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.
This course will cover Latino/a Literature written in English from the emergence of Jose Antonio Villarreal's POCHO in 1947 (the first Chicano/a novel in English) to the present and the exciting work of Sandra Cisneros, Cristina Garcia, and Judith Ortiz-Cofer. Latino/a Literature--which contains thus far the work of Mexican-Americans (Chicano/a), Puerto Ricans (Nuyoricans), and Cuban-Americans (there are a few other groups being represented now, for example Julia Alvarez as a Dominican and Francisco Goldman as a Guatemalan)--is constantly growing, and like African-American, Asian, and Native American Literatures, has established itself in the panoramic landscape that is American Literature. The work the course will focus on will be introductory in nature and will be unified by the following themes and perspectives: the "americanization" process, and the struggle to define, redefine, and attain the American Dream; the use of cultural myths; language & memory; gender; religion and spirituality; rural versus urban (the barrio) life; ideals and values; the role of Latino/a writers and poets; the question of universality and specificity. The reading load is reasonable and the rationale behind this "list" of required texts is that the student, during his/her student career, will unlikely run into these texts as supposed to those which have become popular. Of course, we will discuss and touch upon them as well.
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 Tallahassee 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? How does the literary archive of Florida open up or reveal perspectives on Florida history and culture that the above places fail to consider? This course will tackle difficult and timely questions such as these by surveying the early literature of Florida from the period of first nations through the nineteenth century, 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, cultural, and literary legacy of Florida, yesterday and today. Our goal will be to explore old Florida literature as itself a form of cultural memory that shapes both the history and imagination of the state; conversely, we will approach sites of public memory as embodied narrative forms which tell stories about Florida at the intersection of fact and fancy, history and myth.
Please note that by signing up for this course, you are agreeing to make 7 off-campus trips in Tallahassee for a homework assignment, and thus you must have the means of transportation or make the transportation arrangements necessary to do so. By looking at the schedule, you can prepare in advance and visit the off-campus sites at a convenient time.
This diversity in Western Civilization ("Y") course situates representative novels within the larger conversational framework of the black body -- in motion, scarred, marked, vanished, dismembered, and remembered. Relying upon recent scholarship surrounding the body as a trope for a traumatic history involving slavery, colonization, and Jim Crow 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 imagines 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.
Our objectives include the following:
- To become familiar with representative African-American texts and the cultural, historic, and political contexts out of which that writing evolves;
- To gain a greater appreciation for the tropes of the black body as cultural invention and social metaphor;
- To acquire an understanding of core concerns and key narrative strategies in Africana writing;
- To fine-tune critical and analytical skills in the interpretation of literary texts; and
- To improve research and writing skills in preparation for further English study./li>
Required Texts :
- Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
- Gloria Naylor, Mama Day
- Charles Johnson, Middle Passage
- Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes Memory
- Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
- Paule Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow
- Michelle Clif, Abeng
- Gayl Jones, Corregidora
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.
Requirements include weekly poems, faithful attendance and discussion, conferences, craft lessons, and a final portfolio. Craft lessons will be drawn from the following books: Matthew Dickman, Wonderland (ISBN 978-0393634068), Diane Seuss, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (ISBN 978-1555978068), and Patricia Smith, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (ISBN 978-1566892995). Students are advised to order these books now and become familiar with them before spring term begins.
You must have completed Poetic Technique with a B or higher. All poets want to speak with an authentic voice, one that can’t be mistaken for any other. In this workshop we will study the various aspects of voice: subject, line, verse, diction (word choice), syntax, and different kinds of form. I will use examples from contemporary poets, ones who are writing now and many who are not much older than the poets in this workshop. There will also be essays about most of the aspects of voice. You will be responsible for writing a short response to every reading.This will take place in the first hour of class.
The second two hours will be devoted to workshopping poems you have written. You will write a poem a week, but will workshop a poem every other week. This will allow you to take risks you might not feel comfortable taking in front of the whole class. This being said, I demand the highest degree of civility in classroom and workshop discussions. I feel that we are all in the class together to help each other be the best poets possible. I will also provide prompts if you need them. You are not required to use them.
