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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Department of English Courses

English Courses by Semester

Spring 2022

Fall 2021

Spring 2021

Fall 2020

Spring 2022

Linked course titles have extended descriptions. Syllabi provided where available.
Course Title Day Time Instructor Room Syllabus Description
105 Intro to Creative Writing MW 9:30-10:20 Grzecki This course will introduce students to three types of creative writing: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction (including mixed genres). The course will focus on inspiration (why write a poem or a story or an essay?) as well as the techniques of evocative, compelling writing across all literary genres (e.g., point of view, concrete detail, lyricism, image, voice, tone, structure, dialogue, and characterization). Students will examine work by authors from various traditions and produce creative work in each genre. ENG 105 prepares students for upper-level creative writing courses in fiction and poetry.
107 Living Writers W 3:45 Harwell This class gives students the rare opportunity to hear visiting writers read and discuss their work. The class is centered on six readings and question-and-answer sessions. Students will be responsible for careful readings of the writers’ work. Critical writing and detailed class discussions are required to prepare for the question-and-answer sessions with the visiting writers.
118 American Lit Since 1865 MW 1245-205 Krumel Henry James once stated that “the flower of art blooms only where the soil is deep, that it takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature, that it needs a complex social machinery to set a writer in motion.” In the years since the Civil War, the United States has experienced remarkable expansion, industrialization, immigration, and technological change. Writers, artists, politicians, and citizens—as well as those who were excluded from such categories—struggle(d) to create an American identity. In this survey course, we will explore American literature from 1865 to Present. Our goal is to examine how the deep soil of history and the complex social machinery of the post-Civil War United States was and is being addressed by American writers. To accomplish the feat that is surveying American literature since 1865, this class will center around notions of body and belonging as reflected in literary forms like the novel, poetry, essays, and short stories. Through these texts, we will explore fictional modes of representation in the period—realism, naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism—as well Native American literature, the Southern Gothic, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black Arts Movement. This class fulfills the writing-intensive course requirement.
119 Fossils, Beasts, and Extinction in American Literature MW 215-335 Adams How can literature help us confront the ever-changing realities of the environment we live in? What can we learn from studying how past and present people think about the lives and deaths of nonhuman beings? Can researching the extinction of nonhuman species give us the tools to delay humanity’s imminent demise? This class will explore representations of fossils, beasts, and extinction in American literature from the seventeenth century until the present. While thinking about these topics, we will also tackle larger ethical questions such as humanity’s duty to nonhuman entities and the obligation people have to future generations of humans. We will study a diverse set of texts in this course including, but not limited to, David Cusick’s Sketches of the Ancient History of the Six Nations, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Ray Bradbury’s Dinosaur Tales, and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park."
119 Topics in U.S. Literature MW 1245-205 Curtis Why are sequential graphic print narratives about serious topics, like racism, fascism, sexism, and war, called “comics?” How has the comic book form, and the stories and characters that it produces, become such an essential part of storytelling in America? What sort of socio-historical concerns do comics consider, and how does the unique medium of sequential print art tell these stories? This course explores the complex rhetorical patterns that constitute graphic novels. We will work together to consider closely and carefully a medium of writing that was looked down on for many years as incapable of addressing serious narratives and we will look at how the skilled authors and artists of comics use the form’s unique combination of images and words to tell compelling, meaningful narratives about the world we occupy. Throughout the semester, we will read both comic books and the scholarship surrounding them. We will also learn the close reading skills necessary to study and interpret the comics medium, and produce argumentative essays based on interpretive analysis. Specific texts include Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do and Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona. Students are encouraged to bring their own knowledge and interests into class assignments and discussion. Participation in class discussions, completion of a creative response blog, a discussion leading activity, in class writing activities and reading quizzes, two short summary assignments, and two close-reading essays will all be essential components of the course.
122 Introduction to the Novel TTH 930-1050 Hixon This course examines the development and evolution of the novel as a form of writing over the last three hundred years. Rather than treating the novel as an unchanging or permanent form of writing, this course looks at the novel as an ever-changing form of writing, one that is always in conversation with itself. Beginning in the early 18th century, our exploration of the novel will look at the ways in which these novels shape the kinds of narratives, styles and generic conventions that would define what we come to think of as “the novel.” Looking at a wide range of novels, students will interrogate the texts to better understand the ways in which novels are shaped by the cultures that produce them and the ways that novels in turn shape culture. The course will examine the novel as an ever changing, self-reflective form of writing that is always in conversation with its own past. Reading texts such as Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Nella Larsen’s Passing and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, students will examine novels both as textual objects of analysis and as part of a wider culture. Further, this course will place the novel into various critical and theoretical conversations concerning issues of class, race, gender and sexuality as the novel becomes engaged with shifting culture understandings of identity and representation.
125 Science Fiction MW 11:40-12:35 Kidd The origins and definition of Science Fiction or speculative fiction are debated by fans and scholars all over the world. Likewise, scholars continue to debate the value of the genre as Literature with a capital L. In this course, we will take the genre and its capacities for uniquely powerful social commentary seriously as we explore possible beginnings, movements, subgenres and shifts within Science Fiction short stories and novels, as well as some television and film. We will look primarily at U.S. American and British texts, but we will expand beyond the West somewhat. This course features opportunities for creative work, as well as critical reading and writing.
145 Reading Popular Culture TTH 330-450 Vangel What place and value do mass forms of entertainment, literature, and art hold for our lives? How do these texts shape our communities and identities? How are genres formed and in what ways do they interact across different media forms? How do we interpret the self-referential style that is so common in contemporary popular texts? What are the politics of subculture and the media created by/about subcultural practices? Throughout this course we will be exploring these and other questions. We will look at a wide variety of popular media texts, including literature, film, television, video games, and also social media platforms. Primary and secondary readings will sometimes be supplemented with films or television episodes, either screened in class or to watch on your own. Though we will focus on popular media genre and issues of representation, we will certainly explore more diverse forms of media as well, including music videos, comic books, interactive media, and more. Students will become familiar with the major approaches in the field of cultural studies and develop a critical vocabulary to talk about the media that is interwoven with their everyday lives.
