Spring 2018

ENGL 504-01: Advanced Creative Writing II – Poetry: T/Th 2:30 – 3:45PM: K. Maxwell

This upper-division poetry workshop will center on the serial (or series) poem and extended poetic inquiry. Class members will read and comment on published work and writing by peers and will generate new work in response to reading material, prompts, and writing experiments provided by the instructor. Readings include poems by Jack Spicer, Anne Carson, George Oppen, Inger Christensen, C.S. Giscombe, Lynn Xu, Frank O'Hara, and Christine Hume, among others.

ENGL 506-01: Teaching of Writing: M/W 4:00 – 5:15PM: T. Johnson

The Teaching of Writing is an introduction to the theories, research, and practice that informs the effective teaching of writing. Beginning with theories and research that examine what writing is, why it is important to teach writing, and how best to teach writing, the course will then move on to applying these concepts to practical applications (syllabi, assignment trajectories, paper comments) for teaching writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Guided by the common assumption that teaching is theory in practice, and that one must be reflective about one’s practice (continually examining and revising) to be an effective teacher, we will interrogate popular theories of writing with the goal of developing our own theories and approaches to teaching writing. Students should leave the course with the ability to draw connections between theories of writing, learning, teaching, and classroom practice as well as strategies for curricular, syllabus, and assignment design.

ENGL 510-01: MA Internship: N/A: S. Schneider

 *This section requires permission

ENGL 523-01: History of the English Language: T/Th 9:30 – 10:45AM: T. Stewart

This course traces the development of English from Old English (AngloSaxon) origins, through the Middle English (e.g., Chaucer) and Early Modern English (e.g., Shakespeare) periods, to Present-Day English. The course has a double emphasis: (1)internal history (diachronic change), or how grammar and vocabulary change with use over time and space, and (2)external history (language and dialect contact), including influences such as the 9th century settlement of Vikings in Britain and the 11th century Norman-French conquest of Britain.

Because English hasn’t been “perfected” (whatever that would mean), it hasn’t stopped changing and it won’t, as long as people use it as a living language. In order to speculate as to how English might change in the future, this course will also consider regional dialects, and both current and post-colonial English vernaculars around the world. Successful completion of this course will provide the student with:

  • greater appreciation for the fluidity of language usage,
  • broader understanding of the socio-political contexts for language change, and
  • increased ability to describe language phenomena objectively.

ENGL 546-01: Jane Austen: M/W/F 11:00 – 11:50AM: K. Hadley

This course will focus on the recent (1990s) obsession with bringing Jane Austen’s works to the screen. We will begin by reading several of her novels and considering issues central to them, issues such as passion, romance, wealth, manners, social commentary and historical context. In viewing corresponding film versions, we will then consider the creative, collaborative, process of translating literature to the medium of film, and the consequent increased attention to details such as scenery, fashion, and physical beauty. Why is it, we will ask with one Austen critic, that translations too faithful to the books cannot achieve broad enough appeal for the movie industry? Course goals include students refining their abilities to analyze texts: literary, critical, and filmic. Students will familiarize themselves with the basics of research in literature and film, including the consideration of theoretical approaches to literary and cultural studies, and the incorporation of secondary sources into their own argumentative writing.

ENGL 551-75: Studies in African American Literature: Th 5:30 – 8:15: K. Logan

This course is an in-depth study of African American Literature through a representative sampling of primary texts (fiction, drama, poetry), from Phillis Wheatley to Charles Johnson. It seeks to acquaint students with the thematic and aesthetic concerns of African American writers, as it outline the theoretical and critical underpinnings that address, among other things, the Middle Passage, plantation slavery, Emancipation, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights movement. We will examine how socio-historical, cultural, and political dynamics enable the creation and growth of this literature, with particular focus on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class. 

ENGL 552-01: Detective Fiction: M/W 2:00 – 3:15PM: S. Schneider

In this course, we’ll take a broad look at detective fiction in the twentieth century.  Not only will we look at different genres of detective fiction—including the country manor mystery, the locked-room mystery, the hardboiled detective novel, the inverted detective story, and the postmodern detective tale—we’ll also look at the figure of the detective in some detail.  Literary detectives aren’t simply highly intelligent private eyes, but also characters that examine our beliefs about narrative, society, and knowledge.  They encourage us to examine how we know what we know, and what we know about justice, truth, and guilt.  But just as importantly, detectives wrestle not only with crime and mystery, but also with gender, race, disability, and addiction.  This course will ask as a secondary question what it means to insist on balancing superhuman investigative skills with an all-too-human body. Possible authors will include Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Jonathan Lethem, Mark Haddon, Sue Grafton, Sara Gran, Walter Mosley, and Colson Whitehead. Assessment will comprise weekly reading responses, class discussion, and a larger critical paper on detective fiction.

