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Department of English Language and Literature

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Graduate Course Descriptions - Fall 2023

Note: All courses except ENGL 691 are full-semester courses and are three credit hours.

ENGL 600       Seminar in Verse Composition       Elizabeth Countryman       HUMCB 308    Mon   5:50 PM – 8:35 PM

In this course, students will write and revise new poems and respond to one another’s work in written comments. We will also read poems by outside writers, which we'll look at alongside and in conversation with student work. Prerequisites: admission to the MFA program in poetry. CRN 10646.

ENGL 610     Fiction Workshop: Book-Length Manuscripts       Lois E. Blackwell       HUMCB 312     Thur   6:00 PM – 8:45 PM

Seminar in Prose Composition

This is the fall MFA fiction workshop. Students will write original literary fiction and analyze the fiction submitted by other workshop members. Both short stories and novel excerpts are welcome. Discussion will focus on each writer’s aesthetic decisions and the elements of fiction, including language and motif as well as plot, character, and temporal structure. As time allows, we’ll also consider some contemporary aesthetic and professional issues. (Please note that this course is designed for students who have been admitted to the MFA program in fiction and is not open to undergraduates or for auditing.). CRN 26569.

ENGL 691       Teaching of Literature in College       Hannah Rule       HUMCB 312     T/Th   2:50 PM – 4:05 PM

Introduction to the methods of teaching critical reading and composition, with emphasis on current pedagogical practice and theory. *This course meets during the first seven weeks of term and provides supervision of graduate students (first-time GTAs) teaching ENGL 101. This course is two credit hours. CRN 14499.

ENGL 700       Introduction to Graduate Study of English       Anne Gulick       HUMCB 312     T/Th   10:05 AM – 11:20 AM

This course is designed for graduate students in their first year (or even beyond!) who want a formal opportunity to think through three distinct types of key questions about graduate studies in English. The first set of questions is personal: What am I doing in an English graduate program? How can I best set myself up to get what I came for? How do I need to adjust the rhythms and assumptions that worked for me as an undergraduate in order to be successful at the graduate level? The second set is practical and intellectual: What skills, methods, and genres of writing do I need to get comfortable with in order to do my coursework, develop mastery in a field, and prepare to do scholarly research? Where am I going with this degree and what, beyond completing my official program of study, do I need to do in order to get there? The third set of questions is contextual: What is this world of higher education in which I’ve chosen to immerse myself beyond the BA? What scholarly trends and institutional pressures shape the kind of work that comes out of an English department in the twenty-first century? How can I approach my graduate program in a way that makes me feel less like a cog in the wheel of higher education and more like an agent for (positive) change?

We’ll develop answers to these questions through reflective and critical writing assignments; readings in the history of higher education, the humanities and the English Department; discussions and group work designed to foster the kind of collegiality and intellectual generosity that makes graduate study a pleasure; and visits from a fabulous line-up of faculty guest speakers. We will discuss several of the major scholarly genres students are likely to encounter in graduate school - the conference paper, the book review, the article, the monograph - and will have the opportunity to try their hand at the first two of these.

This class is not required for English graduate students, but it is highly recommended for incoming MAs. Several MFAs and PhD students have also had a good experience with ENGL 700 in the past, as the skills and topics we cover are meant to help supplement and enrich the work you’re doing in other courses and in preparation for dissertation-length projects. Please feel free to email me with any questions about the course and whether it’s right for you at CRN 18824.

ENGL 706       Special Topics in 16th & 17th Century British Literature       Andrew Shifflett       HUMCB 312     T/Th   1:15 PM – 2:30 PM

The British Epic, Spenser to Ossian

Survey of early modern long narrative poetry and theory. Authors are likely to include Spenser, Harrington, Daniel, Chapman, May, Cowley, Davenant, Hobbes, Milton, Hutchinson, Dryden, Blackmore, and Macpherson/Ossian. This course is for anybody who enjoys reading and talking about literature.

