Spring 2021 Courses
Class meeting locations are subject to change. Consult the following page for an explanation of the class period abbreviations.
|Course #||Time(s)||Course title||Instructor|
|CRW 6130||R 9-11||MFA Fiction Workshop||Uwem Apkan|
|CRW 6166||T 9-11||Forms: Poetry||William Logan|
|CRW 6331||M 9-11||Verse Writing Workshop||Ange Mlinko|
|ENG 6016||W 9-11||Freud’s Clinical Cases||Pietro Bianchi|
|ENG 6075||T 3-5||Literary Theory:
The Legacies of Fredric Jameson
|ENG 6077||T 6-8||Graphic Archives||Margaret Galvan|
|ENG 6138||T 9-11,
|Philosophy and the Cinema||Robert Ray|
|ENG 6932||W E1-E3,
SCR T E1-E3
|Film and Video Production: Audiovisual Thinking||Trevor Mowchun|
|ENL 6256||F 6-8||Victorian Literature and Science||Rae Yan|
|LIT 6047||T 4,
|An Evening with Tom Stoppard||Sidney Homan|
|LIT 6236||M 9-11||“Colonization in Reverse”: Reading and Teaching Anglophone Caribbean Literature||Leah Rosenberg|
|LIT 6856||W 6-8||Desperate Domesticity: The American 1950s||Marsha Bryant|
|LIT 6934||M 6-8||The Picture Book||Anja Ulanowicz|
|LIT 6934||R 6-8||Toni Morrison||Debra King|
|LIT 6934||W 3-5||Critical Plant Studies||Terry Harpold|
|LIT 6934||R 9-11||Theory and Practice into Action: Research Methods in English Studies||Victor Del Hierro|
|LIT 6934||T E1-E3||From Paper to Publication||Tace Hedrick|
MFA Fiction 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.
“The whole frame of the Poem is a beating out of a piece of gold, but the last clause is as the impression of the stamp, and that it is that makes it currant.”
Poetry workshops discuss aesthetics more than craft. This course will devote itself to the nuts and bolts of poetry: titles, enjambment, syntax, allusion, metaphor, simile, closure, even a little meter and rhyme, everything that contributes to the internal architecture of the poem. Many of these are covered superficially during workshop, but we will look deeper at what in each case causes the effect as well as the affect.
Critics rarely write about these things, perhaps because they are felt to be only craft. Yet there are times when the internal-combustion engine is more relevant to discussion than Detroit’s latest shades of paint. We will concentrate on matters often mentioned only in passing or given a paragraph or two in the front matter of a textbook.
The reading will include a few set texts (Pendlebury on rhyme, Smith on poetic closure, Scott on the poet’s craft, these books out of print but widely available used), as well as a pile of samizdat chapters—Hollander on titles and enjambment, Ricks on hyphens and endings, Brooke-Rose on metaphor, Berry on poetic grammar. Each class will cover one or two subjects, and one student each week will give a short (10-15 minute) presentation, with specific examples for discussion.
There will be six poetic assignments as well.
Verse Writing Workshop
Freud’s Clinical Cases
“In my eyes Freud’s five cases histories make up one of the main works of the century. They are masterpieces in every respect: invention, daring, literary verve, bewildering intelligence. […] What’s more, it is especially remarkable that despite thousands of attempts, some of them by people of great talent, no case history, no transmission of a unique analytic procedure has ever managed even to be in the same league as one of Freud’s five studies. One could say that we have the definitive cases, whether it be Dora’s hysteria, the Rat-Man’s obsession, Little Hans’ phobia, Judge Schreber’s paranoia, or the borders between neurosis and psychosis with the Wolf-Man. These five studies, extracted from the generally dismal material of unconscious formations, and in a sense inexplicable, constitute, ‘a possession forever’. To elevate the miserable tribulations of human character to eternity required uncommon genius and endurance.” These are the words used by Alain Badiou to describe Freud’s mythical five clinical cases: mythical because far from being mere empirical reports, their stories laid the foundations of psychoanalysis as a discourse. Every reflection on human subjectivity and on the different subjective formations therein described would have had to confront Freud’s accounts.
