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Department of English Language and Literature

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Graduate Course Descriptions - Spring 2023

ENGL 601     Seminar in Verse Composition     Fred Dings
Gambrell 123  •  Tuesdays & Thursdays  •  10:05AM – 11:20AM

Designed for MFA students, this course seeks to assist 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.  Greater freedom and excellence in composition are increased by greater capability. CRN 42090.

ENGL 610     Fiction Workshop: Book-Length Manuscript     Claire Jimenez
Gambrell 103A  •  Thursdays  •  6:00PM – 8:45PM

In this Graduate Fiction workshop, not only will you write and share stories for feedback, but you will also have the opportunity to discuss the life and business of being a writer. In this class we will think critically about the history of the writing workshop and the publishing industry in the United States. Specifically, we will be examining what is meant by the term “craft.” What do our evaluations or “readings” say about our own cultural influences and how might they differ from some of the storytelling expectations that have been built over the last century in creative writing classrooms in the United States? We will read works by a range of authors with diverse aesthetics and stances on the writing workshop, craft, and the publishing industry, including Matthew Salesses, David Mura, Richard Jean So, Edwidge Danticat, Felicia Rose Chavez, Kiese Laymon, and Toni Morrison. Several of the books we will be reading will also address different ideas and expectations about storytelling. In addition to submitting original fiction, you will be required to provide thoughtful feedback to classmates on their work, submit short reading responses, and participate in class discussions. Your critique is just as important as your writing because it will allow you to articulate your own understanding of craft and to apply that understanding as a critical reader. CRN 42091.

ENGL 692     Teaching Composition in College     Kevin Brock
Petigru 217  •  Mondays & Wednesdays  •  2:20PM – 3:35PM

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. CRN 44576.

Please note: this course is one credit hour and runs for the first half of the semester only.

ENGL 701     Special Topics in Old English Literature     Scott Gwara
Gambrell 130  •  Tuesdays & Thursdays  •  11:40AM – 12:55PM

Old English Language and Literature

Study of Old English language and literature, with an emphasis on language skills, philological analysis and close reading of poetic texts. Course outcomes include: 1. Proficiency in Old English grammar leading to competence in translating Old English prose and verse with the aid of a dictionary and other research tools. 2. Understanding Old English prose and verse genres. 3. Familiarity with, and understanding of, an Anglo-Saxon cultural identity as expressed in literary evidence. 4. General awareness of the development of the English language from its origins in the pre-Conquest period; 5. Competence using the basic tools of philological inquiry, including Old English Word Studies, Dictionary of Old English, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile, Toronto Microfiche and Online Concordances of Old English and the specialist bibliographies in the discipline.

Text: Bruce Mitchell & Fred C. Robinson, Guide to Old English (8th edition)

Grading: Five quizzes (25%); translation exercise  of 10 pages (25%); mid-term exam (20%); final exam (30%). Attendance and preparation expected.

CRN 55556. Note: successful completion of this course with a grade of B or better can fulfill the foreign language requirement of the MA or PhD.

ENGL 719     Special Topics in Colonial American Literature     David Shields
Gambrell 148  •  Tuesdays & Thursdays  •  1:15PM – 2:30PM

Poetics during the Era of American Empires and Native Nations

Before the American Revolution and the founding of the United States imposed the framework of nation on the Euro-American communities residing in eastern North America a welter of groups projected identities and futurities in the continent.  Long standing Native Nations, the remnants of Dutch and Swedish imperial projects, the Spanish in Florida and the West Indies, the French in Canada and La Louisiana, German pietist sectarian communities, Moravians, and pockets of Ladino and Ashkenazy Jews all articulated visions of why and how they should abide in America.  Much of the most telling of these surviving expressions take the form of poetry.  More than any prose genre (novel, natural history report, sermon, colonial prospectus, history, or political tract), verse gave shape to the ambitions and self-understandings of Native and Settler Communities.  This course will be devoted to exploring the shockingly underexamined corpus of early American poetry, including unpublished and unremarked manuscripts, from the various peoples staking claims to this place before American Independence.  We shall examine genres, style, figuration, and topoi. Among Poets Examined:  Francis Daniel Pastorious, Alonso de Escobedo, Anne Bradstreet, Le Page du Pratz, Garcilaso de la Vega El Inca, Susanna Wright,  Henricus Selyns, Archibald Home.  Each student will engage in a semester long project of primary source research preparing an introduction and edited text by a poet who worked in manuscript. 

