English Literature Graduate Course Descriptions

Spring 2018

English 508: Critical Studies in Film--Postpunk Shakespeares
Fran Connor
CRN 24764
MW 9:30-10:45

Some of the boldest Shakespearean performances of the past 40 years have occurred onscreen, as directors, emboldened by experimental theatrical productions of Shakespeare in the 1960s and 70s, broke away from established conventions of filmed Shakespeare, drawing from the visual, ideological, and intellectual resources of television, indie film, music video, punk culture, and literary theory, often in an attempt to imagine a more populist conception of Shakespeare. The adaptations we will look at (and plays we will read) will survey some recent approaches to Shakespeare's plays beginning in the late 1970s to the present; topics will hopefully include modern Shakespearean reinterpretations (Billy Morrissette’s Scotland PA, Gary Hardwick's Deliver Us From Eva); postmodern rewritings (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas’ Strange Brew, Gus Van Zant’s My Own Private Idaho); genre pastiches (Andrzej Bartkowiak's Romeo Must Die, William Reilly's Men of Respect); teen cinema (Tim Blake Nelson’s O, Gil Unger's 10 Things I Hate About You); and the ongoing perseverance of ‘heritage’ Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh's oeuvre, the BBC/PBS The Hollow Crown series.)

English 512: Studies in Fiction
Darren DeFrain
CRN 26188

English 665: History of the English Language
Mythili Menon
CRN 26189
T 4:30-6:50

This course takes students on a 1,500-year tour of the English language. The main goal of this course is to provide a thorough investigation of the processes in the historical development of languages and specifically of the English language from its Proto-Indo-European origins to its present use around the world. It includes an examination of both the historical and socio-cultural influences on the English language and we will identify changes in the various linguistic subsystems: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary. The methodology used in this course will also deal with historical corpus data. Finally, we will explore the rise of English as a global language and the influence of changing technologies and social structures on the English spoken today.  Prerequisite: ENGL/LING 315 or instructor's consent.

English 680: Theory and Practice in Composition
Carrie Dickison
CRN 23869
R 4:30-6:50

This course will introduce you 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 student 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 you experience reading challenging pedagogical and theoretical texts; posing complex and worthwhile questions about the teaching of writing; performing research and synthesizing your findings; drafting course materials for current or future writing classes; reading instructional texts critically; and responding effectively to student writing. Topics of discussion will include writing about difficult texts; using writing as a reading strategy; teaching sentence structure and grammar; and responding to and assessing student writing. This course is designed especially for prospective and practicing teachers; it may not be taken for credit by students with credit for ENGL 780.

English 705: Seminar in American Literature III-- African American Prose from the Harlem Renaissance to the Present
Jean Griffith
CRN 26190
M 4:30-6:50

This seminar in American literature from the twenties to the contemporary period will focus on the African American literary tradition, particularly the prose tradition. While in the nineteenth century, non-fiction--particularly autobiography and political writing--dominated the African American literary scene, more and more writers turned to fiction in the twentieth century, especially during and after the Harlem Renaissance. At the same time, many African American fiction writers also were or are accomplished essayists. Our class will explore the contexts which shaped and continue to shape African American literature as well as the conventions and thematic concerns that structure this body of work.  We will also take up the question that critic Kenneth Warren recently asked: does African American literature continue to make sense as a distinct tradition? We will read novels, short stories, and/or essays by Nella Larsen, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, William Kelley, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, Randall Kenan, Edward Jones, Edwidge Danticat, and Ta-nehisi Coats.

English 728: Seminar in Modern British Literature
T.J. Boynton
CRN 26191
R 4:30-6:50

During the early decades of the twentieth century, the movement known as modernism revolutionized the Western arts to a degree not seen since the Renaissance.  In response to a complex array of social changes to daily life in Europe and America derived from new technologies, mass political movements, a burgeoning popular culture, and two World Wars, as well as to other changes stemming from the increased colonization and, later, decolonization of the non-Western world, plastic and visual artists, composers, writers, and, soon, filmmakers began to devise new techniques and strategies for grappling with the disorientations of a newly complicated and interconnected world.  This course will focus on literary modernisms authored by British and Irish writers during the first half of the twentieth century and will use their work as a window into the movement’s larger relationship to these earth-shaking developments.  We will read poetry, fiction, and drama by British and Irish authors ranging from Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Mina Loy, Wyndham Lewis, and Jean Rhys, to James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, Flann O’Brien, and Samuel Beckett, and will situate their work among both broader modernist currents in the arts and recent scholarship in the field.  From Impressionism to Symbolism, Imagism, Vorticism, Futurism, Primitivism, and Expressionism to more specific strategies of feminist, anti-colonial, anti-war, and even fascist orientation, we will engage with some of the most significant literary works of the twentieth century and, in the process, broaden our horizons as readers, writers, and thinkers.

English 814: Graduate Studies in British and World literature before 1900—The Coming-of-Age Novel in the Nineteenth Century
Mary Waters
CRN 26192
W 4:30-6:50

The “coming-of-age” story has so captured readers’ imaginations that the Bildungsroman has become the most important and influential sub-genre in all of fiction, with examples in literature from all parts of the globe published even as recently as during the past few months.  Yet as a genre, the Bildungsroman originated in eighteenth-century Germany and came to maturity in nineteenth-century western Europe, particularly Great Britain.  We will explore concerns that characterize this genre while reading examples from Germany, Scotland, and England, representing both urban and rural versions.  They will include some of the best known and most loved novels in the history of western literature.  These are the novels that appear on graduate school reading lists, in the GREs, and as examples in major theoretical overviews including narrative theory and the history of fiction because they have set the standard and determined the shape of the Bildungsroman ever since they were first published. (Course can be used to satisfy the British literature before 1900 requirement.)

Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, ed. and trans. Eric A. Blackall, vol. 9 of Goethe: The Collected Works, Princeton UP, 1989, ISBN 978-0-691-0434-9
Waverley, by Walter Scott, ed. Peter Garside and Claire Lamont, Penguin Classics, 2012, ISBN 9780140436600
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, ed. Stevie Davies, Penguin Classics, 2006, ISBN 978-0-141-44114-6
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, ed. Charlotte Mitchell, David Trotter, Penguin Classics, 1996. ISBN 978-0-141-43956-3
The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot, ed. A. S. Byatt, Penguin Classics, 1979, ISBN 978-0-141-43962-4
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th edition: ISBN-13: 9781603292627).
Critical readings that will be available on blackboard or accessed directly from the library.