Fall 2018 Graduate Literature Course Descriptions

ENGL 515: Literary Criticism

Lauren Mason
M   3:30pm – 6:00pm

This course is a study in literary criticism and theory, from its origins at Cambridge to contemporary critical and theoretical frameworks.  We will begin with the history of literary criticism and New Criticism, using Peter Barry’s Beginning Theory and Terry Eagleton’s Literary Theory: An Introduction as our foundational texts.  From there, we will move on to structuralism and post-structuralism.  Finally, we will branch out and explore some enduring theoretical frameworks from feminist theory to neurocognitive theory.  We will spend time (close) reading Matthew Arnold, T.S. Eliot, Aristotle, Plato, Mikhail Bakhtin, Jacques Derrida, Homi Bhabha, Sigmund Freud, and others.  Please keep in mind this course is a graduate level survey of literary criticism and theory.  One does not have to be well-versed in criticism or theory to do well in this course.  We are beginning at the beginning and going on from there.

ENGL 518-001: Psychoanalytic Theory

Lynda Zwinger
W   1:00pm – 3:30pm

This is an introductory course which will focus primarily on texts by Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, as well as a selection of their most useful interlocutors.   In addition to reading the primary theoretical material of psychoanalytic theory, our goal is to inform ourselves of the uses to which various literary critical, social, cultural, and theoretical fields have put psychoanalytic theory.

Whether or not we will accept, reject, or be undecided about the place of psychoanalysis in our own work will vary with the individual inquiring mind.  What I expect from all of us in this class is an analytic and investigative stance toward the material.  This means that everyone needs to practice a certain "suspension of disbelief," which is to say that if you own convictions about psychoanalytic theory already this class will work well only if you leave them at the door for the duration.  Because there is so much to absorb even in a highly eclectic and idiosyncratic approach to this complex area of discourse, it is absolutely crucial that all of us come to each meeting prepared to discuss the assigned reading.  I want this class to take the form of a seminar, with responsibility for generating fruitful class discussion distributed as evenly as possible.  Each person will assume primary responsibility for leading class discussion at least once (details will be worked out during our first meeting), but all participants will be expected to do the readings and discuss them actively in the seminar.  You will also be responsible for a class presentation on one of the assigned readings, an essay designed to be a conference paper, and contributions to a class bibliography.

It would be a good idea to read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams over the summer; maybe Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious as well.

ENGL 531: Shakespeare

Instructor – TBA
Tu   3:30pm – 6:00pm

Course description:  TBA

ENGL/AIS 549A: Folklore, the Story of Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

Franci Washburn
Tu   6:30pm – 9:00pm

The stories that a culture creates and tells about itself can inform outsiders of what that culture values. Now more than ever, we citizens of the United States should examine those values of cultures others than our own to create cross-cultural tolerance and understanding.  While the broad definition of folklore includes not only stories, but also colloquial expressions, dance, art forms, and objects of material culture, this class will primarily examine narrative folklore in the form of stories, short humor, and music which will include murder ballads, narco-corridos, pow wow music, short stories, family history stories, and humor from Middle Eastern (Jewish and Arabic); Latino, and Native American and African American culture.  Then, we will discuss how and if the stories, dance, and music of these cultures are different or similar to each other and to those of mainstream U.S. culture, if such a thing as a predominantly mainstream U.S. culture truly exists. 

Course materials such as essays or chapters from books will be delivered via D2L or other means. Music and examples may be given via D2L or from CDs which the instructor will provide. Dance or other performances will be via You Tube. No expensive book purchases needed for this class.

Course requirements include reading/listening to assigned materials, active participation in class discussion, and two individual oral presentations which may be storytelling, a dance performance, song, or another form of musical expression. The professor is open to alternative presentations with permission in advance such as interactive storytelling, music using alternative instruments or other unique forms of creative folklore traditions.  I am primarily interested in sparking vigorous classroom discussion together, and because narrative folklore is usually oral or musical/performance based, there will be no written papers required for this class.

