Skip to Content

Department of English Language and Literature

  • Books laying on their side on a top of a desk

Graduate Course Descriptions - Spring 2019

ENGL 566  -  Complex Television TR 2:50-4:05pm Minett

Explore contemporary complex television, focusing on the innovation of narrative design, the rise of the sympathetic antihero, and the quest for cultural legitimacy. Screenings are drawn from series including Lost, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Damages, and The Wire. Students will tackle a complex television series of their choice across the semester’s major assignments.

ENGL 601  -  Seminar in Verse Composition TR 11:40-12:55pm Dings 

Designed for MFA students, this course will seek to assist in the further individuation of each student’s poetic technique and style through a combination of required assignments in writing and reading as well as intensive workshop discussion of original work. Generally speaking, we will have some portion of the course especially focused on formal concerns. Free verse poets should expect to challenge themselves with greater attention to the sonic texturing of their poems, especially issues of rhythm; poets writing in traditional metered lines should expect to work intensively on achieving greater ease within their chosen forms. Although various individual poems by established poets will be discussed, students should expect to read closely poetry by Rilke, Wallace Stevens, and Elizabeth Bishop.

ENGL 610  -  Fiction Workshop:  Book-Length Manuscript R 6:00-8:30pm Blackwell 

This is the spring 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. Students are encouraged to participate in the master classes attached to The Open Book, as their schedules permit. (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.)

ENGL 692  -  Teaching of Composition In College MW 3:55-5:10pm Hawk

This course is designed to give new graduate assistants the conceptual tools needed to teach rhetoric and argument in the composition classroom. Teaching composition and rhetoric is probably the most universal experience for graduate students and faculty in English. Regardless of specialization, you will almost certainly spend at least some of your time teaching composition from an argumentative point of view. The primary aim, then, is not to simply get you through your first year teaching, but to introduce you key rhetorical concepts and practices as a foundation for developing your own approach to teaching the course that coincides with both the discipline of composition and rhetoric and the university goals for the course.

ENGL 704  -  Premodern Chaucers T 2:50-5:20pm Crocker

This course will read literatures central to the making of Geoffrey Chaucer as “the father of English poetry.” Imitations, appropriations, misattributions—and sometimes just plain theft: we will examine Chaucer’s texts in conjunction with fifteenth and sixteenth century responses by Hoccleve, Lydgate, Shakespeare, and a host of minor poets. In addition, we will think through issues of canon, authorship, and the “tradition” of English poetry that Chaucer authorized.

ENGL 722  -  Post-World War II poets writing about the U.S. South M 11:10am-1:40pm Powell 

This course considers the work of selected poets at the intersection of trends in contemporary American poetry and southern literary studies. Though the course features several mini-themes, including Appalachian literature and literature of the working class, its primary purpose is to develop a critical framework for understanding new directions in contemporary scholarship on regional poetry. Poets to be read may include, but not be limited to Robert Penn Warren, James Dickey, A. R. Ammons, Fred Chappell, Kate Daniels, Natasha Trethewey, and Terrance Hayes. Students will read the equivalent of approximately one book and one essay per week, prepare two presentations with accompanying handouts, participate in class discussion, and write one short essay in lieu of a midterm and one substantial research paper in lieu of a final exam. By the course’s conclusion, successful students will become familiar with important twentieth-century trends in the fields of American poetry and southern literature; be able to discuss the form and content of course texts in the context of these fields; be confident doing the same with future similar texts they may encounter; and improve critical reading, writing, and research skills to engage a variety of kinds of regional texts.

ENGL 736  -  Sex, Gender, and Nation in Irish Literature R 2:50-5:20pm Madden 

In this seminar, we will examine literature and culture of Ireland, focusing especially on works of the last century and on the complex relations of national and sexual politics. We will explore representations of gender and sexuality in Irish literary texts and films, asking to what ends such representations work. How are figures and structures of gendered meaning—not just the gender binary but also maternity, marriage, the bachelor, the couple, the child—connected to social legibility and national identity? We will read the literature in the contexts of social and political
struggles tied to gender, from the 1937 Constitution to more recent struggles over reproductive rights, marriage equality, mental health, and migration. Authors studied will include Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Edna O’Brien, Keith Ridgway, Desmond Hogan, Emma Donoghue, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, and Blindboy Boatclub, as well as selected materials from contemporary film and popular culture and selected readings in Irish studies and gender studies.

ENGL 741  -  African American Literature & Culture W 11:10am-1:40pm Trafton 

Interdisciplinary approaches to African American literature and culture. Requirements will include regular response papers and a final research project.

ENGL 776  -  Introduction to Bibliography & Textual Studies W 1:10-3:55pm Weisenburg 

Introduction to analytical, descriptive, and textual bibliography, and to the principles and practice of editing. This course will introduce students to the basic concepts of the semiotics of the book, book production from manuscript to computer technology, the economies of book production and distribution, the development of printing, the concept of authorship, libraries and other information architecture, principles of bibliographic description, and editorial theory and practice. We will hold class in the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, and students will be expected to work with items from the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Students should be prepared to spend time outside of class in the rare books reading room, as many assignments will involve in-depth, hands-on work with rare material.

ENGL 792  -  Classical Rhetoric T 6:00-8:30pm Muckelbauer 

Over the last 40 years, classical Greek rhetoric has been reconstructed as an intellectual pre-cursor to postmodern and post-structuralist theory. The aim of this course will be to investigate this “return” to the Greeks and to raise questions about its conceptual and political stakes. We will read classical works (by Aristophanes, Isocrates, Gorgias, Plato, etc.) alongside the work of “contemporary” theorists (Deleuze, Derrida, Heidegger, etc.) as well as rhetoric scholars (Hawhee, Vitanza, Schiappa, etc.).

