Course Offerings: Spring 2007
Please visit descriptions of our Current Upper-Division Undergraduate Course Offerings and our Current Graduate-Seminar Offerings.
CURRENT UPPER-DIVISION UNDERGRADUATE COURSE OFFERINGS:
ENG 260.01 Prof. Sue Vaughn
WOMEN AND LITERATURE: WOMEN ON THE EDGE
Although much of the literature by and about women has been seen traditionally as on the margins of a male-dominated canon, the women we will read about and discuss are even beyond those margins; they inhabit the very edges. These women are warriors, pirates and sailors, cowgirls, pilots, dragon riders, space travelers, even serial killers. Amidst the myths, folklore, and clichés about women and their worlds lies the informed notion of what it means to be female in the world of men.
Prof. Rebecca Romanow
FILM THEORY AND CRITICISM
This course will examine the concept of “excess,” which Roland Barthes describes as “a luxury, an expenditure with no exchange,” and the ways in which excess—and the excessive-- are seen in a variety of popular, experimental, and documentary films. How does cinema lend itself historically from “sensation” to “blockbuster,” from “realism” to “special effects”--and “affects”? How are genres understood in terms of “excess” in “tear jerkers” and “women's films” of the 40s, or sci-fi films of the Cold War? Is excess, in the blood and gore of the horror film, for instance, productive and contributive to the film experience? Can excess, in and of itself, generate a necessary cinematic element? Or is it, in fact, “excessive”?
We will read the work of film theorists (Kristin Thompson, Jeffrey Sconce, and Linda Williams among others) who engage—both directly and indirectly—with the notion of cinematic and cultural “excess,” and will view American and international film produced throughout the 20 th and 21 st centuries. Our aim will be to determine the function of excess within cinematic production and the film-viewing experience. Two major papers, and several shorter film critiques, will be required, as well as class participation, an oral presentation, and dedicated attendance.
Prof. John Leo
International Popular Films since 1950
The aims for this course are big and baggy, a situation we shall try to turn to our advantage. Certainly one goal is to increase our pleasures and the scope of our critical/analytical imaginations in the complex act of viewing film--to see film in newly engaged ways. Another major concern is to examine film as an international popular cultural form--that is, a medium that does “cultural work” across social markings and differences based on gender, ethnicity or “nation state,” class, diasporas, among others. Ideally these pleasures combine into a sort of "nervous edginess," an invasion of the body snatchers in the prolific productivity of . . . watching and reflecting on movies.
To get to this optimum state this course focuses on selected post WW 2 film genres from mainly North America, Europe, and Latin America, and from several perspectives, e.g. as industrial, commercial or state-financed forms with “multiple aesthetics,” as affective media helping shape (always unstable) “identities” (or perhaps a “national conscience”). We also consider film in its function as mass storyteller but with historically changing complex audiences, or as a technological form of popular culture serving varied and contradictory ideological interests (hegemonic, propagandistic).
This international inflection of genres allows us to explore this period as one of (successive) “New Cinemas” (e.g. as several “New Waves” in French, Czechoslovakian, German, Polish movie-making), as well as a certain coming-of-age of the “indies” in the US, and of some provocative tendencies in recent Latino filmmaking. Clearly the latter half of the 20 th century witnesses extraordinary changes in local and international political and cultural life resulting in wholly new themes and modes of cinematic expression, to only mention radical changes among audiences and spectators. Some of these major shifts include the Civil Rights movements of the late 1950s-60s, the peaking and demise of the Cold War (e.g. the Berlin Wall [1961-1989], postcolonial insurgencies in Guatemala and Nicaragua), which are registered in the aesthetics identified with "Socialist Realism" or post-perestroika filmmaking, or cinematic turns to anti-sentimental, "ironic" or satirical modes of self-criticism (Come and See, Sun Seekers, A Friend of the Deceased). Sex (and sexual orientation), gender, ethnicity, immigration, and class issues move to the heart of narration and cinematic exposition, as witnessed by the "social problem" genres Imitation of Life and 400 Blows (both 1959), Lola and Billy the Kid (1999), different as these films are. Hemispheric postcolonialism and globalism are clearly thematic topoi in films such as Salvador, Traffic,Pixote, or Y tu Mama También, films which raise questions about youth, politics, aesthetics, populism and popularity not generally at the foreground of US film criticism. Briefly: in Europe and the Americas world events and changes in filmmaking result in internal shifts within popular genres to retell—to historicize—any number of repressed stories (e.g. holocaust, homosexuality, homelessness) or to reinvent storytelling and cinematic narrative styles. Genres, in a word, explore the cinema as (phenomenological) experience and as history (the remaking of useable pasts and imaginary futures). Several short (4-5 pp.) papers, occasional quizzes; no final examination. Independent research opportunities are encouraged, especially any tailored to students’ majors or minors, e.g. economics.
ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING
Prof. Paul Arakelian
T Th 12:30-1:45
THE LANGUAGE OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
Children's literature has been dismissed as mere fluff and vilified as cultural indoctrination. In this course we will attempt to determine whether children's literature is just harmless fun or dangerous propaganda by developing a method of analyzing the language of literary texts. We will review those linguistic tools with which critics describe style, and then we will apply those tools to children's texts and ask whether style reveals or reinforces cultural values. Students will consider in particular books by Dr. Seuss by analyzing their sound patterns, word choice, and sentence structure.
Prof. Paul Arakelian
T Th 11-12:15
VARIETIES OF AMERICAN ENGLISH
In this course we will study the evolution of American English from its beginnings as a colonial DIALECT of British English to its current status as a world-wide LANGUAGE. In particular, we will consider regional and social varieties (New England English, Black English) as well as historical varieties (Colonial English). The majority of class time will be devoted to individual or group exercises and projects which will enable you to study the varieties of American English in film and in person. Your grade will depend on both exams and projects. The projects will send you out into the field to interview people, record the way they speak, and analyze their dialects. This course contains language that may be offensive to some students.
Prof. Gitahi Gititi
T Th 2-3:15
NATIVE AMERICAN LITERATURE
This course focuses on multi-genre readings of Native American literatures of the contemporary period. Attention will be paid to the historical, political, social and cultural contexts in which these literatures are produced – to elicit thematics, motifs, moods, tones and formal features that characterize the unique nature of literary creation by indigenous Americans.
Prof. Matthew Frankel
T Th 11-12:15
LITERARY THEORY AND CRITICISM
Life in Theory: Readings in the New Vitalism
This course introduces students to selected works from Alfred North Whitehead, Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Giorgio Agamben that together constitute a contemporary genealogy of what recently has been identified as the new vitalism. Focusing primarily on the concept of Life in each of their works, the course will also reflect on the status of theory in 21st-century literary studies, as well as explore various experiments in the art of critique.
Prof. Travis Williams
T Th 12:30-1:45
LITERATURE AND THE SCIENCES:
Plays about Science
Over the last two decades, British and American theater has presented a number of successful plays on scientific themes. Far from being a fad, these plays fit into a long tradition of dramatized science. This course will be an in-depth survey of the thematic, philosophical, ethical, social, cultural, technical, and formal qualities of stage plays about science, drawn largely from the English Renaissance and the long twentieth century. Both periods were/are particularly preoccupied with issues of faith, reason, religion, magic, science, and the intersection of all these themes with politics and government policy. Both periods also made the nature of truth (whether it be contingent or absolute) a frequent topic of civic discourse. Some questions we will consider: What counts as science for dramatic purposes? How, if at all, does scientific drama deal with technical and philosophical matters? How does science affect dramatic form and presentation? Do these plays have a role to fulfill in shaping a society’s ethical and moral stance towards scientific activity? The reading list will include many of the following plays: Heywood, The Play of the Weather; Rastell, The Four Elements; Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay; Marlowe, Doctor Faustus; Jonson, The Alchemist; Ibsen, An Enemy of the People; Shaw, Pygmalion and Back to Methuselah; Lawrence and Lee, Inherit the Wind; Brecht, Life of Galileo; Stoppard, Arcadia; Frayn, Copenhagen; Auburn, Proof; Churchill, A Number. We may also read selections from the scientific dialogues of Robert Recorde, Galileo Galilei, Imre Lakatos, and Brian Rotman.
Prof. Stephanie Dunson
M W 4:30-5:45
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. Reading list includes works by Morrison, Walker, Ellison, Chesnutt, Baldwin, and Hurston.
Prof. Felix Okeke-Ezigbo
T Th 9:30-10:45
CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN LITERATURE
The course will examine the poetry of the checkered region of South Africa, to view the bludgeoned body as it raises a groan of Hope with a bent knee, and the lacerated soul as it filters out sardonic laughter from hyper-saliferous tears. The major figures under focus are Dennis Brutus, Arthur Nortje, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Michael Cope and Ingrid de Kok.
