Graduate Course Offerings
|Professor Adam Bradford
In an 1888 memoir entitled "A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads," Walt Whitman – America's bard – recounted the creation of his now seminal work of American poetry, "Leaves of Grass," stating "I saw, from the time my enterprise and questionings positively shaped themselves (how best can I express my own distinctive era and surroundings, America, Democracy?) that the trunk and centre whence the answer was to radiate, and to which all should return from straying however far a distance, must be an identical body and soul, a personality—which…after many considerations and ponderings I deliberately settled should be myself—indeed could not be any other." In this class, we will take up Whitman's invitation to see his work as a window through which we can come to a better understanding of self, place, and time – and of the way that these things are not only mutually constitutive, but literarily mediated. Employing a history of the book approach, this course will focus not only on the literary, aesthetic and philosophical value of Whitman's writings but also on the cultural assumptions and attitudes that gave rise to their creation, dissemination, and reception. Since this course will focus on the materiality of texts and their circulation in a sphere of both literary and material objects, it will also familiarize students with what Bill Brown has coined "thing theory" and introduce them to material culture studies. Thus, students will emerge from this course with a better understanding of Whitman's body of work and of Nineteenth-Century American literature and culture more broadly – not to mention a foundation upon which to understand the profound influence he has had on a wide swath of writers both American and otherwise: from Bram Stoker and Pablo Neruda, to Langston Hughes and Sherman Alexie. Finally, students will have the opportunity to use digital and analog archives to conduct research on primary materials of the period (including periodicals, books, and other relevant cultural objects).
|Professor Lisa Swanstrom
This graduate seminar will consider a diverse selection of philosophy, literary criticism, ecocriticism, and critical theory in order to explore the ways that science fiction, from the inception of the genre to the present day, participates in the cultural construction of nature and environment.
|Professor Sika Dagbovie-Mullins
This course will explore contemporary texts and film that revisit and/or reimagine antebellum slavery. We will explore diverse representations of the slave experience in speculative fiction, historical fiction, satire, a graphic novel, and film. Along the way, we will unpack the literary, theoretical and cultural meanings of the term "neo-slave narrative," examining the racial, class, gender, and sexual politics that writers and filmmakers explore. Questions that will frame our discussions include: What does it mean to narrate or visualize slavery? What compels writers, artists, and filmmakers to revisit and/or reappropriate the slave narrative? How do writers use the past to confront issues of the present? How do cultural memories of slavery affect black subjectivity?
|Professor Jeff Galin
Visual Literacy is a course for all tracks because it will be both creative and analytical. The course is designed to examine visual literacy/rhetoric in literature, writing, and cultural media and to use visual texts to analyze and apply frameworks for thinking about social issues. It will be a project-based course with readings. Short projects will offer analyses of photos, advertisements, and websites reading them rhetorically for issues such as race, gender, and politics. A final substantial project will allow you to explore a topic of your own interest that emphasizes social action within a specific cultural context—think of political, culture, or humanitarian relief argument built with visual representations. The work of Sharon Daniel and others will serve as starting places for discussions of these projects. Projects may be eligible to participate in the curated exhibit that will be hosted by FAU in Spring 2017. The goal of the class will be to help support you to produce new and original work or contribute to work you are already doing. Everyone who knows they are interested in in using visual texts in their work should consider taking this course.
|Professor Faith Smith
This course examines the exploration of freedom in novels published since the late 1990s that are set in the period of slavery and indentureship. We will read them alongside Thomas Thistlewood's 18th-century record of plantation life; and theorizations of resistance and agency in the 1960s (Orlando Patterson's historical sociology and fiction, and Kamau Brathwaite's historiography and literary criticism), death and violence (Vincent Brown, Saidiya Hartman, Deborah Thomas), kinship and the family romance (Doris Garraway, Hortense Spillers, Jenny Sharpe, Christina Sharpe, Gayatri Gopinath), and same-sex intimacy and the Caribbean nation-state (Rosamund King, M. Jacqui Alexander, Vanessa Agard-Jones). Recent discussions of the legal claims for compensation made by British citizens in the wake of the 1833 Act of Emancipation will allow us to think about the archives, as well as the ongoing task of identifying the "subjects" and the "price" of emancipation. What might it tell us about conceptions of freedom in our present, when the British Prime Minister's September 2015 visit to the Caribbean was marked by protests against same-sex marriage, in favor of reparations, and against the British government's proposal to build a prison? How might these be understood as representing different ways of conceptualizing freedom, and how might the three protests be connected to each other? Though you will be invited to make connections with narratives of slavery in the USA and elsewhere, your major paper should attend principally to the Caribbean. In this class you will become familiar with discussions of slavery and indenture, colonialism and the postcolonial, in Caribbean fiction and nonfiction; develop a repertoire for discussing the slave narrative, tragedy, romance, and the "antiromance"; weigh the pros and cons of interdisciplinary inquiry; practice writing forcefully and imaginatively.
|Professor Tom Martin
Literary critical theory from Plato to the 18th century.
|Professor Dan Murtaugh
This is a course in historical linguistics which charts the internal and external history of English. In mastering the internal history of English, you will learn how language works and changes in ways that we are mostly unaware of, involving the basic categories of phonology, morphology, and syntax. In mastering its external history, you will learn how language changes with the movements of and contacts between peoples, principally affecting lexis (or vocabulary) and semantics, in ways that the language community is more consciously aware of. Attention will be paid to the insights that a historical awareness of English can give to the reading of older literary texts.