The list below includes descriptions of a selection of undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Department of English.
Visit the undergraduate and graduate pages for course requirements for specific programs. For up-to-date information on course offerings, schedules, room locations and registration, please visit the Student Information System (SIS).
ENG 0001 English 1: Expository Writing. English 1 fulfills the first half of the college writing requirement for liberal arts students. For School of Engineering students, English 1 fulfills the English requirement. English 1 explores the principles of effective written communication and provides intensive practice in writing various types of expository prose, especially analysis and persuasion. Essays by contemporary and earlier authors will be examined as instances of the range and versatility of standard written English. English 1 is offered both semesters, with substantially fewer sections in the spring.
ENG 0002 English 2: First-Year Writing Seminars. English 2 fulfills the second half of the college writing requirement for liberal arts students. School of Engineering students are not required to take English 2. Like English 1, English 2 is a composition course designed to provide a foundation for writing in other courses. Unlike English 1, English 2 offers students the opportunity to choose among several seminar topics, all of which are approached in an interdisciplinary way. While drawing on various materials including fiction, essays, films and other visual and aural texts, English 2 puts the primary emphasis on students' own writing. English 2 is offered both semesters, with substantially fewer sections in the fall. English 1 (or 3) is a prerequisite for this course.
ENG 0003 English 3: Reading, Writing, Research. English 3 fulfills the first half of the college writing requirement for liberal arts students. For School of Engineering students, English 3 fulfills the English requirement. English 3 is designed for international students and for students who speak English as an additional language. This course explores the principles of effective written communication and provides intensive practice in writing various types of expository prose, especially analysis and persuasion. Essays by contemporary and earlier writers will be examined as instances of the range and versatility of standard written English. English 3 is offered in the fall semester as pass/fail.
ENG 0004 English 4: Writing Seminar. English 4 fulfills the second half of the College Writing Requirement for Liberal Arts students. Engineering students are not required to take English 4. English 4 is designed for international students and for students who speak English as an additional language. As in English 2, the seminar topics of English 4 are approached in an interdisciplinary way. While drawing on various materials including fiction, essays, films and other visual and aural texts, English 4 puts the primary emphasis on students' own writing. English 4 is offered in the spring semester; prerequisite is English 1 (or 3).
ENG 0005 Creative Writing: Fiction. In this workshop, you will work as a writer and reader of new fiction. All participants write two original short stories, which will be read and analyzed by their colleagues, and revised throughout the semester. In addition, you will address specific challenges of structure, tone, style, point of view, etc., by writing brief creative exercises, which illustrate how writers invent dramatically different solutions to a single problem. At the semester’s end, writers compile portfolios to represent their progress and accomplishments. Class time will be devoted to craft-based discussion of model literary texts, as well as workshopping of student drafts and assignments.
ENG 0006 Creative Writing: Poetry. This course is a beginning poetry workshop whose primary text is your poems. Each week we will read and discuss your work. We'll be thinking about what makes a powerful free verse poem as you develop a more sophisticated vocabulary regarding the art of making poems. Requirements for the class include your willingness to write a great deal, to attend class regularly, and to meet with me in conference over the course of the semester.
ENG 0007 Creative Writing: Journalism. Living in an era of fake news, disinformation, misinformation and malinformation, it is more imperative than ever to examine the ethics, importance and perils of journalism. In this course, we will learn about how this form of writing differs in American than in other countries, examining how the First Amendment has helped to shape the many forms journalism takes today, from investigative and feature writing to multimedia forms of reporting like broadcast and photojournalism. We will discuss how journalists are under attack in Hong Kong, Russia, Uzbekistan and elsewhere, and how social media has been mobilized to distort the truth intentionally. Hunter S. Thompson, father of gonzo journalism, believed that objective journalism is a pompous contradiction in terms and used hyperbole and humor in his longform writing, whereas Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist who was murdered in the stairwell of her flat in 2006 wrote that she had been under daily assault, "merely for reporting what I have witnessed, nothing but the truth." We will discuss what our idea of truth might be and whether it can be rendered without bias, particularly when the digital revolution has transformed the way we deliver and consume the news. Bring your curiosity to class, because we will learn how to research topics we are passionate about, gather and synthesize information (through observation, interview, immersion and other techniques), and write succinct, energetic stories that are potentially publishable across print, digital and other media platforms, always with an eye towards being a more engaged local and global citizen.
