Course Offerings: Fall 2008
Below is a list of Current Upper-Division Undergraduate Course Offerings and our Current Graduate-Seminar Offerings.
CURRENT UPPER-DIVISION UNDERGRADUATE COURSE OFFERINGS:
CREATIVE WRITING: SCREENWRITING
ENG 205B, an introductory course, will cover the basics of screenwriting from professional formatting to the proper use of elements such as scene headings, action, parentheticals, dialogue, and transitions among others. Through a workshop atmosphere, the class will also examine narrative structure, character development, pacing, tone, and plot points, as well as the use of index cards and script notes, log-lines, treatments, copyright protection, and the evolution of the modern screenplay.
Prof. Stephanie Dunson
T TH 2-3:15
WOMEN AND LITERATURE
In this course, we will consider works by women authors of the Postmodern era. Our task will not only be to explore the rich and varied works of American women writers active in the last thirty years, but also to explore and interrogate the meaning/s of the term "Postmodern." How have women writers influenced and been influenced by Postmodern thought and aesthetics? How effectively does Postmodernism serve as a lens for understanding women's lives and experience? How
have the accompanying "posts" (e.g., post-ethnicity, post-colonialism, post-postmodernism) broadened the ways that women authors challenge mechanisms of oppression and inequity in American society? Texts may include novels, autobiographies, poems, short stories, and plays. Authors under consideration include Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong
Kingston, Leslie Marmon Silko, Sandra Cisneros, Jhumpa Lahiri, Alison Bechdel, Alison Bechdel, Dorothy Allison, Anne Tyler, Joyce Carol Oates, bell hooks, Bobbie Ann Mason, Linda Berry, Gloria Anzaldua, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.
Prof. Ryan Trimm
T TH 11-12:15
FICTION & FILM IN AGE OF POSTHISTORY
This course will consider cinematic adaptations of literary works as texts that forge lines of relation between past and present. Our focus will then mainly be on contemporary films that deal with works from the past or set in the past. In doing so, we will eschew concerns about fidelity ("it wasn't true to the book") and instead focus on how these different pasts are represented in the present. In doing so, our concern will be in tracing what these staged pasts betray about the present and how adaptation rewrites the source text. The fiction/film text encountered in the class will include works such as Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, E.M. Forster's Howards End, and the Merchant-Ivory adaptations of those novels; Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Patricia Rozema's film of that name; the Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Homer's Odyssey.
INTRODUCTION TO FILM THEORY AND CRITCISM: MARXIST FILM THEORY AT THE INTERSECTION OF HOLLYWOOD AND GLOBAL CINEMA
In 1974, the editors of Jump Cut, a leading journal of contemporary film and media found that “Since Marxism will become more familiar, what is the case for it? Quite simply, Marxism has not become more familiar in academia or otherwise. In fact, film studies since the 1970s has largely ignored Marxist film theory all together. In this course, we will explore the obscured importance of class struggle, First and Third World production and reception, ideology and aesthetics as found on screen, while at the same time providing a case for Marxist film theory today. This class will center on how “Marxist film theory returns to film studies some of the key concepts which make possible a truly radical, political understanding of the medium and its place both within capitalism and against it.” (Mike Wayne, 2005) Here, the idea of Marxist film theory having a place will position our attention to both Hollywood and Global Cinemas, interrogating a multitude of genres, geographies and periods.
With Hollywood, we will view several genres that warrant a Marxist theoretical framework: first, the botched political blockbuster Southland Tales (2007) by Donnie Darko famed director Richard Kelly, to the independent documentary, The Fog of War (2003), to the popularity of V for Vendetta (2006), to name a few films screened in this course. While in Global Cinema, we will discuss and analyze films that both repudiate Marxist-inflected ideas as well as welcome them. Some examples are: from Cuba: Vampires in Havana (1985), Clandestines (1987); North Korea: The Journey of a School Girl (2006): Ex-Soviet Union: Man with a Movie Camera (1929); and China: Blind Shaft (2003).
Guided by varying strains and configurations, we will suggest new possibilities when charting the role of Marxism film theory today. Particularly, how it positions itself as a competing theory, in the face of more populist theories like postmodernism, when postmodernists still call for the dissolution of "grand narratives," a Fukuyamaian “end of history” and the opposition to issue-based narratives. We will look at the connection with postcolonial theory, exploring leading theorists (Bartolovich and Lazarus) thoughts on such a strategy. This class will also look at Marxism's permeation into Feminist film theory. Finally, is there a Marxist aesthetic in filmmaking?
