Spring 2013 Graduate Course Descriptions


AML 5505: Literature of the American Revolution
Professor Blakemore

This course entails close analytical readings of the seminal texts of the American Revolution – from the Declaration of Independence (1776) to the postrevolutionary retrospect of Washington Irving's "Rip van Winkle" (1820), a period of time comprising a variety of genres as well as the foundational political and literary documents of the nation.

To understand this literature, the historical, political, and cultural contexts will be provided, and the intertextual dialogue of the central adversaries will be highlighted. Thus, while the emphasis will be on the pro-revolutionary Patriot perspectives – the anti-revolutionary Loyalist perspectives will also be included in a discussion of and a meditation on the literary significance of the Revolution then and now.

Course work includes weekly written responses to an assigned text, two in-class exams, and a 20-page paper.

[This course counts within the area of specialization, pre-1900, of the American Literature concentration.]  

ENC 6930: Rhetorics of Incarceration: Writing Identities
Professor Hinshaw

In this class we will analyze writing by and about prisoners, with a particular focus on women's prison writing.  We will consider genres including autobiography, fiction, poetry, documentary photography and film, and various modes of visual art, and have the opportunity to compose creative as well as critical/analytical writing.  We will also correspond regularly with a group of incarcerated women in a writing group at Homestead Corrections Facility, with the help of a local prison arts organization ArtSpring.  Our class will have the opportunity to exchange writing with the writing group in order to offer and receive feedback on creative writing.  We will also engage in ongoing dialogue with the writing group about the class readings as well as our identities as writers, and how our experiences and institutional contexts shape these identities.

[This course counts within the area of specialization of the Rhetoric and Composition concentration of the MA, and as a Pedagogy Course within the MAT.] 

ENG 5018: Literary Criticism I
Professor Martin 

ENL 6455: Homoeroticism and Crossdressing in the Literature of the English Renaissance
Professor Low

Studies of identity have taken on new life under the spotlight of performance studies, where bodies tend to serve as the primary means of representation. In this course we'll examine the depiction of Renaissance cross-dressing and homoeroticism in order to gain a better understanding of literary expressions of both same-sex and opposite-sex desire. We'll be reading drama for about half the course, and a mixture of poetry, prose, and gender theory for the remainder. Placing our primary texts within the context of Renaissance and early modern beliefs about erotic love and the relations between the sexes, we will consider a series of questions both conceptual and historical. How did literary conventions such as Petrarchism, pastoralism, and classical friendship affect the depiction of same-sex desire?  How did the use of boy actors to represent female characters affect the erotic dynamics on the Renaissance stage?  What interests prompted writers to depict same-sex desire as they did?  How was eroticism used to cloak anxiety about social mobility and other changes in society?  What did the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries owe to the ancient Greeks in their literary conceptions, and what representations of love were affected by changes in England's economic structure?  How can we navigate our desire to see lyric poetry as expressions of the writer's own feelings?

[This course counts within the area of specialization, pre-1800, of the British Literature concentration.] 

LIN 6107: History of the English Language
Professor Leeds

LIT 5009: Literary Genres and Themes: Strangers/Exiles in Modern Literature 
Professor Ulin 

"The stranger's unredeemable sin is, therefore, the incompatibility between his presence and other presences, fundamental to the world order; his simultaneous assault on several crucial oppositions instrumental in the incessant effort of ordering. It is this sin which throughout modern history rebounds in the constitution of the stranger as the bearer and embodiment of incongruity; indeed, the stranger is a person afflicted with incurable sickness of multiple incongruity. The stranger is, for this reason, the bane of modernity." — Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and Ambivalence

This course will focus on representations of the stranger in works by Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Samuel Beckett and Vladimir Nabokov alongside critical work by Zygmunt Bauman, Yi Fu Tuan, Georg Simmel, Homi Bhabha and Edward Said. Works include A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, A Moveable Feast, Absalom, Absalom!, "Krapp's Last Tape," and Pale Fire.

[This course counts within the area of specialization of the British and American Literature concentrations.]

LIT 6105: The Autobiographical Mode in 20th Century Literature
Professor Adams

In this course we will focus on 20th century English language fiction and poetry that is particularly and overtly autobiographical in nature.  In looking at the ways in which these authors transform their life into literature, we will consider philosophical, political, and psychological issues regarding the relationship between identity and experience, and self and world.  We will pay particular attention to the relationship between content and form in this literature, involving an ongoing discussion of genre, as we consider the creative strategies by which these authors attempt to give shape to and make meaning of their life experience.  Coursework will include classroom presentations on the autobiographies of these authors, on crucial criticism of their work, and on pertinent genre theory texts.   Authors read will include, among others, James Merrill, Louise Glück, Penelope Fitzgerald, Jane Bowles, Christopher Isherwood, and Somerset Maugham.

[This course counts within the area of specialization of the British and American Literature concentrations.]

LIT 6105: The Nobel Prize in Postcolonial Context
Professor Dalleo

Of the nine English-language writers to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in the past 30 years, seven have come from countries other than England and the United States. We'll examine the shift from English literature to literature in English by focusing on three Nobel Prize-winning authors from Africa and the Caribbean: J.M. Coetzee, V.S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott. Looking at the work of these writers and how it has been received will allow us to think through some of the fundamental debates about contemporary world literature. The two sets of related questions we will explore will include on the one hand, how literary prize culture impacts writers and the reception of their work; and on the other hand, the relationship between writers and their places of origin. Why some voices are heard and rewarded rather than others? Who speaks for the nation? How do we read literature from cultures other than our own?

[This course counts wihtin the area of specialization of the Multicultural and World Literature concentration or an "out of area" course for the other MA concentrations]

LIT 6318: Theorizing Science Fiction/Fantasy
Professor McGuirk

 [This course counts within the area of specialization of the Science Fiction and Fantasy concentration.]

LIT 6934: Caribbean Historical Fiction
Professor Machado

This course focuses on the genre of historical fiction within contemporary Caribbean literature. Generally speaking, historical fiction seeks to explicitly represent a historical time period, perhaps dealing with particular historical events or figures. Caribbean writers often employ the genre to either challenge dominant narratives of a historical event, for example the Cuban or Grenadian Revolutions, or to recover marginalized historical figures by depicting them as central agents of historical change, like those of Mary Ellen Pleasant and Camila Henríquez Ureña. The course will engage with questions about literary form and historiography, for instance, how the feminist revisionism in Michelle Cliff's and Julia Alvarez's novels translates into a pedagogical approach to teaching the reader about history, how Dionne Brand and Ana Menéndez deploy elements of romance and testimonio, and how Junot Díaz and Edwidge Danticat historicize the relationship between the Caribbean nation and diaspora. The class places creative writers in dialogue with theorists of historical fiction and Caribbean studies, thereby teaching various theoretical approaches and encouraging students to engage in debates regarding the interpretation of the course texts. By reading the work of critics such as Linda Hutcheon, David Scott and Santiago Juan-Navarro, students acquire the critical vocabulary needed to analyze Caribbean historical fiction.The assignments for the course will be geared towards providing writing models and building research skills for graduate work in general and the project of the MA thesis more specifically.