Graduate Course Offerings
|Professor Carla María Thomas
|Thursday, 7:10–10:00 pm
Stereotypes abound regarding the Middle Ages, gender, and sexuality, some of which can be proven true, such as the religious, philosophical, legal, and therefore cultural oppression of women. However, the idea that the Middle Ages were simply prudish is an anachronistic mispresentation that modernity applied to the medieval past in order to make itself feel more progressive and therefore “better” than its origins. In this course, we will read texts that belie a much more complex relationship to sexuality as well as gender identity, beginning first with some interesting early medieval penitential entries on fornicating, suggesting that rules were made because of all the imaginative promiscuity, and then moving to a transhistorical look at riddles filled with sexual innuendo, poetry focused on women’s issues, texts that center transgender folx and a sexually promiscuous woman, love letters from one nun to another, and some modern creative adaptations of and engagements with medieval texts. Our readings will come from several of the languages in and around medieval Britain, but we will read most of the literature in translation. However, be prepared to read some Middle English and, with tremendous help from me, some Old English (translations also provided)!
|Professor Regis Fox
|Wednesday, 4:00–6:50 pm
19th Century African-American Intellectual and Cultural Production: Reading Black Women Differently
This course unsettles and complicates common evaluations of African-American women’s intellectual and cultural production in the nineteenth century. In short, we’ll read black women differently. Unpacking aesthetic and generic interpretations of the works of thinkers and orators as varied as Frances Harper, Harriet Wilson, and Maria Stewart, we’ll analyze black women’s fundamentally epistemological and intersectional literary preoccupations. Often disregarded as “bourgeois,” “accommodationist,” “domestic,” “sentimental,” “moral,” or “evangelical,” authors from Pauline Hopkins, to Anna Julia Cooper, to Elizabeth Keckly, to Sojourner Truth, in fact, offer critical insight into matters of race, gender, and power. Our collective examination of their fictional and non-fictional works, and of the potential and the limitations of their engagement with respectability and with resistance, will shift how we understand our own political and cultural landscape today.
|Professor Robert Adams
|Tuesday, 7:10–10:00 pm
In this course, we will consider the various fundamental and paradigmatic crises of values, belief, and knowledge reflected in and expressed by modern literature. The class will focus particularly on the ways in which the authors’ inventive uses of form and genre relate to the evolving concept of the individual self in relation to the social environment and intellectual history. Requirements include an in-class presentation, out-of-class essays, and a final exam.
TEXTS TO BE READ:
|Professor Carla María Thomas
|Tuesday, 4:00–6:50 pm
While this course is titled “History of the English Language,” it could be more accurately titled “The (Hi)Stories of Englishes” because there is no single English, and there never was. This course will trace the development of the various languages we lump into the single category of “English” from its emergence in England during the Old English period (c. 650-1150) to today’s global Englishes, ending with ASL, internet slang, and memes. The course will cover the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) and historical linguistics—what internal and external factors helped it evolve?—in the first half of the course with weekly quizzes and a midterm exam, but then it’ll shift to focus on sociolinguistics and students’ particular research interests in the second half of the semester with student-chosen readings (essays) and presentations that culminate in a final research paper. Students will understand how our mouths literally produce consonant and vowel sounds, why we pronounce words the way we do, the sponge-like quality that expands our vocabulary, our strange grammatical quandaries (like what’s up with our use of “do”), a basic understanding of some premodern Englishes, and much more! Our primary text for the first half of the semester will be K. Aaron Smith and Susan M. Kim’s This Language, A River, and then we’ll read Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English by John McWhorter for a bridge week after the midterm exam. The final half of the semester will include sociolinguistic essays based on student interest, some of which may derive from Haruko Momma and Michael Matto’s A Companion to the History of the English Language (not required, but recommended) and journal articles.
|Professor Ian MacDonald
|Wednesday, 7:10–10:00 pm
This course surveys science fiction by black authors from the Americas (including Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean) and Africa: a quickly expanding field of immense scholarly- and creative production. Addressing the intersections and distinctive ruptures between Afrofuturist—typically anchored in the U.S. and Europe—and African SF, the readings highlight the manner by which black techno-futures confront the context of race and conceive of the role of Africa as symbol and source in speculative landscapes. In addition to reading key theorists of black SF including Dewitt Douglas Kilgore, Isaiah Lavender, Sheryl Vint, Mark Dery, Andre Carrington, and Adilifu Nama, possible primary texts may include works by George Schuyler, Ishmael Reed, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnendi Okorafor, Buchi Emecheta, Kojo Laing, Octavia Butler, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Emmanuel Dongala, Karen Lord, Samuel Delaney, Malcolm Azania, Walter Mosley, N.K. Jemisin, and Deji Bryce Olukotun.
Concentration: Science Fiction/Fantasy
This course 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 we 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 is a required course for all incoming GTAs and recommended for all MA students pursuing a Rhetoric and Composition focus. Textbook is provided at no cost.