In this course we will do a close reading of all five cases and we will analyze their influence in the culture of XX and XXI centuries through the works of (among the others) Jacques Lacan, Jean Laplanche, Jacques-Alain Miller, Elisabeth Roudinesco, Eric Santner, Jacques Derrida, Alenka Zupančič, Slavoj Žižek, Joan Copjec, Clotilde Leguil, Marie Hélène Brousse. We will also discuss the critiques of Freud’s account of these cases from Michel Foucault, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, Toril Moi, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. But our main question will be broader and more general: we will interrogate the significance of those subjective positions for today’s cultural and ideological landscape. Are the categories of paranoia, obsessional neurosis, psychosis, phobia, hysteria still useful to understand today’s symbolic order and imaginary formations? What is (if there is) the persistent actuality of psychoanalysis?
This seminar will be a combination of psychoanalysis, cultural studies, literary theory and visual studies and should be useful both to students interested in Lacanian and Freudian psychoanalysis and critical theory as well as to those interested in its critique from feminist and postcolonial perspectives. 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.
Literary Theory: The Legacies of Fredric Jameson
In this seminar, we will undertake an examination of the work of Fredric Jameson, one of the most prolific and influential U.S. literary and cultural critics and great creative readers of the second half of the twentieth and first part of the twenty-first centuries. We will read Jameson’s works with the aim of not only appreciating their insights into an incredible range of literary, cultural, and theoretical phenomena, but also using his striking (re)formulation of the dialectic as a model for our own intellectual practices. The year 2021 is a special one in Jameson’s intellectual trajectory in that it marks the 50th anniversary of his first major and deeply influential study, Marxism and Form: Twentieth Century Dialectical Theories of Literature (1971). It is also the 40th anniversary of The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (1981) and the 30th anniversary of Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991). In addition to these three path-forging texts, we will also be delving into various dimensions of Jameson’s major ongoing project, “The Poetics of Social Forms.” Five of the six volumes of the Poetics have now been released, most recently, volume 2, Allegory and Ideology (2019). The project also includes The Antinomies of Realism (2013); A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present (2002) and The Modernist Papers (2007); Postmodernism and its attendant volumes, Late Marxism: Adorno, or the Persistence of the Dialectic (1990) and Signatures of the Visible (1990); and Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (2005). Professor Jameson previously visited UF in 2000, 2007, and 2014, and I hope that he will be able to engage directly in some form with our seminar, through a visit or by way of a Zoom conference.
This seminar deals with the necessity and difficulty of archives as a space to study visual print culture. Due to grassroots distribution, circulation, and publishing methods, archives—not bookstores or libraries—are the necessary place to study radical visual culture. We laud the rise of digital collections and archives, but materials like these remain under-digitized and under-cataloged. Text-based finding systems in traditional finding guides and digital infrastructure do not well support the study of visual culture—especially incidental images nested amongst text. We will work through these obstacles together as students learn how to conduct research in digital archives.
Across the semester, we will read and discuss theoretical conversations around radical archives and materials that have emerged over the past several years in both monographs and special issues of journals. In a number of these texts, feminist zines of the early 1990s serve as an area of focus for scholars, librarians, and archivists. Because zines as self-produced grassroots media do not conform to mainstream publication information, zine archivists and librarians have developed new protocols for how to catalogue these materials so that important information will not be lost. How might we apply these principles or develop our own for organizing and researching other, diverse visual ephemera—comics, pamphlets, posters, advertisements, buttons, t-shirts, etc.—in digital collections?
Scaffolded professionalization activities and digital approaches to scholarship will accompany the completion of an archivally-informed seminar paper. This course will be useful for students with an interest in cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, marginalized histories, grassroots publishing, visual and popular cultures, etc.
Philosophy and the Cinema
Isaiah Berlin observed that philosophical questions have a common characteristic: confronted by them, we do not immediately know how to go about responding. If I ask you “What is the largest city in Ohio?” (an empirical question) or “What is the proof of the Pythagorean Theorem” (a calculation question), you may not immediately know the answers, but you will know where to look. But if I ask, “What is time?” or “How can I think about things that don’t exist,” you may feel perplexed about how to proceed.
