Graduate Schedules & Description Archive: Fall '05
ENG 500 – Textual Practices I
(Open Only to English MA Students)Permission of Department is Required
course number: 2354
M 4:15-7:05 p.m. AS 15
This course addresses the “strangeness” of texts. Poetry, short story, autobiography, philosophy—the range of readings will be wide, but the focus will be on the difficulty that makes texts a challenge to understanding and an invitation to thought. Dickinson, Kafka, Beckett, Heidegger, Blanchot will be among the points of entry. Position papers, midterm paper, term paper.
ENG 516 – Workshop in Fiction
Permission of Instructor is Required – Submit Writing Sample to Humanities 336
course number: 2355
T 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 113
Intensive practice in writing fiction. Emphasis on development of fictional technique and individual styles. Students’ work is discussed and criticized by all participants in the workshop. Instructors may bring to bear on the criticism of student work a discussion of writings by pertinent authors.
ENG 517 – Workshop in Non-Fiction Prose
course number: 8243
T 4:15-7:05 p.m. BA 224
In this workshop students explore a wide variety of non-fiction styles and techniques. Participants will critique the work of others in the seminar as well as their own writing, and we will discuss revising, editing, and marketing strategies. Although the range of prose modes will be broad, emphasis will be on such “non-academic” genres as the informal essay, biography, satire, memoir, argument, political commentary, social history, travel writing and arts criticism. Readings will include short works, both traditional and experimental, drawn primarily from contemporary journals and books as well as popular magazines.
ENG 542 – Literary Theory Since 1950
course number: 6345
T 4:15-7:05 p.m. LC 12
The course moves within two intersecting investigations: a metatheoretical inquiry into “theory” and a historical analysis of the emergence of “theories” in literary and cultural studies and their relations with specific material conditions.
It opens its first session within the on-going arguments about the fate of theory after 9/11 and with Marx’s proposal, in his “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction,” that “theory” becomes “a material force” when it engages the world and people and becomes “radical.” He adds that “to be radical is to grasp things by the root.” We will situate Marx’s arguments and the current debates over theory within the larger questions about the state of contemporary theory.
Has theory ended? If so, what is the “after” in “after theory” (Jacques Derrida, “Following Theory”)? Some critics (in “The Future of Criticism” conference at Chicago University; Mark Edmundson, Why Read? ) have argued that theory is exhausted or at least has lost its radical intelligibility. As a sign of this conceptual fatigue and analytical conservatism and conformism, they point to the retreat of theory into ever more detailed “close readings” of texts, in which “the connection between word and world [has gone] dark." Instead of producing concepts and critiques for intervention in the culture of global capital and rearticulating the role of the literary in the time of empire and endless wars, theory has become frivolous and is undergoing a mini-religious revival which, in Robert Stein’s words, is “either a secularized, or not quite disguised, Christianity." Other writers (John J. Joughin and Simon Malpas, ed. The New Aestheticism; Judith Butler Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence) have suggested that it is through the rhetorical displacings of representations (in “readings”) that the literary resists the closure of cultural discourses and thus keeps the space for interventions open. These and similar arguments often assume the emergence of “post theory,” which, for some, is the space of supersession and fresh directions as well as new anxieties (Hal Foster, The Return of the Real: Art and Theory at the End of Century; Martin McQuillan and others, ed. Post-Theory; Ivan Callus and Stefan Herbrechter, ed. Post-Theory, Culture, Criticism).
In the context of these arguments, the course examines the trajectories of theory since the mid-20 century in relation to such landmark social and cultural events as the Bretton Woods Conference, publication of John Crowe Ransom’s The New Criticism, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s senate hearings, formation of the People’s Republic of China, outlawing of school segregation in the U.S., the Bandung Conference, the Soviet Union’s Sputnik, Cuban Revolution, Civil Rights movement, landing on the moon, Feminist movement, Vietnam War, conference on “The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man” at The Johns Hopkins University, Ecology movement, “1968,” publication of writings by Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Kristeva, Derrida, Lacan, Foucault, Cixous, and other theorists in English, the “Long Boom,” the debates over Fordism and Postfordism, counter-revolution in the Soviet Union, WTO and the Seattle anti-globalization movement, “New Economy,” the invasion of Iraq; and the conference on the “Future of Criticism” at Chicago University (2004).
