Below are the courses being offered this term in the English graduate program.
Dr. Alice Dailey
This course studies the complex relationship between war and crime in a selection of Shakespeare’s tragedies and histories. By examining plays set in a range of times and places—medieval France and England, feudal Scotland, and ancient Rome—we will consider how this literature constructs and complicates some of our culture’s central myths about war. What is a war hero? How do the values shaped by war translate into civil life? How do our war stories distinguish authorized killings from homicidal violence? What happens when that distinction becomes blurred? The course is interested in the role of wartime brutality in constituting notions of humanity, masculinity, femininity, honor, family, and nation. In our study, we will pay particular attention to the dramatic and poetic techniques Shakespeare develops to represent the vast implications of war in the confined space and time of the stage play. We will study Shakespeare’s evolving technique for creating the illusion of psychological depth in some of western literature’s most infamous war criminals, such as Macbeth and Richard III. And we will think about how Shakespeare’s plays are appropriated in contemporary discourses about war, criminality, and deadly charisma in texts ranging from U.S. military training manuals to House of Cards. Our study will focus on Macbeth, Richard III, 1 Henry IV, Henry V, Coriolanus, and Titus Andronicus. Assignments will include an annotated bibliography, a presentation, and a seminar paper.
(this course fulfills the pre-1800 British literature requirement)
Dr. Megan Quigley
“No more Woolf!” So it was fashionable to declare five years ago. Enough books, enough articles, enough feminism—we have learned all we need to know! But recent political events have made it clear that even if Woolf’s suffragists had their first major victory a century ago, their battle is far from won. #MeToo Woolf; Lesbian Woolf; Transgender Novelist Woolf; Eco-Woolf; Woolf for European Union; Woolf and social activism—our current political climate makes Woolf’s writing and legacy more urgent than ever. We need to know our Woolf, this course argues, so that when we fight the backlash against feminism, we know its origins. Understanding first-wave feminists like Woolf, warts and all, helps us to see how gender and sexuality played a role in early twentieth-century’s conceptions of self, family, and citizenship. Woolf’s idiosyncratic voice can continue to guide intersectional feminists in their current struggles.
Over the semester we will ask: Why are audiences as fascinated by Virginia Woolf's life as they are by the novels she wrote? Why does she think that every woman needs A Room of One's Own? What is the border between fiction and autobiography? What role does Woolf's gender play in her status as a literary celebrity? This course will posit that Woolf's novels and essays themselves instigate these debates. In seeking to destroy the conventions of the realist novel and simultaneously to explain new forms through what life is like "here, now," Woolf's novels interrogate the relationships among fiction, biography, gender and autobiography.
We will read five novels by Woolf as well as extracts from her Essays and Diaries. We will study explosive issues in Woolf studies (snobbery, anti-Semitism, sexual molestation, lesbianism) while we also learn about literary high modernism by immersing ourselves in Woolf's own writing. Finally, we will consider an impact of a century of Woolf’s influence and legacy. What have been the limitations of her vast authority? How do contemporary British writers (for example, Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith, Rachel Cusk) show Woolf’s imprint?
Dr. Joseph Lennon
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, London served as an epicenter of culture, commerce, and diplomacy--it also hosted overlapping revolutionary networks. As a quintessential cosmopolitan city, London provided creative space not only for literary icons and political leaders, but also radicals who sought to dramatically alter the political and social structure of their societies. As Britain's imperial hub, London was a meeting-ground for writers, thinkers, and activists from a range of movements, including Russian revolutionaries, women’s suffragists, trades-union leaders, and nationalists from Ireland, India, South Africa, and Egypt. By reading literary works (fiction, poetry, drama, essay) as well as autobiographical and contemporary non-fiction accounts, this course will map revolutionary networks in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century London.
Against a backdrop of political agitation, we will trace various strategies of violent and passive resistance, including the hunger strike and a range of publicity performances, stunts, or “outrages.” We will examine the way that a revolutionary culture developed through transnational examples within a cosmopolitan public space. Our readings will range from articles in periodicals such as Century, Free Russia and Votes for Women, to novels such as Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, Gertrude Colmore's Suffragette Sally, Padraic O’Conaire's Exile, Flora Anna Steele's On the Face of the Waters, and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's Anandamath; to autobiographical accounts by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Peter Kropotkin, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Robert Henry Wallace-Dunlop; to plays and poems by W. B. Yeats, Augusta Gregory, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde. We will also read social network theory and actor-network-theory to consider what might offer helpful reading strategies and way of understanding these overlapping revolutionary networks (Irish, Indian, Russian, and women's suffrage) in London during this age of outrage and rebellion.
Dr. Crystal Lucky
This course will focus on the fiction and non-fiction of Toni Morrison whose writing has affected the development of both American and African American literature in the latter portion of the 20th century like no other writer. Alongside appropriate contemporary criticism, we will read interviews with the Nobel Prize winner, Playing in the Dark, and each of her eleven novels. Because of the rigor of the course material, students will be expected to come to the first class meeting with some assigned reading already prepared.
Students will be asked to present once during the semester on a text of the student’s choice, to consider some theoretical concern addressed therein and to prepare a literature review associated with the chosen text. Additionally, students will be required to submit a 20-25 page seminar paper on a relevant research topic.
Direction of writing of the thesis, focused research on a narrowly defined question, under supervision of an individual instructor.
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.
A special project pursued under the direction of an individual professor.
Dr. Evan Radcliffe
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:
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.