This course serves as an introduction to African American literature that refuses to take its own blackness for granted. Since race is a socially constructed fiction that rigorously maintains very real structures of privilege for some at the disadvantage of others, the perceived gains and losses enabled by racial passing have always been of the utmost concern to the African American writer. This course considers those texts that lend insight into how the African American literary tradition theorizes communal belonging in the face of a deep ambivalence around notions of racial identification and authenticity. It also suggests that this consideration offers a nuanced perspective on the canon of African American literature. Fiction and film will provide the opportunity to discuss privilege, surveillance, colorism, representation, and authenticity. We will also begin to think critically about the relationships between blood and the law, love and politics, opportunity and economics, and acting and being.
Questions to be considered include: What work does the highly gendered depictions of the “tragic mulatta” figure (a mixed-race woman undone by her periled existence between two racialized worlds) do for, and to, African American literature? What happens when the color line crosses you? Or in other words, where is agency in this discussion? Do we really know blackness when we see it? Hear it? How (and why) is blackness performed and for (and by) whom? In what ways is identity shaped by who can and can’t pass? And finally, what do we make of a literary tradition that supposedly gains coherence around issues of racial belonging but continually questions race itself?
- Erasure (Percival Everett)
- Iola Leroy (Frances Harper)
- Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (James Weldon Johnson)
- Passing (Nella Larsen)
- Black No More (George Schuyler)
- Caucasia (Danzy Senna)
In a Q&A accompanying the PBS documentary series Black in Latin America Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. remarks, “…there were 11.2 million Africans that we can count who survived the Middle Passage and landed in the New World, and of that 11.2 million, only 450,000 came to the United States… All the rest went south of Miami as it were.” Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of people brought against their will from Africa to the Americas landed in the Caribbean and Latin America, Latinx people of African heritage have often been erased not only in mainstream US culture but also in US Latinx communities. As a corrective to this erasure, this course examines the histories, cultures, and literatures of US Afro-Latinx peoples and focuses specifically on connecting the Hispanophone Caribbean and the US South.
Possible readings include:
- The Afro-Latin@ Reader, eds. Juan Flores & Miriam Jiménez Román
- Chango’s Fire, Ernesto Quiñones
- Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina, Raquel Cepeda
- Loosing My Espanish, H.G. Carrillo
This course satisfies the requirement for coursework in the following Areas of Concentration: Post-1900 Literature and Culture; and Colonial, Postcolonial, and Transnational Literary and Cultural Studies. This course also meets the Alterity requirement.
How does Tallahassee choose to preserve, narrate, and commemorate its early history through museums, memorials, monuments, and other historical sites? What does Mission San Luis say—or not say—about Spanish colonization of the area, the Goodwood Museum about plantation slavery, the Historic Capitol and Natural Bridge Historic Park about the Civil War? What kind of unofficial histories are buried in the Florida State Archives, and how is the indigenous history of Florida packaged at the Museum of Florida History? This course will tackle questions such as these by surveying the early literature of Florida from colonization to the Civil War, and then putting our reading into conversation with sites of public memory in and around Tallahassee. That means we will visit said sites, analyze the material rhetorics of history and place, and discuss the political and cultural ideologies of Florida, yesterday and today.
This course will focus on all the wonders, components, and mechanisms of poetry, and how certain game-changers have shaped literary history. We will read, analyze, and craft poetry on a regular basis. Our text will be The Poet’s Companion, as well as various packets of specially selected poems provided by me (and maybe a couple of short critical essays). We will be reading a wide range of traditional and contemporary poems. We will talk about what poems do for humanity. We will confront our poetry fears, and have open, constructive discussions on how we can (like these standout game-changers) "make it new." You don't have to understand or have a background in poetry, and if this is your first time writing a poem, we will celebrate your courage. After completing this course, you will be able to encounter any poem and engage with it critically no matter its subject or form. By understanding how poetry is crafted, you will begin to discover how to create this type of power in your own writing.
- “What you have to realize when you write poetry, or if you love poetry, is that poetry is just naturally the greatest ... thing that ever was in the whole universe.” ― James Dickey
- "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." ― Emily Dickinson
- "... dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ― Walt Whitman
Recent advances in neuroscience are allowing us to better understand what happens in the brain when we read. For writers, even beginning writers, such advances are a gold mine for thinking through how a poem can be made, what poetry can do, and how readers can be changed by language arranged as marks on a page or as sounds in the air. In this class we’ll build a brain-based foundation of writing as we compose weekly poems, discuss and analyze a wide range of craft techniques, and revise work for a final portfolio. No prior understanding of poetry or neuroscience is necessary, and course concepts will be easily transferrable to other genres. Our main goal will be twofold: 1) to demystify the writing process by empowering you to understand the “whys” behind writing guidance, and 2) to stock you with an array of tools and concepts you can adapt to any writing situation as you continue to invent beyond our classroom.
This course will center on various strategies for reading, analyzing, and crafting poetry. Using The Poet’s Companion, as well as a packet of specially selected poems and critical essays, we will be reading a wide range of traditional and contemporary poetic material. We will discuss poems, analyze their craft, and even write them. A main goal of this class is to render you fearless when confronted by poetry. Many people, even highly educated people, believe that they just don’t understand poems. After completing this course, you will be able to encounter any poem and engage with it critically no matter its subject or form. Rita Dove once said that poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful. By engaging in a comprehensive study of how poetry is crafted you will begin to discover how to create this type of power in your own writing.
Fiction Workshop (CRW 4120) is a course on the craft and art of fiction writing, only available for those students who have already satisfactorily completed Fiction Technique (CRW 3110). This course assumes you have a serious interest in fiction writing, as well as in discussing the writing of fiction with others likewise engaged. Our concerns are mainly practical and craft-based: where you as author wish to go with a particular draft, and how we, as readers and writers engaged in a common cause, might help you get there. In class we will examine how various craft points are at work in a number of published stories, and very often these texts will serve as templates for imitation and inspiration. However, this class will primarily follow the workshop model, and therefore student work, and the discussion of same, will be our main focus. To that end, over the course of the semester students will be required to produce and share a flash fiction piece of between 500-750 words, as well as two short stories (8-15 pages each). Admittance is by application only.
