Spring 2012 Courses

Core ENLT 514 Theoretical Approaches to Literature Lykidis M 6:30
American #1 ENGL 601-01 Seminar: African American Poetry and Poetics Somers-Willett T 5:30
American #2 ENGL 601-02 Seminar: The Literature of New York City 1890-1930 Benediktsson W 5:30
British #1 ENGL 511 Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama Liebler M 5:30
British #2 ENGL 600 Seminar: The Victorians and History Behlman W 8:15
International #1 ENLT 565 Ibsen, Strindberg, Shaw Nielson T 5:30
International #2 ENLT 602 Seminar: The Latin American Novel Lorenz R 5:30
Writing #1 ENWR 600

Seminar: Digital Media and Composition: Writing with

Text and Image

Dadas R 8:15

CORE COURSES (departmental approval required)

ENLT 514: Theoretical Approaches to Literature
Dr. Alex Lykidis
Monday 6:30-9:00

This seminar will introduce you to critical theory and its varied applications to the study of literature. In order to allow for in-depth discussion of course concepts, the scope of the seminar has been narrowed to focus on four influential and interconnected theoretical traditions: Marxism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism and global/local theory. We will spend three weeks on each of these traditions: the first two weeks of each unit will address foundational concepts such as ideology, power and agency, while the final week will feature the work of a literary scholar influenced by the theoretical tradition under discussion. Literature is a component of the broader field of cultural production, so it is important that we also consider the relationship between culture and the political, economic and social spheres. To this end, two weeks of the seminar will be devoted to cultural theory. While the seminar will engage with the work of important theorists such as Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Raymond Williams and Homi Bhabha, the objective of the course is not to consider theory in purely abstract terms, but rather to enable us to discover through discussion and debate the relevance of critical theory in the world today.


ENGL 601-01: Seminar: African American Poetry and Poetics
Dr. Susan Somers-Willett
Tuesday 5:30-8:00

Surfacing in gospel, the plantation song, the dozens, the blues, jazz, and hip-hop, poetry is an integral element in black expressive culture.  In this course, we will examine the poetics of African American verse, focusing on its linguistic schemes, its dialogues with music, and its arguments for black culture and aesthetics. We will pose the questions: What formal innovations and complications lie at the crossroads of poetry and musical performance?  How do African American writers engage language in ways that go beyond the page, and what are the politics of writing in dialect and vernacular? In what ways and at whose expense are arguments for a black literary tradition made?  The course material covers a broad spectrum of African American poets from the 18th century to the present, asking how they engage broader traditions in American letters as well as those of black expression. In particular, we will compare poets rendering experiences of slavery from both historical and contemporary perspectives, study poets who play with language and dialect to create aesthetic arguments, and explore the influence of the blues and hip-hop forms in contemporary black verse.

ENGL 601-02: Seminar: The Literature of New York City 1890-1930
Dr. Tom Benediktsson
Wednesday 5:30-8:00

The general topic for the seminar is the literature of New York City 1890-1930. But actually we will focus on three neighborhoods in three different decades. First we will study the Lower East Side in the 1890's as a site of immigration, reading texts by, among others, Crane, Riis, Cahan, Yezierska, Roth, DiDonati, and Lapolla. We will study Greenwich Village in the 1910's as a Bohemian community and as a site of social, political and artistic radicalism, reading texts by, among others, Cather, Bourne, Eastman, Goldman, Loy, Millay, Parker, Williams, Glaspell, and O'Neill. And finally we will study Harlem in the 1920's as a site of African-American urban migration and of the Harlem Renaissance, reading texts by, among others, DuBois, Garvey, Johnson, Toomer, McKay, Hughes, Cullen, Larsen, and Hurston. The course will culminate in a seminar paper and will offer multiple opportunities for further research.


ENGL 511: Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama
Dr. Naomi Liebler
Monday 5:30-8:00

This course offers a comprehensive study of English drama from its medieval beginnings to the court-ordered Closing of the Theaters in 1642, with primary focus on major works by Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists excluding Shakespeare (e.g., Jonson, Marlowe, Middleton, Beaumont and Fletcher, Dekker, Heywood, Webster, Ford). These plays are the roots and contexts that "created" Shakespeare or grew from the same stock. We pay particular attention to shifts in subject matter and tone as reflections of contemporary political, social, and economic changes. Course requirements include weekly mini-papers (1-2 pp.) and a substantial term paper (15-20 pp.) which will either investigate in depth a single play through several theoretical, critical, and/or historical perspectives ("vertical criticism") or will discuss three different plays through the lens of one theoretical/critical/historical approach ("horizontal criticism").

