Spring 2015 English Department Graduate Course Descriptions

ENGL 503 – American Literature I
CRN 25737
Rebeccah Bechtold

In his 1850 review of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville proclaims, “Let America…prize and cherish her writers, yea, let her glorify them” for “men not very much inferior to Shakespeare, are this day being born on the banks of Ohio.” Nearly one hundred years later, F.O. Matthiessen’s American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman would argue for a similar (re)birth, locating in the writing of mid-nineteenth century authors Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Walt Whitman a mature and distinctly American literary aesthetic. What followed Matthiessen’s work was the development of an early American canon commonly taught under the rubric of “American Romanticism.” Yet this canon—the authors, texts, and historical moments it privileges—neither represents the “Renaissance” of American literature nor fully embodies the “America” of the antebellum period.  Using Matthiessen’s monolithic and mythic “American Renaissance” as a framework, this course charts the narratives and counter-narratives that reinforce and challenge this supposed birth of an American art. In addition to reading the authors Matthiessen privileges, we will be attending to the prose and poetry of the authors he doesn’t: Edgar Allan Poe, Sara Payson Willis Parton, Harriet Jacobs, Louisa May Alcott, and Emily Dickinson.

ENGL 536 – Writing by Women
CRN 26174
C. Okafor

This class explores various themes in critical approaches to literature composed by women writers, especially those whose works have been underrepresented in the literary canon.

ENGL 580Z – Old English Language and Literature
CRN 25780
Bill Woods

This is an introductory course in the language, literature and culture of the people who came from what is now north Germany and Scandinavia between the 5th and 11th centuries, fighting, then farming and trading, to create what slowly became the Anglisc (English) nation.  We will read their heroic battle poetry and the justly famous elegies they wrote, as well as a selection of the religious (Christian) poetry, chronicles, letters, riddles and charms, leaving sufficient time for a thorough study of the great epic poem they produced, Beowulf.  At first we will read these works in translation, but as our study of Old English progresses, we will give increasing attention to the original text. 

Alexander, Michael.  A History of Old English Literature.  Broadview Press, 2002.
Crichton, Michael.  Eaters of the Dead.  Harper-Collins, 2009.
Donaldson, E.T., trans.  Beowulf: A Prose Translation.  2nd Edition.  Norton, 2002.
George, Jodi-Anne,  Beowulf: A Reader’s Guide to Essential Criticism.  Palgrave-Macmillan,
Henson, Donald.  A Guide to Late Anglo-Saxon England.  Anglo-Saxon Books, 1998.
Mitchell, Bruce and Fred C. Robinson.  A Guide to Old English.  8th Edition.  Wiley-Blackwell,
Pollington, Stephen.  First Steps in Old English.  Revised edition.  Anglo-Saxon Books, 2004.
Raffel, Burton, trans.  Poems and Prose from the Old English.  Yale University Press, 1998.
Tacitus.  The Agricola and the Germania.  Revised edition.  Penguin, 2010.

ENGL 680 – Theory and Practice in Composition
CRN 25772
Danielle Koupf

This course introduces students to theories of rhetoric and writing, major research questions in the field of composition studies, and best practices for teaching writing in schools and colleges. We will investigate writing processes, analyze varieties and examples of school writing, and hone our own writing skills by drafting, revising, and evaluating our own and others’ work. As we read significant publications in the field, we will continually consider the relationship between theory and classroom practice. Assignments will give students experience reading challenging pedagogical and theoretical texts; posing complex and worthwhile questions about the teaching of writing; performing research; drafting course materials for current or future writing classes; reading instructional texts critically; and responding effectively to student writing.

ENGL 713 – Graduate Studies in Poetry: Paradise Lost and Its Romantic Heirs
CRN 25773
Mary Waters

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, John Milton’s Paradise Lost struck many readers as obscure and alien, but by the Romantic period, it had risen to the apex of the newly-formed British literary canon.  Even more than Shakespeare, Milton was the literary predecessor that British poets felt they had to meet head on.  This course will spend several weeks reading Paradise Lost in its entirety, then read a number of works by canonical and non-canonical British poets who directly engage Milton’s legacy in their work.  Poetic readings will be supplemented with literary theory and criticism, both contemporary and current.  In addition to familiarizing students with some of the social, cultural, and historical issues that shape the literature, we will seek to broaden students’ familiarity with some of the language, issues, terms, and theory used in the study and analysis of verse.

Where appropriate and with program coordinator approval, this class may be used as a special topics course, a genre course, or a British literature before 1900 course.

ENGL 728 – Seminar in Modern British Literature: Britsh Modernism, Gender, and World War I
CRN 25774
T.J. Boynton

World War I, or “The Great War,” was an earth-shattering experience for the British.  Its extreme toll on the nation’s population, resources, and self-image permanently altered its historical and social course, so much so that its impact is still the object of annual commemoration a hundred years later.  The War also permanently changed the course of British literature.  In the effort to describe, comprehend, and manage its trauma, British authors of the teens and twenties invented new, sometimes bewildering aesthetic strategies and forms.  This course will trace the impact of The Great War on British history with particular attention to the aesthetic movement known as Modernism and the social/identity category of gender.  The War exerted a transformative influence on British gender ideals as profound as its influence on British literature; indeed, many of the innovations that defined the latter derived from attempts to understand and portray the former.  We will examine a diverse range of texts that address the War’s transformation of prevailing gender norms, from the poetry of male combatants such as Wilfred Owen and Siegried Sassoon (and non-combatants such as T.S. Eliot) to the postwar fiction of female writers such as Virginia Woolf and Mary Butts and the Booker Prize-winning “recovery” fiction of contemporary author Pat Barker.  We will also examine the major scholarship on the subject in order to facilitate our engagement with this dynamic area of literary-critical inquiry. 

ENGL 860AC – Writing and Invention
CRN 26456
Danielle Koupf

Invention is a term with many meanings, and in this course, we will consider it as a canon of rhetoric, a stage in the writing process, and a product of thinking, writing, or making. We will read a mix of rhetorical theory, scholarship on composition pedagogy and theory, historical perspectives, and works addressing literature and creative writing. With our readings and accompanying writing assignments, we will pursue questions such as: Does invention entail discovering something that already exists or creating something new? Can an invention be “new” if it is composed of preexisting materials? How is invention related to originality and creativity? Is it a collaborative or individual, external or internal pursuit? Can invention be taught or prompted, and if so, which approaches are effective? This course welcomes students with interests in composition, pedagogy, literature, and/or creative writing.