One of the first steps in becoming a poet is finding an authentic voice. In this class we will spend the first hour discussing poems and essays that will investigate the many aspects of voice, including subject, images, line and verse, form, leaping, association, and duende. For the most part the poems we will look at will be the work of poets who are alive and writing now. The final two hours of the class will be spent in reading and discussing your own work.
Students will be submitting a new poem to the instructor each week. On a rotating basis, students will be asked to bring multiple copies so the whole class can workshop their poem. Other requirements include faithful attendance and discussion, conferences, craft lessons, a final portfolio.
This course satisfies the workshop requirement for the Creative Writing concentration. CRW 3311, Poetic Technique, is a prerequisite. Please note that enrollment is by instructor permissions only.
ENC 3021 is one of three core courses for the Editing, Writing, and Media (EWM) major, and as such, it works to provide a foundation for the major. To help develop your foundation, you’ll study the works of prominent rhetoricians, and in so doing, you’ll be introduced to the following:
- key terms, concepts, and ideas in the study of rhetoric
- different knowledges/understandings (or epistemologies) that underpin the conception and employment of rhetoric at various time periods and in different cultures
- frameworks useful for the production and analysis of messages
In order to address these concepts, epistemologies, and frameworks, we’ll trace Western rhetoric as it evolved and changed throughout its history. Beginning in Ancient Greece and ending with contemporary rhetoric in the West, we’ll observe how rhetoric shifted from a focus on oral performance, to a focus on citizenship and political practice, to a philosophical subject, and to a lens for understanding, creating, and controlling meaning. At each point in our survey, we’ll attend to who can speak and who is excluded, what can be said and what is silenced, and, ultimately, how things can be said. In addition, we’ll explore how language has been used across time and space to create shared realities, to change realities, and to secure power. In the process, we’ll also discover connections between rhetoric and language, rhetoric and knowledge, rhetoric and media, and—perhaps most importantly—we will discover connections between rhetoric and the world we live in.
ENC 3021 is one of three core courses for the Editing, Writing, and Media (EWM) major, and as such, the course works to provide a foundation for the major. Studying the history of rhetoric provides students with foundational rhetorical principles and building blocks, crucial for writers, editors, and evolving scholars. This course introduces students to key concepts in the study of rhetoric; to frameworks useful for the analysis of texts, events, communication, and other phenomena; and to the principles of rhetoric in contexts across media and cultures. We will be tracing Western rhetoric as it has evolved and changed throughout its 2500-year history. Although this course will offer a survey of significant Western rhetorical theories and practices from ancient Greece to contemporary culture, it will also emphasize the evolution of rhetorical knowledges and meaning making processes across/between cultures, identities, boundaries, and borders. We will begin to consider knowledges, texts, histories, and identities as subjective, partial, incomplete, and ever-changing. To that end, we will study deeply the foundations of the western rhetorical tradition, but we will also build upon this material by studying the various interventions and interruptions that have contributed to and disrupted that tradition.
This workshop will provide opportunities to explore the field of creative nonfiction globally, but will focus mainly on the personal essay and that genre’s rich tradition. We’ll read published essays, including some critical and theoretical work, in order to explore issues such as genre, persona, context, audience, and voice, but our focus will be on workshopping student work (including memoir chapters, if anyone has them). Our readings will include some canonical essays by writers such as Montaigne and Emerson. And to add to the wealth of essays published in the United States during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, we will study Indian, Caribbean, and African essayists like Salman Rushdie and V.S.Naipaul and Teju Cole. Our goal is to explore the ways in which the essay has evolved within the non-Western historical contexts. Students have the option of submitting two drafts for workshop, or workshopping one draft and turning in a final revision.
We will look at many different creative nonfiction essays, as well as many different forms of the essay. We’ll look at different reasons for the essay in general: personal freedom, societal critique, rebellion against oppression, love letter, etc. There will also be a significant amount of writing essays and sharing those with the class.
In this section of Article & Essay Technique, we're not going to write what we know––we're going to write toward what we don't know. What we want to know. We'll wrestle with what confounds us, trips us up, makes us wild with anger, dizzies us with shock or sorrow or disbelief. We're also going to read any number of essays (lyrical, political, confessional, witchily spellbinding, you name it) by authors who grapple with this same sense of bewilderment at the world that surrounds us––and try to figure out how in the heck they write about it. And how we might, too.
As Leslie Jamison notes in her introduction to Best American Essays 2017:
When Guns N' Roses was recording a demo of "Sweet Child of Mine"... the band couldn't think of lyrics to accompany the musical breakdown at the end. Axl Rose started muttering: "Where do we go now, where do we go now?" and those muttered words became the lyrics. The wondering became the song.
In other words, we will attempt to make music out of our own wonderings.
This course is for upper-level undergraduate students interested in writing nonfiction prose, specifically the personal essay. The class is designed to help students improve their nonfiction writing through discussions of their work, exercises to practice craft, and explorations of published essays for techniques— ie. learning to read as writers.
The best way to become a better writer is to read and write a lot. This course will require both attention and effort, and students should be prepared to devote significant time outside of class to working on their own writing and reading published nonfiction.
The core tenet of the course is this: any piece of student writing submitted for discussion could be better. If it’s your writing, keep that tenet fiercely in mind (desiring improvement more than praise). If it’s the writing of one of your peers, help that piece humanely move toward its most fully realized version. This course will make you a better writer—and a better reader—in a supportive, tough-love environment.
