Spring 2012 Courses

020. Ghosts
Aviva Briefel T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Explores "actual" and metaphorical instances of ghosts in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary and cinematic contexts. Considers genres such as the Victorian ghost story, the gothic novella, and the horror film to grasp the various significations of a figure that is often defined by its ungraspability. Also introduces students to critical literature on ghosts. May include writings by Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sigmund Freud, and Henry James, as well as films by Alejandro Amenábar, Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan, and Robert Wise.
021. Of Comics and Culture
Elizabeth Muther M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
An introduction to comics, graphic narratives, and “sequential art.” Explores elements of the history of the comics—especially in a United States cultural context--while examining the formal dimensions of this hybrid art. Considers the cultural functions of this work in theoretical terms, as well as the sociology of its reception. Examines comics as personal narrative, social criticism, political commentary, fantasy, and science fiction, among other modes. Special focus on the functions of humor, irony, pathos, and outrage, as deployed in historical and contemporary comic forms.
022. Transfiguratons of Song
David Collings M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
A course in close reading. Explores poetry, primarily in the Romantic tradition, which dallies with the dangers of lyrical transport, whether in the form of fusion with the divine, aesthetic seduction, impossible quest, or physical transfiguration. Authors may include Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, Yeats, Crane, and Stevens.
060. English Composition
Ann Kibbie T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
Practice in developing the skills needed to write and revise college-level expository essays. Explores the close relationship between critical reading and writing. Assignment sequences and different modes of analysis and response enable students to write fully developed expository essays. Does not count toward the major or minor in English.
106. Introduction to Drama
Aaron Kitch M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Explores representative works from a wide range of genres and styles of theater, from the festival of Dionysus in ancient Greece through the Renaissance and into the global theater of the twenty-first century. Traces the evolution of plot design, with special attention to the politics of playing, the shifting strategies of representing human agency, and contemporary relationships between the theater and other visual media. Authors include Sophocles, Aristophanes, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Behn, Wilde, Beckett, Mamet, Wilson, and Churchill, with secondary texts by Aristotle, Brecht, Artaud, and Grotowski, among others. Students are asked to participate in staged readings during class and participate in group projects that imagine new ways to stage the plays we study.
111. Introduction to LGBTQ Fiction
Guy Foster M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
Using an intersectional reading approach, students closely analyze both classic and more contemporary lesbigay, trans, and queer fictional texts of the last one hundred years. Students consider the historically and culturally changing ways that sexuality has been understood within popular, medical, as well as religious discourses. And because gender conflict and the tendency to analogize the struggles of sexual and racial minorities are key features of this literary tradition, students are expected to engage this subject matter sensitively and critically. Possible texts include: The Well of Loneliness, Giovanni’s Room, Rubyfruit Jungle, A Single Man, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and The Limits of Pleasure.
128. Introductory Fiction Workshop
Brock Clarke W 1:00 - 3:55
Begins with an examination of some technical aspects of fiction writing. In particular, considers those that we tend to take for granted as readers and need to understand better as writers, e.g., point of view, characterization, dialogue, foreshadowing, scene, and summary. Students read and discuss published stories, and work through a series of exercises to write their own stories. Workshop discussion is an integral part.
139. Nonfiction Writing: Creative Essays
Celeste Goodridge T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Explores a range of sub-genres within the rich universe of contemporary non-fiction forms, including personal narratives, travel writing, food writing, the new journalism, and research narratives in the New Yorker mode. Students learn form and technique by engaging a variety of models within each sub-genre and write and workshop their own creative narratives in these styles. Extensive experience in writing creative non-fiction is not required. Designed to introduce students to the forms and to help them strengthen their research and writing skills in a workshop context.
206. Medieval Women's Writing
Megan Cook T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Introduces students to writing by, for, and about women in late medieval England. Our goal will be to trace the way these texts reflect and shape the social, religious, and domestic lives of women living in the period. We will focus on texts composed by women, such as the Book of Margery Kempe and The Showings of Julian of Norwich, but we will also read works by men written for women's edification and entertainment and texts about women written by and for men. Readings may include manuals for religious women, lives of female saints, and books of instruction for young wives, as well as medical and scientific texts. Attention will also be given to the literary history of these works, and to contemporary critical approaches to issues of sexuality and gender in historical context. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors
207. "The Uses of Nostalgia": Studies in the Literary Pastoral
William Watterson T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Readings in Theocritus, Vergil, Longus, Spenser, Shakespeare, Herrick, Milton, Marvell, Wordsworth, Hardy, D. H. Lawrence, Frost, and others. Topics include the myth of the Golden Age, Eden and the Fall, displacement of sensibility, the dialectic of town and country, the nature of primitivism, and the paradoxical mediation of nature by art. Attention also given to the theory and practice of pastoral scholarship over the last fifty years, with readings in Empson, Lévi-Strauss, Poggioli, Toliver, Williams, Montrose, and others. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
210. Shakespeare's Comedies and Romances
William Watterson T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Examines A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest in light of Renaissance genre theory. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
217. Advanced Fiction Workshop
Brock Clarke M 1:00 - 3:55
Presumes a familiarity with the mechanics of fiction and, ideally, previous experience in a fiction workshop. Uses published stories and stories by students to explore questions of voice and tone, structure and plot, how to deepen one’s characters, and how to make stories resonate at a higher level. Students write several stories during the semester and revise at least one. Workshop discussion and critiques are an integral part. Formerly English 129.