Prof. Carolyn Betensky
M W 4:30-5:45
BRITISH NINETEENTH-CENTURY LITERATURE:
"Woman," Women, and Men in the Time of Victoria
In this course we will examine what the Victorians called the “Woman Question” from a diverse and interdisciplinary set of perspectives. Through readings of texts (novels, poetry, political tracts, pamphlets, essays) by and about Victorian women and men, we will consider conflicting definitions and representations of women’s roles, abilities, and “nature.”
Prof. Ryan Trimm
Narrative and Image in Multi-Cultural Britain
Since the end of World War II, Britain has been greatly transformed by an influx of immigrants, many from countries once part of the British Empire. These changes altered the image of Britain with ramifications still in play and debate today. ENG 379 will survey a variety of fiction and film works charting this remapping. We will examine texts such as Salman Rushdie's infamous The Satanic Verses, Zadie Smith's White Teeth, Caryl Phillips' Cambridge, and Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. We will also watch films such as My Beautiful Laundrette, East is East, and Dirty Pretty Things. As we explore these texts, we will examine how these works find culture to be not an essence that might be lost but rather a product of difference. Consequently, we will examine thematics of exchange, translation, and hybridity. These motifs all point to a remapping of Britain, one that now puts new stress and significance on city/country tensions. We also take a look at how these themes impact modes of storytelling in both fiction and film, how narrative and image now work otherwise. We will also take a look at how such novels and films rework nostalgic narratives of British identity.
Prof. Martha Rojas
LITERATURE OF THE SEA:
The Rumowicz Seminar
In stories ranging from Noah’s Ark to Sebastian Junger’s A PerfectStorm, the sea has figured as a threat to the known order of things and as an alternative way of life. This course will focus texts that enact dramas of self-discovery and social conflict against the stark, ill-defined, and ever-changing background of the sea. We will read poetry, epic narratives, romances, adventure stories, and utopian narratives, and will read of mariners and pirates, of river pilots and slave captains, of deep-sea divers, rowers and surfers. In short we will read literature that accommodates the changing role of the sea in American life, shifting from sail to steam, commerce to recreation, whaling to conservation. Together we will explore how viable it is to speak of a maritime literature, as a body of texts and cultural productions that envision the sea (and what lies beneath, within, and beyond it) as a force to be conquered, confronted, negotiated, explored or simply survived.
Prof. Peter Covino
T Th 2-3:15
SPECIAL TOPICS: ITALIAN AMERICAN LITERATURE
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 course will begin with a brief historical/sociological overview that details the reasons Italians left “the motherland,” in addition to exploring their reception and the extent to which Italians resisted dominant cultural attitudes. 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 also consider some works of drama, film, music, oral histories, and related artifacts. A major thematic concern of the course centers on the identification and deconstruction of facile stereotypes and limited representations of Italian Americans. We will also 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 other psychosocial factors. Special attention will be given to broader cultural concerns identified in the literature, such as Italian Americans and the significance of familial roles, food and cooking, art history, music and opera, fashion and even contemporary travel. Finally, we will also examine postmodern representations of Italian American culture where identity becomes sublimated or, for complex reasons, secondary to other artistic concerns within a larger American culture in general.
Prof. Travis Williams
T Th 9:30-10:45
Consistent with its advanced place in the catalog, this course will assume prior experience with the works of William Shakespeare. Reading one to two plays per week, we will constantly consider the special function of poetry as a dramatic medium, as well as the following topics, variously and severally, when an appropriate opportunity arises for their discussion: life in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Shakespeare’s life (including the uses and abuses of biography), the art and technology of making books, the textual complexity of the original editions, and theater practices. Our reading will also include a handful of works by authors intimately associated with Shakespeare and his creative context, including Marlowe, Jonson, Greene, Spenser, Montaigne, Plutarch, Holinshed, Chaucer, and others.
Prof. Carolyn Betensky
T 4-6:45 Providence Campus Only
BRITISH AUTHORS: CHARLES DICKENS
This course will study some of Charles Dickens’s funniest and most trenchant novels in the context of Victorian culture and politics.
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.