145 Reading Popular Culture MW 215-335 Gleesing This course introduces theories and methods of studying popular culture and will provide students with the critical awareness necessary to assess their own engagement with popular culture and its varied forms. Over the course of the semester, we will focus on how popular culture is produced, circulated, and, ultimately, consumed by us, its interactors and audience. We will learn about and complicate the push-and-pull between the meanings dominant culture attempts to communicate and how audiences interpret, appropriate, challenge, and otherwise make use of popular culture for our own ends. We will analyze popular culture from film, television, video, games, comics, magazines, and social media in order to address topics likely to include the politics of representation across race, class, gender, and sexuality, fandom, fan culture, and anti-fans, social media and participatory culture, and paratexts and media afterlives.
151 Interpretation of Poetry MW 2:15-3:35 Smith The course will consist of discussions of poems from the various traditions of poetry: from anonymous ballads to spoken word poetry. From ancient poems to the most contemporary. I’m interested in what makes the poem memorable and moving, how it is a vehicle for the intellect and the emotions, how it’s “the act of establishing communication between the mind and the heart”. I’m interested too in what ways the poem provokes and challenges us, what gives the poem its power to seduce and trouble and soothe, what gives it its music and voice as distinct from speech.Students will be asked to write 6 two-page papers in which they examine closely a single poem by a poet from the text. Students may opt to write more papers (up to 8) and receive extra consideration for them. In addition, students will be asked to choose a poet for a more extensive 4 to 5-page paper. Emphasis in discussions is on style and substance, form and feeling, music and image, culture and language and politics. Multiple ways of reading poems will help the students expand the range of poetic possibilities.
153 Interpretation of Fiction MW 2:15-3:35 Mackie Cultures tell many of their most profound truths in their fictions. We will look at the truths of fictions across a range of narrative forms, from the faery tale to the short novel. As we read, we will develop an awareness of the elements of fiction: theme, narrative and plot, setting, character, point-of-view, style, and tone. We will pay attention not only to the story told but also to who is telling it and to whom, its narrator and its audience. And always, we will think about the values, or truths, promoted by the fiction and the ends it seeks to achieve in its telling.
153 Interpretation of Fiction TTH 2-3:20 Torres Introduces students to the art of joining words to create imaginary worlds or scrutinizing the world as it is. It is hard to imagine a society without stories, a branch of the human species with no tales, myths, fables, legends, parables, anecdotes, riddles, or narratives in any of the forms they assume. Storytelling appears to have been a constant in the lives of people everywhere since time immemorial. Humankind has relied on narratives to teach moral values, preserve the memory of the community’s past, disseminate its religious/political belief systems, ensure the continuity of the group’s cultural heritage, and produce occasions for merriment. The use of language and imagination to convey meaning has been around since the start of social formations among human populations. Our course explores the question of why fiction matters and what is at stake in reading it. We will examine the elements of fiction: plot, characterization, perspective, theme, style, setting, symbol, tone, ambiguity, complexity, among others. We will discuss the value of critical interpretation to sharpen our ability to see not only the stories told but also their tellers and their audiences. Perusing readings that cover a wide range of narrative traditions (from folk legends to short fiction to the novel), student will sharpen their critical reading habits along with the skills necessary to speak about fiction in writing.
154 Interpretation of Film MW 515-635 Caskie This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the interpretation of film. Often regarded as the quintessential medium of the 20th century, film has played a central role in constructing how we understand the world and our place within it. How do we "read" films? How do we unpack the formal elements used in films in regard to a film's narrative, genre, or reception? What does it mean to think about films in their historical and cultural contexts? In this course, we will emphasize a close attention to the specific aesthetic and rhetorical aspects of films in order to answer these questions and explore how films create meaning at multiple different levels. Initially, we will focus on the formal language of cinema and how to interpret specific film techniques, such as mise-en-scène, cinematography, sound, and editing. After this, we will address an array of important topics in film such as narrative, genre, marketing, authorship, and representation. Required screenings for this class will be drawn from a variety of film traditions such as classical Hollywood cinema, contemporary blockbusters, art cinema, documentary, and world cinema. No prior film experience is required. This course fulfills the writing intensive requirement of the Liberal Arts Core in the College of Arts and Sciences. It also counts towards the Film & Screen Studies track in the English and Textual Studies major.
155 Interpretation of Nonfiction MW 1245-205 Brunt This course introduces students to techniques and approaches to interpreting and analyzing literary nonfiction. We will develop close reading skills while learning to recognize the formal aspects of literary writing, namely plot, character, setting, point of view, imagery, and intertextuality, while exploring genres such as memoir, longform journalism, and the lyric essay.
164 Childrens Literature TTH 11-1220 Lauria What does the literature we read as children reveal about the adults we are expected to become? How does children’s literature represent childhood and what do these representations say about the values of the society that produces them? Can children’s literature ever truly be subversive? How elastic is the genre? We will engage with these questions by reading an assortment of fairytales, picture books, adventure stories, fantasy tales, and young adult novels. We will consider the historical, political, and cultural contexts that produce these literatures. And we will have fun revisiting the stories that shaped our childhood through a critical lens. We will use writing as a mechanism for reflection and critical thinking, working to improve communication skills and develop revision practices.
170 American Cinema, Beginings to Present MW 12:45-1:40 Scheibel This course traces the history of American cinema from its emergence as a celluloid-based medium in the late nineteenth-century to its digital development at the intersections of multiple media companies and platforms. We will look at individual films not as ends in themselves, but as products of an industry, mass culture, and national artistic traditions. Our goals will be to understand how to interpret the meanings of individual films in particular historical contexts, as well as how to account for aesthetic, technological, and ideological changes over time. Learning this history will introduce you to various cinematic modes—fiction and non-fiction, narrative and the avant-garde, Hollywood and independent production—that shape different experiences. Course topics will include the following: the rise of cinema as an institution; the standardization of American film genres and storytelling; the classical studio and star systems of Hollywood; the shift to color, widescreen, and location shooting in the late-studio era; the political effects of the Cold War and the counterculture; new waves of film school-trained and independent directors; post-9/11 cinema; and new directions for film style and genre in the early-twenty-first century.
