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School of Humanities

English Graduate Course Descriptions

Spring 2020

ENG 485/585

Survey of the Literature of the South

Deep South

MW 4:00PM-5:15PM

Dr. Kate Cochran

*old degree plan:  British & American Lit 1890-1960 OR literatures in English after 1960 

*new degree plan: American literature post 1865

 cochran cd

This course explores southern literature from its origins in the eighteenth century to the present, through poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, plays, movies, and novels. We will be asking questions both foundational (what is “the South”?) and topical (how does the national media perpetuate southern stereotypes?). Undergraduate students will participate in class discussion and activities, write three response papers, and complete a final research project. Graduate students will have additional responsibilities, including reading critical articles, writing extended papers, and leading a class discussion.


ENG 625

Readings in Fiction

Tu, 6:00PM - 9:00PM

Monika Gehlawat

*fulfills CW elective

*only open to CW students

gehlawat cd

Readings in Fiction offers a craft-based approach to studying literary classics, modern and contemporary literature, as well as seminal craft essays and books. Drawing from fiction on the creative writing exam lists as well as new and emerging writers, this class requires students to read and discuss a broad range of literature with an eye towards formal innovation and the choices writers make to get there.

Among others, we will read Guy de Maupassant, Thomas Mann, Elfriede Jelinek, Vladimir Nabokov, Aravind Adiga, Patricia Highsmith, James Salter, Marilynne Robinson, Lauren Groff, and Roque Larraquy.



ENG 627

Introduction to Publishing

MTWRF, 11:00AM - 1:45PM - January Intersession

Dr. Adam Clay

*fulfills CW elective

*only open to CW students


ENG 627 is a course primarily focused on literary citizenship and engagement in the publishing world. The course will allow students to gain hands-on experience through reading submissions and selecting finalists for the Mississippi Review Prize. We’ll also publish an issue of Product Magazine and organize an event to correspond with its release. During the term we’ll host a range of guest speakers via Skype to learn about their roles in an ever-changing literary world. In addition to considering the publishing world from the perspective of an editor, we’ll also discuss techniques and approaches from the perspective of a writer, which will include selecting magazines and journals to submit work to, drafting cover and query letters, and other elements writers need to be aware of when publishing creative work.


ENG 641

Advanced Research and Methods in English

Fr 4:00PM - 6:45PM

Joshua Bernstein

*required for MA and PhD in literature

*open to creative writing students, fulfills CW elective 


This course will help you enhance your research methods and editing skills so that you can turn a seminar paper into a thesis defense and/or published article. We will submit and workshop assignments with a view towards bolstering their claims, expanding their arguments, and revising them for clarity and concision. During the course, you’ll likely consult with specialists in your paper’s field, including your seminar professor. We’ll ask what editors and reviewers look for in evaluating academic work, and we’ll talk about the process and expectations of publishing, as well as strategies going forward. We will also explore some of the changes in academic publishing and norms, the use of specialized or non-specialized language in writing, the growing trend of memoir in criticism, as well as its risks, and the evolving landscape for literary critics. While we won’t favor any particular kind of criticism, we will encourage you to dig deeply in your writing and produce your best work. This class is designed for both literature and creative writing students.


ENG 670

Studies in American Literature I

The Rise of the Novel in America

M 6:00PM-9:00PM

Dr. Luis Iglesias

*old degree plans: American lit to 1890

*new degree plans: American literature to 1865; early literature 

 iglesias cd

It is a commonplace to say that the Novel arose in response to the Age of Print, the Rise of Middle Class, the Protestant Reformation, and the discovery of the New World. It is striking that that can also be said of the United States as a nation. Our course will explore the confluence of these historical and cultural forces as they find expressive and aesthetic form in this new genre, “The Novel.” “The Rise of Novel in America” will examine the emergence of the form as it responds to a transatlantic exchange of ideas and aesthetics, beginning in the 17th century. We will read primary texts as well as secondary texts that theorize and historicize the novel in both formal and nationalist terms.