Students will complete an 8-10 page essay, a 4-5 page essay, writing exercises, journal exercises on published readings, a group presentation, and critiques of others’ works.
This course will serve as an introduction to creative nonfiction, a flexible and hybrid genre that encompasses everything from food writing to literary journalism to memoir. Unlike other forms of creative writing, everything in creative nonfiction must be true, as the author remembers it; unlike other nonfiction writing like journalism, creative nonfiction is driven by the author’s unique voice. Students will learn how to discover this voice, and how to bring passion, curiosity, and honesty to writing about both their own experience and topics that interest them.
We will focus especially on American essays from the last 75 years. Authors will include John McPhee, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, James Baldwin, David Foster Wallace, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Eula Biss, and Roxane Gay.
Students should expect to read and write intensively. The major assignments for the class will be two full-length essays to be drafted and revised over the course of the semester, but students will also complete short weekly craft assignments. This class will include both discussion and workshop; active participation in both is a requirement.
This course will have students writing primarily in nonfiction, focusing on voice, imagery, and narration. Students will write three essays throughout the course: a personal essay, a lyric essay, and a flash fiction essay. This course counts as a writing course for the English major with a concentration in writing.
Today, writers don't just inscribe words on paper. Students in this course will compose written, visual, and/or auditory texts, using a variety of technologies, all in the context of Bolter and Grusin's suggestion (in Remediation) that different media are always informing each other. Students will be expected to create texts (1) for the page (2) the screen, and (3) the network. Each text will also be edited in accord with its medium. In addition, at least one of these texts will be re-purposed for another medium. Students will conclude the course by creating a digital portfolio.
ENG 3416 (WEPO) is one of three core courses for EWM, and as such, it helps provide a foundation for the major. As part of this foundation, this course introduces you to the principles of composing and editing across different media environments, paying special attention to how your process will be affected when working in different contexts, with different materials and genres, for different audiences. This course attempts to help you (1) understand principles of composing and rhetoric, especially the ways they function across different composing spaces; (2) compose for each of three spaces—print (including posters, flyers, newsletters, pamphlets, and booklets), digital (screen), and network (internet) using different technologies and design strategies; (3) edit and revise appropriately the texts created in each space; and (4) understand the relationships that exist across and between texts, technologies, and materials. To accomplish these goals, we'll engage with multiple kinds of texts: we’ll read some, write some, talk about some, and create remediated forms of some.
Throughout, we’ll be developing a language and a vocabulary that we can use to describe those texts and interactions and to describe what happens to them and to us when we do this work. We will begin with keywords utilizing circulation as a uniting concept meant to guide our exploration of composing throughout the course. However, it is important to note that you will expand and alter your own personal composing theory and develop your own list of keywords. In doing so, you will discover what terms and concepts characterize you as a composer. Our goal here is to help you create and read texts differently, to help you become much more informed about how others will interact with your texts, and help you articulate your own theory of composing and editing.
Editing practicum; letter-grade basis; 3 credit hours. Two textbooks: The Copyeditor’s Handbook (Einsohn; 2011) and a three-ring binder from Target Copy, Editing Manuscripts, Documents, Reports, and Articles: ENC 4212 and ENC 5217 (Bickley; 2017-18). Includes professional refresher on grammar, punctuation, and usage; handling quotations, citing references, copyediting, and other issues of mechanics and formatting; and instruction in hard-copy and digital composing, editing, and revising in the active voice. The instructor also meets with all students individually to help them develop real-world, applied-writing-and-editing projects. Cohort with ENC 5217, Line Editing.
In this course, we explore forms of nonfiction writing: journalism, personal essays, travel writing, investigative writing, and memoir. You will do a variety of writing exercises and learn how (we hope) to research, to observe and to focus. The goal is to produce a draft of an essay, 10-15 pages long, and a revision of this essay, both of which will be workshopped by the class.
Writing requires discipline and application to the craft. You will not get a good grade for effort alone. This is an advanced course which requires advanced work.
This course will focus on the form and history of the personal essay. Though we will inevitably discuss the broader field of creative nonfiction, we will approach it through the lens of the personal essay. Students will write essays (one of which can be a multi-media piece), help each other edit and revise those essays, and identify possible venues for publication.
The essay is a mixed and messy genre, caught in a no-man’s land between belles lettres and journalism. The term has referred to a vast and sometimes confusing array of writing that includes op-ed pieces, the high art of Emerson or Woolf, magazine profiles, book reviews, memoirs, the personal statement on a job or school application, and even the schoolchild's five-paragraph theme. But if it is fraught with contradictions, the essay is also brimming with possibilities. In order to bring the genre into focus we will read and study essays in a variety of subgenres. While not a chronologically organized historical survey we will study essays from the inception of form in the work of Montaigne to its current new-media manifestations in video and hypertext.
This course emphasizes the need for students to produce thoughtful, well-constructed, rhetorical texts for a variety of audiences with different expectations and assumptions across technologies and spaces. Students will engage in a range of assignments that show the limitations and affordances of composing as an individual and with collaborators in print and in online public spaces. While we will learn some editing practices and editorial principles together, this is not a course in line editing. This is an advanced course designed to help you become a conscious, adaptable, and rhetorically-savvy composer and editor. Throughout the course you will be expected to complete many tasks, including 1) reading brief theoretical pieces to orient you to the tasks we will be completing; 2) reading and viewing sample texts to offer guidance in our tasks; 3) regularly completing small writing exercises; and 4) workshoping drafts in small groups. In this course, you will complete 2 major projects, each composed of several smaller projects across different media. In the first project, I will assign the nature and structure of the assignments, but for the second, you will propose your own project that will help you meet your own personal or professional goals. In completing these projects, you will produce a body of texts to use in your own portfolios for future use.
