Skip to Content

Department of English Language and Literature

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

Graduate Course Descriptions - Spring 2021

ENGL 601  -  Seminar in Verse Composition (Hybrid Web/In-Person)    M 5:50-8:25pm, HUMCB 308   Amadon 

In this course, students will write and revise new poems. Our goal in workshop discussions will be to discuss each poem in terms of the poet’s particular aesthetic, while also encouraging each other to push our work in new directions. Toward that aim, students may write some poems in traditional verse forms or some poems that result from constraint-based and experimental prompts, and we will read and discuss essays and books of contemporary poetry from poets with a variety of aesthetic leanings. The final portion of the semester will be devoted to workshopping portfolios, and our discussion will turn to larger issues in each poet’s work. Prerequisites: admission to the MFA program in poetry, or admission to another graduate English program with permission of the instructor.

ENGL 610  -  Fiction Workshop:  Book-Length Manuscript (Hybrid Web/In-Person)   Th 6:00-8:45pm, HUMCB 308     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. (Please note that this course is designed for students who have been admitted to the MFA program.)

ENGL 692  -  Teaching Composition in College (Synch. & Asynch. Web)     TR 1:15-2:30pm     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 706  -  Special Topics in 16th & 17th Century British Literature (Synchronous Web)   TR 10:05-11:20am    Shifflet

We shall study works from all the major genres and proceed from the beginning to the end of the century. Authors will include Bacon, Shakespeare, Jonson, Donne, Herbert, Carew, Marvell, Hobbes, Denham, Cowley, Milton, Philips, Cavendish, Bunyan, Behn, Dryden, and several others. Emphasis will be placed on careful reading, careful expression, and thoughtful engagement with the best scholarship. Requirements will include a research essay or, at the choice of the student, a final exam.

ENGL 709  -  Special Topics in 19th Century British Literature (Synchronous Web)     TR 11:40-12:55pm    Coriale

The Brontës

In this seminar, we will explore the novels of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë alongside the poetry, art, and fiction they produced independently and collaboratively over the course of their lives. We will begin with the complex works they made as young girls, including miniature handwritten storybooks, pencil sketches and watercolors, and fictional stories. As we trace their professional development, we will consider the difficulties they faced as young women wading into the patriarchal culture of London’s literary circles and print market. As we read their major novels, we will work to complicate what Lucasta Miller calls “the Brontë myth,” which continues to shape popular representations of Charlotte, Anne, and Emily today, and develop a more sophisticated understanding of how the Brontës’s lived experiences informed their writing. For example, we will consider how their gender and social class shaped their representations of women’s desires and professional ambitions; women’s experiences of courtship, marriage, domesticity, and childrearing; their traumatic experiences of domestic violence and verbal abuse; their resilience and resistance to the influence of patriarchal institutions and authorities; and their investment in the restorative qualities of education, art, writing, travel, and sisterhood. Finally, we will consider the aesthetics of the Brontës’s fiction, surveying the distinctive styles they crafted and the formal innovations they made to the novel as genre, and explore interpretations of their works by filmmakers and postcolonial writers.  

ENGL 734  -  Modern Literary Theory (Synchronous Web)     TR 10:05-11:20am    Van Fleit

(cross listed with CPLT 702)

This course is a survey of modern (mainly European) literary theory designed to give students a foundation to use in their study of literature and cultural texts.  The very nature of the course means we will have to sacrifice depth for breadth, giving some attention to all major schools of criticism.  We will focus on thinkers that have been especially influential in shaping literary and cultural theory, such as Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Saussure, Derrida, Foucault, Spivak and Judith Butler.  

ENGL 740  -  Special Topics in Southern Literature (Synch. & Asynch. Web)   T 6:00-8:45pm     Powell

Southern Literature since 1900

This course draws on literary works by southern writers to illustrate the twentieth century’s evolution of ideas about the study of southern literature as a distinct category.  Though I have chosen several mini-themes, including emphases on twentieth-century southern fiction, Appalachian literature, and literature of the working class, our primary purpose is to develop a critical framework for understanding contemporary scholarship on southern literature by exploring some of the ways scholars have talked about this region’s literature since 1900, including but not limited to the Southern Renascence, the New South, the postmodern South, and the New Southern Studies.  Students will read the equivalent of approximately one book and one essay per week, prepare two presentations with supporting materials, participate in discussion via synchronous and asynchronous online mediums, and write one short essay in lieu of a midterm and one substantial research paper in lieu of a final exam.  Some of the authors included in past versions of this course were Erskine Caldwell, W.J. Cash, James Dickey, William Faulkner, James Weldon Johnson, Randall Kenan, Flannery O’Connor, James Still, Natasha Trethewey, Robert Penn Warren, and Thomas Wolfe.