The analytical focus of the course is on such (non)concepts as “differance,” “supplementarity,” “trace,” “hegemony,” “race,” “sexuality,” “power,” “discourse,” “gender,” “ideology,” “undecidability,” “identity,” “queer,” “aesthetic,” “class,” “hybridity,” the “(trans)national,” and the “multitude" which have changed “English Studies” and become part of the interpretive vocabularies of literary and cultural studies. How are these concepts and such interpretive strategies as “destruction” (Heidegger, The Basic Problems in Phenomenology), “deconstruction” (Derrida, “Letter to a Japanese Friend”), critique (Adorno, Prisms), “uncritical reading”( Jane Gallop, ed. Polemic: Critical Or Uncritical) related (or not) to the larger social, cultural, historical and material shifts in advanced capitalist democracies? What are the class interests that produce different modes of “readings”: for example, those that define reading as the un-layering of the immanent rhetorical structures of texts and foregrounding of the “singular” which resists totality? How do class interests inform the theorizing of “reading” as the grasping of totality in which the “singular” is historicized in the social relations of production? What are some of the consequences of these contesting modes of “readings” for literary and cultural studies?
To engage these and related questions, the course will examine the formation of “poststructuralism,” “cultural studies,” and “cybertheory” and analyze the place of “Marxism” in contemporary theory. It will also study the ways in which “theory” has been received in gender, race, sexuality, and pedagogy studies and will put aside a special section of the course to examine “high theory and low culture”—the relation of theory and popular culture. The work of the course will be carried out by reading the writings of some of the following: Brooks, Wimsatt, Saussure, Lacan, Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Deleuze and Guattari, Adorno, Cixous, Irigaray, Marx, Fanon, Lukacs, Gramsci, Althusser, Williams, de Man, Bourdieu, Zizek, Stuart Hall, Laclau, Judith Butler, Said, Bhabha and Jameson. As a prelude to these readings, the course will interpret short texts by Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche, whose writings have formed the interpretive vocabularies and conceptual strategies of contemporary theories.
The course will be a combination of general seminar sessions, theory colloquia and individual presentations. There will be no conventional examinations. Students are required to actively participate in seminar discussions every week; write one short paper (6-8 pages); present a seminar report on specific theoretical problems, and write a long (20-25 page) theory paper. They will also have the opportunity to participate in the end of the semester “theory conference.”
ENG 580 – Models of History in Literary Criticism – Islam in Early Modern English Writing
course number: 8247
M 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 108
Images of Islam developed in the early modern English imagination at a time when expansion of the Ottoman empire threatened Christian rule in Europe. International politics and trade in luxury goods stimulated the taste of readers and playgoers for what they took to define the exotic Orient: cruelty in battle, perverse eroticism in love, and imperial sensuousness in expressive style and appetite. Even dramatic heroes portrayed as opposing “the Turk”, such as Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine and Shakespeare’s Othello, shared attributes of the early modern Islamic stereotype that demonized Muslims. Yet up until the late 17th century, far greater numbers of ordinary English people had personal contact both at home and abroad with ordinary Muslims than they had with any other non-Christian people, including Jews and Native Americans. English-Muslim relations during the early modern “age of discovery” involved a variety of diplomatic, cultural, commercial, scientific and technological exchanges as well as some joint military operations. At the same time, the universal practice of sea piracy brought English Christians into both conflict and cooperation with Muslims. Schemes for trade and repatriation of captives were perpetually in the works, while those left unredeemed were usually assimilated into the local culture. Indeed, prior to the eighteenth century, skilled English solders, artisans and tradesmen looking to improve their career prospects aimed for the “Barbary States” of the Mediterranean, not Colonial America, as their preferred destination. So why would English citizens take their chances among people so threateningly stereotyped in literature and on the stage? How did the stereotypes actually function? And what kinds of challenges must be met today by literary and historical critics who are working to interpret the idea of Islam in early modern English imaginations? To explore these questions, we will read a variety of plays, travel narratives, captivity accounts, and other early modern literature in the context of historical and cultural studies by scholars such as Edward Said, Nabil Matar, Lisa Jardine, Linda Colley, Gerald MacLean, Kenneth Parker, Daniel Vitkus and others. Requirements: In addition to reading and active class participation, assignments will include: (1) weekly one-page papers during the first part of the semester; (2) an assigned research topic for which you will prepare and deliver orally an annotated bibliography for class discussion; (3) a term paper based on your research topic.
