Spring 2019 Graduate Courses

Graduate Courses in Language and Literature
Academic Year 2018-2019, Semester II

All courses carry 4 credits, unless otherwise indicated.

Spring 2019 Graduate Courses that Fulfill Degree Requirements

For Ph.D. students: while one course may fit multiple categories, it can only be used to satisfy one distribution requirement.  (See the Graduate Handbook for more details.)

MA and BA/MA students only need to fulfill the Theory, Critical Method, History of Criticism requirement.  (See the Graduate Handbook for more details.)

Theory, Critical Method, History of Criticism: EN 606, EN 673, EN 675, EN 690, EN 740, EN , EN
Medieval Literature – 1660, or History of English Language: EN 726
Literature in English, 1660-1860: EN 542, EN 744, EN 745
Literature in English 1860-present: EN 546, EN 586, EN 594, EN 675, EN 690, EN 740, EN 744, EN 754, EN 779

Graduate Seminars

States of Exception: Seventeenth-Century Women’s Writing and the Media Revolution of the English Civil Wars
In his recent work identifying “civil war as the fundamental threshold of politicization in the West,” Giorgio Agamben turns to seventeenth-century England to develop his on-going theory of the state of exception.  Drawing on this work, as well as gender and queer theory, this class will attempt to rethink the writing of seventeenth-century English women and its afterlives.  In particular, we will consider the importance of the violence of the English civil wars to these women’s writing, as well as how their inclusion in the canon of “women’s writing” obscured the centrality of violence to their work.  Issues of unjust imprisonment, the threat of sexual assault, and unprecedented executions inspired these writers to counter these states of exception by creating their own, like Lucy Hutchinson’s “pious fraud” or Margaret Cavendish’s army of Amazons.  This class will explore the work of Hutchinson and Cavendish, as well as that of Philips, Halkett, Astell, the female petitioners and a host of other female writers, resituating Agamben’s analysis of the English civil war via Hobbes in the context of a much more diverse set of voices.    During this wartime period, the dual technologies of militarism (the development of siege warfare, etc.) and print culture (the “invention of the newspaper”) enabled a reorganization of the body and the domestic that problematizes readings of the politicized domestic, the public sphere, or the “private” as a place of resistance.  This course will provide students both a foundation in the literary and political landscape of the seventeenth-century, as well as a point of entry into broader debates about state power, gender, violence, and the way that media revolutions and militarism move together.  (This class can be taken for the WGS Graduate Certificate.)

EN726 A1 Murphy F 11:15-2:00


Race and Contemporary Criticism
Much Black, post-colonial and minority literary and cultural criticism has begun to coalesce around a series of crucial nodes in contemporary knowledge production: science, technology and media.  This course focuses on these nodes via a series of significant recent works on topics ranging from genomics, electronic media, popular culture, artificial intelligence, medicine and techno-culture all engaged via the lens of race.  Race, of course, also includes and implies other discourses of cultural difference and new critical orientations towards history as well as an increasingly fetishized futurity. Though these works may be routed through unfamiliar disciplines and techniques, students should know that they are rooted in literary and cultural criticism; and the class will be focused on providing historical context as well as making sure the tools and techniques for interdisciplinary study will be sharpened through a range of contemporary methodologies.

EN740 A1 Chude-Sokei M 2:30-5:15


Nineteenth Century British Novels
This seminar focuses on the classic nineteenth-century British novel from Jane Austen to Thomas Hardy. We will read Dickens’s Bleak House, George Eliot’s  Middlemarch, and two other shorter novels by Elizabeth Gaskell and/or one of the Brontës. This course will provide graduate students with an advanced introduction to the scholarly study of the Victorian novel. One thread we will trace is how a form that seems to be organized around creating characters and narrating human lives has been able to incorporate the nonhuman—including animals and plants. These novels participate in and depart from a wide range of genres and modes: the realistic novel, the novel of manners, the social problem novel, the serial novel, the novel of the city, the novel of consciousness and inner life, the inheritance plot, the detective novel, the naturalist novel, and the gothic novel. Some contain grisly murders, class conflicts, secret pasts, and fallen women. Others push such topics to the side and focus on manners, morals, and the drama of interior life. Tensions between formal convention and innovation run through each of these texts. The seminar will immerse you in the analysis of narrative form and the complexities of nineteenth-century history and culture. The nineteenth century was characterized by rapid changes and upheavals in class relations, demography, technology, government, gender roles, and social structure. As we set these novels next to one another we will consider their many overlaps even as we analyze the style, characters, and imaginary worlds that make each distinctive. Note: Students who have studied Bleak House in one or more previous courses will have the option of reading and presenting on another Dickens novel—probably either David Copperfield or Our Mutual Friend.

