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Department of English

Graduate Studies


Below is the graduate program's current curriculum. We offer graduate seminars in a range of period and national literatures, film, and creative writing.

In addition to the required courses and courses in areas of concentration, the Graduate Program offers two "Special Topics" courses each semester. Each "Special Topics" course is designed to showcase the instructor's current research and scholarship.

Specific course numbers, titles, and detailed course descriptions will be posted on URI's ecampus and on the Department webpage prior to the start of each semester.

Please visit Fall 2008 to the past Spring Graduate Curriculum Archives and Graduate Courses for a complete list of courses.

Fall 2015 Graduate Course Offerings:

ENG 510: Prof. Kathleen Davis
Select Wednesdays 7:00-9:45 PM
Introduction to Professional Study I

Orientation to the major discourses, critical frameworks, and databases constituting graduate research in language and literary studies, including computer-assisted research methodologies. Pre: graduate standing or permission of instructor. (1.5 credits)

ENG 514: Prof. Carolyn Betensky
TUE 4:00-6:45 PM

History of Critical Theories

Literary and nonliterary cultural texts, genres, and topics of the Western Hemisphere. May include media; oral, industrial, and popular cultures; critical theory and the analysis of discourses; issues of class, gender, and race. Pre: graduate standing or permission of instructor. (3 credits)

ENG 601 Prof. Peter Covino
TUE 7:00-9:45 PM

Seminar in Creative Writing - Poetry

Seminar for advanced students under supervision of a faculty member. This seminar is arranged to suit individual project requirements of students. Pre: graduate standing or permission of instructor. (3 credits)

ENG 610: Prof. Sarah Eron
WED 4:00-6:45 PM

Literary Minds: How Novels Think

What makes us think? How do we know that we are thinking? We take for granted the fact that thinking takes time and that time determines our ways of thinking in the twenty-first century. The roles of time, emotion, and our relationship to others in experiences of self-consciousness have long been on the radar in the fields of neuroscience and psychotherapy. Recent studies in neuroscience have considered the role that literature plays in determining patterns of everyday cognition. These approaches focus on the act of literary thinking, and specifically on our reading practices, to gain insight into how the brain operates emotionally and deductively. To be sure, there is an aesthetic and personal value to the act of reading. But what about literature itself? Can literary works provide insight into how and why we think the way we do?
The eighteenth century focused less on how we read novels than it did on how novels taught us how to read. Novels, as attempts to represent consciousness, were artifacts of brain science in an era when psychology was just coming to the fore as a discrete field in the interdisciplinary discourse about knowledge. This class returns to this critical moment in our cultural history to help us revisit how we think about thinking. Specifically, we’ll consider developments in the rise of the novel and how these led to current concepts of cognition, perception, and understanding. By looking at some of the earliest and most formative works in the novel’s literary history, we’ll investigate how the mind works to give us a sense of self. Primary text readings will be supplemented by selections from contemporary theory and secondary criticism. The novels we read will encompass a variety of genres, including: satiric, gothic, national, and domestic fiction, and may include: Robinson Crusoe, Tristram Shandy, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. Pre: graduate standing or permission of instructor. (3 credits)


ENG 620: Prof. Ryan Trimm
MON 4:00-6:45 PM
Seminar In Culture And Discourse
- The Culture of Afterwards

Gerhard Richter has recently called afterness a "particular figure of modernity." According to Paul de Man, the very idea of the modern depends on an opposition to that which has come before, a foregrounding of the quality of coming after. Indeed, the literary history of the long twentieth century might be charted through examining the different tropes of this afterwards: memory, forgetfulness, historicism, mourning, pastiche, heritage, haunting, belatedness, trauma, etc. These figures also manifest shifting relations with time and the past, moving from the linear historiography of the nineteenth-century to complex conceptions of historiography. This seminar will map these incarnations of afterwardness through a range of fiction including authors such as Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway), William Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom), Tom McCarthy (Remainder), Alan Hollinghurst (The Stranger's Child), Peter Ackroyd (Hawksmoor), Hilary Mantel (Beyond Black), Will Self (Umbrella), and Kazuo Ishiguro (The Buried Giant). We will also examine theories of time and the after encompassing figures such as Aristotle, Augustine, Henri Bergson, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean Laplanche, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Giorgio Agamben, and Bernard Stiegler. Pre: graduate standing or permission of instructor. (3 credits)


