Class meeting locations are subject to change. Consult the following page for an explanation of the class period abbreviations.
Upper-Division (3000-4000) Courses
Note: Course numbers listed in the table are linked to course descriptions below.
|Course #||Section||Class #||Time(s)||Room||Course title||Instructor|
|AML 3607||1H62||10412||M W F 5||FAC 0120||African American Literature 2||Steverson|
|AML 4170||1C44||10414||M W F 9||MAT 0113||Race and Sexuality in Twenty-First Century Paranormal Romance||Hedrick|
|AML 4242||9140||24969||M W F 3||MAT 0117||The Progressive Era||Hegeman|
|AML 4453||1H77||10417||M W F 5||MAT 0116||Consumer Society and Beyond||Hegeman|
|AML 4453||9100||23169||T 8-9/ R 9||MAT 0115||Pen & Penitentiary||Schorb|
|AML 4685||102H||10418||M W F 8||TUR 2306||Race and Sexualities in Chican/x and Latin/x Civil Rights, 1960-1980||Hedrick|
|AML 4685||305C||10419||T 2-3/ R 3||LIT 0127 / TUR 1105||Womanist Intellectual Thought||King|
|AML 4685||9101||23223||M W F 3||MAT 0115||Slave Narratives & Neo-Slave Narratives||Steverson|
|CRW 3110||DEP-X||DEP-X||R 9-11||CBD 0220||Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing
Manuscript submission required; click here for details
|CRW 3110||DEP-X||DEP-X||T 9-11||CBD 0220||Fiction Workshop
Manuscript submission required; click here for details
|CRW 3310||DEP-X||DEP-X||T9-11||CBD 0210||Imaginative Writing: Poetry
Manuscript submission required; click here for details
|CRW 4905||DEP-X||DEP-X||M 9-11||CBD 0224||Long Story Short
Manuscript submission required; click here for details
|CRW 4906||DEP-X||DEP-X||T 9-11||CBD 0212||The Art of Poetic Narrative
Manuscript submission required; click here for details
|ENC 3250||9103||23280||M W F 3||MAT 0118||Professional Communication||Gonzales|
|ENC 3414||39F2||20968||M W F 7||MAT 0114||Hypermedia||Del Hierro|
|ENC 4260||9104||23288||M W F 6||MAT 0151||Advanced Professional Writing||Gonzales|
|ENG 3010||334G||13645||T 4 / R 4-5||MAT 002||History and Theory of Critical Thinking||Bianchi|
|ENG 3121||9105||23289||M W F 2/ T 10-E1||TUR 2322/ ROL 0115||History of Film 1||Mennel|
|ENG 4135||12HA||13678||T 4/ R 4-5/ M E1-E3||ROL 0115||Asian Cinema Aesthetics||Turim|
|ENG 4135||13EC||13679||T 8-9/ R 9/ R E1-E3||TUR 2322||Modern Czech Cinema||Raynard|
|ENG 4146||DEP-X||DEP-X||T 7/ R 7-8/ W E1-E3||TUR 2322/ TUR 2322/ ROL 0115||Advanced Video Production: Space||Mowchun|
|ENG 4905||DEP-X||DEP-X||TBD||TBD||Independent Study||Kidd|
|ENG 4911||DEP-X||DEP-X||TBD||TBD||Undergraduate Research in English||Kidd|
|ENG 4936||DEP-X||DEP-X||W 2-4||MAT 0014||Honors Seminar: Comics Studies, Now & Then||Galvan|
|ENG 4936||DEP-X||DEP-X||M W F 8||MAT 0005||Honors Seminar: Defenses of Humanism||Rudnytsky|
|ENG 4953||1G49||13313||M 9-11/ W 9-11||TUR 2334||Storytelling in Literature and Film||Ray|
|ENG 4953||9108||23329||T 5-6/ R 6||CBD 0212||Herman Melville||Smith|
|ENG 4970||DEP-X||DEP-X||TBD||TBD||Honors Thesis Project||Kidd|
|ENL 3122||17A9||13349||T 2-3/ R 3||MAT 0115||The British Novel: 19th Century||Yan|
|ENL 3234||9136||24829||T 4/ R 4-5||MAT 0117||Theorizing Education in the Eighteenth Century||Maioli|
|ENL 3251||13E4||13350||M W F 8||MAT 0114||Victorian Literature||Gilbert|
|ENL 4221||154A||13351||M W F 7||MAT 0113||Milton’s Major Poems||Rudnytsky|
|ENL 4333||1003||13352||T 2-3/ R 3||CBD 0220/ AND 0013||Shakespeare: Learning by Doing||Homan|
|LIT 3031||9115||23348||T 7/ R 7-8||MAT 0116||Things To Do With Poems||Murchek|
|LIT 3041||9116||23411||T 4/ R 4-5||TUR 2303||All Joking Aside: The Art and Craft of Comedy||Homan|
|LIT 3043||9117||23412||T 5-6/ R 6||LIT 0127/ TUR 2303||African American Drama||Reid|
|LIT 3383||44A9||22746||T 7-8/ R 8||MAT 0105||African Women Writers||Lugano|
|LIT 3400||41HF||22050||M 5-7||FLG 0225||Poetics of Justice: Law, Literature, and Film||Kligerman|
|LIT 3400||9141||25258||T 7/ R 7-8||MAT 0113||Postcolonialism and New Narratives of Europe||Rajan|
|LIT 4188||9118||23546||T 7/ R 7-8||TUR 1101||South African Literature||Amoko|
|LIT 4194||9120||23554||T 4/ R 4-5||MAT 0116||Afro-European Literatures||Reid|
|LIT 4233||9121||23559||T8-9/ R 9||TUR 2349||Postcolonial Bildungsroman||Amoko|
|LIT 4333||1B85||15089||M W F 8||MAT 0113||Adolescent Literature||Matthews|
|LIT 4930||06A5||15092||M 9-11||MAT 0102||Creative Non-Fiction||Hofmann|
|LIT 4930||106F||15119||M W F 10||MAT 0113||Victorian Ghosts and Gothic||Gilbert|
|LIT 4930||4E67||21558||M W F 6||MAT 0115||Verne, Wells & Co.: European SF of the Late Nineteenth Century||Harpold|
|LIT 4930||017C||15091||T 8-9/ R 9||LEI 0142/ MAT 0112||Thinking through Fiction: The Novel of Ideas, 1700-1820||Maioli|
|SPC 4680||9131||23742||M W F 6||ROL 0115||Rhetorical Criticism: Rhetorical Theory||Sánchez|
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 until 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.