181 Class and Literary Texts MW 12:45-2:05 Conrey From William Blake’s descriptions of living conditions in early industrialized England, James Agee’s stories of tenant farmers during the Depression, to Ursula LeGuin’s’s speculative fiction focused on labor exploitation, questions of social class have long been a focus of novelists’, poets’ and essayists’ work. Parallel to the ways that writers affect and engage social class, critical readers can engage with the concepts of social class as they read. Concerned with the social divisions of privilege, wealth, power and status, class, like race and gender, is a social construction that is imposed on, and performed by, all of us as a way of stratifying and defining who we are. Though the restraints of social class readily subject us to the power of others, these restraints may also, when well understood, provide a springboard for advocacy and direct social action. This course provides an introduction to these concepts and exposes students to key texts in literature, film and other media as a way of fostering critical engagement and developing richer social responsibility through textual interpretation.
181 Class and Literary Texts MW 3:45-5:05 Kidd In this course, we will examine a selection of 19th, 20th, and 21st century U.S. American novels, periodicals, poetry, and film through the lens of a social category that is often ignored or denied—due to cultural blind spots, critical dismissals, and even deliberate suppression—within U.S. American social histories, literary canons, and classrooms: the economic class system. Some focused textual questions we will ask include: is working-class literature produced by, for, or about working-class people? Are representations of the working-and-poverty classes in these texts fair, productive, or accessible? What are the obstacles to representing class experience? Who counts as working class? What counts as work? How does U.S. working-class literature participate in forging or re-forging American values and culture, and how might it help us imagine alternatives to what we’ve got?
182 Race & Literary Texts TTH 330-450 Charles In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B Du Bois claims that Black Americans are gifted with a “second sight,” calling on a visual metaphor to describe Black subjectivity. Not only Du Bois, but also a number of Black intellectuals such as Frantz Fanon, James Baldwin, and bell hooks have taken up seeing, looking, viewing, and (in)visibility as central concerns in Black life. This course will explore how “the visual” has shaped meanings of blackness through a range of texts such as novels, short stories, poems, graphic novels, films, and television shows. We will question: What is blackness? How is blackness shaped by intersections of gender, sexuality, and class? What does blackness do and how has visuality shaped its varied meanings? Also, how has blackness been shaped or reshaped inside visual media such as film, photography, and television? Our course objective will be to complicate both what it means to see and to be “seen.” Potential authors include Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Kyle Baker. Potential films and television include shows such as Black-ish and I am Not Your Negro. This course fulfills the writing intensive requirement of the Liberal Arts Core. The purpose of the writing-intensive course is to familiarize students with the thought processes, structures, and styles associated with writing in the liberal arts.
192 Gender & Literary Texts MW 345-505 Klaver What is gender? What does it mean to say that gender is a social construction? How does gender intersect with other social formations like race, class, sexuality, and (dis)ability? How do gender and texts work to represent and create bodies? This course will explore textual representations of gender and sexuality and their cultural, historical, and social implications. Through an examination of novels, short stories, films, and other media forms, we will address these questions and think about the ways that literary texts construct, rewrite, and interrogate gender as a social category. We will think about how literary texts represent and challenge ideological and social structures like heteronormativity, marriage, feminism, racism, citizenship, and patriarchy. Potential authors and theorists include Toni Morrison, Alison Bechdel, Audre Lorde, Zitkala-Ša, and Eli Clare.
193 Intro to Asian American Lit MW 215-335 El-Eid What does it mean to be “Asian American?” What are some of the central debates and conversations surrounding this term? How have Asian American artists and writers contended with this question in their cultural productions over time? How do these works resist hegemonic understandings of Asian American identities and experiences? In an examination of novels, poems, and films, this course will address these questions by looking at a diverse array of American texts from writers of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, and Arab descent. Thinking through different critical historical moments, such as WWII, the Civil Rights and social movements of the 1960s, and 9/11, we will examine the complexity and shifts of Asian American experience across different historical, political, social, and cultural contexts. We will also examine the common thematic concerns of these texts, such as notions of empire, war, diaspora, national (un)belonging, and the “binary” between East and West.
200 Experiential Reparative Reading TTH 12:30-1:50 Madarieta This course proposes that substantial social change requires attending to the discursive and material causes and effects of myriad forms of oppression, and therefore seeks to understand and address them through multiple practices of repair. To do this, the course reads closely the word, the world, and the word as world. This reading across and through the word and world asserts that when we think or speak language, we are expressing our understanding of the world and our being in the world. In this way, language becomes a mediation between us and the world. But we might also think of language as a way of coming into a deeper understanding of, and a way of shaping the world. A way of exploring, investigating, experiencing, and returning to being in and of the world. Further, we might begin to think the world as a way of better understanding the constraints, and even violence, of language upon the world, such as the processes by which race is made material through attaching racial narratives about specific bodies onto those bodies.In this course we will dwell in this constructive, and often destructive, space of language through reading, writing, speaking, performing, and other embodied and experiential practices. We will learn and practice close reading, reading aloud, performing text and knowledge, and otherwise meditating on the word and world with an orientation toward repair. We will go on field trips into the world, within the classroom and beyond, using our senses to find the language of the world and translate that into writing, speech, and embodied action. Further, while many literature classes may ask that we understand literary and socio-political theories and apply that to the texts and the world, we will rather, in this class, follow the texts and the world to theoretical understanding. In other words, we will let these worlds and words teach us, and I promise we’ll be surprised by what we find.
200 Literature and Environment TTH 5-620 Cooper This course will focus on the ways in which literature both represents and shapes our ecological conceptions. It will cover a wide array of literature in English from different time periods with a particular emphasis on tracing the historical and literary origins of our current notions of what it means to be ecological .
215 Introductory Poetry Workshop M 9:30-12:20 Hoback Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, “Prose: words in their best order; poetry: the best words in their best order.” In this introductory workshop, we will help each other find the best words to put in their best order. You will be required to write both creatively and critically as you compose your own poems, work on imitations, revise, and analyze and critique the poems of others. There will be a variety of creative prompts, critical exercises, and assigned readings to deepen your knowledge of poetry, as well as contribute to your growth as a creative writer. All poetic souls welcome. Participation and attendance are necessary.
