Course Offerings: Spring 2010

Below is a list of Current Upper-Division Undergraduate Course Offerings and our Current Graduate-Seminar Offerings.

CURRENT TOPICS & UPPER-DIVISION UNDERGRADUATE COURSE OFFERINGS:


ENG 205D.0200
Christopher Mensel
TH 7-9:45
Providence Campus

CREATIVE WRITING: SCREENWRITING

ENG 205D, an introductory course, will cover the ESSENTIALS 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, LOGLINES, BEAT SHEETS, TREATMENTS, copyright protection, MARKETING YOUR SCRIPT, and the evolution of the modern screenplay.

 


ENG 265.0001
Sara Murphy
M W 4:00-5:15

INTRO TO LITERARY GENRES: THE NOVEL
LOVE AND LOSS IN THE AMERICAN NOVEL

Every life involves love, and love is contingent upon loss. Losses through death are perhaps the most painful losses we suffer as individuals, but they are not the only ones. We may also experience losses through divorce or separation, abuse, rape, disease, mental illness, alcoholism or drug addiction, and war. This course will explore losses in the American novel and losses in our own lives. Course readings will include Death in the Classroom:

Writing about Love and Loss (Berman), The Virgin Suicides (Eugenides), A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway), AWidow for One Year (Irving), One True Thing (Quindlan), The Lovely Bones (Sebold), and We Need to Talk About Kevin (Shriver). Each of the novels in the course is situated within the complexity of loss; reading and responding to these novels may provide us with the tools needed to navigate lives in which losses occur. Although many of the topics we discuss in class will be painful or difficult, by talking about these topics in relation to literature, we may become more attuned, thoughtful individuals who value empathy and an “education for life.


ENG 300A.0001
Rebecca Romanow
M 7:00-9:45 PM

LITERATURE INTO FILM: DRAMA


ENG300B.0200
John Hodgkins
M 7:00-9:45 PM
Providence Campus

LITERATURE INTO FILM: NARRATIVE


ENG302.0200
George Steele
T 7:00-9:45 PM
Providence Campus

TOPICS IN FILM THEORY AND CRITICISM
FILM MUSIC: A SURVEY OF FORM, FUNCTION, THEORY

This course surveys the history of film music as an industrial, emotive device. From the American musical to Soviet propaganda, from the first sound films to the latest trailers rescored on YouTube, from The Birth of a Nation to “W.”, music operates in film in calculated and often affecting ways crucial to consider because of its social, and bodily, influence. More like a survey course than a period or national study, this course examines both landmark films as well as more obscure films from different contexts. It introduces theorists of film music such Jean-Luc Nancy, Michel Chion, Anahid Kassabian, Claudia Gorbman, Jeff Smith, Rick Altman, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin and others, surveying the field of film music theory, specifically with the endeavor that students themselves add to its lexicon, expand its basis, and develop new questions about film music by way of readings of films from the course. The course poses the following questions: What are ramifications of film music? What are the benefits of examining such emotionalizing material in culture? What are the consequences when emotions meet mass production in film music? Why has film theory clung to visual aspects of cinema and not film music which seems so affecting? Should we consider visual and auditory material as separate to begin with? Why do directors tend to stay with the same film composer? What are the results? How does the notion of the “soundtrack” make its way into our daily lives, as a social, even personal practice beyond its function in cinema? What are the benefits of posing questions about the senses in our digital, capitalist moment?


ENG 304.0001
Jean Walton
T Th 2:00-3:15 screening: T 3:30-5:30

FILM GENRES: SCENES FROM THE SEVENTIES & SCREENING

During the seventies, prior periods begin, in a sense, to be syndicated like television reruns. Time seems to slow down. It almost seems as if recent history were being surveyed and cataloged. (Stephen Paul Miller, The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance, 30)

[T]his most enigmatic of periods in recent American history, this “un-decade,” was an incubator for many of the developments that now define our contemporary political and cultural zeitgeist. (Andreas Hillen, 1973 Nervous Breakdown, 1-2)