EN744 A1 Henchman TH 12:30-3:15


Major Authors and Methods in 19th-Century American Literature
This course explores US literature from the mid-nineteenth century by pairing five major writers with five critical methods and themes: Emerson and philosophy; Poe and science; Douglass and print culture; Melville and new materialism; Dickinson and archival research. One goal of the course is to present a series of case studies that will provide high-level introductions (hopefully not an oxymoron) to important authors and approaches. That is, this is something of a survey course designed to expose graduate students both to nineteenth-century American literature and to methods that can be applied to a range of subfields. More ambitiously, the course will “think between” its case studies. We will seek synergies between authors and texts that share historical, aesthetic, and intellectual concerns. We will examine differences between methods in a comparativist mode, exploring how methods operate in conjunction and competition with each other. Primary texts include Emerson’s essays, Poe’s short fiction, Douglass’s autobiographies and journalism, Dickinson’s poetry, and Melville’s short fiction and (probably) Moby-Dick.

EN745 A1 Lee W 11:15-2:00


The Myth of the Family in Classical American Literature, Film, and Television
The course’s starting point is the conviction that The Wire and Breaking Bad, two of the most popular serials in television history, are exceedingly traditional in form and theme. It is not simply the fact that they are serials, and that most major works of nineteenth century fiction were also introduced to their publics in similar progressive abbreviated increments designed to create an appetite for their stories and characters, while founding a collective audience of readers (and viewers). It is also the way they combine graphic violence with verbal invention and eloquence, powerful characters with epic failure and criminality, and, above all, the way they represent the myth of family. Both The Wire and Breaking Bad portray contemporary American families in grimly realistic terms; but no matter how provisional, battered, or broken these families appear the idea of family retains a mythic power. The more one studies these popular serial television mythologies of family, the more typical of a larger U.S. cultural tradition they seem. In canonical works of literature and film, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, for instance, or The Godfather and Boys Don’t Cry, the devotion of characters to the idea of blood bonds, their loyalty to kin, is inseparable from the abuse that prevails in the families these works represent. Huckleberry Finn’s father beats him black and blue and threatens to kill him if he learns how to read; the mother in The Bluest Eye is so hostile to her own children that she insists they address her as “Mrs. Breedlove.” Yet each of these works also represents an original and lyrical dialect speech as the means by which this violence can be overcome and the myth redeemed. This course will offer intensive study of Huckleberry Finn, As I Lay Dying, The Bluest Eye, The Godfather, Boys Don’t Cry, and the first seasons, respectively, of Breaking Bad and The Wire. We will attend to the differences between novels, films, and television as cultural forms.

EN754 A1 Mizruchi TH 3:30-6:15


Modernism: Text and Screen
Most accounts of literary modernism emphasize the guiding rubric of the medium in shaping aesthetic debates.  As the story is often told, revolutions within the visual arts (painting, in particular) helped steer writers to embrace a self-conscious intensification of language beyond its communicative functions.  In this course, we will reassess such narratives of modernism by paying attention to the formative and often combative relationship between modernist literature and the newly invented, less dignified medium of cinematography — literally, the writing of movement.  We will look at major figures withing the modernist canon (James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, William Carlos Williams, Andre Breton) and examine how film challenged the fundamental ideas of art, subjectivity, narration, rhythm and description so central to their modernist writing.  But we will also look at popular cinema (including Buster Keaton’s slapstick comedies) and the contemporary attempts to recreate modernist experimentation in a cinematic context: the surrealist and dadaist films of Luis Bunuel and Hans Richter, the “city symphonies” of Dziga Vertov and Walter Ruttman, the avant-garde films of Maya Deren, and Samuel Beckett’s films and teleplays.  Throughout the course we will balance our attention to primary texts with a selection of relevant criticism (including Miriam Hansen’s claims about film as a form of “vernacular modernism”) to try and discover the many ways in which the cinema, with its depersonalizing visual style and vastly disproportionate audience, exerted a powerful but contradictory force in the modernist attempts at renovating art.

EN779 A1 Foltz T 3:30-6:15


Undergraduate Courses that May Be Taken for Graduate Credit

The‘Rise’ of the Novel
The title of this course, the ‘rise’ of the novel places scare marks around rise to draw attention to a scholarly problem: did the novel rise in the eighteenth century, as Ian Watt suggests, in his monumental, The Rise of the Novel (1957)? One scholar argues that there were ancient, medieval, Renaissance and early modern novels. Defoe himself wrote two failed novels before Robinson Crusoe, one a lunar voyage modeled on the 2nd century CE skeptic Lucian of Samasota, and the other a continuation of the first spy novel in English, first published in 1684. These works belong to an older humanist tradition, which we now call cosmopolitan. What happens to the “rise” if we restore these to the account? Watt’s rise leaves out female authors. How does the early history of the novel look if we restore them to their rightful place?

Given the notorious length of early modern novels and the brevity of the semester, our approach will be to read in common a group of novels and to assign reports to cover important but necessarily supplemental works, both primary and critical. So in addition to reading some of the most important prose fiction of the late seventeenth and eighteenth century—Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688), Eliza Haywood’s Love in Excess (1719-20), Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), excerpts from Richardson’s Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1748), Fielding’s Joseph Andrews (1742), Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1759-67), Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), and Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818)—we will encounter less well known authors and works, such as Jane Collier and Sarah Fielding’s The Cry: a Dramatic Fable (1754). In addition to using Watt’s The Rise of the Novel as a theoretical reference point, we will assess the strengths and weaknesses of a number of other accounts of the development of prose fiction in the early modern period. You will receive background readings in the religious, philosophical, political, and economic history of the period, as well as the history of popular and cosmopolitan forms that feed into the novel—letter writing, space voyages, miscellanies, oriental tales.

