Spring 2017 Course Descriptions - Graduate


ENG 406/506

History of the English Language

MWF 9:00am – 9:50am

Professor Emeritus Stanley Hauer

The Lowdown: Come and learn the fascinating story of where your language comes from. Why you talk the way you do. Why you spell in this idiotic fashion we’ve adopted. Where does the question mark come from? Why are there all those final -e’s in so many words? Why do we use an apostrophe in possessives? What did Beowulf sound like to its original audience? Why does so much of Shakespeare no longer rhyme? After all, you’re going to spend the rest of your life talking, reading, and writing about the English language. So come get the facts. (This course fills up quickly; so enroll early.)
The Technical Stuff: This course surveys the history of our language from its origins in Indo-European through the present day. In intervals of two weeks, we shall study the following topics:
·      the Principles of Language
·      the Alphabet
·      Indo-European
·      Old English
·      Middle English
·      the Renaissance and 18th Century
·      American English
Assignments and Written Work:
·      two midterm examinations
·      final examination
·      a research essay
·      quizzes and special assignments
Texts include Algeo's The Origins and Development of the English Language, the workbook accompanying that text, and a book-length syllabus/study guide by the professor.



ENG 459/559

Milton and the Epic Impulse

TR 1:00pm - 2:15pm

Dr. Jameela Lares

Fulfills the requirements for British Lit I

O, for a muse of fire!  Today we think of the crowning literary genre as the novel, but in John Milton's day it was the epic—a long and luxurious narrative poem in the grand style, accompanied by recitals of societal lore, with a supernaturally assisted hero fighting an all-important conflict on a vast scale. In entertainment terms, the epic was an E-ticket ride. By the eighteenth century, the upstart novel (literally a "new thing") began displacing the epic, and even in the seventeenth century Milton wondered if his own time were not already an "age too late" for the genre.  In many ways, however, the epic impulse is still with us, in films, apocalypses, and even novels. 
This seminar will attempt to understand Milton's epic impulse by reading not only Paradise Lost and some other examples of his poetry and prose but also two major touchstone epics he thoroughly knew—Homer's Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid. We will also, depending on student interest, have presentations on other epics either before or after Milton's time, such as the anonymous Gilgamesh, Prudentius's Psychomachia, Dante's Divine Comedy, Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, Spenser's Faerie Queene, James Joyce's encyclopedic Ulysses, the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? as film remake of The Odyssey, or various epic sci-fi or superhero film franchises, or Moore and Gibbons's graphic novel Watchmen and similar graphic apocalypses. Seminar members will be encouraged to research a topic with significant connection to the course but which also advances their own research interests. 
Course requirements: (weights will differ between graduates and undergraduates): thoughtful reading of texts, regular attendance and participation in seminar discussions; regular blog posts and responses on Blackboard; one or two oral presentations with a short written component (undergraduates) or a more extended class teaching session and teaching portfolio write-up (graduates); a researched seminar paper.




ENG 611

Contemporary Literature

The Craft of Intimacy: Reading & Writing Contemporary Memoir

M 6:30pm – 9:15pm

Dr. Martina Sciolino

Fulfills the requirements for Literature in English after 1960

We will explore diverse forms of contemporary memoir by American women—essay, graphic autobiography, and poetry--with topics that range from race, sexuality and mental illness to loss, legacy and habitat.  We will discuss how readers are positioned as participants in the personal stories of strangers, how the representation of the self relates to alienation and wellbeing, and how the dynamics between personal experience and social critique affect composition and reception. Aside from preparing for classes and sharing in the conversation, participants will be expected to give one formal presentation and complete a seminar paper.
Our readings will include these primary texts (supplemented by significant autobiography theory in digital form):
Joan Didion, Where I Was From
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
Maggie Nelson, Argonauts
Lauren Slater, Lying
Claudia Rankine, Citizen
Sharon Olds, Stag’s Leap
Brandi George, Gog
Linda Hogan, The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir



ENG 620

Poetic Forms

Hybridity and the Collective Imagination

TH 3:30 – 6:15

Dr. Brandi George

Fulfills the requirements for Creative Writing Elective

This course will explore traditional poetic forms, erasures, hybrid genre and medium work, creative uses for archival research, and collaborations with humans and nonhumans. Writers of all genres are welcome. Beginning with Lisa Robertson’s essay “Time in the Codex” and Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, we’ll examine how images and narratives are transformed in the collective imagination. Next, we’ll take a look at the sonnet tradition, including works by William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ted Berrigan, and Olena Kalytiak Davis. In addition to traditional forms, we’ll examine Surrealist and Modernist techniques, such as erasures and cut-ups from Tom Philips, Ronald Johnson, and Collier Nogues. Through reading Anne Carson’s Nox and Joyelle McSweeney’s Percussion Grenade, we’ll explore the potential of hybrid genres and mediums. Finally, Susan Howe’s Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives will give us insight on how to use archival research for creative projects.


