Current Courses

Below are the courses being offered this term in the English graduate program. 

Fall 2019



What's Hot? Introduction to Theory Across the Discipline of English

ENG 8000: Literary Theory
Dr. Heather Hicks
CRN 28851
Thursday 5:20-7:20 pm

This course will be run as a seminar in which each week, a different graduate faculty member will introduce you to a body of theory that is particularly important within current discussions in their field of specialization. What are some of the major theoretical approaches in medieval studies today? Early modern studies? What about 19th-century American literature and British literature? Modernism? Postcolonial Studies? Irish Studies? Contemporary literature? This new, experimental class is an attempt to bring you immediately into dialogue with a wide variety of theories that are shaping literary study today. The course is intended to be a lively opportunity to meet most of the English faculty members who teach at the graduate level and to engage in dialogue about and analysis of the contemporary state of literary theory. Assignments will include one work of “public” writing and a more conventional academic paper.


Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales*

*This course will fulfill the pre-1800 British/Irish literature requirement 
ENG 8150: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
Dr. Brooke Hunter
CRN 28854
Monday 5:20-7:20 pm

This course uses the works of Geoffrey Chaucer as an introduction to important current debates in medieval literary studies. Through significant readings of The Canterbury Tales and a selection of Chaucer's other works we will consider medieval notions of race, the global Middle Ages, and medieval theories of animals, sexuality, and gender. This course also acts as an introduction to fourteenth-century Middle English. No previous experience with Middle English is necessary.


Form and the British Novel

ENG 8520: 19th C British Fiction
Dr. Mary Mullen
CRN 28855
Tuesday 7:30-9:30 pm

This course will introduce students to the nineteenth-century British novel and important scholarship on novelistic forms. Reading nineteenth-century novels from England, Ireland, and Scotland, we will think about genre (realism, the historical novel), narrative perspective and style (free indirect discourse, omniscience), characters (major and minor), and referentiality (how novels refer to a world outside of the text). Our study of forms in the novel will help us reflect on historical developments in the Victorian period: nations and nationalism, empire, the rise of global capitalism, changing understandings of gender and sexuality. We will consider why there is renewed interest in literary form in Victorian studies, the relationship between literary form and history, and how literary form is political (perhaps in good and bad ways). The course will cover novels by Maria Edgeworth, Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Emily Brontë, Gerald Griffin, Somerville and Ross.


U.S. Empire and Contemporary American Literature

ENG 9640: Topics in Modern American Literature
Dr. Yumi Lee
CRN 28859
Wednesday 5:20-7:20 pm

What does it mean to think of the United States as not just a nation, but an empire? This graduate seminar explores how American literature responds to, critiques, and reimagines the expanding place of the United States in the world. While this course will consider the longer history of U.S. imperialism, including early concepts and practices of settler colonialism, westward expansion, and “manifest destiny,” our primary focus will be on the contemporary. We will read and analyze contemporary authors who represent communities who have been absorbed into U.S. empire over time, including indigenous, Latinx, African American, and Asian American authors whose works embed and address histories of contested spaces at the edges of U.S. national expansion: the Indian reservation, the U.S.-Mexico border, the port city, the overseas military base. In such spaces, who becomes included into the nation, and how? Who and what is excluded? What is gained and lost in these negotiations? How does engaging with the shifting ground of U.S. empire change the way we imagine America, and the way we define American literature as a category? Literary texts may include Tommy Orange’s There There, Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas, M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong!, Omar El Akkad’s American War, Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters, Américo Paredes’ George Washington Gomez, and Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera. To situate our exploration of the literature, we will read and engage critical perspectives on U.S. empire, with a focus on theories of the nation-state and nationalism, transnationalism, and post-colonialism in works by Edward Said, Amy Kaplan, Jodi Byrd, Jasbir Puar, and others. Course requirements will include an annotated bibliography, an in-class presentation, and a seminar paper.


What is Poetry?

ENG 9710: Poetry, 1950 to Present
Dr. Kamran Javadizadeh
CRN 28860
Tuesday 5:20-7:20 pm

“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.

ENG 8090: Thesis Direction

CRN 28852
Direction of writing of the thesis, focused research on a narrowly defined question, under supervision of an individual instructor.


ENG 8092: Field Examination

CRN 28853
A broader exploration of a theme or area of literature than a thesis. The examination comprises a comprehensive statement essay and an oral exam component.


ENG 9031: Independent Study

CRN 28856
A special project pursued under the direction of an individual professor.


ENG 9080: Thesis Continuation

CRN 28858

Professional Research Option (PRO)

ENG 9035
Dr. Evan Radcliffe
CRN 28857

This option for second-year graduate students 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: E-Book Industry, Teaching, Public relations, Rare book broker, Advertising, Web design, College admissions, Journalism, University administration, Testing industry, Arts administration, Tutoring industry, Library science, Technical writing, Entertainment industry work.


Internship in Teaching English 

ENG 9800
CRN 28861

Second-year graduate students have the option to serve as an intern for a graduate faculty member in an undergraduate English course. Interns will attend all class sessions, confer at least once with each student on their written work, lead two or three class sessions under the supervision of the faculty member, and complete a final project that is either (1) a substantial critical essay concerning the subject matter of the course or (2) a research project concerning trends and issues within college-level pedagogy. The aim of the 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 an 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.