Prof. John Leo
FILM GENRES: POPULAR WORLD FILMS IN THE POSTWAR PERIOD 1940 TO THE PRESENT
The major aim of this course is both broad and intensive—to interrogate the key cinema concept “genre” by viewing often provocative examples, with attention to different audiences and reception practices, across different historical moments and places. Thus we can expect to consider such issues as competing institutional modes of film production and their aesthetic contexts (e.g. the “commercial aesthetic” of Hollywood, US and international “indie” filmmaking, state-controlled production), international “make overs” of the quintessential American genre the Western (Japanese “easterns,” East German “sauerkraut” or Italian “spaghetti” Westerns), and wild genre and gender benders and crossover films. We will also develop and build on cognitive, viewing (reading), and interpretive skills, for example acquiring fluency with cinematic language, key concepts, and strategies of critical film analysis (frame, mis-en-scène, editing, montage, sound, gender, queer theory, neorealism, socialist realism, dominant vs. negotiated readings, spectacle, readings by specific film theorists and scholars such as Bordwell, Deleuze, Sobchack). The major genres we’ll focus on include melodrama and/or film noir, war or combat film, sci fi and/or horror, the thriller (or gangster film), documentary, others. Some possibilities we may view: Hawks’ The Big Sleep, Fassbinder’s Ali, or Fear Eats the Soul, Hark’s Peking Opera Blues, Klimov’s Come and See, Riggs’ Tongues Untied, and Almodóvar’s Bad Education. These are tentative selections. The course protocols: mandatory attendance (two freebie absences—this is serious business); probably three 5-7 pp. critical papers; plus (unannounced) quizzes and in-class writing; and required viewing of approximately six films outside of class from a selected list of titles on reserve (Library MRC) with a tightly argued 2-pp. position paper on each film (topics TBA, but will be on the close exploration of a cinematic element correlated to large narrative structures or themes in the movie as a whole). There is no final examination. Course texts: most likely will be Tony Bennett et al., New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society (2005); Susan Hayward, ed. Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts, 2nd edition (2006); Pam Cook, ed., The Cinema Book, 3rd edition (2007); Jeffrey Geiger, Film Analysis: A Norton Reader (2005). An additional theory text is under consideration, e.g. the Oxford UP anthology. Students are advised to check for cheaper prices with Amazon for any texts, for any course.
T TH 11:00-12:15
ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING
ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING: FICTION
Students will work on developing their own voice and style as fiction writers through a combination of in-class and take-home writing assignments. We will use writing exercises to spark creativity and work on aspects of craft such as dialog, pacing and scene setting. In addition to short weekly writings, students will present at least one full-length work of fiction for class discussion with the goal of revision.
Students taking this class should love to write, because we will do a lot of writing. They should also be prepared to read, analyze and offer constructive criticism of fellow students' works. Ideally, students should have taken English 205 or have some background in writing. All forms of fiction are welcome. Students should complete the class with at least one finished, edited story that is ready for potential publication. Students will also prepare a craft presentation on a writer of their choice.
Prof. Paul Arakelian
THE STRUCTURE OF AMERICAN ENGLISH
This course has two different but complementary goals. On the one hand, we will review the grammatical terms and rules, which are used by most grammarians and English teachers to “improve” our written and spoken language. On the other hand, I will introduce you to linguistic concepts and analyses, which will explain why we write and speak the way we do. Between these two poles of judging what we do and admiring how we do it, wavers the stuff of most English courses, literature and composition. So, to ground our discussions of both grammar and linguistics, you will analyze samples of literary and expository texts.
Prof. Paul Arakelian
EVOLUTION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
In this course we will explore how the English Language has evolved in the 1000 years from its origins in 600 AD, as a remote North Sea dialect, to its emergence in the Renaissance as a world language. In addition, we will consider how English culture may have influenced language change and how the language may have mirrored cultural values. The majority of class time will be devoted to individual or group exercises and projects which will give you a sense of the sounds and structures of English and the opportunity to make connections between language and culture.
This version of ENG339, nonfiction, focuses on autobiography. Generally, we read nine or so autobiographies of men and women of various nationalities and time periods. What does it mean to write of oneself? Does the subjectivity of the narrator ultimately yield fiction? What does the reader have to gain from reading autobiography? And finally, what do we have to gain from writing about ourselves in the autobiographical mode? Tests, 2 autobiographical essays, final exam, discussion.