ENGL 721       Special Topics in 19th C American Literature       David Greven       HUMCB 312      Mon   5:50 PM – 8:35 PM

Influence and Intertextuality in the American Renaissance

Emboldened by the work of scholars such as Wai Chee Dimock, Ronan Mcdonald, and Julia Kristeva, this course reopens the question of literary influence in major texts of antebellum American literature. Rather than reestablishing traditional paradigms of influence, the course will focus on influence as a means of innovation and transformation of a wide array of source materials. Influence is a crucial component of American writers’ conceptualizations of gender, sexuality, race, and class as well as their development of an American literary form. While American writers' engagement with British literary tradition will be a central concern, we will explore the impact of non-Western and non-literary texts as well. CRN 23165.

ENGL 736       Special Topics in Gender and Sexuality       Norman Madden       HUMCB 308     Thur   6:00 PM – 8:45 PM


What is the relationship between queerness and form? How may queer cultural and sexual politics inflect and resist, shape or reshape aesthetic form? How do you queer a poetic form? What is a queer essay? How may aesthetic forms shape queer representation? What shapes may queer politics take in cultural texts? This course will create a space for exploring these questions by focusing on a specific set of literary and film texts, mostly post 1972 and from the U.S., Ireland, and Brazil. We will think about form in multiple ways—literary and aesthetic forms, but also structures, kinship, bodies, performances, temporalities, formality (and breaking form). The course will draw on a range of theorists, including Caroline Levine on form, Sara Ahmed on queer use and queer emotion, critical theorists on queer time (José Esteban Muñoz, Jack Halberstam, Elizabeth Freeman), and the recent work of Ramzi Fawaz on queer forms of 1970s gay and lesbian cultural politics. CRN 26565.

ENGL 740       Special Topics in Southern Literature        Tara Powell      GAMBRL 123      T/Th   11:40 AM – 12:55 PM

Southern Literature since 1900

This course draws on literary works by southern writers to illustrate a twentieth-century progression of ideas about the study of southern literature as a distinct category. Our primary purpose is to develop a critical framework for understanding contemporary scholarship on southern literature by exploring ways scholars have talked about this region’s literature since 1900. Paradigms will include but are not limited to those of the Southern Renascence, the New South, the postmodern South, and the New Southern Studies. We will draw on imaginative writing by exemplary regional writers to do this work. Some of the authors included in past versions of this course were Erskine Caldwell, James Dickey, William Faulkner, James Weldon Johnson, Randall Kenan, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, James Still, Natasha Trethewey, Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren, and Thomas Wolfe. Students will read the equivalent of approximately one book and one essay per week, prepare two presentations with supporting materials, and participate in seminar-style discussions. They should also expect to write one short essay in lieu of a midterm and one substantial research paper in lieu of a final exam. CRN 26564.

ENGL 792       Classical Rhetoric       Chris Holcomb       HUMCB 312     M/W   3:55 PM – 5:10 PM

This course surveys key texts on rhetoric from ancient Greece and Rome. We’ll start with the Greeks, including the Sophists, Plato’s Gorgias and Phaedrus, and Aristotle’s On Rhetoric. We’ll then trace developments during the Hellenistic period (or what Jim Kinneavy calls the “Age of Codification”) and its influence on Roman rhetorics, including the anonymous Ad Herennium, Cicero’s De Oratore, and Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria. As we read these texts, we’ll be interested in recovering the material circumstances of oratorical performances in ancient Athens and Rome. We’ll also situate these texts (particularly the Roman ones) in their broader historical and political contexts. As we do so, we’ll find that the issues debated in ancient rhetorics raise questions about our own political circumstances. We’ll end the semester with a short unit on the rhetoric of humor, and we’ll find that several ancient rhetoricians (particularly Cicero and Quintilian) had quite a lot to say about humor’s rhetorical powers and pitfalls. CRN 23167.

