Do you know blackness when you see it?
Does it have a sound?
Can blackness be learned?
Can it be taught?
Or is it simply the “truth” of biology?
This course serves as an introduction to African American literature refusing to take its own blackness for granted. The texts we will read throughout the semester revolve around the theme of racial passing. Looking at the African American literary canon through this lens allows us to trouble what we think we know about authenticity and black identity.
In what way is identity shaped by who can and can’t pass?
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 since opened up Matthiessen’s exclusively white, male club of “renaissance” works to the contemporaneous literary production of women writers and authors of color, it remains a curious fact that many of the most influential texts in today’s revised canon of US literary history were also published in the same half-decade—among them, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), 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’ My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). In a survey of US literature, 1850-1855, we will work together to explain 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.
This course examines the rise of U.S. literature, authors, and popular culture in the so-called “Antebellum” period of American culture. A forty-year stretch, roughly from 1820 to 1860, is probably one of the most profound times in the United States for all kinds of reasons. Although many people assume that modern America only developed after the Civil War, historians have concluded that many structures, institutions, practices, ideas, and attitudes ingrained in American life were well-established before 1860: popular democracy, a two-party political system, middle-class family values, religious fundamentalism, racism, market capitalism, mass media, and a popular culture filled with violence, sexuality, and sentimental emotions. Not coincidentally, 1820-1860 is when we get some great authors at the height of their careers: Irving, Poe, Apess, Emerson, Douglass, Hawthorne, Stowe, Jacobs, Melville, Dickinson, Whitman, and more. While surveying many of these major figures, we will consider how American literature took shape in relation to the dispossession of Native Americans, African-American slavery, and the abolitionist struggle for emancipation. These political contexts, in turn, will also lead to discussions of what is still timely or ever-present about Antebellum writing. Two required textbooks: (1) Fanny Fern, Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time (Penguin Classics), and (2) The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 1820-1865. Vol. B, 9th edition.
“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. Why was the Mexican American Studies curriculum banned? Why were these books censored? Who sets educational curricula and defines literary canons? What stories should be taught to future generations? How, as technologies advance and cultures change, does literature reflect these changes? In addition to film, television, music, and other popular culture, readings will include selections from The Norton Anthology of Latino/a Literature and books by Jennine Capó Crucet, Joseph Cassara, Sandra Cisneros, Angie Cruz, Edwidge Danticat, and Javier Zamora.
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:
- 1To become familiar with representative African-American texts and the cultural, historic, and political contexts out of which that writing evolves;
- 2To 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.
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
Asian Americans have been historically portrayed as the “Yellow Peril” and “Model Minority.” The former paints Asian immigrants as unassimilable aliens that threaten to pollute the U.S. nation and body politic, ostensibly stealing jobs and spreading contagious diseases, whereas the latter upholds Asian Americans as models of capitalist efficiency, bodily health, and productivity. This course invites students to critically attend to the racialized discourses attached to Asian American bodies that animate depictions of the yellow peril and the model minority myth. In this course, we will engage a wide range of texts and mediums, including fiction, poetry, graphic novels, memoir, and critical theory. Analyzing works like Ling Ma’s Severance, John Okada’s No-No Boy, and Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham’s Level Up, we will examine the historical and material conditions that structure racial injury, that is, how sickness gets inflicted on to Asian bodies and how Asian bodies themselves come to be constructed as sickening. In addition, we will grapple with how discourses that promulgate the health and resilience of the model minority subject can also have potentially damaging, deleterious effects on Asian American individuals and their communities. We will, moreover, probe how attending to literary and aesthetic productions by Asian American authors, artists, and activists allows us to move beyond the binary of the yellow peril and model minority, towards a richer and fuller understanding of how questions of health and wellness, illness and disability, inflect Asian American experiences, culture, and history in the United States.
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.
The purpose of this course is to enhance the student’s skills in writing and revising their own poetry. To this end, we will read and analyze a selection of poems by important contemporary poets. We will review and refine those skills in grammar and style that are essential to clear, successful writing, and we will write and critique poems of our own in a traditional workshop situation. Students will be required to pass a mid-semester elements test and put together a final portfolio, consisting of their best work of the semester.