215 Online Introductory Poetry Workshop online online Gibbs In this workshop-based online class designed for beginning poets, we’ll examine the power of experimentation, language, and associative thinking in poems. We’ll work hard to break out of routinized patterns of writing in order to realize the greater potential of our own thinking and writing. We’ll also hone peer-critique skills, engage in lively (online) discussions about our poetic tradition, and participate in writing exercises that are designed to energize student work and generate new poems. The emphasis in this class is on risk-taking, experimentation, and invention.
216 Introductory Literary Non-Fiction Workshop W 9:30-12:20 Evans This course will introduce students to the non-fiction workshop. Students will practice writing, reading, and critiquing various genres within non-fiction writing, such as the personal essay and memoir, the experiential essay, and some new or nuanced forms that may arise. In class, we will discuss student work as well as published work. Students will learn to use fictional devices such as setting, point of view, character, dialogue, plot construction, and metaphor to craft factually accurate essays about real observed or experienced events. Participation and attendance are mandatory.
217 Introductory Writing Fiction T 3:30-6:15 Spiotta This class will introduce students to the fiction workshop. Participants in the workshop will learn the elements of story, how to read closely, and how to critique one another's stories. You will also learn how to revise your own work. We will discuss student work in addition to published work from established writers. We will do in-class writing exercises, and each student will keep a writing notebook.
217 Introductory Writing Fiction M 9:30-12:20 Soto This class will introduce students to the fiction workshop. Participants in the workshop will learn different approaches and definitions of "story", learn fundamental elements of character, structure and prose, how to read closely, and critique one another's stories with precision and clarity. Students will also learn how to revise their own work and develop a revision practice. We will discuss student work in addition to published work from established writers. We will do in-class writing exercises, and each student will keep a writing notebook. Students who are curious about producing literature will take a lot away from this class!
217 Introductory Writing Fiction W 9:30-12:20 Brashears This class will introduce students to the fiction workshop. Participants in the workshop will learn the elements of story, how to read closely, and how to critique one another's stories. You will also learn how to revise your own work. We will discuss student work in addition to published work from established writers. We will do in-class writing exercises, and each student will keep a writing notebook.
217 introductory Writing Fiction online online Gibbs This workshop-based online class is designed for beginning fiction writers. Through reading assignments, writing exercises, and peer critiques, students will engage boldly with new ways of thinking about a short story, and draft and revise original pieces of fiction with an eye towards craft and invention. We’ll hone peer-critique skills, engage in lively (online) discussions about our literary tradition, and participate in writing exercises that are designed to energize student work. The emphasis in this class is on risk-taking, experimentation, and invention.
230 Ethnic Literary Traditions TTh 2-3:20 Frieden We will begin by studying Freud’s theories of humor (published in 1905 but still relevant). Turning to Yiddish and American humor, we will analyze literary works, concluding with an Israeli novel. American films and stand-up comedy will be the secondary focus. Before every Tuesday class students will post a short analysis of the assigned text. To prepare for every Thursday class starting in Week 3, students will write and be ready to perform original humorous material. We will work toward a campus performance or a streamed performance on Zoom. In order to understand and practice the stand-up comedy genre, we will read Stephen Rosenfield’s Mastering Stand-up.
242 Reading and Interpretation TTh 2-3:20 Forster This course introduces students to the discipline of English and Textual Studies, stressing not what is read but how we read it. Rather than being organized around an author, genre, or historical period, this class is organized around ways of reading. Its goal is to show how meanings are created through acts of interpretation and to highlight the consequences of pursuing one way of reading over another. This course will introduce traditions and schools of literary interpretation and demonstrate different approaches to interpreting texts. It will ask students to look closely at the structure and form of texts, as well as situating them within a range of questions and contexts. It will also help you to articulate an argument about textual meaning effectively in writing. We will explore the ways texts (often by interacting with other social/historical/political forces) produce meaning by reading essays by critics and theorists, alongside a selection of primary texts.
242 Reading and Interpretation: Black Futurism MW 12:45-2:05 Kumavie Over the last few years, the assertion that “there are black people in the future” has become an affirmation of the resilience and persistence of black people across time and space. The future is imagined as an unknown place where the existing structures of racial oppression and violence can be reimagined. However, knowing that there are Black people in the future does not tell us much about the condition of Black people in these futures. How might futurisms rethink blackness, gender, sexuality, technology, politics, the nation, and the global to imagine what these future conditions might be? In this class we read Afro- and African- futurist works in the form of novels, poems, and film. We will ask how Black writers and cultural producers have imagined a future of blackness that is different from or similar to the past and present. In addition will interrogate the form, structure, and critical theoretical concerns of Afro- and African- futurism. Among the writers we will read in this class are Octavia Butler, Samuel Delaney, Nnedi Okorafor, N. K. Jemisin, and Nalo Hopkinson.
300 The Art of the Fairy Tale TTh 2-3:20 Awad In this course, we will study fairy tales thinking about why these particular narrative forms, developed orally centuries ago, continue to have resonance and power today and how they are so adaptable to such varied expression and reimagining. What do fairy tales say about a particular culture and its ideas about the world? How do they reinforce or challenge our ideas about life and human experience, subvert or affirm the social norm? How do fairy tales enable us as creative writers to tell our own stories? Reading both contemporary and classical variants from around the globe as well as watching films, we will examine the characteristics of the fairytale—its motifs, storytelling strategies, as well as its deployment of wonder, magic and transformation—in order to explore the fairytale’s immense storytelling potential for fiction writers.
300 Topics in Reading and Writing Comedy TTh 12:30-1:50 Grzecki In this course, we will study comedic writing and the role comedic stories play in our cultural conversations, with special attention to the ways they mediate deeply contested issues. By examining theories of comedy and humor as well as some representative comedic works in literature, film, and TV, we will explore how we as creative writers can use comedy in our own work. This is a generative class, and it will include fiction and nonfiction prompts.