Prof. Mary Cappello
T TH 12:30-1:45
ANTEBELLUM US LITERATURE AND CULTURE: LITERARY ACOUSTICS
This course will introduce students to what has recently been termed an “auditory turn” in the Humanities—a recent move within our discipline to consider the implications of literary texts as “soundscapes,” and to pursue the intellectual terrain that opens up if we think about the ways in which sound, noise, and silence are conceptualized, technologized, politicized, materialized, and aestheticized in literary texts. How does sound travel? How is it curtailed, blocked, invited, organized, modulated, filtered, bordered, limited, defined, or defied by space in the world in which we dwell and in the worlds we enter when we read? Where might we arrive if we consider a literary text as an an “acoustical space”? What really is meant when we refer to the “voice” of a piece of literature? How is it different from a speaking voice, an inner voice, a recorded voice, a computer-generated voice? What is the relationship between voices and bodies in literary texts? What is more charged with feeling: silence or a scream? How do we decide? The literary texts we will study will mostly be drawn from the antebellum American literary canon, but we’ll read post-bellum texts as well: e.g., Brockden Brown’s novel of ventrilocution and decombusting bodies, Poe’s stories of sounds muffled beneath floorboards and sourceless music flooding claustrophobic chambers, Thoreau’s accounts not of nature’s “look” but its sounds, Dickinson’s (post-bellum) John Cage-like constructions of silence, Harriet Jacobs’ narrative of ears violated and listening restored, and much more. It will be hoped that students will have read a number of these texts in other contexts, and a major pleasure of the course will be in the revision such texts undergo given our critical emphasis on sound, noise, silence, listening, and voice. We’ll read theoretical texts drawn from an array of disciplines as we identify together the most compelling questions for our collective inquiry. In this discussion-based course, students will be required to carry out independent research, to devise and carry out experiments on sound and space, and to compose brief investigatory essays, and substantive analytic essays based on the theoretical terrain opened by the course.
US LITERATURE AND CULTURE 1865-1914
In 1865, having emerged battered from an arduous and bloody civil war, America faced an uncertain future. Ongoing racial tensions, an escalating influx of immigrants, a mounting women's movement, and rabid progress towards urbanization and industrialization made for a turbulent and volatile social landscape. Such a backdrop provided rich material for America's authors. In this course will we read extensively, fiction and non-fiction, to explore post-bellum literary developments and engage with the cultural challenges of the era. Authors will include: Horatio Alger, Willa Cather, Charles Chesnutt, Stephen Crane, W.E.B DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, Upton Sinclair, Booker T. Washington, and Edith Wharton.
Prof. Carolyn Betensky
T TH 12:30-1:45
LITERARY THEORY CRITICISM
In this course, we will read some of the major theoretical texts that inform literary studies today. We will also acquaint ourselves with some of the important nineteenth- and twentieth- century philosophical, linguistic, sociological, psychological and political texts that spurred so much of what has come to be known as “literary” theory.
Prof. Gitahi Gititi
BLACK IMAGES IN FILM
Since the late 1890s, motion pictures (and later, television) have had a more tremendous impact on the American mind than any other entertainment medium. Film has profoundly influenced and perpetuated the constructed images of
African-descended peoples across the world. This course explores the cultural, economic, political, and ideological motivations behind the problematic representations of "Blacks" in cinema in the US and other areas of the world,
while examining film as a genre with a vocabulary and idiom of its own.
Prof. Valerie Karno
T TH 2:00-3:15
LITERATURE AND THE LAW
This course will begin showing you the ways in which legal and literary narratives work in tandem to perpetuate cultural ideas. Rather than looking at “the law in literature” or “literature in law” this class will enable you to view both disciplines as cultural products influencing each other. We will read both historic and contemporary American legal cases, Law Review articles, a variety of literary genres, and film and television. We will examine the ways in which reason, madness and incarceration have been construed. We will explore the history and impact of race-based citizenship criteria; we will study the ways in which law has affected bodies; we will consider how varying forms of evidence and differing kinds of testimony are granted value, and we will think about how television impacts our vision of legitimate narratives. The class will be a seminar, and discussion will be our mode of interaction. Requirements include periodical reflection pieces, a longer paper, and a final project.
