Graduate Schedules & Description Archive: Spring '04

ENG 516 – Workshop in Fiction

2555 M 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 112 L. Tillman

Permission of Instructor is required for enrollment

This workshop/seminar is for the motivated student who has made a commitment to or has a developed interest in writing fiction. It is designed to help writers further their skills, to develop better habits and discipline in writing, and to bring more scrutiny and rigor to the process of writing both short stories and novels. It is designed to help writers recognize the choices they make each time they set down a word or craft a sentence. Issues in writing fiction -- narrative and genre, for example -- will also come under scrutiny, to sensitize the writer to the questions, problems and possibilities in prose forms. Students will work independently and in workshop to produce short stories and/or parts of novels. Each week, two or three students will present their writing for discussion (making Xerox copies available the week before for the entire group). This workshop/seminar allows the student to help determine some of the course's direction, by deciding, for example, as a group whether to read other pertinent work -- literary essays and theory -- to discuss in tandem with the writing of fiction. Or we might choose to read published fiction by various authors and analyze it closely. We will attempt to criticize each other's work in a helpful manner. All are expected to contribute thoughtfully.

Any student interested in applying should send a sample of your work -- from 3 to 7 pages of double spaced fiction -- to Professor Tillman, at her email address: Tillwhen@aol.com. Please send it as both a regular message and an attachment, in case the attachment can't be accessed. You may also contact Professor Tillman with any questions at the same email address: Tillwhen@aol.com

ENG 542 – Literary Criticism and Theory Since 1950 – Literary Theories via Barthes and Derrida

7785 M 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 108 D. Wills

The course will offer something of an overview of structuralist and so-called post-structuralist literary theories but will do so by concentrating on the work of two French writers, Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. Through study of Barthes we will see how the work of the Russian formalists morphed into what Barthes called "semiology," both in its earlier version, and in the research he presented during his years at the College de France from the mid-70s to his death. Derrida's debates with speech act theory, and with psychoanalysis will allow us to focus on the extent to which those readings, and Derrida's work on language in general, do or do not add up to a theory of literary analysis.

Texts:
Barthes, Mythologies, S/Z, A Lover's Discourse
Derrida, Limited Inc., The Post Card, Monolingualism of the Other

ENG 580 – Models of History in Literary Criticism

6470 MWF 1:25-2:20 p.m. HU 123 E. Keenaghan

New Americanists typically use materialist, ideological, and other cultural approaches to expand the study of so-called “American” literature within, and beyond, national boundaries. This course comprises an intensive study of twentieth-century Cuban poetry, fiction, and essays to consider how New Americanist cross-culturalism and pluralism enable a combination of historical, cultural, theoretical, and close reading approaches to the study of literature in our scholarship and in our classrooms. Beginning with the essays and poetry of nineteenth-century nationalist José Martí, literature has played a valorized role in producing a national consensus for Cuba. Since the Spanish-American War, though, the “independent” republic has been intertwined with the United States politically, economically, and ideologically. Such a “cultural symbiosis” has led Martí and later writers to stage claims for national and cultural independence via gendered discourses of patria (or “fatherland”) and the feminization of “threats” to the national consensus, particularly European and North American capitalist cultures and Cuban gusanos (or “worms,” usually male homosexuals, feminists, and exiles). We will investigate conflicts arising from the resultant literary intersections of gender and nation in three ways: (1) how masculinist representations have framed dialogues between authors and texts from the U.S. and Cuba; (2) how racial, gender, and sexual minorities have negotiated discourses of cultural virility and homosociality in their attempts to re-vision Cuban nationhood and cultural cosmopolitanism; and (3) how gender issues have shaped Cuban-American and Cuban exile texts’ often nostalgic treatment of national authenticity. Some of the Cuban authors whose work we will be studying include: José Martí, Nicolás Guillén, José Lezama Lima, Fina García Marruz, Dulce María Loynaz, Alejo Carpentier, Nancy Moréjon, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Severo Sarduy, Reinaldo Arenas, and Zoé Valdés. Cuban texts will be read alongside North American writers and artists (Hemingway, Crane, Evans, Stevens, Hughes, Obejas, Campo, and Martínez), histories of Cuba-U.S. relations and histories of gender and sexuality in pre- and post-Revolutionary Cuba, and selections from cultural criticism and lit crit (including Benítez-Rojo, Ramos, Bercovitch, Anderson, Lukács, Fernández Retamar, Larsen, de la Campa, Franco, Kutzinski, Friedman, and Quiroga). All texts will be taught in English translation, but untranslated Spanish-language texts will be recommended.

