Fall 2016 Graduate Course Descriptions
AML 6934: American Modernisms
In this course we will be reading the fiction of late-Modernist American authors writing in the 1950s whose work is expressive of existentialist crisis symptomatized by violence and psychosis. The authors we will read are: Jane Bowles, Paul Bowles, Patricia Highsmith, James Purdy, and Jim Thompson.
This course counts toward the American Literature area of specialization.
ENL 6455: Reason and Revolution: 17th-century English Prose
This is a course in the simultaneous birth of modern democracy and modern materialism during the period of the English Revolution. Through close attention to the works of several writers (Francis Bacon, Robert Burton, John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Browne, and others), we will examine the connections between scientific rationalism in its infancy and evangelical Christianity in its revolutionary phase. Students will emerge from this course with an altered view of some basic modern assumptions and with an enhanced appreciation for English prose as an argumentative, imaginative, and experimental medium.
This course counts toward the English Literature area of specialization and fulfills the pre-1800 course requirement for this area.
ENC 6700: Studies in Composition Methodology and Theory
What do we value about writing? How do we learn to write? How do we teach others? These are the questions we will keep coming back to as we read, analyze, and critique current scholarship on composition, and as share ideas and experiences about teaching writing. This course invites you to situate your own practices within the context of current discussions and debates within the field of composition.
This course is required for all incoming GTAs and recommended for all MA students pursuing the Rhetoric and Composition, as it counts toward that area of specialization.
LIN 6107: History of the English Language
In LIN 6107, we will examine the causal relationship between historical events in England and key developments in the grammar and vocabulary of English in its early stages. We will also identify the ways in which English later became standardized with the establishment of dictionaries, rules of grammar, and the like. Following the transition of English from synthetic to analytic language will strengthen our understanding of the historical and grammatical basis for the language we use today.
This course is currently one of the required courses for the MA degree.
LIT 6932: Science Fiction from Cold War to Cyberpunk (listed as SF and the Cold War)
Course Description and Objectives: The class is open to all graduate students but will be of special interest to those in the MA concentration in science fiction. The readings trace science fiction’s representations of technology from 1945 (when the first atomic bombs were deployed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II), through the Cold War era and the arms race, ending with the genre’s millennial shift, beginning in the late 1970s, from holocaust narratives to plots based on cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and posthumanism.
Analysis of this group of writers will provide historical grounding for those preparing conference papers or MA theses on more recent sf. For students with an interest in the development of the sf genre, the class will introduce key authors, stories and novels. MFA students will find that sf’s storytelling techniques, especially in world-building and unusual characterizations, are often innovative.
Evans, et. al, ed. Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction. Wesleyan UP.
Heinlein, Robert A. The Puppet Masters. 1953.
Dick, Philip K. The Man in the High Castle. 1962.
Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness. 1969.
Hoban, Russell. Riddley Walker. 1980.
Sterling, Bruce. “Flowers of Edo” (1985)
Gibson, William. Neuromancer (1984)
Criticism and History:
Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics,Literature, and Informatics. 1999. U of Chicago P.
Masters and Way. One World or None: A Report to the Public on the Full Meaning of the Atomic Bomb. 1946. New Press, 2007. ($21 on Amazon, but about $4 on ABE.)
This course counts toward the Science Fiction & Fantasy area of specialization.
LIT 6934: Global Indigenous Literature
As the world becomes ever more connected through technological advancements in communication and the transnational flow of capital, indigenous peoples have become an increasingly visible presence in global politics. The adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations in 2007 recognized indigeneity as a unique political status that carries with it inherent rights to land, culture, and self-determination. At the same time, defining just what it means to be indigenous remains a difficult and controversial project. This course will examine novels, films, and poetry produced by people from the Americas, Oceania, Africa, Eurasia, and the circumpolar Arctic who belong to communities that identify themselves as indigenous. We will discuss this work alongside historical and theoretical examinations of indigeneity that understand it variously as a shared set of material practices, overlapping belief systems, and/or historical experiences. In so doing, we will try to shed light on a group of peoples whose existence has consistently been marginalized, denied, and erased, but who defiantly continue to survive.
This course counts toward the Multicultural & World Literatures area of specialization.
LIT 6934: Time and Space in Modern and Contemporary Literature
As Stephen Kern argues, “From around 1880….a series of sweeping changes in technology and culture created distinctive new modes of thinking about and experiencing time and space. Technological innovations including the telephone, wireless telegraph, x-ray, cinema, bicycle, automobile, and airplane established the material foundation for this reorientation; … cultural developments such as the stream-of-consciousness novel, psychoanalysis, Cubism, and the theory of relativity shaped consciousness directly. The result was a transformation of the dimension of life and thought.” This course will span the period from around 1880 to the present day and examine and explore the transformation Kern cites in a number of genres: drama, film, comics, and (especially) fiction. Our focus will be, primarily, on time, but we will also look at the theory and practice of “space,” both geometrical and geographical. We will approach time and space in three basic ways. 1) Theoretical/philosophical/scientific definitions of time and space (Bergson, Heidegger, Kant, Einsteinàpossibly St. Augustine, Newton, Leibniz, Hawking, Derrida). These will be read primarily in excerpts and will provide context for our “primary” readings of literary texts 2) Discussions in narrative theory of the ways in which time and space are manipulated and transformed in narrative practice (non-sequential narration, backwards narration, “paused” narration, among others) (Seymour Chatman, Gerard Genette, Paul Ricoeur). Again, these will be mostly excerpts of books, or essays that contextualize our literary readings. 3) Literary texts that theorize time and space and/or texts that “play” with time and space in innovative ways in order to explore, construct, and deconstruct their formal and intellectual limits.
Literary texts will likely (but not definitively) include many, but not all, of the following: Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, an excerpt of (or the first volume of) Marcel Proust’s A la recherché du temps perdu, a Virginia Woolf novel (Mrs. Dalloway OR To The Lighthouse), William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Jorge Luis Borges’ “A New Refutation of Time,” “The Garden of Forking Paths,” and “The Secret Miracle,” Martin Amis’ Time’s Arrow, Alan Moore’s Watchmen OR From Hell, Italo Calvino’s t zero, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, , Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Christopher Nolan’s Memento (film), and Samuel Beckett’s “The Lost Ones,” Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada. Jeanette Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5.
This course counts toward the British Literature area of specialization (Abbott, Wells, Moore, Woolf, Stoppard, Beckett, Amis, Winterson).