Below are the courses being offered this term in the English graduate program.
Dr. Lisa Sewell
Tues., 5:20 – 7:20
Introduction to Literary Theory
This course will provide a broad introduction to principles of contemporary literary theory and criticism, and established methods and materials of literary research. We will explore a range of theoretical orientations and address key problems or questions that animate theoretical discussion among literary scholars today. These include questions about the nature of language; the production of cultural value; the construction of identity categories such as race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality; and the ideological bases of Western culture. We will read and critically examine a selection of the most pertinent theoretical works in the following four broad areas of study: language; history; culture; and identity. Our inquiry will delve into some combination of deconstruction, psychoanalysis, theories of gender and sexuality, postcolonial theory, anthropology of science, affect theory, political criticism, ecocriticism and post-humanism.
Rather than providing a historical overview, the course will focus on key theoretical approaches that remain relevant to literary and cultural studies. Our main object will be to gain familiarity and raise our comfort level with difficult texts and challenging ideas. A related goal of the course will be to show students how to use theoretical models and modes of thought in the analysis of primary texts and in interpreting the material and cultural world. My hope is that theorizing becomes a means (rather than an end in itself) towards generating critical knowledge and active learning.
Readings will include representative works by Sianne Ngai, Lauren Berlant, Roland Barthes, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Bruno Latour, Luce Irigaray, Deleuze and Guatarri, Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Zizek, and others. Where helpful, we will situate these theories in relationship to a range of literary texts and films.
Course requirements will include interactive journal/response papers, a brief presentation on a key question or work, a short paper, and a research paper that focuses on a literary text or film of your choice.
Dr. Alice Dailey
Wed., 7:30 - 9:30
Revengers, 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 revenge drama 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 revenge tragedy 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 revenge tragedies, 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 bibiliography, and seminar paper.
Dr. Joseph Lennon
Thurs., 5:20 - 7:20
James Joyce: Styles of Digital Dublin, 1904
This seminar examines the main works of James Joyce, one of the world's great literary stylists. We will be focusing the semester's work on Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses, which used almost every literary device known at the time to retell Homer's epic. We will begin on his earlier works, Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and give some attention throughout the semester to his poetry and his late work Finnegans Wake. Some preparatory reading for the seminar will be expected.
Joyce wrote as both an Irish author and an international avant-garde modernist, and we will consider his work in these contexts, surveying contemporary scholarship on modernism, postcolonial Ireland, and more recent theories on technology and affect. The bulk of the work, however, will be devoted to closely reading Ulysses and understanding its literary, political, and social critiques. We will read the text alongside Homer’s Odyssey and a few scholarly aids: Harry Blamires’s Bloomsday Book, Don Gifford's Ulysses Annotated, a hypertextual concordance produced by the Imperial College of London, and a new interactive digital map of Ulysses produced by Boston College. We will read sections of a new in-progress graphic version of the text and develop a critique for visual representation of the novel, working toward an online interactive style map of Joyce's episodes as a online class project. A main goal of the project will be to critique new reading technologies in recent editions of Ulysses (now out of copyright), en route to theorizing and creating our own digital texts.
Dr. Michael Berthold
Melville and Alcott
This course will examine a variety of texts by Herman Melville and Louisa May Alcott and will concentrate on an extended study and comparison of two particularly capacious and beguiling nineteenth-century American novels—Moby-Dick and Little Women. The course will also explore the serpentine relationship between the primary texts and the secondary criticism they have generated and the evolution of that criticism. Students will be expected to give a seminar report and write two essays, the second of which will be a long research paper on some aspect of the work of Melville and / or Alcott. Readings from Melville will include Typee, Redburn, Moby-Dick, Pierre and The Confidence-Man; readings from Alcott will include “My Contraband,” Behind a Mask, Work: A Story of Experience, “Transcendental Wild Oats” and Little Women.
Dr. Crystal Lucky
Thurs., 7:30 - 9:30
The African American Migration Narrative
The migration of African Americans in record numbers from the American south to the north and west began as early as the 1890’s and continued through World War II. The Great Black Migration has, perhaps, helped to shape American demographics like no other cultural phenomenon of the twentieth century. African American writers of all genres have readily explored this movement, inviting readers to consider how black people both affected and were altered by the spaces they vacated and the cities they came to. Alongside appropriate criticism, we will read Toni Morrison’s Paradise, August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Jean Toomer's Cane, Nella Larsen's Quicksand, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun to explore what set black people flowin' away from the land of Dixie.
Students will be asked to present once during the semester on a text of the student’s choice and to consider some theoretical concern addressed therein. Additionally, students will be required to submit a 20-25 page seminar paper on a relevant research 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)