Visual messages are present in print as well as in digital form, in film and television as well as other physical and virtual media. Visual rhetoric is as equally present in the Rembrandt exhibit at the MET as it is on the t-shirts of the patrons who visit it each day. This course begins with the assumption that visual language is one of many available means of persuasion that neither displaces nor functions in isolation from other modes of communication. By studying visual rhetoric in the context of contemporary culture, we will discover how frameworks used to explore the rhetoric of writing and speech are sufficient for some discussions of visual rhetoric but insufficient for others.
This course will begin by exploring several attempts to define and classify visual rhetoric and visual argument in order to get a sense of the depth and breadth of current scholarship as well as multi-disciplinary perspectives that influence our thinking about rhetoric in the visual. This will lead us to explore questions such as: What are the relationships between and among visual, oral, written, and digital rhetorics? What language is best situated for articulating visual rhetoric? How do different disciplines and professions read, make meaning from, and compose visual texts? What influences do screens, hypertexts, and multi-modality have on visual rhetoric?
Students in this course will be asked to read, critique, analyze, and produce a number of visual texts during the semester. The course does not require any previous experience or expertise with digital technologies, though a willingness to explore and experiment with readily available composing technologies is essential.
Advanced Article and Essay Workshop (ENC 4311) is a course on the craft and art of creative nonfiction writing, only available for those students who have already satisfactorily completed Article & Essay Technique (ENC 3310) with a grade of B or higher. This course assumes you have a serious interest in creative nonfiction writing, as well as in discussing creative nonfiction writing 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. This semester, we will mostly limit our writing and study to: (1) portraits and profiles; (2) literary journalism/reportage; and (3) the personal essay. Accordingly, we will examine how various craft points are at work in a number of published nonfiction pieces. These works will serve as templates for imitation and inspiration, and we will look at each one with the aim of learning how to develop our own unique voices, as well as a stronger sense of narrative rhythm and pacing necessary for effective storytelling. That said, 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 short essay of between 500-750 words, as well as two longer essays (8-15 pages each). Also, please note that students will be required to purchase a course reader from Target Copy at the beginning of the semester.
This is a course about helping yourself, and helping others, 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 and media. Writing and editing are distinct, though related, skills, and editing yourself is a very different situation than editing the work of others. How often have you found yourself in a situation in which everyone seems to assume you already know how to write and to edit well? In this class, we openly confront the challenges of 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.
In this course, 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.
What is “citizen science” in the digital age? Known alternatively as "ecospeak," "popular science," and "science-based CSR," the phenomenon of moving scientific facts into the public sphere is one that deserves our critical, rhetorical, and editorial attention. What does it mean to reason well in media environments where formal ways of reasoning have become passé? How can readers recognize moral eloquence in advocacy blogs, or inductive logic in scientific campaigns? How much can rhetorical grammar influence the ways that we read an environmental impact statement? How do writers achieve elegance in the creation of technical information, or integrity in the construction of an argument that seems common or mundane? What difference does an understanding of "deep revision" actually make? And what does all of this have to do with how we participate in ongoing public discussions, inhabit the issues we care about, and bring alive the genres we write? In a highly charged, highly mediated public sphere, is it possible to contend with this discourse? We will grapple with these questions in theory and practice, paying special attention to a still-lucrative genre, the trade magazine, and spending considerable time composing across different genres.
Assignments may include some of the following: (1) a scientific and technical blog; (2) a Wikipedia article revision; (3) a scripted video documentary, with analytic reflection; (4) the creation of a weblog that hosts occasional posts and serves as a digital portfolio for your work; and (5) a reflective analytical essay that synthesizes course readings to explain (for an outside audience) what you have learned.
Please note that this is not a course in line editing. (Students seeking a course in line-editing should consider ENC 4212). However, this is a course that emphasizes the need to produce and circulate thoughtful, well constructed texts for a variety of audiences with different expectations and assumptions, and that includes thinking deeply about language in use. As this is an advanced-level continuation of the EWM gateway courses (Rhetoric, WEPO, and HoTT), you can expect to look carefully at writing, revising, and editing practices among specific discourse communities —academic as well as public—and in different media, while applying them to your own writing practice. Instruction will begin immediately on the first day of class.