ENG 580 – Models of History in Literary Criticism – “The Politics of Literature in 17th Century England” (SEMINAR)

7786 T 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 130 L. Cable

This course explores the links between literature and politics in England's 17th Century, when questions surrounding freedom of expression, the power of church and state, and the claims of individual conscience led to bloody civil conflict and the beheading of a king. By critically examining both literary and non-literary texts drawn from across the spectrum of political, religious, intellectual, social and economic life, we will discover how the most creative minds of the century were drawn into the public discourses that worked dramatic change in what we now regard as the Early Modern Period. Texts will be drawn from such discursive cross-currents as Monarchist vs Republican arguments, Anglican vs Nonconformist practices and assumptions, and literary evidence of the social and economic forces released by exploration and international trade, and by rationalism and the New Science. Attention will be given both to major writers such as Jonson, Donne, Herbert, Milton, Hobbes and Bunyan, and to less familiar but historically significant writers like the utopian political theorist James Harrington, the communist Digger and Leveller Gerrard Winstanley, and the Ranter Abiezer Coppe. There will be a series of short (2-3 pp.) paper assignments, a midterm and a final.

ENG 581 – Studies in a Literary Period: Body Politics: The Early English Stage

2556 M 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 130 H. Scheck

This course will examine the uses and abuses of bodies on the early English stage from the medieval into the early modern period. We will consider recent theories relating to performance, performativity, and bodies as well as to cultural and historical documents from the period in order to trace connections among lived bodies, the economic, social, and political forces with which those bodies interacted, and the staged bodies that emerged. Readings will include a variety of dramatic texts, critical analyses of dramatic modes and presentation, short historical documents (as relevant), and theoretical texts relating to bodies and performance. Though primary readings will be in the original language, students need not have prior knowledge of early English. We will begin with the basics of Middle English and some historical background and then move towards developing historically aware, theoretical responses to the texts. Assignments will include informal presentations on a critical essay; response papers relating to critical and primary texts; and one 20-page seminar paper. As a class we will likely engage in informal performance(s) of a short scene or play to more fully appreciate early English dramatic forms in their material, visual, and spatial dimensions. For more information, contact Helene Scheck at HScheck@albany.edu.

ENG 582 – Studies in an Author: Toni Morrison

7311 T 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 122 L. Thompson

It seems to me that the best art is political and you ought to be able to make it unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time.
Toni Morrison

Literary critic Barbara Christian characterizes Toni Morrison’s fiction as “fantastic earthy realism.” The Nobel Laureate has produced a body of work that makes her one of the great American novelists. However, as a critic she challenges the American literary tradition. Besides closely reading many of her most acclaimed novels, we will examine Morrison’s critical essays, discuss her influential work as an editor and consider her role as a public intellectual. Also, since Morrison’s newest novel is entitled Love, we will analyze how she uses that complex and powerful emotion to illuminate racial and gender issues in her writing.

ENG 601 – Writing and Revision: Theory and Practice (SEMINAR)

7779 T 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 127 M. Rozett

This course will approach the issue of revision from several perspectives: 1) We will look at the way writers revise their own work, and each class participant will prepare a classroom presentation based on a writer’s revisions of a poem or prose work (this will be, in effect, a model lesson designed for the class, using a text or excerpt you choose and duplicate for distribution in advance). 2) We will approach translation and adaptation as a form of re-vision, or re-visioning a canonical work, using several translations, of Beowulf and two modern adaptations or appropriations, John Gardner’s Grendel and Michael Chrichton’s The Eaters of the Dead. 3) We will look at scholarship on the teaching of revision to student writers and one or more examples of the way writing handbooks teach revision.

Students will also maintain a weekly writer’s journal and engage in a four-part writing project, involving the writing, revision, peer review and interview, and final revision of a text. We will discuss some of these works in class in a workshop format.

ENG 615 – Poetics and Literary Practice

7777 T 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 125 D. Byrd

Writing practice in all of its forms is in utter disarray. The movement of writing from the printed page to the luminescent data port represents not merely a change in the medium or even a paradigm shift. We have moved from a time in which knowledge was organized in universal paradigms to a time when it is not. The call for interdisciplinarity, which has been persistent since the 1950s, has largely failed and can perhaps only fail. It is not entirely clear that the conjectured but still largely unexplored spaces between disciplines exist; it certainly has not been established as a felicitous site of necessary research.