ENGL 600 Seminar: The Victorians and History
Dr. Lee Behlman
Wednesday 8:15-10:45

The Victorian Period (1837-1901) is a rather arbitrary construct made by literary historians, for unlike its close neighbors, Romanticism and Modernism, it is defined not by a set of common aesthetic and intellectual concerns but by the reign of an unusually long-lived monarch. But it's fitting that this period has been defined through such a nakedly artificial device, for during these years an unprecedented amount of debate about the nature and reliability of history itself took place. During the mid-to-late nineteenth century, history was subjected to a "scientific" analysis by Hegel and Marx, profoundly expanded in size and scope by scientists such as Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin, wedged into teachable eras by a newly-established academic profession of history, and relentlessly recast into fictional forms by enterprising novelists and poets.

This class will explore how history itself became perhaps the central concern of the literature and philosophy of this era, and in doing so we'll examine the following specific issues: the development of historical fiction as a mode of both realism and of inquiry by Walter Scott, and its further elaboration by Charles Dickens and George Eliot; Hegel's philosophy of history and its impact on Karl Mark, Thomas Carlyle, and others; how the Victorians became the first people to understand themselves as "Modern," and the associated anxieties this produced, e.g., the sense of being caught up in a maelstrom of rapidly increasing change, of moral and racial "degeneration," and others; the (re)construction of past histories during the nineteenth century, particularly the Renaissance and antiquity, by writers such as John Ruskin and Walter Pater; the dramatization of history by poets such as Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Augusta Webster; the writing of history as epic by such writers as Thomas Carlyle and George Eliot; the impact of Darwin's Origin of Species on nineteenth-century historical thought; concepts of time and history in Late Victorian science fiction, notably in H. G. Wells's The Time Machine.


ENLT 565: Ibsen, Strindberg, Shaw
Dr. Wendy Nielsen
Tues. 5:30-8:00

What is the tragedy of the modern family? How are family members expected to perform? And can the theater even begin to portray the comedy and tragedy (or tragicomedy) that is modern life? Late nineteenth-century European theater raised these and other intimate questions to shocked readers and audiences. We will read the three playwrights of this course's title—Henrik Ibsen (Doll House, Hedda Gabler), August Strindberg (Miss Julie, The Father), and George Bernard Shaw—in the context of the social issues raised by the Naturalist movement: the woman question, hysteria, and the New Woman. Students will leave this course with knowledge about these plays' performance histories and with a better appreciation for the ways in which literary movements cross national boundaries (from Germany to Norway, Sweden, England, and Ireland); in addition to the "three great modern playwrights" mentioned in the course catalog description, we will examine two German plays—Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind and one of the few Naturalist plays written by a woman, Twilight, by Holocaust survivor Elsa Bernstein (writing under a male pseudonym, Ernst Rosmer).

ENLT 602: Seminar:  The Latin American Novel
Prof. Johnny Lorenz
Thurs. 5:30-8:00

This course will introduce students to important works by Latin American novelists of the "Boom" generation of the 1960s, especially Julio Cortázar (whose novel Hopscotch experiments with form and plays with several possible ways to jump through the book) and Gabriel García Márquez (the Nobel Prize winner whose novel One Hundred Years of Solitude allows us to think conceptually about allegory as well as "magical realism" itself as a style of writing).  We will begin the semester, however, with two of the most significant and original writers of fiction who predate the Boom:  Machado de Assis (writing at the end of the 19th Century) and Jorge Luis Borges (whose influential short stories were written in the 1940s).  The class will read the existentialist work of Clarice Lispector for its intense exploration of language and knowing, and we'll read the work of Manuel Puig for his treatment of queer desire and class struggle.  We will finish the semester by reading contemporary work; for example, the fiction of Roberto Bolaño.  The course is entirely in English.  Students will be asked to write two papers and to respond to weekly readings.


ENWR 600: Seminar: Digital Media and Composition: Writing with Text and Image
Dr. Caroline Dadas
Thursday 8:15-10:45

The field of rhetoric and composition concerns itself with the study of how people make meaning with symbols. Today we often make meaning by using digital technologies to invent, arrange, and/or deliver our writing. In this course we will study the connections between technologies and writing, viewing technologies not as tools for writing but rather as a complex set of practices, constraints, and heuristics that can be integral to all aspects of the writing process. We'll consider questions such as (1) How might we revise/adapt our perceptions of writing processes in light of emerging technologies? (2) How do technologies aid/resist in the construction of race, class, gender, ability, and sexuality? (3) What is the relationship between "new" and "old" technologies? (4) How can we develop teaching practices that capitalize on the affordances of technologies while still viewing them in a critical light?

We will be generating both traditional essays and digitally-based projects such as audio essays and videos. No prior experience with software is needed. Course readings may include selections from Manovich, The Language of New Media; Blair, Writing Cyberfeminist Practice; Brooke, Lingua Fracta; Warner, Rhetoric Online; Takayoshi, Digitizing Race; Losh, VirtualPolitik; Lessig, Remix; Jenkins, Convergence Culture.