This course situates representative novels within the larger conversational framework of the black body -- in motion, scarred, dismembered, and remembered. Relying upon recent scholarship surrounding the body as a trope for a traumatic history involving slavery, colonization, and Jim Crow politics as well as a site for the remembrance of a lost, fragmented heritage, we will discuss a range of novels in terms of their insights into various moments in the black experience and the political implications of blackness in the American Republic. Our readings will also permit us to consider gendered and queered bodies concerning their relation to extant or 'official' history. African-America Literature, History, and Culture holds America in general and the South in particular as spaces where the black body enters, but seldom leaves, at least intact. We will examine nuances of meaning associated with this mythology through the lens of texts by authors whose works chronicle the search for freedom, wholeness, and selfhood in a New World setting.
- Toni Morrison, A Mercy
- Gloria Naylor, Mama Day
- James Baldwin, Go Tell it on the Mountain
- Charles Johnson, Middle Passage
- Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory
- Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
- Paule Marshall, Praisesong For the Widow
- Gayle Jones, Corregidora
US popular culture is obsessed with what lies just beyond its southern borders. Television shows such as Breaking Bad, Dexter, Weeds, The Bridge all depict white, Anglo-American protagonists who enter a world of drugs, violence, and crime along the borderlands connecting the US to the global south. While the border crossings of Walter White, Dexter Morgan, Nancy Botwin, and Sonya Cross prove treacherous, it's all too often the bodies of Latinx characters that bear the brunt of the violence these antiheroes unleash. In this course we will trace the genealogies of such contemporary depictions of whiteness and Latinidad by comparing films and popular television series with works by contemporary Latinx artists, writers, and intellectuals.
The advanced undergraduate fiction workshop under Robert Olen Butler will focus intensively on the essentials of process in creating literary narrative. Given the most elusive and crucial of these essentials, the workshop will propose an aesthetic theory of the short short story, both as a distinct art form and as an image of the first pages of any work of viable fiction regardless of length, and students will write primarily short short stories or the opening equivalent of a longer work. Though for most of the semester the writing will be done in the “literary genre,” Butler will spend the final few weeks working with students in whatever other fiction genre (mystery, fantasy, sci-fi etc.) that interests them.
To apply, send Professor Butler a brief statement of your goals as a writer and the OPENING 500 words of what you feel is your best piece of fiction.
The purpose of this course is to enhance the student's skills in writing and revising their own poetry. To this end, we will read and analyze a selection of poems by important contemporary poets. We will review and refine those skills in grammar and style that are essential to clear, successful writing, and we will write and critique poems of our own in a traditional workshop situation. Students will be required to pass a mid-semester elements test and put together a final portfolio, consisting of their best work of the semester.
Requirements include weekly poems, faithful attendance and discussion, conferences, craft lessons, and a final portfolio. Craft lessons will be drawn from the following books: Yolanda Franklin, Blood Vinyls (ISBN 9781934695579); Rebecca Hazelton, Fair Copy (ISBN 9780814251850); Stephen Mills, A History of the Unmarried (ISBN 9781937420796); and Josephine Yu, Prayer Book of the Anxious (ISBN 9781932418583). Students are advised to order these books now and become familiar with them over the summer.
A cohort writing practicum (ENC 4212 for undergraduates and as ENC 5217 for graduate students) that can count as a stand-alone elective or can apply to English's 12-hour Graduate Certificate in Publishing and Editing. Both section focus on improving writing and editing proficiency across various non-fiction genres. The primary textbook is Amy Einsohn's The Copyeditor's Handbook, which will be supplemented with online resources. The course will include writing and editing a client-based project. Students can also work on their own research and writing projects, including conference papers, honors theses, graduate theses or dissertations, academic publications, grants, and commercial publications. The course will consist of class work and tests on editing for correctness and style, editorial feedback, and workshops. Students will produce a portfolio of professionally edited work as a final project.
Visual messages are present in print as well as in digital form, in film and television as well as other physical and virtual media. Visual rhetoric is as equally present in the Rembrandt exhibit at the MET as it is on the t-shirts of the patrons who visit it each day. This course begins with the assumption that visual language is one of many available means of persuasion that neither displaces nor functions in isolation from other modes of communication. By studying visual rhetoric in the context of contemporary culture, we will discover how frameworks used to explore the rhetoric of writing and speech are sufficient for some discussions of visual rhetoric but insufficient for others.
This course will begin by exploring several attempts to define and classify visual rhetoric and visual argument in order to get a sense of the depth and breadth of current scholarship as well as multi-disciplinary perspectives that influence our thinking about rhetoric in the visual. This will lead us to explore questions such as: What are the relationships between and among visual, oral, written, and digital rhetorics? What language is best situated for articulating visual rhetoric? How do different disciplines and professions read, make meaning from, and compose visual texts? What influences do screens, hypertexts, and multi-modality have on visual rhetoric?