Consider the problem of interdisciplinarity. In the 1970s a theory of the quantum structure of space and time, known as supersymmetry, was proposed. Since that time, despite the complete lack of empirical verification of the theory, 30,000 articles on the subject have appeared. It has been suggested that it is now more efficient to do research for oneself than to review the literature. Although the structure of space and time is as fundamental to literary-artistic investigations as to physics, it is not clear how this interdisciplinary site might be investigated. It is estimated that if all human communications before the appearance of digital technology were transcribed and digitized, it would amount to a total of about 5 exabytes of data (an exabyte being a billion gigabytes). Roughly 1-2 exabytes of new data each year is now being created each year. In this magnitude information becomes environmental. How does one deal with data of this order?

The course will examine these issues not by the close reading of texts but by techniques of sampling and remixing. The data site will sample current sci-fi, pop music criticism, and web art as well as classical poetry and philosophy and much between. The mastery of search engines such as Google will be fundamental. All literary genres from email to epic poetry will be implicitly under consideration.

For additional information, email Don Byrd at dbyrd1@nycap.rr.com.

ENG 641 – Critical Methods: Testing the Limits (SEMINAR)

7778 W 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 122 C. Shepherdson

This course will trace a genealogy of emotion in the discourse of esthetics and neighboring disciplines. We will begin with pity and fear in Aristotle’s Poetics and some related secondary texts on catharsis. We will look at legal and medical discourses on the passions, and consider what the domain of poetics, or esthetic experience generally, does to transform the passions in what that is distinct from other disciplinary arenas. We will then look at some contemporary discourses on emotion, from Freud’s early work on hysteria and emotion, to later work in Mourning and Melancholia to his text Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. We will also look at the passages on anxiety in Heidegger’s Being and Time, where the principle issues concern the connection between anxiety, temporality, and death. Given time, we will also look at Lacan’s 1960 Seminar on Anxiety. The principal questions for the seminar will concern (1) the connection between the body and language, that is to say, how speech or representation allows what Freud called a transformation of affect, and (2) how esthetics plays a role in negotiating this border between emotion and language. Examples will be taken from tragedy, in the context of Aristotle, and we may also look at other literary works from the history of elegy tradition, or from other material suggested by seminar participants.

Texts will include Aristotle, Heidegger and Freud, and secondary texts including:

Allen, Danielle, The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Ancient Athens (Princeton 2000).
Antze, P., and M. Lambeck, eds. Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory (Routledge, 1996).
Belfiore, Elizabeth S., Tragic Pleasures: Aristotle on Plot and Emotion (Princeton University Press, 1992).
Chertok, Léon, and I. Stengers, A Critique of Psychoanalytic Reason (Stanford University Press, 1992).
Cooper, John M., An Aristotelian Theory of the Emotions, Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric, pp. 238-57.
Eagleton, Terry, Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (Cambridge: Blackwell, 2003).
Fisher, Philip, The Vehement Passions (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002).
Gellrich, Michelle, Tragedy and Theory: The Problem of Conflict since Aristotle (Princeton, 1988).
Gill, Christopher, Personality in Greek Epic, Tragedy and Philosophy: The Self in Dialogue (Oxford 1996).
Green, André, The Fabric of Affect in the Psychoanalytic Discourse (New York: Routledge, 1999).
Halliwell, Stephen, The Aesthetics of Mimesis (Princeton University Press, 2002).
Konstan, David, Pity Transformed (London: Duckworth, 2001).
Lacan, Jacques, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, trans. Dennis Porter (New York: Norton, 1992).
Laplanche, Jean, and J.B Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanalysis, (New York: Norton, 1973).
Leighton, Stephen R., Aristotle and the Emotions, Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric., 206-37.
Lear, Jonathan, Katharsis, Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics, ed. Amelie Rorty (Princeton, 1992), 315-40.
Leys, Ruth, Trauma: A Genealogy (University of Chicago Press, 2001).
Lloyd-Jones, Hugh, The Guilt of Agamemnon, Greek Epic, Lyric, and Tragedy (Oxford, 1990), 283-99.
Loraux, Nicole, The Mourning Voice: An Essay on Greek Tragedy (Ithaca: Cornell UP 2002).
__________, Mothers in Mourning, trans. Corinne Pache (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998).
Nehamas, Alexander, Pity and Fear in the Rhetoric and the Poetics, Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics.
____________, Plato and Aristotle on Fear and Pity, Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics, 261-90.
____________, Aristotle on Emotions and Rational Persuasion, Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric, 303-23.
____________. Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotion (Cambridge University Press, 2001).
Padel, Ruth, Whom Gods Destroy: Elements of Greek and Tragic Madness (Princeton Univ. Press, 1995).
Pucci, Pietro, The Violence of Pity in Euripides Medea (Ithaca: Cornell, 1980).
Rorty, Amélie, Explaining Emotion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).
Rorty, Amélie, Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics (Princeton University Press, 1992)
Roudinesco, Elizabeth, and Michel Plon, eds., Dictionnaire de la psychanalyse (Paris: Fayard, 1997).
Sartre, Jean-Paul, The Emotions: Outline of a Theory (New York: The Wisdom Library, 1948).
___________, Mortals and Immortals, ed. Froma Zeitlin (Princeton University Press, 1991).
Williams, Bernard. Shame and Necessity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).
Wollheim, Richard, On the Emotions (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999).
Young, Allan, The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Princeton, 1995).

