English & Philosophy
English 5000: Introduction to Graduate Study in Language and Literature
|This course is designed to introduce students to research techniques, writing modes, and critical approaches to literature necessary for graduate-level study in literature. Throughout the course, students will study various scholarly methodologies (historical and contemporary) and literary terminologies and explore their applications to literary texts. Furthermore, students will learn how to use the resources available in the library to conduct graduate-level research. Finally, we will also address how to incorporate research into an essay by reviewing the use of secondary sources and principles of documentation (MLA format). The goal of this course is to provide a background in literary study so that students will be able to formulate original research questions, apply appropriate technologies, and incorporate their results into formal oral and written presentations. Students will learn how to form their own interpretations of literary texts, situate their analysis within a critical/theoretical framework, and effectively communicate their findings in a graduate-level research paper.|
Upcoming Graduate Seminars
English 5210: Shakespeare and Romance
In the introduction to the First Folio, Ben Jonson observes that Shakespeare is not of "an age" but for "all time." Such statements, however valid, emphasize the universality of Shakespeare, while de-emphasizing the playwright's connectedness and relationship to the social and historical processes of his "time." Although the "timelessness" of Shakespeare's texts persists, more recent criticism (New Historicism, Feminist) has sought to stress the social and political context of Shakespeare's writings, thereby showing the ways in which the playwright interacts with and is shaped by society. One important critical method, which seeks to situate Shakespeare within the historical reality of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, is genre criticism. By examining how Shakespeare appropriates and transforms diverse genres in his plays, we can explore how the playwright responds to important issues of the era, such as gender, race, death, and marriage. Often Shakespeare's four late plays - Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest - are referred to as dramatic "romances." Accordingly, this course will address how Shakespeare adopts and transforms the genre of romance in his later plays by positioning Shakespearean romance within the framework of the Renaissance romance tradition. We will study the late plays in connection with Sir Philip Sydney's prose romance, the New Arcadia, and in connection with Edmund Spenser's Fairie Queene.
English 5220: Literature of the Modern American West
This course will focus on literature of the 20th-century American West and will be divided into four interlocking parts: mainstream, Native American, Chicano/a, and memoirs. This course will examine the multiples literary voices of the modern American West. A major part of this course will deal with the fiction of recognized - what might be called mainstream - writers who use the West as an integral part of their work. We might read novels that use the stereotypes of the West in a significant way, such as Walter Tilburg Clark’s The 0xbow Incident or A.B. Guthrie's The Big Sky, and look at Jack Schaefer's Shane as a point of contrast. We will read the writings of some Native Americans to examine how their voices merge with and modify the other views of the West. We will study Chicano/a literature and look at such issues as ethnicity, the world of the immigrant, and the implications of a dual-language world. Finally, students will read some of the important memoirs that are distinctly Western. This course will include a strong ethnic component and will fulfill the requirement for that area.
Current Graduate Seminars
English 5210: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama
This course examines major trends in English drama from the reopening of theaters in 1660 through the eighteenth century. We will distinguish the aims of comedy from those of tragedy and look at the ways in which Restoration expectations for each genre differ from those of previous and subsequent periods. Comedies of manners, comedies of intrigue, heroic tragedies, and sentimental comedies are some of the sub-genres for which we will examine standard plot lines, stock characters, and other audience expectations. Confronting conventions that may seem strange or inaccessible to twentieth-century readers and audiences, we will aim to suggest some connections between the aesthetics and the cultural values of the period. The emphasis will be divided between reading the plays as written texts and researching the stage histories in order to imagine them as performances. Students will use reference works like The London Stage to find information about various productions, while critical and historical articles will further our understanding of what it was like to go to the theater during this period. In addition, we will consider the challenge of attempting to stage these works for twentieth-century audiences.
English 5220: Hawthorne and that "D----d Mob of Scribbling
This course examines eight novels from the period we sometimes refer to as the American Renaissance. Four were written by the figure who emerges from that era as this country's first canonical novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne; and four were authored by female writers whose work is only now being studied as rigorously as Hawthorne's has been for more than a century. That distinction, as evidenced by the different receptions our five novelists have received among various publics and successive critical communities, comprises one means by which our class will be conducted: as an inquiry into what counts as art, as well as an investigation of why and how novels are consumed. More specifically, we will be examining how these books work, in terms of what happens on the page, how they inhabit the possible forms of the genre, and how they illuminate, constitute, and contest various conceptions of what it means to be an individual, how individuals are connected, and how they operate as historical creatures.