Students in this course will be asked to read, critique, analyze, and produce a number of visual texts during the semester. The course does not require any previous experience or expertise with digital technologies, though a willingness to explore and experiment with readily available composing technologies is essential.
This class strives to help you to improve your writing and editing skills across a wide range of writing situations and media. We do this through somewhat unusual writing assignments that will challenge your control of voice, tone, and content. This class will help you to get better at putting your writerly 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. To benefit maximally from this class, you should be ready and willing to look at writing, including your own, as a learnable skill improvable with practice.
In this, the 200th anniversary year of Frankenstein, published when its author Mary Shelley was just twenty years old, we will use her nightmare story of a "hideous phantasm of a man" as a testing ground for thinking about literary theory. The novel has inspired a proliferation of creative works (films, comic books, novels), but also a broad array of critical approaches. We'll read iconic works of critical theory (e.g, those of Immanuel Kant, Mary Wollstonecraft, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler), and explore how these thinkers' ideas can enrich our understanding of Mary Shelley's novel and its adaptations.
Grades will be based on class preparation and participation, quizzes, reading notes, and short papers.
History of the English Language is a course that traces the dynamic evolution of the English language from its elusive ancestor, Indo-European, to the present. The main goals of the course are to provide you with a bird's-eye overview of the historical development of English phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, graphics, and vocabulary, and to explore the cultural contexts of the language's growth and transformation from the Anglo-Saxon period on. In working toward these goals, we'll also give occasional attention to other topics that impinge on the language's history such as etymology, lexicography, onomastics, dialects, the influence of other languages, and problems in usage and idiom. If all goes as planned, by the end of the term you can hope to attain a basic understanding of the cultural and linguistic phenomena that have shaped the language we currently speak, write, and read; you'll be familiar with the methodology and terminology of historical linguistics; you'll be able to effect a reasonably accurate pronunciation of Old, Middle, and Early Modern English; and you'll gain some first-hand experience researching at least one aspect of the language from a historical perspective.
In addition to frequent reading and workbook assignments, the course's requirements include two exams (a midterm and a final) and three very short papers (roughly four to five typed, double-spaced pages).
English 4020 introduces students to the range and power of rhetorical praxis: theory as it intersects with practice. The course includes an overview of various theories and provides opportunities for an application of those theories. This configuration of English 4020 focuses specifically on the intersection of rhetoric and (non)violence, exploring the ways in which rhetoric enacts, legitimates, and promotes (non)violence. Please note the use of the term (non)violence, for, if rhetoric performs, justifies, or initiates violence, it is also (potentially) facilitates nonviolence. We investigate the possibilities of both throughout our time together this semester. Grades will be based on two in-class essay exams, two projects, one final course paper, and class participation.
This is a period course that studies the origins and evolution of the American romance novel in its 19th century iterations, including the gothic romance, the philosophical romance, the seduction tale, the sentimental romance, and the plantation romance. Although this generic component links the readings, the course is designed to privilege the experience of reading the novels themselves and to allow topics of discussion to emerge from that shared experience. Course work consists of reading and producing insight through regular class participation, several written response papers, two "unpapers," an annotated bibliography, and a final exam.
In this course, we will approach film theory organically through an examination of Alfred Hitchcock's body of work as a film director. Indeed, French film critics of the 1950s encouraged a re-evaluation of film-and thus a re-invention of film theory itself-based on the belief that a director's films reflect their individual artistry. Hitchcock was one of their primary and strongest prototypes of director as auteur, or author, who wields what they would designate as the "camera-pen." Hitchcock's body of work has since attracted substantial attention by film criticism, and his films have been analyzed through a variety of theoretical approaches, including structural, psychoanalytic and feminist. We will read film theory (Eisenstein, Bazin, Metz, Heath, Bellour, Mulvey, Doane, Modelski) and address the complex historico-theoretical relation between film theory and cinema with a particular focus on Hitchcock. We will further consider Hitchcock's films as instruments that allow for the displacement of anxiety and the dispossession of socially unacceptable desires, fears, and traumatic memories. Film study will be comprised of both theoretical and mechanical elements; students will attend to structural elements such as cinematography, mise-en-scène and sound. Monday class periods will include film screenings and conversation; Wednesday class periods will be reserved for lecture and analysis. Films will likely include: The Lodger, Rebecca, Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie.