ENGL 552-02: Victorian Travel Literature: T/Th 11:00AM – 12:15PM: M. Rosner

How did specific Victorians construct versions of Africa and their places in it? To find answers to that question, we’ll read and discuss several examples of Victorian travel/exploration stories (fiction and non-fiction).


ENGL 552-03: Youth in Jewish American Fiction: T/Th 1:00 – 2:15PM: R. Omer-Sherman

Jewish writers in Israel and North America have produced many provocative and lively narratives addressing issues and themes such as the experience of immigration and the ordeal of transition, the struggle between individuality and collective loyalty, as well as Holocaust trauma, often memorably told about, or from, the child’s or adolescent’s perspective. In Israel, the writer often seems to link the adolescence of the young state to the child’s own journey into individuality and adulthood. Confronting a variety of upheavals, transitions, adjustments, as well as the nostalgic impulse of looking back (and the intoxicating dream of imagining a future), the young protagonists created by writers are among the most memorable characters of the modern Jewish literary canon. In the end, childhood and coming-of-age narratives may well provide the most inspiring creative source for Jewish writers. Our readings will include short stories, graphic novels, and other fiction. We will also examine a number of films made by Jewish directors living in Israel and the United States. Assignments will include midterm and final essay exams as well as brief informal response papers.

ENGL 561-01: Chaucer :M/W/F 10:00-10:50AM: J. Turner

George RR Martin has admitted surprise to the great success of the Game of Thrones HBO show, which began as the A Song of Ice and Fire series of books nearly 20 years ago. One explanation for the widespread interest in a Game of Thrones is a continued cultural fascination with all things medieval—the “dark ages” that, when we take time to look closer, were where many of our modern attitudes and social institutions developed. In this course we will read Chaucer’s unfinished masterpiece the Canterbury Tales, a text that upends common stereotypes of the “dark” Middle Ages. Instead of an era of uniformly oppressive political, social, and religious institutions, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales reveal individuals struggling against repressive social forces. Our readings will be in modern and Middle English, but no knowledge of Middle English is necessary to enroll. The course assignments will include a series of interpretative essays, which will be workshopped in class (and no exams).

ENGL 562-01: Shakespeare & Modernism: T/Th 2:30 – 3:45PM: J. Dietrich

This course will focus on Shakespeare's plays in relation to Early, High, Late, and Post-Modernity.   We will read six to eight of the plays and research production history.  Students will have a good deal of choice about the direction of their research, and their findings will guide our hypotheses about Shakespeare and Modernity.  Students can expect to write short responses to the daily reading assignments and do short research reports in preparation to write a ten-page paper.  This course is designed to help students build skills in writing, research, interpretation, and the construction of an argument from literary and historical evidence.

ENGL 567-01: Post-Colonial Voices: W 4:00PM - 6:45PM: K. Logan

This seminar will address some major trends in the development of postcolonial African American literature, delineate, and explore the historical, socio-political, aesthetic, and cultural conditions/forces that occasioned its advent, production, and dissemination. Participants will read, discuss, and critique selected primary texts (prose fiction) produced by writers form across the continent, as well as diverse theoretical and critical reflections that contextualize related key issues/topics the course seeks to address: imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, decolonization, post-colonialism, apartheid, orature, hybridity, gender, and identity politics, tradition, and modernity. 

ENGL 575-01: Studies in Chicago Renaissance: T/Th 9:30 – 10:45AM: D. Anderson

The course would focus on African American literature, art, and music in Chicago the 1930's, 40's, and 50's. As the Harlem Renaissance was winding down in the early 1930's, an even larger and more vibrant arts movement was starting up in Chicago, which was an important destination for African Americans leaving the South during the Great Migration. Chicago became a center of blues, jazz, and gospel music, as well as a center for visual artists (such as Archibald Motley) and such varied writers as Richard Wright, Margaret Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank Marshall Davis, and Dorothy West. The course might end with Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun in the 1950's, but might even take a peek at the Black Arts Movement in the 1960's. But the class is a good opportunity to study mid-century music, visual art, and literature, as well as race relations and housing practices that have profoundly influenced American life in the 21st century. 

ENGL 599-01: Literature of Lewis and Clark: T/Th 1:00 – 2:15PM: K. Petrosino

In this interdisciplinary seminar, students will study literary and historical materials related to the 1803-1806 journey of the Corps of Discovery, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson. Students will begin by examining texts authored by Jefferson, which describe his expansive vision of democracy as emblematized, for him, by his own estate at Monticello and the natural environment of Virginia (a landscape that included Kentucky until 1792). Further readings will include the journals and letters of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and others close to the expedition. Students will explore contemporary works of literature that contemplate the historical, linguistic, and cultural impact of the opening of the West, with particular attention to the contributions of women, indigenous peoples, and African Americans. Coursework, including local field trips, will give students the opportunity to produce research-based texts in scholarly and creative modes. This course is local and national in scope, as several members of the Corps of Discovery hailed from Kentucky.