EN542 B1 Prince TTH 9:30-10:45


Modern American Novel
Our course will examine representative works by significant American novelists published between 1900 and 1950.  Our goal will be to understand how various American writers of this period responded to the extreme changes identified with modernity.  How did novelists imagine the social, economic, political, intellectual, and artistic transformations of the first half of the last century?  How did authors fashion new expressive styles and narrative methods to engage new ways of conceptualizing human origins; race and culture; gender; individual consciousness, perception, and comprehension; the organization of society; labor, wealth, and consumption; ethics; etc.?  We’ll be interested in looking at relations between the artist, the individual work, and historical contexts in order to appreciate how novels represent society and address matters of interest to communities of readers.  We’ll also ask how these expectations condition the artist’s desire to express her or his individual sensibility.  We’ll study major developments in the genre of the novel during this time, especially the emergence of technically experimental modernist style and form.  We’ll note some of the effects film had on modern literature.   We’ll consider questions about new senses of modern national identity, regional distinctiveness, women’s enfranchisement, race relations and ethnicity, the predominance of urban life, the crisis of capitalism during the Great Depression, class relations, and the trauma of two world wars.  Authors will include Gertrude Stein, James Weldon Johnson, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison.

EN 546 A1 Matthews TTH 9:30-10:45


Studies in Anglophone Literature: Caribbean Poetry
Study of twentieth-century Caribbean poetry written in English(es). Anthologies and major figures (Derek Walcott, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Lorna Goodison, Eric Roach). Consideration of poetry in small societies, creole vs. standard language, oral vs. literate norms, relation to literary and musical traditions, African and European.

EN586 A1 Breiner TTH 11:00-12:15


Studies in Literature and the Arts: Alan Hollinghurst and Queer Cinema.
Alan Hollinghurst is probably the most talented and accomplished writer of queer fiction working today. He has written six novels about gay life that are brilliant, historically informed, and quite beautifully written. This course examines at least five of those long, complex, and deeply engaging books in relation to weekly screenings of queer films with some thematic connection to the fiction. A few of those films (e.g. Carol and The Killing of Sister George) deal with lesbian experience but all of the novels and many of the films are focused on gay and bisexual men. Note: some of the works studied in this class contain sexually explicit material. Weekly screenings.

EN 594 A1 Monk TTH 3:30-6:15

History of Criticism 2
Survey of literary critical perspectives and trends in humanistic theory relevant to literary interpretation from the middle of the twentieth century onward, including formalism, structuralism, post-structuralism, gender studies, new historicism, and post-colonial studies. Frequent writing assignments of various lengths.

EN606 A1 Matthews TTH 2:00-3:15


Critical Studies in Literary Genres: Narratives of Illness
Writing about illness comes in many forms: autobiography, essay, fiction, graphic novel, allegory, poetry, performance.  We’ll read works from medieval to modern, exploring how narrative attempts to give expressive context, meaning, or aesthetic form to significant and sometimes life-altering experiences.

EN673 A1 Appleford TTH 9:30-10:45


Critical Studies in Literature and Gender: Marriage and Money in American Fiction
How has Americans’ understanding of marriage shaped and been shaped by the American novel? What are the implications for fiction of thinking about marriage as a contract, with contract’s requirements of consent, bargain, rights and obligations, its links to notions of autonomy and individualism, but also to commerce and commodification? How did historical events like the Revolution or the Civil War and Emancipation affect marriage? If marriage is “the structure that maintains the Structure,” then how has it carried, enforced, or challenged the values that characterized American culture at different historical moments? What is “the marriage plot” and how is it key to the novel’s development as a genre? What happens when a novel begins rather than ends with marriage? American literature is often imaged as centrally concerned with the self-creating individual defining himself in opposition to women, society and marriage; how then do novels that engage courtship, marriage, divorce, and adultery contribute to shaping the American literary tradition? How have American writers represented the Gilded Age marriage market and its paradoxical requirement that every participant be both commodity and consumer, purchaser and purchased? What happens when the woman has the money? Readings in law, economics, criticism. Authors include Foster, Phelps, Howells, Hopkins, Wharton, James, Fitzgerald.

EN675 A1 Korobkin TTH 11:00-12:15


Critical Studies in Comparative Literature: The Gothic, Identity, & the (Post)Human
The literary readings will be dark narratives by such authors as *Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, *Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, *Djuna Barnes, *Truman Capote, and Toni Morrison. The core narratives: Frankenstein, Dracula, Nightwood, and Other Voices, Other Rooms. In tandem with the literary works we will explore various critical approaches and cultural theories relevant for interpreting the Gothic, with an emphasis on issues concerning identity (mind, self, person, and agency) and what it means to be human (with an eye on the rise of anthropology in the nineteenth century and the more recent emergence of the concept of the post-human).

EN690 A1 Riquelme TTH12:30-1:45