The political dreams of 1968—fulfilled or dashed? Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, Black Power, Patty Hearst, Oil Crisis, Hijackings, Crisis of Confidence, Disco, Urban Decay, Suburban Malaise, Women’s Liberation, Corporatizing for the Dawn of the Eighties. This film genres course will sample some of the most interesting movies, directors, and innovations of the decade of the 1970s in the United States. While noting the more salient historical events of the decade (defined in contradictory ways as a bridge between the revolutionary sixties and the reactionary eighties), we will consider how fairly mainstream movies don’t just “represent” the realities from which they emerge, but, indeed, symptomatize them, transform them, recreate them and mediate our experience of them. You will gain a working knowledge of the political, economic, and cultural history of the era and develop skills in reading cinematic texts within their historical contexts. Consideration will be paid to how established and emerging directors appropriate and transform such genres as the Docu-drama, Western, Psychological or Political Thriller, Black Action Film, Road Movie, Melodrama, Horror Movie, and Romantic Comedy.


ENG 305.0001
Christopher Mensel
T Th 11:00-12:15

ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING: SCREENWRITING

Students interested in this course should have taken ENG 205D - Screenwriting. In this class, existing loglines, beat sheets, and working drafts of scripts in progress will be fleshed out to complete screenplays. Particular attention will be given to precision and concision in the language of action; effectively writing natural dialogue while keeping conflict, both direct and indirect, intact; establishing an overall through-line; establishing characters more clearly while limiting exposition; maintaining a fidelity of tone; and overall coherence within the narrative. For students serious about pursuing careers as screenwriters.


ENG 305.0002
Peter Covino
T Th 12:30-1:45

ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING: POETRY


ENG305.0200
Kevin McLellan
W 4:00-6:45 PM
Providence Campus

ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING: POETRY

In this course students will unearth more interrelated questions to “What can a poem do?” as   we discover our own answers to this central question.  In other words, this workshop is a continuation for working poets, who are also readers, already committed to this unending unraveling.               

We will focus on a specific topic each week and these topics include: close reading, confessional poetry, an experimental American lyric, journaling, performance poetry, persona poetry, restraint, the sequential poem, the short poem, and understatement.  

These weekly topics are supported by the assigned reading of such writers as: Elizabeth Bishop, Rita Dove, Marguerite Duras, Jorie Graham, Denis Johnson, Sylvia Plath, Claudia Rankine, Mary Ruefle, Tomas Tranströmer, William Carlos Williams, and others.

In addition to the reading, there are these related writing assignments: 3 short critical annotations, 6 new poems and revisions to these 6 poems, and a poetic statement. Students are expected to keep a journal and there is a minor oral presentation element. 

The main objective of this course is for students to engage with provocative writing in order to maximize class discussion, and therefore be better prepared to take risks themselves when alone and faced with a blank piece of paper.


ENG 332.0001
Kathleen Davis
Th 4:00-6:45

EVOLUTION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

This course examines the history of the English language beginning with its earliest stage as a dialect in the North Sea region. We will start by covering the grammatical and theoretical concepts necessary for analyzing the changing nature of language, and will treat in detail the languages and cultures of Beowulf, Chaucer, and Shakespeare. As we proceed, we will work to understand the relationship between the technical aspects of language (such as syntax, phonology, and morphology) and the role of language in the diverse social, cultural, and political lives of English speakers.


ENG 350.0001
Carolyn Betensky
T Th 11:00-12:15

LITERARY THEORY AND 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.


ENG 351.0001
Andrea Yates
T Th 12:30-1:45

HISTORY OF LITERARY THEORY AND CRITICISM

“It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present casts its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation” (Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project). In this course, we will look at a constellation of thinkers, from Plato to Derrida, charting the legacies of and relationships between them. The larger goal of the course will be to consider the role of literary criticism as an interdisciplinary venture, as we explore the problematization of representation in works selected from classical to contemporary thought.


ENG 360.0001
Felix Okeke-Ezigbo
T Th 12:30-1:45

AFRICANA FOLK LIFE


ENG 362.0001
Gitahi Gititi
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.


