Spring 2020 Course Descriptions

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

This course will revolve around reading and writing poems of social engagement informed by Joan Retallack’s concept of “poethics.” In The Poethical Wager, Retallack develops the term “poethics” in her “attempt to note and value traditions in art exemplified by a linking of aesthetic registers to the fluid and rapidly changing experiences of everyday life.” She describes the “poethical” as a “questing to know what can be known only by means of poetry, approaching what is radically unknowable prior to the poetic project, acting in an interrogative mode that attempts to invite extra-textual experience into the poetics somehow on its terms, terms other than those dictated by egoistic desires.” In this course, we will aim 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, Frank Stanford, Harryette Mullen, and Cathy Park Hong; and visit the Archives and Special Collections to develop an investigative poetry sequence. 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 504-02 ADV CW II:Fiction: Professor Griner

Welcome to 504, Advanced Creative Writing, fiction. We'll be reading a lot of published work and doing some in and out of class exercises, but the heart of the class will be workshops, devoted to your work. I hope to help all of you improve and expand your craft. If you're taking this for graduate credit, it will fulfill one of your elective courses. 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 506-75 Teaching of Writing:WR:CUE: Professor 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. 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 510-01 Grad Coop Internship-MA Level: Professor Turner


ENGL 549-01 Stud Post-Col/Eth Lit:CUE: Professor Kelderman

This course examines gender and LGBTQ identity in indigenous literature and culture, with a focus on writers from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Throughout the semester, we will explore the novels of authors including Louise Erdrich, Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Ellen van Neerven, and Joshua Whitehead, and poetry by Tommy Pico and Natalie Diaz. In addition, we will study the visual art of Kent Monkman and two films. Throughout the semester, a guiding question will be how questions of gender and sexuality inflect our understanding about the aesthetic and political questions that these works broach. As such, this course will introduce you to important works by indigenous authors writing in English, while advancing your understanding of gender and LGBTQ studies. Course requirements include a sequence of short writing assignments that practice different genres of writing, and a final 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 550-75 Studies in Afr-Amer Lit:CUE: Professor Logan

This seminar 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 outlines 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 essentially examine how socio-historical, cultural, and political dynamics enabled the creation and growth of this literature, with particular focus on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class. 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 552-01 Documentary Film: Professor Johnson

Increasingly, non-fiction film has emerged as a popular and powerful medium in the twenty-first century. Documentaries have shaped the public agenda (An Inconvenient Truth, Bowling for Columbine, Food Inc.); podcasts have taken on traditional institutions like law and economics (Serial, Freakonomics); most recently, there has been a marked rise in attention to pseudo-non-fiction in cinema as the biopic has emerged (The Big Short, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Straight Outta Compton, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile).  To understand this broad genre of non-fictional and visual texts, this course introduces students to the work of a variety photographers, filmmakers, folklorists, podcasters, and writers all working in a non-fiction capacity to record and persuade using visual materials.  We will be viewing and discussing traditional documentaries like The Thin Blue Line, Food Inc., and Harlan County, USA; non-fiction programming and podcasts from new content producers like VICE and Freakonomics; and a variety of commercial, industrial and educational films from throughout the twentieth-century. We turn to these texts in order to explore the narrative, aesthetic, and theoretical decisions the filmmakers have made. Students will be producing response essays to these materials as well as a final critical essay. 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 554-01 Women’s Personan Narr:CUE: Professor Griffin

Course examines issues such as race, class, religion, geography, and sexual orientation surrounding the writing/reading of women's personal narratives (e.g., diaries, letters, autobiographies, oral histories, biographies, and films) from the 19th and 20th centuries. Note: Cross-listed with WGST 520. Note: Historical period varies by semester; see schedule of courses. 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 562-01 Shakespeare:CUE: Professor Biberman

Between the Anthropocene and Extinction

What does it mean to talk about Shakespeare in the age of the Anthropocene? Pieter Vermeulen argues that within Anthropocene ideology, thinkers must accept as myth the idea that “the modern subject is the sole agent of history and that the Earth is only a passive resource.” How might the acceptance of this premise affect our understanding and presentation of Shakespeare—and how might the study of Shakespeare in turn allow us to further develop and nuance a theory for what we might call “actually existing Anthropocene thought”? In this course we will explore this issue by taking up three questions: first, what sort of notions of human subjectivity do we find modeled in Shakespeare and how might such notions force a reconsideration of human life as lived now in the Anthropocene age? Second, how does Shakespeare model elements of our planet, the earth—both as dramatic setting and as agent in his plays, and how might such Shakespearean elements force a reconsideration of our understanding of “the nonhuman” today? And finally, what is the function and place of art generally (and Shakespeare specifically) in a time of climate crisis?  In our study we will focus on the following plays: The Tempest, Hamlet, King Lear, Coriolanus, Measure for Measure, and As You Like It. Supplemental readings include pieces by Benjamin, Santner, Lupton, Latour, Derrida, Badiou, Zizek and Jameson. NOTES: Take Home Midterm (with an exercise in question construction), Final Paper (as 20 minute conf paper)--or approved alternate project, and a final presentation, with periodic short writings and brief in-class presentations. This course satisfies the pre-1700 literature requirement for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree. 