This course will give you a strong foundation in critical theory in relation to literature and media. We will study some of the most important cultural theories for English as a discipline, and we will test and debate the analytical tools provided by different schools of thought. Some of the theories studied include critical race theory, feminist theory and gender studies, structuralism and poststructuralism, political economy, cultural studies, media theory, postcolonialism, ecocriticism, narrative theory, and performance theory. In case studies ranging from literature to film, television, popular music, and new media, we will assess these approaches for how well they explicate this cultural expression. Assignments include a midterm exam, a presentation in which you will synthesize and apply key theories, Canvas discussion posts, two shorter essays, and a longer final essay.
In this course, we will approach film theory organically through an examination of Alfred Hitchcock’s body of work as a film director. Indeed, French film critics of the 1950s encouraged a re-evaluation of film—and thus a re-invention of film theory itself—based on the belief that a director’s films reflect his/her individual artistry. Hitchcock was one of their primary and strongest prototypes of director as auteur, or author, who wields what they would designate as the “camera-pen.” Hitchcock’s body of work has since attracted substantial attention by film criticism, and his films have been analyzed through a variety of theoretical approaches, including structural, psychoanalytic and feminist. We will read film theory (Eisenstein, Bazin, Metz, Heath, Bellour, Doane, Mulvey, Modelski) and address the complex historico-theoretical relation between film theory and cinema with a particular focus on Hitchcock. We will further consider Hitchcock’s films as instruments that allow for the displacement of anxiety and the dispossession of socially unacceptable desires, fears, and traumatic memories. Film study will be comprised of both theoretical and mechanical elements; students will attend to structural elements such as cinematography, mise-en-scène, and sound. Course includes weekly film screenings on Tuesday evenings at 7pm.
Films for study will include: The Lodger, Rebecca, Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie
This capstone course for the EWM track investigates issues of textuality. We will examine theories of textuality in the context of media history. In case studies drawn from literature, graphic novels, new media, television, film, and popular music, we will be considering how "texts" generate circuits of meaning in relation to production, consumption, and socio-historical context. We will discuss some of the most compelling media trends today, including the rise of participatory fan culture, the turn toward serialized narrative, and new developments in visual realism (from documentary to reality television). We will also look closely at the relationship between media, popular culture, and folk culture. Our focus will be on U.S. culture, but we will consider questions of globalization and make use of transnational critical frameworks. Assignments include Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, two shorter essays, and the longer final essay. In a final project involving both theory and practice, students will get the chance to produce their own multimedia text and to analyze how their own work engages issues of textuality.
This class is an adventure in trying to answer the question posed in the course’s title. If you are up for this adventure, 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.
We will be exploring texts and textuality by creating a lot of different kinds of texts ourselves, by discussing how many other people have tried to answer the “What is a text?” question, and by looking for textuality in uncommon places. Can clouds be texts? What about dreams? By experiencing texts both intimately and at a distance, we will gain a fuller understanding of what a text can be.
Success in this class depends almost entirely on your honest and energetic engagement with the course activities and almost not-at-all with the instructor’s agreement with your final anwer to the course’s primary question.
To consider something a text is to regard it as having pieces that can be assembled and made sense of together, that is, as having resources available for meaning-making practices. What is not a text, meanwhile, is not merely undecipherable, no ciphers are in evidence. It is resource-less. Textuality, then, is a matter of enormous empirical significance, with human stakes attached that are nothing short of what thoughts can be thought, what things can be made, and which persons can do the thinking and making. This course is aimed at exploring the dimensions of power that surround everyday sites of collective meaning-making, and will draw from a wide range of media and disciplines to focus on the metaphors, motifs, and other literary devices used to “figure” the text and put-it-to-use.
Course work involves heavy reading and in-class participation; several short written projects, including revision; and three, non-cumulative exams.