ENGL 607-01: Creative Writing II: W 4:00 – 6:45PM: I. Stansel

This graduate-level course will allow students to expand and refine their understanding of the writing craft. This being an advanced class, students will be expected to demonstrate a working knowledge of literary concepts and vocabulary. We will read and discuss stories, plays, and poetry, and student will have the opportunity to turn in and “workshop” in any of these genres or combination of genres (including “hybrid” pieces). We will read and discuss published work, as well as a number of craft essays meant to expand and solidify understanding of literary concepts. We will also engage in research that should offer students’ work both breadth and depth. This is a discussion-based class and as such it will require that students show up each session prepared to discuss the reading for that day. Students will also write critically about a number of craft-based issues, as well as about the literary publishing industry and or the contemporary theatre.

ENGL 610-01: PhD Internship: N/A: S. Schneider

*This section requires permission

ENGL 615-01: Thesis Guidance: N/A: S. Schneider

*This section requires permission

ENGL 624-01: Rhetoric of Race in Medieval England: T 4:00 – 6:45PM: A. Rabin

This course will examine the development of notions of “race” and “racial difference” in premodern English culture. Our focus will be on “rhetorics of race”: the diverse linguistic and rhetorical strategies used to articulate and naturalize paradigms of ethnic, cultural, and biological otherness. Examining a wide variety of medieval literary, legal, and scientific texts, we will consider how such rhetorical models come to be, how they are used to justify notions of racial superiority, and how they persist in the modern world.  These are only a few possible subjects, and I suspect our discussions will encompass topics as diverse as the texts themselves.  As this is a discussion-based class, we will no doubt cover a wide variety of topics, and I strongly encourage students to bring their own intellectual interests into the classroom. 

ENGL 651-01: George Eliot: Victorian Rebel: W 4:00 – 6:45PM: D. Lutz

Marian Evans, who published under the pen name George Eliot, started writing novels rather late in life—when she was almost 40-years-old. Before she became a novelist she was a successful public intellectual and essayist, something unusual for a woman living during the mid-Victorian era. Eliot was a rebel in many aspects of her life. Her intense battle with her religious faith finally led her to atheism, and she developed in her novels a complicated secular humanism to replace it. She fell in love with George Henry Lewes, who was married and couldn’t divorce, but she moved in with him anyway, causing a scandal and leading to her social ostracization. Her novels are known for their psychological depth and their moral and philosophical rigor. In this course we will begin with Eliot’s essays and then move on to her major novels—Adam Bede, Silas Marner, Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda. We will explore what it was like to be a woman in nineteenth-century England—through her own biography and through the characters in her novels. Our discussions will focus especially on Victorian gender, sexuality, class, religion, technology, medicine, and race.

ENGL 664-75: The Serial Poem: Modernism to the Present : M 7:00 – 9:45PM: A. Golding

This seminar considers the wide range of work done in the Anglophone US under the rubric of the “serial poem” or “serial form” since the modernist period. The poet and critic Rachel Blau DuPlessis writes

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.

Or, from Joseph Conte:

The serial form in poetry is one of “those works,” as Barthes puts it, “whose fabrication, by arrangement of discontinuous and mobile elements, constitutes the spectacle itself.” The discontinuity of its elements—or their resistance to a determinate order—distinguishes the series from the thematic continuity, narrative progression, or meditative insistence that often characterize the sequence. … The series demands neither summation nor exclusion. It is instead a combinative form whose arrangements admit a variegated set of materials.

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 century, especially work in a more exploratory or experimental vein, was 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 material.

Arguably, Mina Loy could be said to have inaugurated the American serial poem “tradition” with the memorable opening to her 1917 “Songs to Joannes”: “Pig Cupid    his rosy snout / Rooting erotic garbage.” Likely readings include the work of Loy, Muriel  Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, Robert Creeley, Susan Howe, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Nathaniel Mackey, M. NourbeSe Philip (featured speaker at the Feb. 2018 Louisville Conference, who will be doing a meet-and-greet with graduate students during her visit), Kristin Prevallet, Harryette Mullen. The chronological range will run from modernism to the present; while the course is not designed as a history of twentieth-century American poetry, some overview and rethinking of that history is likely to be one happy side effect. On average, we’ll read the work in serial form of one writer every week or week-and-a-half, along with related critical / theoretical material. Requirements will include one or two shorter papers for in-class presentation, regular participation in an online discussion forum, a longer research project, and a conference abstract that will also double as a proposal for the research paper.

