Spring 2020 Courses
Class meeting locations are subject to change. Consult the following page for an explanation of the class period abbreviations.
|Course #||Time(s)||Room||Course title||Instructor|
|AML 6017||W 6-8||Nineteenth-Century American Gothic(s)||Stephanie Smith|
|CRW 6130||W 9-11||Graduate Fiction Workshop||Jill Ciment|
|CRW 6166||T 9-11||Forms: Fiction||Uwem Akpan|
|CRW 6331||M 9-11||Verse Writing||Ange Mlinko|
|ENG 6075||W 9-11||Marxism and Ideology||Pietro Bianchi|
|ENG 6075||T 6-8||The Contemporary Historical Novel: Toward the Global||Phillip Wegner|
|ENG 6137||T 9-11 Screenings: R 9-11||Storytelling in Literature and Film||Robert Ray|
|ENG 6932||W 6-8 Screenings: M 9-11||Film and Video Production: Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation||Trevor Mowchun|
|ENL 6526||W 3-5||Worldly Victorians||Rae Yan|
|LIT 6236||T 3-5||Postcolonial Theory||Malini Schueller|
|LIT 6358||R 6-8||Womanist Intellectual Thought||Debra Walker King|
|LIT 6856||M 6-8||Queer Theory||Kim Emery|
|LIT 6856||R 3-5||Queer Comics||Margaret Galvan|
|LIT 6934||M 3-5||Hip Hop Rhetorics||Victor Del Hierro|
|LIT 6934||M 3-5||From Paper to Publication||Sid Dobrin|
Nineteenth-Century American Gothic(s)
In our era of “terrorism,” it should come as no surprise that the Gothic underpinnings of the American literary tradition are being re-examined, as in Paul Hurh’s new book American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville (Stanford 2016). In this century, peaceful civilian populations increasingly face various forms of violent destabilization, from armed ideological conflicts to brutal domestic policing tactics. Since fear and terror are the heart of the Gothic tradition, a re-examination of the labor done in that genre seems fitting. In Europe, the castle, the dungeon, hauntings and secret chambers were central features of Gothics, in other words, the architecture that supposedly denotes civilization where dread and horror reign instead. In the United States, Gothicism is rooted in a different history: a Puritan religious and capitalist heritage in which xenophobia, racism, sexism, slavery, servitude, and genocide all had (have?) a place. The secret chambers of the castle became the cave in the wilderness, the hold of the boat, the slave-auction, the prison and the closet, places where exploitation, discrimination and torture belied the rational Enlightenment theories upon which the nation was founded. Readings will likely include works by Child, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Stowe (at the very least).
This course is for MFA degree candidates in fiction only. Basically, it will be run in the ‘traditional’ writing workshop fashion–writer silent while his or her work is discussed. The emphasis this semester will be on structure. Both short stories and excerpts of novels are welcome. Optimally, students will turn in pieces that they have taken as far as they can on their own. The workshop should be a venue to test the waters, to try new things, to present first drafts as well as polished works, but ONLY after the writer has struggled with it to the nth degree. The idea is for students to rigorously challenge themselves. Everyone not presenting work should take their jobs as critics and editors as seriously as they take their own writing.
Attendance is important.
My job as mentor is to help each individual student develop his/her drafts into full-fledged fiction. I don’t believe my role is to make students feel better about their writing, but to give students honest criticism.
Reading will be assigned on an individual basis.
CRW 6166 is a fiction writing workshop where students will be exposed to a particular form of doing fiction. We shall read to a collection of African historical novels and short stories. These models shall help us learn how to fictionalize historical events. It will be important to build a community that learns from the myriad African texts and supports how we use this Form to tell our stories.
In the course of the semester, the students are expected to submit two or three short stories or novel excerpts. They 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.
This is the graduate poetry workshop, which will be one-third discussion of readings, two-thirds workshop of student poems. The readings should provide guidance and/or prompts for new poems, but their primary purpose is to make you think about the contemporary meaning of, and place for, vocation. We will be reading new and old works by Karen Solie, Fanny Howe, Christian Wiman, Hannah Sullivan, and others.