This class strives to help you to improve your writing and editing skills across a wide range of writing situations and media. Writing and editing are distinct, though related, skills. Most people taking this class will have a firm grasp of the basic ideas about how to write well--this class will help you to get better at putting those ideas into practice. Work in the class involves at least three major, multi-step, multi-week projects across a variety of media, plus frequent writing and editing exercises. We work on understanding audience and on controlling tone and language to maximize your writing effectiveness.
What is “theory,” anyway? And what is “feminism”? What happens at the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, and other matrices? In this course, you will develop definitions and perspectives that will help you use some feminist tenets for yourself, and you’ll look through lenses that allow you to see patterns you might not have noticed before. We’ll think about what sorts of questions theoretical texts attempt to answer, and you’ll start to generate answers of your own. You’ll use the lenses and perspectives you acquire in your future literature classes, but also in your daily life.
ENG 3416 (WEPO) is one of three core courses for EWM, and as such, it helps provide a foundation for the major. As part of this foundation, this course introduces you to the principles of composing and editing across different media environments, paying special attention to how your process will be affected when working in different contexts, with different materials and genres, for different audiences. This course attempts to help you (1) understand principles of composing and rhetoric, especially the ways they function across different composing spaces; (2) compose for each of three spaces—print (including posters, flyers, newsletters, pamphlets, and booklets), digital (screen), and network (internet) using different technologies and design strategies; (3) edit and revise appropriately the texts created in each space; and (4) understand the relationships that exist across and between texts, technologies, and materials.
In this course, we will approach Hollywood cinema through the study of films that can be defined as postmodern, in the sense that that they seek to destabilize ideological concepts such as identity and history, as well as concepts of film study such as genre and narrative closure. In particular, we will focus on postmodern films that display specific interest in as well as reliance on postmortem themes and/or narrative devices. Indeed, concepts of “death,” both literal (dead bodies) and figurative (the death of the relationship, an identity, or memory) permeate film representation and oftentimes help illustrate meta-level concerns regarding filmmaking and film analysis. In this way, the theme of “death,” or the filmic focus on the “after death,” emblematizes a revolution in film form, genre, narration and/or visual representation. Through this dual lens, students will also learn foundational skills required for structural film analysis.
This course may include screenings and subsequent study of the following films/units:
- Noir and the Postmodern Condition: Sunset Boulevard & Memento
- Adapting the Human Condition: Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049
- Deconstructing Memory and Identity: Citizen Kane & Fight Club
- Hitchcock’s Meta-Cinema: Rear Window & Psycho
- Horror and the Hybridization of Genre: Taxi Driver & Natural Born Killers
- Dead Sharks and Dismal Memories: Annie Hall & Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
This semester will focus on the rhetoric of technological composing and remediation. Students will explore a range of media platforms available to rhetoricians in the digital age and how shifting between them changes the rhetorical situation. We will read chapters from Bolter and Grusin, Baron, Kress, and Jenkins among others. However, the primary focus of this class will be on the production and remediation of texts students will compose for class. Students will complete four projects: a media essay on fan culture, a digital archive exhibit, a “slice of life” mini-documentary, and a remix project.
In this course, we consider "rhetoric" as a way of making knowledge in the world. The way in which we interpret, respond to, or perceive ourselves to be involved in things like ecology, digital revolutions, globalism, feminism, ethnic profiling, and even war is inherently rhetorical because it requires our understanding of how symbols act on us and on others—what Kenneth Burke has famously called "equipments for living." Thus, this course will involve you in the study and practice of rhetorical criticism by introducing you to some theoretical landmarks that make it a living practice for the 21st century.
In a single course, we cannot cover every school of thought, every intellectual movement, or every theory vital to rhetorical criticism, but we can engage with a set of problems or dilemmas that have shaped contemporary understandings of rhetoric, writing, culture, and text. In fact, much of what challenges us as writers, readers, students, workers, and citizens often boils down to four dilemmas of agency, signification, textuality, and representation. Those are the areas in which we will read.
Whether or not you consider yourself a rhetorical theorist, much critical work is often done to meet real demands in real contexts. So, we will use films, graphic novels, and other web, print, and video texts as "cases" or situations on which rhetorical criticism can be practiced. No prior theoretical background is required to do well in this course, but you will need to be willing to spend considerable time working through some difficult texts and writing about them thoughtfully.
In addition to a critical glossary and a graphic novel, our required readings will include a digitally secured Course Packet of articles and essays available for downloading and/or printing prior to the start of the term.
Building on what you have learned in HoTT, WEPO, and Rhetoric (among other courses), ENG 4815 is an investigation into the nature of textuality and its relationship to various media and technologies. For the purposes of this class, we will assume that the experience of texts is not reducible to mere forms or phenomena -- i.e., books, words, media, screens, structures, symbols, or codes -- but is actually a "coming-into-being" of a combination of institutions, principles, and beliefs that need to be actively explored. The course's guiding question, then, is, How do texts come to mean?
In this particular section of the course, we will extend that question to the production and reception of cross-cultural spectacles and human rights events in a variety of modes and forms -- including essays, archives, memorials, community discourses, graphic novels, and bodies. Rather than approach these modes as "things" or "objects," we will treat them as manifestations of a critical process -- as lenses or methodologies for asking questions about individuals, nations, and discourses from both local and global points of view. We will draw from comparative and transnational rhetorical studies, as well as from literature of human rights.
Our required readings include a Harris’s Rewriting: How To Do Things with Texts, and a digitally secured Course Packet of articles and essays available for downloading and/or printing prior to the start of the term, as well as online and web-based texts -- sometimes read as case studies themselves, and sometimes read as critical lenses onto other cases. Class projects will include a series of short assignments and/or blog posts, a midterm critical essay, a presentation, and a final multi-genre project that will be scaffolded throughout the course.
This course uses the question posed by its title as a jumping-off point to explore textuality and the many wonderful ways that humans communicate with each other. We will look at what lots of smart people have to say about communication media and how to make sense of them. We will discuss whether or not these other people’s opinions help us to understand better the whys and hows of communication.