ENG363.0200
Greta Methot
T 7:00-9:45 PM
Providence Campus

AFRICAN AMERICAN FICTION

In this course we will examine the myriad ways in which African American authors have chosen to blur or erase the "color line." We'll begin in the 19th century but most of our attention will be on 20th and 21st century representations of racial passing, performance, hybridity, and ambiguity. Authors will include Charles Chesnutt, James Weldon Johnson, Toni Morrison, Nella Larsen, Danzy Senna, Andrea Lee, and Percival Everett. We'll supplement this reading with critical texts as well. Several formal essays, an oral presentation, and participation in class discussion are required.


ENG 367.0001
Rosendo Brito
M W F 2:00-2:50

THE EPIC


ENG368.0200
Elizabeth Bell
W 7:00-9:45 PM
Providence Campus

THE BIBLE

This course on the Bible as Literature—as opposed to Literature of the Bible—investigates uses of biblical texts by Mark Twain and by contemporary author Robert Coover, who in his fictions makes ample use of passages from both the Old and the New Testament.  Among the questions this course asks will be the relation between the nature of "revelation" and the diversity of its interpretation and recording, i.e., myth-making.

We will explore the richness and diversity of literature through in-depth reading, discussion, and writing about these texts.  Through close reading, you will gain an understanding and appreciation of fiction in general, and of our writers' use of material from the Bible in particular.  Focus will be on authorial strategies and themes explored.  History, geography, and ancient myths will be introduced as they impact on the texts at hand.  Furthermore, you will learn the appropriate terminology as tools for textual and critical analysis.  Finally, through this experience you can develop or refine the capacity for self-expression and communication.


ENG373.0200
Jason Zysk
Th 4:00-6:45 PM
Providence Campus

BRITISH LITERATURE OF THE RENAISSANCE


ENG 375.0001
Jennifer Jones
T Th 12:30-1:45

BRITISH LITERATURE OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY:
ROMANTICISM IN THE BALANCE: ON THE LITERATURE OF REFORM AND RADICALISM

This course will read the period of British Romanticism through literature — prose, poetry, the novel, and drama — concerned with the numerous movements for democratic reform that occurred between 1770 and 1850 in England, on the Continent, and in America, from the American and French revolutions to the women’s movement to the movement for the abolition of slavery to the agitation for increasing voter rights. We will study the literature of reform as well as literature of radicalism, and we will be concerned with the ways that these literatures represent, figure, and idealize political positions and outcomes at the same time that we will also be concerned with the ways that literary form itself imagines and in some cases precipitates social and individual change.


ENG375.0200
Abott Ikelar
Th 7:00-9:45 PM
Providence Campus

BRITISH LITERATURE OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY


ENG 379.0001
Gina Valentino
T Th 3:30-4:45

CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE:
NOIR NOW: CONTEMPORARY US MULTIETHNIC DETECTIVE FICTION

In this course we will examine contemporary detective fiction and its noir antecedents. Over the last century, detective fiction has become one of the more influential, intellectually rigorous and pleasurable ways to speculate about the accelerating changes in our world. This course will offer a selective survey of the themes animating the genre since WWII. Our discussions will engage (but not be limited to) the following questions: how might detective fiction be said to redefine what is “knowable” in society? How do our texts understand and manipulate notions of power? What compels the notable exploration of race and gender and class in these works? How do our notions of detection and what constitutes a Detective change over time? To what extent may these texts be read as meditations on loss and mourning? Authors covered will include Edgar Allan Poe, Raymond Chandler, Barbara Neeley, Louis Owens, Sherman Alexie, Nina Revoyr,  Walter Mosley, Charlaine Harris, Sookie Kim and Rudy Anaya.


ENG 385.0001
Karen Stein
T 4:00-6:45

WOMEN WRITERS: FICTION AND FILM

This course will analyze a range of fiction and film by women writers. We will look at genres including dystopia, comedy, memoir, science fiction, slave narrative, and horror. What happens when novels get translated into film? What choices do directors and screenwriters make? Do the presentations of women characters change?