ENGL 557a-001: British Modernism and the Form of the Novel

Manya Lempert
M   12:30pm – 3:00pm

This seminar treats modernism in Britain from 1860-1960. We will investigate innovations in the form of the British novel, and the novel’s relation to other genres: its lyric, dramatic, epic, and tragic dimensions. We will read poetry, philosophy, and science writing from the period as well, from Britain and elsewhere in Europe. As novelists or literary critics, we will likely encounter: Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, May Sinclair, Dorothy Richardson, E.M. Forster, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, and Jean Rhys. Poets may include: W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and W.H. Auden. Other fiction and nonfiction may include: Charles Darwin, William James, Henri Bergson, Bertrand Russell, Charles Baudelaire, Guillaume Apollinaire, Oscar Wilde, Olive Schreiner, Algernon Blackwood, Wyndham Lewis, Filippo Marinetti, Rebecca West, H.D., Fernando Pessoa, or Clarice Lispector. Finally, we will read modernist novel theory (e.g. György Lukács, Victor Shklovsky, Mikhail Bakhtin) and contemporary criticism (e.g. Pericles Lewis, Paul Saint-Amour, Fredric Jameson).

This course focuses on the meanings of realism and reality in this period’s literature and philosophy (that is, on idealist or phenomenological outlooks versus so-called “realist” viewpoints); on free indirect style and stream of consciousness techniques; on personality and impersonality, subjectivity and objectivity in art; and on defamiliarizing portrayals of space and time. This is a discussion-based course, and involves one ten-minute (“kick-off”) presentation in class, one D2L post on a short modernist text of your choosing not on our syllabus (3 pages), one conference-length paper (5-7 pages), and one final research paper (15 pages).

ENGL 595A-001: First Year Colloquium (alternating with the Job Search Workshop)

Lynda Zwinger
W   12:00pm – 12:50pm

The colloquium provides an exchange of information about professional studies, the Graduate Literature Program, and the English Department.  In a small group setting, first-year students discuss strategies for academic success, opportunities for professional development, engagement with learning communities in and beyond the university, and balancing myriad roles while earning an advanced degree in English.  Attendance is required of all first-year students; other interested graduate students are welcome to join us for any of the classes.  Instruction will include presentation by faculty, returning students in the Program, and other members of the university community.

ENGL 595A-003: Job Search Workshop (alternating with the First Year Colloquium)

Lynda Zwinger
W   12:00pm – 12:50pm

This workshop is open to any PhD student who has completed the comprehensive exams and is planning to enter the academic job market. Ideally, students will take the workshop one year in advance of applying for jobs so that they can prepare and revise all materials required for the search. Each class will focus on a different aspect of the application process. Students will critique drafts of C.V.s, cover letters, dissertation abstracts, and teaching philosophies. We will also discuss letters of recommendation, preparing a dossier, unpacking job ads, teaching portfolios, writing samples, MLA interviews, phone interviews, campus visits, and negotiating an offer. Students who plan to attend the MLA convention may choose to participate in a mock interview with English Department faculty at the end of the semester.

Members of the workshop and anyone who is applying for an academic position will be subscribed to the Department's placement listserv. Participants may post questions, discuss ideas, and read information pertaining to the job search.

ENGL 596G-002: Adaptation Studies – Theories and Practices

Homer Pettey
W   6:30pm – 9:00pm

Adaptation Studies involves relationships among texts of different media.  This seminar will begin with an overview of the history of adaptation theory in relationship to literary and film studies, engage with the concepts of prominent theorists, and work through case studies as we discuss adaptation as a professional practice.  Adaptation theory covers a range of pertinent topics germane to the fields of literary, artistic, cultural, and film studies, among them: influence studies on artistic and literary texts from Renaissance to Modernist texts; genre formation and expansion; popular and visual cultures; authorship and auteur studies; intertextual, dialogic, and palimpsestic theories; cultural reception theory; and, negotiating representations in cyberspace.  Adaptation theorists for this seminar may include: Linda Hutcheon, Stephen Greenblatt, Thomas Leitch, Dudley Andrew, Susan Hayward, J. P. Telotte, Ginette Vincendeau, Kristin Thompson, Robert Stam, Deborah Cartmell, and R. Barton Palmer. 