Race and Sexuality in Twenty-First Century Paranormal Romance
The study of women’s popular writing has been a minor but constant theme in feminist theory. Indeed, critics have shown that even under the pressures of a changing scene of racialized and class power, the genre of women’s romance still struggles to say what makes white women desirable. Here, we will discuss one aspect of women’s popular writing In early twenty-first century United States, the paranormal romance, as it is imagined not just by white women writers but women writers of color as well as of differing classes and sexualities. Our understandings of the constraints of genre—through our readings in theory and criticism–in particular will help inform us where questions about feminism, race, class, and sexualities might be brought to bear in this particular popular genre. Thus, we will be reading how women writers of color and of differing sexualities attempt to operate within, while also having to change, an affective and deeply rooted investment in the remains of white middle-class conventions of the romance.
The Progressive Era
The Progressive Era in American history (roughly 1890-1920) is so named because of the reformist politics and social activism of the period, which took on corruption in government and big business, and sought to counteract some of the worst effects of mass immigration, urbanization, industrialization, poverty, and racism. The narrative literature of the period reflected this activist mood, taking on topics including lynching, scientific racism, prostitution, urban housing and sanitation, women’s rights, the power of corporate trusts, and US imperialism. Also notable in this literary moment was a close connection between journalism and narrative fiction — so close, in fact, that a many of the best-known fiction writers of the period were also journalists. In this class, we will read exemplary works of fiction (novels and short stories) and nonfiction from the Progressive Era, and examine how the social movements of the period affected literary efforts, and vice versa. The syllabus will likely include works by many of the following writers: Abraham Cahan, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, W.E.B. Du Bois, Harold Frederic, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Susan Glaspell, Frances Harper, James Weldon Johnson, Frank Norris, Jacob Riis, Theodore Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, and Ida B. Wells. Course requirements include two papers and active participation in online and in-class discussion.
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 economic and environmental concerns have changed the meaning and possibility of consumption for many. In this course, we will examine a range of objects including novels, films, poetry, 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. We will probably read longer literary works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Toni Morrison, Ruth Ozeki, and Ottessa Moshfegh. Course requirements include two papers and active participation in online and in-class discussion.
Pen & Penitentiary
How was the modern prison first envisioned: by whom, and for what purpose? How did the prison infuse the American literary imagination? What role did convict authors have in developing the genre of prison literature, and how did these authors seek to effectively convey and represent the experience of incarceration to unfamiliar readers? As a society, it’s hard to imagine a world without prisons, but what would it mean to unimagine the prison—to envision abolitionist alternatives through literature and visual arts?
This upper division American literature course blends history, literature (memoir, fiction, poetry, nonfiction), and prison studies scholarship to explore the making and unmaking of the prison in the cultural and literary imagination.
Short (5-7 page) essays, discussion boards, oral presentations, and attendance at select campus events.
Race and Sexualities in Chican/x and Latin/x Civil Rights, 1960-1980
The study of the histories and stories of the Chicanx (Mexican-American) and Latinx (in this class, Puerto Rican and Nuyorican) Civil Rights Movement should be a fundamental part of how we understand the past of our America—that is, the United States and Latin America–and what has shaped our relationships both within and across these borders now. In particular, sometimes competing ideas about race, sexuality, and especially gender roles were mapped on to the terrains of movement politics, cultural nationalism, and the Chicano/a and Nuyorican artistic renaissance. Delimiting our readings between 1960 and 1980 will allow us to concentrate on some of the most important years of the Chicano/Nuyorican renaissance, when representations of race and of sexualities were inextricably intertwined with the histories, thought, art, and fictions.
Womanist Intellectual Thought
Debra Walker King
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.
Slave Narratives & Neo-Slave Narratives
In 1966 Margaret Walker published Jubilee, a quasi-fictional novel that recounts a black woman’s experience through slavery, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction. This text would serve as the beginning of a genre of African American writing that Ishmael Reed would later pen neo-slave or freedom narratives. As Ashraf Rushdy posits in The Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel, neo-slave narratives were not created in a vacuum, but rather are a continuation of African American oral and literary traditions, specifically the slave narrative. In order to understand the tradition by which the neo-slave narrative arose, it will be important to first identify the traditions of the slave narrative. Other than for the abolishment of slavery, what were the purposes of slave narratives? How did African American authors consider issues of violence, agency, authenticity, and sponsorship when crafting their slave narrative? What are the larger themes in slave narratives and how do neo-slave narratives rework those themes?
Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing
CRW 3110 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 a reading by visiting writers.
Our workshop will be conducted in traditional workshop fashion: each week, we will discuss two short stories (or novel excerpts), by two different students. Every student will turn in two pieces of fiction over the course of the semester.