The course includes a big, hands-on final project in which you will create, write and edit an interesting investigation within a particular assigned medium. We will investigate whether our attempts to understand media help our own attempts to communicate through media. The class is primarily a seminar-type, discussion-based class, so much of the knowledge and insight you will gain from the class will come from class discussions, hands-on activities, and your own attempts to make sense of the ideas and examples we explore through the semester, aided by similar attempts from your classmates and instructor. This is not a “just sit back and listen” class, though quiet people with active brains can do quite well in this format.
This course explores the many ways in which we create, reproduce, circulate, and interpret a “text,” a term that encompasses all manner of human expression. We will approach the subject from several different avenues: Media, how humans have used clay and wood, paper and film, and electronic representations; Reproduction, how we employ scribes, printing presses, cameras, microphones, and computers to generate multiple copies; Agency, how multiple individuals shape the creation, reproduction, and content of texts; Genre, how we employ different forms with different expectations; Apprehension, how culture, criticism, paratexts, and other interpretive forces affect reception; Translation, how texts change across languages, cultures, and media; Commerce, how the business of text works.
There are two assigned texts for this course: Peter Shillingsburg, From Gutenberg to Google (2006); and Tim Wu, The Master Switch (2011). All other assigned readings will be distributed through our Canvas course site.
It's all too easy to assume that people living in the days before, say, the Civil War used the expression "race" in the same ways we do. Rather than settling for such a facile assumption, we’ll ponder Thomas Jefferson’s musings in Notes on the State of Virginia and will read a mid-19C novel by a former slave about another aspect of that same founding father’s legacy, Clotel, or The President's Daughter. We’ll also spend time with Cooper’s hugely popular Last of the Mohicans and with vol. 1 of the latest Norton Anthology of African American Literature as well as Frederick Douglass’ and Harriet Jacobs’s slave narratives, leading up to Uncle Tom's Cabin and then Toni Morrison’s re-write of UTC, Beloved, as well as her more recent marvel, A Mercy. We’ll work through a series of steps leading to a strong research paper (an annotated bibliography, then a prospectus, then a full draft), and will close with a take-home exam, with plenty of thoughtfull class discussions along the way.
From films such as Star Wars (1977) and Blade Runner (1982) to albums such as Parliament’s Mothership Connection (1975) and Kraftwerk’s The Man-Machine (1978), from philosophical texts such as Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979) and Donna Haraway’s The Cyborg Manifesto (1984) to science-fiction/fantasy novels such as Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed (1980) and William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984), the idea that we are living in a posthuman age—a hyperreal, extraterrestrial, cyborg age—becomes a cultural dominant in the years 1975-1985. Or at least, that’s the wager of this course. We will explore the rise of posthumanism in fiction, film, and music, covering topics/genres such as Afrofuturism, space opera, technofeminism, alien horror, cyberpunk, and posthuman apocalypse.
“ '. . .As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.' ” --Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
This course is premised on the notion of travel and mobility as feminist issues. From Chaucer's Wife of Bath onward, women who "get around" have been viewed with fascination and loathing by masculinist power, and female mobility (when not enforced by "the traffic in women"--as wives or as slaves) has been stigmatized, eroticized, exoticized, and demonized. At the same time, having the means to travel—and the intellectual and spiritual freedom travel proffers—can be celebrated as marks of an individual woman's empowerment within a given culture. (Never mind the mere right to operate a motor vehicle--only recently granted to Saudi women.) We will study works by and about women in motion from the Restoration through the 21st Century, written from a diversity of perspectives.
NB. This course is READING INTENSIVE and adheres to a strict NO-KINDLE policy. Students are required to purchase hard copies of all assigned readings.
An introduction to Shakespeare requires us to ask who is Shakespeare. However, one and four hundred years after his death, the question centered on his biographical presence cannot but be answered by asking what is Shakespeare and its textual materiality. In the twenty first century, Shakespeare is theatrically and culturally reinvented from the texts that were produced and circulated in his life time or shortly after his death. This course aims to pursue his authentic textual presence in the early modern theatre industry as a way to understand how Shakespeare has been mediated over the course of posthumous dissemination. To place Shakespeare in the working conditions he complied with, we will read Shakespeare’s plays along with contemporary playwrights’ plays that might have contributed to the genesis of Shakespeare’s plays: Henry VI part 2, The Troublesome Reign of King John, The Life and Death of King John, The True Tragedy of Richard III, The Tragedy of Richard III, The Taming of a Shrew, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, King Leir, King Lear, and The Two Noble Kinsmen.
This course is intended to introduce you to a variety of eighteenth-century novels and to enable you to develop a familiarity with the material and cultural circumstances in which these novels were produced. From Aphra Behn’s novella about the royal slave Oroonoko, to Samuel Richardson’s germinal Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded and Henry Fielding’s satirical response Shamela; from Sarah Fielding’s introduction to the Man of Feeling in David Simple to the radical novels of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, all of these works provide a glimpse into eighteenth-century British life and manners, as well as novelists’ efforts to shape the worlds they depict. Throughout the semester, you will be called on to discuss the texts in class and to write about them in papers and on exams. In order to successfully fulfill the paper and exam requirements, you must exhibit not only a mastery of the course content (i.e., of the novels themselves and the background information provided in lectures, class discussions, and independent research), but also the ability to communicate your ideas using the critical and analytical techniques that characterize literary and cultural studies.
In this class we will read (or listen to) works by masters of narrative suspense. We’ll begin by reading Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic romance The Mysteries of Udolpho, followed by Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, in which a young woman is led astray by Radcliffe fandom. Some of the writers we will consider published their work in serial form, and so had a financial investment in keeping their readers on edge. These included Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Thomas Hardy, who, in A Pair of Blue Eyes, leaves a character hanging from the edge of a cliff, thereby innovating the plot device we know as the cliffhanger. We’ll conclude by reading a contemporary cell phone novel.
