Spring 2014 – English Department Courses for MA Students
ENG 602-A. Dreamers, Dissenters, and the American Dream Professor Rian Bowie
In 1967, Martin Luther King penned Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community, his prophetic text on economic and social justice in the United States. A prelude to his People’s Campaign, this text outlined King’s vision for a better, more inclusive America, one that would not be weighed down by legal, racial, or class-based feuds but lifted up by the cause of human rights. It is important to note that King’s ideas, though prophetic, were part of a history of African American political and literary thought. In this course, we will examine the rhetorical trajectory of the Dream and dreamers in twentieth-century African American literature. This course will place in conversation a variety of fiction and non-fiction works that have been a part of African-American (and American) cultural life. Beyond a study of rhetorical strategies and designs, we will examine ways that a diverse body of writers wrestled over the idea of the Dream and its fulfillment. Taking the longer view of African American literature, we will trace the then and now of race and nationhood in these works, and by the end, ask the crucial question of “where do we go from here?”
ENG 602-B. Literature of the Encounter Professor Sarah Hogan
The European “discovery” of the “New World” was an epoch-making, cataclysmic moment in world history when Western societies confronted (sometimes with curiosity, sometimes with horrific violence) the reality of other ways of being in the world. It was also a moment when evidence of the previously unknown fueled increasing interest in science and humanity, and when national identities formed and hardened over contests for land. Between 1492-1800, the period often referred to as “early modernity,” explorers brought the New World home in the form of journal entries, narrative reports, and visual sketches or maps of the Americas, whetting more than just the nation’s imperial ambition; they also inspired armchair explorers—writers who never left their homeland—to produce fictive accounts of the new and alien world. This class will be concerned with the theme of contact and encounter in the literature from this time period, and will specifically examine the important role writing played in the history of European exploration and British expansionism. We will mainly examine three types of texts situated in the Atlantic encounter: “factual” reports by English mariners, explorers, and colonists from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (which often reveal themselves to be rather mythical and marvelous); poetic and fictional works that take the Americas (or in the case of Spenser, colonial Ireland) as setting or its people as characters; and literary and autobiographical works that represent the English slave trade. Particular concern throughout the semester will be devoted to examining the varying ways in which writers used fiction and poetry to provoke a radical sense of wonder in readers and/or to claim dominion over the newly discovered peoples and territories of the New World. Some selections of secondary criticism, critical theory and historical studies will help us in this task.
Primary texts will include Mandeville’s Travels, Thomas More’s Utopia, Book Five from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative, excerpts from Sir Walter Raleigh’s The Discovery of Guiana and Thomas Hariot’s Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, along with shorter poetry by John Donne, Michael Drayton, John Milton, and Anne Bradstreet. This course fulfills a pre-1800 British literature requirement.
ENG 602-C. Sublime is Now: History of the Aesthetic Professor Jeff Holdridge
The sublime dates back to ancient times, but the emergence of the sublime as an important category of the aesthetic in the eighteenth century can be said to signal the emergence of at least one part of modern consciousness. The sublime is often seen as a way out of skepticism or a way into it; that is, it is either cited as proof of the transcendental or as evidence that sensory or psychological experience forms the limits of our understanding. When the sublime was first defined at the height of the Enlightenment it was viewed as an elevated form of the beautiful; with the increasing importance of Edmund Burke’s Enquiry, however, we see that the sublime is based in terror, in the revolt of the irrational. We will read Burke and Immanuel Kant as well as critical overviews of the subject in order to understand the difference between the rhetorical sublime, the natural sublime, among others. We will then discuss the famous Romantic formulations, consider the developments in the nineteenth century, and then debate modernist and postmodernist philosophical and artistic responses. Though the emphasis will be on aesthetic philosophy and literature, we will endeavor to include parallel developments in other forms of art.
