Literature Classroom

Graduate Literature Courses

Current Course Offerings – Fall 2018

ENG 603: Theories and their Histories (Edwards)

This seminar will examine the theoretical debates that animate contemporary literary and cultural studies, as well as the broader histories and contexts in which these debates are situated. We will consider a range of theoretical perspectives, including formalism, structuralism, poststructuralism, historicism, Marxism, critical race theory, gender studies, queer theory, disability studies, and posthumanism, attending to the complex ways in which these various perspectives intersect. Rejecting the notion that theory should be “applied,” the course will also consider a number of literary and cultural texts in order to generate reciprocal conversations among literature, culture, and theory. The overarching goal of the course is to articulate the theoretical and methodological approaches that are most aligned with your scholarly and creative practices; the culminating project thus encourages you to engage with our theoretical texts in ways that are most generative for your own intellectual pursuits.

ENG 620: Historicism and Its Discontents in Early Modern Sexuality Studies (Bromley)

In this course, early modern drama will serve as the occasion to examine the stakes of debates around historical and theoretical approaches to early modern sexuality.  We will trace the history of early modern sexuality studies, especially during the past three decades, and consider potential new avenues for inquiry into sexuality in early modern drama.  What are the limits and affordances of each approach? How might they be conjoined or synthesized and what irreconcilable differences are there between them?  How might early modern drama challenge and refine recent theoretical approaches to sexuality along historical or conceptual lines? Readings will include plays by Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, and Ben Jonson and methodological and critical works by scholars of early modern sexuality. 

ENG 680: Literature and the Politics of Truth in the Age of American Realism (Hebard)

This course will examine the emergence of American Literary Realism at the end of the nineteenth century.  The course will be particularly interested in how realism as a movement made claims to representational "truth" and then linked those claims to ethical and political stances.  What are "truthful" literary representations, and can such "truths" be said to provide the basis for a politics? What produces a demand for truth in literature and what constitutes a literary hoax?  We will examine such questions in relation to a number of historical contexts including changes in the natural sciences, the circulation of photography and film, and the rise of statistical thinking.  We will read works by William Dean Howells, Charles Chesnutt, Upton Sinclair, Edith Wharton, Jack London, W.E.B Du Bois, and others.  Most of the readings will be from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but we will also likely look at some later works like Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and recent literary hoaxes like the James Frey scandal.  The course will be coordinated with some of the Humanities Center programming around the Altman Program themed on "Truth and Lies."  

ENG 710: Interdisciplinary topics (Klestinec)

This interdisciplinary course on Medical Humanities covers narrative medicine, aspects of bioethics, and the history of medicine. This seminar traces the concept of the agon (battle) as a way to understand some of the battles in the history of medicine and the development of contemporary medicine: battles between paternalistic practitioners and patients, between drugs and the body, between depictions of medical expertise and the nature of the body. Readings include Susan Sontag's Illness as Metaphor, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, and Atul Gawande's Being Mortal.


Recent Courses

English 603: Theories and Their Histories (Hebard)

This course covers a number of critical approaches to literary studies while contextualizing them with an account of the intellectual history of the discipline.  The goal of the course is to get students to think deliberately about and to articulate their own methodological commitments and to then situate those commitments within the field of literary studies.  Beginning with broad overviews of literary theory by Jonathan Culler and Terry Eagleton, the course will cover a number of approaches including formalism, historicism, reader response criticism, structuralism, post structuralism, Marxism, feminism, gender studies, critical race theory, and others.  As much as this course is about understanding a variety of theories and methodologies, it is also about learning how to read and engage with theory.  We will thus be reading a number of books in addition to shorter works by theorists.    

English 610: Transnational Studies: Biopolitics and Necropolitics in America's Asia Pacific (Cho)

Using literary and interdisciplinary scholarship on biopolitics, necropolitics, and comparative racialization in the context of U.S.-Asia encounters as a point of departure, this course introduces students to new theoretical and methodological paradigms that address transnational cultural formation in intersecting contexts of (neo)colonialism and globalization.  This course centers the complexities of the Asia Pacific as concrete material and discursive sites of intersecting colonialisms and global capitalism, particularly the connections among post-WWII U.S. dominance, Japanese militarism, and the rise of other powers across Asia and the Pacific.  This course will explore such connections as productive nexuses that open up critiques of militarized racial modernity as a way to rethink current paradigms of biopolitics and necropolitics.

ENG 640: Studies in 19th-Century English Literature
Victorian Women Writers and Fictions of Feminism (Corbett) 

This seminar will locate some of the many women writers at work in the second half of the nineteenth century in relation to the political movements of the time. Feminists or, more accurately, protofeminists agitated for reform in a wide range of areas: marriage and child custody law; domestic violence and sexual assault; employment and property rights; higher education; prostitution laws and, more broadly, the sexual double standard; rational dress; vivisection; temperance; anti-slavery and anti-imperialist work; and, of course, suffrage. Each constituted a crucial arena for activism, with many intersections among them, and commanded considerable public attention. Yet many women writers approached the representation of these issues somewhat tentatively, at least until the last two decades of the century, for aesthetic and political reasons we will explore. Reading works of fiction by Caroline Norton, Anne and Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Olive Schreiner, Mona Caird, Sarah Grand, and/or George Egerton, and a range of historical and critical material, we will consider the impact of cultural and political debates about the status of women on the form, content, and rhetoric of fiction.