Through reading these alluring novels, we will seek to understand how plotting and suspense operated in nineteenth-century British culture, and also how commercial imperatives influenced literary form.
Students will work on developing new research skills, and will strive in their research presentations to hook readers and listeners.
- Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (Oxford; ISBN-13: 978-0199537419)
- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (Broadview; ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0199537419)
- Charles Dickens, Hard Times (Penguin; ISBN-10 014143967X)
- Thomas Hardy, A Pair of Blue Eyes (Penguin; ISBN 978-0-19-953816-4)
- Wilkie Collins, The Law and the Lady (Oxford UP; ISBN 978-0-19-953816-4)
- cell phone novel (to be announced)
This course is intended to introduce you to representative works and figures of the long eighteenth century, the period roughly dating from 1660 to 1838. Alongside poetry, prose, and drama, we will examine non-literary texts as well, texts that, like the literature, reflected and produced the cultures of eighteenth-century Britain. In addition to examining historical, political, economic, and gender-related issues of the period, we will explore some of the critical approaches to eighteenth-century studies, and discuss how reading eighteenth-century texts is relevant to other areas of literary studies and to our lives outside the classroom. Throughout the semester, you will be called on to discuss these texts and write about them in formal and informal papers and on exams. In order to successfully fulfill the requirements, you must demonstrate not only a familiarity with the texts and contexts (i.e., background information provided in lectures, class discussions, and independent research), but also an ability to communicate your ideas using the critical and analytical techniques that characterize literary and cultural studies.
In this course, we will closely examine Chaucer's unfinished and highly experimental masterpiece, the Canterbury Tales, in the original Middle English. We will read as many of the Tales as possible, becoming literate in a wide range of medieval literary forms -- courtly romance, beast fable, saint's life, and bawdy comedy, as well as some that defy classification. In addition, we will become closely acquainted with Chaucer's language, the dynamic of tradition and innovation, and the dramatic relationship between tale and teller. Some questions we will puzzle over: Why does Chaucer emerge as such an instrumental figure in the development of English literature? And how "medieval" (or "modern," or even "postmodern") are Chaucer's accomplishments and values as a fourteenth-century poet in a time of cultural transition?
All Chaucer readings will be in the original Middle English. No prior experience with Middle English is necessary, though learning it is a formal expectation of the course. Reading Chaucer in Middle English, aloud as well as silently, is tremendous fun, but it requires commitment and steady effort; good study habits and a healthy sense of intellectual curiosity are vital for success in this course. Assignments tentatively include regular quizzes, a Middle English recitation exercise, informed class participation, a series of linked written exercises culminating in an original research project, and a final exam.
This course will offer an advanced survey of Shakespeare's dramatic work, with reading drawn from all the major comedies and tragedies. The scholarly approach will be broadly historicist, aimed at situating Shakespeare's works within their contemporary intellectual, social, and political context.
Every thinking person wants to be a public intellectual, that is, somebody who deals with the best ideas but in a way that speaks to the broadest possible audience.
In this class, students will read, discuss, and write about books by major figures past and present; we’ll start with towering figures who have shaped our thinking and end with some contemporaries. Each is a thinker who, rather than merely contributing to a particular discipline (though they have certainly done that), has used that discipline to explain the world, thereby making both discipline and world more alive and dynamic.
Students will leave this class with three new types of knowledge: (1) an exposure to ideas they haven’t encountered yet, (2) a sense of their own heightened ability to work with big ideas and communicate them, and (3) a road map for their own progress toward becoming a public intellectual.
Cormac McCarthy is widely considered one of our greatest living writers, a recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, among countless other honors. This course will serve as not only a survey of his most celebrated novels, beginning with The Orchard Keeper and ending with The Road, but an inquiry into each work’s genesis, influences, and development.
We’ve heard it all before. Heroes and villains; budding romances; good guys turning bad, bad guys turning good; plot twists; moments of truth; humankind vs. society, nature, or themselves—the tropes go on and on, and we’ve all heard it before. This may be a cynical response to storytelling, and yet, many of us feel the fatigue of worn-out fictions, even as we feel compelled to consume them, live by them, and tell them ourselves. Stories, both real and imaginative, circulate around us every day, and sometimes we have trouble discerning what in fact is real and what is fake, especially as factual stories can leave us cold while imaginative stories can cause us to laugh, cry, sweat, panic—very real responses. Many writers of post-1945 fiction felt the same way, that modernism and its forebears had exhausted all possible narrative forms and that there was nothing new under the sun. At the same time, many of history’s grand narratives weren’t panning out: The Enlightenment could lead to freedom, but it could also lead to imperialism and horrific atrocities done in its name; the rags-to-riches American Dream was beginning to look like a stalled plot; and Marxism’s revolution of the proletariat may not have brought an end of dialectical materialism after all.
And so as one story ends, another begins: the emergence of a new kind of fiction—one no longer so naïve about the process of storytelling, a fiction that is post-modern, aware of itself, ironic, playful and non-committal, deconstructive, intertextual, etc. In fact, in the spirit of things, we should recognize that “the emergence of a new kind of fiction” is already a fiction, and one that is suspect no less; for modernists had been ironic, intertextual, and self-conscious in their fictions, which is to say nothing of Tristram Shandy (1759) or the countless other earlier texts that featured intertextuality and self-awareness. Nevertheless, in this course we will look at mostly post-’45 stories and novels that can be considered metafictional, texts that are self-reflexive and/or that experiment radically with literary conventions, pushing the limits of what fiction can do. Along the way, and through these texts, we will also consider the nature and significance of fictions more broadly, as they comprise histories, conventions and values, narratives of the self, and so on.
LIT 2020 provides students the opportunity to read one short story per class and to engage in thoughtful discussion on a variety of topics. Discussions often look at race, class, gender, sexuality, and politics, but frequently explore beyond these categories. The course also covers tone, narration, form, and theme in representative short stories.
