Spring 2021 Course Descriptions

ENGL 506-50: The Teaching of Writing - 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 across elementary, middle, high school and college settings. 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 544-01: Re-drawing the World: Imagining New Worlds - Dr. Ridley

Anglo-American scholars refer to a “long eighteenth century” (c.1660-1830) encompassing everything from the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 through to the late Romantic period. Trying to find a way through the best part of two centuries, the course will focus on a single theme - the idea of scientific and geographic discovery – for this is the period during which the Pacific was finally mapped, Australia was colonized by Europeans and circumnavigated, and the modern map of the world was drawn. The class will look at a variety of fictional and non-fictional works from the period which show British men and women of different classes writing about their encounters with a range of others, all of whom have their own cultures and beliefs. Texts studied will represent the well-known and less well-known, fiction and non-fiction, written and graphic works, and will include Margaret Cavendish, The Description of a New World, called The Blazing World (1668); Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719); Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726); Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Turkish Embassy Letters (1763); Joseph Banks, excerpts from The Endeavor Journal (1768-71); and Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, Denmark (1796). We’ll also look at maps of the real and imaginary; illustrations of flora and fauna; considerations of new worlds opened up by both the microscope and telescope, by ballooning and cave exploration, and realms revealed by the new sciences of meteorology and geology.  By the end of the course, we’ll hopefully have gained an overview of the socio-political issues driving exploration during the period, and of the range of literary forms and material culture to which exploration gave rise. This course satisfies the 1700-1900 literature requirement for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 545-01: “The Romantic Gothic” – Professor Hadley

Populated by banditti, hero-villains and native heroines, ghostly apparitions, and dark mysterious castles with labyrinthine corridors and damp dungeons, the gothic novel originated in eighteenth-century England and reached an apex in the Romantic period. This course will consider the use of the Romantic gothic novel as a critique of dominant social narratives and cultural ideologies, particularly as they apply to gender and sexuality. Related to these concerns, we’ll examine the role of the supernatural, particularly where it informs the gothic sublime (the experience of “delightful horror”) as an alternative to moral beauty and the picturesque. This course satisfies the 1700-1900 literature requirement for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 550-75:  African American Literature – 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 551-01: Literature at the End of the World – Professor Clukey

T.S. Eliot once said that the world ends “not with a bang but with a whimper”—I guess he wasn’t a fan of speculative fiction, a genre in which the world of ends with gory pandemics, whirling seas, slimy oil slicks, the grotesqueries of bio-engineering, inevitable nuclear war, marauding alien invaders, swarms of attacking insects, the rot of extinction, and even carnivorous plants run amok. This class will examine dystopic, apocalyptic, gothic, and science fictional texts about ecological catastrophe. We’ll consider how these genres imagine the world’s end; humanity’s relation to non-human animals and the natural world; the emergence of climate change, the Great Acceleration, and the Anthropocene; and whether or not writers allow for hope, recovery, or futures beyond environmental and social collapse. Possible readings include: Mary Shelley The Last Man, H.G. Wells The Time Machine, Octavia Butler’s Dawn, Cormac McCarthy The Road,  Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, Ashley Dawson’s Extinction, Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, and Roy Scranton Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, among other texts. This class will be of particular interest to students interested in environmental studies, climate change, twentieth-century literature, and speculative literatures and media. 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: Anatomy of Comics – Professor Turner

The word “anatomy” means to “cut up,” and that is what we will do in this course with graphic narratives (comics, graphic novels): examine a range of examples to see how they work and how they evolved. Like most English courses, we will embark on what’s often called literary history, or a survey and explanation of the major genres, movements, and tropes that shape what we call “comics.” We will take the miracle years of 1986-87 as our starting point, during which time three landmark comics transformed the trajectory of comics: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s Dark Knight Returns, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. From there, we’ll trace how these texts led to the development of other subgenres. For example, we’ll examine how we got from Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns to such texts as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s Black Panther and G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel. From Maus, we’ll look to such auto/biographical work as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. The course will be assessed through a range of short argumentative essays, and the class will choose two of the course texts. 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 581-01: Deviants, Monsters, Crossdressers: Renaissance Drama (CUE) - Professor Stanev

