Fall 2020 Course Descriptions

Fall 2020


ENGL 501-01: Independent Study - (Professor TBA)

  •  (This section requires permission from instructor)

ENGL 504-01: ADV CW II: Poetry – Professor Maxwell

This course will revolve around writing poems and developing confidence about reading poetry and providing feedback on peers’ work. Our reading focus will be on poems of social engagement. In our foundational text, American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement, Michael Dowdy identifies poets working in this vein as those who “create sites, forms, modes, vehicles, and inquiries for entering the public sphere, contesting injustices, and reimagining dominant norms, values, and exclusions,” and the anthology illustrates the ways in which poems of social engagement can accommodate the personal, the private, and the public. This is to say, you won’t be asked to write overtly political poems, though you are welcome to try out any content you’d like. In The Poethical Wager, Joan Retallack brings together the poetic and the ethical in the “poethics” she describes and champions. Our goal in the course will be to occupy a “poethical” position and engage in writing experiments that prioritize investigation of—and interaction with—the world “on its terms.” Participants will submit poems for workshop; produce new work in response to prompts and challenges; read published work by such writers as Juliana Spahr, Nomi Stone, C.D. Wright, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Harryette Mullen, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Jennif(f)er Tamayo, and Cathy Park Hong; and visit the Archives and Special Collections to develop an investigative poetry sequence.

  • This course is an elective for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 506-01: TEACHING OF WRITING - Professor Kopelson

“The Teaching of Writing” may sound like a straightforward and pragmatic course in direct application. It is not. It is a course that poses and strives to answer big questions: What even IS writing? To what ends do we teach it? If we feel we know what writing is, what kind(s) should be taught, and again, to what ends—that is, what should be our goals for “teaching writing”? These are the large questions with which we begin the course, and to which return again and again throughout the semester. It shouldn’t be long before we begin to discern that “teaching writing” is not only difficult to define and hardly a straightforward or objective task, but a phenomenon loaded with ideological assumptions that has complex social, personal, disciplinary, and even political implications and ramifications.

Readings in the course are drawn from Composition Studies and Education scholarship and will cover such issues as: the writing process (invention, revision etc.), error, teaching grammar, teaching argument, the place of the personal in academic writing, writing about literature and writing in other disciplines, language difference in writing, responding to student writing, peer collaboration, writing with technology or writing in the digital age etc. This is not an exhaustive list.

Course requirements may include but are not limited to: regular and rigorous participation in all discussion activities, weekly written responses to the readings, various reflective or narrative writings, a journal review and/or teacher interview project (or similar smaller research projects), and a final course project to be determined based on student interests, needs, and plans for their futures.  These requirements will be further specified in the syllabus.

  • This course is an elective for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 509-01: Special Topics: Transmedia Storytelling in Theory & Practice – Professor Sheridan

An important contemporary composing trend is “transmedia storytelling,” or when composers engage, persuade or inform users through a variety of delivery channels (e.g., social media, radio, film) in ways that coordinate the user’s experience. Without knowing this name, you’ve experienced transmedia storytelling in pop culture or with businesses many, many times (e.g., the synergy [and sales] in Marvel comics and movies). In this class, we will explore what “transmedia storytelling” is and how it is being taken up in Writing Studies.  The first two course units will explore foundational disciplinary works in “multimodality” and “circulation studies.” The second two units will explore “transmedia storytelling,” first from Henry Jenkins media lens and then through our field’s disciplinary lenses. We will read disciplinary and popular culture readings, and compose in a variety of modes.  No previous media experience is required. 

  • This course is an elective for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 522-01: Structure of Mod ENGL - Professor Stewart, Jr

Examination of the structure of modern English language; emphasis on grammatical terminology and systems of classification. Students collect and analyze linguistic examples, spoken and written. Recommended for prospective English teachers.

  • This course is an elective for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 550-01: We Will Take to the Water: African American Writing about the Sea – Professor Anderson

The sea has been foundational to Black America--not only because of the Middle Passage, but because generations of African American took to the sea to travel around the world, gain literacy, acquire freedom, find gainful employment, secure geographical and cultural knowledge, build seaport communities, and spread news and ideas throughout the African diaspora.

 The sea also helped lay the foundations of African American literature: mariners wrote the first six autobiographical narratives in the tradition, Phillis Wheatley was influenced by the maritime economy of Boston, and Frederick Douglass came to understand freedom while living in the seaport of Baltimore.

This course examines African American experiences at and by the sea through two-and-a-half centuries of literature that encompass the Middle Passage, work at sea and on shore, civil rights, travel and exploration, the bliss of recreation, and concern for the environment.