Required texts:

Jorge Luis Borges, Book of Imaginary Beings (Penguin Classics, 2006)

Anne Carson, Nox (New Directions, 2010)

Olena Kalytiak Davis, Shattered Sonnets (Copper Canyon, 2014)

Joyelle McSweeney, Percussion Grenade (Fence Books, 2012)



ENG 627

Intro to Publishing: Publishing and the Profession

W 6:30pm – 9:15pm

Dr. Angela Ball

Fulfills the requirements for Creative Writing Elective

TEXTS: PAPER DREAMS, by Travis Kurowski.
Literary Magazines available in room 364.  Handouts and/or online resources.
REQUIREMENTS: Attendance and participation in group projects: 75% of grade.
Individual projects: 25% of grade.
Publishing and the Profession will be a hands-on introduction to the publishing aspect of writing as a profession. The course is intended to help you develop multiple ways in which to participate in the ongoing conversation that is literature. It will be up to each of you to get from this course what you want/need, so it is important to ask questions frequently and to request the information that will be most helpful.




ENG 641

Advanced Research and Methods in English

TR 6:30pm – 9:15pm

Dr. Nicolle Jordan 

An intensive 8-week course, ENG 641 focuses on research methods and critical methodologies for literary study. Assignments include presentations, an annotated bibliography, and an article-length final project. Regular peer workshops will steer students through the process of finding a research focus, identifying suitable sources, and writing and revising a final paper. 




ENG 671

American Poetry 1900 – 1950

M 3:30pm – 6:15pm

Dr. Jonathan Barron

Fulfills the requirements for British and American Lit 1890 - 1960

This class, a survey, will look at the most innovative moment in the history of American poetry, the period from 1900 to 1950. We will look at a broad range of poets beginning with the late 19th century symbolists and decadents and moving through to High Modernism.  Along the way, we will discover a few still under-appreciated poets and poetic movements. The chief text for the class will be The New Anthology of American Poetry: Volume 2. In addition to that anthology’s selections from this period’s many poets, we will also read secondary scholarly and literary historical assessments of Modernism. 



ENG 673

Topics in African-American Literature

Activists, Intellectuals, and Political Movements in African American Literature

MW 2:00 – 3:15pm

Dr. Sherita L. Johnson

Fulfills the requirements for Non-Traditional Literature

The impetus for this course is to consider the legacies of African American writers as activists-intellectuals and their commitment to the Maat principle of advocating truth, justice and rightness in the world. According to Maulana Karenga, “this tradition extends back to ancient Egypt with its model of the socially conscious and activist intellectual, the sesh, who understood themselves in both moral and social terms and constantly expressed a commitment to using their knowledge and skills in the service of the people.” Our survey will begin with Frederick Douglass’ abolitionism, writing himself into the public sphere; leading into the dawn of the 20th century with W.E.B. DuBois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett at the vanguard of the Niagara Movement (1905-1909); concentrating on alternate perspectives of the modern civil rights movement from the pages of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time (1963) and Alice Walker’s Meridian (1976). Coming full circle at the end of the Obama era, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me (2015) will lead us into critical discussions about ideologies in African American literature, the measure of progress, and the lessons that we can/must learn from movements to secure the freedom and protection of black lives in particular but also universal human rights.

*In light of recent scholarship, our literary studies will be supplemented by the “photographic narrative” of black America with these highly recommended texts: Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century's Most Photographed American (Liveright, 2015) and Vision & Justice: Aperture Magazine (Book 223, April / 2016)




ENG 722

Seminar in Poetry Writing

Who are I?: Magic, Destruction, and Identity

W 3:30 – 6:15

Dr. Brandi George


Hélène Cixous writes, “Who can say who I are, how many I are, which I is the most of my I’s?” In this course, we will interrogate our polyphonic selves, how a poet’s consciousness translates onto the page through form and chance, while reading and responding to each other’s work in a traditional workshop format. The course is divided into four parts:


  • Who Are I?: Reincarnation Project—Trace your poetic lineage
  • Magic, Archetype, and Image—Borrow from occult practices
  • Reading Against—Experiment with works that oppose your aesthetics
  • Demolition— Revise poems using a “destructive” methodology


Required texts:

Latasha N. Nevada Diggs, Twerk (Belladonna, 2013)

Bhanu Kapil, Schizophrene (Nightboat Books, 2011)

Dean Young, The Art of Recklessness (Graywolf Press, 2010)




ENG 744

Feminist Theory

TR 11:00am - 12:15pm

Dr. Linda Allen 

Fulfills the requirements for Lit Theory

Awesome things you can expect to do in this class:

  • Learn about various feminist theories, from community-based and U.S., to transnational, postcolonial, and critical race feminisms
  • Practice applying these theories to the way we read literature, society, and ourselves, discussing current events through the lens of this theoretical framework
  • Learn to express feminist criticism using academic writing (and learn academic writing in the process)
  • Put theory into practice, exploring useful avenues through which to direct our critiques
  • Develop skills useful for our own professional development, and for the job market in particular




ENG 764


Whodunit: Victorian Detective Fiction

T 3:30pm - 6:15pm

Dr. Alexandra Valint


Fulfills the requirements for British Lit II

Detective fiction emerges and flourishes during the Victorian period. Edgar Allan Poe basically invented the detective story with "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" in 1841. We will start by reading some of Poe's groundbreaking detective stories before reading seminal Victorian developments of the form by Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes remains literature's most famous fictional detective. We will also read several lesser-known works that feature lady detectives, paying particular attention to how the gender of the detective affects the investigation and the narrative. To better understand criminality and policing in the Victorian period, we will immerse ourselves in several real-life Victorian mysteries--such as the Jack the Ripper murders. Additionally, by approaching detective fiction as a genre with conventions and readerly expectations, we will learn not only how to analyze departures from the emerging norm but also to transfer our knowledge to detective fiction from other times and places beyond Victorian England.