In this course, we will explore poetry as a genre by examining a variety of poetic styles and forms. We will read poetry from across cultures, times and places, in order to better understand what it is that keeps drawing people to this rich, complex art. We will also develop a vocabulary for discussing poetic technique and form that will contribute to our ability to analyze and discuss poetry at a higher level. By the end of the course, students will feel confident in their ability to engage with poetry, and gain a deeper appreciation for the relevance of poetry in our contemporary moment.
This course requires extensive reading. Poetry is a particularly rich and rewarding genre; it is also a difficult one. Over the course of the semester our objectives are to strengthen your critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Our focus will be on the analysis, appreciation, and craft of poetry through the study of a variety of poetic forms.. Utilizing a number of learning strategies we will develop a vocabulary for the understanding of poetry and effective tools for the verbal and written analysis of it. To succeed in this course, students must be willing to think openly about how they interact with language and the world around them, as well as seriously pursue the questions: What is poetry? Where do we find poetry? And why should we study poetry at all? By the end of the course, you’ll find that poetry, though often difficult and demanding, can offer intense and complex pleasure- emotional, imaginative, and intellectual.
This course is an introduction to poetic traditions through close, craft-based readings. We’ll trace the major poetic forms, genres, and movements from the third century BC to the present moment, contextualizing a variety of poems in terms of the social environments in which they were written. Because of this scope, readings may include work from Theocritus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, Matsuo Bashō, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Hardy, William Butler Yeats, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, T.S. Eliot, Federico García Lorca, Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Hayden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Lowell, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Derek Walcott, Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, Audre Lorde, Frank Bidart, Rita Dove, and Sherman Alexie.
This course will explore the 20th and 21st century Anglophone traditions of women's writing within the islands of the Caribbean. We will critically question how Caribbean women’s literature responds to changing colonial conditions, inspects subject positionality, and represents cultural hybridity. Throughout the course, we will examine the central questions surrounding Caribbean literature, including questions of race, gender and sexuality, the female body, feminism, trauma, citizenship, and transnationalism. Written assignments will play a crucial role in examining these questions, and we will also hold open discussions to help strengthen our understanding as writers and scholars.
This course gives an in-depth look at the short story, a genre powerful enough to contain entire worlds in a mere handful of pages. Students should expect to closely analyze, write about, and discuss individual stories while maintaining an overarching awareness of genre conventions. Through such work, students will gain a body of knowledge crucial to the study of literature as a whole. Requirements include a presentation, polished writing assignments, and rigorous in-class discussions, among other activities.
This course will examine the different elements that make up a short story—such as tone, narration, form, and theme—in order to help you develop your understanding of the short story as a work of literature and as a reflection of and/or response to the world in which it was written.
In this course, we will trace the remarkable contributions made by Irish playwrights to the theatre and to Western dramatic literature. Since the early twentieth century, Ireland's drama has earned worldwide acclaim for its emotional texture, its political incisiveness and its stylistic variety, and yet it remains distinctly Irish. The plays we study will help us to define and better understand this explosion of creativity in post-colonial Ireland.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his [or her] point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” –Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
This course will strive for inclusion of more cultural variation in the world of literature. We will be reading six novels (most by women) from various backgrounds, literary works by Japanese women, Latina women, and African-American women. Ideally, the variety of the works we read will lead us to a broader discussion of what feminism is to different women and what it means or would take for feminism to truly be ‘intersectional.’ Critical articles will also accompany these novels on the same subject in hopes of broadening the discussion. By exposing ourselves to work outside of the mainstream cannon of American women writers, we will hope not only to discover ‘ a brave new world’ of literature written by women, but also an awareness of ourselves and the space we occupy in the world.
This course will provide an in-depth study of the female identity in literature. In her seminal text, Gender Trouble, Judith Butler asserts, “If one 'is' a woman, that is surely not all one is; the term fails to be exhaustive . . . because gender is not always constituted coherently or consistently in different historical contexts, and because gender intersects with racial, class, ethnic, sexual, and regional modalities of discursively constituted identities." To examine how these constituted identities often influence women’s identities, we will explore one of the most complex identities for women: motherhood. Examining motherhood allows us to explore the ways these intersections affect women’s experiences and consider the cultural, political, and economic influences on women’s lives. We will discuss eugenics, women’s health, female sexuality, complications of families, women’s agency over their own bodies, and more. Exercising critical thinking skills and a sense of connectivity, students will analyze how these authors create, perpetuate, and subvert the maternal identity. This course is designed to both provide students an overview of classic texts by women writers and to consider the ways identities are formed through a genealogy of texts.
This course will offer an interdisciplinary analysis of literature written by Black women authors. Students will be exposed to key texts from the African-American literary canon, including works from both print and visual culture. This class will pay particular attention to how cultural and individual assumptions are addressed and/or subverted in the works we explore through the semester. We will further focus on issues of identity as well as themes of memory, history, recovery, trauma, representation, and self-determination. Viewing our chosen texts through a combination of literary, sociocultural, historical, and political lenses will allow students to achieve a more nuanced understanding of how Black women writers have depicted their lives and experiences. Selected authors will include Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange, Jesmyn Ward, and others.
This course stages the study of the novel as the study of philosophy’s claim that life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards. To that end, we will read novels that dramatize ideas about the nature of reality and temporality, what consciousness means, what experience is, and what it means to know the past or to have memories. We will be keenly interested to see what connections emerge from our reading, not only for our understanding of experience, time, consciousness, and memory, but also for our understanding of the genre of the novel as a form and representation of experience. We will read: Edgar Huntly (Charles Brockden Brown), The Violent Bear It Away (Flannery O’Connor), Native Son (Richard Wright), Kindred (Octavia Butler), In the Skin of a Lion (Michael Ondaatje), and Round House (Louise Erdrich). Course work includes several analytic papers, graded class participation, and two exams.
