English Literature Graduate Course Descriptions

Spring 2016

English 503—American Literature I: Affective States
CRN 25974
Rebeccah Bechtold

Walt Whitman sings the “body electric,” Herman Melville appreciates the masculine “squeeze of the hand,” and Edgar Allan Poe finds the death of a “beautiful woman” to be the “most poetical topic in the world.” This English 503 course wants to know why. An introduction to the major fiction, poetry, and nonfiction prose of the early American period (1780s-1860s), this class features the literature of some of our American “greats” and the affective states (love! lust! disgust!) that inspired them, turning to the critical perspectives—legal, scientific, and religious discourses—that informed their works. 

Where appropriate and with program coordinator approval, this class may be used as a special topics course.

English 512—Studies in Fiction: The Novel
CRN 25975
Darren Defrain

This course will explore the roots of the novel, introduce narratology and narratological readings of the novel, as well as various genres, histories, and approaches “novelty” in the form.

English 680—Theory and Practice in Composition
CRN 25980
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. Designed especially for prospective and practicing teachers; may not be taken for credit by students with credit in English 780.

English 712—Graduate Studies in Fiction
CRN 25981
Chris Brooks

This offering of English 712 will trace the evolution of the early British novel and forms that pre-date and predict the novel. Critical debate proclaims that Defoe perhaps, or maybe Richardson, authored the first novel, while other critical assessments deny the coherence of Defoe's work or the depth of Richardson's. Since the novel was new at this time, its conventions had yet to be established and its practitioners were making rules as they wrote. What we read today owes a great deal to the early artists, some of whom deserve a re-evaluation. This course will offer that reassessment.

Where appropriate and with program coordinator approval, this class may be used to fulfill the pre-1900 British requirement.

English 730—Seminar in Victorian Literature: Bourgeois Marriage in the Victorian Novel
CRN 25982
Mary Waters

As Victorian England envisioned the middle class home as a refuge from the harsh public world of politics and business, ideals of womanly virtue came to define the perfect marriage that formed the core of domestic happiness.  Yet the novels of the day often offered depictions not of marital bliss with an “angel of the house,” but rather of mundane dissatisfaction or even worse.  We will read four major Victorian novels, particularly attending to questions about the formation of gender ideals and their effects on middle-class marriage, private virtue, and domestic happiness. 

Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters (Penguin Classics, 9780140434781)
George Eliot, Middlemarch (Penguin Classics, 9780141439549)
Charles Dickens, Bleak House (Penguin Classics, 9780140434965)
Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (Penguin Classics 9780140435382)
The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.   

English 733—Seminar in Contemporary Literature
CRN 25983
Jean Griffith

This course in contemporary literature will focus on magical realism in the Americas. By examining works of fiction and film, we will explore why and to what extent magical realism, blending the fantastic and the mundane, is particularly associated with explorations of beliefs and worldviews that have been marginalized and misunderstood by traditional Western cultures. In our discussions, we will consider what the implications are of associating the magical with the marginal, and how the definition of the real—the non-magical, if you will—itself becomes contested terrain in the hands of many practitioners of magical realism. We will also discuss some recent examples of transnational approaches to American studies to determine what relationships exist between magical realism and postmodernism, postcolonialism, and other recent trends in cultural studies.

Alejo Carpentier, The Kingdom of This World (Spanish/Cuban/Haitian)
Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits (Chilean)
Louise Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse (Ojibwe/Native American)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (Columbian)
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (American)
Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion (Canadian-Sri Lankan)
Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water (Native American/Canadian)
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Dominican American)

Alfonso Arau, Como Agua para Chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate (Mexican)
Tim Burton, Big Fish (American)
Ang Lee, Life of Pi (American)
Guillermo del Toro, El Laberinto del Fauno/Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexican)
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild (American)