ENG 0010 Nonfiction Writing. This course is an introduction to nonfiction writing in its various guises including the personal essay, literary journalism, travel writing, nature and science writing, humor, memoir and lyric/hybrid essay. We will explore the historical and cultural context of creative nonfiction, including publishing markets and trends in the field, and study the structure, techniques and range of narrative possibilities each of these subgenres provides us. We will read such writers as Joan Didion, Dave Eggers, Lucy Grealy, James Baldwin, Pico Iyer, Mary Karr, Philip Lopate, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Tobias Wolff, among others, and work on reverse engineering successful pieces of writing to determine for ourselves how an author uses rhetoric and figurative language to craft something memorable. We will learn the basics of interviewing, immersion, and research techniques, provide feedback to the other writers in class in a workshop setting and create works of our own original nonfiction using the course as a safe space for practice, inquiry, and experimentation.
ENG 0011 Intermediate Journalism. What the news ecosystem will be like in the coming years is up for grabs, but the nuts and bolts of good journalism remain the same: getting the story by tuning into events and getting people to tell us what the public needs to know; finding and using sources effectively; investigating and analyzing events; and reporting it all accurately, clearly, and engagingly. This course gives you, as a student journalist, the opportunity to sharpen these skills by reporting and writing stories regularly as you learn the craft and business of the field. You'll work mostly independently on topics of your choosing to practice reporting and feature writing for various journalism platforms. We’ll also discuss practical, ethical, and legal issues in the news media among ourselves and with professional journalists. Prerequisite: Familiarity with the basics of reporting.
ENG 0013 Writing Fiction: Advanced. In this course, students will reimagine and revise short stories in a supportive writing community. We will read short stories from a writer's and editor's perspective, exploring a wide range of topics intended for students who have taken ENG 0005 (Creative Writing: Fiction). In addition to discussing published pieces and essays on craft, students will write and rewrite their own stand-alone short stories, as well as offer constructive feedback to one another through small group and full class workshops. This class is more focused on revision than on first drafts, though students should expect to write one new story for this class. Students should also be prepared for intensive take-home reading reflections, in-class writing exercises, revision exercises, and other tailored assignments.
ENG 0016 Forms of Poetry. This workshop course will allow students the opportunity to develop their own poetic voices by employing and complicating an array of formal constraints in contemporary poetry. Students will read work by a wide variety of poets, including six recent full-length collections of poetry, in order to understand how poets utilize traditional and experimental approaches to form in the service of their own unique poetic projects and personas. In the first (shorter) portion of each class meeting, we’ll engage in explication of the assigned reading. The second (longer) portion of class will be a workshop, in which we review and discuss one another’s written work, making collaborative suggestions for revision. Prerequisite: English 6.
ENG 0017 The Poem. This course will focus on the fundamentals of how to read and write poetry, looking at how poets transform kernels of observations and analyses into fully-realized works of literature, with an emphasis on sound structures, visual organization, and argument. Each week, we will investigate a different facet of how a poem is made – that is, how do poets negotiate sonic architecture, visual composition, intellectual through line, and imaginative locus at the level of the line? At the level of the stanza? The poem? The sequence? We'll engage in explication of the assigned reading, collective in-class exercises, and workshop days. Assignments include writing poetry, memorizing poems, and writing analytical book reviews. No previous experience with poetry needed.
ENG 0020 Black World Literature. This course is an introduction to African and African diasporic literatures, principally though not exclusively, from anglophone African countries, the English-speaking Caribbean, and Britain. We will explore a variety of forms—fiction, poetry, memoir, film—and trace their transmissions and transformations. The selection of texts is not meant to be exhaustive but aims to allow us to begin examining the possible political and cultural meanings of the "black" world. Texts may include: Things Fall Apart, Nervous Conditions, The River Between, The Lonely Londoners, Our Sister Killjoy, No Telephone to Heaven, Life and Debt, among others. Non majors as well as majors are welcome. This class counts toward the Africana major, ILVS, and the survey requirement for the English major.