Course Description. CRN 55557.

ENGL 731     Special Topics in Children’s and Young Adult Literature     Tharini Viswanath
Gambrell 103A  •  Tuesdays & Thursdays  •  2:50PM – 4:05PM

Critical Theories in Children’s and Young Adult Literature 

This course will provide students with an introduction to critical theories in children’s and young adult literature. We will be discussing representative works from a variety of critical perspectives, along with examples of how these perspectives have played a role in the field of children’s and young adult literature. The main objectives of this course include the following: 

  • Introducing students to a range of critical perspectives and/or building on their exposure to these perspectives; 
  • Giving students opportunities to put these theories into conversation with children’s texts; 
  • Contributing to the development of students’ critical perspective and preferred methodologies. 

CRN 55558.

ENGL 734     Modern Literary Theory     Paul Allen Miller
Petigru 112  •  Tuesdays & Thursdays  •  1:15PM – 2:30PM

This course will begin with the observation that the literary text and its cognate cultural forms (such as film, music, visual art) are aesthetic objects.  Theories of literature from 1700 to 2000 all, on one level or another, deal with this basic observation.  As we move through the history of that period, we can chart the understanding of the nature of that object by the way it is situated between four cardinal points, whose definitions and interrelation shift over time: the beautiful, the sublime, nature and the real.  Those four points will guide our readings throughout the semester. Students will have a take home midterm, a final, and an essay.

Note: this course meets with CPLT 702. CRN 42095.

ENGL 741     Special Topics in African American Literature     Alyssa Collins
Gambrell 130  •  Tuesdays  •  6:00PM – 8:45PM

Speculative Futures: Black Literature and Theory in the Contemporary Moment

How have the concepts of black literary studies changed around the turn of the century? And what are the emergent concepts of contemporary black literary studies? How have these ideas about blackness developed, melded with, and/or resisted previous concepts of history, death, protest, embodiment, and survival? This course is dedicated to the investigation of several dynamic vectors of black literary studies. We will consider developments, shifts, and trends in literary theories related to Afropessimism, Afrofuturism, black science and technology studies, black protest, black feminism, and black queer theory in the contemporary moment. The class will also consider the ways that these theories influence black literary representations, namely the speculative. Authors we will encounter together include Saidiya Hartman, Franz Fanon, Kara Keeling, Octavia E. Butler, Sylvia Wynter, Christina Sharpe, Fred Moten, Andre Brock, Rivers Solomon, and others. CRN 52172.

ENGL 794     Modern Rhetorical Theory     John Muckelbauer     
Gambrell 123  •  Tuesdays  •  6:00PM – 8:45PM

Performativity & Asignification

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” (a proverb children use to defend themselves when they are teased)

“Besides the question that has been very much studied in the past as to what a certain utterance means, there is the further question distinct from this as to what was the force, as we may call it, of the utterance” (JL Austin, “Performative Utterances,” 251).

“Oh, what’s really gonna bake your noodle later on is would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything” (The Oracle in The Matrix).

In this course, we will pursue a series of recent efforts to think of language as an actual action in the world (rather than as a symbol system or a mediating representation that primarily offers a “meaning”).  We will read Austin, Burke, Butler, Barad, Derrida, Deleuze, and others.  CRN 55559.

ENGL 795     Teaching of Business and Technical Writing     Byron Hawk
Gambrell 123  •  Mondays  •  5:50PM – 8:35PM

This course provides a 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 issues such as usability-design-users, genre analysis and rhetorical situation, networks-organizations-documentation, rhetorical ethics, and workplace ethnography. The course is conceptualized as seminar and practicum, challenging students to probe the theoretical issues being presented and applying them to pedagogical contexts. These tasks will include: writing short weekly responses; developing an assignment with resources to be presented to the class; producing a syllabus for an undergraduate class; writing a final paper that explains the research and theories behind the syllabus and its assignments. CRN 55560.