Prof. F.E. Okeke-Ezigbo
TH 1-3:45 PM
(A moment's silence for William Tyndale who was burnt at the stake for translating the Bible into the language of his country!)
Indifferent alike to the faithful, rejoicing in Heaven with the Maker, and the infidel, smoldering in Hell beside Lucifer and his minion who felled "honest Abe," this course shall neither concern itself with whether the Bible is completely true and Divinely inspired, nor speculate regarding the likelihood that Angel Gabriel is the same personage the Moslems revere as Jibrael. Rather, identifying the prototypes of many a medieval exemplum, savoring apologues but shunning apologetics – for instance, tackling the rhetoric of "The Book of Job," without debating Job's eschatology – we shall study the narratives, teachings, poetry and rebukes in the Bible, as the metaphoric Rock on which Western civilization - ideas, wisdom, philosophy, literature and jurisprudence – is founded. The Golden Rule will remain in the foreground, though, even as the students, informally cutting their teeth on typology, will hopefully relish the parallel between the binding of Isaac in Genesis and the binding of Iphegenia in The Iliad.
Prof. Felix Okeke-Ezigbo
T TH 9:30-10:45
AFRICAN-AMERICAN LITERARY GENRES
The course is a hands-on engagement with some of the notable poetry and drama by African Americans in the post-niggertude era, under the assertive rubric of a burnished Afropolitan aesthetic. Accordingly, our interest shall be focused on soulfulness of quest and audaciousness of utterance, not on the correctness and academicism of grammarians.
Prof. Stephanie Dunson
T TH 11:00-12:15
AFRICAN AMERICAN FICTION
This course will offer a survey of some of the central writers in the African American literary canon. Through the study of the genre of fiction, we will explore a broad range of black expression and black experience in America. The course will begin with slave narrative and folktales, progress through the rich legacy of the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights era, and the Black Arts movement, and end with the powerful and varied voices of African-American writers of the late
twentieth century. Throughout our consideration of the texts, we will address themes of black identity and voice read against the shifting context of American culture. Our task will be to explore not what makes the works we encounter African American but also what makes them American. To this end, we will explore the ways Black writers have
used their craft to explore the riddle of how to be American while continually perceived as other.
Prof. Travis Williams
T TH 2:00-3:15
BRITISH LITERATURE OF THE RENAISSANCE: CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
This course will take up the complete works of Christopher Marlowe—all seven plays, the poems, and the translations. We will read criticism of the works and a biography of the poet. If time allows, we might also consider one or two examples of Marlowe's influence among the plays and poems of Shakespeare and Jonson. The readings in this course will allow us to delve deeply into early modern English discourses of politics, religion, theater, and gender, and to develop a better und
BRITISH LITERATURE 1660-1800
Following the strife of the English civil war, the restoration of King Charles II seemed to be ushering in a time of great stability for Britain. However, despite England's economic expansion and military success at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, English society was altering in fundamental ways. Precipitated by the physics of Isaac Newton and the philosophy of John Locke, the Enlightenment was placing a new emphasis on the value of empirical observation and reason. The institution of the English Parliament was gaining further and further strength. And England was finding itself increasingly entangled in foreign wars: against the French in Europe and rebellious colonists in America. The literature of the period engaged with and commented upon these changes and events.
In this class, we will be reading the works of English writers of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries such as Dryden, Behn, Swift, Pope, Burney and Radcliffe. We will examine the development of a new literary genre—the novel, and consider the stylistic features of the poetry and the prose of the period. Our analysis will consider the works' connections to the forces that were shaping English society at the time. In particular, we will be examining how writers of the period responded to the Enlightenment challenge to faith-based epistemology and how women writers began to articulate critiques of a heavily patriarchal British society.
Prof. Kathleen Davis
T TH 12:30-1:45
TOPICS IN MEDIEVAL & RENAISSANCE LITERATURE: FICTIONAL PROMISES
This course investigates literary texts that center upon the act of a promise (such as a vow, a pledge, or a contract) and the personal, social, or political dilemmas that often result. A warrior may swear to fight without weapons, or a bride may vow to keep her virginity; a king may promise to grant an unknown future request, a knight to keep an appointed day of mortal combat, a merchant to deliver an impossible payment. Exploring a range of texts written between the 7th and the 17th centuries, we will consider how such promises and the bonds they create might shape a sense of self, reinforce or contest gender relations, define social obligations, or stake a claim upon the future and thus upon narrative time. We will also study the importance of literary convention and linguistic form to the official power of these promises, and consider how their narratives call attention to the interdependency of law, fiction, literature, and politics. At several points during the semester we will set this literature alongside fictional promises in recent literature, so as to consider their historical and formal relations.