ENG 0021 Heroes, Lovers and Demons: British Lit from Beowulf to 18th Century. This course will examine some of the representatives works of British literature in the first thousand years of its history (8th-18th centuries). While the materials of this course are organized chronologically, we will proceed under the assumption that the history of literature does not progress in a linear fashion. New forms are created, lost and forgotten, only to emerge again in different times and places. Old forms survive by creating hybrid or mixed forms or acquire new meaning(s) under different historical pressures. Why do certain kinds of literature become significant in a given moment in history? What would this tell us about the relationship between literature and world?
To explore these questions, we will learn to think historically and comparatively, allowing ourselves to travel back and forth across time and space. This means situating a given work in the context of its original production and reception, while also being sensitive to the ways in which it resonates with our present-day situations. We will think about how early literatures, by virtue of their strange familiarity, might allow us to perceive the exigencies of our present moment in new and different ways. To this end, we will examine a range of literary and dramatic genres (e.g., epic, romance, framed tale, utopian fiction, literary criticism, lyric poetry, tragedy) in relation to the social, political, environmental, and cultural changes that occurred over the millennium, but which continue to shape the world we live in now (e.g., the bubonic plague, urbanization, the Reformation, European discovery and conquest of the New World, mass migration, political revolution).
Our primary focus will be imaginative works of literature and drama, but, if time permits, we will also read a selection of non-literary works, such as travel writing, religious tracts, political treatises, etc. Unless otherwise specified, all course materials can be found in the Norton Anthology of English Literature (10th edition).
ENG 0036 Asian American Writers. This course examines works across a range of genres by Asian-American writers and filmmakers, paying particular attention to the intersection of race, gender formation, sexuality, location, and class. We will put conceptions of feminism, queerness, and LGBT identity in conversation with the issues about ethnicity, race, citizenship, power, activism, and collective as well as individual histories that these works raise. Through close reading of literary and cinematic texts, we will explore the politics of representation and the various ways art can inform the world and be informed by it. This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0048 From Beijing to Bollywood. This course is designed to introduce students to the cinema of China and India. The aim of the course is comparative: through selected films and critical essays, we will examine how cinema in India and China has represented anxieties about colonialism, nationalism, revolution 4/9/18 3 and globalization. What are the major pre-occupations of Indian and Chinese cinema in the modern era? What has been the role of this powerful cultural production in social transformation? In particular, we will be attentive to each cinematic tradition’s engagement with issues of gender, class and erotic desire.
The course is in ENGLISH. No prerequisites. All majors welcome.
This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement of the English major. This course is cross-listed with Cross-listed as CHNS 83 and FMS 68 and ILVS 85.
ENG 0063 American Fiction 1900-1950. This course explores the emergence and character of American late high modernism, the self-conscious intellectual and aesthetic movement dating roughly from 1910 to 1945. We will study modernism in its experimental literary expressions; as a social period encompassing the First World War, women's suffrage, Prohibition and the Depression; as a period of diverse cultural expressions that include the Jazz Age, the Harlem Renaissance, European expatriation and urban bohemianism. We will focus on modernist writers' struggles to efface or subordinate plot or structure in narrative (an effort only more or less successful and oscillating in its visibility in texts under study); the condition of the modern subject, alienation; and representations of gender, racial designations, and sexuality, with emphasis on class across these categories and the difficulties attending ideas or efforts to achieve class mobility or economic self-sufficiency in this period. Texts will include: Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises; Jean Toomer, Cane; W. E. B. DuBois, from The Souls of Black Folk; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust; The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and selections from the writings of Gertrude Stein; William Faulkner, The Bear; James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room, and others. This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0081 