This course will take up philosophical questions raised by the cinema. What counts as “acting”? How can we tell when someone is pretending? Does it matter what an actor is thinking? How does photography differ from painting? What happens to people and things when they are filmed? Can someone pretend to be himself? We will read Plato (two early dialogues and Socrates’s Defense), Wittgenstein (The Blue Book and selections from Philosophical Investigations on aspect change and rule-following), J.L Austin (on excuses and pretending), Emerson (selected essays), and Stanley Cavell (selected essays). Movies will include People on Sunday, The General (Keaton), Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, Blow-Up, Anatomy of a Murder, The Lady Eve, Close Up. And we may spend two weeks at the term’s end on All the President’s Men.
Assignments: two-page biweekly papers responding to prompts, and one 5-6-page term paper.
Film and Video Production: Audiovisual Thinking
This course will explore the concept of “audiovisual thinking” as a hybrid moving image practice combining both scholarly and artistic modalities. Such formal hybridity as a way of creating knowledge in the humanities—in which the criteria of an epistemological enterprise is shaped by aesthetic practices, and where the work of art is framed for the purpose of knowledge as much as experience—is more generally known today as “research-creation.” Regardless of what we choose to call it, we will take seriously and experiment with the notion that artistic mediums, particularly film, can function not only as a mode of expression but also of thought with the capacity to contribute to intellectual disciplines, be it in the form of knowledge or critique. Such an endeavor involves 1) conceiving a thesis and research program whose methods of realization are generally artistic and specifically cinematic, and 2) building a deeper understanding of how film might “think” as a multilayered aesthetic language of image, movement and sound, and how that language is dynamically infused with the potentialities of other art forms to embody meaning both clearly and provocatively. This expanded vision of the moving image and its cross-pollinations will help serve as a basis for defining and exploring complex research questions which normally take the form of written theory or theses. Drawing inspiration from the idea of “audiovisual thinking,” students will conceptualize, research, write and create a moving image project with its own singular thought process, touching regions beyond the written word and beyond the conventions of humanities scholarship.
Special attention will be given to the concept of interdisciplinarity, research-creation epistemology and methodology (art as knowledge), the idea of poetry as philosophy, the recent field of film-philosophy (the idea that films can “think” or “do philosophy”), collage aesthetics and the avant-garde, methods of documentary (from the autobiographical to the sociological), found-footage filmmaking (workflows and fair-use copyright law), the unique forms of the video essay, and exemplary achievements in research-creation. Basic proficiency with production/post-production equipment is an asset but not required. Technical instruction along with some workshops will be conducted based on student interests and objectives.
Victorian Literature and Science
While the long nineteenth-century saw the gradual solidification of disciplinary divides between the humanities and the sciences, Gillian Beer reminds us that it was still an era where there was a significant two-way traffic of ideas between literary and scientific thinkers. This course will explore the interchanges between literary and scientific writing of the nineteenth-century on topics including (1) the work of natural history, (2) optics and technologies of vision, (3) geology and time, (4) natural selection and evolution, (5) religion and science, (6) scientific ethics, and (7) the laboratory. Possible primary texts may include selections from Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology, The Bridgewater Treatises, Robert Chambers’ Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, G.H. Lewes’ Sea-Side Studies, Wilkie Collins’ Heart and Science, and H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. We will read scholarship by those such as Beer, Isobel Armstrong, Adrian Desmond, Brian Massumi, and others. Work for the course will likely include 5 short responses, the creation of an undergraduate syllabus, 2 recorded mini-lectures, a 1500-2000 word essay for general audiences, and a 5000-6000 word final paper.
An Evening with Tom Stoppard
The project of this seminar will be a production of An Evening with Tom Stoppard, a two-hour show offering a collage of scenes from his various plays, with, to be sure, lots of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead scenes included. It will be staged towards the end of the spring semester. Our rehearsals would be conducted through Zoom at class-meeting times. Acting couples could also rehearse on their own outside of class (by various means: in person but at safe distances, or through Zoom, or face-time, or even over the phone). I take into account, and compensate for the unusual rehearsal conditions.
(Of course, if UF courses are physical-presence in the spring, I will adjust this so that we meet at the regulation times in person, as a company, in a classroom.)
If we cannot stage the show, An Evening with Tom Stoppard, before a live audience, then we will record a video performance. I would want to use this video in my courses. Graduate students in the course might want it for their own classes; we could also make copies available to everyone in the department. That is, the performance, even if recorded, would have an audience—would be witnessed.