ENGL 674-01: Feminist Methods: Th 4:00 – 6:45PM: M. Sheridan

This graduate seminar investigates two questions:  What are feminist methods?; and,  Why might you use them in your own work? To answer those questions, this class will have three unequal parts: First, we will explore what makes a feminist method. Second (the largest part), we will explore how feminist methods have been taken up in Writing Studies.  Third, we will examine how feminist methods resonate with other methods.  Across this sequencing, we will balance reading about and practicing feminist methods prevalent in our field.

ENGL 677-01: Graduate Writing in the Disciplines: M 4:00 – 6:45PM: B. Boehm

Who is the course for?

  • Graduate and professional students who are taking courses or writing theses/dissertations.
  • confident writers who want to get even better, as well as those who lack confidence and feel their academic writing needs improvement.
  • International Students who speak English as an additional language and domestic students who are native English speakers.
Students will do a series of written assignments designed to help them lear the rhetorical conventions of their own academic discipline. They will:
  • Investigate best practices for research, writing, and publishing in their discipline. 
  • Reflect on their literacy and language background, habits, and goals.
  • Analyze article in their discipline for particular linguistic and rhetorical patterns. 
  • Apply what they've learned to a literature review project of their design.
  • Improve their ability to edit for grammar, word choice, and punctuation and to craft more incisive prose.
  • Participate in a community of peers who share their work. 

ENGL 681-01: Composing Identities Exploring Literacy, Culture, and Agency: M 4:00 – 6:45PM: B. Williams

The transformative power of literacy remains a pervasive concept in contemporary culture. Even within the field of literacy studies, where there have been critiques of the mythologies of literacy, the narrative that reading and writing can be empowering and transformative remains enmeshed in the institutions and scholarship. Yet transformation, if it happens, may be a complex set of experiences that are partial, recursive, and not uniformly positive. These experiences, and the social performances and personal conceptions of identity they shape, are vital to understanding literacy practices and teaching. This seminar will explore questions of literacy, identity, and agency that take place both in and out of school. We will explore how issues of identity and agency shape and are discussed in scholarship about literacy practices both in and out of the classroom. In particularly we will examine how conceptions and performances of identity intersect with issues of power, technology, rhetorical awareness, relationships, memory, and emotion. The seminar will finish with a discussion of the implications for pedagogy of theories and practices of literacy, identity, and agency. And we’ll try to have fun doing all of the above.

ENGL 681-02: Morphology: T/Th 2:30 – 3:45PM: T. Stewart *Crosslisted 


ENGL 687-75: Illness as a Culture: W 7:00 – 9:45PM: K. Kopelson

This is a broadly interdisciplinary course which will organize itself around, and immerse students in critical/theoretical texts on, a number of illnesses/disabilities or otherwise (and often unnecessarily) - medicalized experiences which have acquired extraordinary cultural significance in the contemporary period (defined for our purposes as 1980s-present): AIDS; breast cancer; addiction; depression/bi-polar disorder; autism; women's "reproductive health," aging, and death and dying. Essentially, the course asks why, how, and to what effects certain illnesses or medicalized conditions accrue the meanings that they do when they do and examines how these conditions and narratives around them work to reflect and define their cultural moments' ideologies, fears, fascinations, and concerns.

Reading will be drawn from fields such as literary and cultural studies, disability studies, rhetorical studies, philosophy, anthropology, criminology, and sociology. Course requirements will include participation in class discussion, weekly written responses to the readings, and a seminar paper. For PhD students, this course can serve as an elective. It cannot fulfill the rhetoric requirement. For MA students, the course is an elective. 

ENGL 689-01: Composition Exams: N/A: S. Schneider

 *This section requires permission

ENGL 690-01: Dissertation Research: N/A: S. Schneider

 *This section requires permission

ENGL 691-75: Contemporary Theory: Th 7:00 – 9:45PM: F. McDonald

This course is a graduate introduction to theories of literature, criticism, and interpretation. The central gambit of the class is that interpretative theory is itself a form of literature, a necessarily speculative and creative form of writing that seeks to answer (possibly unanswerable) questions that lie at the heart of the humanities such as: What is literature? How do we read? Is there such a thing as objective criticism? Who “authors” a text’s meaning? And why does it matter?  To do this work, we will read, historicize, and evaluate landmark texts in New Criticism, structuralism, deconstruction, poststructuralism, feminism, gender studies, queer theory, critical race theory, postcolonialism, and affect theory. In this course, you will 1) gain a nuanced understanding of the limits and possibilities of key interpretative methodologies; 2) map the changing dimensions of Theory as it has developed over time; 3) join current debates in the effectiveness of interpretative theory and the humanities more generally.