Introduction to African American Literature: The Literatures and Cultures of the Afro-Gulf South
This is an interdisciplinary approach to the literatures, histories, and cultures of the Afro-Gulf South that takes its cue from our close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Through texts offering contemporary readers historical constructions of the South as well as more recent texts, we will consider the cultural place of the Afro-Gulf South in our sociopolitical imagination. Our texts and authors will be varied. They include: slave narratives, fiction, memoir, photography, film, and music. For example, we will gain lyrical, anthropological insight from Zora Neale Hurston; engage poetic sensibilities with Natasha Tretheway; confront our understanding of memory and violence in the documentaries of L. Lamar Wilson and Valerie Scoon; attend to the painful reality of climate change with Jesmyn Ward; and search for citizenship in the memoirs of Kiese Laymon and Richard Wright. The music of spirituals, work songs, juke joints, tent revivals, and chitlin circuit stops from Bradfordville, Florida, to Big Freedia’s New Orleans will be the soundtrack to our semester.
Introduction to the African American Literary Tradition
As a liberal studies course that satisfies the diversity within the American experience requirement, this course introduces students to representative works in African-American Literature and Culture with a view to interrogating the close relationship between black writing and vernacular sources. We begin our survey with a focus on the slave narrative, then consider the symbolic acts of religion, speech, and music that undergird written texts. Not only will our overview cover major figures, texts, and concerns during successive historical moments, our readings direct attention to the search for freedom, wholeness, and self-identity in an American promised land.
Major Figures in American Literature: The U.S. Literary Revolution, 1850-1855
Why was so much great US literature published between 1850 and 1855? That’s the question we will try to answer in this course. Over seventy years ago, F. O. Matthiessen coined the term the “American Renaissance” to describe the inventive outpouring of national literature in this half-decade—classics such as Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851), Thoreau’s Walden (1854), and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855). While scholars have long since criticized and revised Matthiessen’s exclusively white, male club of “renaissance” writers, it remains a curious fact that many of the most significant texts in today’s expanded canon were also published in the same half-decade—among them, Sojourner Truth’s “I Am a Woman’s Rights” (1851), William Wells Brown’s Clotel (1853), John Rollin Ridge’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta (1854), Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall (1854), and Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). In a survey of “major figures,” 1850-1855, we will work to understand this broad literary revolution across US letters. To do so, we will consider the historical context, publishing world, political movements, and aesthetic forms/genre experimentation that situate this body of literature.
Latino/Literature in English: Latinx Studies on Trial
“Latinx Studies on Trial” frames an introductory survey of Latinx literature from the colonial period to the present within contemporary debates on the role of ethnic studies in public education and public life in the United States. Throughout the semester as we read memoirs, essays, poems, short stories, plays, and novels, we will return to questions raised by the banning of Mexican American Studies and the censorship of books written by Latinx authors in Arizona in 2010 and the denial of tenure of prominent Latinx Studies scholars at Ivy League universities a decade later. Why was the Mexican American Studies curriculum banned? Why were these books censored? Why were these scholars denied tenure? Who sets educational curricula and defines literary canons?
20th Century American Novels
20th Century American Novels will explore the term “American” and the idea of what it means for a work to be an “American novel.” We will study the current events taking place when the novels were written and discuss the timelessness of the work and how the 20th century shaped the novel. We will explore literary novels and novels in the genres of science fiction/fantasy and the graphic novel.
Early American Literature and Culture: Old Florida: Literature, Place, Public Memory
How does Florida (especially 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? How does our “public memory” of Florida change, how are official histories challenged, when we prioritize Black and Indigenous voices and knowledge, literature and culture? And more to the point for this class, can we think of literature as itself a form of cultural memory opening up alternative narrative perspectives on Florida history and culture? This course will tackle 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 you will be making a few site visits in town and analyzing the material rhetorics of history and place. The goal is to understand the political, cultural, and literary legacy of Florida, yesterday and today, from an anti-racist, anti-colonial viewpoint. We will consider the power of early Florida literature to shape our contemporary politics of public memory; conversely, we will approach sites of public memory as narrative forms which tell weighted stories about Florida at the intersection of fact and fiction, history and ideology.
This course meets the pre-1800 requirement.
The Literature of the American South: The Memory Place
The South is where America’s divisions play out most dramatically. Southerners super-size all the nation’s neuroses: race, gender, class, sexuality. Maybe the Civil War never really ended—at least not culturally. The past is ever-present and has the power to warp our future. Four hundred years after the first enslaved people arrived in Virginia, we are still working out how a nation founded on “equal justice” enshrined injustices for so long. Southern writers use their art to express the complexities, beauties and horrors of this “nation within the nation.” Authors studied include (but aren’t limited to) Poe, Hurston, Faulkner, Twain, and Ellison.
The African American Literary Tradition: Meditations on the Body
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-American 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 texts by authors whose works chronicle the search for freedom, wholeness, and selfhood in a New World setting.
Studies in Ethnic Literature: The Borderlands of US Popular Culture
Contemporary US popular culture is obsessed with what lies just beyond its southern borders. Television shows such as Breaking Bad, Narcos, The Bridge, and Weeds depict white, Anglo-American protagonists who enter a world of drugs, violence, and crime along the borderlands connecting the U.S. and the global south. While these border crossings often prove treacherous, it is all too often the bodies of Latinx characters that bear the brunt of the violence these anti-heroes 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 the work of contemporary Latinx artists, writers, and intellectuals.
