This course serves as an introduction to African American literature that refuses to take its own blackness for granted. Since race is a socially constructed fiction that rigorously maintains very real structures of privilege for some at the disadvantage of others, the perceived gains and losses enabled by racial passing have always been of the utmost concern to the African American writer. This course considers those texts that lend insight into how the African American literary tradition theorizes communal belonging in the face of a deep ambivalence around notions of racial identification and authenticity. It also suggests that this consideration offers a nuanced perspective on the canon of African American literature. Fiction and film will provide the opportunity to discuss privilege, surveillance, colorism, representation, and authenticity. We will also begin to think critically about the relationships between blood and the law, love and politics, opportunity and economics, and acting and being.
This is a period course that studies the origins and evolution of the American novel in its 19th century iterations. We will read chronologically and with attention to the period’s most important and popular novels, drawn from sentimental, gothic, various forms of the romantic, and the realist traditions, and supplemented by theoretical and critical materials. The course requires intensive and consistent reading, writing, and participation. Primary work: 5 or 6 analytic papers, varying in length from 2-5 pgs; an annotated bibliography; a 10-12 pg research paper, including several drafts and in-class workshops.
US popular culture is obsessed with what lies just beyond its southern borders. Television shows such as Breaking Bad, Narcos, The Bridge, and Weeds all depict white, Anglo-American protagonists who enter a world of drugs, violence, and crime along the borderlands connecting the US to the global south. While the border crossings of Walter White, Steve Murphy, Sonya Kross, and Nancy Botwin prove bumpy, it’s 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 works by contemporary Latinx artists, writers, and intellectuals.
In this nurturing, rigorous fiction workshop, the primary objective will be the creation and revision of competent apprentice-level literary short fiction. This course will make you a better writer—and a better reader—in a supportive, tough-love environment in which you're free to fail. You'll learn how to embrace the positive, liberating value of the kind of failure that's crucial to any true artist's apprenticeship.
At this stage in your apprenticeship, the number of technical skills you need to recognize and master is daunting. But we'll prioritize four bedrock fundamentals that you can think of the way a wannabe handyman might regard a hammer, saw, screwdriver, and wrench: basic stuff, but if you can't use them well, you can't do much of anything. 1. What's really meant by the oversimplified advice "show, don't tell." 2. Acute tension and chronic tension (what that means, how nearly all stories are an interplay between those two elements, and how those elements are created from the very opening of the story). 3. Basic short-story structure, with a particular emphasis on openings. 4. Basic narrative shapes.
"A writer," said Saul Bellow, "is a reader moved to emulation." "I know of no good, ignorant writers," wrote Richard Wilbur. "I think of great stories and novels," said Charles Baxter, "as permission-givers." This course will develop your writing in tandem with your reading, to eradicate ignorance, receive permission, and be moved to great heights of emulation. The strangeness of individual talent will not, I guarantee you, be blunted by such things. Quite the contrary.
For admission, students must have completed Fiction Technique with a B or higher.
In the advanced workshop, you’ll look at a variety of different kinds of poetry to generate ideas and use as a model for your own work. Students bring in a poem weekly that they share with their peers and professor, and then receive critical feedback on the work in order for the poem to achieve its highest potential. The final project is a 5-7 page paper in which you comment on three books of poetry you’ve chosen to consider for this essay.
Requirements include weekly poems, faithful attendance and discussion, conferences, craft lessons, and a final portfolio. Craft lessons will be drawn from Jack Gilbert’s Collected Poems (ISBN 0375711767). Students are advised to order the book now and become familiar with it over the summer.
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 this accretional process and extend them in one of two ways: the production of visual rhetoric, accompanied by an reflective analysis of that project, or 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 visual rhetoric.
