Graduate Courses Spring 2013


ENG 611: Topics in Contemporary Literature - Dr. Monika Gehlawat (MW 2-3:15)

* fulfills Contemporary Literature requirement

"Subjective Possibility and Fictional Frameworks in Postwar Literature"

 In this course, we will read contemporary short stories and novels with an eye toward how subjectivity is problematized in the postwar, or what some may consider, the postmodern period. We will begin with a discussion of periodization in order to understand the relationship between modernism and postmodernism, and in particular what has been considered the "death of the subject" in the latter era. We will examine how authors represent the self (or its effacement) using formal strategies of voice, point of view and narrative framing, as well as how subjective agency emerges via literary experimentation. In an effort to recognize the increasingly global nature of contemporary literature and its frequent critique of late capitalism, we will read works based in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, as well as Europe and the United States, while discussing the rise of identity politics and multiculturalism in the postwar era. Using the category of the subjective as an entry into these works, we will, finally, consider contemporary literature in light of Hal Foster's desire for "the notion of the aesthetic as subversive, a critical interstice in an otherwise instrumental world."

Primary Readings include:

  • Going to Meet the Man, James Baldwin
  • Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer
  • Sixty Stories, Donald Barthelme
  • Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, Grace Paley
  • Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed
  • Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
  • The Piano Teacher, Elfriede Jelinek
  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Self-Help, Lorrie Moore
  • Civil War Land in Bad Decline, George Saunders
  • White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
  • White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

ENG 625: Readings in Fiction - Prof. Steven Barthelme (R 6:30-9:15)


ENG 627: Intro to Publishing - Dr. Angela Ball (T 3:50-6:25)


ENG 641: Advanced Research - Dr. Martina Sciolino (R 6:30-9:15)


ENG 642: Literary Criticism - Dr. Kenneth Watson (M 3:30-6:15)

* fulfills Theory requirement

“Criticism by Writers”

Since classical antiquity, any number of great writers in the western tradition have also amassed a very distinguished body of literary and cultural criticism.  In English, the line of scholar-poets extends from Spenser through Dryden to Johnson, Coleridge, Arnold, and Eliot.  Practicality requires we restrict ourselves more or less to the past one hundred years.  Likely suspects:  Wilde, Pound, Eliot, Woolf, Auden, Jarrell, Gass, Davenport. Rich, Morrison, Wallace.  There’s also a handy anthology of essays to help fill in some of the gaps.  Complete list available upon request.  Requirements will include reading, brief written responses, participation, presentations, and a long final seminar paper.  


ENG 673: Seminar in African-American Literature - Dr. Sherita Johnson (TR 2:25-3:40)

* fulfills Non-traditional Literatures requirement  

  “Working Black Women, Writers and Domestics”“

In these days of universal scribbling, when almost every one writes for fame or money, many people who are not reaping large pecuniary profits from their work do not feel justified in making any outlay to gratify the necessities of their labors in literature.” Gertrude E.H. Bustill Mossell’s words, in The Work of the Afro-American Woman (1894), describe the economic conditions under which many of her subjects produced literature. Inspired by Mossell’s treatise, we will consider the economies of manual labor and writing, and the terms of production—writing to survive, writing stories of survival—as necessary to establish a tradition. How does creative writing offer greater compensation for personal autonomy if not celebrity for black women? When is a writer’s earning power weighted against the demands of publishing? Central to our study is the figure of the black domestic, her role supporting black families and communities. While discussions about the recent popularity of a certain novel/film featuring stereotypical black mammies may prove fruitful, we will use oral histories and cultural studies to explore the critical discourse about black domestics. Course requirements may include weekly journal assignments, an oral presentation, exams, and/or a research paper. Graduate students must write a seminar paper in addition.

Primary Texts:

  • Harriet E. Wilson, Our Nig; Or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859)
  • Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)
  • Alice Childress, Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life (1956)
  • Ann Petry, The Street (1946)
  • Natasha Tretheway, Domestic Work (2000)
  • A course packet of literary criticism, historical and cultural material
  •  Susan Tucker, Telling Memories Among Southern Women: Domestic Workers and Their Employers in the Segregated South (LSU Press, 2002)
  •  Kimberly Gisele Wallace-Sanders, Mammy: A Century of Race, Gender, and Southern Memory  (University of Michigan Press, 2009)
  •  Tera W. Hunter, To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War (Harvard UP, 1998)


ENG 678: Topics in Writing for Women - Dr. Nicolle Jordan (R 3:50-6:25)

* fulfills British Literature II requirement


“Women's Literary History”

This course seeks to define, practice, and challenge women’s literary history. We will ask whether women’s literary history is a form of feminist criticism, and how it differs from other approaches to feminist scholarship (and from literary history tout court). What is excluded from women’s literary history, and with what consequences? What kinds of biases or faulty assumptions does it encourage? With these questions in mind, we will explore, for example, Margaret Ezell’s skepticism regarding the notion that “there is a ‘tradition’ of women’s writing to be recovered [and] that this tradition reveals an evolutionary model of feminism.” How does the history of women’s writing change when we privilege, for example, one genre (such as the novel) over others?  What is the status of aesthetics in women’s literary history? Exploring these questions will prepare students to write a scholarly article that engages, in depth, with one or more of these issues. Authors include Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, Jane Barker, Anne Finch, Sarah Scott, Jane Austen, and George Eliot.  