Graphic Narrative Workshop
This rigorous, nurturing, introductory fiction workshop is taught by a New York Times Bestselling author who’s also a longtime member of the fiction faculty in FSU’s MFA/PhD-granting creative writing program. The focus is on learning to read like a writer and, ultimately, on generating and revising student work. You’ll write a series of brief exercises as well as one complete short story (which you’ll then revise and resubmit at the end of the term). So long as you put forth the dedication of an earnest apprentice, the course will make you a more sophisticated reader and a dramatically better writer. It will also ensure that you’re well prepared to excel in future creative writing classes.
This course is structured so that you’re free to fail (students who do all the work earnestly and on time are guaranteed a grade no lower than a B). Here, you'll learn how to embrace the positive, liberating value of the kind of failure that's crucial to any true artist's apprenticeship. Your primary goal should be to write a short story that reads as if you’ve read one before. Easy, right? (Spoiler alert: it's not. But it IS a realistic goal!)
The intense study of form in contemporary American Poetry.
The spring undergraduate fiction workshop under Robert Olen Butler, as it traditionally does, will focus intensively on the essentials of process in creating literary narrative. He has found that the most elusive of literary essentials are best explored by his proposing an aesthetic theory of the short short story, both as a distinct art form and as a paradigm for the beginning pages of any effective work of fiction. It is important to note that the course will deal exclusively with the literary genre in contrast to the expressly entertainment genres of fiction. And it will also concentrate far more on process than on craft and technique.
Course Pre-Requisites: Prospective student must, in order to enroll, submit to instructor the first 500 words of a piece of their fiction and a brief statement of their literary goals. (Send to email@example.com) Prospective student must have successfully completed CRW 3110 Fiction Technique.
Because this is an advanced class, we'll brush up on the basics and then move beyond them to explore some of the subtleties of the craft. What risks do published writers take and how can you learn from them? What risks might you take in your own fiction? How can you make your own fiction as dramatic, intense and engaging as possible? Our goal is the creation of a community of writers who can learn from and help each other. Courage, honesty and dedication are expected.
Advanced Fiction Workshop: Staging and Subtext
This course is designed to provide a space for students to develop fiction in a workshop environment. Students will begin the semester writing short exercises that will support the development of two workshop stories, a prompt workshop submission, and one work of flash fiction. This combination of pieces will allow students to explore variations in their voices and approaches. The writers should leave the course with a more concise set of questions to consider as they develop new and existing work. Through our questions and discussions, each writer will be encouraged to provide quality feedback and to evaluate the critiques received from others.
Course Pre-Requisites: CRW-3110 Fiction Technique
Fiction Workshop (CRW 4120) is a course on the craft and art of fiction writing, only available for students who have satisfactorily completed Fiction Technique (CRW 3110). This course assumes you have a serious interest in writing, reading, and discussing fiction. 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 course will primarily follow the workshop model, and therefore student writing, and the discussion of same, will be our main focus. To that end, over 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).
Course Pre-Requisites: CRW 3310
Poetry Workshop: Supercharging Your Poetic Voice
How do you make your poetic voice like no other person’s? This workshop will dive into various topics with essays and poems to help you break out of habits that are keeping you from interstellar poetic adventure. The first half of the class will be a craft discussion. The next two hours will be a workshop in which we discuss your poems. Craft topics will include mythology, fairytales, stand-up comedy, religious texts, instruction manuals, self-portraits, laments, and ekphrasis (writing on art). We will publish a class magazine. There will be a class on publishing your poems. Also, we’ll have two one-on-one conferences.
This course hopes to introduce the student to a variety of means to a very specific end: the crafting of a poem that is not only a clear expression of your imagination, but that is capable of becoming an imaginative vehicle for its reader. This pursuit will be carried out within the context of weekly guided and independent readings of a wide selection of contemporary poetry. Students will concentrate especially on writing for an audience, creating concrete and evocative imagery, and exploring a variety of different strategies for the drafting and revising of their poems.
In A Few Good Voices in My Head, Ted Solotaroff says that a piece of writing is a writer’s “only way to organize and to some extent comprehend life’s fullness and perplexity.” In this class we’ll be studying and writing that kind of poem in a format that departs from the traditional workshop set-up. There’s nothing wrong with sitting in a circle and passing poems around and discussing them, but here we’ll mainly be studying craft in the first month and, after that, alternating between select students giving 20-minute readings of their work to the rest of the class and roundtable discussions of additional craft issues and particular poems presented by individual students. Expect to write a poem a week and, when you’re not sharing it with the class, sending it to the instructor. Expect as well to partner with someone with whom you’ll exchange portfolios in the last week of class. The result? More fully realized and engaging poems. By the way, I call this class “The Solotaroff Protocol” because that sounds vaguely like a Cold War thriller involving a protagonist who (a) starts with a plan that (b) quickly goes awry even though (c) things work out in the end if (d) not in the way anyone thought they would. You know, the way poems do.
This course meets the Scholarship in Practice (s) requirement for Liberal Studies.
Course Pre-Requisites: CRW 3311, Poetic Technique
Note: The Instructor's permission is required for this course. Please fill out the application and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kirby Workshop Application
Completion of this form is required for students seeking admission into the undergraduate poetry workshop with Professor Kirby.
Please submit your application at your earliest possible opportunity; applications will be reviewed as they come in and responded to as soon as possible.
Name: ___________________________________ FSUSN: _____________________ Major: ___________________________________ Expected Graduation Date: ____ FSU E-Mail Address: ___________________
List all poetry writing classes you have taken, such as CRW 3311 (Poetic Technique) and CRW 4320 (Advanced Workshop). Identify instructor(s) and also the grade(s) you made.
Feel free to add below any other information that might be helpful. Attach a sample of four to five of your recent poems and e-mail this application to email@example.com. Thank you for your interest in this class.
