English 596G: Visual Culture
Instructor: Lauren Mason
In essence, this course is an introduction to the history of visual culture. We will
examine the relationship between images and written narratives, the impact of visual
technology on how we read, and how images “speak.” We will also explore the
ethical, social, and political issues that arise when visual technology is used to
illuminate the lives of others. You will become familiar with influential thinkers who
have made significant contributions to visual studies (Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag,
John Berger, W.J.T. Mitchell, and Walter Benjamin), and we will consider emerging
discussions that address digital visual technology and social media. Our reading list
includes novels and films that integrate visual technology and photographic language
(Terry Pratchett’s The Truth, Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, Fernando Meirelle’s City
of God, Middleton Harris’s The Black Book, David Simon’s The Wire). We will also
examine online news articles, photographic essays, and exhibits that attempt to find
new and creative ways to represent the lives of others to a global audience.
English 596G: Studies in Genre: Ancient and Modern Tragedy
Professor Manya Lempert
This course introduces students to the history and theory of tragedy. In the first third of the course, we will read the classical tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Seneca. We'll take stock of the “ancient quarrel” between tragedy and philosophy, in which Plato calls literature morally dangerous. We will consider how ancient tragedies represent race, gender, empire, self-knowledge, autonomy, tyranny, love, disability, war, and family. In the next third of the course, we will see how later writers have viewed, inherited, and reimagined tragedy (for instance, Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett). Reading philosophy and critical theory, we will focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers who conceived of tragedy as the genre of modernity. Finally, in the last third of the course we will consider literary tragedy as a global phenomenon; tragedy’s relation to dystopian, postcolonial, and apocalyptic literatures; and tragedy’s contemporary resonances for thinking about climate catastrophe.
English 596L: Sound Studies and Literature
Professor John Melillo
In this class, we will examine the ways in which the field of sound studies can help us answer questions about the work of sound in literature. Sound studies is an interdisciplinary formation that traces the theory and practice of listening. The field combines literature, poetics, music, performance, film studies, linguistics, acoustics, environmental studies, recording arts, history, philosophy, and more in order to show how listening is not only a cultural artifact—a product of contextual practices, technologies, and rituals—but also a form of inquiry. For this course, then, we will ask: How do the close and distant ways of listening opened up to us through sound studies help us to rethink literary texts and their aesthetics of sound? And, conversely, how does sound studies help us uncover the literary and rhetorical effects embedded within organizations of sound—from city soundscapes to pop song recordings? Answering these questions will necessitate a sonic reckoning with the concepts at the heart of contemporary critical study: aesthetics and politics, race and personhood, voice and community, the environment and knowledge-production.
In a contemporary world in which sonic information and surveillance are proliferating for pleasure and profit, listening has become an ever more refined tool for objectifying cultural practices. This class will emphasize how writing is implicated within this process while also opening up new forms for defamiliarizing sound and tracing its otherness. We will read, listen to, and think with a wide array of sound writing: lyric poetry, sound poetry, essays, notebooks, experimental audio, elocution manuals, concrete music, songs, ballads, sound descriptions, performance art, extended and improvised musical forms, sound walks, soundscape studies, poetry readings, and more. Specific texts will range from Sappho to Susan Howe, Alexander Pope to Public Enemy.
English 596G: The Films of Stanley Kubrick
Professor Susan White
This is a course on the films of Stanley Kubrick. We will also consider several sources for the films’ adaptations. By means of close reading and in the context of film theory and history, we will cover most of Kubrick’s films. We will read Nabokov’s Lolita, Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, King’s The Shining, Clarke’s “The Sentinel,” Thackeray’s The Luck of Barry Lyndon (excerpts), Hasford’s The Short-Timers and Schnitzler’s Dream Story. Students can expect an intensive study of Kubrick’s films. One major goal of the class is to learn to translate complex visual images to the written word via the specific terminology of cinema studies. Another goal is to improve student pedagogy of cinema in his or her own classes. Students will have weekly writing assignments as described below, write midterm and final papers and present at least once to the class on readings and/or their work.
English 596K: Methods and Materials of Literary Research
Professor Jennifer Jenkins
This course in Humanities and Social Sciences research methods and approaches to interdisciplinary literary study is a toolkit for work in this discipline. We will engage with the steps of developing a research question, literature review, and scholarly argument, while exploring the holdings of local physical archives and digital archives globally. Archivists from UA Special Collections and Literature Subject Librarian Niamh Wallace will work closely with us to discover a variety of primary sources, from illuminated manuscripts to maps to early print books to pamphlets to serials and zines to book arts, chapbooks, graphic novels, and film. While this is not a literary theory course, theories of text, archive, and authorship will inevitably play a role in our investigations as students learn to distinguish different kinds of scholarly evidence. As part of constructing an argument, we will examine the usefulness of methodologies and discourses from other disciplines, among them history, visual cultures, film and adaptation studies, and cultural geography. Critical approaches to text and analysis will be surveyed from major 20th century methodologies to notable 21st century digital humanities projects in prosopography and data-mining as a trend in textual criticism.
Students will develop a research project over the course of the semester, culminating in a seminar essay that may be mined for conference presentations or expanded into a journal article in future. Students should identify a topic area before the semester begins; I would be happy to discuss and consult at any time before the semester begins.
English 596G:Literature and Medicine
Professor Lynda Zwinger
"The merest schoolgirl when she falls in love has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her, but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.” --Virginia Woolf “
Narrative knowledge is what one uses to understand the meaning and significance of stories through cognitive, symbolic, and affective means.” -- Rita Charon The homepage of Columbia University’s Division of Narrative Medicine declares: The Division of Narrative Medicine fortifies clinical practice by training practitioners to recognize, interpret, and glean insights relevant to patient care and clinician performance from the study of humanities, the arts, and creative work. Narrative Medicine helps physicians, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, chaplains, academics, and everyone interested in person-centered, respectful health care to deepen their self-awareness, clinical attunement, collaborative skills, and creative capacities through rigorous narrative training and practices. https://www.mhe.cuimc.columbia.edu/our-divisions/division-narrative-med… In the current historical moment, English Departments find themselves battling for resources in an increasingly neoliberal corporatized institutional matrix and subjected to near-constant exhortation to justify the discipline of literary study and its fundamental methodologies, close reading and writing. Concurrently, firmly based on those very methodologies, the interdisciplinary field of Narrative Medicine, founded by Dr. Rita Charon, a literature PhD and medical doctor, expands and grows nationally and internationally, proposing to revolutionize the quality of health care via the integration of formal training in those skills. What claims about close reading and writing are made by Narrative Medicine? What improvements in patient diagnosis and treatment are established by the study and acquisition of skills learned and practiced in literature classrooms? This introductory course will explore these questions. We will survey the current conversation within and about Narrative Medicine, investigate the theory and practice of psychoanalysis as a possible precursor to the work of Narrative Medicine, hone our own close reading skills, and practice both analytical and reflective writing in conversation with our texts. You need not be in the MA/PhD in English program to register for the course.
English 594:Writing Practicum
001 W 1:30-4:00
Professor Lynda Zwinger
Transitional Office Building
Post-Comps writing group
002 S 12-5:00
Professor Lynda Zwinger
Transitional Office Building
Open to all; post-Comps may register for credit on arrangement
English 595: First Year Colloquium
Required for first year students; meets every other week. “How to graduate-student.”
English 595: Job Workshop
Meets every other week; preparation of application materials, approaches to the process, all career paths.