Prof. Peter Covino
SENIOR SEMINAR: CREATIVE WRITING AND PUBLISHING
This intensive workshop-based course is geared for advanced creative writers of all genres who are eager to explore and engage the often confounding world of publishing. Course work will focus on revising and evaluating students’ work for publication, with the specific goal of articulating one’s own imaginative style(s) and identifying/establishing sympathetic writing communities where your efforts can thrive. Class readings will focus on contemporary poets, fiction, and nonfiction writers at different stages of their publishing career, with special attention given to emerging writers who have recently completed/published first collections and/or those who have extensive publishing experience. At least one anthology of contemporary poetry, and one of contemporary prose will be consulted as source texts, such as Marvin’s and Dumanis’s Legitimate Dangers, and the Best American Short Stories (Houghton Mifflin) as well as several copies of exciting literary journals of varying styles, such as American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Creative Nonfiction, Open City, Poets & Writers, a and The Writer’s Chronicle. Since this course is offered with consideration of the Read/Write Series and local reading venues, students will have ample opportunities to hear work read aloud/performed and to meet in class with visiting writers. Critics and appreciators of all forms of contemporary writing are encouraged to take the class and may substitute writing assignments with critical essays, and/or reviews.
Prof. J. Jennifer Jones
T TH 12:30-1:45
HONORS COURSE: THE SUBLIME
If the study of aesthetics concerns the epistemology of artworks — the accounting for that area of human activity we engage in when producing, evaluating, or encountering artworks — then the driving question of the sublime, a sub-set of aesthetics, is, what causes and sustains aesthetic pleasure, and in what does that pleasure consist? This course is concerned with the discourse of the sublime as it forms and reforms in British and Continental literature, literary theory, and philosophy between 1650-1800, and the goals of the class are twofold: to give students the chance to confront the great questions about the relationship between pleasure and art by studying the particularities of the discourse that set out to answer them. Thus we will trace the concept of the sublime from its moment of origination in English letters through to the period of British Romanticism, by which time it commanded grand-scale cultural attention from artists, philosophers, and political writers alike. We will begin by studying the translation of Longinus’ Peri Hypsous (On the Sublime) into English in 1652 during the rise of English republicanism and its position vis-à-vis treatises, prose essays, and poetry of that time (John Hall, John Denham, John Milton, John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, Robert Boyle, William Molyneux, George Heffernan); through to its manifestations in neo-classical and 18th-century prose, poetry, and philosophy (Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, John Dennis, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Joseph Addison, John Locke, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Richard Blackmore, David Hume, Jonathan Richardson, Mark Akenside, William Collins, Thomas Gray); and finally to early German and English Romanticism through the period around 1800 (Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, Edmund Burke, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith). The course also studies ground-breaking twentieth-century scholarship on the sublime throughout in order to grasp the ways in which literary criticism and theory have created, reinforced, or expanded traditional narratives about the sublime in English literary culture (such as Erich Auerbach, Neil Hertz, Slavoj Zizek, Thomas Weiskel, and Jean-Francois Lyotard). Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.2 to enroll.
CURRENT GRADUATE-SEMINAR OFFERINGS:
Prof. Jean Walton
INTRODUCTION TO PROFESSIONAL STUDY II
(1.5 credits, S/U grading system)
In this, the second half of a two course series (the first was ENG 510, offered in Fall 06), we will cover the following: Continuation of faculty "theory chats;" Introduction to Academic Conferences; applying for grants, scholarships, fellowships and other sources of funding; Writing and presenting conference papers; Getting Published; Overview of the Portfolio/Comprehensives Exam Procedures for MA and PhD students; Going on the Job Market; and constructing a portfolio for the Job Market. As with 510, it is recommended that you take this course concurrently with at least one other graduate course.
Prof. Matt Frankel
W 7-9:45 Providence Campus Only
INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY VITALIST THOUGHT:
Speculative Ontology, Ethical Affect, and the Art of Critique
This course examines a particular genealogy of the vitalist tradition in modern Western thought. Through strategic encounters with six eminent thinkers, we will explore the historical persistence, conceptual coherence, and possible critical potential of what Gilles Deleuze has called “a new vitalism.” Deleuze’s work, in addition to contributing significantly to the mapping of the course, will be considered alongside a variety of writings from Baruch Spinoza, Alfred North Whitehead, Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, and Giorgio Agamben (as well as some from Walter Benjamin). Readings of these selections will be guided in part by a group of overlapping “theoretical” concerns: the current status of metaphysical speculation; the scope of ethical practice and aesthetic process; the composition of the subject; the question of Being and becoming; the importance of the event in thinking the past, present, and future; the question of Nature and the organism; the relationship between immanence/transcendence and concresence/abstraction; the contingent irreducibility of Force and Power; the interlacing methodologies of science, philosophy, and art in the pursuit of a concept of Life; as well as the most appropriate delineation, definition, and translation of key terms necessary for any recurrent vitalism: vitality, vitalistic, vitalist, and the vital.