**Reading Illness Narratives: Clinical and Literary Perspectives
Professors Mary DeShazer and Richard McQuellon
W 6:00-8:00pm (Please talk to Dr. DeShazer if you are interested in this class.)
How have modern writers represented the “kingdom of the sick”? In this course we will examine literature and films that probe the experience of living with (and sometimes dying of) a serious illness. From our perspectives as a literary scholar and a psychosocial oncologist, the professors will invite students to consider what people with life-threatening illness reveal in memoirs, how fictional, poetic, and theatrical representations of illness operate, and what literary and visual techniques artists use in creating narratives about illness. Students will also examine what these writers and filmmakers teach us about living close to death, how race and gender affect the themes and strategies of illness narratives, and how assigned texts depict the art of empathy and caregiving.
The class will be discussion oriented but will include lectures, student presentations, guest speakers, and a visit to the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the WFU School of Medicine. Students will write a 6-page critical essay, a 12-page final research paper, and several short response papers; there will also be a midterm exam.
Assigned literary texts:
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich
Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill
Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor
Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals
Paul Monette, Borrowed Time
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Margaret Edson, Wit
Carole Maso, Ava
Amy Boesky, What We Have
We will also read poems about illness by Mary Oliver, Donald Hall, Lucille Clifton, and others (a different poem will be discussed each week); essays by Carson McCullers (“A Clock Without Hands”) and Anatole Broyard (“Intoxicated by My Illness”); chapters from R.P. McQuellon and M.A. Cowan, The Art of Conversation Through Serious Illness and from M. DeShazer, Fractured Borders and Mammographies; and several articles from medical and feminist journals.
Assigned films will include Wit, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Away from Her, and Philadelphia (feature films) as well as several documentaries on living with illness.
ENG 605. Old English Language and Literature Professor Gillian Overing
Hwæt! A study of language, literature and culture in the Anglo-Saxon period (600-1100). The course aims at a basic sight reading knowledge of Old English, though we will also read in translation. Texts include Beowulf, selected Old English poetry, and prose selections from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede's Ecclesiastical History.
ENG 606. Modern English Grammar Professor Zak Lancaster
“Modern English Grammar” offers a fun, rigorous exploration of how English grammar works. Based in a linguistics approach to grammar study, the course invites students to expand their knowledge about English grammar (and language more generally) while critically exploring such fraught issues as grammatical change and variation, the origins and effects of grammar prescriptions, the place of grammar instruction in education, and the politics of language authority. Class discussions, short assignments, and longer projects invite critical reflection on the following questions:
The course requires frequent homework practice and short papers. No background in linguistics is required, but a genuine interest in the details of language is strongly recommended. This section of ENG 306 will count in the linguistics minor.
• Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects (7th Edition), Martha J. Kolln and Loretta Gray
• When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse (2007), by Ben Yagoda
• The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left (2006), by David Crystal
ENG 612. Medieval Poetry Professor Gale Sigal
Medieval poetry began to flourish along with the evolution of the western European vernacular languages. This poetry is often witty, sometimes bawdy, occasionally shocking, at times moving, and frequently fantastical. It is the well from which the great masterpieces of our literature springs. In this course we will delve into the roots of English poetry, sampling the popular legends of the time, discovering the plight of the courtly lover, meeting the magical characters that people the legends of King Arthur and traveling with Chaucer’s pilgrims on the road to Canterbury. On our journey, we will explore the origin and development of poetic genres, lyric forms and narrative styles of medieval literature, especially but not exclusively, poetry in Middle English. A translation project (from Middle to Modern English) will provide students with the opportunity not only for close reading but also to create their own updated versions of particular passages or works.
