought to extend, explore, confuse or break the confines of the human body, in order to more fully understand what it means to be human. Whether contemplating technological interventions, such as the inventions we call robots, androids or cyborgs, like the novel I, Robot, or genetic ones, in which human genomes are scrambled, infected or recoded, as in the novel Dawn, SF has repeatedly sought to challenge the limits of both known science and accepted norms regarding human embodiment. In this workshop we shall revisit older fictions that take on the task of re-imagining the human body, read critical theory about such works, and in the end perform some fictional thought-experiments about the body of our own. Readings will include probably include works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, C.L. Moore, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frederick Pohl, Donna J. Haraway, Octavia Butler, and more
In order to be considered for admission to this workshop, you must submit a manuscript to the instructor. The manuscript should be a short story or excerpt from a longer work (no more than 20 pages). You must include your name, UFID number and UF email address on the title page. Submit a hard copy of your manuscript to Professor Smith’s mailbox in TUR 4301. The deadline for manuscript submission is October 15, 2018. You will be notified about your admissions status by October 29. If seats remain open in the workshop after the manuscript submission and review process, the course will be opened to general registration.
19th Century Literature and Scientific Imagination
Why did Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, turn to writing erotic poems about the love lives of plants? For what reason did G.H. Lewes theatrically exclaim his horror over
THE THINGS I HAVE SEEN IN TAPIOCCA PUDDING…!? More generally, what was in the water, or
monster soup, that was exciting the imagination of nineteenth-century writers? These are all questions that we will explore as part of our studies into the long nineteenth-century British scientific imagination. As we read nineteenth-century literary texts alongside scientific treatises of the time, we will explore the historical, social, and cultural influences that shaped the imaginative language of scientific writing. To that end, our studies will bring us to evaluate how scientific fact gets translated and mistranslated; who gets to translate science and who doesn’t; and what aspects of scientific imagination caught
Topics of particular consideration may include animal studies, botany, evolution, microscopy, and dissection/vivisection. Possible course texts may include works such as Erasmus Darwin’s The Botanic Garden, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and Descent of Man, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, G.H. Lewes’ Sea-side Studies, Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, and Wilkie Collins’ Heart and Science. We will also be reading short pieces from a broad range of contemporary criticism on literature and science studies. Please note that this is a seminar-style class with a substantial reading load that requires active participation and daily attendance. Graded assignments include (a) submitting notes taken during the reading of each text; (b) an argumentative close-reading paper; (c) an argumentative close-reading presentation in front of the class; and (c) a substantial final project based on independent research into nineteenth-century scientific writing or technology that will contribute to the fields of literary study, history of science, and/or education.
From the Bible to CNN in Translation
Since the first translations of the Hebrew Bible and up to automated translations of Facebook statuses, translation has always been a vehicle of both communication and miscommunication among nations and cultures. Today, the proliferation and the increased mobility between media, as well as the possibilities and the need to transmit information quickly and cheaply in the electronic age, create new challenges and new forms of translation. The translator, on his/her part, is repeatedly called upon to stitch together a fragile cultural and linguistic make-up of a “gl village” thatobal is constantly falling apart at the seams. This course will provide a history of translation, cover various ethical and political facet of translation, and address the tasks of translation and translators at the age of globalism.