Marxism and Ideology
How do we see and understand economic social relations? How does the capitalist mode of production appear in our perceptions, in our discourses and in our cultural productions? How do we represent the sphere of economics and of social production? In the Marxist tradition this mode of appearance has been called ideology, and it has been understood both as a false cognition and as the medium in which social actors make sense of their world; a deceit and a necessary illusion; a false consciousness and a way through which we spontaneously perceive the world.
In a journey through different epistemological and aesthetic theories of appearance (Hegel, Marx, Gramsci, Rubin, Lacan, Althusser, Adorno, Bourdieu, Žižek, Zupančič, Badiou, Cassin, Jameson) and through the ways in which capitalism has been represented in cinema and visual studies (Eisenstein, Kluge, David Simon’s The Wire, Jia Zhang-ke), we will try to understand the notion of ideology and its relevance for a Marxian understanding of social relations.
This seminar will be a combination of philosophy, social sciences, aesthetics, psychoanalysis, cinema and visual studies and should be useful both to students interested in a Marxian approach to critical theory as well as to those interested in aesthetics, visual studies and film theory.
Students will be responsible for leading discussion once throughout the semester, posting weekly short response papers on Canvas, and writing a final paper of 15-20 pages which could serve as an article draft.
The Contemporary Historical Novel: Toward the Global
In the concluding chapter of The Antinomies of Realism (2013), Fredric Jameson wonders, “What kind of History can the contemporary historical novel then be expected to ‘make appear’?” In our seminar, we will take up Jameson’s question by examining some of the most interesting historical novels published in the last few decades. We will begin our study by reading one of Walter Scott’s founding works in the genre along with Georg Lukács pioneering study, The Historical Novel (1955). We will then tarry with the solutions offered to problem of “making history appear” developed by two of the most important English language modernist authors, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, before turning in the second part of our semester to a variety of different versions of the historical novel from some of the most notable writers working in the genre in the decades bracketing the inauguration of the twenty-first century. We will then conclude our survey with two works that have been published just this year—one of which happens to be set in Florida.
Readings will include many of the following: Walter Scott, The Heart of Mid-lothian (1818); James Joyce, Ulysses (1922); Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928); Halldor Laxness, Iceland’s Bell (1943); Michelle Cliff, Free Enterprise (1993); Toni Morrison, Paradise (1997); Luther Blisset (Wu Ming), Q (1999) orAltai (2009); Kim Stanley Robinson, The Years of Rice and Salt (2002); Russell Banks, The Darling (2004); David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004); Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007); Sofka Zinovieff, The House on Paradise Street (2012); Jo Walton, Lent (2019); and Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys (2019).
Storytelling in Literature and Film
This course will look at how aesthetic choices made by writers and filmmakers affect readers and viewers. Stories/novels by Kipling, Hardy, Conan Doyle, Chekhov, Turgenev, Maupassant, Penelope Fitzgerald, Anthony Powell, Raymond Chandler, and others. The film list may include some of the following: Tickets or The Koker Trilogy (Kiarostami), The Aviator’s Wife or Le Rayon Vert (Rohmer), The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon, All the President’s Men, two versions of The Caine Mutiny (the one with Bogart and the one by Robert Altman). Literary criticism by Forster and Barthes; film criticism by Stanley Cavell, V. F. Perkins, and Andrew Klevan.
Assignments: bi-weekly two-page papers, responding to specific prompts. One final five-page paper.
Method: In his recent book Senses of Style, Jeff Dolven makes a provocative point: Explanations can be immanent, or transcendent; they can occupy the same world as what they explain (as storytelling tends to do), or they can point or stand elsewhere (like astrology, or physics). Another way of putting it: an explanation can share a style with what it explains, or not. It can sound like, or sound different. The desire to explain is often a desire for difference, in the fear that to sound like is to be entangled, compromised, complicit. You might ask for an explanation simply in order to stop the action, as explaining a joke will still the laughter. The rhythm is interrupted . . . . In its refusal of local rhythm, transcendent explanation is the enemy of style.