Editing Manuscripts, Documents, and Reports
This course will help you to take your editing skills to the next level, explicitly focusing on the work of improving another's writing. It seeks to develop the skills of synthesizing another's ideas and data, structuring and clarifying his or her argument, and ordering coherently any multi-part exposition. It is primarily practical in orientation, covering proofreading, grammar, spelling, fact checking, and line-editing. We consider carefully authorial goals and audience needs and how these should influence the editing process. The course aims to prepare students for the elementary practice of textual production between draft stage and final publication.
Visual Rhetoric in a Digital Age: A Productive and Practice Art
English 4218 introduces students to the principles of visual rhetoric, especially as it is enacted across diverse media, shaped by multiple genres, and designed to achieve different goals with different audiences. Students will learn to analyze the rhetorical function of imagery, use images to respond to and organize arguments, and consider the impact of visual rhetoric on professional careers.
To learn the principles of visual rhetoric, we, first, establish the “basics” of the rhetorical and the visual: defining the visual as rhetorical and ascertaining its foundational concepts and components. Second, we develop a theory of visual rhetoric derived from these concepts/components. Third, we test our theories by examining different visual phenomena, ascertaining where our theories require revisions. Finally, we take the insights derived from accretional process and extend them in a scholarly investigation of an aspect of the visual that contributes to our understanding of visual rhetoric. As we engage in these activities, we will also develop a metacognitive sensitivity to the operations of visual rhetoric in our visually bedazzled Western culture so that we become both better writers/designers and better readers of the rhetoric/visual interface. Grades are based on 2 concept map/reflections and cumulative concept map e-portfolio, two exams, and a final scholarly paper.
Course Pre-Requisites: ENC 3416 (Writing and Editing in Print and Online)
Advanced Article and Essay Workshop: Telling True Stories
Narrative nonfiction basically means telling true stories, which is what we’ll do in this course. You will read examples of memoir, personal essays, investigative writing and other forms of real people writing about real stuff and learn to craft your own. Fiction is great, but the world is so weird you don’t have to make anything up.
Course Pre-Requisites: B+ in Narrative Technique
Advanced Editing and Writing: Inclusive Design, Writing, and Editing
The purpose of this course is to prepare you for designing documents, writing content, and copy-editing: three areas of expertise that you might take in future careers. Throughout our course, we will consider issues of inclusive design, writing, and editing practices. We will begin the semester with an overview of design principles, so that you can create realistic replicas of the genres you want to create. Then, we will learn the basics to writing for social change—and apply that knowledge to creating our own social campaigns. As we do, we will practice design and media writing, along with including a brief introduction to copy editing.
Advanced Writing and Editing: Technical Writing and Social Justice
In this course, we will study and practice technical and professional writing using a social justice framework. Course readings will introduce theoretical and practical perspectives that problematize notions of neutrality, clarity, objectivity, and efficiency in technical writing. We will practice composing, designing, and editing texts (e.g., brochures, instruction sets, websites, etc.) while considering issues of access, equity, and inclusion in technical writing. This course offers students the opportunity to develop analytical and practical tools for designing, editing, and circulating a diversity of texts, addressing a wide range of audiences and contexts ethically and responsibly.
Advanced Writing and Editing
This is a course about helping yourself, and helping others, to use writing to think and communicate more clearly. This class strives to help you to improve your writing and editing skills across a wide range of writing situations. We carefully consider matters of audience, tone, and effect. Writing and editing are distinct, though related, skills, and editing yourself is a very different situation than editing the work of others, and we work on both. In this class, we openly confront the challenges to writing and editing well. The primary goals here are that you become a better writer and editor at the end of the class than you were at the beginning, regardless of your starting level of competence and confidence. This class will help you to get better at organizing ideas and at getting those ideas across to others. We read and discuss a lot of writing, and, especially, do a lot of writing and editing. Your success in this course depends on your whole-hearted engagement in these activities.
This course counts toward the “EWM Advanced Requirements” for the EWM major and can be used as electives credit for most other majors across the university. All are invited.
Course Pre-Requisites: ENC3416
Theories of Composition: Inclusivity in Composition Studies Mais Al-Khateeb
In this course, we will study theories of composition pedagogy with an emphasis on social justice. We will begin by reviewing foundational theories, approaches, and pedagogies that introduce diverse perspectives on composing, invention, revision, and writing assessment. We will then explore interventions by scholars and instructors who have challenged traditional conceptualizations of composition by centering issues of race, gender, class, language, ability, and sexual orientation. Course readings will specifically highlight contributions by feminist, critical race, disability, queer, postcolonial, transnational, and decolonial composition scholars. This course offers students the opportunity to rethink the role of composition and composition pedagogy in creating inclusive, accessible, and equitable worlds.
We will read literary, literary-critical, and philosophy texts that explore how we think, how we know what we think we know, how we read, the problematic of writing, and the rules of governance for “disciplinary societies” and the new digital “societies of control.” Our reading will range from ancient Greek literature to the present day; a partial list includes Plato, Miguel de Cervantes, G.W.F Hegel, Jorge Luis Borges, W.E.B DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Shoshana Feldman, Judith Butler, Susan Sontag, William Burroughs, and Gilles Deleuze. Required Texts: Sophocles, The Three Theban Plays, Jean-Patrick Manchette, Fatale, and Byung Chul-Han, The Burnout Society.
Since its birth, the cinema and its filmmakers have constantly drawn from literary sources to create narratives in the new medium.
