Graduate Courses Fall 2012


"Child-Loving, Child-Hating, and Children's Literature"

James Kincaid calls the broad cultural impulse to glorify youth and to romanticize children “child-loving.”  Following Kincaid, we can understand the enterprise of children’s literature as relying on and reproducing a culture of child-loving, which involves assuming that children are important and special enough to have their own literature, to be written for and to be written about.  Responding to Kincaid, Karen Coats argues that “[i]n focusing on the ways that we love and have loved children…he suppresses the ways we have hated them,” and Freud has taught us to consider how expressions of pleasure or value can mask impulses of aggression or hatred.  This course offers an introduction to children’s literature, especially the period known as the Golden Age, in terms of child-loving and child-hating.  We will examine key debates in the history of childhood about the care of children, theories of child love and hate, literary expressions of the suffering and sacralization of children, and depictions of pedophilic and pedophobic adults in children’s classics.  

In addition to excerpts by James Janeway, John Newbery, Elizabeth Turner, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Heinrich Hoffmann, and Randolph Caldecott, required texts will include the following:

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll
  • Elsie Dinsmore, Martha Finley
  • Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus, James Otis
  • Stalky and Co., Rudyard Kipling
  • A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Peter and Wendy, J.M. Barrie
  • Pollyanna, Eleanor Porter



"Dreaming in and about Medieval Literature"

In this survey, we will spend a significant amount of time reading on dream and/or dream vision literature, for example, the medieval bestseller Roman de la Rose, Dante’s Vita Nuova, Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess and Nun’s Priest Tale, and the Anglo-Saxon “Dream of the Rood.”  We will also devote some of the class to medieval drama and to texts that appear on the graduate-exam reading list, such as, Beowulf and Fragment I of The Canterbury Tales.  Finally, we will examine connections between medieval Arthurian literature (the 13th century Mort Artu, the Lais of Marie de France, etc.) to retellings of Arthurian legend found in children’s and young adult literature.

Requirements:  Oral presentation; 3 close-reading response papers, and two formal  papers.



It is perhaps no accident that the novel, as a genre, arose concurrently with the settlement of the Americas, responding to the cultural and social shifts and reorientations that colonization forced upon both the New and Old Worlds. Our class, “The Novel in America,” will examine the emergence of the novel as it responds to the transatlantic exchange of genres along with its aesthetic beginnings in the 17th and 18thcenturies. With the rise of the novel, we will also track the emergence of authorship in the United States, an enterprise fraught with literary, political, and nation-building affects not only for the nation’s writers but also in the creation of a literary marketplace that was particularly, and peculiarly, American.

Potential reading list:

  • Hannah Foster, The Coquette, or, The History of Eliza Wharton (1797)
  • Royall Tyler, The Algerine Captive, or, The Life and Adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill (1797)
  • Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland; or,The Transformation. An American Tale (1798)
  • Catherine Maria Sedgwick, A New-England Tale, or, Sketches of New-England Character (1822)
  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Prairies (1827)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850)
  • Herman Melville, Benito Cerreno (1856)
  • Henry James, Daisy Miller (1878)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

Also, selected readings from:

  • Richard Chase, The American Novel and Its Tradition
  • Cathy Davidson, Revolution and the Word
  • Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel
  • Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel
  • Richard Poirier, A World Elsewhere: The Place of Style in American Literature
  • William Charvat, The Profession of Authorship in America



"Make it New?: American Modernist Fiction"

 “Around 1922,” wrote Willa Cather, “the world broke apart.”  In America, the literature of the first half of the 20thcentury, influenced by earlier artistic developments in Europe, attempted to capture—and create—a new century, what later came to be called “The American Century.”  This literary sensibility responded to world wars; prosperity and economic collapse; technological advances; the rise of a mass, popular culture; and a growing sense that human beings are increasingly alienated in a rapidly transforming American society.

Focusing on narratives by American authors of the period, this course will explore “American modernism”—its literary representatives, its agendas, its challenges, its innovations and limitations. The course will focus primarily on major works by canonical fiction writers, with attention to critical reception (in their own time and today), as well as the cultural context of America between the two world wars.

Primary readings will include:

  • Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle” 1903
  • Willa Cather, My Antonia  1918
  • Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio 1919
  • Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time 1925
  • William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury 1929
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night 1934
  • John Dos Passos, The Big Money 1936
  • Richard Wright, Native Son 1940 
  • Eudora Welty, The Golden Apples  1949

 Critical reading, writing in several formats, and oral presentations will complement the primary texts. 



"Theorizing Travel and Tourism" 

ENG 744 explores the historical development of tourism, including: the economics of tourism that drives the commodification of culture; questions of authenticity and exoticization in a tourist economy; the relationship between travel writing and imperialism; tourism as a form of neocolonialism; the problem of the expatriate as tourist; and theories of post-tourism. We will read contemporary fiction featuring travel and tourism, and test these theories against these literary examples.

Possible texts include:

  • Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation
  • Dean MacCannel’s The Tourist
  • Caren Kaplan’s Questions of Travel
  • Paul Fussel’s Abroad
  • Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism
  • Graham Greene’s The Lawless Roads
  • Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky
  • Robert Stone’s A Flag for Sunrise
  • Lynne Tillman’s Motion Sickness
  • Rigoberta Menchu’s I, Rigoberta Menchu
  • Plus: a course packet of critical readings



"Points of View: Victorian Narrators and Readers"

In The Craft of Fiction, Percy Lubbock declares, “The whole intricate question of method, in the craft of fiction, I take to be governed by the question of the point of view—the question of the relation in which the narrator stands to the story.” In this course, we will look at Victorian literature—novels, short fiction, and poetry—through the lens of point of view. We will begin by reading texts narrated in the first person; then, we will move through examples of third-person narrators; we will conclude with texts that utilize multiple narrators. Selections of narrative theory, from critics such as Wayne Booth, Robyn Warhol, and Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg will provide theoretical and historical context for our discussions. Throughout the semester, we will consider the consequences (aesthetic, intellectual, ethical) of an author’s choice in narrator and figure out how a narrator’s voice is constructed. We will interrogate Lubbock’s claim that a work’s “subject dictates [its] method”; in what ways does the content of a work relate to its point of view? And finally, as readers ourselves, we will reflect on how these texts speak to and construct their readers, for, as Henry James notably said, “The author makes his readers, just as he makes his characters.”

Possible texts include the following:

  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
  • Edith Nesbit, The Story of the Treasure Seekers
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone
  • Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life
  • Charles Dickens, Holiday Romance



"Walker Percy"

Accepting the National Book Award in 1962 for his first-published novel, The Moviegoer, Walker Percy said: “man is more than an organism in an environment, more than an integrated personality, more even than a mature and created individual, as the phrase goes. He is a wayfarer and a pilgrim."  Of course, the same can be said of Percy himself—novelist and doctor, scientist and Catholic, philosopher and essayist, scholar and believer—who spent as much time investigating meaning as depicting it in his fiction.  This course will examine Percy’s six novels and three of his nonfiction works, informed by semiotic, Christian existentialist, and psychoanalytic theory, in order to come to a deeper understanding of this singular southern author.  Probable assignments will include in-class presentations, a short essay, and an article-length seminar essay.  In addition to supplementary articles on library e-reserve, texts under consideration will be:

  • Lancelot 
  • The Last Gentleman 
  • Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book 
  • Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World 
  • The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language Is, and What One Has to Do with the Other 
  • The Moviegoer 
  • The Second Coming 
  • Signposts in a Strange Land
  • The Thanatos Syndrome