This course will ask you to attend closely to what Dolven calls the “local rhythm” of literature and film. In doing so, we may find it useful to adopt Wittgenstein’s famous admonition: “We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place.”
Film and Video Production: Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation
In this hybrid seminar workshop, students will have the opportunity to adapt a literary work of fiction or poetry into a filmable screenplay, one or two of which will be made into a short/medium length film by the end of the semester. To prepare for such a venture, we will begin with an examination of various issues at work in the field of film adaptation from writers such as André Bazin, Walter Benjamin, Robert Stam, Linda Hutcheon and Thomas Leitch. We will also consider the cinema’s own natural predisposition towards adaptation, debate the value of remaining faithful to the original literary text versus betraying it, updating it, or exploiting its power to spur the imagination in unexpected ways, and ultimately as practitioners to experiment with the process by which “the spirit” of a literary work can be adapted and perhaps rendered complete by cinematic embodiment. This theoretical component of the course will be supplemented with 2-3 case studies: the analysis of the transformative journey of a film adaptation from literary source to script to screen, involving works which capture the spirit of the original, perform the original in cinematic terms, or altogether uproot the original for its own imaginative ends (thus creating a new point of origin).
Possible examples of a book-to-screen case study are as follows: The Trial (Kafka/Welles), Portrait of a Lady (James/Campion), Barry Lyndon (Thackeray/Kubrick), The Thin Red Line (Jones/Malick), Naked Lunch (Burroughs/Cronenberg), The Ballad of the Sad Café (McCullers/ Callow). Examples of short films based on short stories/poems will also be considered as more practical production models for the course: “The Overcoat” (Gogol/Clayton), “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (O’Connor/Rossi), “The Killers” (Hemingway/Tarkovsky), “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (Coleridge/Jordan). Students will then select a literary work, ideally a short story, prose piece or poem (novellas may also be suggested) not yet made into a film, and devise ways of adapting its “spirit,” using the source material as raw material to be molded into something new, whether this process involves preserving or altering the ostensible narrative. As a class we will select 1-2 of these scripts to workshop and develop into a short film to be created in groups, exposing students to the various aspects and phases of filmmaking. These short “spirit adaptations” may turn out to bear little or no resemblance whatsoever to the original—in any case, the aim is to surpass the original in some way and rethink it for the present time.
In 2005, Victorian Studies published a number of papers from the second annual conference of the North American Victorian Studies Association into a special issue (vol. 46, no. 2, Winter, 2005) asking the question: “Why Victorian?” As Amanda Anderson acutely noted in her contribution “Victorian Studies and the Two Modernities,” the use of the term “Victorian” “remains anachronistically wedded to the person of the queen” while still “indicat[ing] the primacy of history, as well as the notion of a unified era, which allows for an assumable social totality or unified culture.” Kate Flint’s response to Anderson and the other scholars contemplating the term “Victorian” was to posit the prospect that “Victorian” had “outgrown its usefulness” as a term.
Over this semester, we will consider what it means to be studying Victorian literature (still!) some 15 years after the “Why Victorian?” issue. Notably, since 2005, Victorianist critical work has drastically reconfigured what can and should be included as Victorian literature by arguing for the significance of more worldly Victorian perspectives and exploring the possibilities of Victorian cosmopolitanism, internationalism, globalism, planetarity, transnationalism, and world literature. At the heart of such field-redefining expansion remains a series of questions about reimagining the study and teaching of Victorian literature to reflect a much broader view of the world of the Victorians. How should we engage with such reimagining? What terms should we be focusing on? What texts help us understand this “Victorian” era? This course will explore such questions by looking at narratives of worldly Victorians, broadly conceived. Primary texts will include works by Charlotte Brontë, Mary Seacole, Elizabeth Gaskell, Lin Zexu, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Anthony Trollope, George Meredith, Flora Annie Steel, Fakir Mohan Senapati. Assignments will include discussion leading, primary and secondary text presentations, reviews of peer-reviewed journals, a conference paper proposal, an in-class conference paper presentation, and an annotated bibliography.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, a few European powers had colonized 80% of Asia and Africa. Nationalist movements during the latter half of the century led to territorial, but not necessarily economic and cultural decolonization. The continuing cultural, political, and economic effects of colonialism, as well as new forms of colonialism and imperialism sanctioned on the global South constitute the field of postcolonial studies. We will study the ways in which postcolonial theory has intersected with and impacted diverse areas of inquiry such as feminism, historiography, philosophy, ethnography, political science, and literature. The course will focus on the central concerns of postcolonial studies: the nature of colonial discourse, the articulation of revolutionary national consciousness, questions of subalternity and history, the relationship of postcolonial studies to gender studies and environmental studies, the vexing nature of settler colonialism, and the politics of contemporary colonialism and globalization. We will read the works of major revolutionaries and theorists and the debates and arguments about these works. The course will cover writings from and about the major parts of the world affected by imperialism: Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the U.S.