This course will investigate a rich and vibrant body of dramatic works that have set in motion complex, intriguing, and fluid relationships between stage, street, crime, deviancy, vagrancy, cross-dressing and impersonation, and ideas of commercial enterprises, sexual and economic ambiguities, fashion and cultural capital, transgender identities, parody, revenge, and resistance. The main questions, which we will pursue, address the ways in which drama in the age of Shakespeare negotiated specific forms of criminality, monstrosity, and deviance that often satirically depicted and commented on the supposed stability of dominant forms of cultural expression, factoring further London’s massive growth in the early seventeenth century. The course objectives aim to generate: 1) awareness of the complexities of staging sexual, cultural, and idiomatic aberrations on stage, polarized between mainstream values and the "monstrous" menace of alien and transgressive enterprises; 2) appreciation for a vibrant and often bitingly humorous body of works that created distinct themes and dramatic techniques, and focused on contemporary growth and forces of commercial, cultural, and social dislocation; 3) enhanced understanding of the conditions of play-acting and play-going in the English capital around 1600. This course satisfies only 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 599-01:  From Print to Podcast: Cultures of Reading in America – Professor Kelderman

How does Oprah’s Book Club create bestsellers and launch writers’ careers? How have podcasts and streaming television changed our habits of cultural consumption? And what kinds of cultural exchange do we take part in when we share texts and reading lists over social media? This course examines how different media and technologies shape our ideas about books, authorship, and reading. We will explore such topics as controversies in the publishing industry; the recovery of “forgotten” works of literature; class and gender ideologies in romance novels; and the shift to digital technologies in writing and publishing. And we will examine the relation between reading practices and different subcultures in American society, including those shaped by issues of class, race, gender, LGBTQ identity, and indigeneity. Some of our readings will be works of scholarship, such as Ted Striphas’s The Late Age of Print and Nazeera Sadiq Wright’s Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century. But we will also study works of literature that have a particularly fascinating publication history, such as John G. Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks. Finally, through meetings with authors, archivists, a publisher, and an independent bookseller we will further explore how cultures of reading and writing are sustained in 2021. Assignments will consist of several short response papers and a longer research paper. This course also provides the opportunity to polish a portfolio of your own work, with an eye on your future plans in the profession or graduate school. This course satisfies the 1700-1900 literature requirement for MA students. MA students may apply up to 9 credits of 500-level coursework to the MA degree.

ENGL 603-01:  Studies in Genres - Professor Johnson

English 603 will use genre theory as it has developed over the last three decades in Rhetoric and Composition to focus on written genres that are important to success as a scholar: journal articles, dissertation/book proposals, book reviews, and conference proposal abstracts, job materials. The plan, then, is to first introduce various conversations and analytical approaches from genre studies (particularly as they have been directed toward academic genres). Next, these early conversations will inform a workshop-driven course wherein students will study successful and interesting written work with an eye toward producing more effective versions of their own work. So, each week, students can expect to spend some time analyzing sample texts using genre theory and some time producing and workshopping their own materials. This course is an elective for PhD and MA students.

ENGL 631-01: Shakespeare Takes on All Rivals!  – Professor Biberman

In this seminar we will focus on plays by Shakespeare’s rivals organized as follows: First, we will study plays that clearly influenced Shakespeare and then we will turn our attention to plays clearly derived from Shakespeare’s efforts.  With that trajectory in mind, we will read  Haywood’s A Woman Killed With Kindness (a major influence on Othello), Middleton’s The Witch (parts of which actually appear in Macbeth), and Marlowe’s Jew of Malta (an obvious antecedent to The Merchant of Venice).  After midterm we will look at Ford’s Tis Pity She’s A Whore (modeled on Romeo and Juliet), Massinger and Fletcher’s The Sea Voyage (modeled on The Tempest) and Jonson’s Sejanus (which follows and seems inspired by Julius Caesar).  We will supplement our primary readings with a range of theoretical criticism in an effort to evaluate the legacy of Shakespeare and his contemporary playwrights in our post canonical world. 

Requirements: take home midterm, take home final and a seminar project. This course satisfies a literature requirement for PhD students. It satisfies the pre-1700 literature requirement for MA students.