Your final portfolio will consist of your six strongest poems. You will also revise each poem at least once.
This course serves as an introduction to modern literary/cultural criticism. We will discuss some of the key questions that animate discussion among literary scholars today, including the meaning of culture, the status of art, the nature of power, the act of interpretation, and the patriarchal and colonial foundations of Western culture. We will spend most of our time carefully reading and assessing the arguments in the essays that we read. We will also consider the changing nature of literary theory and how it has evolved within various historical, social, and institutional contexts.
Most of our reading will come from The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (3rd edition, 2018; ed. Vincent B. Leitch et. al.), but we will test our critical reading skills on a variety of short texts throughout the semester. The course requirements include a mid-term exam consisting of short answer questions, a final (though not cumulative) exam in the same format, and active participation in class discussion.
This course introduces the complex interactions between literary culture and the changing, overlapping media ecologies that have shaped the way we produce, transmit, transform, receive and interpret creative representations of human experience. After initial inquiry into the ephemeral/monumental binary, the course makes a generally chronological survey of text technologies and their literary uses: texts on stone, skin, clay, or wax (inscription, tattoo, tablet-poem); the diversity of manuscript (from Sappho’s papyri to Chaucer’s parchments to Flann O’Brien’s pink papers to 21st-century postcard-collective projects); the evolution of print, beginning with Empress Shotoku’s 8th-century dharani but emphasizing Europe after Gutenberg; writing poly-systems; the history and theory of reading (including the ways that new technologies transform their users); and electronically assisted and recorded texts (including sound, film, broadcast, and digital). This iteration of the course highlights moments of change or transition during which a new medium or textual technology has significant effects within an existing literary system (scroll/codex; script/print; sound/film; print/digital; etc.). Technical hybrids will be examined for their literary implications (e.g. marginalia in printed books; fore-edge painting; the Tree of Codes; Anne Carson’s 2010 Nox). Topics will be explored through case studies and hands-on encounters, accompanied by at least one historical and one theoretical reading per week (with “guest star” appearances by other faculty).
This course explores the imaginative dimensions of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in the Middle Ages. We will consider the patterns of development and possible historical origins of the Arthurian myth; the cultural events and conditions reflected in Arthurian fictions; and the ideological power the myth of Arthur has held (and continues to hold) as a way of defining the present by glorifying the past. Our readings—all composed before 1500—will include courtly romances, chronicles and pseudo-histories, Celtic legends, Breton lais, chastity-testing adventures, and epic poems. We will immerse ourselves in the master works of medieval British Arthurian tradition (Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, substantial parts of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur) and will also discover the legend’s international dimensions (French, German, Scandinavian, Italian), paying especially close attention to the contributions of Chrétien de Troyes and the Anglo-French poet Marie de France. All materials will be read in modern English translation. Assignments tentatively include quizzes, midterm and final exam, essay(s), and group research presentations on the modern afterlives of Arthurian myth.
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.
This class treats the course’s title as a serious question. Answering it, and the process of answering it, are the main focuses of our class activities. But you can begin this class thinking that you know the answer, sure that you do not know the answer, or even believing that the question cannot really BE answered.
Another appropriate title for this class might be “What Can a Text Be?” We will be exploring texts and textuality in part by creating a lot of texts ourselves. By experiencing texts both intimately and at a distance, I am hopeful that we will gain a fuller understanding of what a text can be.
We will look at mediated communication very broadly, since the question posed by our course title seems to imply that we should be able to figure out what “not-a-text” is, too.