In this course, we will study classic and contemporary theories of film adaptation, borrowing as well as breaking from the concept of fidelity to create a space to explore how film engages with literature, and how literary stories are deformed and reformed through the medium of film. We will examine a variety of text-to-film adaptations and explore their wider adaptation “networks”; some will be more classically defined, such as Robert Siodmak’s adaptation of Hemingway’s The Killers (1964), while others will force us to address adaptation as a concept perhaps equal to influence, as when we study the connectivity between Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope and Thomas de Quincey’s “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” Subsequently, we will also consider how some literature was influenced by film, or adapted itself by “seeing cinematically,” before the cinema even fully evolved.
Films (and relevant source texts) for study may include: Adaptation, Alice in Wonderland, Blade Runner, The Birds, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Killers, Nosferatu, Rashomon, Romeo + Juliet, Rope, etc.
Requirements: This course satisfies the requirement for coursework in Understanding Genres.
Film Adaptation: Shakespeare and Film
In this course, students will survey a rich variety of film, video and new media adaptations of a handful of Shakespeare’s plays (Hamlet, Macbeth, Taming of the Shrew, Romeo & Juliet, Henry IV Pt. 1 & 2, and Henry V). We will be viewing adaptations spanning over 100 years, from all around the globe. Students will gain a working vocabulary of theatrical and cinematic terms, and they will read a number of works by major film theorists discussing the nature of cinematic “adaptation” in relation to the stage and the page. Students will gain familiarity with the canonical Shakespearean directors and auteurs (Bhardwaj, Branagh, Kurosawa, Olivier, Taymor, Welles, Zeffirelli). They will also develop a familiarity with lesser-known filmmakers working in a variety of genres. Students will read and respond to secondary sources that interrogate the intersection of cinema and Shakespeare studies. By the end of the course, students will be able to closely read and analyze filmic texts using terms drawn from literature, theatre/performance studies, and film studies. Students will also be able to illustrate familiarity with some of the major ideas and theories surrounding cinematic adaptation.
No prior knowledge of Shakespeare is required.
This course meets the Genre requirement for LMC majors
The History of Text Technologies
From papyrus scrolls and printed books to medieval manuscripts and audiobooks, this course examines different text technologies across history and across the globe. Throughout the course we will return to large "keep you up at night" questions: How does technology influence what types of texts are created and kept? How do social and economic power influence text technologies? How might the meaning of a text change if the medium of its presentation changes? Exploring these questions, we will develop detective skills to see aspects of text technologies that often remain hidden in plain sight, whether they be how new typefaces might alter a text’s meaning or how different techniques for binding a book might change the perception of what’s inside. Practicing this new way of seeing on historical text technologies will help us reflect more critically about the technologies we use today.
History of Illustrated Text: Literary History of Infographics Aaron Jaffe
In this course we will consider illustrated texts through the deep history of the infographic - the form and meaning of the illustrated display of informational content. In addition to texts in media studies, we will also examine illustrated books, comics, graphic novels, wordless novels, and memes.
History of Illustrated Texts: Illustrating the Natural World
This course examines the complex relationships between word and image in texts ranging from medieval illuminated manuscripts to postmodern graphic novels. We will examine reasons for incorporating images into texts; impacts of graphic representations on audience understanding, meaning, and value of texts; and the interplay between text, image, and culture over the centuries and into our current moment. This class will examine a variety of textual formats (manuscript, print, digital), genres, digital databases, and examples of “found” illustrated texts from everyday life.
More specifically, this course will focus on representations of the natural world – that is, the nonhuman beings that surrounds us – in illustrated texts from bestiaries, herbals, fables, emblems, and scientific treatises, to children’s literature, memes, graphic novels, and beyond. This focus will enable students to build a strong foundation of critical thinking skills and knowledge and to achieve course objectives, with potential for application of acquired knowledge and skills in a range of contexts.
Assignments may include (but are not limited to) discussion boards, a creative project, a final research essay, an assignment related to a class visit to special collections, and end-of-unit assessments.
History of Text Technologies (ENG 3803) is a recommended pre-requisite; however, students do not need to have completed that course in order to succeed in this one.
Course Pre-Requisites: ENG 3803 (recommended)
Meets the Genre requirement for LMC.
Rhetorical Theory and Practice: Rhetoric and Human Rights
This course invites students to read, analyze, write about, and reconstruct cross-cultural spectacles and human rights events. Organized around a series of case studies, the course asks students to take a critical rhetorical approach to exploring a variety of modes and forms—including hypertext essays, trauma narratives, testimonials, archives, memorials, a graphic novel, and film—gaining insight into how individuals, groups, and nations enact their human-rights interests from both local and global points of view. Case studies will be wide-ranging and may include past and present activism; vibrant cultural heritage projects, such as Kantha Threads (Bangladesh) and Art Against Apartheid (South Africa); and the annual St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs, to name only a few. Together, we will ask and answer the following questions: How can we interpret cross-cultural spectacles and human rights events when they occur in such a wide range of modalities (e.g., written, oral, visual, gestural, spatial, multimodal)? How can we be, do, or live differently after witnessing these spectacles—especially if they relate to cultures and crises that are not our own? How can we think critically about human rights discourse while we are also participating with this discourse in the real world? Finally, what kinds of rhetorical performances, practices, and frameworks become possible—both realistically and imaginatively—as a result of our study?
Course Pre-Requisites: ENG 3021
Media, Theory, and Practice: Racism, Social Justice, and Social Media
This course examines the limits and potentialities of media, new media, and media theory in contemporary culture. Our course will explore issues of racism, social justice, and hashtag activism on social media platforms. We will first engage with theoretical understandings of race and the ways that social media platforms have upheld, called attention to, and intervened systemic racism. Using that theoretical platform as a basis, we will consider the affordances and limitations of hashtag activism—investigating and participating in social media writing and movements.