Possible texts include Beowulf, various Arthurian romances, Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and romances by Margaret Cavendish.
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE AUTHORS
This course will offer selections from THE CANTERBURY TALES, PIERS PLOWMAN, MORTE DARTHUR, the medieval morality and mystery plays, More's UTOPIA, the poetry of Spenser and Sidney, the Elizabethan and Jacobean drama
of Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Jonson, and selections from the poetry of Donne, Marvell, and Milton. Two papers and an oral report are required.
Prof. Dorothy Donnelly
WOMEN WRITERS: DETECTIVE FICTION
The course will examine the important role women writers have played in the re-creation of the mystery genre in the present revival of detective fiction. We will study female detective fiction as a reflection of the constraints on and aspirations of contemporary women and also as a barometer of the issues important to women in modern society. We will examine the changes in female detectives from the late nineteenth century to the present. In addition to the assigned works, you will be asked to read selected critical essays from Feminism in Women’s Detective Fiction.
REQUIRED TEXTS: Feminism in Women’s Detective Fiction, Irons (ed.);A Woman’s Eye, Paretsky (ed.); Murder Must Advertise, Sayers; No Work From Winifred, Cross; An Imperfect Spy, Cross; Blanche on the Lam, Neely. Selected Readings on Library Reserve.
Prof. Peter Covino
T TH 2:00-3:15
Students will explore diverse aspects of Italian immigrant and Italian American literary history with the ultimate goal of exploring and assessing the quality of literary and related cultural contributions. The bulk of our inquiry will focus on close reading of innovative literary texts and voices, especially works of fiction, poetry, memoir, criticism, and theory. We will explore both internalized and externalized issues that shape Italian American literary identity, including the interrelationship of such realities as class consciousness, gender, sexual identity, assimilation, geographical displacement, and related psychosocial factors. Special attention will be given to broader cultural concerns identified in the literature, such as Italian Americans and the perceived significance of familial roles, food and cooking, art history, music and opera, fashion and even contemporary travel. This course will also include guest lectures, featuring Associate Dean Carla Simonini who contributes an added expertise in Italian Studies, ethnography, and anthropological methodologies.
Dr. Alexia Kosmider
TH 7-9:45 PM
TRADITIONS OF THE NOVEL IN THE AMERICAS
This course explores a representation of contemporary novels originating from the United States, the Caribbean, South America, and Mexico. It is not conceived as an overview of "marginalized" literatures, except to the extent
that it underlines and helps us to explore the different novelistic strategies being put into critical practice that make writers such as Isabel Allende and Toni Morrison noteworthy for study. In a sense what this course proposes to
accomplish is to map the vast and wide ranging novelistic territories of the Americas and to investigate such issues as the deployment of magic realism and orality in various texts, the manner in which writers construct identity and
community, the way in which language is deployed and articulates difference and resistance, and the construction of new models of the postmodern novel. In our study we will problematize novelistic conventions as a means to question
the formation of new novelistic territories and therefore begin to reformulate our own understanding of writers of the Americas and their art. Some of the texts that will be assigned include: Isabel Allende's, The House of Spirits,
Rudolfo Anaya's, Bless Me Ultima, Ana Castillo's, The Mixquiahuala Letters, Carlos Fuentes's, The Crystal Frontier ,N. Scott Momaday's, The Way to Rainy Mountain, and Linda Hogan's Solar Storm.
Prof. Ryan Trimm
T TH 9:30-10:45
THE MODERN NOVEL: THE POSTHISTORICAL NOVEL
The course will examine the genre of the historical novel in an age supposed by some to be past history altogether. We will briefly trace the historical novel as genre—its connection with national identity, its affiliation with romance, etc. Our emphasis, however, will be on tracing how modern and postmodern representations of the past reflect debates about narrative and history, about whether some events are too traumatic to be represented, on the increasing role of the image in stories of the past. Texts encountered will include novels such as Virginia Woolf's Orlando, William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom, Caryl Phillips' Cambridge, John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman, Graham Swift's Waterland, and Zadie Smith's White Teeth.