ENGL 661-01: 19th Century American Fiction—Fictions of American Childhood – Professor Chandler

This seminar will explore nineteenth-century literature centering on youth (childhood and adolescence). Reading short stories and novels by a range of U.S. fiction writers will allow us to examine carefully how literature defines and reinforces cultural conceptions of childhood, and in some cases challenges and revises them. Our discussions of textual representations of youth will bring into play questions about knowledge and learning, agency and subjection, family, community, and nation, as well as related issues of race, gender, and socio-economic class. The authors we consider may include Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Wilson, Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Mark Twain, Zitkala-Sa and Henry James. We will supplement their fiction with period non-fiction about and visual images of actual youths, as well as some samples of writing by young authors. In sum, this seminar will facilitate your critical thinking about myths and realities of nineteenth-century American youth. The course will offer contexts for understanding more recent discourses about childhood, adolescence, and their cultural significance.

Critical readings will include studies by Robin Bernstein, Eric Tribunella, Karen Sánchez-Eppler, Anna Mae Duane, Marah Gubar, and Henry Jenkins. Writing requirements for seminar participants will include several short response papers, a seminar-paper proposal, and a seminar paper. Students will also be expected to contribute actively to discussions and to lead or co-lead part of a class discussion of an assigned text. This course satisfies a literature requirement for PhD students. It satisfies the post-1900 literature requirement for MA students.

ENGL 670-01: Composition Theory and Practice – Professor Sheridan

English 670 attempts a broad survey of composition theory from our field’s inception as an academic discipline to present. We will spend the first half of the semester reading some of the long-standing disciplinary debates. In the second half of the semester we’ll read more recent disciplinary “turns,” select a few award winning pieces, and you’ll map your own sense of the field. By semester’s end, you should demonstrate the ability to make connections across and synthesize key disciplinary debates/conversations, as well as to take and refine positions in relation to them, in both discussion and in writing.

Course requirements may include: engaged and informed class participation, weekly written reading responses, an oral presentation, a map of one aspect of the field, and a disciplinary “keyword” essay on a term of your choice.

The main course text will be Villanueva and Arola’s Cross-Talk in Comp Theory (3rd edition); various course readings posted to Blackboard; and, possibly, a book we select, likely a recent CCC’s Book of the Year Award winner. This course satisfies the pedagogy and program administration requirement for PhD students. It is an elective for MA students.

ENGL 677-02: Graduate Writing in the Disciplines - Professor Horner

In this seminar, we will investigate professional academic writing through engagement with your own experiences and practices as academic writers and through explorations of scholarship on academic writing. You will be producing, reflecting on, and revising your writing, drawing on scholarship about academic writing as well as reflections on your own experience as an academic writer. In the process, we will investigate the materials, processes, conditions, purposes, genres, and language forms characterizing your writing, how these influence one another, and how you might build on as well as change these to better meet your writing needs and aims. Our focus will be on professional academic writing of the kind you are expected to produce as part of your work toward completion of your graduate degree programs and your prospective professional academic careers. Toward that end, over the course of the term, you will be drafting and revising a literacy autobiography, a CV, conference proposals, and a literature review. Your writing will constitute the primary text of the course.

While this course is designed to contribute to advancing your writing as novice members of your chosen professional academic disciplines, it is also assumed that seminar participants will bring not only different experiences as academic writers but also different disciplinary aims and expectations for their writing. One of the challenges and affordances we will address is how best to work with and across such differences in the practices, expectations, and values for writing identified with different disciplines.

This course is intended for students with a variety of language backgrounds, including multilingual and English monolingual students. Part of the course will explore how to meet the challenges and possibilities that language differences pose for your professional academic writing. These include challenges and possibilities of using English as a less familiar language and of using scholarship in other languages for writing in English.

By the end of the course, you should feel more confident in navigating different forms and practices of writing in your chosen field, editing and revising your writing for specific genres and audiences, and responding effectively to differences in language and style in your writing and reading.

ENGL 691-01: Theories of Interpretation – 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 2-3 short papers, an annotated bibliography, and a long-form research paper. This course satisfies the theory requirement for MA and PhD students.