Possible readings would include Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Pauline Hopkins, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, James H. Williams, Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Johnson, and August Wilson

  • This course satisfies the post-1900 literature requirement for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 551-50: Starting Your Novel - Professor Strickley

Every novel begins with a great idea, but not every great idea makes for a compelling novel. How do you know if your idea is strong enough to sustain a book-length work? What are the tried-and-true methods for transforming ideas into pages? In this online workshop, the focus will be carefully establishing the groundwork for the composition of a novel. Students will pre-write their way through a cast of characters, major plot points, and thematic concerns; they'll learn the value of an outline; and they’ll experiment with voice and point of view. If you’re comfortable with rolling writing deadlines and with the idea of interacting with others online, this is the right workshop for you; if not, a conventional creative writing course might be a more appropriate choice.

  • This course is an elective for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 551-51: Starting Your Novel – Professor Strickley

Every novel begins with a great idea, but not every great idea makes for a compelling novel. How do you know if your idea is strong enough to sustain a book-length work? What are the tried-and-true methods for transforming ideas into pages? In this online workshop, the focus will be carefully establishing the groundwork for the composition of a novel. Students will pre-write their way through a cast of characters, major plot points, and thematic concerns; they'll learn the value of an outline; and they’ll experiment with voice and point of view. If you’re comfortable with rolling writing deadlines and with the idea of interacting with others online, this is the right workshop for you; if not, a conventional creative writing course might be a more appropriate choice.

  • This course is an elective for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 555-01: Coop Internship-CUE – Professor Chandler

This coop course is designed to accompany an internship that has approved for three hours of credit. The course requires descriptive and reflective writing about the internship, in the form of weekly reports, as well as a substantial final research project, a portfolio and evaluation by the intern’s site supervisor.

ENGL 567-01: Contemp. African Fiction-WR; CUE – Professor Willey

The critical canon of African literature often focuses on the literature of the 50s, 60s and 70s, the realist novels of fight for independence and the slightly more cynical postcolonial novels of disillusionment.  Since the turn of the 21st century, however, the scholarship has opened up space to explore many of the lesser known (and respected!) genres of writing that are emerging from young authors on the continent and living in the diaspora. In this class, we will explore the genres of recent African fiction from the graphic novel Aya of Yop City to Nnedi Okorafor’s sic fi novel, Who fears Death, to the epic genealogy of Uganda, Kintu by Jennifer Makumbi.  We will take a dip into a short story cycle, Lesley Arimah’s What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, which also asks us to think about recent engagements with magical realism and fabulism.  Throughout the semester, we will be asking questions about genre conventions, intended audiences, and the literary imagination in an increasingly globalized world.

Reading list:

  • Half of a Yellow Sun (romance)
  • Who fears Death (Science Fiction)
  • Kintu (epic)
  • What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky  (short stories—magical realism)
  • Aya: Life in Yop City (graphic novel)
  • This course satisfies the post-1900 literature requirement for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

 ENGL 574-01: Literatures of Dissent in American Culture – Professor Kelderman

This course examines traditions of protest and political engagement in multi-ethnic American literature, from 1960 to 1994. Throughout the semester, we will read dissenting voices in such texts as Lakota author and activist Vine Deloria, Jr.'s Custer Died for Your Sins, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Anna Deveare Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, and Tony Kushner's Angels in America. In doing so, we will consider the relation between contemporary American literature and various historical moments and movements, the Civil Rights Movement, the American Indian Movement, the Chicano Movement, the LGBTQ rights movement, and the protests following the 1992 LA riots. In doing so, we will consider how these literatures intersect with broader literary traditions as well a questions of class, gender, sexuality, and race in the United States. Across our readings, we will explore a central tension: while these texts offer sometimes radical challenges to social and political institutions in the US, they also worked within literary traditions that made such critiques legible to wider publics. In looking at this recent literary history, we will reflect on our current moment, when issues of race, sexuality, and indigenous sovereignty continue to be at the forefront of cultural and political debates. Assignments include discussion board posts, three short response papers, and a substantial research paper.  

  • This course satisfies the Post-1900 literature requirement for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 599-01: Podcasts, or Airwaves 2.0 – Professor Schneider

The rise of podcasting can to some extent be explained by the expansion of digital recording mediums, which have made it easier to record and distribute content across a variety of platforms.  But in other ways, the podcast seems to buck the sort of trends that define new media: they aren't multimedia, resembling radio more than anything else; they are long, despite claims that consumers no longer have much by way of attention spans; and they often follow release schedules that make binging difficult.  In this class, we'll look at a variety of podcasts and literature on podcasting to see what we can make of the success of podcasts as a cultural form.  Students will be asked to listen to at least three different podcasts, write responses and critical papers, and, optionally, to create their own podcast episode.