ENG 721: Seminar in Fiction Writing - Prof. Andrew Milward (W 3:30-6:15)


ENG 721: Seminar in Fiction Writing - Prof. Steve Barthelme (W 3:30-6:15)


ENG 722: Seminar in Poetry Writing - Dr. Rebecca Frank (M 6:30-9:15)


ENG 758: Seminar in Renaissance Literature - Dr. Mark Dahlquist (T 6:30-9:15)

* fulfills British Literature I requirement

In this course we’ll conduct a survey of the English literary Renaissance, from the middle of the sixteenth century to the first decades of the seventeenth, examining key works and ideas from the period (not including the works of William Shakespeare). Beginning with Thomas Wyatt and George Gascoigne, this class will consider the poetry, drama and prose of important authors such as Jewel, Lyly, Sidney, Wroth, Spenser, Greene, Jonson, Fulke Greville, and Francis Bacon, before finishing the semester with the writings of Elizabeth Cary and John Donne. 

While questions of politics, aesthetics, identity, and epistemology will be considered throughout the semester, students will be encouraged to bring their own interests and research questions to a seminar that will provide a wide and heterogeneous field of texts to explore. Grades will be based on weekly responses, course presentations, short reports on primary and secondary texts, participation, and a set of preliminary materials (abstract, outline, and annotated bibliography) for a longer publishable academic paper.


ENG 769: Seminar in Modern British Literature - Dr. Charles Sumner (W 6:30-9:15)

* fulfills Modern British and American Literature requirement


This course will examine important figures and movements in modern British literature. Specifically, we will look at how modern popular and political culture alter traditional modes of self-perception, and, in turn, why our writers need new formal techniques to represent these alterations.  

Readings to include:

  • Banks, The Wasp Factory, 9780684853154
  • Richardson, Pointed Roofs
  • Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier 014118065X
  • West, The Sentinel
  • Katherine Mansfield’s Selected Stories, 0393925331
  • Wyndham Lewis, Tarr  0876857845
  • McCabe, Butcher Boy, 0385312377
  • Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, 0141441445
  • Burgess, A Clockwork Orange, 0393312836
  • Eliot, “The Waste Land”
  • Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 0199536449
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway 0-15-662870-8
  • Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight 0393303942


ENG 770: Seminar in American Literature I - Dr. Luis Iglesias (TR 2:25-3:40)

* fulfills American Literature I requirement

"Cooper, Melville, & Twain: Writers of the American Frontier(s)"

With the 1890 census, the United States declared the frontier was finally closed, citing that while isolated settlements could still be found, none existed outside the territorial United States.  In response, and fearful that nation would inevitably loose its distinctive dynamism, the historian Frederick Jackson Turner declared that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience. He may have been right.

Our class, “Cooper, Melville, & Twain: Writers of the American Frontier(s),” will explore the works of the three American authors most responsible for giving imaginative expression to the American frontier(s). In doing so, they each not only projected a national vision of the American Frontier(s) experience but also provided its cultural narrative. Focusing on the work of Cooper, our most uncanonical of canonical writers, we will examine his novels’ foundational portrayal of the early frontiers both west toward the plains and east across the Atlantic. We will uncover the ways Cooper’s novels set the tone and imaginative scale of the nation’s continental movement through his creation of the paradigmatic frontiersman – Natty Bumppo, Leather-Stocking – and the invention of the American sea novel,. Later, and in their own ways, Melville and Twain will follow (not without chagrin) Cooper’s narrative trail and tell the story of the nation’s problematic Manifest Destiny.

Readings to include:

  • James Fenimore Cooper’s Leather-Stocking Tales:

The Pioneers (1823)
The Last of the Mohicans (1826)
The Prairie (1827)
The Pathfinder (1840) [unfortunately excluded in the interest of time]
The Deerslayer (1841)

  • James Fenimore Cooper: The Red Rover (1827)
  • Herman Melville: Moby-Dick (1851)
  • Mark Twain: Roughing It (1872)
  • Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
  • Selected Frontier Theory from The American Adam (RWB Lewis), The Virgin Land (Henry Nash Smith), The Machine in the Garden (Leo Marx), Regeneration through Violence (Richard Slotkin), and The Lay of the Land (Annette Kolodny).