ENG 623. Shakespeare Professor Susan Harlan
We will read the plays and poems from Shakespeare’s career as chief dramatist for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and, later, the King’s Men. Our classes will involve close analysis of Shakespeare’s language, his culture, and the various moral, political and aesthetic issues raised in the plays and poetry. We will favor thematic over chronological order so that we can build on our progressive examination of the representation of friendship and family, revenge and violence, gender, and the racial and religious Other, among other topics. We will place particular emphasis on the examination of kingship, war, and national history (both English and Roman). This course will also introduce you to the material conditions of the early modern English theater. We will incorporate a series of documents – including printed play-texts, anti-theatrical tracts, excerpts from Henslowe’s Diary, maps of London, portraits, and illustrations and accounts of performances – into our analysis. Finally, we will reflect on the “afterlife” of the plays; to this end, we will engage with films, television shows, and other non-literary materials that adapt Shakespearean drama.
Required texts: The Necessary Shakespeare, ed. David Bevington and The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare, ed. Russ McDonald. Writing requirement: three essays (one with outside research) and occasional response papers. Active class participation is also required.
ENG 626-A. Studies in English Renaissance Literature: Elizabethan-Jacobean Drama
Professor Olga Valbuena
Even at his most skeptical, Shakespeare’s “public manners” will seem polite to you compared to the playwrights whose works we’ll read this semester. The Reformation and Elizabeth I’s death in 1603 aggravated an ongoing crisis of faith that tensions with the Catholic world only deepened as the sixteenth century came to a close. While more casual playgoers continued to enjoy the public theaters, bolder viewers came ready to pay for more unsettling entertainment—and that’s what they got. In the period 1576 to 1642, from the opening of the aptly named site, “The Theatre,” to the closing of all London venues during the Civil War, England produced many a disaffected citizen that Jacobean playwrights, especially those working in the private theaters, recognized as their target audience. We’ll read plays whose domestic and foreign (mostly Catholic) settings provide the stage for examination of comic cuckolds, avaricious and unscrupulous merchants, tyrannical kings and husbands, and women victimized by other women and predatory men. Indeed, the late Elizabethan and Jacobean stage found a place even for incestuous siblings and the devil himself. Texts: The Routledge Anthology of Renaissance Drama and up to three other classics not included in this anthology. Student presentations and dramatic readings, response papers, two formal essays.
ENG 626-B. Studies in English Renaissance Literature: Portraits in Renaissance Painting and Literature.
Professor Herman Rapaport
This course will examine the parallels of literature and painting in the Renaissance by considering portraits and self-portraits of major Renaissance painters, among them Da Vinci, Titian, Holbein, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Poussin, de la Tour, and major literary writers, among them, Michel de Montaigne, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Ben Jonson, and Robert Burton. What do literature and painting share in terms of how portraits are constructed in terms of sincerity, distance, self-awareness, symbolism, social standing, audience, place, gender, and individual status? We will study Holbein’s portraits in light of their props: the symbolic objects that give the portrait contextual meaning, a practice of Germanic and Netherlandish painting that emphasizes looking as “reading.” In Vermeer and de la Tour we’ll study relations of contemplation, mirroring, and viewing, and in Rembrandt the self-portrait as autobiography. We will also study various of Shakespeare’s character portraits and soliloquies, as well as self-portraiture in Montaigne, allegorical characterization in Spenser and emblem books, and the literary depiction of character types. The course begins with an art historical text that presents a general overview of portraiture; this will provide us with the necessary tools for analysis. Two papers of about 8 to 10 pages each are assigned and there will be occasional in class exercises.
ENG 627: Milton Professor Herman Rapaport
The course examines major and minor texts by Milton with an emphasis on the whole of Paradise Lost. Major issues problematized by Milton scholars are considered. Given that Milton is such an enormous cultural watershed—he’s a whole education in and of himself—a course on Milton is an invaluable part of the English major. This course should be of interest to students who have taken Seventeenth Century British Literature, as that provides much of the background needed to situate Milton historically and aesthetically.
