Spring 2018 Graduate Literature Course Descriptions

ENGL 526-001: Middle English

Roger Dahood
Tu/Th   12:30pm – 1:45pm

English 526, Middle English Literature (excluding Chaucer), includes readings from major works composed in or translated into Middle English between ca. 1200 and ca. 1500. Readings draw on dominant genres of prose and poetry—lyric and narrative poetry, allegory, Arthurian romance, and drama. The assigned readings include—among other works that young faculty seeking academic employment ought to be familiar with—selections from Ancrene Riwle (Ancrene Wisse), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, selections from Piers Plowman, selections from Malory, and plays. All readings are in the Middle English of the manuscripts on which the modern editions draw for their text.

ENGL 555A: Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature

Gerald Monsman
Tu/Th   11:00am – 12:15pm

I won’t cram into a semester all the fine works which fall within the Romantic era from early Gothicism to the Reform Bill; rather, in those texts that consistently have generated a classic richness and diversity of interpretation we will examine, through the Romantic lens of the symbolic and diabolic, models of identity and community (pantisocratic or horrific, as the case may be). Students will prepare informal reports on specific works for in-class presentations (demonstrating interpretive techniques and critical methodologies), one of which may be expanded and polished to become your research paper for the end of term. We will move from Blake through Keats with attention to several women poets; also Lamb and/or DeQuincey are included as imaginative prose writers and Horace Walpole and Mary Shelley, among others, will be the fictional component. [Monsman 555 Version 1.0]

ENGL 565: Scale in 19th Century American Literature

Paul Hurh
Tu   5:00pm – 7:30pm

In the first half of the U.S. 19th Century, advances and expansions in media technology--telegraphs, railroads, print periodicals, the post office—as well as the statistical implications of large democracy and the geographic prospect of the western frontier as well as the expanding sizes of plantation economy made the issue of scale thinkable in new ways.  In this class, we will consider several 19th century American authors whose work engages, either thematically or formally, with scale.  We will attempt to historicize the idea of scale in the 19th century, and we will closely read literary works to see the aesthetic implications and possibilities of that idea.  We will also study recent theoretical work on scale, and consider how the studying scale in the 19th century may gain from or contribute to that conversation.

Authors may include: Cornelius Matthews, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Jefferson, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Alexis de Tocqueville, Olaudah Equiano, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, Charles Brockden Brown, J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, and others we may find along the way.

Critical and theoretical readings may include: Wai Chee Dimock, Mark McGurl, Michel Foucault, Stacy Margolis, Maurice Lee, David Henkin, Marshall McLuhan, Northrop Frye, and readings in emergence and complexity theory. 

ENGL 596B-001: Colonial and Post-Colonial Literature and Theory

Lauren Mason
M   3:30pm – 6:00pm

In this course, we will examine literature and film that emerges from what is termed the “African” or “Black Diaspora.” We will trace the evolution of the modern African Diaspora by examining the exchange of written and visual narratives among peoples of the Diaspora since African independence.   While manifestations of an African Diaspora can be traced as far back      as the European slave trade, it is in the 1960s with Africa’s emergence from colonial rule that    we see the emergence  of  a  deliberate,  self-conscious  strategy  of  “Black  Diaspora”  emerge among Black peoples across the globe.   This idea of Black Diaspora took various forms in  America, Britain, France, the Antilles, and South America.   For instance, in America the notion     of a Black Diaspora was inextricably tied to Black Nationalist movements and the ideological principles surrounding Pan-Africanism, while in France Black Diaspora unfolded through the negritude movement. For the Caribbean, Kamau Brathwaite’s move toward “interculturation” and the resurrection of “Creolism” expressed the Antilles’ approach to Black Diaspora.

While these notions of Black Diaspora share many of the same ideological principles,    they are bound by two fundamental features:  (1) That Africa remains a real or spiritual “home”   for Black peoples of the Diaspora, a “home” from which Black people were forcibly removed       and to which they remain inextricably bound through cultural practices, shared memories, or a belief in an essential “Blackness,” and (2) That Black Diaspora is articulated, shaped, and negotiated—solidified—through the exchange of written narratives, art, and later, visual   narratives among peoples of the Black Diaspora.   In other words, the notion of Black Diaspora,    as it emerged in the 1960s, relies heavily on a constant exchange and renegotiation of a “black aesthetic,” which functions as both an artistic and sociopolitical expression of global Black solidarity.