Prof. Martha Rojas
T TH 2:00-3:15
AMERICAN ENLIGHTENMENT: THE NOVEL
The novelty of the novel coincides with that of the new nation. In the wake of the Revolution, writers turn to the novel to work through arguments about the benefits and costs of sovereignty and self-government, political and domestic virtue, female education and the rights and obligations of women, the powers and limits of reason and sentiment, and what the new nation might become. What was the novel: an instrument that inflamed the imagination and led to intellectual and moral ruin, or a vehicle that encouraged literacy, education, even acculturation? We will read novels popular in early America — and their precursors, true histories and captivity narratives — as so-called "useful entertainments," and as literary and cultural artifacts.
Prof. Karen Stein
INTERNSHIP IN ENGLISH
(By Override Only)
These courses offer 3 credits each for successful completion of a supervised internship experience. The courses are designed to provide practical job experience related to your English major. They are intended to help you identify career skills, explore career goals, learn job search techniques and explore a particular work environment.
The first step in this process is to fill out an application for the course(s). Applications are available in the Advising Office, INDP 139. You will be expected to find your own job placement. Lists of possible placements are available at the UYA office in Taft Hall. You may consult with the UYA Program in Taft Hall or with a member of the English Department advising staff for assistance (The UYA Program offers a 15-credit internship). You are expected to work at the placement for 120 hours over the semester (approximately 10 hours/week).
1. A journal of work experience: what you do at your job, what you are learning about office management and politics, how you fit in, what you are learning about your own capabilities and interests.
2. Evaluation by your supervisor at the job site.
3. Your final report.
4. Other class assignments.
CURRENT GRADUATE-SEMINAR OFFERINGS:
Prof. Mary Cappello
WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE WRITING: LITERARY NONFICTION
This workshop in literary nonfiction is open to students who self-define as “creative writers,” those who wish to use the class to discover the “creative writer” within, and also those who wish to use the seminar as a space for theorizing about genre (note: our reading list will include theoretical texts such as Foucault’s Fearless Speech, and Judith Butler’s Giving an Account of Oneself). Together, we’ll explore the changes nonfiction is undergoing as we pay special attention to genre-bending writers (contemporary prose stylists working at the border of nonfiction and fiction—e.g., Lydia Davis; Geoff Dyer; or at the borders of nonfiction and poetry—e.g., Lyn Hejinian; Jenny Boully); theorists of the essay (Adorno, Epstein, Ozick, the new anthology of essays from The Seneca Review on “the lyric essay”); numerous timely preoccupations around the genre and your place therein (e.g., popular cultural debates around the “truth” of nonfiction); the difference between memoir and autobiography, and between literary nonfiction and journalism. How can we bring our skills as literary interpreters or semioticians to the writing of nonfiction? Students will be encouraged to give themselves over to experiments in composition that we’ll devise together based on our reading and discussion, to produce a portfolio of short pieces by mid-term, and one longer, sustained, “consummate” piece of writing by semester’s end. The class will be run workshop-style. If you would like to treat yourself to some pre-seminar steeping in the genre, please take the time to visit Patrick Madden’s website www.quotidiana.com on which some histories of the essay are documented, and the website for the bi-yearly Nonfiction Now Conference held at the University of Iowa, devised to assess the “state of the art” of nonfiction in this country (the entire 2005 program is available in audio file on-line and the 2007 program should appear soon too.)
Prof. J. Jennifer Jones
INTRODUCTION TO PROFESSIONAL STUDY
This required seminar provides English graduate students with the tools and information required to succeed in graduate study.
Prof. Martha Rojas
STUDIES IN AMERICAN TEXTS BEFORE 1815
AMERICAN MYTHS: POLITICS OF CULTURE IN EARLY AMERICA
Certain myths have been held dear: a new world discovered, the romance of Pocahantas, the landing at Plymouth, female captives in an untamed wilderness, witchcraft at Salem, a Revolution fought for freedom and equality, a lusty though aged man of science sent to woo Paris, a sage in Monticello. This seminar will survey these stories and the narrative forms that have given them shape. As we read new world travel narratives, American jeremiads, captivity narratives, slave narratives, and romances we will consider the methods offered, and the interpretations made possible by cultural studies and American studies. The course will take up the critical questions that informed the literary evolution of an "American Character" as the country moved from conceiving of itself as a set vulnerable colonies to a more permanent -- yet conflicted – nation with the realities and contingencies of colonization, manifest destiny, slavery, and internal colonization to contend with.