ENGL 795  -  The Teaching of Business & Technical Writing M 5:30-8:00pm Hawk 

This course provides an historical and theoretical introduction to professional and technical writing as a discipline with an emphasis on pedagogy. We’ll inspect the rise of professional writing against the backdrop of rhetoric and composition as a scholarly field with a focus on key theoretical issues such as genre and rhetorical situation, usability-design-users, networks and organizations, rhetorical ethics, digital technologies, workplace ethnographies, and teaching/pedagogy. The course is conceptualized as seminar and practicum, challenging students to probe the historical and theoretical issues being presented and work toward applying them to pedagogical situations. These tasks will include: writing short assignments to be presented to the class; compiling a research bibliography that supports assignments; producing a syllabus for an undergraduate class; writing a final paper that explains the research and theories behind the syllabus and its assignments.

ENGL 803  -  History and Utopia: Global Historical and Speculative/Science Fictions R 6:00-8:30pm Forter 

This course will focus on historical and speculative/science fictions of an expressly global and anticolonial kind. These are works that explore the history of colonialism and its aftermath in an effort to map the prehistory of our present while retrieving from that history the occluded remnants of utopian futurity. The course will ask what makes these works “global”; how they conceive of and critique the processes of capitalist globalization; how they link those processes to the long history of colonial modernity; and in what ways they intuit new social forms that lie secreted in our current order, yet require for their “realization” a radical rupture with that order. We will pay particular attention to the distinctive formal experiment of each work. That is, while attending to the relations between fictional texts and the conditions out of which they emerge, we will ask how and what speculative or historical modes of narration reveal that other kinds of narrative—and other discourses—do not.

To approach these matters, the course will juxtapose fictions from four continents with a large and varied theoretical archive: works that theorize world literature (Emily Apter, Pheng Cheah, Joseph Slaughter); theories of global capital’s relation to nationalism, migration, and the “planet of slum” (Fredric Jameson, David Harvey, Wendy Brown, Mike Davis); discussions of heterotemporality and utopian futurity (Walter Benjamin, Reinhart Koselleck, Dipesh Chakrabarty); debates surrounding the meaning of colonial modernity (David Scott, James Ferguson, Jean and John Comaroff); analyses of the Black Atlantic and the Indian Ocean worlds (C. L. R. James, Paul Gilroy, Elleke Boehmer, Ian Baucom); and materialist accounts of literary genre in relation to the capitalist world-system (Giovanni Arrighi, Jameson, Sarah Brouillette, Georg Lukács).

Literary works (drawn from the following): C. Abani, Graceland; R. Bolaño, Distant Star; J. M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals; A. Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome; M. Hamid, Exit West; K. Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; M. James, The Book of Night Women; B. Lerner, 10:04; N. Okorafor, Lagoon; A. Roy, The God of Small Things; K. Shamsie, Burnt Shadows; C. Whitehead, Underground Railroad; Z. Wicomb, David’s Story.

Requirements: bi-weekly response papers; regular abstracts of secondary works; final research paper (20pp).

ENGL 803  -  Regionalism T 6:00-8:30pm Jarrells 

What does it mean to call a literature or a particular literary form “regional”? How does identification with region differ from and perhaps complicate other notions of community or belonging, such as those tied to nation (Britishness, English literature), period (modernity, the Anthropocene) and world (global society, etc.)? And do regional attachments, even as they block certain kinds of connection, open up others – for example, between William and Dorothy Wordsworth’s Lake District and Walter Scott’s Highlands? Or between Edmund Burke’s Ireland and the India suffering under East India Company rule? Or between the local ballads that were sung and written down in eighteenth-century Scotland and the songs from myriad other locales that eventually were gathered together under the title “Anthology of American Folk Music” (and later recorded by the likes of by Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, P.J. Harvey…)? These are some of the questions that we will take up in this seminar. As the above-mentioned examples suggest, our starting point will be the end of the eighteenth century, the time when a regional literature in English started to take shape. In addition to the Wordsworths, Scott, and Burke, we will read works by Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Robert Burns, Charlotte Smith, Maria Edgeworth, John Galt, Jane Austen, Washington Irving, Mary Russell Mitford, and John Keats. We will also pay some close attention to those genres of the period that highlight strong regional attachment, including the statistical account, the guidebook, the tour, and the tale. Although our focus will be the literature of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain, we will take some time to theorize the categories of region and place more generally and to consider other examples – the US South, for one – of literatures that have come to be called “regional.”

ENGL 804  -  The History of the Book MW 9:40-10:55am Jackson

The History of the Book is a new and dynamic interdisciplinary field of study that explores the production, dissemination, and consumption of printed texts and the nature and meaning of print culture in a rich variety of contexts. Although the study of print culture draws from many disciplines, including legal studies, sociology, social history, anthropology, cultural studies, and the history of technology, it speaks especially compellingly to the study of literary history. This course offers an intensive introduction to the history of books, print culture, and communication in America and (to a lesser but not unimportant degree) also England, from the seventeenth century through the nineteenth. We will consider shifting epistemologies of communicative media; the importance of manuscript and oral cultures for the study of the book; questions regarding the politics and political authority of the printed word; the economics and economies of authorship; the transformation of the printing trade; the commercialization of books; the interpretive importance of the materiality of texts; shifting modalities of reading; and the commodification of ideas. We'll also consider the ways in which the Digital Humanities, the New Materialism, Actor Network Theory, Critical Race Studies, and Post-Nationalist theories among others, have shaped the study of print culture. Pedagogically, the class will be somewhat more akin to a theory course than a literary historical one, although it will be profoundly rooted in history and textuality and with plenty of hands-on experience with texts themselves.

ENGL 890  -  Writing Program Administration Research and Praxis W 5:30-8:00pm Brock 

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.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.