The course will engage post-colonialism as a constant process of reconstruction and resistance and ask how our understanding of past and present colonialisms and struggles against them help us understand contemporary battles around nationalism, immigration, refugees, and borders as well as the war on terror.
Possible texts might include Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Edward Said’s Orientalism, Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture, C L R James The Black Jacobins, Antonio Benitez-Rojo The Repeating Island, Lisa Lowe’s Intimacies of Four Continents, Partha Chatterjee’s The Black Hole of Empire as well as essays/selections by several thinkers including Gayatri Spivak, Walter Mignolo, Anibal Quijano, Aime Cesaire, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Achille Mbembe, George Lamming, Sylvia Wynter, Leonie Pihama, Taiaiake Alfred, Rob Nixon, and Anne McClintock.
Course Requirements: Six or seven short position papers, oral presentations, final research paper.
Womanist Intellectual Thought
Description: The obscure position of African American women in the record of American intellectualism has resulted in a consensus among the uninformed that the phrase “Black womanist intellectual” is an oxymoron. This seminar disputes that assumption by focusing on Black women’s traditions and challenging imposed boundaries that define intellectualism. Students will examine the intersection of the public intellectual, academic, and activist while discussing the influences of Black female intellectuals in the development of literary and cultural criticism, education, law, and American (as well as global) sociopolitical issues.
Objectives: Since Alice Walker introduced the term “womanism” in 1983, critics have both embraced and rejected it. Black, women theologians were the quickest to accept the label as one offering opportunities for a specific type of critical engagement: namely, womanist ethics and liberation theology. They have also been the most influential in defining (and redefining) the boundaries of its use. The value of womanist intellectual thought to theoretical and activist discourses–especially when we consider Black/White feminist relationships–has been criticized as offering nothing more to feminism than an analysis of the White woman as other. In this light womanism has been misunderstood. With these thoughts in mind the primary objective of this course is to answer the question “what is womanism?” Is it an umbrella term for a distinctly humanist approach to equality and social tolerance? Is it, as Audre Lorde once charged, an “attempt to disclaim being feminist”? Or is it something more—something womanist scholar Layli Maparyan describes as “a significant intervention upon the challenges of our times…a gift from Black women to all humanity.”
Format: Class sessions include lectures, films, student presentations and class discussions.
This seminar is designed to serve as a graduate-level introduction to queer theory, attending to foundational texts by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jack Halberstam, and JoséEsteban Muñoz, among others. As the semester progresses, we will move on to consider more recent work in the field, including Rod Ferguson’s and Matt Brim’s explorations of queer theory’s place and function within the corporate university. 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.
In the past several years, there’s been a surge in publishing of queer comics—that is, “comic books, strips, graphic novels, and webcomics that deal with LGBTQ themes from an insider’s perspective,” as cartoonist Justin Hall puts it. These contemporary works are part of a genealogy that stretches over four decades, reaching back before the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that catalyzed the modern LGBTQ movement. This course will introduce students to this rich and often overlooked history of queer comics in America from the 1960s through the present. We will consider how these works represented various identities and current events over time and how and where these comics were published and circulated.