ENG 640. Mothers and Daughters Professor Mary DeShazer
In this course we will examine the complexities of motherhood and mother-daughter relationships for contemporary women across cultures. After an introductory week, the class will be divided into two sections: (1) Multicultural U.S. representations of mothers and daughters in fiction, poetry, and theory—here we will explore mother-daughter symbiosis, feminist theories about mothering, and themes of anger, ambivalence, and affirmation; (2) Maternal desire and the politicization of motherhood—here we will examine the psychological and political landscapes in which women mother. This class meets the requirement for the English major/minor and the WGS major/minor.
TEXTS: Edwidge Danticat, BREATH, EYES, MEMORY
Kate Moses, WINTERING: A NOVEL OF SYLVIA PLATH
Toni Morrison, BELOVED
Amy Tan, THE JOY LUCK CLUB
Joan Blades & Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, THE MOTHERHOOD MANIFESTO
Daphne deMarneffe, MATERNAL DESIRE
Readings to be posted on Sakai: feminist theories of motherhood, poems about
mothering, maternal politics in the Global South
Required Films: “Sylvia,” “Beloved,” “The Joy Luck Club”
REQUIREMENTS: A six-page analytical essay, a twelve-page final research paper, group and individual presentations, and a midterm exam.
ENG 650. British Romantic Poets Professor Eric Wilson
We’ll study the poetry and related prose of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Here are some of the texts we’ll read.
Blake: The Book of Thel
Visions of the Daughter of Albion
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Songs of Innocence and Experience
“Preface to Lyrical Ballads”
“Ode: Intimations on Immortality”
The Prelude (selections)
The Recluse (selections)
“Resolution and Independence”
Coleridge: “This Limetree Bower My Prison”
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
“Dejection: An Ode”
Biographia Literaria (selections)
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (selections)
Don Juan (selections)
Shelley: “Mont Blanc”
“Hymn to Intellectual Beauty”
“Ode to the West Wind”
“Defense of Poetry”
Keats: “The Eve of St. Agnes”
Fall of Hyperion: A Dream
“Ode on a Grecian Urn”
“Ode to Melancholy”
“Ode to a Nightingale”
“Ode to Psyche”
ENG 659g. Innovation and Responsibility in Contemporary Anglophone Poetry
Professor Omar Hena
This course explores how contemporary world poets have negotiated the precarious balance between the demands of poetic innovation -- making it new - and the renewed call to ethical-political responsibility, in the aftermath of British colonialism and the onset of globalization. We will read poetry published in English over the past forty years, spanning Ireland, the Caribbean, South Africa, South Asia, and Britain. In particular, we will explore the ways in which poets have experimented with the English language to confront and re-shape numerous upheavals of global modernity, including political violence, colonialism, ethnic migration, identity creation, and the vast inequalities of global capitalism. Ultimately, this course will introduce students to the sheer proliferation of "Englishes" as the language travels, all the while asking how world Anglophone poets renew the relevance of the art form to enrich and estrange how we understand the complexity of our new, and historically familiar, global realities. We will likely read poetry by Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, M. NourbeSe Philip, Ingrid de Kok, Rustum Kozain, A.K. Ramanujan, Agha Shahid Ali, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Bernardine Evaristo. We will also engage with relevant secondary criticism on the poetry and dip into recent work on global literary studies. Students will write two papers, conduct an in-class presentation, and write a longer critical paper.
ENG 660. The Global Victorian Professor Melissa Jenkins
A change has taken place in the human mind; a change which, being effected by insensible gradations, and without noise, had already proceeded far before it was generally perceived. When the fact disclosed itself, thousands awoke as from a dream. They knew not what processes had been going on in the minds of others, or even in their own, until the change began to invade outward objects; and it became clear that those were indeed new men, who insisted upon being governed in a new way.
-John Stuart Mill, “The Spirit of the Age” (1831).