Postmodernism and Film. We all use the word “postmodern,” but do we really know what it means? This course will introduce students to the radical force of postmodern thought (as articulated by critics and philosophers including Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Slavoj Žižek, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Julia Kristeva, Frederic Jameson, Donna Haraway, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Roland Barthes, and Jean Baudrillard) by studying a variety of films that engage or mobilize postmodern concepts (including replication, parody, inauthenticity, epistemological groundlessness, unoriginality, and interrogation of the “human”). We will explore the tensions between modernist and postmodernist views of the world in the context of other relations as well, including those between film and philosophy, between techonology and interpretation, between meaning and image, and between what Barthes calls “the work and the textThe argument of this class is that postmodernism in cinema is both inescapable and impossible at once. If you’re curious to know what that might mean, then this course may be for you. The following are likely to be among the films we examine this semester: the Wachowski's The Matrix, Scott's Blade Runner, Lassiter’s Toy Story, Polanski's Chinatown, Zemeckis's Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Persichetti, Ramsey, and Rothman’s Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse; Fincher’s Fight Club, Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, Amenabar's Abre los Ojos, Nolan’s Memento, Lynch's Mulholland Drive, Haneke’s Funny Games, and Peele’s Us. This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0091-01 Taking Farce Seriously: Body, Language, Machine. To describe something as a farce or farcical is to characterize it as ridiculous, absurd, or extravagant. But the ridiculous, the absurd, and the extravagant can do important work. In this course, we will be taking farce seriously: studying it as a dramatic, cinematic, and literary genre that thinks systematically about what it means to be a social animal. Although we will pay some attention to the premodern history of the genre, we will focus primarily on farces from the late nineteenth century to the present. Our examples will be drawn primarily from theater and film, but we will look at some novels as well. Texts will include: Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Feydeau, A Flea in Her Ear; Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Genet, The Balcony; Orton, What the Butler Saw; Churchill, Cloud 9; Coen, The Big Lebowski; Wood, A Night at the Opera; Renoir, The Rules of the Game; Bong, Parasite; Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Beatty, The Sellout; Maazel, A Little More Human. We will also read relevant critical and theoretical texts. This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0091-02 Voicing Early American Multi-Ethnic Literature. Reading early American multi-ethnic literature with a specific engagement with speaking and representation. From pre-Columbian oral traditions to nineteenth-century print culture, topics will include orality and oration, racialization, dialect, rhetoric and rebellion, minstrelsy, and passing. We will consider authors with varying positions of power and subjection, who took to the pen (or the voice) in order to reify or resist white supremacy and its attendant discursive and physical violence. Authors may include Phillis Wheatley, William Apess, Thomas Jefferson, Sui Sin Far, Catherine Maria Sedgwick, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Anna Julia Cooper, and more. This course fulfils the pre-1860 requirement.
ENG 0107 Chaucer. This course explores the works of one of the three or four greatest poets in English. We'll read Chaucer in Middle English, but he is in almost every respect easier to understand than Shakespeare, who lived two centuries later. We will spend roughly half of the semester on the Canterbury Tales, the other half on Chaucer's most extraordinary poem, Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer is primarily a narrative rather than a lyric poet: though the analogy is an imperfect one, the Canterbury Tales are like a collection of short stories, and Troilus like a novel in verse. We will talk about Chaucer's literary sources and contexts, the interpretation of his poetry, and his treatment of a number of issues, especially gender issues, that are of perennial interest. This course fulfills the pre-1860 requirement.
ENG 0108 Virgil and Dante. This course will focus on two major texts in the European literary tradition, Vergil's Aeneid and Dante's Commedia. The two are linked because Virgil is Dante's guide in his journey into Hell and up the mountain of Purgatory: he is the guide because Aeneid 6 describes an earlier trip to the underworld, but even more, because Dante has the whole Aeneid very much in mind throughout his own great poem. We will also look at a number of allusions to these works in English and American literature.