Texts and topics to be examined may include: Shakespeare's Hamlet from the silent era to non-Western productions; The 18th century novel in cinema; G. B. Shaw's own stage and screen versions; Popular literature and cinematic adaptations; Literary biography and its visual challenges; Classical and hard-boiled detective adaptations; Patricia Highsmith's cinematic adaptations; Toni Morrison and August Wilson on screen; Prequels and Sequels in literature and film; "Based on a True Story" and transmediation; and, Graphic novels and their film versions.

Among contemporary, emerging fields in literature, the humanities, visual culture, and film is Adaptation studies.  For my part, I serve on the Editorial Board for the recent journal Adaptation (Oxford University Press) and as a Trustee for the Association for Adaptation Studies.  I will apply the Oxford journal's criteria for articles to all writing assignments for this seminar, in the hope that each graduate student will produce an essay that can serve as a rough draft for expanding a revised article to submit to Adaptation or that can serve as a paper abstract to be submitted to the next Association for Adaptation Studies conference, now scheduled for September 2019 in Brno in the Czech Republic.  Previous AAS conferences have been held at the University of London, the British Film Institute, and Oxford University, with Fall 2018 to be at the University of Amsterdam.

ENGL 596K-001: Literature and Science, Technology, and Society

Scott Selisker
Th   3:30pm – 6:00pm

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of Science, Technology, and Society (STS), with a strong focus on the questions literature raises for the field. Chief among these will be reflecting on how we map the complex historical relationships between scientific discourses and artistic production. We’ll start in the nineteenth century but spend most of our time in a set of 20th century US and UK historical contexts that will include histories of race, epidemiology, sexology, climate science, the cultural roles of expertise, and possibly other topics. Students can expect to encounter foundational and recent texts in several interlocking academic areas (likely examples in parentheses): science, technology, and society (Foucault, Kuhn, Haraway, Barad, Hacking, Latour, Daston and Galison, Shapin, Canales, Tsing), literature and science (Wald, Seitler, Ferguson, Fleissner, Milburn), and science fiction studies (Jameson, Csicsery-Ronay, Suvin, Vint, Sheldon). In addition to these critical works, we’ll read about seven or eight novels and possibly see a film or two; we'll draw from Literature MA list where possible. Likely authors include Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, Ralph Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Leslie Marmon Silko, Amitav Ghosh, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jeff VanderMeer. Students interested in STS or literature and science should come away from this course with a view of the sweep of the field and a sense of current research directions; other students of literature will come away with a methodologically rich sense of the ways literary works relate to their scientific, technological, and historical contexts. Requirements include one or two focused presentations, a seminar paper proposal, and an 18-25-page seminar paper. 

SCCT 500-001: Introduction to Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

Leerom Medovoi
Tu   3:30pm – 6:00pm

Note: Please check with director to see if this SCCT course can count towards your plan of study.

Philosopher Max Horkheimer defined critical theory as a genre of intellectual writing with a definitive purpose, namely to “liberate human being from the circumstances that enslave them.” This course will survey the intellectual traditions interested inenvisioning how human beings have come to be repressed, exploited, instrumentalized, disciplined, or otherwise dominated by their own social, cultural, economic or political orders. The course will also consider how liberation from such conditions has been differently imagined by these traditions.  We will read work by such foundational thinkers as G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Franz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Stuart Hall and Judith Butler. Traditions we will engage include historical materialism, psychoanalysis, postcolonial and critical race theory, feminism, British cultural studies and queer theory. The seminar will rely on intensive group discussion of shared readings.