The writer whose work is being critiqued is expected to turn in a piece he or she believes to be as close to being finished as possible. The students critiquing the piece will treat it as published work, meaning they will discuss it as if the writer has deep intentions behind every line (which hopefully they do) and they, as readers, want to understand those intentions. Students are expected, each week, to comments for those who are being critiqued: notes that describe what the piece that is being critiqued has achieved, what it hasn’t achieved, what it might achieve, etc.
Dedication to understanding what each writer is trying to do, regardless of your aesthetic preferences, is mandatory. Also mandatory: that the writers be prepared to hear what the others have to say about their work. It is hard being critiqued, but we’re all here to help each other become better writers.
Students will be required to read (from a course-packet) one published short story a week, which we’ll discuss in class. The focus of these discussions will be on how the stories operate on the reader. In other words, we’ll try to dissect published works to see what makes them work.
Imaginative Writing: Poetry
“Art Tatum was doing a solo piano record and Oscar Peterson came into the booth to watch. He asked the engineer, ‘Why is Art wearing headphones?’ The engineer said, ‘He’s listening to the World Series!’”
—Composer and pianist Kenny Werner
“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’ll read a broad selection of modern poetry, from Emily Dickinson to Gjertrud Schnackenberg to Ishion Huchinson, 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 their understandings of poetic language even further.
Email of your manuscript is necessary for early registration. Please submit four poems to <email@example.com> in one attachment in .pdf format. Mention the workshops you have previously taken.
Required reading (tentative):
Jay Parini, ed., Columbia Anthology of American Poetry
Seamus Heaney, Field Work
Elizabeth Bishop, Complete Poems
Gjertrud Schnackenberg, Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-1992
Anthony Hecht, Collected Earlier Poems
Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons
Long Story Short
In this workshop, we will focus on concision, specificity, intentionality, and the art of tension-building in fiction.
The class will be part traditional workshop (we’ll read and discuss student work, as well as published stories) part craft class (in-class exercises will be assigned). The class relies on student participation and your close-reading of the material at hand.
Senior Advanced Workshop in Poetry Writing
Rather than meter and rhyme, most contemporary poems in English make use of rhetorical tropes to give form to feelings and arguments. This advanced workshop will focus on an array formal and rhetorical techniques that expand the student’s verbal imagination and introduce a new “superpower” per week with which to persuade readers of the poem’s truths, both political and interpersonal.
This course will help students understand and practice the rhetorical strategies, genres, locations, media, and contexts in which contemporary professional writing happens. Students will conduct research and compose texts that are cohesive, well-designed, and informative while also honoring responsibilities to various audiences. Students will have an opportunity to engage with contemporary topics in social media strategy, information design, and content strategy. Students will leave the course with a digital portfolio that showcases their skills and strengths as professional communicators.
Victor Del Hierro
This course will examine the relationship between writing, digital media, and sound. Contemporary cultures like Hip Hop have demonstrated that the link between writing, digital media, and sound can reimagine the world through engaged practice and mastery of technology, community, and expression. In this course, we will take up three main questions: How do critical understandings of writing impact the production of digital media? How does an emphasis on sound impact our understandings of writing? How does access to mass media technologies impact our responsibility to the production and consumption of texts?
Readings for the course will include both print and non-print-based texts including podcasts, videos, web-texts, and traditional articles. Subject areas will include sound studies, rhetoric, Hip Hop, internet studies, and writing. Course assignments will follow a project-based model including creating a variety of digital media including a critical playlist, a podcast, soundscapes and accompanying web-based texts.
Advanced Professional Writing
The focus of this class will be on writing with communities. Students will read about different frameworks that activists, researchers, and teachers have developed for working with particular communities to meet specific goals. Then, students will discuss which communities they write for and with, and they will develop a community engagement project in collaboration with a community partner of their choice. Through course readings and discussions, students will learn various strategies for designing and testing different written tools, platforms, and projects that can benefit community goals and outcomes. No previous experience with community engagement projects is required to take this course, as the class will work together to identify community initiatives and partners.
History and Theory of Critical Thinking
“All human beings are intellectuals: but not all human beings have in society the function of intellectuals”. With this famous sentence Antonio Gramsci – the Italian antifascist activist and political organizer of the 1920s – meant that any person is in principle capable of interpreting and understanding critically what happens in the world. But as the second part of the sentence shows, in our society this opportunity is granted only to a very small group of individuals. The division of labor, through the creation of an intellectual class separated from society, has rendered a comprehensive understanding and critique of the complexity of our society increasingly more difficult. How is therefore possible for anyone to have the intellectual and material resources to challenge the basic predicaments of our society?
This class will be focused on the historical and material conditions of critical theory and will be divided in three parts (of roughly five weeks each): in the first one – titled “Division of Labor” – we will reconstruct the history of the division of intellectual and manual labor and the principle according to which still today “thinking critically” is precluded to the majority of subaltern people. In the second one – a “Critique of Society” – we will analyze some of the most famous critiques of society developed at the core of the XX century through the Frankfurt School of Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, the Marxism of György Lukács, Stuart Hall and the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies and the genealogical approach of Michel Foucault. In the third one – called “Intersectionality” – we will analyze how today feminist, ecological and labor movements have attempted to develop a “critical thought” outside of the traditional separateness of the intellectual elite. We will read (among the others) Antonio Gramsci, Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, Louis Althusser, E. P. Thompson, Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Jean-Paul Sartre, Stuart Hall, Paul Willis, Angela Davis, Nancy Fraser, Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, Sandro Mezzadra, Veronica Gago.
The class will be discussion-based and a strong emphasis will be given on active participation. Course assignments will include weekly posts on Canvas and three 5-pages papers (one for each section of the course).