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 course serves as an introduction to contemporary literary and cultural theory. We will take as our point of departure Avery Gordon’s assertion that “We need to know where we live in order to imagine living elsewhere. We need to imagine living elsewhere before we can live there.” This invitation to deeply contemplate the worlds we inhabit, to participate in rigorous social, material, and cultural critique of existing conditions of injustice to enable the perception of more equitable worlds, will animate our approach to the theoretical and literary readings we engage in this class. We will explore how theory allows us to read literature more closely while also attuning us to the broader stakes and politics involved in the act of interpretation. We will discuss how theory deepens our understanding of the structures of power, social hierarchies, norms and narratives that organize our conceptions of what constitutes identity, belonging, home, and the human.
Over the course of the semester, we will spend time carefully unpacking the central arguments and ideas of theoretical texts from a range of scholarly discourses, including critical race studies, postcolonial theory, gender and sexuality studies, ecocriticism, affect studies, and biopolitics. In order to facilitate our discussion of these challenging vocabularies, concepts, and debates, we will analyze the theoretical selections alongside short literary readings and strive to make connections between the works we engage and contemporary social and political phenomena.
English 4020 introduces students to the range and power of rhetorical praxis: theory as it intersects with practice. The course includes an overview of various rhetorical theories and provides opportunities for an application of those theories. This configuration of English 4020 focuses specifically on the relationship between rhetoric and (non)violence, exploring the ways in which rhetoric enacts, legitimates, and promotes (non)violence. Please note the use of the term (non)violence, for, if rhetoric performs, justifies, or initiates violence, it is also (potentially) facilitates nonviolence. We investigate the possibilities of both throughout our time together this semester. Grades will be based on two in-class essay exams, two projects, one final course paper, and class participation.
In this section of Rhetorical Theory and Practice, we will focus on contemporary rhetorical issues surrounding composing in the digital age. Students will produce texts in a variety of media and genres that reflect the ever-changing literacy practices of writers and reading publics, the development of new media through digital editing and publication, and how composers construct and negotiate various and contested identities. While this course includes academic reading and discussion of key concepts, the primary content of the class is the production of rhetorically informed digital texts. Students will complete four projects: a multimedia essay on fan culture, a digital archive exhibit, a “slice of life” mini-documentary, and a remix project.
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
As a place often defined by its history of racial terror, the U.S. South is paradoxically emblematic of the United States (think the representations of U.S. Americans outside of the country – often a cowboy or farmer with a twangy Southern accent), while also serving the internal function as national “other.” In the black imaginary specifically, the South functions as a mythical home in much African American narrative, possibly more so than even (re)imaginings of Africa.
Consequently, this course attempts to take on the ambivalent, slippery and fractured idea of the U.S. South in African American literature. We will do so by interrogating texts that offer contemporary readers historical constructions of the South as well as more recent texts that resituate and reconsider the place and value of the South in literature and popular culture. Our texts will be varied. They include slave narratives, fiction, memoir, photography, film, and music.
Text to film, film to text, text to video game, video game to film, amusement park ride to film and back again. These are only a few of the varied directions and media from and to which narrative content has been and continues to be transported. By studying fictional texts and their adaptations, we will analyze the decisions adapters make in translating works from one medium to another. The course will examine the source texts and film adaptations of works drawn from and translated into a variety of genres, including short stories, novels, novella, a modern play, a Shakespearean play, graphic novels, and video games. Each pair of works, a source and its adaptation, will provide an illuminating case study, and taken together, the works selected demonstrate both close and loose adaptations, “classic” and recent productions, and a wide range of approaches to adaptation.
What makes an English major, or rather, a literature major? Let me suggest that English majors relish the opportunities to read, to study, to plunge into the depths of, to get lost in, and, finally, to enjoy the acknowledged greatest literary works of all time. James Joyce’s Ulysses is just such a book. This Senior Seminar will spend the semester reading and studying James Joyce’s great novel, always ranked high, frequently number 1, on lists of the greatest works of literature—ever. ENG 4934 will read Ulysses closely, against its sources, especially Homer’s The Odyssey, and even look at some of its visual interpretations, especially the illustrations by Matisse.