Prof. Matthew Frankel
STUDIES IN EUROPEAN TEXTS
The Critical Terrain of Contemporary Vitalism
“Everything I’ve written is vitalistic,” Gilles Deleuze once remarked, adding “at least I hope it is.” But what exactly does this mean? And what is the scope of its significance given Michel Foucault’s now (in)famous prediction that the 20th-century might one day be known as “Deluzian?” This course addresses these questions by introducing graduate students to the subject of vitalism, examining its historical genealogy, philosophical currents, and aesthetic implications. Beginning with the writings of Henri Bergson and then moving to selected works by Deleuze and Foucault, we will orient our readings through a network of central concepts, which will give our discussions critical direction, terminological coherence, and theoretical resonance. The ultimate aim of the course will be to research, conceptualize, and hopefully animate in current practice what we will call new vitalist thinking.
Prof. Gitahi Gititi
STUDIES IN POST-COLONIAL TEXTS
This course seeks to probe several complex questions regarding the formulation and institutionalization of theory in the “Western” academy, and how theory becomes either an industry or a technology developed in the academy as part of the latter’s contribution to its parent/sponsor, the nation-state. The very term “post-colonial” invokes colonialism/colonization. If that is a logical proposition, then, can it be assumed that there is both a pre-colonial and a colonial time/space, even an anti-colonial attitude or space? What are the forces at work in, and what is the character of, both the colonial/colonizing text and the anti-colonial/decolonizing text? How might one theorize decolonizing impulses in the late capitalist stage?
Does the term”post-colonial texts” imply texts written after colonialism? If so, when and where? Is “post-colonial” synonymous with “neo-colonial”? Indeed, what is the institutional locus of the interest in the so-called post-colonial text? Is this interest co-terminous with cultural imperialism? With academic/intellectual de-fusion of the political? Is there a relationship between the (highly touted) post-modern and the post-colonial? If so, what does this relationship consist of? How might such a relationship manifest itself in contemporary literary/cultural discourse?
Prof. J. Jennifer Jones
SEMINAR IN SPECIAL TOPICS:
In Romantic poetry: nature and self. In Romantic painting: landscape and portrait. The relation of nature-writing to self-writing and of landscape to portrait is in many ways definitive of the Romantic moment in the British arts. This course attends to the specificity of Romantic landscape in the long eighteenth century — to the unique contribution, that is, of Romanticism to an era constituted by the chiasmic notion that landscape was great art and great art was landscape.
This course will concentrate on the writings of the Wordsworth circle (William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge) and the paintings and watercolors of John Constable and J.M.W. Turner circa 1800. These materials are developed against a backdrop that includes eighteenth-century writers and painters, the aesthetic theories of the picturesque and sublime, and the history and theory of “descriptive” genres (georgic and locodescription). The course also includes a contemporary unit on late 20th-century “land artists" and a final unit devoted to 20th century conceptions of landscape. Here we will begin with the concept of “nature” itself and then move to technological and media determinations of landscape. The purpose of this final unit of the course is to foreground experimental approaches to the concept of landscape — including anthropological, evolutionary-psychological, eco-critical, geographical, and technological hypotheses.
This course aims to cultivate an intellectual environment that gives students a chance to study the critical relation between writing and painting in the long eighteenth century as well as to gain some visual literacy in the multimedia arts from that period through to the present moment.
To view and/or print an English 660 Flyer, click HERE
Prof. Josie Campbell
SEMINAR IN AUTHORS: JOHN IRVING AND WILLIAM FAULKNER
“Laughter and Tears.” What other title could be applied to such an unlikely pair as John Irving and William Faulkner? Irving has said more than once that he disliked reading Faulkner as a student and that not much had changed in this regard since then. However, there are certain linkages between the two in language usage, in comedic episodes, in violence, and in shades of darkness. The class will be engaged in exploring authorship and gender in specific works of Irving and Faulkner. In addition, we will look at the possibilities of Freudian and postmodernist critiques of their novels, while at the same time pursuing the value of such critiques, if one may even construe “value” of theory. We will read Irving’s Setting Free the Bears, Owen Meany, and Cider House Rules and Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary, and either The Sound and the Fury or Light in August. I may add one shorter novel to Irving’s list. We will also see two movies: “Cider House Rules” and “To Have and Have Not” (co-written by Faulkner). Course requirements include student presentations, one or two short papers, and one final seminar paper.