Graduate Schedules & Description Archive: Spring '05

ENG 500 – Textual Practices I

8508 T 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 130 L. Cable

Open only to English MA Students

Permission of Department is required for enrollment

This course is designed to introduce students to the broad range of theoretical issues and interpretive strategies that historically have shaped, and continue to reshape, the multiform discipline of English literary studies. Our objective will be to understand contemporary critical practices by tracing their historical, political, and cultural roots alongside the intellectual cross-currents that energize them. In a series of seminar-style investigations of critical issues and theoretical approaches (e.g., Formalism, Structuralism, Psychoanalytic Theory, Marxist Criticism, New Historicism, Cultural Studies, Hermeneutics, Reader-Response Criticism, Feminist and Gender Studies), we will inquire into the experiences and logical assumptions that have led to particular ways of thinking about literary art. Requirements include: weekly one-page oral and written reports on the relation of selected readings to a specific issue or analytical approach; class presentation of a prospectus with annotated bibliography for the anticipated term paper; a final paper.
Required text: Richter, David H., The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends, Second Edition, (Bedford Books: Boston, 1998). ISBN: 0-312-10106-6

ENG 516 – Workshop in Fiction

2396 M 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 108 L. Tillman

Permission of Instructor is required for enrollment – Submit Writing Sample to Humanities 336

In the graduate fiction workshop, students will present their stories and/or excerpts from novels, etc., for discussion and constructive, thoughtful criticism. We will focus on, and be alert to, the exigencies of narrative, to the questions, issues, and problems and possibilities of varieties of prose fiction. Participation in all aspects of class is important. If you would like to be considered for the class, approval of the instructor is required. Please submit a short sample of your fiction, from 4 to 8 pages, to the Graduate Office (HU 336). With it, please mention which courses in writing and literature you have already taken, what your major was, and any other matters you think relevant to your admission into the workshop.

ENG 542 – Literary Criticism and Theory Since 1950

6697 T 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 114 C. Shepherdson

Cross-Listed with AFRE 614 and AHUM 613

This course is an introductory survey of some of the major movements in twentieth-century literary theory. We will cover principle documents of Structuralism (linguistics and anthropology), Reception Theory, The Frankfurt School, Reader Response, French Feminist Theory, Foucault, and other canonical material. We will focus on primary texts, which are often technical and abstract, and our principle aim will be simply to understand these texts, and gain some general knowledge of the intellectual movements to which they belong. Grades will be based on a series of short essays.

ENG 580 – Models of History in Literary Criticism – New Historical Fiction

6698 T 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 130 M. Rozett

Serious, extensively researched historical fiction has become a widely recognized genre during the past couple of decades. This course will examine several examples of the New Historical Fiction, novels that construct the past in innovative and sometimes revisionist ways through experiments with voice, narrative strategies, and world-building. The novels we will read as a group and others you will seek out on your own will reflect changing assumptions about what constitutes “history” or the “past.” The reading list includes Barry Unsworth’s Morality Play, Anthony Burgess’s Nothing Like the Sun, Rose Tremain’s Restoration, Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders, Judith Merkle Riley’s Oracle Glass, Sheri Holman’s The Dress Lodger, and Sebastien Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement. You will also be reading my recent book Constructing a World: Shakespeare’s England and the New Historical Fiction.

Requirements: one short mid-semester paper, a longer research paper on a topic of your own choice, and participation in a class symposium during final exam week.

ENG 581 – Studies in a Literary Period: American Realism

2397 TH 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 130 H. Phan

Realism is the name for a set of innovations in literary forms and strategies of representation. As a period within U.S. literary history, Realism corresponds most closely to the period after the Civil War, up to the turn of the century. In this course we will study various aspects of (American) Realism, focusing on several distinct yet related questions of periodization and of representation. The course will take as a guiding thread the relationship between transformations of literary form and transformations of form in other fields (e.g., philosophy, sociology, law). Likewise, the course will interrogate the various “reality effects” constructed in these distinct fields of writing. Thus, even as we read novels by a range of the American realists (and naturalists) – Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Charles Chesnutt, Henry James, and of course William Dean Howells – we will also read texts by Booker T. Washington, Robert Park, and William James. Similarly, we will discuss the relation between the innovations of American realism and the “representational” technologies of photography and film. Throughout the course, we will also investigate theories of realism, novel form, and “the real” (e.g., Lukács, Barthes, Deleuze, Jameson), as well as recent literary critical studies of the period (e.g., Stephen Best, Bill Brown, Saidiya Hartman, Walter Benn Michaels, Kenneth Warren).