[The 100 greatest novels of all time: #1 on the Modern Library List
"I hold this book to be the most important expression which the present age has found; it is a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape." —T. S. Eliot
"What is so staggering about ‘Ulysses’ is the fact that behind a thousand veils nothing lies hidden; that it turns neither toward the mind nor toward the world, but, as cold as the moon looking on from cosmic space, allows the drama of growth, being, and decay to pursue its course." —Carl Jung
"The greatest novel of the 20th century." —Anthony Burgess
"'Ulysses' is extraordinarily interesting to those who have patience (and they need it)." —John Middleton Murry
"It is difficult not to acclaim a masterpiece." —Virginia Woolf
This course is premised on the notion of travel and mobility as feminist issues. From Chaucer's Wife of Bath onward, women who "get around" have been viewed with fascination and loathing by masculinist-xenophobic ideologues, and female mobility (when not enforced by "the traffic in women"--as wives or as slaves) has been stigmatized, eroticized, exoticized, and demonized. At the same time, having the means to travel—and the intellectual and spiritual freedom travel proffers—can be celebrated as marks of an individual woman's empowerment within a given culture. (Never mind the mere right to operate a motor vehicle--only recently granted to Saudi women.) Required readings include classics by Aphra Behn, Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison, as well as more recent travel memoirs by women, such as Cheryl Strayed's best-seller, Wild.
Be advised that this course has a strict NO KINDLE POLICY. Required text-books are to be purchased in BOOK FORMAT ONLY.
This course fulfills the "W" requirement and the required Senior Seminar in the Major (Honors).
Yes!!! There were novels before Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters wrote them! This course is intended to introduce you to a variety of eighteenth-century works that preceded later novels like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights that are more familiar to English majors. ENL 4112 will enable you to develop a familiarity not only with these early novels, but also with the material and cultural circumstances in which they were produced. Throughout the semester, you will be called on to discuss the texts in class and to write about them in papers and on exams. In order to successfully fulfill the paper and exam requirements, you must exhibit not only a mastery of the course content (i.e., of the novels themselves and the background information provided in lectures, class discussions, and independent research), but also the ability to communicate your ideas using the critical and analytical techniques that characterize literary and cultural studies.
- Oroonoko (1688), Aphra Behn
- Fantomina (1725), Eliza Haywood (Canvas)
- Moll Flanders (1722), Daniel Defoe
- Pamela (1740), Samuel Richardson
- Shamela (1741), Henry Fielding (Canvas)
- The Adventures of David Simple (1744) and Volume the Last (1753), Sarah Fielding
- Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1761), Frances Sheridan
- Caleb Williams (1794), William Godwin
- Maria; or the Wrongs of Woman (1798), Mary Wollstonecraft
We have long characterized William Shakespeare as the transcendent “genius” of the English Renaissance, and his thirty-odd plays stand among the best that appeared on the nascent public theatre. Yet he did not work in a vacuum. Dozens of playwrights composed hundreds of plays from the erection of the Red Lion playhouse in 1567 to the closing of the theatres in 1642, in the process making the stage the preëminent medium for literary expression. During this seventy-five-year explosion of creativity, actors, playwrights, con-artists, aristocrats, and burghers all had a hand in generating some of the greatest works of prose and poetry in the English language. In this course we will study the best (and worst) plays, interludes, pageants, and entertainments of this period to gain a better appreciation of their experimental range and striking imaginative achievement. We will focus on both depth and breadth, i.e. we will read a wide variety of works as well as examining in detail select plays. An appreciation of the texts will emerge from close readings, in-class discussions, exploration of their historical contexts, and individual study.
This course will cover the poetry and prose of England from the end of the War of the Roses to the beginnings of the English Civil War. We will organize our readings around three different manifestations of Love: 1) Romantic Love, or the various ways in which writers have represented the relations between men and women; 2) Love of God, or the varieties of religious experiences found in literature from this time; and 3) Love of Community, or the literature celebrating tribal, civic, national, and political identities.