ENG 681 – Texts/Authors and Their Critics: The Lyrical Element of Shakespeare’s Drama (SEMINAR)

2558 TH 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 122 A. Shurbanov

The course focuses on Shakespeare's dramatic texts considered from the point of view of contemporary genre theory, which is introduced in the opening lectures. Through a series of close readings in seminar classes it tries to enhance the students' awareness of the various forms in which Renaissance lyrical genres and, more significantly, the lyrical mode enter Shakespeare's dramaturgy. The works we are going to examine include two comedies - Love's Labor's Lost and As You Like It; a history - Richard II; and two tragedies - Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. Each of the participants in the course will be expected to prepare an oral introduction to the discussion of one of the above plays and a term paper containing a comparative analysis of two plays.

ENG 745 – Special Topics: (Theory of) Aesthetics and Ideology in Literary and Cultural Studies

6473 TH 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 125 T. Ebert

Since around 1993 when “The Beginning of the Age of ‘Post-Theory’” became a new cultural event in the popular press, it has become acceptable to say, without irony, that we are now in a “post theory” age, and that exhausted by theory, cultural studies and politics, we are now witnessing “The Return of the Beautiful” and the “End of Ideology.” Two books published this year give the return to the aesthetic and “post” theory two rather different readings. In Speaking of Beauty, Denis Donoghue writes that “’Theory’ is no longer the punitive discourse it was when Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, Stanley Fish, Frederic Jameson...were first engaged in it. The tone of ‘cultural studies’ is not now as acrimonious as it has been….The word ‘aesthetic’ is no longer a term of abuse and contempt.” In After Theory, Terry Eagleton, parodies what he sees as a not so concealed desire in some retro-versions of “post” theory to go back “to an age when it was enough to pronounce Keats delectable,” and argues that “‘theory’… remains as indispensable as ever. ” The context of theory, he acknowledges, has changed: “Structuralism, Marxism, post-structuralism and the like are no longer the sexy topics they were. What is sexy instead is sex. On the wilder shores of academia an interest in French philosophy has given way to a fascination with French kissing. In some circles, the politics of masturbation exert far more fascination than the politics of the Middle East.” These debates, among other things, highlight the elusiveness of the “post” (as in post-theory): is it an “end,” a “going beyond, ” or a further complication of “theory,” making any simple “return” to the aesthetic or marking of the end of ideology impossible?

Taking the “aesthetic” and “ideology” in their most inclusive senses, the course will place them in relation to contemporary arguments and analyze their history and theory from the Enlightenment (Kant on aesthetics and Destutt de Tracy on ideology) to the present in the context of some of the concepts (e.g. mimesis, techne, physis, poiesis ) in Plato and Aristotle. One of the running themes of the seminar is the (contested) relation between aesthetic experience and conceptual explanation that underlies Derrida’s textuality, Lyotard ’s “the differend,” de Man’s aesthetic ideology, and is constitutive of Marx’s, Adorno’s, Benjamin’s, Brecht’s and Lukacs’s theories of “realism.” Of course, this relation also informs Bourdieu’s “distinctions” (one of the topics of discussion in the seminar). These readings will open up space for discussions of such issues as language (as both the uncanny, excessive and surprising play of the sign and as the “practical consciousness” that marks the political economy of cultural representations and the class struggles over them); the aesthetic (as the materiality of the singular as well as the mystification of what Marx calls “social metabolism”--labor), and the place of the literary and/as writing in contemporary (cyber)culture. Has the literary become a residual theology of (post)modernity in the culture of science, or is this view of the literary part of the instrumental ideology of the “end of history”? Is the literary as/and the aesthetic a cultural resistance against such instrumentalities and a struggle for cultural and social justice, or is it itself a new form (as the virtual inscription) of instrumentally in the age of global capital? Ideology haunts these debates, and we will examine its complex genealogy from its inscription as the tropics of discourse to its conceptualization as “false consciousness” (the mystification in the market of the exchange of wages for labor power as a fair exchange). In relation to these questions, a part of the discussions in the analysis of culture (as in “cultural studies”) will focus on popular culture and “trash aesthetics”-- the ideology of aesthetic complicity and opposition.