ENG 0110 Renaissance in England. "All the world's a stage," says Jaques in As You Like It, "and all the men and women merely players." The theatrical attitude toward life evident in these lines was characteristic of the Renaissance. Not only was this the greatest age of the English theater, it was an age that was intensely theatrical: in both the "literary" and the "non-literary" texts of the period, the possibility repeatedly surfaces that everyone is continually playing a part - that each of our identities consists merely of a set of inconsistent roles. This possibility could be extremely liberating, permitting one to escape the confines of fixed social and gendered positions, and enabling the creation of "other worlds" - alternative societies or utopias. It could also, of course, be deeply frightening: taken to an extreme, it threatens the foundations of traditional beliefs about religion and society. We will examine how these conflicting attitudes manifested themselves in the non-dramatic poetry and prose of the period: we will begin with early humanist writings, look closely at the development of the lyric, and read romances, national epics and erotic epyllia (small epics). We will carefully consider the self-consciousness about representation that is evident in most of these texts, and we will explore their authors' ever-present delight in - and distrust of - the powers of language and art. Readings will probably include works by Thomas More, Erasmus, Castiglione, Thomas Wyatt, Louise Labé, Queen Elizabeth, Philip and Mary Sidney, Mary Wroth, Fulke Greville, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, and John Donne. This course fulfills the pre-1860 requirement.
ENG 0136 Major Figures of the Irish Literary Renaissance. In this course, we will consider, and perhaps stretch, the idea of the Irish Literary Renaissance that is generally thought of as occurring in the late 19th century and early 20th century. We shall be looking at major writers: the reading list will include Yeats, Synge, Joyce (Dubliners and Portrait). Others may be Oscar Wilde, Lady Gregory, Shaw, Elizabeth Bowen, and George Moore. I am particularly interested in the interplay of specifically "Irish" culture and politics and literary traditions, and the internationalist leanings of some of these figures. This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0157 Poets on Poetry. How to read poems? How to write them? One obvious place to seek answers is in the work of poet-critics who grapple with the double task of creating and explaining poetry. This small, discussion-driven seminar introduces students to two pairs of such poet-critics: William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the two most influential exponents of Romanticism, and Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, who, roughly a century later, combined efforts to start the modernist movement whose partial aim was to free English poetry of the baneful influences – so they claimed – of Romanticism. The course material largely consists of primary texts authored by these four poet-critics. Specifically, students will analyze a selection of their most representative poetic work, their criticisms and appreciations of particular poems (their own as well as others’), and their theoretical writings on the literary art. These dense and diverse primary sources raise questions of fundamental value to all students of English poetry. What is the role of imagination, reason, and feeling in poetry? How does individual creativity relate to tradition? Is poetry compatible with secularism? What distinguishes verse from prose? Understanding how these poet-critics obtained solutions to these problems will help students deepen their engagement with poetry in general, whether they aspire to be poets, critics, or both. There are no prerequisites for this course. Students of all backgrounds are welcome. But the course material will be best appreciated by those who are in love with the imaginative resources of language. Requirements: attendance, participation, reading journal, two short papers, a final paper. This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0158 Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner. This course introduces students to the representative novels and short stories by Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner: In Our Time, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, various short stories, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night by Fitzgerald, and The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, and Light in August by William Faulkner. The course will be discussion-based (no lectures) and all the discussions will be organized in pursuance of three tasks: 1) to understand who these authors were -- their values, their personalities, and their techniques; 2) to understand the fundamental principles of effective story-telling; 3) to learn from the many insights that these works offer into the areas of life that confound us. Requirements: reading journal, two short papers, and one final paper. This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0159 Contemporary Jewish Fiction. A look at novels and stories by authors, both new and established, whose work has reflected, challenged, shaped and altered not only contemporary Jewish consciousness but also the broad shared culture that the writers inhabit. We'll read fiction by Molly Antopol, Rebecca Schiff, Tova Mirvis, Justin Taylor, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and others. This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0189 Fanon & Black Textual Revolution: Before & Beyond “Post-Coloniality.” The marvelous texts of Frantz Fanon have preoccupied, even mesmerized a wide range of critical scholars and political activists for half a century now. He was a Black psychiatrist, writer and revolutionary born in Martinique; formally schooled under French colonialism in the Caribbean as well as France; and converted to “African Revolution” in Algeria. Fanon would author four phenomenal books worth of material by his untimely death from leukemia in C.I.A. custody in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A. One would even be vital to the production of a classic film, Battle of Algiers. Their current English-language translations are legendary: Black Skin, White Masks (1952), A Dying Colonialism (1959), The Wretched of the Earth (1961), and Toward the African Revolution (1964). Many of his texts would help shape the modern Black Power Movement of Afro-North America as well as the anti-colonialist/anti-imperialist liberation struggles waged in continental Africa and the “Third World” at large – that is, before the strictly academic theories of “post-colonialism” or “post-coloniality” would rise to prominence in Western institutions many years later, literally entire decades behind these movements of praxis. This course will study Fanon’s revolutionary body of work as a whole with some regard to those related Black political and textual revolutions taking root in his tradition. We will ask a series of crucial questions, of necessity: Why does Fanon remain so unique and important a figure, worldwide? What is the difference between academia’s Fanon and Black or anti-colonialist/anti-imperialist revolution’s Fanon? How do different translations of Fanon affect past and present interpretations of Fanon? Why is it urgent to speak of “Black textual revolutions, after Fanon,” both politically and artistically, at this specific point in global-historical time? This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0191-01 BAM: The Black Arts Movement. This course is an introduction to the Black Arts Movement that takes center stage around the 1960s in the production of new African diasporic cultural tradition in North America. The spoken words of Amiri Baraka and Jayne Cortez supply a guiding, booming soundtrack for this undertaking. Yet, while the poetry of “BAM” may have had the most lasting impact, on one view, we also examine a range of the movement’s creative practices -- including fiction, drama, criticism, music, sculpture and cinema. Moreover, besides anthologies, art collectives and interviews with major “BAM” artists, we engage the signature work of a wide array of other literary-artistic figures: Etheridge Knight, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Don Lee/Haki Madhubuti; Ed Bullins and Carolyn Rodgers; Henry Dumas and Toni Cade Bambara; Audre Lorde and Cheryl Clarke; Larry Neale; Dudley Randall, Addison Gayle, Jr., and Hoyt Fuller; etc., etc. Central questions to be considered: here: What history does the Black Arts Movement make politically and otherwise? How does “BAM” radically re-define “poetry” and “literature,” particularly, both in white-dominated and bourgeois-dominated public spheres? What is its ultimate relationship to the “Black Power” movement, worldwide? How would the Black Arts Movement live on, finally, beyond its heyday, in the later twentieth and early twenty-first centuries? This course fulfills the post-1860 requirement.
ENG 0191-02 Dickens and Eliot. In this course, we will read novels by the two towering figures in the canon of Victorian fiction: Charles Dickens and George Eliot. The extravagantly comic and exuberantly inventive Dickens epitomizes the “popular” novel; Eliot, with her commitment to realism and moral investigation, exemplifies Victorian fiction at its most intellectually ambitious. While we will take into account the significant differences between these two major novelists, we will also look at the ways in which their projects converge and overlap with each other. Placing the novels in their historical contexts, we will read them carefully and, given their length, relatively slowly. Questions of gender will figure prominently in our discussions, along with such issues as race, class, and colonialism. We will read three novels by each of the two authors: Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Bleak House, and Great Expectations, and Eliot’s Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and Middlemarch. We will also read some critical essays on individual novels and on the theory of the novel as a genre. This course fulfills the pre-1860 requirement.
ENG 288 Graduate Seminar: Colloquium. A series of 2-hour colloquia run by distinguished professors at other schools; each year, the invitees will be selected to cover a wide variety of specialties. In advance of each colloquium, a selection from the visiting professor’s work-in-progress is distributed; students discuss the work in detail at the colloquium, raising pertinent questions and offering feedback. Required of all graduate students currently in classes; those who have finished coursework are welcome to attend.
ENG 0290 Graduate Seminar: Pro-Seminar. This series of meetings is required of all first-year students entering the graduate program with an M.A. and all second-year students who entered with a B.A.; other English graduate students may attend individual meetings, but do not have to register for the seminar. Different faculty members will address various topics relevant to professional development, pedagogy, and intellectual currents in the discipline in a minimum of six one-hour meetings.