ENG 396.0001
Matt Frankel
M W 3:30-4:45

LITERATURE OF THE SEA: RUMOWICZ SEMINAR
THE OCEAN SUBLIME: A GENEALOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE OF THE SEA

This year’s Rumowicz seminar will explore a selection of works written by 19th-and 20th-century American authors with eye towards examining how various encounters with the sea have at once incited and encoded complex moments of sublime transport, horror, and critique.   Readings for the course will include the philosophical and scientific considerations of Henry David Thoreau’s “Cape Cod” (1855) and John Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1941); the distinct yet equally severe realist visions of Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” (1898) and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899); and the racialized gothic histories of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838), Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” (1856), and Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage (1990).   In order to give our discussions a coherent critical vocabulary, we also will be reading excerpts from different theories of the sublime—from the classic statement by Longinus to the seminal studies of Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant, as well as more recent formulations by Thomas Weiskel, Neil Hertz, Frances Ferguson, and Jean-François Lyotard.


ENG 399.0001
Stephanie Dunson
T Th 2:00-3:15

SPECIAL TOPICS IN LITERATURE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

The focus of this course will be the study of the graphic novel as a literary genre. Over the course of the semester, we’ll consider the particular narrative capability of visual texts and reflect upon how the graphic novel as a category of formal literature extends, complicates, and enriches our appreciation of more “established” narrative forms. We’ll explore and compare how graphic novelists make meaning by directing the reader’s eye through textures of visual and emotional material, often to dynamic and profound effect. And we’ll grapple with these central questions: What do graphic novels offer that other narrative forms don’t? How does a graphic novelist generate visual language that both reflects a unique vision and communicates meaning to a large audience? Why after decades of being considered a lowbrow mode of storytelling are graphic novels now being taken seriously by critics and other literary sorts? What’s the internal logic of visual meaning and how do artists access that logic?


ENG 451.0200
Gitahi Gititi
Providence Campus

ADVANCED TOPICS IN INTERNATIONAL FILM MEDIA: AFRICAN FILM

Like literature and related disciplines, contemporary African film concerns itself with questions of self-definition and the establishment of an authentic tradition of self-representation. A corollary issue is the creation of African film as both intellectual property and commercial artefact, allied to the larger process of establishing and maintaining political and economic power; the reconstruction of cultural foundations eroded by European colonization. Seen as a more direct tool of communication than many other modalities, film addresses issues of individual and group morality, ethics, social class formation and its consequences, gender disparity, and other problems afflicting post-colonial African states, including the nature of political authority and its legitimization, nation-building, conflict resolution, as well as projections of the present and the future.


ENG 472.0001
Travis Williams
T Th 2:00-3:15

SHAKESPEARE

Consistent with its advanced place in the catalog, this course will assume some prior experience with the works of William Shakespeare. Reading eight to ten plays, 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, issues of gender, rank, and racial identity, and theater practices. We will also read a collection of critical essays that exemplify the last century's range of critics, methods, and theories in Shakespeare studies. You will write three essays and a weekly response paper.


ENG 482.0200
Joseph Fargnoli
M 4:00-6:45
Providence Campus

AMERICAN ENLIGHTENMENT AUTHORS
ENLIGHTENMENT LIFE-WRITING: AUTOBIOGRAPHY & TRAVEL

Students in ENG 482, American Enlightenment Authors, will have the opportunity to study in depth some of the great, nonfiction prose works in American literature by Franklin, Equiano, Bartram, and Crevecoeur. These authors'
writings address many of the principal views of the age, such as the life and emancipation of the individual, human rights, the creation of liberal democracy, and the identification of the natural world. These Enlightenment subjects and related issues will form the basis of the investigations students will make into the classic American prose writings of these authors


ENG 485.0001
Josie Campbell
Th 4:00-6:45

U.S. AUTHORS: ANNIE PROULX AND CORMAC McCARTHY

The purpose of this course is to examine the fiction of Annie Proulx and Cormac McCarthy in terms of "place." Both writers make use of place although in different ways. In our discussions, we will pay special attention to visual images and their affective meanings in their writing; we will also pay attention to the adaptations of their work to film. Readings will include Proulx's The Shipping News, That Old Ace in the Hole, and her short story collections; we will read McCarthy's Blood Meridian, The Border Trilogy, and No Country for Old Men. Attendance is required. There will be a combination of presentations with short papers and a final paper.