A detailed study of Paradise Lost and selected minor works, with emphasis on close reading. Two exams, one term paper.
This is a course about adaptation, medievalism and the “Reel Middle Ages.” We will learn about the theory and practice of film adaptation in general, and the transformation of medieval texts to film in particular. Some of the questions that we will seek to answer include: What makes an adaptation an adaption? Is adaptation a genre? What is ‘the medieval imaginary’ and what does it have to do with filmic medievalisms?
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.
This course will introduce you to the vibrant tradition of literature written in Britain from its earliest origins in the heroic Anglo-Saxon period up through the cosmopolitan close of the eighteenth century. Throughout the semester, we will cover more than a thousand years of literary history. We begin with the earliest written literature of our own language, the epic works of Old English, before exploring the magic of Middle English romance, the drama of the Early Modern English stage, and the globalism of the eighteenth century. The goals of this course are twofold: first, to introduce you to the central texts and authors that make up the first “half” (by volume, not by time period) of the corpus of literature written in Britain, and second, to demonstrate the continuity of the British literary tradition as a thriving expression of the social and cultural conditions of its time.
In this course we will explore the writings of a number of writers from the Caribbean. All of the texts are concerned with the role of women in Caribbean history and culture, and all deal with the influence and legacy of Atlantic slavery. Thus, even though most of the works covered in the class were published in the 20th and 21st centuries, they are “haunted” by the region’s colonial past.
Required texts include: Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688); The History of Mary Prince (1831); Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1962); Paule Marshall’s Chosen Place, Timeless People (1969); Michelle Cliff’s Abeng (1984); Erna Brodber’s Myal (1988); Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of Butterflies (1994); Jamaica Kincaid’s Autobiography of My Mother (1996); Edwidge Danticat’s Farming of Bones (1998); Pauline Melville’s Migration of Ghosts (1998); Marlon James’s Book of Night Women (2009).
This course will provide students with a firm grounding in modernism and modern American poetry. It will also give you the skills necessary to read, understand, enjoy, and write about poetry in general. We will engage in a comprehensive investigation of the major figures, movements, and innovative styles in modern American poetry, as we move from its roots in the 19th century (Whitman and Dickinson) to the mid-20th century. The course will pay special attention to ongoing debates about the definition and nature of “modernism”; to situating the poetry within its cultural and historical context; to issues of gender, race, and the dialogue between politics and poetry; and to modern poetry’s relationship with other developments in the arts, such as modern painting. Poets we will study include many of the most influential American poets, including Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Countee Cullen, and Robert Frost.
This course examines theories of popular culture and the emergence of mass culture. We will take seriously George Lipsitz's claim that "perhaps the most important facts about people have always been encoded within the ordinary and the commonplace." Of particular interest is how popular culture studies can help us understand our current moment of convergence culture, where old and new media interact in novel and ever more complex ways. We will analyze strategies of reading and reception as well as constructions of ideology in this material, including categories such as gender, race, class, and nation. The course interrogates designations such as "high," "pop," "mass," and "folk" as well as concepts of subculture, counterculture, and youth culture. We will focus particular attention on television and popular music, although we will also consider new media, film, and advertising. Our key theories and methodologies include media studies, cultural studies, audience studies, feminist theory, critical race theory, and postmodernism. Assignments include Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, two shorter essays, and the longer final essay.
A reading-intensive (a novel a week or the equivalent) exploration of prominent women authors in the Anglo-American tradition, representing a diversity of perspectives and working in a diversity of genres. We will engage in close textual analysis of classic works such as Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre along with more recent masterpieces by the likes of Toni Morrison and Sandra Cisneros. Requirements: weekly reading quizzes, two critical essays, class participation, 5-minute presentation, final exam. Be advised that this course has a strict NO KINDLE POLICY. Required text-books are to be purchased in BOOK FORMAT ONLY.
This course fulfills the "W" requirement.
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.