Media Theory and Practice: Podcasting: The Art of Persuasion
This course offers a theoretical and practical approach to the digital world of podcasting. Students will use rhetorical theory and concepts to think critically about podcasts as a growing genre of user-generated content, a personal/political/social digital platform, a source of news and entertainment, marketing/branding, etc. Students will then use this theorization of podcasts to inform their development, workshopping, and publishing of their own podcast. At the conclusion of this course, students will have had opportunities to do the following: 1) think critically about podcasts as a rhetorical genre, 2) consider their own ethics, perspectives, and positions of power as consumers and producers of podcasts, and 3) develop, write, record, edit, and publish their own podcast.
What is a Text?
This course is designed to introduce students to some of the varieties of the textual experience. Students will develop critical thinking skills through close readings and critical analysis of literature, film, and visual arts. The course will provide students the opportunity to propose, develop, and complete research projects focused on, or creative endeavors inspired by different textual traditions. The readings go all the way back to Antiquity and into the contemporary world.
What is a Text: Film and Textuality
This course for the EWM track investigates theories of textuality, which refers to how "texts" make meaning by being understood in context. We will test out key theories by discussing some vibrant films as case studies. Our reading includes theories of textuality as well as relevant film theory. While we explore different ideas about what counts as a "text" and where the meaning of a text resides, we will assess debates about the relationship between the text and vital contexts. These contexts include the socio-historical context, audience reception, and the "paratext," which refers to associated material surrounding the text but that is separate from the text itself. In addition to theoretical debates about how to define "text" and "textuality," we will study theories of paratextuality, intertextuality, adaptation, cross-cultural textuality, interactive textuality, remediation, and textuality and cultural value. We will consider, for example, films that have been adapted from literature and how to unpack the meanings of different kinds of texts as well as what contexts can influence our reading of them, from associated material like a film trailer to theories of how fans interact with films to larger discourses like the cultural expectations of different mediums and genres. Assignments include Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, a shorter essay, 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.
Issues in Publishing: Literary Magazines
Here is the situation: you have written something and you would like to submit it for publication. How do you know where to send your work? What is the scene for literary magazines? This course will teach you how to identify a magazine’s ethos, style, reach, credibility and relevance to your writing. You will read a variety of literary magazines – from scrappy upstarts to legacy publications – and discover how your singular point-of-view belongs in the broader literary landscape.
Course Pre-Requisites: 3000-level core courses in the major
Minor Universes: Social Justice and Speculative Fiction: Senior Seminar in Literature
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, N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Sara Rivera, and Rebecca Roanhorse, among others, reinvent our understanding of time travel, unsettle what constitutes the “human,” and narrate alternative histories and futures. 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, more just and joyful, worlds.
Course Pre-Requisites: Ninety semester hours of college work
Social Justice & Speculative Fic
Senior Seminar in English: Haunted Houses
This course will explore how writers have evoked terror and anxiety through literary depictions of haunted houses. Students will read a selection of brilliant novels that use the trope of the haunted house to grapple with fear of the unknown, and to comment on race, gender, and sexuality. Coursework includes Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, short papers, and a longer final essay.
This course fulfills the LMC Capstone requirement and also counts as a Genre course.
Queer Science Fiction
This course looks to the science-fictional in literature, visual and performance art, music, graphic novels and comics, film, and television to ask what science fiction and related genres offer to the study and expression of gender and sexuality. The focus of this class will be U.S. cultural texts of the 20th Century read alongside contemporary queer theory and science and technology studies in order to facilitate our discussions about how the texts imagine possible futures (and pasts) and their intersections with gender, sexuality, race, ability, nation, and other concepts, and will require both academic as well as encourage other experimental, speculative, and creative approaches to assignments.
Renaissance Poetry and Prose: Early modern bestsellers
“Popularity is suspicious and seditious, a mechanism for power on the part of the apparently powerless” (Emma Smith and Andy Kesson, The Elizabethan Top Ten, 4). This class will focus on early modern popular texts, or “bestsellers”: the particular viral texts as well as broader genres that were most widely read and circulated in early modern English culture, 1550-1660. We’ll find out what people were reading, what genres and forms were most common and widespread, and how readers interacted with their texts.
Our class deliberately dodges the “literary canon” in favor of the popular literature that people of diverse backgrounds enjoyed in this time period. Broadside ballads, almanacs, popular pamphlets, jest books, sermons and bibles, household and husbandry manuals, cookbooks, plays, poetry, and more: Renaissance readers read widely. Our objectives include reading texts closely, becoming familiar with the contexts in which our “bestsellers” were produced and consumed, considering varying definitions of popularity and the formation of the literary canon at the exclusion of “popular” and “genre” literature, and developing a nuanced view of early modern readerships and literacies.
Assignments may include: a commonplace book, discussion boards, regular retrieval practice (low-stakes reading quizzes), literary analysis and research papers, and end-of-unit assessments. Regular attendance is required.
Students do not need prior knowledge or experience working with Renaissance literature in order to succeed in this course; however, please be aware that this course does require substantial weekly 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 and assignments.
Course meets the pre-1800 requirement for LMC majors.
Modern British Literature
This course will examine a mosaic of modern British writers across a variety of forms and genres, including drama, lyric poetry, modernist literature, the novel, migrant literature, the verse novel, and film. The authors and topics we will study--George Bernard Shaw, realist film, Virginia Woolf, W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Samuel Selvon, Ken Loach, Bernardine Evaristo, and Carol Ann Duffy--each represent a different swath of British society. In each work, we will pay careful attention to matters of language, form, and genre as they intersect with issues of gender, race, class, nation affiliation, and sexual identity.