ENG 486.0001
Kathleen Davis
T Th 12:30-1:45

BRITISH AUTHORS
CHAUCER AND CHRISTINE DE PIZAN

Chaucer and Christine de Pizan: Chaucer was a prolific author who engaged the most controversial issues of the late fourteenth century: What is the limit of kingship? Can a legitimately crowned king be accused of tyranny? Is it moral to revolt against a corrupt Church? What are the appropriate power relations between men and women? Is it possible to define and maintain class distinctions? Through subtle and crafty use of fictional narrators, Chaucer explores what is at stake in these questions and at the same time demonstrates that they are fully interrelated with literary history and interpretation. His texts are therefore always in conversation with major literary and philosophical texts influential at the time, such as Jean de Meun’s Romance of the Rose, and Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy.
            Christine de Pizan was the first professional woman writer in Europe. A contemporary of Chaucer whose major writings were published shortly after his death, Christine took up many of the same issues, particularly the nature of good rulership and the power relations between men and women. In her famous Book of the City of Ladies, she insists that the intellectual differences between boys and girls are the result not of differing intellects but of the limits placed upon girls’ education. Just as provocatively but more directly than Chaucer, she explores these issues as fully interrelated with literary history and interpretation. She also engaged in controversial debates with other well-known intellectuals regarding the power of language and literary representation, particularly with regard to The Romance of the Rose.
            In this course we will read these two authors side by side, along with some of the texts that they took as central to literary history and to their arguments, and we will consider the implications of their methods and their texts for our understanding of literary history today.


ENG 499.0001
Peter Covino
W 4:00-6:45

SENIOR SEMINAR WRITING PUBLISHING

This intensive workshop-based course is geared for advanced creative writers of varied genres—poetry, fiction, nonfiction—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 center 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, Barrow Street, Creative Nonfiction, Open City, Poets & Writers, 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.


HPR 412.0001
Stephen Barber
M 4:00-6:45

THE MODERN NOVEL

This course explores the final phase of Virginia Woolf’s thought and life. In order to appreciate the differences between her earlier and later phases as a novelist, we will begin our study of her work by reading two novels of the early and mid career, namely, Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse respectively. A British modernist, Woolf sought from the beginning of her career in the early twentieth century to capture and express “reality” and “modernity” in novels that challenged European conventions and convictions of literary realism. Critics tend to characterize the novels of the 1920s as representing the summit of this formalist venture. But the novels of the 1930s achieve something different. In the 1930s, as varieties of dictatorship spread and intensified across Europe, Woolf turned from her literary experiments on narrative, subjectivity, and time to focus explicitly on the relationship between art and politics. This turn eventuated in an entirely new aesthetic—in effect, an ethics. Early in the decade, she converted to what French philosopher Michel Foucault calls “the care of the self as a practice of freedom,” and she devoted the rest of her life (1932-1941) to elaborating what she herself called her “philosophy of the free soul.” This care of the self involved not a withdrawal from politics but instead it intensified her relationship with politics. We will examine the relationship Woolf invented between art and politics as an ethics, that is to say, a philosophy. We will consider the ways that these two terms are synonymous in a tradition that includes Greco-Roman Antiquity, Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Foucault. In order to understand this philosophy and aesthetics of ethics (since Woolf’s philosophy is mediated by aesthetics—“intellectual argument in the form of art,” she says), we will have occasion to read selected works of Michel Foucault and his contemporary, Gilles Deleuze, both of whom have much to say about this philosophical tradition. Their accounts of ethics, subjectivity, and truth in the final phase of their respective thinking will be read with and against Woolf’s late thought. Three relationships will thus be prioritized in our discussions: 1) art and politics; 2) Woolf-Deleuze-Foucault; 3) philosophy and literature.