Prof. Josie Campbell
U.S. TEXTS AFTER 1900: SPATIAL GRAMMARS
The purpose of the course consists of understanding, as much as possible, the "spatial poetics" of various American texts. These poetics involve the uses of space as a formal construct in which we hope to unravel the "nature of spatiality as a critical method of reading texts." Accordingly, readings will include forays into the work of Tzvetan Todorov, Michel Butor, Gerard Genette, Jean Ricardou, Wolfgang Iser, et al, and forays especially into our own minds. Primary texts will include works by Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Annie Proulx, Leslie Marmo Silko, Cormac McCarthy, William Kennedy, Don DeLillo, and John Irving. There will be several brief papers, and a final essay.
Prof. J. Jennifer Jones
W 4-6:45 Providence Campus Only
Poetics and Politics of the Aesthetic, 1650-1800
This course is concerned with aesthetics, and in particular the sublime, as it forms and reforms in British and Continental literature and literary theory between 1650-1800. If the study of aesthetics generally concerns the epistemology of artworks – the accounting for that area of human activity we engage in when producing, evaluating, or encountering artworks – then the driving question of the discourse of the sublime is, what causes and sustains aesthetic pleasure, and in what does that pleasure consist? This course explores the discourse of the sublime from the initial translation of Longinus’ Perk Hypsous [On the Sublime] into English in 1652 during the rise of English republicanism in treatises, prose essays, and poetry (John Hall, John Denham, John Milton, John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, Robert Boyle, William Molyneux, George Heffernan); through its manifestations in neo-classical and eighteenth-century prose and poetry, as well as English and Continental philosophy (Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, John Dennis, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Joseph Addison, John Locke, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Richard Blackmore, David Hume, Jonathan Richardson, Mark Akenside, William Collins, Thomas Gray); and finally to early German and English Romanticism through the period around 1800 (Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, Edmund Burke, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith). The course also studies ground-breaking twentieth-century scholarship on the sublime throughout in order to grasp the ways in which literary criticism and theory have created, reinforced, or expanded traditional narratives about the sublime in English literary culture (such as Erich Auerbach, Neil Hertz, Slavoj Zizek, Thomas Weiskel, and Jean-Francois Lyotard).
Prof. S.M. Barber
SEMINAR IN AUTHORS:
What is an Author? A Study in the Evolution of a Concept
The seminar examines nineteenth- and twentieth-century European intellectual controversies surrounding the concept of “the author.” Turning to key figures (novelists, poets, playwrights, as well as theorists and philosophers) of this continuing history of controversy, the seminar offers a genealogical account of “the author,” necessarily examining along the way such correlative terms as “history,” “intentionality,” and “the intellectual.”
Assignments: Two papers and a final essay.
Prof. Ryan Trimm
AFTER THE WINDRUSH:
Narrative, Image, and Metropole in Postimperial Britain
This course will chart the genealogy of the postimperial metropolitan novel, a genre running from formulators such as Sam Selvon to current practitioners such as Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, and Monica Ali. Of key concern will be how such works present culture as the differential articulation of identity, rather than an essence in itself. The course will use this genre as means of reconsidering the tension between narrative and image central to postmodernism.
Prof. Mike Pennell
THE ECONOMICS OF NEW LITERACIES
In an age of information, post-industrial, and attention economies, what does it mean to be literate today? More importantly, what does it cost to be literate today? Beginning with literacy research from the field of rhetoric and composition, this course will explore those questions through issues such as computer access, adult and community education centers, and a shift to post-industrialism and the knowledge worker.
This seminar is designed for graduate students in English, Education, Communication Studies, and related disciplines. Enrolled students should expect to read widely in literacy studies; to write short responses weekly; to give one or more oral presentations; and to revise one of the shorter pieces into a longer essay or conference paper.
Topics explored in this course include: Post-industrialism and the Knowledge Worker, Literacy and Economic Change Information Technology and Texts, Technological Literacy and Access, Community Literacy, Multiliteracies and New Literacy Studies, and Literacy Research Methodologies.