Readings will range from Plato to Jameson and Butler, and there will be three major projects: two papers and one seminar presentation. Students will also have the option of participating in a “theory conference” at the end of the semester which enables them to make their theories part of the public discourses and pedagogies.

ENG 755 – Special Topics: Living in Translation

7780 M 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 127 H. Elam

Not a course on the practice of translation, not a course on the translatability of ideas; not a course on “living.” This course will encounter translation as a problem in language, a movement that is constant and irreducible to “meaning.” Translation, thus, as a movement of and into “literature.” Readings will come from both recognizably difficult texts (Heidegger, Blanchot, Benjamin, Derrida, deMan) and seemingly more accessible ones like Beckett, Auster, Dickinson, Kafka. Short papers and one term paper in several drafts.

ENG 770 – Teaching Writing and Literature

2576 TH 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 130 B. Benjamin

Teaching—pedagogical theory and praxis—constitutes a core element in our identities as academic professionals in English Studies. This class is designed to address issues, concerns, demands, and opportunities relating to our development both as teachers and as academic professionals. There will be three major strands that organize the class activities: pedagogical theory, information technologies, and professional development. The goal will be to integrate these strands in meaningful ways in order to develop skills and materials that will prepare you to work effectively and critically within the academy. Readings will engage issues in Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, and Rhetoric, and will include critics such as Giroux, hooks, McLaren, JanMohamed, Mohanty, Freire, Faigley, Berlin, Selfe, and others. We will meet in one of the University’s “Smart Classrooms,” so consideration and production of electronic resources will be central to the course. In addition to critical writing, students can expect to produce a number of practical documents throughout the semester including syllabi, policy statements, course resources, curriculum vitae, conference abstracts, and more.

ENG 775 – Special Topics: Sublime Discourses

7781 T 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 125 R. Barney

This course will explore the philosophical, social, and literary dimensions of the sublime, one of the most intriguing and debated subjects of the early modern period. The sublime emerged as a compelling “modern” idea during the late 17th century, before it became adopted by numerous authors ranging from Alexander Pope to Anne Radcliffe to the Romantics. It was generally conceived as the paradoxical process of confronting a grand physical phenomenon - such as a storm or volcanic eruption - or an imposing aesthetic object - a poem or painting - whose potential for overwhelming the individual could be transformed into self-enlarging, spiritual transcendence. Ultimately, the sublime came to serve a number of aesthetic purposes during the so-called long 18th century, and since it has reemerged during the late 20th century as a key theoretical concept for theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Slavoj Zizek, and Kaja Silverman, we will read some recent criticism as context for our study. We will also explore the early modern sublime in a number of other contexts, including philosophical empiricism, secularism, the traditions of epic and pastoral poetry, the beginning of gothicism, and the era’s redefinitions of the parameters of class and gender identity. Our readings will cover the period’s philosophy, literary and art criticism, poetry, and fiction. During the final weeks of the course, we will turn to consider how the sublime has been adopted and adapted in late 20th-century critical theory, film criticism, and psychoanalysis.

Readings will probably include: Longinus, On the Sublime; Edmund Burke, Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime & Beautiful; Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment; Ashfield & de Bolla, eds., The Sublime: A Reader; Aphra Behn, Oroonoko; Anne Radcliffe, The Italian; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Donald Greene, The Age of Exuberance; Slavoj Zizek, The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime; poetry such as Ann Finch, “A Nocturnal Reverie,” James Thomson, The Seasons, Edward Young, Night Thoughts, and work by Wordsworth and Shelley.