Some guiding questions to consider throughout the semester are: What do Woolf, Foucault, and Deleuze mean by “art” and “modernity”? How do they conceive art’s relationship to thought, ideas, emotion, and power? How do the concepts of “reason,” “the unconscious,” and the “psyche” evolve in Woolf’s thought?


CURRENT GRADUATE-SEMINAR OFFERINGS:

ENG 514.0001
Ryan Trimm
T 7:00-9:45 PM

STUDIES IN CRITICAL THEORIES


ENG 550.0001
Kathleen Davis
Th 4:00-6:45

STUDIES IN BRITISH TEXTS BEFORE 1700


ENG 590.0001
Gina Valentino
Th 7:00-9:45 PM

SELECTED TOPICS
HUSTLING: GETTING BY AND GETTING OVER

Using works by contemporary U.S. authors, in this course we will analyze how individuals and communities transgress dominant economic systems. Novels such as Thomas Harris’s Hannibal and Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange portray trauma produced by neoliberalist macroeconomic shifts, but they also present responses to that trauma that interface with current discourses on race, gender, sexuality, and class. I title this class Hustling for two reasons. The first serves to reference how relatively quickly economists accepted and ushered in overarching neoliberalist logic—in short, government deregulation and opening of financial markets throughout the later 20th century to an increasingly interconnected, multinational economic framework. The second is to emphasize tactical alliances among those most severely affected by these changes that emerge in response to authorized economic policy. Hustling encompasses complex networks and informal economies that are necessary for survival. Hustling operates within and under official channels and most often consists and takes the form of cultural negotiations that carry the potential to destabilize totalizing forces with a kind of “black” market counterforce. In short, we will study who gets to thrive in new economic paradigms and how they do it. Texts for the course will include works by Louis Owens, Octavia Butler, Thomas Harris, Karen Tei Yamashita, Michel de Certeau, Pierre Bourdieu, T.J. Jackson Lears, Chela Sandoval, Gerald Vizenor, and George Lipsitz, among others. 


ENG 601.0001
Mary Cappello
T 4:00-6:45

SEMINAR IN CREATIVE WRITING: EXPERIMENTAL NONFICTION

“How to begin? And now I have.” –James Schuyler’s Diaries

This seminar is an intensive reading, and writing and (occasional) film-screening course that will alternate between in-depth discussions of the models of experimentation at our disposal and work-shopping of the original compositions of members of the class. Given nonfiction’s current definitional crisis, how can we trouble the grounds of genres, like “lyric essay”? What are the challenges entailed in creating “experimental” writing that is neither willfully obscure nor gimmicky but aesthetically consummate? What’s the difference between improvisation and digression in nonfiction prose? Such questions will serve as our taking-off points. I will share my own discursive autobiography and discursive double portraits, my two-part inventions in prose, and you will be encouraged at every turn to re-invent nonfiction on your own terms. You may also use the course to test a sentence or set of sentences, like, “We read and write to interrupt the daily tale we tell ourselves,” or, “Hobbies are therapeutic and writing is neither a hobby nor a sport but the place where something begins again differently; more than a record, the writing, an edifice, not an envelope for containing, but a form for passing through, and a shape elicited from, words in a match with “experience,” but not trying to match it, language at variance with the defining matrix of our days.”

As we attempt to become more fluent in the forms that pass for experimental nonfiction today, you’ll be required to explore single issues of contemporary journals, or share reports on histories of the essay, or of prose poetry. We’ll rely on what I call “epistolary critique”—a means by which students in the seminar will respond to each other’s work before class meets in the form of letters posted to our Sakai site, then use these letters as the basis for our further discussion in class.