ENGL 741  -  Special Topics in African-American Literature (Synch. & Asynch. Web)    M 4:40-7:25pm     Whitted

Slavery, Literature, and Culture

How do literature and popular culture grapple with the historical realities of slavery? How do these representations shape the way we remember the past and relate to one another in the present? What are the scholarly interventions that can help us to develop cogent arguments about these texts? In this course, we will examine how the experiences of enslaved black Americans are adapted through novels, poetry, comics, film, and other media. Our goal is to raise questions not just about historical accuracy, but about ethics and aesthetic choices, creative freedom, taste, and cultural appropriation. Along with studying select slave narratives, we will discuss the depiction of slavery across a range of genres and mediums, including science fiction, satire, romance fiction, and children’s books. Assignments will include weekly response papers and discussion board posts, a class presentation, and a final paper of 12-15 pages with annotated bibliography.

ENGL 747  -  Special Topics in Global Anglophone Literature (Synch. & Asynch. Web)    T 6:00-8:45pm     Forter

Global Capitalism and Literary Form 

This course on global Anglophone literature will focus on a group of contemporary works that at once participate in, represent, and formally “map” the processes of capitalist globalization. We will be guided by two overarching questions:

(1) What can contemporary Anglophone literature teach us about capitalism in its specifically post-Fordist, neoliberal, neo-imperial instance? Here we shall attend especially to this literature’s treatment of capital’s drive to annihilate distance and transgress borders; its spectralization of the materially real; its racialization and gendering of bodies; and its remorseless exploitation of human beings and non-human nature in the name of unending growth. And...

(2) How is it possible for literature to do this at all—to achieve any type of distance from the imperatives of contemporary capital—given that capital increasingly assimilates creative activity to the commodity form so central to its mode of production? Our emphasis in this latter case will be on the formal specificity of literary works, including the generic affiliations most likely to provide the basis for imagining emancipatory futurity. The books we’ll read intuit new social forms that lie secreted in our current order, yet require for their “realization” a radical rupture that the books themselves attempt to enact.

ENGL 792  -  Classical Rhetoric (Synchronous Web)     T 6:00-8:30pm     Holcomb 

This course surveys key texts on rhetoric from ancient Greece and Rome. We’ll start with the Greeks, including 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, a theme we’ll pursue is appropriations of rhetorical concepts and practices in the contemporary fields of Composition, Rhetorical Criticism, and Rhetorical Theory. We’ll also attend to one of my current research interests—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. Assignments will include a research proposal and final research paper.  

ENGL 795  -  Teaching of Business and Technical Writing (Asynchronous Web)     Brock

This course will serve as a hybrid seminar and practicum introducing students to professional and technical communication, with an emphasis on pedagogical application. We will look at the historical relationship between rhetoric & composition and technical writing, exploring as avenues for praxis: genre studies, usability and accessibility, design, networks and other organizational structures, and digital technologies. As part of the course, we will examine journals in the field, evaluate potential textbooks for technical and business writing courses, explore critically key issues in major writing assignments, and develop syllabi that apply the pedagogical theories and concerns identified through class discussions and assignments.

ENGL 803  -  Special Topics in Literature & Cultural Studies (Synch. & Asynch. Web)     Th 6:00-8:45pm     Madden

Queer Times, Irish Times (cross-listed with WGST 796)

In this course, we will be thinking about time and temporality at the intersection of three theoretical discussions: Judith/Jack Halberstam and other theorists on queer time, David Lloyd on Irish time, and Caroline Levine on rhythms as cultural forms. We will focus primarily, but not exclusively, on Irish texts of the 20th and 21st centuries. Following Halberstam’s claim that queerness can open up new life narratives that are characterized by “strange temporalities” and “eccentric life schedules,” we will ask, as we examine these texts, how they fit, resist, exceed, ignore, or queer cultural norms. In addition, we will attend to the layered times of Irish culture (Lloyd) and the rhythms of cultural, institutional, and social norms (Levine). Among the texts we will consider will be novels by Emma Donoghue, Keith Ridgway, as well as poetry, film, and popular culture. Grades will be based on weekly response papers, an analysis paper, and a final project.

ENGL 890  -  Studies in Rhetoric and Composition (Hybrid Web/In-Person)     W 4:40-7:25pm, HUMCB 308     Rule

Genre Theory, Research, Pedagogy

This course will reckon with the established subfield of rhetorical genre studies in composition and rhetoric. The course will proceed in true seminar style: students and professor will work collaboratively to establish the terrain and animating questions of this subfield, develop annotated bibliographies, steer the paths of our reading, and write and present argumentative position papers toward developing a final research article draft or seminar paper. In addition to specialized content knowledge, students will gain insight and practice in how scholars read, find exigence, situate, and eventually make knowledge that contributes to their field. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.