  •  This course is an elective for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 601-01: – Introduction to English Studies - Professor McDonald

This course introduces students to the field of English studies, broadly conceived, with a special focus on contemporary trends in the humanities. In 2013, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences published The Heart of the Matter, a report that argued for the continued relevance and value of the humanities in the face of declining enrollment and budgetary cuts. This course will begin with a brief history of the alleged “crisis” or “death” of the humanities before considering how new directions in reading, writing, researching, thinking, and knowing might work to revitalize and refocus the English major and the humanities more generally. In this work, you will encounter cutting edge ideas, tools, and modes of critical inquiry such as creative criticism, generous thinking, ecofeminism, media thinking, and more. In so doing, you will 1) join a lively, ongoing debate about the current shapes and possible futures of the English major and 2) develop specific research, written, and oral communication skills that you need in order to join such conversations.

  • This course is a requirement for MA students.

ENGL 602-75: Teaching College Composition - Professor Johnson

English 602 will draw on contemporary and canonical debates in Rhetoric and Composition to both learn about the field and inform the creation of a syllabus for use in the Composition Program. Ideally, this will result a reciprocal process as the practical creation of a syllabus, course assignments, and some lesson plans will provide context for learning about the histories, theories, and tensions circulating in and around Rhetoric and Composition. Conversely, contextual discussions should lead to informed practice that attends to effective writing instruction, institutional challenges, and the needs of contemporary writing students. In the end students will leave the class with the beginnings of a teaching portfolio consisting of the syllabus, course materials, and reflective materials outlining both what these documents represent about their budding teaching philosophy and how this philosophy actively responds to the intellectual work taking place in the discipline.

  • This course is a requirement for all PhD and MA GTAs.

ENGL 604-01: Writing Center Theory and Practice - Professor Williams

This course prepares incoming GTAs to teach in the University Writing Center. In this course we will discuss the theoretical foundations necessary for teaching writing effectively in a writing center. We will cover topics including ways of approaching writing consultations with students, responding effectively to student writing, the role of style and grammar instruction in the writing center, consulting strategies with multilingual writers, digital media and writing center work, issues of identity and power. We will read a variety of scholarship on issues of literacy, composition and rhetoric, and writing center work as well as discuss issues raised in weekly work in the University Writing Center. 

  • This course is a requirement for all MA GTAs. PhD students who wish to take it need permission from the instruction. In such cases, this course is an elective.

ENGL 606-01: Creative Writing II: Professor Griner *Requires Permission

This is a graduate level workshop-style course in the writing of original fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or drama.  Class sessions are used primarily to discuss work written by class members, which is distributed and studied in advance of the discussion.

As is true of most workshops, students know far better than I what they hope to get from this course, but I expect them to do a lot of reading and writing, to attend and participate in every class, and to revise thoroughly at least one of the pieces they workshop.  I also expect to see all of them improve as writers, and as readers and critics.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I expect them to become more “polished” writers; in some cases it may mean they're more willing to take risks, while in others it may mean they'll gain greater expertise in things they've already learned to do well.  Through readings and workshops, discussion, written work, etc., they will be working constantly at the art of revising, a crucial skill for all writers, but especially advanced ones.

  • This course is an elective for PhD students, although PhD students can apply up to 3 hours of creative writing to the literature requirement. It is an elective for MA students.

ENGL 665-01: The Serial Poem from the 1960s to the Present - Professor Golding  

This seminar considers the wide range of work done under the rubric of the “serial poem” or “serial form” by US American poets since the 1960s. Rachel Blau DuPlessis offers the following summary description of serial form:

Seriality is a way of joining small poems (or works) or fragments, in to one larger poem or concept (or work, working by and through these fragments). On a larger scale than line-blaze, seriality is also organized by gaps . . . , through sequencing, making a pulse of argument, a “progression.” Seriality produces structures of thought and places things in meaningful sequence (a trajectory of emotion, a pressure of thought) without necessarily creating story…. In seriality, the meaning is (meanings are) built by the ordering or sequencing of the parts (syntax may contribute to the possible procedures), by the nature . . . of the parts (image, phrases, line, fragmented word) . . . and by the varied intellectual and emotional relations of suture and leap among these parts.