ENG 581 – Studies in a Literary Period: Literature of Feminism

8105 W 4:15-7:05 p.m. BA 214 M. Pryse

Cross Listed With WSS 550 – Literature of/and Feminism

Students will have the opportunity to read fiction that addresses two particularly difficult problems and that proposes feminist storytelling as one form of resistance and empowerment. For this semester, the course will focus (a) on the pervasiveness of continuing violence against women and children in the terms of intersectional feminist theory and (b) on the escalating sacrifice of the earth and its environment in a context of globalization and corporate greed and from the perspective of ecofeminism. By bringing together students from various backgrounds (some more knowledgeable concerning feminist theory, others more comfortable with literary texts), this course creates an interdisciplinary space in which students learn from each other to expand their approaches to reading and their ability to practice feminist critical inquiry. The reading list for the course will include short fiction as well as some or all of the following: Dorothy Allison, Bastard out of Carolina and either Two or Three Things I Know for Sure or Skin: Sex, Class, and Literature; Nawal el Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero; Alice Walker, The Third Life of Grange Copeland; Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower; Grace MacGowan Cooke, The Power and the Glory; Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats; Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres; Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions; Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior; Ann Russo, Taking Back Our Lives; Vandana Shiva, Stolen Harvest or Water Wars. Short papers and an essay exam.

ENG 615 – Poetics and Literary Practice

6991 W 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 108 D. Byrd

Memories of the Future. This course will concentrate on the period in American culture from the end of World War II until about 1975, with attention in particular to projectivist poetry, abstract expressionist and minimalist art, and free jazz. The course will begin with a visit to the art collection at the Empire State Plaza, a remarkable memory of the future in downtown Albany. If transportation can be arranged, there will also be a trip to the Dia Museum in Beacon, New York. In 1948, after turning down an offer to become Postmaster General or Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Truman administration and deciding to become a poet, Charles Olson wrote: “Space is the mark of new history, and the measure of work now afoot is the depth of the perception of space.” It is this perception of space, as it appeared in poetry, art, music, and cybernetic theory, that will be explored. The poetry and theoretical essays of Charles Olson and Robert Duncan will be the overarching concern, but they will be read in relation to a range of important texts on the visual arts, music, technology, and politics. There will be an attempt to reawaken radical formal possibilities that were lost in the reactionary response to sociopolitical upheavals of the 1960s and the loss of the war in Viet Nam.

ENG 680 – Problems of Periodization and Canonization – Bandung at 50 (SEMINAR)

8107 M 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 130 B. Benjamin

In April 1955, the leaders of 29 recently decolonized nations of Asia and Africa met in Bandung, Indonesia to work out a series of economic, political and cultural relationships between their respective nations and to articulate a shared commitment to anti-colonial struggle in the context of grave Cold War fears. In January 2005, several hundred thousand activists, academics, politicians, bureaucrats, civil society groups, and more will meet in Porto Alegre Brazil for the fifth World Social Forum (WSF), a "conference" designed to foreground the "voices from below" as a democratic response to the World Economic Forum at Davos. The profoundly influential conference at Bandung--a meeting, as the African-American writer Richard Wright describes it, "of almost all of the human race living in the main geopolitical center of gravity of the earth"--has been read both as the birth of the so-called "Third World," and as the apex of a certain type of Third World nationalism. The WSF, on the other hand, has developed into perhaps the most visible, dynamic, and coherent gathering of "counter-" or "alter-globalization" social movement activists and intellectuals. Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Asian-African conference, then, this course will examine the Bandung conference and its historical legacies. Paying particular attention to anti-colonial and national liberation movements and texts from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as counter- or alter-globalization texts from the 1990s up to the present, we will explore several thematic continuities that bridge the two eras of anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggle. Among our primary concerns will be the so-called "three worlds" geopolitical division, nationalism and the nation state, Development, Civil Society, and, more broadly, the relationship between culture (and Cultural Studies) and social movements. We will read materials about and from the Bandung Conference including documents by participants and observers such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Sukarno, Chou En Lai, Abdel Nasser, and Richard Writght. Similarly we will examine WSF documents and the growing body of critical work about that conference by theorists such as Naomi Klein, Michael Hart, Antonio Negri, Arturo Escobar, Jai Sen, Immanuel Wallerstein, Eduardo Galeano, Arundhati Roy, and others. Additionally we will examine a set of related literary, historical, and theoretical texts from the two eras including works by authors such as Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Frantz Fanon, C.L.R. James, Chinua Achebe, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Kateb Yacine, Aijaz Ahmad, Benedict Anderson, Gopal Balakrishnan, Saskia Sassen, Michael Denning, Subcomandante Marcos, John Keane, Miranda Joseph, and others. Finally, we will also analyze several films, both feature and documentary as well as photographic and on-line materials in our attempts to read the significance of the Bandung conference from the vantage point of the present.

