Graduate Course Offerings
|Professor Clarissa Chenovick||Thursday, 4:00pm–6:50pm|
Research, presentation, publication and professional practices of the discipline of literary studies.
|Professor Stacy Lettman||Wednesday & Friday, 9:30am–10:50am|
This graduate seminar will explore the representation of ghosts in African and African-diasporic literature. We’ll investigate the significance of ghosts in relation to historical and contemporary phenomena, namely conquest, genocide, slavery, middle passage, colonialism, exile, and deterritorialization. Does the ghost signify various forms of dispossession? Can we characterize the ghost as a liminal figure that straddles the past and present as well as the invisible and visible in its haunting spectral returns? As the American sociologist Avery F. Gordon puts it in Ghostly Matters, “the ghostly haunt gives notice that something is missing—that what appears to be invisible or in the shadows is announcing itself, however symptomatically.” As part of our investigation, we’ll consider several philosophical concepts—will, recognition, being, freedom, subjectification/subjectivation, and imagination—as we cover a range of literary genres from authors that include Nalo Hopkinson, Marlon James, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, NourbeSe Philip, Maisy Card, Mari Serebrov, and Amos Tutuola.
Lastly, our secondary readings from history, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy alongside literary criticism will facilitate our interdisciplinary understanding of the ghost’s significance in African and African diasporic literary texts.
|Professor Ian MacDonald||Wednesday, 4:00pm–6:50pm|
Whether for good or ill, the language of literary theory and its attendant Continental-philosophical influences is a part of the study of literature in the academe. Whether or not one holds to the arguments these various theorists make or takes a position of “post-theory” that suggests they have led the field of literary analysis off track, any student of the subject at the graduate level is expected to have some grasp of the work of Marx, Saussure, Freud, Horkheimer and Adorno, Fanon, Lacan, Althusser, Foucault, Williams, Derrida, Said, Spivak, Gates, Butler, Halberstam and more. ENG 5019 serves as a crash course for these avenues of inquiry from the historicism and idealism of Hegel through the branching specialties of the twenty-first century. Touching on most (if not all) the names introduced here, the course traces a collection of elements which, compounded, aggregate to form a theoretical foundation that bleeds into nearly all contemporary academic discourse surrounding how and why we read literature in the present.
|Professor Julia Mason||Tuesday, 4:00pm–6:50pm|
This course will employ the figure of the cyborg as a metaphor to think through (and beyond) the boundaries (and binaries) of mind/body, material/virtual, self/other, and human/machine. We will explore the implications of postmodern, posthuman, and feminist theories on our evolving understandings of identity, subjectivity, epistemology, embodiment, ethics, and agency.
We will draw on scholarship from Neil Badmington, Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Allucquére Rosanne Stone, and Sherry Turkle (among others) to examine the cyborg subject and posthuman subjectivity at various “life” stages—from production to termination—and all points in between and beyond. We will explore technologies of and for: conception, pregnancy, and motherhood; disability and prosthetics; identity, gender, and sexuality; health, medicine, death, and mourning; and even our technological "afterlife."
Ultimately, this course will attempt to place “human,” into historical, critical, and technocultural context/s, and encourage us to ask questions about what it means to be human, about the distinctions between human and machine, and about the consequences of hybridity.
|Professor David Medina||Tuesday, 7:10pm–10:00pm|
In an 1855 letter to his publisher, Nathaniel Hawthorne lamented the state of the American literary landscape. “America” he wrote, “is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed.” Expressed in Hawthorne’s letter is a frustration with the reality that women writers dominated the literary marketplace in Antebellum America. Hawthorne goes on to note that it is the genre of the novel, specifically, that women writers had successfully come to dominate. This course examines the rise and role of the novel in Antebellum America, paying particular attention to works by the “damned mob” that frustrated Hawthorne. Over the course of the term, we will explore novels by Antebellum American authors such as Rebecca Harding Davis, James Fenimore Cooper, Catherine Maria Sedgewick, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, and Fanny Fern. Additionally, and crucially, we will work to understand the literary form of the novel, its flexibility, its capacity to transform individual subjectivities, and its impact on personal and public paradigms of expression.
|Professor Timothy Miller||Monday, 4:00pm–6:50pm|
Science fiction studies boasts a long tradition of engaging with and contributing to contemporary literary theory. Fantasy studies, by contrast, has seen comparative neglect within the same range of theoretical approaches, despite the potentially broader remit of the fantastic itself. This course will introduce you to some of the major works of fantasy literature and fantasy theory from the second half of the 20th century and the early 21st, as we interrogate this history of neglect and begin to pursue our own theorizations of the fantastic. Is fantasy really “under-theorized”? Do certain bodies of critical theory work with fantasy particularly well, or especially reward expansion of their own traditional scope to include more fantastic texts? What can fantasy studies learn from theory, and theory learn from fantasy studies? Fantasy novelists to be considered include Ursula K. Le Guin, J. R. R. Tolkien, Nalo Hopkinson, China Miéville, and N. K. Jemisin. We will also be reading excerpts from the two most influential monographs theorizing genre fantasy itself, and, additionally, each student will deliver a class presentation on a chosen school or area of critical theory -- or perhaps major theorist -- that will speculate on some potential applications to fantasy studies.