Despite its widespread use and its great variety, the serial poem is surprisingly under-theorized or under-analyzed as a form. And yet some of the major poetry of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, especially work in a more exploratory or experimental vein, has been written in some version of serial form. How does the serial poem differ from the epic, the long poem, the lyric sequence? How have US American poets from modernism to the present used the serial poem to work through the relationship between the aesthetic and the political, issues of race, class, and gender, the changing nature of the social compact? What thematic and stylistic possibilities does working in serial form open up for a poet? More formal questions that the serial poem consistently poses include the relationship of part to whole, the competing drives toward openness and closure, the limits and possibilities of juxtaposition, fragmentation and discontinuity for structuring a longer poetic work, the various uses of documentary and appropriated language—all questions to which we will return often in the course of the semester.

For historical perspective, I expect that we’ll begin with Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Book of the Dead.” For the rest of the semester, readings will be drawn from some combination of the work of George Oppen, Robert Creeley, M. NourbeSe Philip, Susan Howe, Nathaniel Mackey, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Harryette Mullen, Mark Nowak, Robin Coste Lewis, Claudia Rankine, Philip Metres, Douglas Kearney, and Kristin Prevallet. 

Students in this course will: 

--develop or expand their critical and theoretical vocabulary for the discussion of poetry

--develop an in-depth understanding of an influential 20th- and 21st-century poetic mode and of the central works written in that mode

--if they are creative writers, expand their understanding of the range of possible formal tools at their disposal

--review or learn about some central features of the history of twentieth-century American poetry

  • This course satisfies a literature requirement for PhD students. It satisfies the post-1900 literature requirement for MA students.

ENGL 681-01: Queer Victorians – Professor Lutz

In this course we will read and discuss nineteenth-century writers who, in today’s terms, could be called queer. They cross dressed, had same-sex sex and “marriages,” cruised, slummed, and wrote and read gay pornography. Yet identities we would today call “transgender,” “genderqueer,” “homosexual,” etc., wouldn’t take on their current forms until well into the twentieth century (and still remain malleable, ever changing). Other ideas and themes that will interest us, in their intersection with queer sexuality: material culture, collecting, photography, London as a modern metropolis, and the Gothic. We will read fiction and poetry from the period (by such writers as Oscar Wilde, Michael Field [pseudonym for the lesbian couple Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper], and Amy Levy) as well as diaries and autobiographical writing (by Anne Lister, John Addington Symonds, Edward Carpenter, and others). We will read theorist such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Sharon Marcus, and we will watch a few contemporary adaptations of these Victorian writings (like some episodes from the HBO series Gentleman Jack).

  • This course satisfies a literature requirement for PhD students. It satisfies the 1700-1900 literature requirement for MA students.

ENGL 687-01: Rhetoric at Nuremburg – Professor Rabin

The Nuremburg trials following the end of the second world war were an unprecedented attempt to bring the violation of human rights under the jurisdiction of international law. Over the course of thirteen trials members of the Nazi regime ranging from government ministers to concentration camp guards were tried for the commission of war crimes, the violation of national sovereignty, and most famously, complicity in the murder of approximately seventeen million people: six million Jews, five million Soviet civilians, three million Soviet POWs, two million Poles, three hundred thousand Serbians, two-hundred and fifty thousand of the disabled, two thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses, and hundreds of homosexuals, political opponents, and resistance fighters. It was for these trials that the word ‘genocide’ was coined.

The Nuremburg Trials also produced an unparalleled documentary archive concerning the behavior, legal defense, and psychological state of the defendants. This archive will be the subject of this course. We will be less interested in the specific procedures of the trials than we will be in the myriad rhetorical strategies employed by the accused to justify their actions and exculpate themselves—legally and morally—for their complicity in Hitler’s regime. We will use theirwords, confessions, and testimony as a case study in the relationship of rhetoric to ethics. We will consider what the various rhetorical strategies employed by the accused reveal about their sense of their past, their view of their crimes, and their reaction when the find themselves held to account.

  • This course satisfies the rhetoric requirement for PhD students. It is an elective for MA students.

ENGL 692-01: Queer Theory Course Description – Professor Kopelson

This course provides an (ironically, somewhat straight and linear) overview or survey of what might (also ironically) now be considered the “canon”—or at least some canonical texts and theorists and concerns—of queer theory. We will begin with texts and theorists that have retrospectively been understood to found queer theory; move through queer theory’s heyday of the 1990s; and then spend the last third of the course examining more contemporary manifestations of queer theory (early-2000s—present), particularly as these work within and against “queer’s” normalization and domestication and attempt to expand queer theory’s intersections and areas of inquiry. Course requirements will include regular and rigorous participation in class discussion; weekly written responses to the readings; and a final course project to be determined.

  • This course satisfies the theory requirement for MA and PhD students.