ENG 681 – Texts/Authors and Their Critics: Chaucer (SEMINAR)

2398 TH 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 27 H. Scheck

Chaucer wrote during a time of great cultural flux and tremendous literary and artistic productivity that transcended traditional boundaries of gender and class. This seminar will focus on various texts by Chaucer and the cultural circumstances out of which those texts emerged. We will consider the ways in which Chaucer alternately supports and subverts dominant political and social structures of his day, as well as his various responses to political crises (the Peasant's Revolt of 1381 and the deposition of King Richard II) and religious dissension (the rise of Lollardy and other anti-Catholic movements and expressions). We will also consider why/how Chaucer came to be known as "The Father of English Poetry," and to what degree he still retains that distinction. Students need not have prior experience with Chaucer's language. 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 presentations on a critical text; regular response papers relating to critical and primary texts; and one 20-page seminar paper.

ENG 685 – Special Topics: Hitchcock and Film

8110 W 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 137 T. Cohen

This seminar will explore the work of Hitchcock to examine ways that “cinema” operates as a subversive and translational medium at the intersections of visual, linguistic, and socio-temporal culture. In doing so, we will consult recent interpretation and theoretical positions in the philosophy of media including Weber, Derrida, Benjamin, Kittler, Cadava, Hansen, Rodowick, Zizek.

ENG 701 – Gender, Race and Class in English Studies – Theorizing Blackness

8113 T 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 115 L. Thompson

In The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W.E.B. DuBois observes that "the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line—the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men." This seminar will explore one side of that color line. African American intellectuals from DuBois to Patricia J. Williams have theorized the concept of blackness. One of our major objectives will be to understand how blackness is celebrated, defined, interrogated and problematized by examining such topics as racial authenticity, intersectionality, essentialism and the role of theory in race studies. Participants will examine topics ranging from the performing black body to the construction of black masculinity. We will also discuss the stakes involved for scholars of African American studies in excavating the varied meanings and representations of blackness. Since the status of African Americans in the academy (and in the U.S. more broadly) remains a contested issue, the course will also assess the current trends and debates within black studies such as those concerning canonization, institutionalization, and the standing of gender and queer studies within the discipline. While there are no prerequisites for the course, participants should have some knowledge of African American history and literature. Students are encouraged to purchase The Norton Anthology of African American Literature and the Oxford Companion to African American Literature as resources for use during the term, and in future research and teaching.

The reading list includes texts from the following scholars: W.E.B. DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Barbara Christian, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Patricia Williams, Bell Hooks, Ann duCille, Paul Gilroy, Deborah E. McDowell, Kobena Mercer, Hazel V. Carby, Maurice O. Wallace, Saidiya V. Hartman, Charles W. Mills, Valerie Smith, Brent Hayes Edwards, Sharon Patricia Holland, E. Patrick Johnson, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Gutherie Ramsey, Hortense J. Spillers, and Marlon Ross.

ENG 705 – Special Topics: Writing in History: “The Politics of Literary Reputation”

8115 M 4:15-7:05 p.m. HU 114 R. Bosco

Justifying his highly selective appropriation and interpretation of historical fact to suit his artistic purposes while writing The Crucible, the American playwright Arthur Miller remarked, “One finds I suppose what one seeks.” Miller’s comment recognizes the influence that the intellectual and imaginative predispositions of writers and readers exert on historical materials, and the comment is as instructive for biographical and critical writing and theories of textual editing as it is for fiction and drama that have their sources in history. It is especially instructive in accounting for the variety of ways in which biographers, critics, and textual editors have treated the respective lives, writing, and thought of Americans Anne Bradstreet, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne or Henry David Thoreau or Walt Whitman (participants in the course will determine the author to be treated).

Each of these writers enjoys remarkably sound canonical status today, and the purpose of this course is to examine the ways in which biographers, critics, and editors have contributed to that status. Discussions about personal or cultural needs that these writers and their work were found to fill will dominate the course. Readings will be equally divided between primary texts and biographical, critical, and textual studies.

Requirements include two in-class presentations (one of which will involve collaborative reading and writing) and, by the end of the semester, a substantial “working paper” on a topic relevant to the explicit thesis of the course.

ENG 770 – Teaching Writing and Literature: Pragmatist Ethics and Free Thought in the Literature Classroom

2414 TH 7:15-10:05 p.m. HU 130 E. Keenaghan

Note: This course is open only to English doctoral students.