English 4500 explores composition history in order to learn about and consider multiple approaches for teaching writing as they have developed over time. We will begin the course with understanding how composition emerged as a field of inquiry, using Joseph Harris’s A Teaching Subject (2012) to guide us through the traditional narrative of the formation and development of the discipline. As we read, we will also investigate how that traditional narrative might be disrupted and reimagined by looking at Shari Stenberg’s feminist perspective of composition history, Composition Studies Through a Feminist Lens (2009), along with significant research articles from the 1960s to today in Susan Miller’s Norton’s Book of Composition (2009). Assignments will include three smaller projects and one final project.
Another appropriate title for this class might be "What Can a Text Be?" We explore texts and textuality by creating a lot of texts ourselves. By experiencing texts as both intimately and at a distance, we gain a fuller understanding of what a text can be. We look at mediated communication very broadly, and we consider carefully the question of what is gained and what is lost when you consider other sort of media, in addition to the printed word, as texts.
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. Required coursework includes several smaller, 1-2 week projects, plus a longer, end-of-semester multi-week project.
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.
This course will introduce students to book and magazine publishing. Through lectures, discussion, simulations, workshops, meetings with publishing professionals and a variety of written assignments, students will examine the publishing process from the evaluation of manuscripts to the marketing of a finished product.
The first part of the course will be devoted to book publishing and will introduce manuscript evaluation, editing, design, production, promotion, advertising and budget analysis. Students will learn about the details of line editing, copyediting and writing catalogue copy as well as larger issues such as conceptual (or developmental) editing, acquiring material, drawing up a marketing plan and negotiating contracts. In order to put these skills into practice and learn to work with a group, students will participate in a book workshop in which simulated companies will create a "spring catalogue" of new titles.
Magazine publishing will be the focus of the second part of the course. We will discuss how to pitch ideas, meet deadlines and produce finished copy. Assignments will introduce students to fact checking, cutting, ethical problems and design. The unit will conclude with a magazine workshop in which each student will develop a proposal for a new magazine.
Finally, we will discuss the digital revolution and what it means for the publishing industry, books, magazines, copyright, libraries, and the way we read and organize ourselves as a society.
Music critic Greil Marcus coined the term "the old, weird America" to describe the mysterious, fringe expressions of early American folk music. Borrowing Marcus' concept but broadening its scope, this course explores the roots of popular American music and performance traditions in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. We will examine in particular how American folk forms and commercial entertainment historically blend and merge; they become part of the same historical stage, real and imaginary, that we now call "popular culture" to mean cultural expressions produced both by common people outside of the official world of power and privilege and for mass audiences in the entertainment industry (often in the service of power and privilege). It's the vernacular aesthetic of old American music and performance-from spirituals to freak shows to country music to burlesque-that we will aim to understand.
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 obviously on Anglophone texts, including one graphic novel and several others that are also quite graphic, each in its own way. Rather than embarking on a book-club adventure, we'll focus on reading and discussing; we'll do our share of close reading and we'll also learn about the contexts that swirl around each text, with some of that learning about contexts involving reading and discussing some literary history. 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. I'm looking forward! -- DM
This course surveys an eclectic mix of British fiction from 1900 to the present, including novels by Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Bernardine Evaristo. We will address innovations in narrative form and genre from modernism to the present, question representations of British identity at home and abroad, examine issues of race and sexuality, and consider the novel's broader relation to histories of imperialism, war, global migration, and Britain’s changing status as a world power.
The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is one of the most enduring (and endearing) complexes of narrative material in western culture, and it has had a powerful hold on the popular imagination for centuries. In this class, we will focus on the most voluminous and-in the eyes of some-the greatest manifestation of the legend in the English language: Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur. Sir Thomas Malory-accused thief, rapist, would-be murderer, and oft-imprisoned felon-wrote his Morte Darthur in prison during the turbulent times of the War of Roses, and thus the Morte provides contemporary political commentary through its Arthurian subject. This first major work of secular prose fiction in English is Malory's attempt to combine the separate legend cycles of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Tristan, underscoring their warrior prowess and ill-fated love stories. In this class we will read the entire Morte with special attention to the literary sources Malory used to create his English Arthuriad, such as the French Vulgate Cycle, the Prose Tristan, the Middle English Alliterative and Stanzaic Mortes. We will also consider the Morte's contemporary reception in the form of literary and film adaptation. No previous knowledge of medieval literature or language is required, but a willingness to grapple with texts in their original Middle English will be a plus.
What were people reading in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? What genres and forms were most popular among reading audiences? How did readers interact with texts?