304 Practium in Reading Writing Poetry TTh 9:30-10:50 Harwell T. S. Eliot said that minor poets borrow while great poets steal. From classical antiquity to the present, poets have always learned their trade by imitating other poets. They have pursued their individual talent by absorbing, assimilating, and in some cases subverting the lessons of the traditions they inherit. In this class, we will read and imitate poems from canonical poets--possible poets include Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Terrance Hayes, and Seamus Heaney. We’ll examine each poet closely, sympathetically, and predatorily. That is, we will read like aspiring writers, looking for what we can steal. We will deepen our understanding of a variety of poetic devices, such as diction, image, music, and metaphor. We will attend to each poet’s stylistic and formal idiosyncrasies, as well as his or her techniques and habits. You will be required to display an understanding of these issues by producing creative and analytical responses to the poets studied.
305 The Racial Imagination TTh 11-12:20 Torres Given the value of race as an axis of literary analysis, this course pursues a historical understanding of the phenomenon by tracing the origins and evolution of racial thought as a mediator of social relations. Key readings take us to a time when interactions among people of different phenotypes or heritage did not entail a racial gaze. We visit Mesopotamia, Africa, ancient Israel, the Greco-Roman world, early Christian Europe, and the Ottoman Empire. We then consider the racial imagination as it took hold of modern Christian civilization in the wake of the Columbian enterprise. In the new world a civilization emerged with a radically new logic of social relations based on a scale that ranked ancestries and phenotypes assigning differentiated worth to each and treating conquered nations with contempt. Subject peoples became expendable based on their “blood,” religious beliefs, and social practices. In short, this new manner of subjection spawned the dogma called racism, a conceptual tool that would become normative across the vast regions conquered and colonized by Christian Europe for some 450 years. We explore the role of intellectuals and literary figures in validating theoretically the dehumanization of foreign peoples that armies of conquest had achieved de facto. Writers, thinkers, theologians, and scholars added discourse to the weaponry of the conquerors, a resource that conquerors in previous eras had not seemed to need. We probe the relation between slavery and racism and dissect the peculiar nature of racial thought.
310 US Modernist Fiction TTh 9:30-10:50 Edmunds This course focuses on fiction by U.S. writers who participated in the early-twentieth- century international Modernist movement, which rejected earlier norms of literary and aesthetic representation. Some modernists created narratives that resemble dreams, fantasies and memories. Some purposely rejected the rules of grammar and syntax, while others cut up and re-arranged linear narrative timelines. Class discussion will focus on how U.S. modernist writers responded to changing models of individual and mass consciousness as both sites and agents of social change. During the semester, we will read texts associated with high modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, the proletarian literature movement, and mass cultural modernism. Major areas of social change and social struggle to which these texts respond include: veteran disillusionment following World War I; debates surrounding immigration and the fight for racial justice; the 1920s sexual revolution and early 20th century feminism; capitalist expansion, labor radicalism, and the Great Depression; and the relationship between high art and mass culture. Course texts include: Hammett, Red Harvest; Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises; Toomer, Cane; Larsen, Quicksand; Faulkner, As I Lay Dying; Olsen, Yonnondio; and Hughes, The Ways of White Folks.
311 Health and Medicine in 19th Century Britian MW 515-635 Kim Prompted by the unprecedented scale of the Covid-19 pandemic, we witness a plethora of medical narratives around us today—the narratives through which people make sense of the new reality. Some are about the globe and its connectedness, some are about doctors and their authority, some are about individuals and their intuitions—and some are all of these at once. This course traces the origins of medical rhetoric today by turning to the nineteenth century, when not only did a global pandemic first become both a real and imaginary threat, but also medicine and its system as we know them were first established. The course comprises two sections. The first section, “Epidemics and Global Modernity,” examines three pandemic novels, each representing the early nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries: Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826), Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague (1912), and Ling Ma’s Severance (2018). We will trace similarities and differences in how these novels represent global modernity, with a focus on the cultural construction of racial and national communities. In the second section, “Medical Professionalization and Its Discontents,” we will direct our attention to the cultural negotiations of the period that helped formulate what we now know as medical expertise. A particular emphasis will be given to the smallpox vaccination controversy, a central discursive site in which different medical agencies competed. By examining a variety of texts that feature anxieties around professional medical expertise, such as anti-vaccination pamphlets, H. Rider Haggard’s Doctor Therne and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, we learn not only about the historicity of the doctor-patient relationship, but also about how discourses of race, class, and gender intersected in the social negotiation of that relationship. This course encourages students’ critical and intellectual engagement with the present cultural moment and supports such attempts by collectively exploring the longer history of medical imagination.
312 US Southern Lit TTh 11-12:20 Edmunds In this course, we will read novels and short stories about the U.S. South. After a brief look at nineteenth-century antecedents in short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Chesnutt, we will focus on fiction written in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will examine literary genres and aesthetic modes that have been strongly associated with the region, such as the Southern Gothic and the Southern grotesque. And we will explore the literary evolution of regional social categories and character types ranging from white trash, the black folk, and queer childhood to the doomed aristocrat, the conjure woman, the unquiet dead, and the freak. Throughout the course, we will examine how writers have used the U.S. South’s distinctive literary traditions to talk about race in and beyond the region -- particularly as race relates to questions of gender and sexuality, wealth and poverty, violence and the law, and regional and global power relations. Course Texts include: William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying; Richard Wright, Black Boy; Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms; Cormac McCarthy, Child of God; Toni Morrison, Beloved; Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing; Devi Laskar, The Atlas of Reds and Blues
321 Chaucers Medieval World TTh 2-3:20 Moody The fourteenth century is a vital period, marked by some of the major crises of Western history. It also produced Chaucer, traditionally regarded as “the father of English poetry,” one of the pillars of what has long been recognized as “the English literary tradition”; his unfinished masterpiece The CanterburyTales has been a monument worthy of both appreciation and scrutiny for almost 600 years. This course will take the cultural icon of Geoffrey Chaucer along with his most famous work as its subject. We will examine the age and culture that produced a ‘Chaucer’ and The Canterbury Tales in the language they were written in, as well as the subsequent construction and reception of that same ‘Chaucer.’