In the most fundamental of senses, successful teaching is a pragmatist exercise. It is experimental. It is based on social interaction—whether envisioned as dialogue or debate or instruction (or, in the best classes, a combination of all three). It produces change (which is not to be confused with progress for, as in any experiment, it can—and often does—go “awry”). It is best conceived as an ethical enterprise in which instructors and students alike share a responsibility to the members of the classroom community. The classroom is also a space of social poiesis; rather than representing a microcosm of an existing “external” society, it is constitutive and creative of an emerging public, a new community.

People too often mistake “pragmatist” for “pragmatic,” but they signify very different terms: viz., “pragmatist” denotes activities in ethical and relational experimentation, but “pragmatic” denotes activities or objectives that have utilitarian value. The working theory of this course is that the humanities classroom—whether an introductory lit course or a graduate seminar—is a space where thought experiments are permitted to happen. Whether we call those thought experiments “critical thinking” or “conceptual inquiry” or just plain old “intellectual curiosity,” it is an injustice to view these modes of thought as “pure knowledge” lacking “applicability” to our students’ post-graduate life, even if that use-value cannot be measured in economic or vocational terms. The value of the humanities remains abstract; most tangibly (though it is still an intangible), we could say we train students to become critical citizens.

Because the classroom is a space permitted to exist (it is funded, allotted, assigned), even the intangibles are subject to a market economy that drives the university-as-an-institution, and that institution is also driven by other forces and institutions (governmental, politico-ideological, juridical, familial, publishing) which prize pragmatic values that may be at odds with the pragmatist values underwriting a humanities education. What is more, the current political climate (above and beyond the partisan politics we often think of as dominating the political scene) has encouraged a particular form of conservatism that also threatens our students’ receptivity to the very idea that such a thing as critical citizenry is possible.

The objective of this course is simply to foster critical thinking about what it means to teach literature as an ethical and pragmatist enterprise in such a restrictive institutional context. The course is divided into two parts, each of which is intended to stimulate a sense of urgency and a desire to engage in intense thought and debate about what our roles as educators and students of literature mean now. In the first half, once ground work has been established for thinking about the relationship between pragmatics and pragmatism, we will move into a survey of theorists and public intellectuals who have inquired about the nature of academia as a dimension of the public and political spheres, the nature of the literary arts as a political and ethical entity, and the nature of thinking and intellectual engagement in modern and contemporary United States. Readings may include work by Henry Giroux, Amy Gutmann, Noam Chomsky, Herbert Marcuse, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, Paul Goodman, Immanuel Wallerstein, John Guillory, Randolph Bourne, Iris Marion Young, Geoffrey Hartman, Michael Bérubé, Cary Nelson, Gerald Graff, Peggy Kamuf, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Gregg Lambert, John Dewey, Alfred North Whitehead, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Gilles Deleuze. The last half of the course will change gears, and we will let literature tell us about its theories of reading and its theories of living, or what we might call its own humanities pedagogy. In that half of the course, we will focus on three modernist American writers obsessed with pedagogy, ethics, and community: Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, and Ralph Ellison. We will use selected works by these authors to assess the strengths and shortcomings of our discussions about ethics, identity, difference, multiculturalism, community, politics, humanities, literature, and whatever other concepts fall out over the semester. We will read these texts in relationship to how their texts’ pedagogical “messages” conflict with their own articulated objectives (in the forms of statements of poetics and/or authors’ essays), their historical contexts of production, and our own historical contexts of reception and instruction.

In the first half of the semester, each student will be responsible for a 20-minute presentation and a related short concept paper (5–8 pages). Presentations should be prepared but not read verbatim from the concept paper: as if the presenter were teaching this material (which, in a sense, she will be). Right before Spring Break, each student will turn in one brief literature as experiment paper (3–5 pages) that discusses the possibility of reading and/or teaching one particular text of her choosing in light of the idea of literary texts as a humanist experiment while considering the needs of undergraduates for processing literary texts (such as historical, generic, traditional, ideological “data”). As in any teaching situation, students will be asked to think about how their selection of possible teaching texts for this exercise intersects with, and grows out of, their individual research interests and to what degree they can imagine that their research interests may be challenged or even changed by introducing the selected text into a classroom context. So, even though we will be reading modernist texts, you should come prepared to do your research for the course based on your own prospective field and its national literature, period, and genre. The short literature-as-experiment paper may (but is not required to) provide the groundwork for the final project, which will consist of four parts (a course design including a syllabus and a course description for English 121L or 240 or another course typically assigned to graduate instructors; a writing assignment for a critical essay by nonmajors; a 5-page write-up explaining the “poetics” or “theory” or “objectives” for the course design in relation to the institution and whatever politics or ethical or intellectual commitments that the instructor has; and a 15-page paper performing a close reading of one of the primary texts assigned on the design syllabus—contextualized through some secondary research—and explaining how this text contributed to the instructor’s objectives for and development of the course).