History of Film 1
The cross-listed course offers an historical overview of the beginning of film and the most influential films of German classical cinema, including how they relate to the social reality of the 1920s and 30s in Germany. After an introduction to the beginning of film with an emphasis of silent cinema, the course will focus on the classic cinema of the Weimar Republic organized around the tensions of modernity. The course will address early genre films, such as science fiction, melodrama, mountain film, and the city film, as well as experimental cinema and its relationship to art.
Asian Cinema Aesthetics
This course will examine the aesthetics of Japanese Cinema and Chinese cinemas from the PRC, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as a comparative project. Giving a whole semester to this project will allow us to concentrate on the works of such directors as Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, Oshima, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Tsai Liang Ming, and Jai Zhengke. No prior familiarity with these films is required, and if you are not yet familiar with their films, be assured that an amazing experience awaits.
We will not assume reflection theory, that is, we will not assume that a given film reflects the actual or even figurative realities of a nation or a region directly, Rather we will consider narrative, pictorial, and musical aesthetic traditions, or examine breaks with those traditions, in the way they interact with social histories and economic structures of the region in complex ways. Students will learn about the region’s history, including imperialism, the Pacific war in World War II, global capitalism, Asia’s democratization movements, financial crises, urbanization, and the arrival of post-socialism. Equally we will study changing gender roles and transformations of the family, The methodology of the class, however will consider cinema as an aesthetic form engages these issues in ways that open up many questions of film analysis.
Students must actively participate in all classes and screenings, except for excused absences. Weekly postings on Canvas and film analysis papers will be required.
Modern Czech Cinema
When is film “propaganda,” and when does social experiment qualify as “art”? Does the Holocaust belong on the silver screen? How has Hollywood affected national cinemas? Is Prague a particularly apt location for reality genres?
Hailed as the “Hollywood of Europe,” Prague has been an internationally recognized hub for cinema since Machatý’s provocative Ecstasy(1933). This course will introduce students to the Czech cinematic tradition—from the establishment of the Barrandov Studios “Dream Factory” in the 1930s to the Czech New Wave to recent post-transition hits like Kolya(aka “Coca-Kolya”). We will analyze the cinematic language of storytelling and explore uniquely Czech approaches to film narrative. We will also examine how Czech cinema has responded to foreign influences—from the “Aryanization“ of the Nazis to the “normalization” of the Soviet Union to the genre system and big budgets of Hollywood—and compare Czech trends to their Western counterparts. By the end of the course, students will understand the central socio-political and economic issues underlying Czech film culture from the 1930s to the present, be familiar with the major movements, genre and filmmakers in Czech cinema and think critically about various approaches to cinema.
Advanced Video Production: Space
The importance and potential artistic impact of space in cinema is an often underappreciated if not altogether ignored aspect of the medium, especially in comparison with the structural logic of time. Cinema, like music, is conventionally defined as a temporal art form, but unlike music, it is also and equally a spatial art form. Knowledge of the subtle dynamics of space and insight into how to dramatize what we call “setting” or “location” is crucial for the ambitious filmmaker striving to realize a compelling artistic vision onscreen. More importantly, the independent filmmaker working with limited resources will benefit immensely from the imaginative possibilities of creating films set in a limited number of spaces or even a single space, for example a house, apartment complex, campground, restaurant, elevator, bus or even something as inconspicuous as a closet. The expressive range of single-space films can be remarkably broad, whether the filmmaker opts to expand a space beyond its apparent limits and into a “world” or, just the opposite, to implode the space into an experience of confinement in which the characters are subjected to pressures capable of revealing hidden depths of the human psyche. Whatever the approach, we will discover in this course that a serious consideration of space in cinema can form the foundation for an independent filmmaking process that is both imaginative and practical. Working with rather than against the practical constraints of cinematic space can yield surprisingly liberating conditions for un-locking artistic possibilities difficult to imagine when the filmmaker’s vision is set too high in terms of narrative scale and complexity. Here we will emphasize the breadth of cinematic stories, events and worldviews made possible by a poetics of space derived from and for the cinema.
The course will involve reading some foundational texts on various aesthetic theories of space, in conjunction with close examination of films which successfully demonstrate an imaginative use of space for their relatively minimalist narratives. Emphasis will also be placed on location scouting, storyboarding, selection of props, staging of actors, camera placement/movement, studio work, and the various technical logistics of filming in small spaces. Students will compose their own scripts for a short film, these scripts will be workshopped by the class, and in small groups everyone will proceed to realize the film utilizing a limited number of locations or even a single location—foregrounding cinematic space as a character or presence in its own right.
Registration for ENG 4146 will proceed in two stages. Before the beginning of advance registration on October 28, students who meet the prerequisite (prior completion of ENG 4136) will need to apply for admission to the class. Interested students should contact Professor Mowchun at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 20 in order to request applications, and should submit their completed applications by October 22. If there are seats left in the class after the application and review process is complete, they will be made available to general registration on ONE.UF for students who meet the prerequisite starting on October 28.
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: Comics Studies, Now & Then
This honors seminar introduces undergraduate students to the rigors of graduate study in the humanities. Students will learn how scholars develop their own area of interest, theories, and methods by surveying the growth of comics studies as an academic discipline, from its beginnings in the 1970s through the present day. We will read academic criticism and the comics discussed therein and trace how academic journals, special issues, and university presses play a role in shaping a field. Students will conduct original research in digital, grassroots, and university archives and learn about the methods of archival research. This course will prepare students for long-form, sustained academic research, including writing an honors thesis in a future semester (if desired).