ENG 580 – Models of History in Literary Criticism – Trans-Atlantic Wreck
course number: 8248
T 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 111
The point of departure for this course will be Theodore Gericault’s “The Raft of the Medusa” (1819), a massive painting of the aftermath of a French shipwreck off the coast of Senegal. Our first question: Is this the paradigmatic image of the transatlantic world, a splintered raft, churning water, a pyramid of bodies – European and African ¬– in varying states of suffering, dying, and decay? Articulating a transnational model from an image of its wreckage in the 19th century, we will then study a series of texts from the Americas, England, and France, spanning three centuries, in order to explore the possibilities of a transnational literary “tradition.” How does the history of the transatlantic world shape a counter-tradition to literary nationalism? What models – both formal and conceptual – carry texts across languages, nations, and oceans? How might intellectual and literary movements – Enlightenment, Romanticism – be thought alongside the history of transatlantic trade? This course will consider a variety of “wrecks” in the context of colonialism, democratic revolution, imperial expansion, and the slave trade. By following transatlantic currents between Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Caribbean, and ultimately into the Pacific, we will explore how the fascination with extreme experience and difference, in particular, highlights the anxieties of empire, the intimacy of bodily suffering, and emerging discourses of race. In several of the these texts, the figure of the ship – and its wreckage – becomes an ambivalent metaphor for sympathy, so we will look in some detail at 18th-century moral philosophy and discourses of sympathy. Finally, we will sample a range of recent work that theorizes the transatlantic world (Paul Gilroy, Joseph Roach, Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, and others).
Primary works will include:
Aphra Behn, Oronoko
J-J Rousseau, Second Discourse
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Françoise de Graffigny, Letters from a Peruvienne
H.L. Gates, Jr., ed. Pioneers of the Black Atlantic: Five Slave Narratives from the Enlightenment
Unka Eliza Winkfield, The Female American
Royall Tyler, The Algerine Captive
Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick and Benito Cereno
Martin Delany, Blake
Additional readings from: Adam Smith, Marx, Said, Foucault, Hardt & Negri, and others.
ENG 581 – Studies in a Literary Period: Fictional License: Imaginative Narrative in Victorian Law; Legal Stories in Victorian Fiction
course number: 6519
TH 7:15-10:05 p.m. LC 11
The hypothetical concept, “fictional license,” concerns the question of who is authorized to tell which kind of narrative (factual or fictional) in what circumstances. Fictional license results from a general consensus of social, professional, and cultural norms, and it establishes in non-statutory fashion the authority to tell a story, the conditions under which that right might be exercised, the responsibility concomitant with its exercise, and the penalties visited upon those guilty of “licentiousness,” that is, the abuse of imaginative narrative.
For an introduction to the representation of the law and lawyers in the nineteenth century, we begin with Bleak House, which establishes several of the concerns around which the semester will be organized: criminal law, marriage law, and property/inheritance law. The fiction of Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and George Eliot constitutes the primary focus of the course; however, other novelists, as well as Victorian judges, politicians, and journalists are included in the course materials. Readings in Victorian jurisprudence, politics, and fiction will be complemented by contemporary criticism and theory, especially the work of recent law-and-literature scholars.
ENG 681 – Texts/Authors and their Critics (SEMINAR) – Laurence and Hardy
course number: 8251
TH 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 116
We will focus on two great late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British novelists: Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence. The reading will include Hardy's The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure, and Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley's Lover. We will emphasize psychoanalytic and feminist interpretations. Requirements: There will be two major essays, each 15 pages long, several reader-response diaries, and a class presentation.
ENG 681 – Texts/Authors and their Critics (SEMINAR) – Contemporary Authors
course number: 8254
W 4:15-7:05 p.m. BA 215
This is a course that examines contemporary writers and it will be structured in conjunction with the New York State Writers Institute Fall 2005 Visiting Writers Series. We will study at least eight major writers, whose works range from fiction and nonfiction to poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. One principal work for each writer will be taken up in the context of the writer's corpus, the writer's biography, and the contemporary literary situation. Students will be expected to reflect both critically and creatively on each writer's work.