ENGL 563-75 Milton :CUE: Professor Billingsley

This course offers you an intensive reading of Paradise Lost, with collateral support from Milton's other works as well as some secondary critical material. Graded course work includes regular contributions to a Blackboard discussion group, weekly in-class exercises, and a long paper. Graduate students will have an additional assignment, as required by SIGS for graduate credit. Learning outcomes:  This course works toward completion of the English departmental student learning outcomes and the university’s CUE defining featuresThis course satisfies the pre-1700 literature requirement for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 564-01 Sel Figures Amer Lit (CUE): Professor Golding

This course will focus intensively on the work of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson—for many readers, the two most significant poets that the U.S. has produced—and on the extension of their influence into the recent past and present. While also reading their essays and correspondence, we will concentrate on Whitman’s and Dickinson’s poetry—on the development of their manuscripts, on their stylistic experiments, on such shared themes as the Civil War, sex/gender politics, and spirituality or religion, and on their reception. In the last few weeks of the semester, we’ll look at their influence on the work of later poets poets such as Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, and Susan Howe, among others. This course satisfies the 1700-1900 literature requirement. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level courses to their degree. 

ENGL 599-01 ADV Studies in ENGL:WR:CUE: Professor Schneider

In this course, we’ll examine the skills involved in professional editing.  We’ll look at how to work with sentence and paragraph structure to reveal meaning generally, but also via process such as paramedic method editing and author querying.  Students will learn basic editing skills, proofreading marks, and will look at the theories behind related activities such as indexing.  But more importantly, students will examine the “mind” of an editor as it’s described by professional authors and editors. Students will learn to use the Chicago Manual of Style, and complete weekly editing activities drawn from the CMS.  Assessment for this course may include editing and proofreading exams, workshops, author query sheets, and longer reflective assignments. 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 607-75 Creative Writing II: Professor Stansel

This graduate-level course will allow students to expand and refine their understanding of the writing craft through the reading, discussing, and writing of stories, plays, essays, and/or poetry. Student will have the opportunity to write 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. This being an advanced class, students will be expected to demonstrate a working knowledge of literary concepts and vocabulary, and as a discussion-based class students will require to show up each session prepared to discuss the reading for that week. 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. 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 610-01 Coop Internship PhD level: Professor Turner


ENGL 615-01 Thesis Guidance: Professor Turner

ENGL 620 Methods: Professor Sheridan

All methods courses explore how knowledge is made. To do that, methods courses investigate bedrock assumptions such as, What counts as knowledge? Who and what are recognized as knowledge makers? What theories and/or analyses guide research into these questions? In this class, we will both learn about research methodologies and practice particular research methods, with an emphasis on person- and document-based research. We’ll start the semester reading extended research studies and reflections by leading researchers as we explore broad methodological questions, such as: What are current questions and trends in our field? What are manageable research questions? How are these pursued, both ethically and practically? We will then conduct a few micro studies where you will try out common methods (conduct and transcribe interviews; engage in critical discourse analyses of texts; take field notes; code a data set) as you ask questions more particular to your interests, such as: How do I align my questions and my ways to investigate these questions? How do I pick particular practices and tools to investigate, gather, analyze, display, and distribute the information needed? Finally, after reading others’ research and tinkering with your own, we will end the semester by proposing (some aspect of) a research project you wish to pursue. This course satisfies the Methods requirement for PhD students. It is an elective for MA students. 

ENGL 644-01 Romantic Poet & Prose: Professor Hadley

The Anthropology of Biopolitics in the Modern World

In this course, we’ll begin by examining a specific set of circumstances related to the rise of capitalism and global imperialism in the late 18th century. In this context, we’ll explore the extent to which British global exploration in the period was directed toward the exploitation of natural resources in order to “feed” human mouths, a newly industrializing nation, and the new English fetish of gardening. Foucault has identified this convergence as the historical moment at which “life itself – both human and nonhuman – for the first time became the object of politics.” Where life as “bios” was newly at the core of capitalism’s mode of regulation, nature in all its animate forms was for the first time commodified.

A parallel investigation into the concept of biopolitics will be key to this course; as such we’ll track it from its origin in Foucault’s lectures at the College de France in the 1970s. There and subsequently Foucault has located biopolitics (“biopower”) as an emergent 17th century phenomenon, a form of sovereign power which aims to develop, optimize, order, and secure life. Biopolitics, generally understood, refers to the intersection of life and politics, to a distinctively modern disciplinary technology of power based on the administration of life as population.