311 Studies in Medievalism TTh 3:30-4:50 Moody The subtitle of this course might best be described with Tina Turner’s famous lyric “What’s Love Got to Do with it?” We’re working here with a genre of literature, not just what we call “romantic” relationships (that word “romantic” is itself quite interesting!) Arguably the most influential and also the most enduring genre to emerge from the European Middle Ages, romance’s evolving development is one of translation and transformation, adaptation and refashioning, and fertile intertextual and intercultural exchange among the linguistic and political entities of medieval Europe. (Krueger). Before the twelfth century, western vernacular writings dealt almost exclusively with religious, historical, and factual themes, all of which were held to convey the truth. During the second half of the twelfth century, however, a new genre emerged: the romance, which was consciously conceived as fictional and therefore allowed largely to break free from traditional presuppositions. Medieval romances astound the modern reader—first, by their broad circulation throughout Europe; second, by the multitude and variety of stories, characters, themes, and motifs they reveal; and finally, by the sheer diversity of their forms and subject-matter, complexity of narrative strategies and perspectives, and critical responses they invite. (Green)
352 Race, Nation, Empire: The Black City MW 3:45-5:05 Kumavie Cities across the world have been at the center of the literary imaginaries of Black writers. Indeed, Black literature in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been shaped by the complexities of the ever-expanding urban landscape. Since the great migration, when African Africans escaped the South for cities in the North, cities such as Chicago, New York, and L. A. have been re-shaped and re-mapped. In this class, we will consider the formation of “Black cities” through key literary texts, as well as some short stories. At a time when Black people, in the United States and across the world, are faced with state-sanctioned forms of dying, death, and destitution, this class is invested in excavating how urban development and expansion have facilitated these forms of violence. This class aims to increase literary and cultural literacy by asking how urban centers condition black literature. How does the “metropole” foment intellectual and creative expression? How might we understand the manifold potential for success and despair that black people must navigate in the city? We will contend with these questions and more and by so doing contend with Blackness in its varying permutations and figurations.
360 Queer Latinx Literature TTH 9:30-10:50 Madarieta Literature is and has long been one of the primary sites for world-making, teaching, learning, and the transference of generational knowledges. But it has also long been a site that excluded or marginalized both queer and Latina/o/x peoples, among other racialized and minoritized peoples. This class brings together a broad overview of queer Latina/o/x literature so that we might better understand queerness, Latinidades, and queer Latinidades, and incorporate our own lived experiences into this genealogy of queer literatures. To get a broad understanding of queer Latina/o/x literature and queer Latinidades, we will explore a variety of literary forms such as the short story, novel, poetry, memoir, theatre and performance art, the graphic novel, music, film, and Queer theory spanning more than sixty years. We will be asking, “What does queer [Latinx literature] have to say about empire, globalization, neoliberalism, sovereignty, and terrorism? What does queer [Latinx literature] tell us about immigration, citizenship, prisons, welfare, mourning, and human rights?”* Specifically, we will look to these texts to help us understand how the ethno-racial category “Latino” has been queered over the last forty years; how Queer Latina/o/x theory has informed Latina/o/x literature and vice versa; and what role sex, race, gender, ability, documentation, nationality, and class play in queer Latina/o/x literatures and queer Latinidades.
360 Queering documentary MW 5:15-6:35 Hallas Documentary representation has been central to the emergence and development of modern sexual and gender identities. For instance, 19th century science turned to both photographic portraiture and written case studies in order to name and define homosexuality as a specific sexual identity. But forms of documentation have not only been used to discipline and pathologize queer sexual acts and identities. Queer subcultures, social movements and individual artists have also embraced the desire to document — but in the service of cultural expression, sexual liberation and collective memory. This course explores how different documentary genres (such as case studies, ethnographies, oral histories, historical narratives, testimonies, activist videos, portraits and [auto]biographies) in moving image media have become fundamental tools in the historical struggles over sexual and gender rights across the globe, including gay liberation, trans* liberation, lesbian feminism, AIDS activism and queer/trans* BIPOC resistance. The course will conclude with an in-depth look at documenting drag and ballroom subcultures, including Paris is Burning, Kiki, Wildness, Butch Queen Up in Pumps, Pose and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
321 Jane Austen In Context TTH 3:30-4:50 Goode This course analyzes Jane Austen’s novels in two sets of historical and cultural contexts: first, the early nineteenth-century British contexts in which they were written, and, second, the contemporary global contexts in which they continue to be adapted and read. Through a combination of lectures, readings, and discussions, the first half of the course will introduce you to Austen’s novels, examining their participation in early nineteenth-century British concerns over everything from authorship, poetry, Gothic novels, architecture, fashion, garden design, and estate management to rank, class, gender, sexuality, slavery, nationalism, and imperialism. The last half of the course will examine Austen film adaptations, fan culture, and tourism in order to understand the significance of the ongoing contemporary boom in Austen’s popularity.
401 Adv Poetry Workshop M 3:45-6:30 Brunt In the advanced workshop, we will approach writing poems as a means of exploring and producing new ideas, not just expressing past experiences or preexisting views. We'll begin by reading published poems together to analyze how the choices writers make have shaped our experience as readers. Throughout the semester our work will focus on elements of craft such as imagery, voice, rhythm, structure, and form. Everyone writes one new poem each week, and then revises four of these into the most effective version they can imagine. We will read closely and ask ourselves questions that yield insights into the practice, meaning, and mystery of writing. We will practice explaining to other poets what we see in a given poem: how it works, where it doesn't, how to see what is missing and articulate what is beautiful. This course is open to anyone who has taken the introductory workshop.
403 Advanced Writing Workshop Fiction M 3:45-6:30 Grzecki This fiction workshop will develop and expand upon the skills introduced in ENG 217. The primary focus will be on how to write better, more effective, more technically sophisticated short stories and/or novel excerpts; the secondary focus will be on how to write more complex, more specific critique letters. In class, we will discuss student work as well as previously published work. There will be some for-credit in-class writing exercises as well.
407 History of the Book MW 12:45-2:05 Roylance This course is designed as an introduction to the field known most commonly as “the history of the book.” We will investigate what difference it makes to consider the materiality of a text when interpreting it. How do a text’s material form (its actual paper, ink, binding, etc.) and the modes of its production, circulation and reception affect our sense of its content? We will cover a wide range of texts and topics, from medieval manuscripts and Shakespeare to romance novels and e-readers. We will sometimes meet at Bird Library, to examine archival materials in Special Collections related to our course topics. A research project will require you to work with Special Collections archival material, on an aspect of book history of particular interest to you. This Advanced Critical Writing course will help you to hone your research and writing skills and engage in deep and sustained critical inquiry.
