Current Graduate Course Offerings
ENGL 602.01 Reading Faulkner and Welty Harriet Pollack R 1-3:52pm
We will read the remarkable fiction of these two great modernists, both from Mississippi. The experience of reading them is filled with the discovery of secrets and of literary puzzles. Faulkner populates a cosmos of his own, Yoknapatawpha MS, and unfolds a saga of the South there, revealing the land and its history in novels that surprise readers when they are read together. They fascinate in part because they form a story cycle that escapes the cover of any single volume to create a large American mythology opening issues of power, class, whiteness, and race. Welty stories, covering the same landscape entirely differently and from a woman's point of view, are gems that sparkle with wit and that flash with humor even in the midst of catastrophe. They consistently astonish as they defy reader's expectations in ways that reveal a modernist's mischievous streak. A reader meeting Faulkner and Welty in their full complexity confronts their sense of play with narrative-as-usual. Readers can long for conventional narrative and assemble it during their reading experiences, but what Faulkner and Welty give them is something else. Just what they give, as well as how and why that is interesting to the story of how and why we read, is also our topic.
ENGL 603.01 Seminar in Creative Nonfiction Chris Camuto R 1-3:52pm
This course is an advanced workshop in writing an extended nonfiction essay for students who have written nonfiction at the introductory level. Each student will write a 35-page (minimum) essay in any sub-genre of nonfiction: memoir, travel, nature, science, art-any subject that can be wrought from personal experience. Because most students write one variety or another of personal essay, we study various forms of the personal essay with a close eye on the techniques and thematic development of successful essays. Most of our class time will be taken up by workshop critique-at an intense level of detail-of student work-in-progress. Our primary goal will be to help each writer pursue subjective literary goals with the use of the objective literary techniques that have made the essay such an adaptable and enduring literary form. In short, we will work on the craft of essay writing in pursuit of the art of it. Although designed primarily for creative writing concentrators, I am particularly interested in working with an interdisciplinary group of students-especially from the environmental, earth and life sciences as well as anthropology and archaeology-who would bring a wide range of interests to the workshop.
ENGL 606.01 US: Fever/Fantasy/Desire Michael Drexler W 2-4:52pm
We will explore post-revolutionary and antebellum America through the novels of Charles Brockden Brown, Hannah Foster, Susannah Rowson, Royall Tyler, Leonora Sansay, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville. Brown, who wrote about Indian-killing sleep-walkers, homicidal maniacs driven by mandates from God, and utopian conspirators, was also fascinated by the Yellow Fever epidemics that periodically ravaged Philadelphia during his lifetime, especially the fever season of 1793, which claimed over 5000 lives. What made "fever" such a powerful trope for Brown and others? Contagion, conspiracy (literally--to breathe together), rebellion--the keywords of the age? What about liberty, equality, and fraternity? We will also read literature about treason, novels and poetry about seduction, betrayal, race-warfare, and madness. What inspired such sensational fare at the beginnings of US national literature? What was the connection between terror, conspiracy, madness, and imagination for these early Americans? What did madness mean at the turn-of-the-century? in America? in Europe? Toward the end of the semester, we will jump forward to study some works by the American master of madness, Edgar Allan Poe ("Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Fall of the House of Usher," and "The Black Cat"). We conclude with Melville's novellas "Bartleby the Scrivener," "Benito Cereno," and "Billy Budd." The course will also introduce students to the psychoanalysis of literature and culture. Students will become acquainted with the work of Jacques Lacan both through his writings and his interlocutors.
ENGL 609.01 Seminar in Writing Fiction Claire Watkins R 1-3:52pm
This course will be divided into two parts. First, we will read and discuss published work with a writer's eye. Our aim will be to define story, both as a whole and by its parts, both by our expectations and each story's own ambition. Through class discussion we will familiarize ourselves with the craft of fiction writing and equip ourselves with the theoretical vocabulary to discuss fiction. We will dismantle published stories with hopes of understanding their parts as the result of specific and deliberate choices. We will attempt to understand the effects of these choices on the art of fiction, particularly the short story. We will practice enacting these craft considerations with writing exercises and journaling. Next, we will apply our findings to our own work. This portion will be conducted as a workshop, meaning the stories will be student-produced and the discussion will be student-driven. Through thoughtful dialogue and thorough written critiques the group will seek to understand each story's ambition and then offer constructive critique to urge the story closer to fulfilling that ambition. Daily participation in class discussion is mandatory. In addition to drafts of their own stories, students will provide their peers with extensive feedback both written and oral. Students will complete a self-evaluation in their final portfolio. The course demands extensive reading, writing, re-reading and re-writing.