Jane Austen is famous for her self-deprecating description of “the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work,” but critics have since noticed how novels such as Mansfield Park and Persuasion participate much more fully in global imaginings. This course picks up where Austen left off; the Victorian writers who inherit her attention to minute domestic details also inherit her attention to Britain’s place in an increasingly interconnected world. Students in this course will closely examine poetry, fiction (short and long), and non-fiction prose that wrestles with the fraying borders of an increasingly small island. Topics will include the transformation of the Victorian economy, immigration, technologies of travel, and social movements related to property, religion, marriage, and race. Authors include Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Carlyle, Edward FitzGerald, Anthony Trollope, Matthew Arnold, Harriet Martineau, George Eliot and H. Rider Haggard.
Students will write two formal essays, take an in-class midterm, and sit for a final, open-book essay exam. This is a workshop-based discussion class rather than a lecture course; thus, participation in course discussion is essential. In our analysis of the readings and our work with each other’s writing, we will focus on process. Students will be expected to submit both a rough draft and a revision of each formal essay.
ENG 666. James Joyce Professor Scott Klein
Critical readings of the major works of Joyce: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and excerpts from Finnegans Wake. Emphasis upon the development of Joyce's art. Understanding his work as an evolving struggle against the various authorities embodied by family, religion, Irish politics, cultural and literary history, language. One 5-7 page paper on the earlier works, one 7-10 page paper on Ulysses, midterm, final exam.
ENG 683-A. Theory and Practice of Poetry Writing Professor Amy Catanzano
This course is an advanced poetry workshop, building on methods explored in the beginning poetry workshop. Students critique the writing of their peers and receive critiques in the workshop portion of the course. Students read contemporary poetry, experiment with a range of approaches to writing poetry, and go further in the study of poetry writing by responding to current trends in poetry and literary theories on poetics. Students engage in writing exercises and present on the assigned course materials. They also attend at least one literary reading outside of class time and become familiar with contemporary print and electronic literary journals. In a chapbook-making session, students bind copies of their final manuscript, which consists of revised poetry (25 to 30 pages on average) accompanied by a 3 to 5 page critical introduction, in an edition to share with family, friends, and others. A celebratory reading of student work takes place at the end of the semester. Course materials (subject to change) may include work by Amaranth Borsuk, Mathew Timmons, Rae Armantrout, M. NourbeSe Philip, Michael Palmer, Tina Brown Celona, Lyn Hejinian, Christian Bök, a. rawlings, Nathaniel Mackey, Jerome Rothenberg, George Quasha, Laura Mullen, Shanxing Wang, and Geof Huth, among others. Supplementary materials provided include audio files of poetry readings from PennSound and UbuWeb’s Visual Poetry section, edited by Derek Beaulieu.
ENG 687. African American Fiction Professor Erica Still
This course will examine the nature of black masculinity as represented in contemporary African American literature. What constitutes Black manhood? What threatens it? How does gender intersect with race, class, and sexuality to shape identity? How do literary representations of Black masculinity work to limit or enable particular identity performances in the” real world”? We will engage such questions as we consider the role of literature in creating, sustaining, and questioning cultural understandings of “the black man.” Careful reading and class participation will be essential for success in the course.
Possible reading will include (subject to change):
Ernest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men; Walter Mosley, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned; Michael Thomas, Man Gone Down; Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon; Randall Kenan, A Visitation of Spirits; John Edgar Wideman, Brothers and Keepers; James Alan McPherson, Elbow Room; Excerpts from Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Malcolm X.
ENG 695. Contemporary American Literature Professor James Hans
This course will appraise the works of various contemporary American novelists and poets: William Gaddis, John Barth, William Gass, Walter Abish, Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Maxine Kumin, Louise Gluck, Galway Kinnell, Philip Levine, W. S. Merwin, A. R. Ammons.
ENG 697-A. Creative Non-Fiction Professor Eric Wilson
In this writing-intensive course, we will explore the practice and theory of creative nonfiction. This genre encompasses memoir, the personal essay, literary journalism, travel writing, and science writing. Works of creative nonfiction differ from fiction in that they aspire to be faithful to fact, whether subjective or objective; and they diverge from most nonfiction—such as traditional journalism and academic writing—insofar as they are self-consciously literary, attuned to issues like plot, character development, symbolism, and style. Creative nonfiction attempts to report accurately as well as aesthetically.