This course explores the history of publishing and editing in the context of the colonial Caribbean, focusing on the production and distribution of printed texts during the period of Atlantic slavery and emancipation. We will explore the establishment of the Caribbean press over the course of the eighteenth century, when it served and facilitated the rise of a plantocratic economy dependent on institutionalized slavery. We will then turn to the emergence of an alternative press that challenged the planter class and forwarded the abolitionist cause, and that—in the wake of emancipation—agitated on behalf of newly-liberated working classes. The course examines publishing and editing as material processes, taking into account the physical and social conditions of textual production and reproduction. It relies extensively on archival sources, including works produced by the planter press, read and analyzed alongside readings from the Jamaica Watchman and Free Press, the first Anglo-Caribbean newspaper edited and published by people of color, and the Liberal, edited by Samuel J. Prescod, a Barbadian national hero. Through class readings, writing assignments, and projects, students will engage with such issues as readers and readerships (the public sphere), the “power” of the press and its implementation, and representations of a “free” press in slave and post-slave societies.
This seminar investigates the relationship between the cultural and historical conditions that characterize the two decades following World War II and developments in literature, as well as visual art, music, and other cultural forms. Blending literary analysis and cultural history, our goal is to explore how various cultural forms respond to, reflect, subvert, and shape the dynamics of post-World War II American culture. We will pay special attention to the radical, oppositional aesthetics that emerged in a wide range of fields, including fiction, poetry, music (jazz, rock), art, and movies. We will also consider the continuities and discontinuities between the allegedly placid 1950s and the turbulent 1960s.
Throughout we will be considering such questions as: how do these works address the contradictions of the American doctrine (or myth) of individualism during an “age of conformity,” and how do they respond to the changing nature of the family and community, the impact of popular culture, and shifting constructions of race and gender? In general, the course will explore how and why postwar American writers and artists invented unconventional aesthetic strategies to cope with changing ideas about the nature of the self, language and literary form, racial and sexual identity, and the nature of “America” itself, in a world undergoing dramatic transformations. Authors will likely include Shirley Jackson, John Cheever, Richard Yates, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, Thomas Pynchon, Joyce Carol Oates, Joan Didion.
As Markman Ellis observes in History of the Gothic, Great Britain’s position as the dominant slave trading nation during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries exerted a clear influence on the development of gothic fiction. In this course, we will read a variety of texts that demonstrate the intersections between the gothic and the “horrors” of slavery—works published before and after the abolition of that institution in the Anglo Caribbean. Texts to be covered include “Isle of Devils” and excerpts from Journal of a West India Proprietor by Matthew Lewis, author of one of the most famous eighteenth-century gothic novels, The Monk; the little known Caribbean novel, Hamel, the Obeah Man (1827), which deals with colonial anxieties over African religious practices and slave insurrections; Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, the author’s creole reply to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, with its (creole) madwoman in the attic; The White Witch of Rosehall (1929), a persistently popular twentieth-century Jamaican gothic potboiler; Pauline Melville’s Migration of Ghosts, a collection of short stories whose gothic overtones reflect the haunting legacy of slavery and colonialism; Erna Brodber’s Myal, an exploration of the process and cure of the processes of “zombification” and “spirit thievery” in post-slavery Caribbean culture; and, finally, Marlon James’s historical novel describing an uprising on an eighteenth-century Jamaican sugar estate, The Book of Night Women, described in the New York Times Book Review as an “experiment in how to write the unspeakable—even the unthinkable” realities of life during slavery and all the modes of resistance to them.
In examining the ways that slavery and race informed and “Gothicized” popular conceptions of the Caribbean, we will draw on a number of theoretical approaches—e.g., postcolonialist, feminist, and materialist theories—found in the critical conversations surrounding these primary texts.
“ '. . .As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.' ” --Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
From Chaucer's Wife of Bath onward, women who "get around" have been viewed with fascination and loathing by masculinist power, and female mobility (when not enforced by "the traffic in women"--as wives or as slaves) has been stigmatized, eroticized, exoticized, and demonized. At the same time, having the means to travel—and the intellectual and spiritual freedom travel proffers—can be celebrated as marks of an individual woman's empowerment within a given culture. This course is premised on the notion of travel and mobility as feminist issues and focuses on texts by the most well-traveled and esteemed female authors writing in English. Here are some highlights from our reading-list: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis; Cheryl Strayed, Wild.
NB. This course is READING INTENSIVE and adheres to a strict BOOK-ONLY policy. Students are required to purchase hard copies of all assigned readings. Moreover, the use of portable electronic devices in the classroom is strictly prohibited.