One of our goals in this course is to delve into the modern African Diaspora by delving into the narratives that have been exchanged among disparate Black communities over the last 40 years. Our goal is to put these texts “in conversation” with one another as well as to discover the ways in which they “speak” to one another. It is this “conversation” among texts that constitutes what we now refer to as an African Diaspora. And it is our efforts to continually create new “conversations” in our readings and writings that keeps African Diaspora a viable and productive global solidarity. We will trace these conversations in literary and cinematic narrative strategies and practices, intertextual references, and common cultural references and symbols. We want to illuminate not only the ways in which the texts in conversation with one another uncover or assert  common or shared cultural origins and practices but also the ways in which they articulate cultural differences among Blacks or unique local cultural practices and beliefs that have emerged within Black communities.

ENGL 596B-002: Postcolonial Studies

Suresh Raval
Tu   2:00pm – 4:30pm

This seminar will focus on major texts of postcolonial studies, with a view to exploring issues at stake in contemporary discussions of colonial and postcolonial cultures and politics. We will discuss Fanon, Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Hall, Appadurai, Mbembe, Cheah, Chakrabarty, among other theorists and critics. Although the seminar will attempt to cover an extensive terrain—orientalism, politics of location, subaltern studies, feminism and postcolonial studies, identity politics, nation and nationalism, diasporic cultures and nativism, ethnicity, and globalization—the goal will be to explore important concepts intensively. For illustrative analytical purposes we will draw upon the works of Kipling, Conrad, Foster, Naipaul, Achebe, Kincaid, Rushdie, Ngugi, and Hamid. For fuller discussions the class will focus on Heart of Darkness,  Lucy, Disgrace, and The White Tiger. Context permitting we will discuss relations of postcolonial theory with New Historicism, Marxism and Cultural Studies. Course requirements will include two short in-class presentations and a final seminar paper.

ENGL 596F: American Poetry, American Pragmatism, Open Form: (sort of) A Survey of American Poetry

Tenney Nathanson
Th   3:30pm – 6:00pm                                             

This seminar will attend to the recurrent fascination in American poetry with a poetics of improvisation or “process”: the poem as an unfolding exploration that pushes against (and often past) any single formulation or completed form, adjusting its provisional procedures and models as it makes room for the unexpected, encountered en route. We’ll put this tradition in American poetry into conversation with Jamesian pragmatism, a defining tradition in American philosophy shaped by American literature and shaping it in turn. We’ll also be reading some poets whose work seems skeptical of the arguably liberatory potential of “open form” (and American liberalism).

I’m hoping the course can serve at once as: a survey of major American poetry (with an eye toward MA and PhD exams); a “special topics” interrogation of a key element in American (and modern and postmodern) writing; and an MFA-program-friendly exploration of a body of poetry that ought to be immensely useful for poets today. (We’ll glance at notions of romanticism, modernism, and postmodernism, though wedging them apart won’t be a course goal.)

We’ll probably read several of the following (and maybe a couple of poets not on this list): Whitman, Dickinson; Pound, Williams, Moore, Stevens, Eliot; O’Hara, Ashbery, Whalen; Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Norman Fischer, Charles Bernstein, Lisa Jarnot, Haryette Mullen, Erica Hunt, Nate Mackey, Fred Moten. (We’ll end up with a list of roughly 8-14 poets; for contemporary work, we may maximize the number of writers by trimming the number of poems per poet.) We’ll also spend some time with William James’s crucial book Pragmatism, a couple of Emerson’s germinal essays, and a bit of Kenneth Burke. Other theorists we’re fairly likely to bump into through short readings (as useful): Foucault, Baudrillard, Deleuze and Guattari, Jameson, Shunryo Suzuki . . .

Course requirements:

For Literature students: either several short papers or the typical conference-length/article-length sequence. (Some imitations, “experiments,” or original poems can also be worked in.)

For MFA students: a combination of short critical essays, imitations or “experiments,” and your own creative work (which we’ll place in dialogue with the poets we’re reading in the course), in roughly equal proportions.