What a range of texts -- Atonement, Beloved, Hard Times, Let the Great World Spin, MARCH, Book One, Portrait of a Lady and of course Sense and Sensibility -- and what a range of authors: one Nobel Laureate (so far), one civil rights icon, three Brits, one American expat-to-be and one Irishman with dual U.S. citizenship. Emphasis here is on Anglophone texts, including one graphic novel and several others that are also quite graphic, each in its own way. Meanwhile, plan on plenty of thoughtfull class discussions and plan on writing a research paper strong enough to consider using as a writing sample; plan, too, on a mid-term and a take-home final exam.
Unlike the Nobel Prize, the annual American Pulitzer Prize is awarded in recognition of immediate worth rather than, say, lifetime achievement. In some years no award has been given, a statement that no work of that year has been deemed worthy of such distinction, although even that, like other award decisions, is often tinged with political bias. This course will feature dramatic works that have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and are often thought of as Masterworks of American Theatre, particularly the work of Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, William Inge, Edward Albee, and Sam Shepard, among other Pulitzer Prize winners. We will furthermore examine and discuss these playwrights as process writers with theater itself as an unstable extension of that process and film as yet another revision or translation. We will, that is, examine these playwrights’ habits of writing and rewriting their plays from performance to performance, sometimes offering two or three endings to directors and publishers, of adapting works from short stories to plays, to films, of rewriting failed plays under new titles for stage and/or film, to the point in this process that deciding on a stable or final text is perhaps impossible for theatrical works. We will test these assumptions with close readings of individual works and by examining their adaptations into performance, especially the alterations made for film versions.
If writing itself is a process, theater, that is, production and performance, is all the more so since this realization or embodiment of text involves, in addition to the author and his own writing process, innumerable collaborators as producers, actors, directors, set designers, and even marketers contributing to the whole. Textual stability is eroded in direct proportion to the number of collaborators involved, markedly so in a text's transition, transformation, or translation into film, especially during the period from the 1930s to the 1950s when Hollywood saw itself as Broadway West. This course will feature those works considered Masterworks of American Theatre, particularly works by the likes of Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, William Inge, Edward Albee, and Sam Shepard, among others. We will discuss these playwrights as process writers with theater itself as an unstable extension of that process, and film as yet another revision or translation. We will examine these playwrights' habits of writing, and rewriting their plays from performance to performance, sometimes offering two or three endings to directors and publishers, of adapting works from short stories, to plays, to films, of rewriting failed plays under new titles for stage and/or film, to the point in this process that deciding on a stable, final, publishable version is perhaps impossible for theatrical works. The result of such textual instability is a lingering uncertainty of whether or not the playscript, the book, the published artifact is itself, or is in itself, the work of art. For “conflicting cultural and academic reasons,” then, the result often is “the neglect and dismissal of American drama as a legitimate literary form,” as Susan Harris Smith suggests in American Drama: The Bastard Art (Cambridge Studies in American Theatre and Drama, 2006). Such “bastard status” is further confirmed by publishers’ sales statistics as theater books, playscripts, tend to sell at performances and very little beyond (check your own bookshelves for confirmation). We will explore and test these conclusions and assumptions with not only close readings of individual works, but we will try to assess their translations, adaptations, re-writings into and after performance, especially the alterations made for film versions (which, of necessity, is our main source of performance).
This course will examine modern and contemporary Irish poetry. While our course begins with W.B. Yeats, we will spend most of our time on later poets, including well known figures such as Louis MacNeice, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Medbh McGuckian, and Derek Mahon, and younger poets such as Justin Quinn, Conor O'Callaghan, and Colette Bryce. We will discuss emerging trends in Irish poetry, the legacies of modernism and colonialism, the history of emigration and sectarian conflict ("the Troubles"), the relation between poetry in Irish (Gaelic) and poetry in English, the institutionalization of Irish poetry in the American academy, and varying conceptions of Irish poetry as postcolonial, transnational, and world literature. In doing so we will explore how Ireland's complex and troubled history has given shape to a rich and complex literature.
This course satisfies the requirement for coursework in the following Areas of Concentration: Post-1900 Literature and Culture; Colonial, Postcolonial, and Transnational Literary Studies.
This course examines theories of popular culture and the emergence of mass culture. We will take seriously George Lipsitz's claim that "perhaps the most important facts about people have always been encoded within the ordinary and the commonplace." Of particular interest is how popular culture studies can help us understand our current moment of convergence culture, where old and new media interact in novel and ever more complex ways. We will analyze strategies of reading and reception as well as constructions of ideology in this material, including categories such as gender, race, class, and nation. The course interrogates designations such as "high," "pop," "mass," and "folk" as well as concepts of subculture, counterculture, and youth culture. We will focus particular attention on television and popular music, although we will also consider new media, film, and advertising. Our key theories and methodologies include media studies, cultural studies, audience studies, feminist theory, critical race theory, and postmodernism. Assignments include Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, two shorter essays, and the longer final essay.
This course will examine poetry written in English following WWII and leading up to the present moment in order to identify the central trends and values of Postmodernism, as well as the major figures. Studying such schools as Black Mountain, Beats, Confessional, Post-Colonial and Poetry of Witness, we will discover what distinguishes these writings from Modernist poetry (early 20th century) and suggest ways in which the genre may move in the future.
This course will offer a dynamic introduction to folklore study. To begin, the course will interrogate fairy tales (Märchen), their adaptation, and cinematic representation. Along with folklore genres, various other categories that speak to folklore groups, such as occupation, religion, childhood, gender, ethnicity, and social class, just to name a few, will be interrogated as well. Most of us belong to several different folk groups, and our identity will reflect this background of networks. This course will ultimately result in an introspective final project, so I anticipate that you will enjoy our class time together.