This course is designed to increase your enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s plays through a close reading of the play texts in relation to performance of the plays, their social and historical settings, and the development of the plays as dramatic performances, on stage and on film. We will cover only a few of Shakespeare’s 43 extant plays, but we will examine the broad spectrum across which Shakespeare wrote for a popular audience: comedy, romance, history, and tragedy. In taking this approach, we will necessarily also examine William Shakespeare, the man, and the cultural milieu of the Early Modern Period in which he wrote. Performance is key to understanding Shakespeare, so we will watch films of staged performances.
Required Texts: The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition (which will also give you online access to all of the plays).
This course explores the period between roughly 1350 and 1650 as the beginning of modernity. The Renaissance, or early modernity, is a period marked by five major cultural revolutions: the rediscovery of Classical culture, the invention of the printing press, the discovery of the New World, the reformation, and the birth of modern science. All of these revolutions take place as human beings start thinking of themselves and their relationship to nature and to the divine in radical new ways. The way we think of humanity and its role in the universe, the ways in which we conceive science and religion were in many ways modeled in this period. The course will be looking at some of the most interesting transnational examples of poetry and prose of the time. We will work with fictional and non-fictional works written originally in Latin and English, French and Spanish, Italian and German. In authors as diverse and influential as Thomas More, Christine de Pizan, William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, Machiavelli, Erasmus, Michel de Montaigne, Margaret Cavendish, Pico della Mirandola and others, we will find new notions of mankind and its role and place in the world, of science as a secular and anti-dogmatic endeavor, and of religion as an moral and spiritual enterprise.
“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 serve as 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. Students from all majors and areas of concentration are welcome.
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.
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, World War I poetry, realist film, Virginia Woolf, W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Samuel Selvon, Ken Loach, Bernardine Evaristo, Kamila Shamsie, 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.
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
This Summer Intensive class is designed to increase your enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s plays through a close reading of the play texts in relation to performance of the plays, their social and historical settings, and the development of the plays as dramatic performances, on stage and on film. We will cover only a few of Shakespeare’s 43 extant plays, but we will examine the broad spectrum across which Shakespeare wrote for a popular audience: comedy, romance, history, and tragedy. In taking this approach, we will necessarily also examine William Shakespeare, the man, and the cultural milieu of the Early Modern Period in which he wrote. Performance is key to understanding Shakespeare, so we will watch films of staged performances.
Required Texts: The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition (which will also give you online access to all of the plays).
This course will include a selection of important works written by American authors from 1865 to the present. In addition to gaining an understanding of the works themselves and the historical moment in which they were written, we will look at the question of American identity and how some of those characteristics may have evolved.
This course surveys literature written in English from 1800 to the present. We’ll study landmark moments and movements in literary history across a range of genres (fiction, autobiographical narrative, essay, poetry, drama,), authors, and audiences. No course can offer a comprehensive view of this immense field, but you’ll gain a better understanding of some major approaches to writing and reading as English-speaking authors experimented with new (and old) techniques and ideas. We’ll learn to distinguish Romanticism and romance, sentimentalism and sensationalism, realism and naturalism, modernism and postmodernism. We’ll sketch out the relations between British writing and its others in Britain’s long imperial shadow: in America, the Commonwealth countries, and Anglophone countries in Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia, and South America. The course will help you track English literary history by mapping significant features both formally, in the text, and culturally, outside the text. We’ll examine developing models of education and voice, definitions of home and away, and distinctions between history and modernity (or tradition and innovation) in light of the changing roles of gender, sexuality, race, nation, empire, and diaspora.
This course will examine issues in Modern Irish Literature with special attention given to contemporary Irish poetry, puncuated with selected works of fiction, drama, and film. We will discuss emerging trends in Irish poetry, the legacies of modernism and colonialism, the history of emigration and sectarian conflict ("the Troubles"), the relation between poetry in Irish (Gaelic) and poetry in English, the institutionalization of Irish literature in the American academy, and varying conceptions of Irish poetry as postcolonial, transnational, and world literature. In doing so we will explore how Ireland's complex and troubled history has given shape to a rich and complex literature. The poets studied will include W.B. Yeats, Louis MacNeice, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Medbh McGuckian, and Derek Mahon, among others, as well as drama and fiction by Brian Friel, James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, and Donal Ryan.