Recent Graduate Seminars
English 5210: Visual/Verbal: Romanticism and the Sister Arts
Throughout the eighteenth century, the concept of the sisterhood of the arts of painting and poetry was a critical aesthetic principle because the doctrine of ut poesis pictura tied these two arts closely together. During the Romantic period, this relationship persisted and was further complicated by what James Heffernan calls the "triangulation of the arts," as painting, poetry, and landscape gardening all cooperated and competed to "define the cultural phenomenon of landscape." This interconnection became increasingly vexed as painting and poetry each vied to become the preeminent means of representation. This course will analyze this complicated relationship between Romantic-era poetry and painting. On the level of close reading, we will pay special attention to aesthetic theory and to the strategies we use to “read” visual images and verbal texts, especially in regard to the ways in which they foreground either spatiality or temporality. Furthermore, we will investigate the materiality of the very different production and distribution methods of these arts and how these differences signify their cultural role in early nineteenth-century British society. As we explore how these sisters arts influenced and interacted with one another, we will also analyze the social and ideological agendas they mediated as they represented to the British nation images of itself. Finally, we will consider how such interdisciplinary study helps us re-think our ideas about British Romantic literature as well as our notions about the practices of literary study in general.
English 5210: British Drama
The course is a survey of British Drama from the introduction of Realism
in the late nineteenth century to the present. Although playwrights are
included because of their intrinsic interest, many are also representative
of important modes, groups, or schools of drama, such as Irish playwrights,
the Angry Young Men, the Theatre of the Absurd, and the Brechtians. The
authors tend to fall into two broad traditions: on the one hand, the
politically engaged (often leftist) drama starting with Shaw and extending
through O'Casey, Osborne, Arden, Bond, Hare, and Churchill and on the
other hand, the more apolitical drama starting with Wilde and extending
through Synge, Beckett, Pinter, Storey, and Stoppard. The course gives
brief attention to the historical milieu and the influence of particular
developments such as the establishment of the Abbey Theatre or the passage
of postwar legislature underwriting dramatic productions. It also focuses
on Modernism and Postmodernism as intellectual movements.
This course is a survey of the decade of artistic production known as the "Harlem Renaissance" or the "New Negro Renaissance," or alternatively as the "Jazz Age" -from roughly 1917 to 1935- that explores the controversies of racial representation and identification in the context of American national literature. The Harlem Renaissance, also sometimes called the New Negro Movement, refers generally to an important artistic and sociocultural moment in African American history during which African American writers, musicians, and artists in the 1920s and early-1930s produced a body of work remarkable for its breadth and complexity of themes. We will address key interactions on the subject between and among black and white artists of the period, treating their fiction, poetry, and essays. Our exploration will focus on literary discourses of race and identity through the issues of race, racism, racialism; cultural nationalism and national culture; modernist aesthetics and modern black aesthetics. Visual art, music, and film will accompany the introduction of texts. Interdisciplinary in nature, this course will focus on literary texts considered within the contexts of history, sociology, politics, autobiography, music, and the visual arts. Through the readings, we will explore the genesis and meaning of this exciting moment in American cultural history, attempting to come to a deeper understanding of what the Harlem Renaissance was all about.
English 5230: Graduate Seminar in Postcolonial Literature
This seminar will explore the emergence of postcolonial literature as a literary genre. We will begin by looking at Chinua Achebe’s landmark novel Things Fall Apart, then move on the large body of texts dealing with feminist issues, and finally we will examine the current direction of the postcolonial novel as a third generation of postcolonial writers make their voices heard. As we examine these novels, we will explore the large body of postcolonial criticism that attempts to define the postcolonial dilemma. In looking at some familiar texts as well as some lesser known ones, we may begin to question the dynamics of colonialism and imperialism and their roles in contemporary culture.
English 5210: Literature and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
This course will examine the interaction of science and literature, with the focus on the Theory of Evolution as it was proposed by a number of nineteenth-century scientists, including Charles Darwin. The course will be concerned with the effects of these theories on the thinkers of the age, as expressed in its literature, both negatively and positively. The aim will be to show the interconnections between these seemingly disparate disciplines, and the implications of such important scientific advances for writers and scholars. Thus, it will naturally include some discussion of related concerns, such as religious faith, concepts of morality, economic theory, etc.
English 5220: A Laughing Matter: Graduate Seminar in American Humor
This seminar will investigate the breadth and depth of American literary humor from the eighteenth century to the present day. We will use as our foundation the archetypes listed by Constance O'Rourke in her essential work of criticism, American Humor. During the course of our studies, we will look at a variety of important subgenres of humor, from tall tales and blackface theater of the nineteenth-century to recent important works of cultural and political satire. Obviously, part of the joy of studies in American humor is laughter, but we will focus upon the development of a critical eye to uncover the mechanisms of the funny story and the importance of humor as a cultural force. In other words, what we find funny says a lot about us. With that in mind, we will devote time to the historical contexts of the readings. Humor does not exist in a vacuum. Authors for the course will include Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and Dorothy Parker, among others.