ENG 0291-01 Graduate Seminar: Queer Theory and Afropessimism. Our discussion of queer theory and Afropessimist thought will consider each of these analytic models in relation to the “ontological turn” in contemporary critical discourse. In doing so, it will help prepare students—regardless of the specific period or national literature they plan to study—to enter the critical conversations of the 21st-century academy. Focusing on how queer theory and Afropessimism interrogate subjectivity by thinking about what ontology necessarily excludes (and what, therefore, is structurally inaccessible to political repair), we will explore how theorists in these two traditions deploy and revise our understandings of sexuality, race, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and aesthetics. We will pay particular attention to how language, rhetoric, and figure simultaneously position blackness and queerness in the register of “non-being” and locate them in materialized bodies to positivize what ontology negates. Necessarily, therefore, we will engage negativity in relation to the dominant academic narrative of transformation or “becoming” and think about whether that relation is one of opposition or antagonism—and what difference the answer makes. Throughout we will reflect on what this all means for literary and cultural analysis. Among the authors likely to be studied this semester are Frantz Fanon, Jacques Lacan, Hortense Spillers, Ronald Judy, Saidiya Hartman, Jared Sexton, Christina Sharpe, Frank Wilderson III, Lauren Berlant, David Marriott, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Calvin Warren, C. Riley Snorton, Judith Butler, Tavia Nyong’o, Teresa de Lauretis, Leo Bersani, S. Pearl Brilmeyer, Achille Mbembe, Denise Ferriera de Silva, Fred Moten, Jack Halberstam, Guy Hocquenghem, Monique Wittig, and Slavoj Zizek. Students are not required to have a background in critical theory, but they are required to have an appetite for it and a willingness to approach theory as an imperative for graduate literary studies and not as a mere add-on.
ENG 0291-02 Graduate Seminar: Race & Gender in the Romantic Imperium. In its formulations of lyric subjectivity and the creative imagination, Romanticism has been understood as both drawing on Enlightenment humanism and radically reconceptualizing the logic of possessive individualism it subtends. This seminar will explore the problematic of the Romantic imperium--the extent of the powers, rights, and liberties of the individual subject—in articulations of personhood that both underwrite liberal humanism and challenge its universalist claims. Focusing on texts that take up, grapple with, and contest ideals of human agency under the pressure put on racialized and/or gendered bodies by particular social and political conditions, we will consider a range of canonical and non-canonical fiction, poetry, autobiographical writing, and visual representation produced in and beyond England from the 1780s into the 1850s, as well as recent critical and aesthetic responses to the aftereffects of the entangled histories of British colonialism, racism, and gender oppression in the current time.
ENG 0291-03 Graduate Seminar: Marlowe, Jonson, and Friends. We will consider carefully the major works of two of the most important dramatists of the early modern period, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson. We will also make comparisons to relevant works of Shakespeare, but these will not be our focus. Texts to be studied will probably include the following: Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine, Parts I and II, The Jew of Malta, Edward II, Dr. Faustus, Hero and Leander; Ben Jonson, selected poems and masques, Volpone, Epicoene, The Alchemist, Bartholmew Fair. In addition, we will look at two of the most important revenge tragedies of the period, The Spanish Tragedy (Kyd), and The Revenger’s Tragedy (Middleton?). We will explore how these various texts drew upon and influenced both one another and other major plays and poems of the Renaissance.
ENG 0291-04 Graduate Seminar: Dirty Jobs: American Lit. and the Politics of Work. Michael Denning quips that Martians studying mass culture on Earth might "conclude that humans spent far more…time engaged in sex than in work.” Though right about a general "reluctance to represent work in our popular stories," C19 US literature often centers the politics of work, from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (with its factory-like whaleship) to Frederick Douglass's autobiographical Narrative of his experience as an enslaved man (and, later, as a nominally free wage laborer) to Rebecca Harding Davis's early realist tale, "Life in the Iron Mills." We'll read from these and other texts alongside theorists and historians of the continuities between slavery and its aftermaths (Alexander), industrialization and the attendant disciplining of time (Thompson, Harvey), gender and work via "emotional labor" and the politics of "housework" (Hochschild, Frederici), as well as recent advocates for "post-work" or "anti-work" politics (Weeks, Graeber).