Some of the filmmakers whose work we may consider include Andre Bresson, Su Freidrich, Barbara Hammar, Chris Marker, Joseph Cornell, Jan Svankmayer, The Brothers Quay, and Trinh T. Minh-ha; some of the theorists whose work will help to shape the contours of our questions may include Butler, Foucault, Agamben, Benjamin, and Adorno. We’ll read work by Claudia Rankine, Larry Sutin, G.W. Sebald, John D’Agata, Lydia Davis, and Mary Reufle to name a few. By the end of the semester, we may venture into realms that can radically inform nonfiction practice even if they seem at first far afield—the world of sound poetry and the music of “noisicians,” and the very pertinent interdisciplinary performance project out of Great Britain termed “autobiology.”

n.b. This course is the perfect segue for those graduate students who took English 501: Workshop in Creative Writing in the Fall of last year, but there is no pre-requisite for the course. If a graduate student wishes for an introduction to the lay of literary nonfiction’s land, however, concurrent with our foray into experimentation, I welcome you to enroll in English 305: Advanced Creative Writing, for graduate credit.

 


ENG 625.0200
Jean Walton
M 7:00-9:45 PM
Optional Screenings: T 3:30-5:30 pm, Kingston

Providence Campus

SEMINAR IN MEDIA: SEVENTIES CINEMA OF LOCATION

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), a frontier parable in which hippie ideals played out against the long arm of speculative interests, was being filmed on the North Shore in the mountains above the Maplewood Flats. As the sets were being built up the mountain, a hippie “Pleasure Faire” was being constructed on the flats: another erstaz village that mirrored the one for the movie that in turn mirrored the squat itself. The movie and the Pleasure Faire showed that the authentic squatter’s shack could be reproduced and circulated by the image industry and was also a ready-made commodity fetish for the emerging hippie entrepreneurial reinvestment of drug money. (Scott Watson, “Urban Renewal: Ghost Traps, Collage, Condos and Squats—Vancouver Art in the Sixties”)

During the seventies, prior periods begin, in a sense, to be syndicated like television reruns. Time seems to slow down. It almost seems as if recent history were being surveyed and cataloged. (Stephen Paul Miller, The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance, 30)

This graduate seminar in media will, like the undergraduate course running simultaneously with it, cover some of the most interesting movies, directors, and innovations of the decade of the 1970s in the United States. While exploring the more salient historical events of the decade (defined in contradictory ways as a bridge between the revolutionary sixties and the reactionary eighties), we will consider how fairly mainstream media productions don’t just “represent” the realities from which they emerge, but, indeed, symptomatize them, transform them, recreate them and mediate our experience of them. You will be expected to acquire a working knowledge of the political, economic, and cultural history of the era, as well as some skills in reading cinematic texts within their historical contexts. Consideration will be paid to how established and emerging directors appropriate and transform such genres as the Docu-drama, Western, Psychological or Political Thriller, Black Action Film, Road Movie, Melodrama, Horror Movie, Romantic Comedy. For the purposes of our graduate seminar, however, special emphasis will be placed on the material and figurative implications of the trope of LOCATION. This could include both SPATIAL LOCATION (as in the location of a film’s production and distribution) and TEMPORAL LOCATION (for example the question of how we temporally locate our histories by “decades”—as with Rutgers’ textbook series: “Screen Decades” and “Stars Decades”). For research projects, students will be encouraged to pursue a line of inquiry in the mode of “location”: one might explore, for instance, how the physicality and phenomenology of the natural, built and filmed environment played a part in the multiple meanings and functions of a given film or set of films (consider Chicago in Medium Cool, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Mahogany; New York in Klute, Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and/or Manhattan; San Francisco in The Conversation and Invasion of the Body Snatchers; New England in Jaws and The Stepford Wives; Vancouver in That Cold Day in the Park and McCabe and Mrs Miller for instance—there are other possibilities as well). The aim will be to research the films and locations in terms of the local politics of place occurring there at the time, and how the films mediate, construct, counter, are directly implicated in those politics (perhaps due to the economic impact, even, of having brought “Hollywood” into the local area where a given film was shot; or perhaps the location “identifies” with or feels itself mirrored in the film in some way after its release). As for temporal location, the question would be how specific films of the seventies locate us in time, mediating our relation to the past (a time before assassinations? a time before the Vietnam War? A time before Watergate? A time when journalists were interested in news?) and projecting us into a possible future. If cinema locates us temporally, does it produce a nostalgic backward turn? A paranoiac dread of things to come? A longing for an imaginary time that never was? The research projects are endless.