ENGL 626.01 Seminar in James Joyce John Rickard M 2-4:52pm
James Joyce once claimed that he had written his works in such detail that they would "keep the professors busy" for 200 years. Joyce died almost 50 years ago, and the professors (and students) are still busy reading, discussing and writing about his books. We will read some of Joyce's major prose fictions, focusing especially on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses and concentrating on the development of Joyce's career and style and the relation of each work to the fictional genre(s) it participates in. Central critical and theoretical questions on each text will also inform class discussions and provide topics for student oral reports to the seminar. We will begin with selected stories from Dubliners, followed by A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. We will then spend the rest of the semester reading and discussing Ulysses. We will end by reading and glossing selections from Finnegans Wake. We will also discuss critical essays on all of these works. Students are expected to read Joyce's Dubliners stories before the course begins.
ENGL 629.01 Ecopoetics G.C. Waldrep MW 3-4:22pm
Ecopoetics explores the intersection between ecological practice and poetic practice. How can a creative practice, such as poetry, enhance and extend a writer or reader's engagement with the natural world? Ecopoetics will draw on older models (of what one might term "nature poetry") including Native American texts and 19th-century work we now associate with the Romantic and Transcendentalist movements, as well as on more recent, formally innovative examples of ecologically-focused poetic practice. The crux of the course will be the interplay between reading, writing, observation, and engagement-moving back and forth between the academic classroom and various environmental settings. Students should have an interest in the environment-"natural" or otherwise-as well as a willingness to explore poetic examples that range from the traditional to the challengingly experimental.
ENGL 636.01 Film Genres and Auteurs Amanda Keeler TR 1-3:52pm
Learn the historical trajectory of the concept of the auteur. Identify and understand shifts in the meaning and popularity of this term. Participate in the classroom dialogues with peers to investigate media texts. Use writing assignments to demonstrate the ability to apply class concepts to independent research. Learn to question, clarify, and synthesize class concepts through discussion and writing. Description of Subject Matter: What does it mean to study a film or television auteur? Film writers in post-WWII France first discussed the idea of the auteur, the "genius" vision behind a film's "art." In the United States in America film critic Andrew Sarris took this concept further to theorize and classify films by numerous Hollywood directors. This class will explore the possibilities of approaching film and television texts as objects created through the artistry of a film director or television producer. To explore film we will look at the careers of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, who together wrote and directed a number of films in England between 1939 and 1972. To explore the concept of the auteur in television we will examine several programs created and produced by J. J. Abrams between 1998 and 2012.
ENGL 639.01 Film/Video Production Eric Faden M 2-4:52pm
This seminar teaches students advanced film/video production techniques through designing and producing material for a real-world client. Description of Subject Matter: The seminar covers advanced lighting and sound design as well as production and post-production skills.
ENGL 660.01 Seminar in Restoration/18th Century Lit Greg Clingham T 1-3:52pm
It explores an essential aspect of the English literary imagination and cultural identity by discussing the relations between law and literature - how law functions in literature and also how it functions as literature. This enables us to ask far reaching and current philosophical questions about the nature of justice and law, to inquire how they differ from each other and how they use rhetoric and "poetic" language to shape the social and political institutions that affect us all. Narrative coherence, fact, and efficacy are all fundamental to law. Yet the idea that our legal institutions and our sense of national identity are based on forms of argumentation that resemble literary constructions - stories, narratives, rhetoric, metaphor, character development - is disturbing to layperson and professional alike. Working with a variety of texts - legal and constitutional treatises, court cases, novels, criminal biographies, modern jurisprudence and theory - our interdisciplinary investigation considers how law and literature impinge on and inform each other, in the 18th and 19th centuries and also in modern America. Our topics are all fascinating: the history of common law, the 18-19thC London courts, and the part they play in fiction and history; the relation between property, inheritance, gender, identity and law - how these issues play out in legal discourse and in fiction; prisons, deviance, criminal behavior, punishment, and the spectacle of execution; and the drama and entertainment of law.