Through weekly writing workshops and discussions of appropriate texts, we will improve our skills as writers of creative nonfiction, enhance our critical reading abilities, and learn about the nature of creative nonfiction and its subgenres.
Joan Didion, White Album (FSG Classics)
Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay (Anchor)
Dinty W. Moore, Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative
Non-Fiction (Reader’s Digest Books)
ENG 698-A. Advanced Fiction Writing Professor Aimee Mepham
“The type of mind that can understand good fiction is not necessarily the educated mind, but it is at all times the kind of mind that is willing to have its sense of mystery deepened by contact with reality, and its sense of reality deepened by contact with mystery.” ― Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose
This writing-intensive course explores the intersections of reality and mystery in short fiction that Flannery O’Connor identifies through reading contemporary texts, experimenting with writing exercises, and developing critical reading skills in weekly workshop discussions. Advanced Fiction Writing builds on the preliminary discussion of the short story opened in the beginning fiction workshop. Our conversations will continue to examine the elements of fiction (point of view, character, conflict, plot, setting), but students will be asked to further challenge themselves as writers, to break away from comfortable writing styles, to consider new voices, and to delve deeper into the mystery of the creative process.
702. Environmental Literature Professor Judith Madera
This course looks at the ways literature illuminates environment. It examines significant works of world literature, and it poses questions about the connections between nature and culture (how ideas and meanings are made.) Seminar participants will explore the dynamic links between ecology and world literature in three units: American Foundations/ Black Atlantic/ Global Modernities. Our readings will be enriched by relevant discussions of current narrative theory and tools for literary analysis. These include ecocriticism, phenomenology, feminist theory, postcolonialism, bioregionalism, non-representational theory, and a number of recent approaches to the study power.
Students will be guided in developing a short conference paper on a topic of their choice. Additional requirements include in-class discussion leadership and a term paper.
Authors for consideration: Crèvecœur, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Jewett, Faulkner, Kerouac, Carson, Leopold, Lopez, Rhys, Carpentier, García Márquez, Head, Coetzee, Kingsolver, Merwin, Erdrich, Danticat.
Eighteenth-Century Women Poets
737. Restoration and Eighteenth-Century British Literature Professor Claudia Kairoff
Until the late twentieth century, eighteenth-century women’s poetry was dismissed as second-rate because even privileged women rarely received the classical education deemed requisite for verse. Then scholars and readers began rediscovering many appealing women poets. They began reevaluating the criteria by which women’s poetry had been judged, revolutionizing eighteenth-century studies and the literary canon. This course will approach eighteenth-century women’s poetry from recent critical perspectives that have revealed it to be timely, engaging, and technically accomplished. Requirements will include class presentations and two substantial, researched essays.
Text: Paula Backscheider and Catherine T. Ingrassia, eds., British Women Poets of the Long Eighteenth Century (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), paperback edition.
771. American Ethnic Literature Professor Dean Franco
This course will examine important literary works and major critical conversations within American Literature, focusing on twentieth century novels. The course begins with an investigation of the field of Ethnic American literature, through a survey of critical works and anthologies. This early work will expose the shifting trends within the field and give us some critical and meta-critical purchase on the literature. Key topics include pluralism, cultural nationalism, diaspora, and the ethics of proximity.
Then we will get down to business, with six novels by African American and Jewish American writers. By examining literature by these two different American cultural groups we will explore in depth the insider-outsider dialectic at the core of ethnic American literature. We will compare the two reigning paradigms—immigrant ethnicity vs. race and cultural nationalism—and will see the two converge in the later works.
Besides our literature, you will read widely across criticism and into theory in order to become familiar with major conversations in the field of Ethnic American literature, and in order to form critical approaches to our literature.