Fall 2015 Course Descriptions
AML 6934: Race, Gender, and Disability in American Literature
This course will delve into the intersections of race and gender in the context of cognitive, emotional, and physical disability in American literature. As Rosemary Garland Thomson has argued in her book Extraordinary Bodies, in United States history, disability has often itself signaled certain things about both race and gender; we will test Thomson's assertions as well as those of other theorists (such as Lennard Davis, Tobin Siebers, and Joshua Lukin) as we examine writing that foregrounds disability in various ways. Readings will include Frederick Douglass, Zelda Fitzgerald, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, Eulalie Spence, Maryse Condé, Eli Clare, and Jeremy Love.
This course fulfills the Multicultural/World Lit and the American Lit concentration requirement.
ENG 6039: Queer Theory
"In this course we will explore theoretical readings that address sexuality and gender and that are loosely defined as "Queer Theory," with a focus on major and seminal works in the area. Because any theory is only useful to the extent that it helps us to explain, predict, and change reality, we will evaluate these tools by also reading several extremely contemporary texts written by or for the queer community. These supplemental texts will allow us to test, confirm, modify, or reject the various theoretical readings in an effort to develop an understanding of how systems of sex/sexuality/gender function in our world today. Please be forewarned: readings in this course are particularly dense and some readings will contain explicit erotic material. If you have any objections to explicit sexual material please speak with me about accommodations immediately."
This course counts toward the Multicultural & World Literature concentration
ENL 6934: 19th-Century British Poetry
Poetry embodied all the contradictions of nineteenth-century British culture: it could be boldly experimental, even anarchic, and yet it found powerful expression in the most evocative traditional forms; it was confident and global in its reach at the same time as it explored crises of cultural and personal identity; it articulated an explosive new sense of practical modernity even as it doubted the rhetoric of progress and affirmed the value of, in Arnold's phrase, the best which had been thought and said. This course surveys the range of approaches that current scholars take to studying and appreciating this remarkable body of literature. Our special focus will be on understanding the particular ways in which nineteenth-century poets worked with meter and other sonic dimensions of language, and how they understood their metrical practice. How can we assess what these poems perform rhythmically? What did the poets themselves understand metrical form to do? How do ideas about meter and rhythm reflect broader cultural concerns—concerns, for instance, about poetry's relation to other discourses and practices (such as philosophy and music), about poetry's engagement with both cognition and affect, and about the capacity of poetry to construct cultural and national identity? We will read poems by many of the century's major figures—Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Arnold, Clough, Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Patmore, Hopkins, and Swinburne—alongside contemporary theories of poetics. We will also read important recent critical accounts of this poetry, with a concentration on the new rise in nineteenth-century studies of the history of prosody.
This course counts toward the British Literature concentration.
LIN 6107: History of the English Language
This course follows the development of English pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and syntax from their ancient Germanic beginnings to their most recent and popular forms. Students will be asked to master a considerable amount of linguistic and historical detail in support of a few key concepts: the distinction between synthetic and analytic languages, the relation between oral and written usage, the impact of political and economic history on the history of language. Considerable emphasis will be placed on the use of philological reference works as a basis for classroom discussion.
This is a required course for MA students.