Honors Seminar: Defenses of Humanism
In keeping with Nietzsche’s postmodernist credo, “it is precisely facts that do not exist, only interpretations,” we are now in an era of “alternative facts” where “Truth isn’t truth.” Beginning with Michiko Kakutani’s The Death of Truth, this course will center on Erich Fromm and George Orwell, two major figures of the twentieth century who took a stand against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism. In addition to their selected essays, we will read Fromm’s Escape from Freedom and Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, as well Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Dickens’s Hard Times. After demonstrating their competence in writing through weekly responses, students will be asked to write a fifteen- to twenty-page seminar paper. Active participation in class discussions is also expected.
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:
Storytelling in Literature and Film
This course will examine how the aesthetic choices made by writers and filmmakers affect the stories they tell. What if, for example, Groundhog Dayhad used “Winter Wonderland” instead of “I Got You Babe” to wake Bill Murray every morning? Why don’t we learn more details about Sherlock Holmes’s biography? Why did Jean Renoir tell Truffaut that if you got a film’s casting wrong, nothing else mattered?
Readings will include stories by Kipling, Hardy, Maupassant, Turgenev, Hemingway, Chekhov, Doyle, and Borges. Films may include All the President’s Men, Tickets(Kiarostami), Blow-Up, and two versions of The Caine Mutiny.
Grades will result from weekly five-minute reading/watching quizzes (lowest 20% dropped), class participation, bi-weekly two-page papers responding to prompts, and a final 5-page paper.
Famously, Herman Melville wrote to his good friend Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1851: “What I feel most moved to write, that is banned, — it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the otherway I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches.” Yet this is the same author whose works are now held in such high esteem he is often regarded as a giant of American letters, with Moby Dick being acclaimed as the American novel—although also probably the least-read novel in America today, even if references to Captain Ahab and the White Whale show up frequently in popular culture—especially in all the various permutations of Star Trek. In this seminar we will re-examine the literary legacy of Herman Melville, with an eye to why his work is still relevant (or ought to be) to readers of the 21st century.
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 British 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. The nineteenth-century saw the development 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). Given the central interest in “growth” and “development” during this era, we will focus on these themes to guide our readings and discussion. That is, our course will center on nineteenth-century literary depictions of “growing up,” broadly speaking, during 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? For what reasons 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.
Please note that this is a seminar-style class with a substantial reading load that requires active participation and daily attendance. Our readings will include works by authors such as Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and Oscar Wilde. As we focus on developing our skills in close-reading and argumentation over the span of this semester, we will also carefully consider thematic and formal questions related to these texts’ genres—thinking carefully about how these genres, too, grow and develop over the course of the nineteenth century. Graded assignments include (a) weekly reflections; (b) 2 short argumentative close-reading papers; and (c) a final paper that synthesizes literary analysis, genre analysis, historical contexts, and literary criticism.
Theorizing Education in the Eighteenth Century
Education is a central value in modern democracies. It is also a highly contested value. Should education be available to all or to only a few? Is its purpose to form well-rounded citizens or technically trained professionals? How does one educate adults as opposed to children? How about single-sex education — does it make sense for boys and girls to be educated separately? These are all pressing questions in contemporary debates about education, and some have been around for centuries. In this course we will look at the pre-history of these debates by engaging with a foundational moment in the history of educational thinking: the eighteenth century in Britain and France. This period witnessed substantial improvements in literacy in both of these countries, leading a growing number of authors to imagine educational models that could serve the needs of the many. Philosophers such as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote passionately on how to raise children for their roles in complex societies; political theorists such as Mary Astell and Mary Wollstonecraft pushed for improved education for women; and novelists joined this conversation by dramatizing the challenges faced by young protagonists in their journeys of self-discovery. We will discuss these issues by reading both educational treatises and fiction that thematizes education, including Rousseau’s philosophical novel Émile and Sarah Fielding’s The Governess, one of the very first full-length novels for children.
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.
Milton’s Major Poems
The course will be devoted to a study of Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost and, if time permits, of his “brief epic” Paradise Regained and his “closet drama” Samson Agonistes. Emphasis will be placed on enhancing students’ skills in close reading and critical thinking as we approach the texts from feminist, psychological, political, and theological perspectives. Course requirements are a midterm, final, and five-page term paper. Active participation in class discussions is also expected.
Shakespeare: Learning By Doing
We “study” Shakespeare by staging scenes from his plays. Each student works with an acting partner—the couple is responsible for performing 3-4 shortened versions of scenes, then working with me as their director.
In effect, we approach Shakespeare’s plays as actors and directors, charged with building a character, enacting that character through delivery, gesture, stage movement, subtext.
We will look at Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Much Ado about Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and also Tom’s Stoppard’s reworking of Hamletin his Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
Students are graded equally on their scene work and a short paper in which they assess their rehearsal experience with the scene, from the perspective of both the character and their decisions as an actor.
Have no fears about acting, even if you have never been onstage before. I am confident that, because of you are you—apologies if that sound too much like Mr. Rogers?–I can bring out the actor in you. And know that your work will be judged by what you put into a role—if there is finesse, well, that is just icing on the cake.
Sidney Homan is Professor of English at the University of Florida, the author or editor of some seventeen books on Shakespeare and the modern playwrights. He also works as an actor and director in professional and university theatres.
If you have any questions, just e-mail me at: email@example.com
Things To Do With Poems
The things we will do with poems will range from the patiently traditional (which is not without its own subversive force) to the impertinently experimental (which is not at all without tradition). At the former end of the spectrum, we will perform “close readings” of poems, attending to them in detail, responding to all the resources of language that poems utilize. At the latter end of the spectrum, we will “poem-surf” through substantial portions of the Norton Anthology of Poetryeach week. “Poem-surfing” encourages readers to follow their desires: to skim, graze, alight, and finally delve into poems when phrases, images, ideas, or sound effects catch their attention. In between these poles, we will treat poems as works to be evaluated, as triggers for meditation, as distinctive ways of thinking and knowing, as models of expression, as sources of pleasure, and as sustaining enigmas. We will try to learn not just about poems, but also from poems and through poems.