While this course will focus on understanding comics through queer, trans, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies approaches, students will receive a grounding in the field of comics studies, as well. This course will also be useful for students with an interest in contemporary American literature, cultural studies, marginalized histories and creators, book history, grassroots publishing, memoir studies, visual and popular cultures, etc. Scaffolded professionalization activities and digital approaches to scholarship will accompany the completion of a seminar paper.
Hip Hop Rhetorics
Now, when the Emcees came, to live out their names, and to perform
Some had, to snort cocaine, to act insane, before Pete rocked it on
Now, on to the mental plane, to spark the brain, with the building to be born
-Gza “Liquid Swords”
The origin story of Hip Hop tells us that despite our Western tendencies to name names, the culture was built from and continues to sustain itself through practices. Jamaican sound machines lead to block parties that lead to innovative DJ techniques like looping. These practices are situated and performed in close relation with communities that continue to help Hip Hop evolve and remain relevant to its practitioners. The ongoing story of Hip Hop tells us that it is a powerful movement capable of being simultaneously literary, multilingual, multimodal, transnational, and migratory. Hip Hop was birthed and has always been this incredibly dense rhetorical site of communication. While academics work to parse out these layers and complex sites of meaning making, Hip Hop asks us to understand them in concert.
This course will take up the rich site of inquiry that resides between Hip Hop and Cultural Rhetorics. With an emphasis on studying the rhetorical histories, practices, and implications of Hip Hop, over the course of the semester, we will work to understand what the world looks like through Hip Hop. While important conversations in Hip Hop Studies have helped preserve the history and thought critically about the pedagogical implications of Hip Hop applied in K-16 settings, this course will build upon that work to think about the epistemological possibilities of Hip Hop, asking questions such as: What if Hip Hop is the point of invention? Point of analysis? Point of understanding? Drawing on Jacqueline Royster’s argument for reimagining the disciplinary landscape of Rhetoric, we will also ask, what does Rhetoric look like with Hip Hop as its center? Students in the course are encouraged to take up this question for their own respective fields, areas, and disciplines. In the spirit of Hip Hop, all relationships are valid starting points, whether you already center Hip Hop or orbit it from a distance. As this course engages with Hip Hop’s complexity, we might think about how it can show us to engage in complex discourses and navigate academic tensions around interdisciplinarity. Furthermore, through this course, we will work to answer the question: how might Hip Hop historiography practices, like sampling, teach us to think across time and space?
Readings in the course will include texts by Tricia Rose, Gwendolyn Pough, Elaine Richardson, Joan Morgan, Regina Bradley, Bettina Love, Toni Blackman, Kyle T. Mays, Kermit Campbell, Bakari Kitwana, Mark Anthony Neal, H. Samy Alim, Jeff Chang, Emery Petchauer, and Todd Craig.
From Paper to Publication
Publishing peer-reviewed articles is one of the most effective ways to prepare for the academic job market and a requirement for promotion for nearly all faculty positions (that require research and publication). It is also one of the most valuable methods for participating in professional conversations and for establishing one’s voice in those conversations. This graduate seminar is an introduction to the complex world of academic publishing and is designed to give writers in the humanities practical experience in getting their work published in peer-reviewed journals. The course explains the process for publishing in several academic forms, the peer-reviewed article in particular. The seminar shares strategies for achieving success in the academic writing arena, including setting up a work schedule, identifying appropriate journals for submission, working with editors, writing query letters, clarifying arguments, organizing material, and developing long-term professional ethos. Participants in the seminar will revise a classroom paper, conference paper, or dissertation chapter into a peer-reviewed article and submit it for publication. Thus, there are two primary goals for this seminar: 1. Demystifying academic publishing processes, and 2. Providing a supportive atmosphere in which participants work to revise an article from classroom quality to journal quality to the end of submitting and publishing that article. The class is part lecture, part workshop—a combination of learning and doing.
ABD students in English who have already completed doctoral qualifying exams will be considered first for enrollment, although any student in the department can request the course on their preference forms. The course does not count as a coursework seminar towards the degree, but does count toward overall required hours for degree.