Below are the courses being offered this term in the English graduate program.
Dr. Michael Berthold
Mon., 5:20 – 7:20
“‘Tis so appalling - it exhilarates” ~ Emily Dickinson
This course will survey American literature’s abiding fascination with the horrifying, the mysterious, and the uncanny and will examine a variety of texts from the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries. We will consider how the Gothic tradition is Americanized, how it has evolved, and how it continues to be pertinent for contemporary American culture. Primary readings for the course include works by Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Octavia Butler, Anne Rice, Stephen King and others. Critical readings include works by Freud, Kristeva, Edmundson, and some consideration will be given to Gothic film. Students will be expected to lead one of the class discussions and to generate a sustained, original research paper on some aspect of the Gothic.
Dr. Kamran Javadizadeh
Tues., 5:20 - 7:20
What is Poetry?
“I, too, dislike it.” That is how Marianne Moore begins “Poetry,” a poem that then attempts to define the thing it claims to dislike—a distaste that it assumes (“I, too, dislike it”) you share.
This course will, in some sense, follow Moore’s strategy: We’ll begin by confronting our resistance to poetry head-on, asking where such a distaste comes from, and then teasing out the implicit understandings (of poetry, language, our selves) that activate these forms of skepticism. Is there something called “poetic language” that is fundamentally different from “ordinary language”? Where does the idea that poetry, more than any other form of literature, is centrally concerned with (and representative of) consciousness come from? What kinds of poetry does such an idea allow, and what kinds of poetry does it marginalize or obscure? These are some of the questions that will animate our discussions.
We’ll pursue these questions by reading a wide variety of poems (by poets like Stevens, Ashbery, and Rankine), of course, but we’ll also see what poets themselves have had to say by looking at selections from the private letters of Keats, Dickinson, and Bishop. Finally, throughout the course we’ll explore the most influential critical and theoretical discussions of these topics, where our goal will be to put formalist and historicist approaches into conversation with each other.
Assignments for the course will include one shorter and one longer critical essay as well as periodic and less formal written and oral exercises..
Dr. Alice Dailey
Wed., 5:20 - 7:20
Revenger, Murderers, and Malcontents in Renaissance Tragedy
One of the more dominant features of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drama is its preoccupation with spectacular acts of murder and revenge and with the psychological, social, familial, and political circumstances that motivate and justify violence. This course will consider both the stylistic and formal traditions of revengedrama and the genre’s place within the framework of Renaissance debates about concepts of revenge, justice, honor, gender, family, and individuality. We will consider how various playwrights make use of a shared vocabulary of revengetragedy conventions that include ghostly appearances, supernatural intervention, madness (real and feigned), language of horror and darkness, plays-within-plays, necrophilia, and counter-revenge. And we will think about how these plays respond to and build upon each other. Our study will include the period’s seminal revengetragedies, Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet; tragedies that blend revenge elements with political intrigue, such as Macbeth and Beaumont and Fletcher’s The Maid’s Tragedy; as well as so-called “sex tragedies” focused on forbidden desire and jealousy, like Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Middleton’s The Changeling, and Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Coursework includes a presentation, annotated bibliography, and seminar paper.
Dr. Travis Foster
Introduction to Nineteenth-Century American Studies
The aim of this course is at once ambitious and straightforward: to introduce graduate students to a range of methods, theories, and cases that represent the field of nineteenth-century American studies. We’ll do so by undertaking two overlapping projects. First, we’ll explore six keywords that organize questions and theoretical frameworks that scholars frequently bring to nineteenth-century American literature and culture (slavery, secularism, colonialism, time, liberalism, and empire). Meanwhile, we’ll interrogate these keywords through slow and careful study of three nineteenth-century novels (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin , Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick , and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s Iola Leroy ). Our aim will be to balance breadth and depth, so that students leave the semester with a general overview as well a set of subtle insights and the ability to conduct sophisticated research on a nineteenth-century American topic.
This is a three-credit independent study in which students identify one or a cluster of jobs or professions in which an advanced degree in literature is of benefit. In the course of the semester, students will research the career options of interest, identifying one or two fields as the focus of their work. They must generate a research paper that explores the history and future prospects of the field of interest, as well as current information about the requirements of the work, geographical information about centers of activity for the profession, and desirable employers. This research should include at least two meetings with professionals who work in the field. The paper must also analyze how advanced study of literature serves to enhance the students' desirability in the profession in question. As part of their final project, students must develop a cover letter outlining the ways their particular training makes them suitable to work in this field. Students will make their research available to other students in the program by uploading their final project onto a special section of the Graduate English Program blog. Potential fields of research include the following:
Entertainment industry work
Rare book broker
Option for second-year graduate students to serve as intern for graduate faculty member in upper-level undergraduate English course. Interns will attend all class sessions, confer at least once with each student on written work, lead two-three class sessions under supervision of faculty member, and complete a final project that is either (1) a substantial critical essay concerning subject matter of course or (2) a research project concerning trends and issues within college-level pedagogy. Aim of program is to provide students with teaching and classroom experience. Students may apply to serve as interns by consulting with a faculty member who is teaching in area of interest, and, if the faculty member is amenable, submitting a one-two page statement, outlining how this course addresses their larger intellectual goals, and what they hope to accomplish as an intern. (3 Cr)