Work for the course will include a reading journal in which students will collect passages from poems under such headings as “What I Admire,” “What Puzzles Me,” and “What Bores Me,” and in which they will also collect passages related to the two longer assignments for the course. The first of those longer assignments will be an individual project, modeled on Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, in which students will attempt to discover the essence of poetry by analyzing what “holds” them in poems. The second of the longer assignments will be a group enterprise, modeled on Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, in which students will arrange fragments from poems in such a way that they tell the prehistory of some aspect of our present moment in time. In the course of the semester, students will also write brief reflections on the different forms of attention that they can bring to bear on poems.
All Joking Aside: The Art and Craft of Comedy
The assumption in all my theatre courses is that the text of a play is not just what is written on the page but that text in performance, delivered by actors before an audience. This means the play’s text also includes gestures, movement, blocking (the stage picture), and sub-text (what the character is saying inwardly, beneath the lines delivered onstage, as well as the “history” for that character invented by the actor). In the theatre, we would further supplement this text with lighting, sound, set, costumes, props, and make-up. To be sure, one can approach a play in a thousand ways—as literature, as a repository for the thinking of an age, as the springboard for political or cultural issues. But, since I work both on campus and in the theatre as an actor and director, and since the theatre itself is a unique medium with its own aesthetic principles, I approach the plays, with my students, and as a fellow “student,” as something meant to be performed by an actor and ratified by an audience. In the class each student will have a scene partner with whom he or she stages several scenes each semester. Once performed, the class and I, as co-directors, “work” that scene with the two actors, trying out options, rehearsing it. The emphasis, therefore, is on learning by doing, and I judge student work by intent, what goes into the performance—not by finesse. If there is finesse, that is considered a bonus. Each actor also writes a short paper assessing his or her experience during rehearsal for a scene. Performances and the scene papers count equally.
In LIT 3041 we explore through such in-class performances the genre of stage comedy. What makes us laugh? Why do we find this character or this situation funny? How does the general term “comedy” manage to include everything from farce to satire, from romantic or sentimental or surreal comedy to the profound comic world of, say, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead? These questions come under the “Art” in the course’s subtitle.
But of equal importance is that other word, “Craft.” How can we make something comic on stage? What is the “craft” (the particular skill, the various strategies, the “rules” of enactment, the styles) of the comic actor? As actors and directors, how do we establish a comic “world”? How do you make a joke or a comic situation work with an audience?
Along with Stoppard’s play mentioned above, we use as our text the book Laugh Lines: Short Comic Plays, edited by Eric Land and Nina Shengold. There we will try our hands at performing everything from a parody of the psychologist/patient relationship in Alan Ball’s Your Mother’s Butt, from the physical comedy of the circus contortionist in Eric Coble’s Ties That Bind, to Christopher Durang’s take off of all unwelcomed former lovers in Wanda’s Visit, from the bitter-sweet comic meeting of a teenager and an older woman in Eric Lane’s The Statue of Bolivar, to Elaine May’s savage satire on the 1% in The Way of All Fish, not to mention Steve Martin’s “wild and crazy” The Zig-Zag Woman. And more!
Sidney Homan is Professor of English at the University of Florida and an actor and director in professional and university theatres.
African American Drama
Office 4318 TUR; TEL: 294-2827; E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
What makes dramas written by Black American playwrights and theater collectives different from those written and or performed by such dramatists and collectives as Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Richard Foreman, Laurie Anderson, Judith Malina and Julian Beck’s Living Theatre and Peter Brook’s International Centre of Theater Research? Using recent theoretical and political debates on performance and the construction of identity, the class will trace the historical trajectory of African American theater from the 1950s to the present.
The course covers representative works from the Theater of the Black Experience, the Black Arts Movement, the Free Southern Theatre, and the African American avant-garde and experimental stage. Assigned readings may include works by Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, P. J. Gibson, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Adrienne Kennedy, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Stew, August Wilson, Tracey Scott Wilson, George C. Wolfe, and such performance artists as Fred Holland, Robbie McCauley, John O’Neal, Whoppi Goldberg, and Anna Deavere Smith.
In writing the analytical group-paper or in the group-dramatic performance, student-groups must create a gumbo-like analysis/performance of the lived, imagined, and performed elements found in the assigned dramas.
- REQUIRED TEXTS:
Lorraine Hansberry A Raisin in the Sun(NY: Signet, 1959)
LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka). Dutchman and The Slave (NY: William Morrow, 1964)
Lynn Nottage. Crumbs From the Table of Joy and Other Plays (NY: Theatre Communications Group, 2004)
Ed Bullins, The Taking of Miss Janie (1975) in William B. Branch, Black Thunder: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Drama (NY: Penguin, 1992)
Anna Deveare Smith. Fires in the Mirror (NY: Anchor/Doubleday, 1993)
Anna Deveare Smith. Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 (NY: Anchor/Doubleday, 1994)
Stew. Passing Strange: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical (NY: Applause Books, 2009)
James Baldwin. Blues for Mister Charlie: A Play (NY: Signet, 1964)
August Wilson. The Piano Lesson (NY: Penguin, 1990)
August Wilson. Fences (NY: Penguin, 1986)
Samuel A. Hay. African American Theatre: An Historical and Critical Analysis (NY: Cambridge UP, 1994)
African Women Writers
Rose Sau Lugano
In this class we will explore African women writers and critics, looking at their theoretical priorities and cultural positions. The course is designed to provide students with both a specific and a general view of the perspectives, status, achievement and experiences of African women in fiction. In exploring African women’s literary tradition, we will use a diverse set of texts from different genres, which include novels, poems, movies, and plays selected across the vast continent. We will endeavor to understand how women’s literary expression has been shaped by history, culture, and their personal experiences, as well as see how they are addressing issues of gender in their respective societies. Our discussions will focus on issues of identity, oppression, resistance, exile, gender roles, the role of religion, colonialism and Neo-colonialism. The framework for classroom discussion will revolve around two central issues:
- The way in which women authors represent gender as a crucial variable for social stratification.