232. Women and the Eighteenth-Century Novel
Ann Kibbie T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Explores how women are represented in eighteenth-century fiction, and the impact of women readers and women writers on the development of the novel. Authors will include Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Frances Burney, and Jane Austen. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
242. Victorian Race and Empire
Aviva Briefel T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Examines Victorian constructions of racial difference and imperial relationships in literary texts ranging from the 1830s to the fin de siècle. Of central concern will be issues of representation and racialized identity; fantasies about nationhood and colonialism; narratives of “adventure” at home and abroad; and images of gender and sexuality. Literary criticism central to discussions. Authors may include C. Brontë, Conrad, Doyle, Du Maurier, Haggard, Kipling, Marsh, and F. A. Steel.
254. Twentieth-Century American Poetry
Celeste Goodridge T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
Begins with readings of William Carlos Williams, then takes up a number of contemporary poetic projects, including those of Philip Levine, Mark Doty, Louise Gluck, Laurie Scheck, and Amy Clampitt. Emphasis on different modes of poetic influence, the role of high and low culture in these canons, and the role of narrative, biography, and performativity in this work. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
270. African American Fiction: Humor and Resistance
Elizabeth Muther TH 1:00 - 3:55
Explores rich traditions of African American humor in fiction, comics, graphic narratives, and film. Considers strategies of cultural survival and liberation, as well as folkloric sources, trickster storytellers, comic double-voicing, and the lampooning of racial ideologies. Close attention will be paid to modes of burlesque, caricature, tragicomedy, satire, and parody in historical and contemporary contexts, including such writers and performers as Charles Chesnutt, Bert Williams, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Pryor, Ishmael Reed, Aaron McGruder, Dave Chappelle, and Suzan-Lori Parks. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
279. Asian America's Aging
Belinda Kong M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Asian American literature is dominated by voices of youth: the child narrator and the bildungsroman genre have long been used by writers to tell not only personal coming-of-age stories but also that of Asian America itself, as a relative newcomer into the American nation-state and its cultural landscape. Focuses instead on the latecoming figure of the aged narrator in recent Asian American fiction, who constellates themes of dislocation and reclamation, memory, and the body rather than those of maturation and heritage. Explores old age as a vehicle for engaging contemporary issues of globalization and diaspora; historical trauma and cultural memory; life and biopolitics. Examines these works within the paradigm of transnational Asian America, which goes beyond the United States as geographical frame to shed light on the new diasporic identities and cultural politics emerging from twentieth-century global transits. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
282. Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory
David Collings M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Explores works of critical theory that have had the greatest impact on literary and cultural studies over the past four decades. Considers representative examples of Marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, deconstruction, feminism, the critical analysis of power, historicism, queer theory, critical race theory, postcolonial studies, and trauma theory. Examines questions such as these: To what extent is any text consistent with itself, or does it inevitably undermine its key concepts in the course of articulating them? Do texts that encode social privilege resist it as well? How reliable are the oppositions that anchor critical reading, such as male/female, straight/gay, white/black, or home/exile? Where is meaning or non-meaning to be found in the author’s intention, the text itself, symptoms of its unconscious desire, the political ideologies in which it is implicated, or its intervention into its historical moment? Discusses work by authors such as Marx, Freud, Benjamin, Saussure, Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Bourdieu, Bakhtin, Zizek, Rubin, Sedgwick, Butler, Armstrong, Appiah, Lott, and Gikandi.
286. Forbidden Capital: Contemporary Chinese and Chinese Diaspora Fiction
Belinda Kong M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
“To get rich is glorious!”—so goes the slogan popularly attributed to Deng Xiaoping, who ushered 1980s China into an era of economic liberalization. Examines post-Tiananmen fiction from Mainland China as well as the diaspora that responds to, struggles with, and/or satirizes the paradoxes of socialist capitalism. Critical issues include representations of the Communist Party and the intertwined tropes of corruption and consumption, and sometimes cannibalism; debates on the democratizing promise of capital, with attention to the resurgence of nationalism and the geopolitics of the Beijing Olympics; and the new identities made possible but also problematic by this era’s massive transformations of social life, along the axes of sexuality, gender, and class.
287. Literatures of Global English
Hilary Thompson M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Explores modern and contemporary literature from around the world, considering modes of writing that have developed with the global spread of the English language and other languages’ collision with English. Attention given to vernacular writing and the embrace of so-called “non-standard,” “weird,” or “rotten” English. Examines ways writers have engaged with the history of colonialism and the forces of globalization as well as their attempts to forge a new cosmopolitan literature.
315. Contemporary African American Film
Elizabeth Muther T 6:30 - 9:25
Explores a spectrum of recent films about African American culture and history. Topics may include the documentary impulse in contemporary African American film; gender, sexuality, and cultural images; the politics of interpretation—writers, filmmakers, critics, and audiences; the urban context and the economics of alienation. One-half credit course.
319. James Baldwin
Guy Foster M 6:30 - 9:25
Examines the major postwar writings of the controversial African American author and the role his fiction and nonfiction played in challenging that era’s static understandings of racial, gender, and sexual politics. Although Baldwin lived abroad for much of his life, many critics associate the author narrowly with the U.S. black civil rights and sexual liberation struggles. In recent years, however, Baldwin has increasingly been recognized as a transnational figure and for his invaluable contributions to the discourse of globalization. Indeed, Baldwin’s “geographical imagination,” one informed by critical racial literacy, led him to anticipate many of the central insights of contemporary Queer Studies, Whiteness Studies, as well as Africana philosophical thought.
337. Queer Child
Peter Coviello T 1:00 - 3:55
Considers questions of desire, violence, and sexual identity in relation to a concept often understood to be defined by the absence of precisely those things: the child. We will ask: Is queer childhood only ever a notion assembled in retrospect? What kinds of relation obtain between queer adults and the children they were, and the children who come after them? What makes children queer? Readings may include James, McCullers, Woolf, Freud, Foucault, as well as the work of much contemporary queer scholarship.