As in all of my courses, we “learn” about the theatre by “doing it,” experiencing the play from the perspective of the actor and director. Have no fear if you have never performed onstage: with your help, we’ll be able to “discover” (in the Renaissance sense of the word “invent,” being able to bring to the surface a quality already there) the actor in you! So, our focus will be on delivery, movement (albeit limited, short of full stage movement), gesture, along with your creating a subtext, a history, an inner voice for your character. Each student gets to perform 5-8 roles in the evening’s performance. This year, I have invited a promising young playwright to add to the show a little play where he “reworks” Stoppard just as Stoppard reworked Shakespeare’s Hamlet in focusing on the two courtiers.
“Colonization in Reverse”: Reading and Teaching Anglophone Caribbean Literature
Even as the new emphasis on hemispheric and Atlantic studies, and global anglophone literature has acknowledged the central role of the Caribbean, anglophone Caribbean literature has struggled for recognition in the English curriculum. Yet, students encounter Caribbean literature in many of their English classes, from 20th century American literature and Victorian studies to Science Fiction. It is at once marginal and integral. In Teaching Anglophone Caribbean Literature, Supriya Nair remarks that “the most challenging aspect of teaching anglophone Caribbean literature is often the most promising one as well: how it bridges different cultures, Western and non-Western, since its history is influenced by multiple intellectual traditions.”
This course takes its title from Louise Bennett’s poem that pokes fun at the large-scale migration of West Indians to London after the Second World War by calling it “colonization in reverse.” Bennett wrote playfully when she suggested that England might have more difficulty with postwar migration than with the war itself, but the Windrush generation would transform England and its writers have left their mark on English literature. This course introduces students to the history of anglophone Caribbean literature and the contributions of anglophone Caribbean writers to English curriculum with an emphasis on developing strategies and materials for teaching. The current syllabus addresses Caribbean slave narratives and slavery as well as Caribbean writers’ contributions to the Harlem Renaissance, Modernism, Queer writing, speculative and fiction. We will explore the intersections of students’ research interests with Caribbean studies and can adjust the syllabus to include students’ research areas. We will explore digital humanities, digital tools, such as mapping and timelines, and digital archives, such as the Digital Library of the Caribbean (www.dloc.com) and the Early Caribbean Digital Archive (https://ecda.northeastern.edu/). I encourage syllabi and other pedagogical projects as the final project for the course. Successful assignments can be included in the teaching guides collection of the Digital Library of the Caribbean. Readings are likely to include: The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave Narrative, Claude McKay’s Banjo, Jean Rhys’s Good Morning Midnight , Sam Selvon’s Lonely Londoners, Andrea Levy’s Small Island, Audre Lorde’s Zami, Michelle Cliff’s No Telephone to Heaven, and Rita Indiana’s Tentacle.
Desperate Domesticity: The American 1950s
This course explores fraught constructions of domesticity in American literary and popular culture of the 1950s, including the nuclear family, gender roles, consumerism, the rise of suburbia, the civil rights movement, and alternative domesticities. Our writers will include John Cheever, Gwendolyn Brooks, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, Ray Bradbury, Patricia Highsmith, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath. We’ll explore fifties family sitcoms plus the teen rebellion films Rebel Without a Cause and Blackboard Jungle. We will end with retrospective images of the American 1950s, and consider how the decade shapes responses to pandemic domesticity in the U.S.
In addition to a presentation and a paper, graduate seminar assignments will include a shared activity about home design with Architecture professor Charlie Hailey’s class. Seminar presentations will thumbnail key cultural analyses from the period, such as Emily Post’s Etiquette, Marshall McLuhan’s The Mechanical Bride, Benjamin Spock’s Baby & Child Care, Dorothy Baruch’s How to Live with Your Teenager, William Whyte’s The Organization Man, and Vance Packard’s The Status Seekers. Together, we will make an informal study guide on Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son for my undergraduate students. We will also learn from journal articles that originated in previous versions of this seminar.
Seminar papers may engage any of the texts, contexts, and/or issues in this course; the conceptual lens and methodology are up to you. MFA students have the option of doing a seminar paper or a conference paper + creative response.
The Picture Book
At first glance, a seminar on the children’s picture book may seem to be a strange fit within a graduate English program: it may seem more appropriate within departments such as education or art and design.