- The use of writing itself as a tool for social transformation and critique.
Poetics of Justice: Law, Literature, and Film
In his brief yet complex parable “Before the Law” 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 (Coen brothers), 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.
Postcolonialism and New Narratives of Europe
Since the formal independence of European colonies in the middle of the twentieth century, postcolonial immigration to Europe has been the subject of intense scholarly and public debates. The resulting diversity has been reflected in Europe’s changing literary and cinematic landscapes which feature changing attitudes towards immigrants and the multiple ways in which immigrants themselves have sought to make sense of their new surroundings. During this period, immigrants have had to contend with the rise of white nativism in different parts of Europe which has not, however, nullified possibilities of interracial solidarity, at least at the level of representation. This course will analyze novels and films that represent such currents of post-colonial immigration over the course of the second half of the twentieth century.
The course will be divided into chronological units which focus on the period of immigrant arrival and possible moments of interracial solidarity. Each unit will include a variety of novels and films drawn mainly from Britain, France, and Italy that try to historically contextualize the experience of immigrants. Assignments will include creating digital maps of the immigrant ethnic enclaves referred to in the different units, weekly journal entries, and a research paper. The course will include writing workshops to enable students to craft suitable responses to literary works and the versions of Europe that they represent.
Lonely Londoners (1956), Sam Selvon
Black Girl (1966), dir. Ousmane Sembene
The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), Hanif Kureishi
La Haine (1995), dir. Mathieu Kassovitz
Blue White Red (1998), Alain Mabanckou
Brick Lane (2003), Monica Ali
Adua (2017), Igiaba Scego
Gravel Heart (2017), Abdul Razak Gurnah
South African Literature
This course explores the literatures of South Africa from mid twentieth century to the present, that is, the literatures of the crisis of apartheid and its uncertain aftermath. We will examine, on the one hand, literatures of conquest and colonization and, on the other, literatures of accommodation and resistance; on the one hand, the literature of apartheid and, on the other, literatures of anti- and post-apartheid. In what ways have South Africa’s rich and varied literatures embodied the country’s turbulent past and volatile present? What is the relationship between the relatively autonomous realm of art – aesthetics – and the politics of everyday life – the lebenswelt – in the particular instance of a polity defined by systematic oppression and extreme deprivation? To what extent is this body of writing “African,” that is, an integral part of African literature? To the contrary, is South African writing “exceptional”? What can the problematic status of this literature tell us about identity and difference, race and aesthetics, and coloniality and postcoloniality?
This course surveys contemporary literature about Afro-Europeans and African American expatriates in Western Europe. Weekly readings will cover literature, critical theory, philosophy, and political essays that discuss and imaginatively represent the socioeconomic and cultural integration or non-integration of Afro-Europeans (citizens and immigrants of Western European countries) who have ancestral ties to North and sub-Saharan Africa.
- REQUIRED TEXTS:
Amara, Fadela. Breaking the Silence: French Women’s Voices from the Ghetto
Baldwin, James. Giovanni’s Room
Begag, Azouz. Shanty Town Kid
Bouraoui, Nina. Tomboy
Guene, Faiza. Kiffe, Kiffe Tomorrow
Hugel-Marshall, Ika. Invisible Woman: Growing Up Black in Germany
Smail, Paul. Smile
Stew. Passing Strange: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical
Williams, John A. The Man Who Cried I Am
Youngblood, Shay. Black Girl in Paris
This course examines diverse bildungsroman from African and the Caribbean. To what extent do these novels exemplify the complex and embattled politics of everyday life in the postcolony? In The Way of the World, a foundational critique in the bildungsroman in European culture, Franco Moretti contends that the genre represent a paradigmatic shift in which, for the first time, “youth came to constitute the most meaningful part of life.” Not only was the protagonist in 18th and 19th century European fiction invariably a young man, but also, his youth was a decisive condition of formation. Moretti asserts that in stable societies, youth is but a relatively unremarkable prelude to mature adulthood with: “Each individual’s youth faithfully repeats that of his forebears, introducing him to a role that lives on unchanged: it is a ‘pre-scribed’ youth.” However, during periods of radical transformation and social upheaval, youth takes center stage supplanting adulthood. In the wake of modernization, industrialization, urbanization, secularization, democratization and so on, the 18th and 19th centuries were periods of sweeping change and widespread uncertainty in Europe. Against that background, youth became, as it were, modernity’s essence, “the sign of a world that seeks its meaning in the future rather than in that past.” Moretti’s addresses the conditions for the existence of the European bildungsroman. But they seem to apply with uncanny precision to the rise of the bildungsroman in postcolonial Africa and the Caribbean. Like its European forebear, the emergence of the African bildungsroman coincided with a period of radical transformation and social upheaval when, in the wake of colonialism, the traditional ways of being were seriously undermined, if not forever transformed. Like its European counterpart, the African bildungsroman focuses on the formation of young protagonists in an uncertain world. In a sense, the genre marks the death of the father as a symbol of stable, unquestioned, traditional authority.