People in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries read a wide range of texts, from broadside ballads and news pamphlets about domestic politics and international affairs, to sensational reports of witchcraft, to jest books and magic books, to almanacs (which, like their medieval predecessor the book of hours, were more popular than any other text, including the bible), and much more. This course balances readings of canonical poetry and prose from many of the usual suspects (e.g., Sidney, Spenser, Donne, Lanyer, Milton, More, Montaigne, Bacon) with exploration of myriad texts that were popular in the time period, accompanied by secondary readings for critical and contextual perspectives. Students will gain an understanding of the context in which these texts were produced and consumed, consider the formation of the canon at the exclusion of "popular" and "genre" literature, and develop a nuanced view of early modern readerships and literacies.
Assignments may include: discussion board posts, reading quizzes, literary analysis and research papers, midterm and final exams. Regular attendance is required.
This course requires a great deal of reading, and students new to the study of early modern English literature may need to read at a deliberately slow pace in order to comprehend the texts. Students should be prepared to spend several hours each week on course readings alone, not including time needed to complete assignments.
Required Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Ninth Edition, Vol. B - The Sixteenth Century / The Early Seventeenth Century - ISBN 978-0-393-91250-0. All other course readings will be accessed through university and open-access databases.
Now that Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for "having created new poetic traditions within the great American song tradition," it seems an opportune moment to consider his art and legacy. Dylan has stood at the center of popular culture ever since he arrived in New York City from Hibbing, MN in 1961. This class will examine Dylan as a musical, literary, and cultural phenomenon and highlight his most innovative and iconic contributions to American popular music. We will focus on the epochal recordings he made in the 1960s but will place Dylan's words and music in cultural context by learning about American folk, blues, and country music traditions; the counterculture of the 1960s including the Beat literary movement and the rock revolution (the so-called British Invasion); and political struggles of the era such as the Civil Rights and anti-nuclear/anti-war protest movements. Our goal will be to arrive at a deeper understanding of both Dylan's "new poetic expressions" and the "great American song tradition" that he enriched.
A revolution has occurred. The world is now digital. This course explores the implications of the digital revolution: what it means for the publishing industry, books, magazines, copyright, libraries, how we read and write, and how we organize ourselves as a society. This revolution has come swiftly and been sweeping. A little more than a decade ago there was no iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, or Snapchat. We read, write and speak differently now than we did then, and this course will investigate those differences and what they might mean for our culture and our future.
This course will provide students with an overview of English-language literary prose, verse, and drama up to 1800, with the aim of preparing them for more advanced coursework in the major. The readings will include the work of canonical writers (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton) as well as texts by lesser-known authors. Since all writing engages with previous works to a greater or lesser degree, the course goal will be to familiarize students with a broad range of writing so they may begin to discover the literary interactions and influences within which authors work.
The assigned course texts will be The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 10th edition, vols. A-C.
This course will familiarize the student with important works of poetry from the High Modernist period-that is, poetry produced in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, generally associated with the free verse movement. It will include such writers as Yeats, Pound, Eliot, HD and Stein, and it will take on the principal techniques, themes and values of this innovative period. In addition to reading, discussing and writing about a variety of relevant texts, students will each choose a poet or topic on which to concentrate.
This capstone course for the EWM track investigates issues of textuality. We will examine theories of textuality in the context of media history. In case studies drawn from literature, graphic novels, new media, television, film, and popular music, we will be considering how "texts" generate circuits of meaning in relation to production, consumption, and socio-historical context. We will discuss some of the most compelling media trends today, including the rise of participatory fan culture, the turn toward serialized narrative, and new developments in visual realism (from documentary to reality television). We will also look closely at the relationship between media, popular culture, and folk culture. Our focus will be on U.S. culture, but we will consider questions of globalization and make use of transnational critical frameworks. Assignments include Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, two shorter essays, and the longer final essay. In a final project involving both theory and practice, students will get the chance to produce their own multimedia text and to analyze how their own work engages issues of textuality.
This course explores theories of media and narrative. Our case studies are drawn from television, popular music, film, and digital media. Focusing on contemporary media in the era of convergence culture, in which old and new media interact in ever more complex ways, we will investigate how theories of narrative from literary studies and media studies can help illuminate key narrative developments. Throughout, we will link strategies of narrative and visual analysis, using methodologies such as word and image studies, W.J.T. Mitchell's Picture Theory, and Barthes and semiotics. We will attend to what Julie D'Acci terms the four linked spheres of media meaning, i.e. production, text, audience reception, and socio-historical context. One key trend of particular interest to us is "multi-platform" or "transmedia storytelling," or stories that cross multiple media forms in a coordinated way. This media trend places a renewed importance on storytelling. As we examine innovative storytelling techniques in each medium, we will also discuss how media narratives can give us access to what Raymond Williams called the "structure of feeling," or the lived experience of the beliefs of a particular group at a particular socio-historical moment. We will also discuss Henry Jenkins's theories of "spreadable media" and new trends in media convergence. Assignments include Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, two shorter essays, and the longer final essay.