ENGL 803-001     Special Topics Seminar in Literary & Cultural Studies     Federica Schoeman
Gambrell 149  •  Mondays  •  5:50PM – 8:35PM

“Cherchez la femme!” - A Feminist (Hence Disruptive) Study of the Western Intellectual  


Let’s step into women’s shoes, march in those uncomfortable heels over the rocky path of socio-political history and, from that standpoint, interrogate the canon of Western thought, philosophy, psychoanalysis and art! CRN 47067.

ENGL 803-002     Special Topics Seminar in Literary & Cultural Studies     Greg Forter
Gambrell 123  •  Wednesdays  •  5:50PM – 8:35PM

Global Contemporary Climate Fiction

This course explores the relatively recent birth and flowering of global climate fiction. We’ll discuss a series of novels from around the world that interrogate climate with great power and complexity, along with theoretical works that address the crisis from a variety of conceptual angles. Both the fictions and the theories we’ll read connect climate change to a range of other concerns: capitalism and globalization; colonialism; the concept of the “Anthropocene”; the peculiar temporality of global warming, in which our present is charged with the particulates of past emissions whose effects will not be fully felt till the future; the difficulty of depicting global processes in a genre (the novel) that has conventionally focused on individual (local) experience; the relations of human to non-human animals and nature; and the uneven distribution of climate change’s effects, especially along lines of race and social class. Finally, in the case of the science- and speculative-fictional works on our list, we’ll ask what this type of literature “knows” that more realistic fiction does not. This question will be key to grappling with the dystopian setting of so much cli-fi, which often (paradoxically) throws into relief what a non-dystopian future might look like. 

Fictions by some of the following: Matt Bell, Naomi Booth, Octavia Butler, Amitav Ghosh, Mohsin Hamid, Imbolo Mbue, Lydia Millet, Nnedi Okorafor, Samantha Schweblin, Karen Thompson Walker. Theoretical works by some of the following: Walter Benjamin, Jane Bennett, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Jonathan Crary, John Bellamy Foster, Saidiya Hartman, Fredric Jameson, Andreas Malm, Anahid Nersessian, Christina Sharpe, Kate Soper, Anna Loewenhaupt Tsing, Ytasha Womack.

CRN 52655.

ENGL 803-003    Special Topics Seminar in Literary & Cultural Studies     Alexander Beecroft
Gambrell 103  •  Mondays  •  4:40PM – 7:25PM

Globalization, Transnationalism, and World Literature

The past two decades have witnessed a rapid rise in scholarly fascination with the “global,” the “planetary” and the “world.” This fascination has manifested itself in new theoretical approaches like transnational theory and cosmopolitanism, has led to new disciplinary formations such as World Literature and Global Studies, and has transformed debates within existing approaches such as postcolonialism and Marxism. More recently, events from the financial crisis of 2008 to the COVID-19 outbreak, to the rise of nationalist governments around the world, have complicated our understanding of the drive towards globalization. This seminar will examine these phenomena through a close reading of major 21st-century theoretical works, along with some foundational works from slightly earlier.

Note: this course meets with CPLT 880. CRN 56630.

ENGL 890     Studies in Rhetoric & Composition     Chris Holcomb
Gambrell 103A  · Wednesdays · 5:50PM – 8:35PM

Humor Studies

This course surveys research in Humor Studies and will equip you with theories and methods for analyzing how instances of humor operate within a range of genres, media, and settings. Humor Studies is a thoroughly interdisciplinary field that includes scholars working in linguistics, rhetoric, psychology, philosophy, feminism, literature, sociology, American studies, and even marketing and advertising. We’ll begin with ancient theories of the laughable, including those by Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. We’ll then leap forward, with a few brief stops along the way, to selections from Bergson’s Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (1900) and Freud’s Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious(1905). We’ll then devote the bulk of the course to modern Humor Studies and its treatment of such topics as the social dimensions of humor; humor and persuasion; narrative humor; humor and gender; political and cultural humor; conversational humor; online humor; and humor and advertising. A recurrent theme throughout the semester will be the difficulties of corralling humor (with all if its ambiguities, duplicities, and contradictions) within the confines of serious, non-humorous academic discourse.

All required readings will be supplied via Blackboard. Course work will include one mid-semester proposal and a final research project.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.