The Tourist Trap: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Most of us are very familiar with tourists and tourism. We’re less familiar, perhaps, with the history of tourism, of the relationship between tourism and colonialism and imperialism, of the impacts of tourism on communities and peoples where tourists visit, and of the broader impact of tourism at individual, regional, national, and global levels. Through an exploration of tourism scholarship, travel writing, literature, and film, we will explore, discuss, and thoughtfully respond to questions—sometimes uncomfortable questions— about the good, the bad, and the ugly of tourism and tourists.
This course is designed to help students think critically about cultures with which they are familiar, to learn about cultures with which they are less familiar, and to navigate the complex ways they perceive and participate in and with multiple cultures. At the end of this semester, students will have explored a variety of cultural artifacts related to tourism and tourists—from newspaper articles to novels, from films to scholarly essays. They will have expanded their critical vocabulary and engaged with concepts necessary to analyze and interpret such artifacts and to generate critical responses through formal and reflective writing, individual and group projects, and other relevant activities. Over the course of the semester, successful students will have acquired skills, knowledges, and strategies that will enhance their success in this and future courses across disciplines.
Honors Seminar: The Role of the Public Intellectual
This course examines the role of the public intellectual. The assignments will differ every term, but typically students read, discuss, and write about texts by such authors as George Orwell, Albert Camus, Susan Sontag, Camille Paglia, Greil Marcus, and Cornell West in order to: (1) encounter ideas to which they have not yet been exposed, (2) become aware of their own heightened ability to work with big ideas and communicate them, and (3) identify a road map for their own progress toward becoming a public intellectual.
We will read great books by authors old and new.
Hemingway and America – Then and Now
Ernest Hemingway has held a place in the American Literary Canon and been a recognized American icon for nearly one hundred years. His books have never been out of print; many novels have been made into movies; his face was on the cover of Life, Time, and Newsweek magazines multiple times; he won the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes. Nearly 100 years after his first book was published in the United States his writing is still assigned in secondary schools and colleges and his name synonymous with American writing and white masculinity.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Feminist scholars addressed Hemingway’s characters and found strong, independent women. In the 2000s, some scholars have addressed how Hemingway presented race because Hemingway wrote Native American, African American, Jewish, African, Italian, Spanish, Irish, and Cuban characters. However, the vast majority of Hemingway’s characters are white American men. This course will ask students to consider the following question: What does Hemingway’s writing show about the state of white, American men post WWI and what difference does that make today?
Intro to Poetry
We will study the contemporary American Poetry since Walt Whitman to the present.
UNDERSTANDING LITERARY HISTORY I
This course introduces English majors and minors to the most noteworthy authors, formative texts, and key imaginative traditions of British literature before 1800. Students will gain familiarity with the historical development of early English writing from the beginnings of the English language in Anglo-Saxon heroic epic; through the later medieval flourishing of courtly romance and satire; to the dazzling formal innovations of Renaissance lyric, epic, and drama; and concluding with the literary experiments of the eighteenth century as an age of progress and exploration. Students will encounter the major canonical authors of these periods (the Beowulf-poet, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Pope) as well as marginalized voices--especially female--and, toward the end of the period, transatlantic perspectives. You will learn to identify and analyze a variety of genres that are crucial to English literary tradition, and you will discover how authors imaginatively respond to their predecessors. The creative forms and major thematic investments of each era will be contextualized within the social and cultural history that shaped them.
Fills an LMC Gateway/core requirement.
Understanding Literary History II
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
Literature and Medicine: Diseases and Debates, Then and Now
Courses in Literature and Medicine often study how literary texts address questions in medical ethics and public health. In Literature and Medicine: Diseases and Debates, students will read a selection of brief essays, fiction, poetry, and other texts from the 19th century alongside critical and historical work from today’s medical landscape, in order to understand the roots of contemporary medical debates and how they have changed over time. These controversies helped shape the landscape of medical ethics. We will compare, for example, how questions around anesthesia, patient privacy, or contagion play out “then and now.” This course builds skills in critical reading and writing, cultural practice, and ethics.
We’ll examine illness as metaphor; the art and science of medicine; the rise of medical realism, objectivity and authority; the roles of the physician, nurse, and patient; the meaning of patient privacy and consent; medical professionalism and alternative medicine; food adulteration, nutrition; disability rights; prosthetics and the integrity of the body; pain, anesthetics, and drug use; and the “good death.” The new “COVID edition” of the course revises and expands our discussion of epidemiology, sanitary reform, epidemics, and personal vs. public health.
We will focus on literary, cultural, and ethical analysis in a historical context. Students will complete one analytic and one personal (creative) essay response to the debates we study.
This course fulfills the Ethics and Humanities/Cultural Practice requirements in the Liberal Studies Curriculum and the “W” (State-Mandated Writing) credit. It will also help students prepare for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skill section of the MCAT.
LGBTQ Drama: 20th and 21st Century U.S. LGBTQ Drama and Performance
This course considers the genre of LGBTQ Theatre that encompasses dramatic literature, theatre, performance sites, theory, narrative traditions, and themes. The course will focus on theatre and drama written and produced by and for the LGBTQ community in the United States from the last one hundred years. We will address how representations of the LGBTQ community began to change in the 1960s and became prominent in the 1980s and 90s, interweaving influences from theatre history and cultural and political histories across the impact of the Stonewall Riots, the AIDS Crisis, and human rights initiatives.