What is adolescent literature? Who is it for? How do ideas about adolescence shape adolescent characters within these texts—and how, in turn, does adolescent literature shape the adolescents who read it? To begin to answer these questions, we will examine literature across a range of genres primarily for and about adolescents, paying particular attention to the political and social history of adolescence both as a concept and a lived experience. Though we will concentrate on what is now called “young adult” (“YA”) literature, we will also read and discuss that material in light of earlier narrative traditions. Throughout our chosen texts, we will address issues of class, race, gender, sexuality, and national identity implicit within both the assigned texts and ideas about adolescence.
This course will be conducted as a seminar, and as such, attendance and participation are critical. We will read one YA book a week, supplemented by criticism and theory. Assignments may include: weekly response papers, an annotated bibliography, and two longer essays. Potential texts (subject to change) include: Seventeenth Summer (1942) by Maureen Daly, Weetzie Bat (1989) by Francesca Lia Block, The Thief (1996) by Megan Whalen Turner, Feed (2002) by M.T. Anderson, Ash (2009) by Malinda Lo, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2012) by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Fangirl (2013) by Rainbow Rowell, All-American Boys (2015) by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds, Ms. Marvel: No Normal (2014) by G. Willow Wilson, Jane, Unlimited (2017) by Kristin Cashore, Speak (2018, graphic novel) by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Tess of the Road (2018) by Rachel Hartman.
A course on writing about people and places. We will read Joan Didion, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Joseph Roth, Peter Handke, Annie Ernaux, 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.)
Victorian Ghosts and Gothic
This course explores Gothic and ghost stories in nineteenth-century Britain. Gothic was a genre that came to prominence in the eighteenth century; it waxes and wanes throughout the nineteenth, and takes new forms. These texts are a cultural record of what scares and fascinates us; what do we love to hate? Or hate to love? The ghost story is an important genre that is largely overlooked in the period, as it tends to dominate in the short form rather than the novel. We will read some early nineteenth century gothic, and science fiction, mid-century sensation novels, and imperial gothic from the later part of the period, as well as ghost stories from throughout the century. We will also read some landmark criticism on gothic, ghosts and empire. Authors may include Samuel Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Sheridan LeFanu, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Margaret Oliphant, Vernon Lee, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Machen, and Richard Marsh, among others.
Verne, Wells & Co.: European SF of the Late Nineteenth Century
Defining the canon of nineteenth-century European science fiction (SF) seems to lead, inevitably, to also embracing doubtful analogies and inventive anachronisms. American editor Hugo Gernsback’s 1926 endorsement of “the Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe type of story” as the model for what Gernsback christened “scientifiction” – later “science fiction” – is telling in this regard. Verne, Wells, and Poe areamong the precursors of modern SF, but in most respects they are dissimilar from each other. Many other, equally dissimilar, figures also contributed to the incunable period of SF, the complexity of which confounds such comparisons. Labels such as “proto-SF,” “early SF,” or “Victorian SF” – the last of which is too closely associated with one national tradition to be generally useful – may help to mark the field’s development. But they also beg the question of what SF was, really, during this early phase when it had no widely-accepted name. During the late nineteenth century “SF” is at best a placeholder for a radically diverse, inconsistent field of literary production that emerged, haltingly, out of traditions of utopian fiction, satirical contes, and imaginary voyages, and in relation to other literary movements, such as romanticism, realism, naturalism, and early modernism.
In this course we will read long and short works of fantastic fiction by European authors of the period whose names are probably known to you (Verne and Wells), and some (Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Florence Dixie, Enrique Gaspar, Richard Jefferies, Kurd Lasswitz, J.–H. Rosny aîné, M.P. Shiel, Émile Souvestre) who are likely unfamiliar. Our aim will be not to solve the taxonomic problems noted above. I’m not sure that we will settle on one definition of “science fiction,” so much as we will survey the landscape of an adventurous, nuanced, messy proto-canon that was then – and still is – in search of its meaning and place in the modern literary imagination.
All assigned readings will be in English or English translation. Writing requirements include a take-home midterm and two short critical essays.
Thinking through Fiction: The Novel of Ideas, 1700-1820
In eighteenth-century Britain, the novel was a new literary genre. Targeted at a broad readership and offering exciting stories about daily life, novels soon became extremely popular, displacing old English favorites such as sermon collections and travel books. With popularity also came enemies. Moralists and educated critics complained that novels were frivolous and immoral, as they distracted readers from more serious readings, promoted mental laziness, and corrupted the youth of England. Many novels were indeed written as light entertainment, but not all were. Already in the eighteenth century, novelists realized that narrative fiction could be used for more serious purposes. They discovered the potential of fiction to think through complex issues such as political corruption, ethics, the meaning of life, gender inequity, the French revolution, antisemitism, and ageing. Novels, in the hands of authors like Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, and Jane Austen, became forums for ideas. They brought the big issues of the day to readers with little interest in political essays or philosophical treatises; and they also spoke to more educated readers who realized that fiction could treat ideas in uniquely enlightening ways. This course will introduce you to the eighteenth-century novel in Britain by looking specifically at the novel of ideas. We will discuss how novelists from Fielding to Austen thought through fiction and invited their readers to do so as well. And we will consider the advantages and shortcomings of debating real-life issues through stories that never happened.
Rhetorical Criticism: Rhetorical Theory
This course examines theories of rhetoric by examining rhetoric’s relation to culture. If the term rhetoric refers to systems of symbol use, and if the term culture refers to forms of social organization, then the relation between rhetoric and culture must be intimate, because you need symbols in order to organize societies. To explore the details of this proposition, we’ll read and discuss a wide variety of essay-length texts, all of which will be available for free via Canvas and/or Ares.
Work for the course will include the following:
- informal questions which you post to Canvas before every reading assignment
- three take-home essays in which you analyze and synthesize reading assignments
- one literature review for which you do in-depth library research on a narrow topic.