The primary objective of this seminar, however, is precisely to arrest our “first glances” in ways that might lead to more generative looking and intellectual inquiry. If, according to conventional wisdom, the children’s picture book is not worthy of serious literary study undertaken by a graduate seminar at a research university, then what might this say about traditional definitions of literature or notions of its institutional study? Moreover, what difference might it make that (especially Western) societies that insist on the primacy of the Child nevertheless devalue aesthetic works produced specifically for children?
In order to meet this objective, and to address these framing questions, we will read – and this is key: we will actively read – children’s picture books alongside studies in philosophy, critical theory, educational theory and history, comparative literature, critical race theory, gender theory, comics studies, and book history. In doing so, we will trace genealogies of both childhood and children’s literature that might inform or in fact challenge present conversations within literary and cultural studies.
Primary readings will include works by authors/illustrators – some of them who are not usually associated with children’s literature – such as James Baldwin, Eric Carle, Langston Hughes, Maurice Sendak, Gertrude Stein, Dr. Suess, and Shaun Tan. Scholarly readings will include texts by such children’s literature scholars as Kate Capshaw, Marah Gubar, Kenneth Kidd, Michelle Martin, Leonard Marcus, Maria Nikolajeva, Philip Nel, Perry Nodelman, Nathalie op de Beeck, Carole Scott, and Joe Sutliff-Sanders.
Coursework will include response papers, reading presentations, and the completion of an 8-10 page paper that participants should anticipate presenting at a scholarly conference.
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 the late 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, the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012) (among others). Her novels explore themes of naturalistic fiction while also engaging womanist thought, responsibility and respectability, and the more dramatic themes of modernism: death, love, rebirth, 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 eleven novels, two plays, a libretto, two short stories, five children’s books and several critical pieces. This semester we will read many of her novels, including what critics call the Beloved Trilogy. Our discussions and considerations focus on several themes: the relationship of Morrison’s work to womanist thought, the sacred to the secular, history and heritage, identity, “race, borders and the desire for belonging.” We will 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 critical perspectives on art and society.
This course will also be cross-listed in WST
Critical Plant Studies
“Who made this planet livable and breathable for animals like us? Say it out loud: the photosynthetic ones.” – Natasha Myers
Traversing the fields of agriculture, botany, climate studies, cultural anthropology, ecocriticism, foodways studies, forestry, and philosophical posthumanism, critical plant studies addresses the myriad entanglements of (human) animal beings and plant beings and the imaginaries of plantlife and plantdeath in human culture. Focusing on vegetal alterity and reciprocity, critical plant studies radicalizes prior approaches of other critiques of human exceptionalism, also challenging animal-centric and sentience-centered notions of agency.
In this course we will read critical and theoretical texts by established and emerging scholars in the discipline, including among others Prudence Gibson, Eduardo Kohn, Michael Marder, Natasha Myers, and Jeffrey Nealon; philosophers of mind and plant neurobiology researchers Frantisek Baluska, Monica Gagliano, and Paco Calvo Garzón; and ecologists and ecopoetics scholars Bénédicte Meillon, John Muir, and Arne Næss. We will also engage with works of fiction, poetry, film, and the visual arts in which (human) animal-plant relations are foregrounded, including among others works Philip Kaufman, Ursula K. Le Guin, W.S. Merwin, Richard Powers, Don Siegel, Vincent Van Gogh, and John Wyndham.
Theory and Practice into Action: Research Methods in English Studies
This course will be a broad survey of research methods within English studies. The course will work to “de-mystify” the research process by answering questions about how to design a study, knowing the difference between methods and methodologies, understanding the value of quantitative and qualitative, how to talk about your research design, the ethical implications of academic research, what counts as data, how to collect data, how to report data, and establishing boundaries around the pursuit of knowledge creation. Over the course of the semester, students will learn about the various types of research that happens under the English studies umbrella including literature, composition, rhetoric, English education, creative writing, and digital humanities. Other related social science and humanities fields will also contribute to the classes understanding of research methods including but not limited to Education, History, Queer studies, Black Studies, and Indigenous Studies. Students in the course will spend time designing a research project while learning about and experimenting with different methods. Ultimately, this course hopes to clarify what it means to put theory and practice into action.
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.
Enrollment in this course will give priority to students who have already completed their qualifying exams. It does not count as a seminar for degree purposes but does count toward overall required hours.