410 Forms and Genres: Making It Real: Modern Novel MW 12:45-2:05 Mackie From its beginnings, the modern novel has developed through alternating commitments to verisimilitude, to keeping things real, and to all those other modes of representation and experience that lie beyond the realistic. Such alternative modes include: the fantastic, the romantic, the fabulous, the Gothic and supernatural, the surreal, and the marvelous. In the twentieth century, this oscillating duality characteristic of the genre was brought into alignment within the unified mode of “magic realism.” Studying a selection of representative novels, in this class we will trace these sometimes competing and sometimes cooperative commitments to realism and to all that lies beyond.
410 Practices of Games TTH 12:30-1:50 Hanson This course will explore the evolving form of digital games, tracing their historical roots in analog board games and other associated cultural modes of play to current and possible future iterations of video games. We will employ a range of critical approaches to gaming; digital games will be “read” and critically interrogated as texts, and the relationships between game, player, design, software, interface, and structures of play will be discussed. As we examine the development of games and their associated genres, we will investigate the historical, social, political, cultural, and economic contexts of individual games, and consider the relationship of games to other media forms and texts.
420 The Hollywood Star System MW 3:45-5:05 Scheibel Idols of the screen, models of style and politics, brand identities, and icons of popular culture, Hollywood stars continue to fascinate us as moviegoers. Identification in cinema is not the exclusive domain of the camera, but involves a relationship we share with characters, actors, and star personae. To that end, acting is not the function of scripted plot, nor is charisma a “natural” state of being; each requires critical analysis to understand how the labor of artistic subjects and the machinery of the press determine careers in the entertainment industry. This course will introduce you to the craft of film acting and an actor’s context in the mise-en-scène of cinema. Moreover, you will learn how an actor becomes a star through promotion, publicity, criticism, and media commentaries. We will look specifically at famous cases from the Classical Hollywood era (between the late 1920s and the early 1960s), the period in which actors worked under long-term contracts at studios that manufactured their images to be admired by the public and even desired by communities of fans. The phenomenon of Hollywood stardom remains alive and well, and the story of contemporary celebrity culture begins here.
495 Thesis Workshop TH 3:30-6:15 Hanson
615 Open Poetry Workshop T 12:30-3:20 Haxton Students in this workshop will write one new poem each week and revise at least four of these into carefully considered versions on the basis of workshop response. Reading and writing assignments may respond to issues that arise in workshop. There are no prerequisites. Anyone serious about exploring an interest in writing poetry is welcome to join poetry graduate students from the MFA program.
617 Open Fiction Workshop TH 12:30-3:20 Benz In this workshop, we will write, read, and discuss our own and each other’s fiction. Throughout the course, we will study craft, dissect work by published writers, and experiment. Together, we will examine the art of fiction in a generous and challenging environment. As we work, we will investigate fiction’s possibilities, expand our technique, and develop our creative process by exploring form, narrative tension, character development, voice, revision, and other aspects of craft.
630 Introduction to Romantic Studies TH 9:30-12:20 Goode This course will examine some of the different ways that literary critics, media critics, historians, and theorists have engaged in recent years with the literature and culture of Britain’s “Romantic” period (1789-1832). The course does not presuppose familiarity with the period, or with any of the vibrant critical conversations concerning it: the course itself aims to create this familiarity through a combination of primary text readings and contemporary critical readings. Major foci of the course include: Romanticism’s relationship to and role in environmental activism and ecological thought, with a particular focus on climate change; race and human rights discourse, especially in response to slavery, abolition, the French Revolution, and the Haitian Revolution; the media and media ecologies of Romantic Britain, including Romanticism’s ongoing importance to theorists of media; the emergence of historicist thought, especially as it relates to the history of the novel; and theories of sympathy and affect. Primary text reading will cover a wide variety of forms, genres, and media, including poetry, novels, drama, paintings, panoramas, prints, landscape gardens, political tracts, philosophical treatises, essays, sermons, and histories. In addition to completing a conference paper-length formal writing assignment and several 1-page Blackboard posts, students will also be asked to try out at least one other kind of academic research, writing, and labor, such as book reviewing, editing, encyclopedia-entry writing, curating, or data-mining.
630 World Cinema T 9:30-12:20 Hallas Cinema has often been called a universal language and it is certainly made all over the globe. But world cinema has a richness and complexity that defies a single model, despite the cultural dominance and economic power of Hollywood cinema for over a century. This course has two principal aims: to provide a succinct, graduate-level introduction to the international history of cinema and to critically interrogate the category of “world cinema” and its impact on reframing the discipline of film studies. It would be foolhardy to assume that we can cover the full international history of cinema in a single semester, thus I have structured the course around three key nexuses around world cinema: modernity, decolonization and globalization. We will explore the diverse pleasures, politics and aesthetics of German Expressionism, post-revolutionary Soviet cinema, Chinese and Japanese melodrama, Mexican Golden Age Cinema, French New Wave, Bollywood, postcolonial African cinema, Japanese anime, Hong Kong action cinema, Iranian neorealism and contemporary indigenous cinema. We will trace how aesthetics, technologies and economies of cinema have mutually influenced filmmaking traditions in diverse regions of the world. Contemporary debates around world cinema contribute to some of the most important current dynamics within screen studies, such as the transnationalization of screen histories and the decolonization of the discipline.
630 JSP/REL 439 & 630: Confessions, Comedy, and Performance Frieden An exploration of singular first-person writing and performance. How do authors create and perform a narrative of their lives? We will study Rousseau’s Confessions and Jewish autobiographies. Humorous narratives by Sholem Aleichem, Grace Paley, and David Grossman lead the way to stand-up performances. Literary diction is being displaced by an oral-style voice, and the written word is being displaced by online performances.