How has changing terminology and visibility affected depictions of LGBTQ characters? How do activism, allyship, and advocacy function in LGBTQ drama and performance? What is the relationship of aesthetics, structure, and language to the genre of LGBTQ Theatre? Plays and films will include works by Tanya Barfield, Ty Defoe, Hannah Gadsby, Virginia Grise, David Henry Hwang, Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Brian Sherman, and Paula Vogel. Readings from gender, sexuality, and queer theory will accompany readings of primary texts.
Meets Distribution Requirements:
Ecocriticism and Environmental Literature
This course will examine largely contemporary key moments and approaches to the study of environmental literature and culture primarily in the U.S. context. Beginning around the 1960s, we will read four novels as well as watch film, read poetry, and examine parallel artistic works to think ecocritcally across historical moments and media. To do this we will study theories of environmentalism and sustainability, learn about the energy humanities and the blue and green humanities, as well as theoretical formations like posthumanism, the Anthropocene, ecofeminism, new materialism, and the concept of the racial capitalocene, as just a few examples. We will study multiple ecocritical methodologies that are available to us as cultural critics in an ongoing time of climate change, and look to the possibilities that ecocriticism and environmental literature may hold for projects of environmental justice and activism in our own communities.
Latinx Drama: 20th and 21st Century U.S. Latinx Drama and Theatre
How are Latinx identities, inclusive of Afro-Latinidad and Indigeneity, depicted in dramatic literature and performed onstage? From its origins in El Teatro Campesino in the 1960s to themes of immigration and assimilation in the 1980s and 1990s, to the classical, musical, and historical adaptations and appropriations today, Latinx Theatre has changed vastly over the last sixty years. Approaches to dramaturgy and the casting and legibility of Latinx bodies onstage will be discussed in the context of performance. What is the relationship of Latinx identity to aesthetics and how do they inform ideas about Latinx theatre? Readings of critical race and ethnicity theory, Chicana feminism, and language politics will accompany readings of primary texts. No knowledge of Spanish is required though most texts will include some words and phrases in Spanish.
The class will include works selected from Migdalia Cruz, Nilo Cruz, Kristoffer Diaz, María Irene Fornés, Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Virginia Grise, Quiara Alegría Hudes, John Leguizamo, Josefina Lopez, Cherríe Moraga, Tanya Saracho, Octavio Solis, Caridad Svich, Luis Valdez, and more.
Meets Distribution Requirements:
Modern Poetry: Reading Emily Dickinson in the 21st Century
This course offers students a chance to read (really read) the work of Emily Dickinson. The approach to this course will stress Dickinson’s experimental—ecstatic, queer, antinomian—relationship to textuality and language, genre and poetic form. Students will be exposed to recent scholarly practices in Dickinson Studies with particular attention to digital archives, manuscript criticism, and material poetics. Don’t worry, we’ll make room for Dickinson’s biography, too, and consider pop culture interpretations of her life.
Postmodern/Contemporary Poetry: American Poetry Since 1945
This course will provide students with a firm grounding in the major figures, movements, and innovations in American poetry since World War II. We will pay special attention to the rich period from the 1950s to the 1970s, as we focus on such topics as the postwar reaction to modernism and to the New Criticism, the conflict between closed and open forms, the turn to the self, the development of a poetics of everyday life, and the tension between individuals and literary movements. We will discuss how contemporary poetry grapples with issues related to gender, race, and the dialogue between poetry and politics, and will situate the poetry within the cultural climate and politics of Cold War America, the 1960s and beyond.
As we trace the roots and development of postmodernist American poetry, we will explore how and why these poets invent new, unconventional literary methods to address changing ideas about the nature of the self, language and literature, racial and sexual identity, and America itself, in a world undergoing dramatic transformations. Poets discussed will likely include Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Robert Hayden, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Carolyn Forché, and Yusef Komunyakaa.
This course fulfills the Genre requirement for the LMC track.
Literature and Nationalism in Postcolonial Ireland: Who Speaks for Ireland?
The Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, liked to tell the story in which the nations of the world are asked to write an essay on “The Camel.” The Frenchman’s was called “The Camel and Love”; the German’s was “The Camel and Metaphysics”: the Irishman’s “The Camel and the fight for Irish Freedom.” Such then is the nature of the Irish ethos and sensibility, the Irish preoccupation if not obsession for some 700 years. The purpose of this course is to examine the Irish quest for independence in a literary context and concurrently to examine Post-colonial Irish literature (that is, after the winning of independence in 1921 and ratifying a Free State in 1922) in its broader cultural context that includes Northern Ireland (NI). We will study several dominant figures in modern (that is essentially twentieth century, although in Ireland the past always weighs heavy on the present) Irish literature, particularly William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and Sean O’Casey, as they develop in, struggle with, and develop beyond an Anglo-Irish literary heritage, and the conflicts of subsequent generations of Irish writers to develop and flourish in their shadows. We will also examine the shift into more popular forms of culture like Irish film and music.
One basic question we will examine in this struggle (and the subsequent struggle to overcome the obsession with the struggle) is who speaks for Ireland, whose voice is that of the Irish? What writers, which politicians, what group speaks for Ireland? And on whose authority? We need to keep in mind as well that Ireland is still, after more than eighty years of independence, still a work in progress, a nation still trying to define what it means to be Irish. Are the Irish those that live within the borders of what is now Ireland, or does one need to have been born there. Is there a religious test to Irishness? And what of the six counties that are part of the island of Ireland but are still under British rule, the territory we call Northern Ireland. Or what of the Irish diaspora, the scattering of the Irish all across the world at least since the mid nineteenth century famine. Are they Irish, or hyphenated Irish: Australian-Irish, Canadian, Irish, Irish-American. In what order should the compound be stated? These are some of the issues we will try to grapple with this term.
