English Literature Graduate Course Descriptions

Spring 2017

English 508: Critical Studies in Film
Christopher Brooks
CRN 25882
MW 9:30-10:45am

Critical Studies in Film will instruct students how to assess films in a variety of critical methods. Selected films will feature critical ideologies that represent prominent schools of thinking, those methodologies used to understand human interaction and cultural values. Students will discuss how assigned films represent different modes of perception, including race, gender, and age. Class discussion will promote this exchange of ideas. Students will designate the last four films to be examined through a nomination process.

English 515: Studies in Shakespeare: Revenge!
Fran Connor
CRN 25883
TR 11:00-12:15

'No place indeede should murther sanctuarise, / Reuendge should haue no bounds.'
(Q2 Hamlet, 17.122-3)

Revenge tragedies of Shakespeare's time feature an individual who has suffered a horrible wrong, but who has no recourse to justice except to take matters into his own hands. This individual earns his revenge, often luridly, although his fatal decisions engender other deleterious consequences that result in a pile of bodies on the stage by the final scene, often including his own. These plays revel in the catharsis of the act of revenge even as they recognize that the individual's desire for revenge, though understandable and even admirable, is societally disruptive. William Shakespeare's most famous play (indeed, perhaps the most famous play in Western Culture), Hamlet, is an exemplar of this genre, and notions of revenge as imagined in this play and others of Shakespeare's time continue to inform contemporary popular culture. (Horror films, for example, quite often model themselves consciously or unconsciously on the tropes of early modern revenge tragedy.)

This course will examine revenge, and Shakespeare's Hamlet will be our centerpiece–we'll read two versions of it–along with his earliest revenge tragedy, Titus Andronicus. To put Shakespeare's ideas about revenge in perspective we will read plays that inspired Shakespeare (Seneca's Thyestes; Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy) and revenge tragedies from some of his contemporaries and followers (possibly including Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy, John Marston's Antonio's Revenge, and Cyril Tourneur's The Atheist’s Tragedy). We will also think about how Shakespearean notions of revenge continue to reverberate in our own time by considering film versions of some of the plays on our reading list and contemporary films for which revenge is a central thematic concern, such as Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

English 524: Restoration and 18th Century Literature
Christopher Brooks
CRN 25884
M 4:30-6:50

English 524 will introduce the student to the periods of literature often described as neoclassical and enlightenment works. With the political act of Restoration English society enters an “early-modern” period of thought. Women playwrights emerge, satire begins to dominate, and England becomes the subject—and target—of many literary modes. And through all this, the novel is born. English 524 will investigate the how the 1700s predict the 2000s.

English 680: Theory and Practice in Composition
Danielle Koupf
CRN 24602
R 4:30-6:50

This course introduces students to theories of rhetoric and writing, major research questions in 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 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, performing research, drafting course materials for current or future writing classes, reading instructional texts critically, and responding effectively to student writing. May not be taken for credit by students with credit in English 780.

English 703: Seminar in American Literature I—Early American Methodologies
Rebeccah Bechtold
CRN 25885
R 4:30-6:50

In Unsettled States: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies (2014), Dana Luciano and Ivy Wilson observe a “renewed vitality” in early American literary studies which they attribute to the increasing prevalence of “minoritarian” modes of inquiry (critical race and ethnic studies, feminist and gender studies, labor studies, disability studies, to name a few). The field’s embrace of varied methodologies certainly has encouraged a “kind of thinking that takes place across, between, and together.” Indeed scholars of early American literature are always “on the move,” looking for ways other disciplines and methodologies can benefit our field of study.

This seminar approaches the study of early American literature through this multidisciplinary framework. Over the course of the semester, the class will “roam the field,” working with several different methodological trends in American scholarship, from feminist theory to print culture studies. These critical traditions will become the foundation for our weekly discussions of major nineteenth century American authors—from the sentimental Maria S. Cummins to the salacious George Lippard. But beware: many of our authors are longwinded (!!), so expect a semi-heavy reading load.

English 713: Graduate Studies in Poetry—Contemporary Anglophone Poetry
T.J. Boynton
CRN 25886
W 4:30-6:50

Since the dissolution of the British Empire, which at its height during the early twentieth century extended to every inhabited continent and covered one quarter of the world’s surface, the English language has remained a major medium of creative expression for its former colonial subjects.  During the ensuing period from roughly the end of World War II to the present, “Anglophone” literatures authored by peoples formerly ensnared by Britain’s imperial tentacles have proved some of the most dynamic and vital in the world.  This course will examine these historical and literary developments by focusing specifically on major Anglophone poetry of the contemporary period (dating from roughly 1960) produced in former colonial territories such as Northern Ireland, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Guyana, Nigeria, and India.  It will spotlight poets such as Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Louise Bennett, Derek Walcott, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Grace Nichols, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Nissim Ezekiel, and A.K. Ramanujan, and will seek to trace amid their work: the legacies of British imperialism; the shaping influence of the British literary tradition; the common, yet diverse effort to move beyond the imperial inheritance to modes of cultural, national, and literary self-determination; and the interrelationships between these concerns and the complexities and possibilities of poetic form. This course meets the 20th/21st century studies requirement for MA students.

English 787: Writing and Invention
Danielle Koupf
CRN 25887
T 4:30-6:50

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 survey theories of invention as they are expressed in rhetorical theory, composition pedagogy, historical works, and literature. 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? Can invention be taught or prompted, and if so, which approaches are effective? Writing assignments will include a mix of critical, creative, researched, and pedagogical pieces. This course welcomes students with interests in composition, pedagogy, literature, and/or creative writing.