650 The Devil Inside: Villains and Antiheroes in Fiction TH 9:30-12:20 Awad In this course, we will be exploring villainy in fiction. Villains are some of the most enduring characters in literature—some are archetypal antagonists, some are monstrous, and some unsettlingly familiar. Others are all too human. Often, they are a manifestation of deeply ingrained cultural fears but the more interesting villains are complicated, idiosyncratic and mysterious, eluding easy categorization. What makes a villain? Why do we need them? Why do they stay with us? In this course, we will be looking closely at the myriad ways in which villainy runs through fiction as a kind of pulse, a source of tension, shadow and conflict in narrative. We will be reading short stories, novels and screening films in order to observe the ways in which the villain has shaped the story and functioned as a fixture of storytelling traditions.
650 Counternarratives: Race, History and Silence T 9:30-12:20 Benz This course will explore the stories of those whose voices have been historically silenced, omitted, marginalized, forgotten, or gone unrecorded. In particular, we will be paying attention to the ways that creative writers construct and recreate these narratives to reckon with the past and disrupt master narratives about race, gender, and oppression. We will discuss how silences in the historical record ask writers to rely on different ways of using the archives and mining other tools such as generational memory, memorials, and maps, and how this shapes a work’s form and content. We will use Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments and John Keene’s Counternarratives as our foundational texts.
650 Seven Poets TH 3:30-6:15 Haxton This course, focusing on seven poets, 5 women and 2 men, will move backward in time. The first two are Americans (Lucille Clifton and Hayden Carruth) from in the late 20th century. The next five, in translation are: from early 20th-century Russia (Anna Akhmatova), mid-19th-century France (Charles Baudelaire), early 12th-century China during the Song Dynasty (Li Qingzhao), and 10th- and 11th-century Japan (Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu). We will not focus on translation, but we will welcome contributions from students familiar with any of the source languages. Writing for the course may include original poems inspired by the reading, student translations (which need not reflect the ability to read the original), or analytical prose (as the individual student chooses). Each week we will discuss a few poems in detail.
650 Contemporary American Poetry T 3:30-6:20 Kennedy We will read several poems and prose poems by poets of the late 20th and early 21st centuries and discuss the different approaches these poets take to their work. Some poets we may read are James Tate, Robert Hayden, Denis Johnson, Jean Valentine, Cornelius Eady, Carolyn Forché, and Russell Edson. There will be weekly writing assignments, ranging from brief response papers to creative responses.
650 A Moments Monument: A Practicum in the Sonnet M 3:45-6:30 Smith Students will be asked to experiment with the sonnet form and complete an edited collection of sonnets as the final project of the class. The sonnet started as an import from Italy to England as a vehicle for private contemplation, introspection, guilt, love. Later it was adapted [especially by Milton] to give judgments on political events.Each week we will spend the first part of the class examining models of sonnets from the different traditions. Students will be asked to choose a sonnet from the texts and do an in class presentation of the poem.
730 Ovid and Shakespeare: Sex, Race and Identity T 3:30-6:15 Callaghan Publius Naso Ovid was the bad-boy poet of Ancient Rome. Just as the Emperor was embarking on a campaign to restore family values, Ovid wrote about how to find sex in the city of Rome, his agony over his lover’s abortion, and a comparative account of sex with women and boys. More dangerously, he wrote a parody of the Emperor Augustus in the Metamorphoses. His transgressive poetry drew such ire that Augustus exiled him to a bleak outpost on the Black Sea where he lived out his days in fear of assassination until his death in 18 BCE. However, if Ovid was “bad,” according to Frances Meres writing in 1598, Shakespeare was just like him. Meres’ implication is not only that Shakespeare was as “honey-tongued” as his Roman predecessor, but that like Ovid, whose influence is to be found everywhere in Shakespeare’s work, he was, as he tells us in the Sonnets, “tung-tied by authoritie.” Mainly Ovid’s influence was exercised in translation, especially via Arthur Golding’s Metamorphoses (1567). Hugely influential too was another poet who fell fatally afoul of the Elizabethan regime, namely Christopher Marlowe, whose translation of Ovid’s Elegies was burned in one of the period’s most dramatic instances of censorship. In this course, we will examine Shakespeare’s appropriation of the issues and themes that were most transgressive in Ovid and which are still hot-button issues today: sex/gender/ identity, “race before race,” and crucially, freedom of speech. We will read early modern translations of Ovid in concert with contemporary verse translations, such as (former poet of our CW program) Charles Martin’s blank verse translation of the Metamorphoses and Peter Green’s translation of the erotic poems. We will also address the arguments of cutting-edge research in the field. FINAL PROJECTS: Since freedom of expression is one of the key Ovidian themes, there is considerable scope for creativity in this course. No prior experience is required, and students are invited to pursue creative, critical, or scholarly projects in relation to their particular interests.
730 History of the Book M 9-11:45 Roylance This course is designed as an introduction to the field known most commonly as “the history of the book.” We will investigate what difference it makes to consider the materiality of a text when interpreting it. How do a text’s material form and the modes of its production, circulation and reception affect our sense of its content? Over the course of the term, this question will lead us to consider topics including: manuscript versus print culture; printing technologies; models of the book trade; writers, publishers and readers as key nodes in the circulation of print; illustration, serialization, copyright, censorship, bestsellers, marketing and the digital book. We will explore these and other issues through content drawn from the medieval to the modern period, focusing primarily on Britain and the Americas, examining a series of exemplary moments, authors, texts and genres with relevance for book history studies. The typical pattern for our weekly reading will involve one focal primary text and one or more secondary readings that illuminate issues of materiality germane to the primary work, but also applicable more broadly. This course will make use of the resources available at Bird Library’s Special Collections, and you will be required to do some archival work there, on materials of your choosing, for a short mid-term paper. There will also be a seminar-length paper due at the end of the term, in which you will bring to bear the theory and methods of the history of the book on materials of your choosing. The course will therefore be appropriate for students specializing in any field within literary or media studies, because the critical lens of materiality can complement any given content. Due to the inherently interdisciplinary nature of book history, students from other disciplines are also welcome.
799 MFA Essay Seminar F 9:30-12:20 Spiotta Each student will write an outline, a full draft, and a final essay of approximately five thousand words. The essay will address a specific aspect of a major writer’s formal technique.