For students from other programs: negotiable.


please email me at nathanso@email.arizona.edu or set up an appointment to come in and chat.

ENGL 596G-001: Melodrama and Modernity

Homer Pettey
W   6:30pm – 9:00pm

Repressed and overt sexuality, taboos and obsessions, cultural violations, and excesses of emotion and violence—all characterize mainstays of melodrama that produce disintegrations of families, psychological traumas, and social pathologies.  For novels, we will investigate melodramatic themes concerning masculinity, miscegenation, female sexuality, class identity, and Asian-American immigrant experiences.  For drama, we will analyze American melodramas and their film adaptations, among them: Lillian Hellman's study of lesbianism in The Children's Hour; Tennessee Williams's examination sexual desire in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; and, Lorraine Hansberry's critique of African-American social mobility in A Raisin in the Sun.  In terms of popular visual culture, the seminar will begin with stage spectacles as antecedents to melodrama, move through its development in cinema from the silent era through the popular "Woman's Film," and conclude with melodrama's relevance for contemporary film genres.  For theory and criticism, we will read scholars devoted to exploring gender, race, and class issues in melodrama, among them: Peter Brooks, Barbara Klinger, Linda Williams, Murray Pomerance, Ben Singer, Christine Gledhill, Mary Ann Doane, and Elisabeth Bronfen.  Written assignments will be progressive in order for graduate students to produce at the end of the semester a final paper that could serve as the basis for a conference presentation or the draft of an article.

Most of these authors and texts for this seminar are on the M.A. List.

ENGL 596G-002: Comparative Literature: Symbolist Poetry

Tom Willard
W   3:30pm – 6:00pm

Reading of modernist poetry from 1850 to 1950 with the emphasis on English-language poets influenced by French predecessors from Baudelaire to Valèry. We will pay special attention to the use of literary symbolism and the development of Symbolisme as a global movement in the arts. Reading knowledge of French, though helpful, is not necessary as all texts will be studied in English. Expect to make informal presentations, write several short responses, and produce a researched essay. For a tentative syllabus, please see or contact the instructor.

ENGL/AIS 646: Ancient and Contemporary Voices

Amy Fatzinger
Tu/Th   12:30pm – 1:45pm

In Ancient and Contemporary Voices--a course that is both a literature course and a creative writing course--we will study the ways many Indigenous stories both change and maintain continuity over time.  We will consider Indigenous writers’ use of elements from their oral traditions—including characters, places, themes, plots, narrative frameworks, cultural values, and other constructs—in their contemporary writing. Themes and techniques used by contemporary Indigenous writers for conveying a sense of orality through the written word will serve as the inspiration for students’ creative writing assignments. Through class discussions, creative and analytical writing assignments, and writing workshops, students will have opportunities to develop their writing, analytical, and professional skills which may be applied to other areas of literary and American Indian studies.  Texts for Spring 2018 explore Indigenous texts in a north-to-south journey from Alaska to Chile with stops in Canada, the American Southwest, Guatemala, and Brazil along the way.

SCCT 510: Problems in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory: Politics and the Sense

John Melillo & Mary Kaitlin Murphy
W   3:30pm – 6:00pm

From #blacklivesmatter to the Dreamers and the Standing Rock; to the rise of Trumpism and the re-emergence of white supremacy movements -- our current political moment is being shaped by diverse affective, embodied, and performative forms of protest and intervention, community-building and identity-making.

This graduate seminar seeks to make sense of this vitalizing and virulent moment by exploring the relationship between the sensorial, the embodied, and the political. Drawing from a range of methods and analytic approaches, including performance, visual, new media, and sound studies, this course will investigate the relationship between the senses and politics. Not simply a set of physical capacities, the senses are a complex amalgam of embodiment, cognition, and expression. How do the senses shape our relationship to the world and each other? How do they produce networks of temporal, spatial, affective, and physical relationships that link individual bodies to others, producing political bodies, publics, peoples, and masses? We will take a deep historical, political, and theoretical approach combined with critical engagement with prominent contemporary scholars and practitioners.

SCCT 597-001: Practicum/Workshop

Maritza Cardenas 
M   6:00pm – 8:30pm

See instructor for course description.