Dr. Joseph Drury
The first science fiction novel is often said to be Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. But what did literary authors have to say about science in the century and a half between the Scientific Revolution and the creation of the world’s most famous monster, the period now known as the Enlightenment? In this course, students will read and analyze some of the key philosophical texts that helped establish the distinctive methodology and goals of the new science alongside a range of fictional texts—drama and poetry as well as novels—that explore its social and political implications in a nation with an emerging public sphere and an expanding global empire. While many British authors enthusiastically endorsed the epistemological principles and utopian goals of the Scientific Revolution and sought to incorporate them into the form and content of imaginative works of literature, others mocked natural philosophers for pursuing useless knowledge, rejected their assumptions about human nature and warned of the alienating consequences of attempting to gain power over nature. Literary texts from the long eighteenth century will be read in conjunction with a range of critical, historical and theoretical readings that will introduce students to contemporary science studies and exciting new directions in the study of science and literature. In addition to Frankenstein, primary readings may include Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, poems by Alexander Pope, drama by Thomas Shadwell and Susanna Centlivre, and philosophical texts by Francis Bacon, Margaret Cavendish, and David Hume.
(This course fulfills the pre-1800 British literature requirement)
Dr. Mary Mullen
This graduate seminar focuses on how institutions produce fiction and how fiction represents institutions. Beginning by reading theories of institutions, we will identify the key fictions that institutions depend upon—fictions of futurity, inclusion, agency, and enclosure—as we consider the promises and pitfalls of institutions as a mode of social and political organization. We will then study specific institutions: marriage, the university and the prison. In each unit, we will read Victorian literature and Victorian theories of institutions as well as contemporary literary theory and criticism covering authors like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Amy Levy, and Virginia Woolf and theorists like Sara Ahmed, Roderick Ferguson, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney.
This class will help you become better critical readers of both literary and social forms, aesthetics and politics.
Dr. Travis Foster
The plural, wars, of this course’s title signals two competing traditions in Civil War memory and periodization:
* The Civil War as a distinct and defining event, from 1861 to 1865, that splits American history (and most English departments’ surveys of American literature) into two distinct halves; and
* The Civil War as an ongoing feature of American life, which, as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, “commenced not in 1861, but in 1661, when the Virginia Colony began passing America’s first black codes,” and extends into the twentieth and twenty-first century’s waves upon waves of “white terrorism.”
On the one hand, a war that ended chattel slavery; on the other, a war that is more nonevent than event, restructuring rather than ameliorating the violence of antiblackness.
Historical periods, as Caroline Levine reminds us, act as “bounded wholes” and “forms for organizing heterogeneous materials”—they “afford constraints and opportunities, bringing bodies, meanings, and objects into political order.” What, then, do these two competing periodizations of the Civil War bring into view and what do they obscure: about race and the legacies of enslavement; about antiblackness and white nationalism; about death and remembrance; about war and violence? And what differing historiographical methods to they demand of us as literary historians and literary critics working to understand the significance and contexts of our texts?
Over our semester, we’ll examine literary texts that address these questions, some more explicitly than others. We’ll move chronologically, beginning with texts published during the years leading up to the Battle of Fort Sumter and ending with very recent debates over the Confederate flag and Confederate monuments. Primary texts will include poetry, popular songs, short stories, novels, films, photographs, and nonfiction prose. Secondary texts will include writings in the philosophy of history, critical race theory, and the study of war.
(this course fulfills the pre-1900 American literature requirement)
Dr. Kamran Javadizadeh
How does writing keep close those whom distance holds apart? What forms of intimacy result from these textual exchanges? And how does literature replicate such mediated intimacy? We’ll begin by reading the published correspondence of poets (who have written some of the best letters you’ll ever read) and then extend that study into readings of their literary writing. Along the way, we’ll consider the evolution of epistolary writing into its most current forms—text messaging, social media—and examine recent literature that borrows from those contemporary techniques for keeping in touch. We’ll read from Dickinson’s letters and “envelope poems,” letters between Bishop and Lowell, Baldwin’s epistolary essay to his nephew together with Ta-Nehisi Coates’s to his son, Schuyler’s letters to O’Hara alongside O’Hara’s poems about his friends, Rankine’s book about contemporary loneliness, and Kaveh Akbar’s online conversations with other writers. We’ll situate these readings within recent critical conversations about lyric, history, race, and form. Course requirements will include one shorter paper, one longer paper, and two in-class presentations.
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 is comprised of a comprehensive statement essay and an oral exam component.
A special project pursued under the direction of anindividual professor.
Dr. Evan Radcliffe
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.
Option for second-year graduate students to serve as intern for graduate faculty member in 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)
Dr. Jean Lutes
An interdisciplinary study of gender, women, and sexuality, this course surveys contemporary developments in feminist, gender, and queer theory. It also applies those theories to a variety of topics, such as the representation of gender, the history of sexuality, the science of sexual difference, gender in the workplace, and gender in the digital age. Throughout the semester, we will consider how ideas about gender are bound inextricably to ideas about race and class.