Within the period, we’ll explore the biopolitics behind Carl Linneaus’s seminal classification system, and his early redefinition of natural science to within the context of economics, as the “science of natural products and their use for humans.” From here, we’ll take a turn toward more contextualized issues, for example to Erasmus Darwin’s titillating sexualization of botanical reproduction in his Loves of the Plants, and Kew Gardens as a sign of the English gardening craze in the period. We’ll also look forward to modern biopolitics and related issues of race (eugenics) and gender (reproduction). We’ll address accompanying ethical questions, such as the transformation of the earth in an age of climate change - with a glance toward its now-iconic advocate Greta Thunberg. And we’ll look at the various constructions of posthumanism and the Anthropocene, particularly as it characterizes the human impact on the earth’s geology and ecosystems.

Finally, lest this begin to sound overly abstract, I’ll leave open the final weeks of the semester for seminar participants to choose from among contemporary literary and filmic texts that engage these issues in meaningful ways. This course satisfies a literature requirement for PhD students. It satisfies the 1700-1900 literature requirement for MA students.

ENGL 654-75 20th C Literature: Professor Clukey

Once regarded as a marginal space within European and American cultural imaginaries, the plantation has lately attracted much greater notice. Scholars have embraced forms of inquiry that reveal the institution’s uncanny familiarity, its having long outlived the demise of slavery to become, as Jessica Adams has explained, a space that haunts the collective unconscious. No longer the emblem of a bygone social order, the plantation increasingly seems inseparable from and even productive of key concepts of modernity, including theories of property and personhood; ideas about labor and its scientific management; ideals of liberty and contests over the meanings of “freedom”; the extractive destruction that has led to climate change; impulses toward colonial control and anti-colonial resistance; and, of course, understandings of race and problems of the color line. This course will explore the ways in which the global plantation complex both instigates and complicates representations of the modern in history, literature, film, and popular culture. Possible texts include Octavia Butler’s Kindred (or its graphic adaptation), Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, slave narratives by Harriet Jacobs and Mary Prince, W. Somerset Maugham’s The Narrow Corner, Tran Bu Bihn’s The Red Earth, Rivers Solomon An Unkindness of Ghosts, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars, Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women, among others. We will also read a lot of historical and theoretical work, such as essays by Ed Baptist, CLR James, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing, Sylvia Wynter, and Edouard Glissant. This course satisfies the post-1900 course requirement and is appropriate for students with an interest in American studies, postcolonialism, critical race studies, and environmental studies. This course satisfies a literature requirement for PhD students. It satisfies the post-1900 literature requirement for MA students.

ENGL 673-01 Rhetoric & Poetics: Professor Turner

This course is an historical survey of major theories of rhetoric and poetics with special attention to how those theories impact modern institutional configurations. We will begin with Aristotle in ancient Greece, march through Rome, the European Middle Ages, and the early modern period before turning to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and the formation of the modern university. In doing so, we will map the current manifestation of rhetoric/poetics' history onto disciplinary formations: the rise of departments of English, their fracture, and the development of departments dedicated to Writing Studies. We will examine if the fraught disciplinary arrangements of our current moment may be one episode (or perhaps even the terminus) of the history of rhetoric and poetics.

Students will have the opportunity to use these materials to explore their immediate areas of scholarly interest in reading responses, a mock-conference presentation, a short oral version of the argument, and a final paper. Together, this work will help us expand our means of inquiry even as we better understand how we each (re)create a version of disciplinarity in our own work.  Finally, the seminar should help us think through our own futures more clearly as we try to better understand the current national trajectory of the humanities. This course satisfies the rhetoric requirement for PhD students. It is an elective for MA students. 

ENGL 677-01 GR Writing-Disciplines: Professor Olinger

This course is designed for graduate and professional students in any department. Students who speak English as an additional language are especially welcome. In this course, students will:

  • Investigate best practices for research, writing, and publishing in their discipline
  • Reflect on their literacy and language background, habits, and goals
  • Analyze articles in their discipline for particular linguistic and rhetorical patterns
  • Apply what they’ve learned to an extended writing 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

Feel free to contact the instructor, Dr. Andrea Olinger (arolin01@louisville.edu), if you have any questions about the class. This course is an elective for PhD students. It is also an elective for MA students.

ENGL 689-01 Dir Reading-Comp Exam: Professor Turner


ENGL 690-01 Dissertation Research: Professor Turner


ENGL 691-01 Contemp Theor Interp.: Professor 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 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? Over the course of the semester, you will read across a wide range of theoretical schools, from New Criticism through poststructuralism to contemporary work in affect studies in order to 1) gain a nuanced understanding of the limits and possibilities of key interpretative methodologies; 2) map the changing dimensions of critical theory as it has developed over time; 3) join current debates in the effectiveness of interpretative theory and the humanities more generally. Students will be responsible for one short paper, a Louisville Conference panel report, an annotated bibliography, and a long-form research paper. This course satisfies a literature requirement for PhD students. It also satisfies the Theories of Interpretation requirement for MA students.