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Current Courses

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


Spring 2020


Enlightenment Sexualities*

*This course will fulfill the pre-1800 British/Irish literature requirement 

ENG 8460: Enlightenment Sexualities
Dr. Joseph Drury
CRN 32794
Tuesday 5:20-7:20 pm

The age of Enlightenment was also the age of the libertine. A freethinking philosophy of pleasure and individual freedom, libertinism emerged in seventeenth-century France before crossing over to England with the restoration of the monarchy after the Civil War. Turning their backs on what they saw as repressive religious and moral dogmas, libertine authors drew on contemporary philosophical materialism to write witty, cynical, and sometimes obscene works celebrating sexual promiscuity and hedonism. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, libertine ideas began to find their way into Enlightenment political projects aimed at restoring human nature to its “primitive” purity or emancipating women from patriarchal oppression. At the same time, however, libertinism and sexual deviance of various kinds also came to be seen as social and political problems that needed to be investigated and regulated by governments and laws. This course will feature poems, plays and novels from this period, in which sexually transgressive characters are used to explore the dangers posed by male libertinism to women, and of sexual freedom in general to social institutions such as the family, the state and the public sphere. Readings may include works by the Earl of Rochester, Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Montesquieu, Eliza Haywood, John Cleland, and Choderlos de Laclos, as well as theoretical and historical readings by Michel Foucault and Norbert Elias, among others.


Revolutionary Decade: the 1790s*

*This course will fulfill the pre-1800 British/Irish literature requirement 

ENG 8560: Revolutionary Decade: the 1790s
Dr. Evan Radcliffe
CRN 32795
Monday 7:30-9:30 pm

The 1790s was the decade of the French Revolution in Britain as well as France, with each new moment of turmoil—what an alarmed Alexander Hamilton referred to as “a rapid succession of dreadful revolutions”—generating its own vehement response across the Channel.  The fall of the Bastille and The Declaration of the Rights of Man, the flight and arrest of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the royal trials and executions, the outbreak of war between Great Britain and France, the Terror—each year seemed to witness more of these “great national events,” as William Wordsworth called them.  Wordsworth (who, like Mary Wollstonecraft, experienced some of the Revolution first-hand) and other British writers addressed these events and their possible implications in varied ways, often through developing their own original approaches and forms.  Indeed, many of their works—William Blake’s illuminated books and hybrid satire, Wollstonecraft’s feminist writings, William Godwin’s combination of political philosophy and fiction, Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads—were themselves highly innovative or even revolutionary.  To keep the shifting world to which these writers responded in focus, we will move through the decade largely year by year, taking note of each historical moment and exploring particular issues and forms as we examine individual texts.  Along with Blake, Wollstonecraft, Godwin, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, we will also read Edmund Burke, Elizabeth Inchbald, Mary Hays, and John Thelwall.


American Immigrant Narratives

ENG 9640: American Immigrant Narratives
Dr. Jean Lutes
CRN 32799
Wednesday 5:20-7:20 pm

American literary history has a fierce, vibrant strain of narratives written by immigrants who have pushed beyond boundaries of genre and nation to tell their stories. This course examines some of the most influential texts in this tradition, focusing on fiction and creative nonfiction published in the twentieth- and twenty-first century. It also engages the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on the influence of immigration on the American national imaginary. Given that our national political discourse is now dominated by debates over immigration, this is an ideal moment to assess the current state of immigration studies and to reflect on what immigrant authors have to teach us about the impact of narrative, the power of language (not just English), the dynamic of assimilation, and the ever-shifting vision of America itself.

After a brief look at the 1782 essay, “What is an American?” by French American author J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, we will fast-forward to the late nineteenth century, when an unprecedented number of immigrants arrived from China and southern and eastern Europe, and the Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus wrote her now-famous sonnet (“Give me your tired, your poor, / your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”) to raise money to build a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. Likely texts include Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912), Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers (1925), Achy Obejas’s Memory Mambo (1996), Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory (1998), Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies (1999), Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex (2002), Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway: A True Story (2005), Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel American Born Chinese (2006), Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation (2010), and Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans (2014).


Post-Colonial Theory & Lit

ENG 9730: Post Colonial Theory & Lit
Dr. Tsering Wangmo
CRN 32800
Wednesday 7:30-9:30 pm

Postcolonial thought extends over many regions and across periods. In this graduate seminar we will familiarize ourselves with post-colonial thought by focusing on the literatures of India and Pakistan. This course will help us reflect on historical colonial power, anticolonial conflict, and continuing legacies of imperialism in the areas we study.

30 years ago, Gayatri Spivak asked, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” We will explore how writers have been exploring and continue to explore this question in a number of ways. How do we understand the “post” in postcolonial? How is nation and identity, particularly national and/or minority identities, being formed in novels? How do concepts like “tradition,” “identity,” and the “modern” get defined in a time of change? Are these ideas structured by hierarchies of race, religion, class and gender? Who gets to speak and in whose or what language in a global culture? We will pay attention to how literature negotiates imperial histories, caste, revolution, immigration, indigeneity, decolonization, nationalism, multiculturalism, and the new nation.

Literary texts may include works by Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Mahasweti Devi, B.R. Ambedkar, Shalim Hussain, Narendra Jadhav, Salman Rushdie, Mulk Raj Anand, Mohsin Hamid, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and Amitava Kumar. We will also read critical perspectives on theories of nationalism, postcolonialism, the nation-state, and language in works by Edward Said, Partha Chatterjee, Romila Thapar, Rabindranath Tagore, Leela Gandhi, and Ranajit Guha.


Critical Perspectives on Gender

GWS 8000: Critical Perspectives on Gender
Dr. Lisa Sewell
CRN 32963
Thursday 5:20-7:20 pm

This course provides an overview of important tendencies and controversies in gender and sexuality studies, emphasizing emerging directions in scholarship as well as foundational readings. Gender and sexuality studies are interdisciplinary fields in conversation with feminist theory and queer theory as well as a host of academic disciplines. Starting with classic works by de Beauvoir, Foucault and Butler, drawing from a variety of disciplines (including sociology, history, political science, philosophy, and literary studies) and sampling a range of methodologies, this course works through some of the key moments, movements, and problems that have shaped and continue to shape contemporary thinking about gender and sexuality. Throughout the semester, we will encounter challenging theoretical works that may require more time than usual to read and comprehend. Know that reading theory is difficult, and the only way to succeed is to ask questions and bring those questions into the classroom. The more fearless you are in asking questions, the more you will learn. Our readings will also include work by writers and scholars who will be visiting Villanova in the Spring and we will attempt to attend as many of these events as possible during the semester.

Note: Feminist and gender theories often raise sensitive and politically controversial topics; they challenge many conventional ideas about social institutions, sexuality, racial identity, class divisions, and so on. I will strive to foster a safe environment in which we can all talk calmly and directly about these issues, with open minds, so we can learn as much as possible from each other.

ENG 8090: Thesis Direction

CRN 32792
Direction of writing of the thesis, focused research on a narrowly defined question, under supervision of an individual instructor.


ENG 8092: Field Examination

CRN 32793
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 32796
A special project pursued under the direction of an individual professor.


ENG 9080: Thesis Continuation

CRN 32798

Professional Research Option (PRO)

ENG 9035
Dr. Evan Radcliffe
CRN 32797

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 32801

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.