This course focuses on contemporary issues in publishing (in our information age), but it takes a long, historical view of those issues. We will discuss ethics and the legalities of publishing, what publishers, or today any individual, can and cannot say publicly, and we will try to assess the delicate balance among an individual’s right to express herself as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, the public’s right to read (or hear, or view), and the Government’s obligation to protect its population and, presumably, itself from threat. The course will move from the death of Socrates, to issues surrounding the most censored book in the world, The Bible, to the intellectual climate that shaped the cultural revolution we all too loosely call the 60s, to contemporary restrictions in the information age, including the Fatwa against British novelist Salman Rushdie, The Pentagon Papers, Wikileaks, and file sharing of copyrighted material. We will be working closely, extensively even, with The Free Expression Policy Project of ACLU (q.v. below) as a comprehensive compendium of information, and for historical sweep the Liveink “A Brief History of Reading” site, previews of both as follows:
http://www.fepproject.org/fepp/notinfront.html and http://www.liveink.com/whatis/history.htm
In this course we will study late nineteenth and twentieth-century literature that attempts to represent and theorize the experience of racial segregation and the mechanisms—legal and extra-legal—used to deter cross-racial contact. We’ll read late-nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century segregation narratives drawn from African-American, Native-American, and Japanese-American perspectives, along with texts representing white nationalists. Authors include Charles Chesnutt, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, Lawrence Matsuda, Hisaye Yamamoto, Thomas Dixon, and others.
You will be expected to prepare for and participate in every class session. Other work will include research assignments, response papers/creative projects, an annotated bibliography, and a formal research proposal, all culminating in a polished 15-20 page, final research project.
“Shakespeare is getting flyblown,” writes Virginia Woolf. “A paternal government might well forbid writing about him, as they put his monument at Stratford beyond the reach of scribbling fingers.” The relationship between the founder of feminist literary criticism in English and the immortal “Bard of Avon” is one of the most fascinating and fraught in English literary history. As famous, perhaps, for her granting Shakespeare a hypothetical “sister” on behalf of women writers as for her masterful and innovative contributions to literary modernism, Woolf offers, in her fiction, diaries, letters, and essays, an opportunity to watch one great mind challenge and co-create with another across the boundaries of death, history, and gender.
In this course, we will explore Woolf’s commentary on, allusions to, and re-workings of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, focusing particularly on the following texts: Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, A Room of One’s Own, The Waves and Between the Acts. Shakespearean works to be studied alongside the aforementioned texts include (but are not limited to) Othello, Antony and Cleopatra and the Sonnets.
PLEASE NOTE: This course is BOOK-ONLY. All required texts are to be purchased in HARD COPY FORMAT.
In this course, we will explore how minoritized authors and artists have turned to science and speculative fiction as a means to reflect on, critique, and imagine alternatives to existing conditions of material inequity and social injustice. We will examine how their writing and cultural productions open up “minor universes,” that is, worlds that turn on and around the minor. The texts we will engage foreground subjects, histories, and spaces that have been marginalized, neglected, or otherwise rendered invisible. Together, we will inquire how authors such as Octavia Butler, Ken Liu, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Karen Tei Yamashita, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, reinvent our understanding of time travel, unsettle what constitutes the “human,” and challenge the white masculinist tradition of the American superhero. We will discuss, moreover, how the genre of science and speculative fiction functions for people of color, not as a means of escape or merely a form of entertainment but as a radical effort to envision the possibility of better worlds.
- Octavia Butler, Kindred (2004)- ISBN: 978-0807083697
- Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Certain Dark Things: A Novel (2016): ISBN: 978-1250099082
- Karen Tei Yamashita, Tropic of Orange (2017)- ISBN: 978-1566894869
- G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal (2014)- ISBN: 978-0785190219
- G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why (2015)- ISBN: 978-0785190226
Poetry has its roots in oral culture. Whether memorized, sung, or performed by bard, griot, or spoken word artist, and even when printed on the page, poetry has always maintained a profound connection to sound. With the widespread availability of digital platforms that make it possible to record and share video and audio, it has become possible to imagine a world in which poetry circulates again primarily through oral media and visual performance. Six hundred years after the arrival of the printing press, platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, and Spotify, and portable devices such as laptops and smart phones make it is possible to envision poetry returning to its oral roots, but in radical new ways. At the same time, however, platforms such as Instagram have lifted poetry off the page and allowed for new forms of visual expression. This course will take a bold step into the digital era by asking students to explore and help create a new poetic world beyond print. Through unique assignments involving memorization, recitation, performance, creative projects, and digital projects, this class will discover new critical and interpretive practices for considering poetry beyond the printed word. As we explore poetry from across the history of literature--including contemporary recreations of Homeric singing, the incorporation of medieval verse in film and on television, Hollywood celebrity readings of Shakespeare, early Victorian sounds recordings, modernist experiments by Pound, Yeats, and Eliot, BBC broadcasts of poetry in the Caribbean, audio archives of folk culture, and the development of hip hop and spoken word—we will consider how contemporary media help us reimagine conventional literary history and its received values. As not everyone has the privilege or access to partake in new digital media, we will consider how these media may shape the global circulation of poetry, both limiting and expanding its audience. While considering performance as an important aspect of poetic production, we will also develop the art of listening to poetry and consider new ways to become critical listeners, not just critical readers, of verse.