ENGL 803-001        Special Topics Seminar in Literary & Cultural Studies         Seulghee Lee      HUMCB 308     Tue   5:50PM – 8:45 PM

Racial Misandry in American Culture 

This graduate seminar aims to do two things. First, we will outline the insurgent frame of Black Male Studies, specifically its premise that racialized maleness constitutes a particular site of embodied vulnerability to racial-sexual violence. This philosophical and archival focus on racial misandry, centering the historical victimization of Black men and boys, will be contextualized in relation to adjacent discourses in academic Black Studies, including Black feminism and Afropessimism. We will also consider the import of this framework for theorizing non-Black forms of racialized maleness, theorizing the racial misandry that shapes the phenomenology of Asian American, Latino, and Indigenous maleness, in order to limn the comparative possibilities among men-of-color discourses under the rubric of Black Male Studies. Second, we will outline the potential for developing cultural-theoretical and literary-critical idioms in schematizing racial misandry. As Black Male Studies has primarily utilized empirical and quantitative methods, we will examine the possibilities of its deployment in developing cultural and literary heuristics. Primary authors we may read together include Carlos Bulosan, N. Scott Momaday, Richard Wright, and Lois-Ann Yamanaka; theorists covered may include David Eng, Abdul JanMohamed, Darieck Scott, and Frank Wilderson. We will also host virtually Tommy J. Curry, the founder of Black Male Studies and author of its signal text, The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood (2017). CRN 17084.

ENGL 803-002        Special Topics Seminar in Literary & Cultural Studies       Eli Jelly-Schapiro       HUMCB 308     M/W   2:20 PM – 3:35 PM

Cultures of Extraction

Capitalist modernity was born in the space of the colony, and in the moment of extraction. The mining of gold and silver in the New World signaled what Henri Lefebvre would later describe as the “absolute predominance of exchange over use,” the essence of commodity culture. And the surplus value derived from the combination of slave or wage labor and subterranean metals catalyzed the expanded reproduction of industrial capital within the metropole. The extraction of precious metals, moreover, dovetailed—in a historical and structural sense—with the extraction of fossil fuels. The intensification of mineral mining in North America and Southern Africa, for example—most especially the gold rushes in California and on the Witwatersrand—coincided, in the middle and latter decades of the 1800s, with the advent or acceleration of commercial fossil fuel production. The first commercial oil wells were drilled in Ontario and Pennsylvania in 1858 and 1859; the exploitation of large petroleum reserves in Texas began around the turn of the century. At that same time, the expansion of coal mining—across the surface of the earth and into its depths, in Appalachia as in Yorkshire, made possible the explosion of steam power, which drove the infrastructure of both primitive accumulation and expanded reproduction: the mining and smelting of gold, silver, iron, and copper; the transportation, via rail, of those minerals and the migrant workers enlisted to extract them; the refinement of cotton in the mills of Lancashire and New England. And today, various sites and technologies of extraction—from the tar sands of Alberta to the coltan mines of Central Africa—continue to shape social and political life around the planet. Reading historical and contemporary works of theory and fiction—as well as film, music, and visual art—from around the world, this course will consider the literary and cultural mediation of extractive modernity at large. CRN 26562.

ENGL 890       Studies in Rhetoric & Composition       Kevin Brock       HUMCB 308     Wed   5:50PM – 8:35PM

Writing Program Administration Research and Praxis

Writing Program Administration (WPA) is sometimes perceived as instrumental or managerial labor. However, WPA work in practice is intellectually and theoretically complex, supported by a significant body of research from the last several decades. This research has informed a great deal about the study and instruction of writing, from first-year composition to professional writing to graduate-level disciplinary writing, in a variety of programmatic and institutional contexts. Accordingly, this course serves to explore WPA scholarship and the practical application of thereof for various programmatic, institutional, and disciplinary pursuits. Students will examine the history of WPA emergence from composition studies and pursue a semester-long profile of a writing program at another institution, aided by the program's administrator (who will be a mentor/point of contact). At the same time, students will develop and investigate a substantial research project as well as present on it. These assignments will be supported with weekly readings (from such WPA scholars as Chris Anson, Rita Malenczyk, Jessie Moore, Shirley Rose, Kurt Spellmeyer, Elizabeth Wardle, Irwin "Bud" Weiser, and many more) and short reflection/discussion documents. CRN 26561.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.