Appropriate for MA and PhD students seeking coursework in Film/Media Studies, but also good opportunity to pursue research in a supported setting in Place Studies; 20th century U.S. literature and culture or American Studies. I do not always teach film at the graduate level (i.e. am unlikely to do so next year) so if you expect to have Film as a secondary area and think you may be seeking someone to serve on your MA or PhD committee, you should take advantage of this course now. I am more likely to serve on committees of those who have taken courses with me already.

(Note: another way to be involved with the Seventies Cinema course is to take my Independent Study in Teaching Film at College Level with me this semester. It, too, is linked with the undergrad lecture course on Cinema of the Seventies. See Description under ENG 690.21)


ENG 660.0001
Alain-Philippe Durand
W 4:00-6:45
Providence Campus

SEMINAR IN SPECIAL TOPICS: 9/11

This seminar introduces the fiction and non-fiction (books and films) that deal with the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The objective of this seminar is to try to identify the characteristics (if any) that seem to shape the corpus of texts and films dealing with 9/11 as well as to study and discuss the (often controversial) public and academic reactions to such works. The main questions that will guide us in our investigation will be to find out if there is such a thing as a literature of 9/11? And if there is, how can one describe and explain it? Who has the authority (if anyone) to write on 9/11?


ENG 690.0021
Jean Walton

Independent Graduate Study: Teaching Film at the College Level

This is a limited enrollment Independent Study group for those graduate students who wish to be trained in teaching film at the college level. Spaces are limited, so please sign up early. The Independent Study is designed as follows. Students will attend lectures, lead some discussion groups, grade small batches of papers, learn how to use online and audio-visual resources, and help with some components of course design as the semester unfolds in my undergraduate large lecture course ENG 304 Film Genres: Scenes from the Seventies. We will also find a time when we can meet every other week to discuss pedagogy, student progress in the small discussion groups, grading policies, trouble-shooting, etc. By the end of the semester, I will be in a position to write you a letter of recommendation for future film teaching positions, and you will be able to include this training module on your CV.

Below is a description ENG 304, including its meeting and screening times. NOTE: you do not need to attend the screenings if they conflict with one of your other grad seminars—most of the films may easily be screened through Netflix. Only attendance during the twice-weekly class meetings is required.

ENG 304 Film Genres: Scenes from the Seventies
Professor Walton
T/R 11-12:15 CBLS 10 (Lecture and Discussion)
T 3:30-5:30 CBLS 100 (Screenings and Remarks)

[T]his most enigmatic of periods in recent American history, this “un-decade,” was an incubator for many of the developments that now define our contemporary political and cultural zeitgeist. (Andreas Hillen, 1973 Nervous Breakdown, 1-2)

The political dreams of 1968—fulfilled or dashed? Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, Black Power, Patty Hearst, Oil Crisis, Hijackings, Crisis of Confidence, Disco, Urban Decay, Suburban Malaise, Women’s Liberation, Corporatizing for the Dawn of the Eighties. This film genres course will sample some of the most interesting movies, directors, and innovations of the decade of the 1970s in the United States. While noting the more salient historical events of the decade (defined in contradictory ways as a bridge between the revolutionary sixties and the reactionary eighties), we will consider how fairly mainstream movies don’t just “represent” the realities from which they emerge, but, indeed, symptomatize them, transform them, recreate them and mediate our experience of them. You will gain a working knowledge of the political, economic, and cultural history of the era and develop skills in reading cinematic texts within their historical contexts. Consideration will be paid to how established and emerging directors appropriate and transform such genres as the Docu-drama, Western, Psychological or Political Thriller, Black Action Film, Road Movie, Melodrama, Horror Movie, and Romantic Comedy.

 

   
 

 

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