“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very heaven!” wrote Wordsworth about the years of social upheaval that marked the beginning of the Romantic period. The British Romantics wrote some of the most remarkable poetry and prose in literary history, works whose influence lives on in genres as varied as horror movies and political manifestos. What’s more, the societal issues with which the Romantics grappled (e.g., the rise of technologies, the impact of revolutionary change) are issues that still challenge us today.
This class will provide an introduction to Romanticism defined both as a historical period (from 1789 to 1832) and as a literary aesthetic. Together we will explore literary works in which Romantic writers grapple with death, life, despair, and bliss.
Class requirements include: regular attendance, reading notes, occasional quizzes, and several short writing assignments that lead up to (and prepare students for) a final 10-page research paper.
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.
Specific textbook to be used (physical book required; no substitutions):
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Original-Spelling Middle English Edition), ed. Jill Mann. Penguin, 2005. ISBN 978-0-140-42234-4
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.
This course traces Irish dramatic art created as a reaction to Irish Revolution, from the late 19th Century and the 'Easter Rising', through the guerrilla wars with the British in the 20th century, to the present day. Irish stories have always been rich in studying the human condition under the tremendous strain of violence and political upheaval, and yet they remain, as they always have, filled with a sense of humor and that uniquely Irish combination of irony and fatalism. We'll read and discuss plays by Irish writers from Augusta Gregory and W. B. Yeats to Marina Carr and Martin McDonagh. Join us!
If writing itself is a process, theater (that is, production and performance) is all the more so since this realization of text involves, in addition to the author and his own writing process, innumerable collaborators, from electricians to set designers to marketers, contributing to the whole. Textual stability is further eroded as the number of collaborators increases, markedly so in a text’s transition to or translation into film, especially the period from the 1930s to the 1950s when Hollywood saw itself as Broadway West. This course will feature Masterworks of (mostly) American Theatre and the performance of those works, with a focus on our master playwrights: Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, among others. We will examine and discuss all these playwrights as process writers with theater itself as an unstable extension of that process, and film as yet another revision. 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 or final text is perhaps impossible for theatrical works. We will test these assumptions with close readings of individual works and their adaptations into performance, especially the alterations made for film versions.
This course is a survey of literature from the Romantic period (c. 1800) to the present. You will be introduced to a wide range of authors and texts from a variety of genres and settings. You will learn how to analyze major formal, philosophical, political, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of the works, ask what effects they have had, what social understandings they assumed, and what meanings they had and still have in the present. The course’s emphasis is not only on impactful and recognized texts but also texts that have significant thematic emphases, historical interest, and/or represent literary innovation. Focusing on authors and cultural contexts, we will learn how to identify and interpret characteristics of artistic movements or social practices important to literary development. Authors and topics studied will in include: Mary Shelley, the Romantic poets, George Eliot, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, modernist and Harlem Renaissance literature, Chinua Achebe, Postcolonial Caribbean Poetry, Agha Shahid Ali, Flash Fiction, and Mohsin Hamid.
What a range of texts -- including Atonement, Beloved, 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, couple of 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 comprehensive final exam.
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 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.