Literature of Human Rights: Adultism, Age Discrimination, and Human Rights
Ours has been called a global "age of rights," an era in which respect for human rights is considered the highest aspiration of the international democratic community. With its literary approach, this course endeavors to make human rights “real” by emphasizing limitations in our own backyard. Rather than a globalizing gaze directed elsewhere, since the legitimate aim of the International Declaration of Human Rights is to eradicate systematic human suffering, the course will interrogate human rights from a multiplicity of genres of American literature.
No doubt, you’ve heard the old cliche--”Children are our future.” Yet, it is tantamount to also consider systemic discrimination toward youth--past and present. Do you feel like society treats young people poorly? Does youth empowerment appeal to you? In this course, you'll learn what adultism is; where adultism happens; and how YOU can possibly make a difference. It can be rough out there for children and youth, and the ways being young shape our whole lives.
African American Folklore: The Hip Hop Generation
African American folklore is comprised of a rich cultural heritage and hip hop constitutes the latest edition. It features multiple genres of traditional artistic expression, such as gospel, folk cultural heroes, blues inflected women, foodways from “broccoli” to wings, and verbal arts such as ‘yo mama’ jokes and freestyling. During the course of the semester, students will learn to interpret African American folklore byway of centering rap culture. By reading about and sampling African American folklore, students will gain a hands-on experience with this enriching topic. It’s a hybrid course, meaning we will meet face-to-face on Tues. to compensate for the time spent researching and experiencing AFAM folklore as a living tradition vis-a-vis hip hop from its roots to what’s happening in the world today.
Major Women Writers: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This course focuses on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977-). It introduces students to the life, work, thought, and activism of a Nigerian and African writer often dubbed Chinua Achebe’s literary daughter. Since taking the literary world by storm, as we say, with her debut novel Purple Hibiscus (2003), Adichie has emerged as one of the most recognized names and sought-after (commencement) speakers, humanists, and public intellectuals in recent history. From her TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” her riveting novel Americanah, and her feminist manifesto Dear Ijeawale to her sampling by Beyonce, her controversial remarks about gender and recently her meditation Notes on Grief, among other things, the Adichie canon of cultural production has grown exponentially. Her work has been translated to dozens of languages and she has received honorary doctorates from many prestigious institutions around the world. When yours truly interviewed Adichie for close to two hours some years ago upon the release of Purple Hibiscus (cassette tapes of which I might resurface in class), little did she or I know then how influential an artist and how powerful a cultural voice she would soon become. In this course, we will read Adichie’s works: her novels, a selection of her short stories and essays, supplementing those with scholarship on her oeuvre and in-class viewing of some of her public intellectual activity.
This course meets the requirements for diversity, post-1900 and postcolonial literature
Law and Literature
The law “creates the social world,” the same social world, Pierre Bourdieu writes, “which first creates the law” (“The Force of Law” 839). The dynamic Bourdieu puts forward will provide us with a set of working assumptions—namely, that the social and material worlds we inhabit, engender, and maintain are inescapably normative and narrative, enabled and constrained by the paths plotted upon reality by imagination. It is, after all, from language, corpus, and myth that institutions, prescriptions, and ways of being-in-the-world are constructed. Accordingly, the primary intellectual focus of the class will be on the configuring the relations between the discursive and the coercive, the imaginary and the given, the languages of authority and those of internal persuasion, as inflected by the different experiences of the raced, gendered, and classed individuals caught up in these relations. We will consider really interesting theory on language and power, study the formal qualities of official legal texts, and read a lot of great, mostly American, fiction. You will read extensively, write two short 5-7 page papers, complete a longer research project, and take an exam on the mechanics of legal reasoning.
The course meets distribution requirements for diversity.
Modernism: Understanding Modernism
This course serves as an introduction to modern literary/cultural Modernism. We will discuss some of the key questions that animate discussion among literary scholars today, including the nature of Modernist art, the relation between culture and power, and the interpretation of texts. Most of our time will be spent carefully reading and assessing the arguments in the essays that we read. We will also consider how literary theory and conceptions of Modernism have evolved over the last century within its various historical, social, and institutional contexts.
Most of our reading will come from Modernism: An Anthology. Ed. Lawrence Rainey. London: Blackwell, 2005.
(Additional information available at: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=p1qso99TB6IC&oi=fnd&pg=PR15&dq=related:oo0MjLdLJ88J:scholar.google.com/&ots=C1IzHu-fv_&sig=W_mS--yvdSH1GgADlzfYu0TDYUM#v=onepage&q&f=false)
We will test our critical reading skills on a variety of literary texts that relate to our Modernist theory reading. The course requirements include periodic exams consisting of short answer questions, a final research project, and active and consistent participation in class discussion.
1) become familiar with several influential critical and theoretical approaches to Modernist literature and theory. 2) grow adept at identifying and distinguishing among these approaches 3) enhance analytic skills by thinking through particular theoretical frameworks 4) refine writing skills through practice in expressing and supporting complex ideas
"On or about December 1910 human character changed," wrote Virginia Woolf. Our emphasis in this course will be the various literary forms, innovations, and interdisciplinary experiments of transnational modernism—in other words, some of the literary developments Woolf had in mind when she made her famous assertion. While we will spend the bulk of the term reading a number of modernist giants, we will also have a look at essential movements and avant-gardes (such as the Futurists, the Dadaists, the Surrealists, the Frankfurt School, the Harlem Renaissance and emergent global networks of modernism), some key modernist precursors, and the recovery and reassessment of lesser known or forgotten works, innovative rebels and avant-gardists.