GWS 500: Prof. Jean Walton
Thursdays 9:30-12:15
Graduate Colloquium in Feminist Theory

In this graduate seminar, we will engage with a range of theoretical works that address questions of feminism, gender, and "the body" as it has been construed in late twentieth and 21st century cultural critique. I am particularly interested in tracing lines of thought from key texts in the modernist era: (Freud on gender and sexuality; Levi-Strauss on kinship; Marx and Engels on class; Fanon on colonialism and race; Havelock Ellis and others on sexology; William James on habit; Virginia Woolf on the material conditions of writing, de Beauvoir on gender, etc) through more recent engagements, ranging from extremely influential post-structuralist work in the seventies and eighties (Michel Foucault, Gayle Rubin, Laura Mulvey, Colette Guillaumin, etc) through the explosion of work in queer theory, bio-power, and post-colonial studies in the nineties (Judith Butler, Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick, Gayatri Spivak, etc) and some recent preoccupations in the post-9/11 age (the "turn" to affect in the work of Lauren Berlant; "Beauty" in Mimi Thi Nguyen's work on imperialism and global feminism, precarity in the 21st century, etc.).

In addition to the framework I provide, the course will respond to the disciplinary interests of enrolled members; students will be invited to link our theoretical readings to the periods, genres, or other traditions in literary, cultural, or film studies they are working within for their final projects.

This course will count as the core course for the GWS grad certificate and may also be counted as three credits of coursework toward the English MA or PhD (English grad students are permitted to take up to two related, approved courses outside the English Department). Pre: graduate standing or permission of instructor. (3 credits)

Spring 2016 Graduate Course Offerings:

ENG 511: Prof. Kathleen Davis
Select Wednesdays 7:00-9:45 PM
Introduction to Professional Study II

Orientation to the major discourses, critical frameworks, and databases constituting graduate research in language and literary studies, including computer-assisted research methodologies. (1.5 credits)

ENG 601: Prof. Mary Cappello
M 4:00-6:45 PM
Seminar in Creative Writing - Literary Nonfiction

This seminar 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. 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, or at the borders of nonfiction and poetry); numerous timely preoccupations of
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. I will introduce you to and tempt you to practice a range of
modes so that you might expand the repertoire of your writing practices, take risks at the
level of form and content, and find ways to let your writing arrive at unanticipated rather
than predictable places. (3 credits)

ENG 605: Prof. Stephen Barber
W 4:00-6:45 PM
Seminar in Genres

This seminar offers an in-depth study of the history and theory of the novel. Alongside our attention to (accounts of) the novel’s emergence and evolution, we will read the major theorists whose work shapes the current critical field. In addition to reading history, theory, and literary criticism, we will attend to major twentieth century novelists (for example, Proust, Kafka, Musil, James, Woolf, and Rushdie) on the subject of their craft. Finally, we will consider at least two novels, reading with and against the grain of current theoretical views of the genre. (3 credits)

ENG 610: Prof. Martha Elena Rojas
T 3:00-6:15 PM
Seminar in Historical Periods

Selected topics of relevance for historical periods. Periods emphasized are medieval, 16th- and 17th-century British, 18th- and 19th-century British, North American, and postcolonial. (3 credits)

ENG 615: Prof. Jennifer Jones
TH 4:00-6:45 PM
Seminar in Authors - William Wordsworth Now and Then

This course will explore the field of British Romanticism through one of its most influential authors, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) with five goals in mind: (1) to study carefully the complex body of works of this author, which includes poetic theory and criticism in prose; poetry of many forms, including experimental poetry; drama; and translation-work; (2) to study the influence of other major authors on Wordsworth and the reception of his work, such as Charlotte Smith, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Immanuel Kant; (3) to study the scholarship of the field of Romanticism and ancillary fields of inquiry, such as affect studies, literary historicism, and postcolonial studies, that have celebrated and damned Wordsworth in ways that have helped to define the discipline of English in its 100+ year history; (4) to study major historical issues and ideas that influenced Wordsworth’s writings and its reception, such as canon, aesthetics, ethics, prosody, and translation studies; and (5) to examine the important ways that our study of Wordsworth can propel our engagement with the major issues and concerns of the discipline of English today. This seminar will encourage you to connect writers, texts, and issues with which you are already conversant and invested—in any historical period or field of inquiry—with the primary, critical, and satellite works we study on Wordsworth. (3 credits)