Since the Visiting Writers Series often has sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, students will be encouraged whenever possible to be available for the relevant 4:00 p.m. craft talks and 8:00 p.m. readings by the Visiting Writers themselves. The course will also stand in parallel to the undergraduate English 350 course, a course that takes up some of the same material in survey fashion. That parallel will provide an opportunity to examine pedagogy as a part of the critical exploration of the writers studied.
The actual list of authors will be announced as the Visiting Writers Series schedule is confirmed, sometime in May 2005. Updates can be found on the New York State Writers Institute website (www.albany.edu/writers-inst). Recent Visiting Writers have included such authors as Kazuo Ishiguro, Eric Bogosian, Edward P. Jones, Cynthia Ozick, Camille Paglia, and Kevin Young.
Students will be expected to write one long, and one short critical paper as well as one creative project with a critical introduction. Class sessions will be in seminar/workshop format, and students will be expected to make in-class presentations.
ENG 685 – Special Topics: Women Essayists
course number: 2356
TH 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 114
Dr. Johnson opined that a woman preaching was like a dog walking on his hind legs: “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” And what of the woman essayist? In this course, we shall find out. Although we will concentrate on American writers, we will begin with the inescapable Virginia Woolf, with perhaps a glance at figures such as Margaret Fuller and Frances Trollope. We will then study the work and historical and cultural contexts of a variety of twentieth-century American writers from a roster that includes Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Nora Ephron, Elizabeth Hardwick, Molly Ivins, Lillian Hellmann, bell hooks, Pauline Kael, Mary McCarthy, Cynthia Ozick, Katha Pollitt, and Susan Sontag. We will consider to what extent women essayists, both “inside and outside the game,” are products of their time and how they, in turn, influence its discourse, functioning as public intellectuals even as they redefine that role. Students will be invited to contribute their own choice of authors to the reading list, as well as their preferred theoretical approaches.
Readings will include extensive primary and secondary texts. Required writing assignments will consist both of critical prose as well as at least one original essay modeled on the work of one of the authors studied.
ENG 700 – History of English Studies, 1880 to the Present
(Open Only to English Ph.D. Students)
course number: 2361
W 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 19
“To become good literary historians, we must remember that what we usually call literary history has little or nothing to do with literature and that what we call interpretation – provided only it is good interpretation – is in fact literary history.” This thesis of Paul de Man’s, which has profoundly marked the understanding of the relationship between literature and literary history in the second part of the 20th century, will guide us in our effort to analyze various understandings of literary texts in their fundamental difference from literary history. We will thus have to take into consideration a range of theories of history, usually shaped vis-à-vis modernity and its textuality (the city, architecture, visual arts, fashion, the culture of eating or making love, and so on). We will be interested in providing some answers to the following questions: If literary history has nothing to do with literature, is it because literature is a form of contemporaneous thinking, because it always thinks in the “now”? Can literature think? What kind of thinking happens there and how is it affected by the being of language? Is literature a form of wakefulness? How is literature related to dying and testifying, especially if its “truth” is the “now”? Readings will include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Baudelaire, Novalis, Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, and de Man.
ENG 755 – Special Topics: Literature and Empire
course number: 7596
W 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 32
“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only…”
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.
This course examines the intersection of post-Columbian imperialist ideology and the aesthetics of selected 20th century prose fiction. Paying close attention to the formal and aesthetic qualities of the selected novels, we will consider the ways in which novelistic strategies and literariness engage the discourse of empire.
The contextual and theoretical texts we will read include Aime Cesaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, and Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism, among others. The fiction we will analyze includes Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Mayotte Capecia’s I Am a Martinican Woman, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, and Anthony Winkler’s The Lunatic.
ENG 771 – Practicum in English Studies
course number: 2362
TH 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 112
This course builds on the work of Eng 770, but focuses (as per the title) even more squarely on the instructional practices of those enrolled, whether those practices are enacted in the classroom, the writing center, or elsewhere. Our inquiry will be guided by three basic questions--What is being learned? By whom? How?--but with the greatest emphasis on the last, since it deals most directly with the place of the teacher/tutor in the process of learning.
Course requirements will include a teaching log (i.e., regular written reflections on teaching practice), a teaching experiment, and two in-class presentations.