English 660: Modernist Poetry and Its Legacies (Tuma)

We will read and discuss modernist poetry and the history of its reception and influence, especially as reflected in the practice of contemporary poets. The modernist poets concerned include Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Mina Loy, Marianne Moore, Melvin Tolson, Nancy Cunard, Lynette Roberts, Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Joseph Gordon Macleod, Hugh MacDiarmid, Hart Crane, and Sterling Brown.  

ENG 680: Studies in American Literature, 1865-1919
American Naturalism (Hebard) 

Critical study of American fiction between 1880 and 1840, with a special focus on readings from 1890 through 1910. Course will emphasize genre theory and theories of naturalism, engaging with works by writers such as Frank Norris, Jack London, Edith Wharton, and Richard Wright.

ENG 750: Histories & Methodologies in Literary and Cultural Studies 
Interdisciplinary Seminar on Crip Theory and Culture (Detloff)

This course is open to students in literature, creative writing, composition and rhetoric, and WGS, who have an interest in the intersections of queer and disability theory. We will examine contemporary work in the emerging field of crip theory (A. Kafer, R. McRuer, A. Wilkerson, K. Hall) as well as some foundational work in disability studies (R. Garland Thompson, T. Siebers, L. Davis, M. Davidson, J. Lyon, K. Jamison). Cultural texts (film, fiction, graphic novel) we will analyze with the theoretical readings are negotiable, depending on the students who enroll and their scholarly interests, but likely texts include Lady Chatterley’s Lover, So Far From God, Saturday, Cancer Journals, Fun Home, Mad Max Fury Road, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Hyperbole and a Half, and Murderball.


ENG/WGS 535 Queer Theory, Dr. Mannur MW 10:15-11:25 a.m.

In this course, we will read extensively in the interdisciplinary field of queer theory, from its emergence two decades ago to its present day articulations. We will explore what is meant by “queer”, its relationship to terms like “gay and lesbian” and the challenges posted to a politics of identity. We will also interrogate the category of “theory” itself-what it is, what it achieves and the kinds of interventions it makes. We will concentrate on recent work theorizing race, queer of color critique, futurity, utopia, and place in queer terms.

ENG 603 Theories and Their Histories, Dr. Detloff  T 4:25-7:15 p.m.

Graduate-level introduction to key literary, cultural, and aesthetic theories. Provides a foundation for further study in literary and cultural studies as well as interdisciplinary approaches to English Studies. We will become acquainted with the histories and contemporary parameters of debates about the meaning and purpose of representation, cultural production, literature, and the examination of culture(s) through textual artifacts and archives.  The course aims to provide you with further introduction to the profession, and so we will situate our own discussion, writing, and teaching within larger currents of thought in the field of interdisciplinary literary and cultural studies.

ENG 630 New Models of Fiction in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Dr. Jennings M 4:25-7:15 p.m.

This seminar explores how, despite the standard narratives of scientific and technological progress, fiction and conjecture became major sites of innovation in the period between the late seventeenth century and the end of the eighteenth century, also known as the Enlightenment. How did historians come to associate ideas like factuality and reason with modernity in the first place? We will trace the relationship between the early English novel and other prominent forms of modern make believe—such as scientific hypothesis, economic prognostication, and historical conjecture, which emerged in eighteenth-century Britain. What’s more, we will posit our own hypotheses and conduct our own experiments by using digital methods to compare the language of early fictional works with scientific and historical genres. Readings will include works by Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Bhen, Eliza Haywood, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Adam Smith, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen as well as a range of critical material.

English 690 Asian American Cultural Critique, Dr. Mannur W 1:15-4:05 p.m.

Since it's inception in the late 1960s Asian American literary studies has engage the complex political construction of Asian America as a heterogeneous coalitional identity. Since then, literary critics and writers have negotiated the complex and tense differences that constitute "Asian America", aesthetically, politically and conceptually. More recently literary critic Kandice Chuh argues for reframing Asian American studies as a field defined not by its subjects and objects, but by its critique. With a view to understanding the methodological underpinnings of Asian American literary studies, this course will read several novels and critical studies so as to rigorously examine the trajectories and possibilities of Asian American cultural and literary critique.

Intra-disciplinary Seminar in English Studies
ENG 710 Threshold Concepts and Knowledge Transfer Across Disciplines and Contexts, Dr. Wardle T 1:15 – 4:05 p.m.

In this seminar, students will be introduced to two complimentary areas of research and theory. Threshold concepts are concepts critical for epistemological participation in a discipline; they are troublesome for learners, and not easily taught or assessed. However, they are essential for learners who wish to be able to "transfer"--or, more accurately--repurpose and build on what they learn, in order to make meaningful contributions within and across disciplinary communities of practice.  Graduate students from all areas of English Studies who enroll in this seminar will examine their field's threshold concepts, perhaps engaging in crowd-sourced wiki projects with scholars from across the country, and consider how to design courses and assignments in their disciplines that promote deep learning across time and contexts.