Potential Reading List:

The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, Mary Rowlandson (1682)

Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (1719)

Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth, Susanna Rowson (1791)

The Algerine Captive, or, The Life and Adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill, Royall Tyler (1797)

Edgar Huntly, Or, Memoirs of a Sleepwalker, Charles Brockden Brown (1799)

The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground, James Fenimore Cooper (1820)

A New-England Tale, or, Sketches of New-England Character, Catherine Maria Sedgwick (1822)

Ruth Hall, Fanny Fern (1854)

Benito Cereno, Herman Melville (1856)

Blake, or the Huts of America, Martin Delany (1859–62)



ENG 673

Topics in African American Literature

R 1-3:45 PM

Dr. Sherita L. Johnson

*old degree plans: Literatures in English after 1960 OR non-traditional

*new degree plans: American literature post 1865, non-traditional 


“Slavery. Segregation. Social Justice.”

Looking back over the past three centuries, this course will explore the intersections of African American literature, activism, and art. We will take a cultural studies approach to examine writings by Frances Harper, Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Claudia Rankine, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. From minstrelsy to Kara Walker's radical silhouettes, other art forms will be integrated into our study of the interlocking legacies of slavery, racial segregation, and social justice movements.

Course requirements: Written assignments may include bi-weekly critical analysis papers and a seminar-length paper leading to a potential conference presentation and/or article publication.



ENG 721

Seminar in Fiction Writing:

The Long and Short of It

W, 1-3:45 PM

Dr. Olivia Clare

clare cdThis semester, we’ll focus on flash fiction and longer stories. That said, you may submit works of various lengths (short stories or novel chapters) for workshop. You might consider submitting several pieces of flash or one longer story for workshop, with an aim to develop your practice of compression and expansion. 

In addition, we will discuss: beginnings, characterization, dialogue, setting, pacing, momentum, subtlety, syntax, syncopation, tension, anticipation, endings, style, your creative life, your reading habits, your writing habits, revision, publishing, and literary citizenship. We’ll focus on your fiction, but writers from any genre are welcome.



ENG 721

Seminar in Fiction Writing

Tu 1:00PM - 3:45PM

Joshua Bernstein

 bernstein cd

Although all forms of literary fiction will be welcome in this workshop, our focus this semester will be on longer projects, namely novels and linked story collections. Rather than requiring the traditional two or three submissions per writer, we will encourage writers to workshop one longer submission, such as the opening pages of a novel or collection. (Those who would rather submit shorter works at multiple points will also be permitted to do so.) Thus, this workshop is especially well-suited for those who hope to query an agent or assemble disparate works into a cohesive whole. We’ll also talk about the process of publishing, working with agents, going the route of contests, and more, and we’ll read with an eye towards producing a book-length work. Lest anyone accuse us of crass professionalism, however, we’ll also trace the history of novel-writing, explore recent demands and changes in publishing, and ask what these changes mean for us as writers and artists. Finally, since no class on novels would be complete without, say, some novels, we’ll read a few of those.


            Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote

            The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West

            Suttree, Cormac McCarthy



ENG 722



W 6:00 – 9:00

Dr. Angela Ball


This workshop has its source in Lars von Trier’s 2003 film, The Five Obstructions, in which von Trier asks his mentor, director Jorgen Leth, to remake his 1967 short film, The Perfect Human in accordance with various crippling stipulations, or “obstructions,” such as “no frame longer than twelve seconds,” “set it in the worst place in the world,” etc. In the workshop version, the student submits his or her poem, which is commented on by the first respondent, also known as the “vile obstructionist,” then by the group as a whole. At the end of the discussion, the obstructionist provides the poet one or more obstructions which he or she must use in the revision.



ENG 744

Games and Literary Theory

TH 6:00PM - 9:00PM

Dr. Craig Carey

*fulfills literary theory

 carey cd

This seminar will explore the affinities and divergences between games and literary theory, offering an introduction to recent work in game studies. We’ll consider how game scholars have adapted concepts, methods, and practices from literary criticism to analyze video games and interactive narratives. We’ll also consider how games can provoke new critical methods for thinking about literature, fiction, and narrative, close reading a few games collectively. Each week, we’ll approach games from a different perspective, exploring issues related to ludology and narratology, aesthetics and fictionality, space and environmental storytelling, rules and procedural rhetoric, gender and sexuality, queerness and queer theory, ethics and ethical criticism, reader response theory and player involvement, ecology and ecocriticism, affect theory and sensation, phenomenology and embodiment, and interpretation and meaning making. No gaming experience is required—just a desire to learn more about how games are reconfiguring literary theory for what Eric Zimmerman calls the “ludic century.”

Course readings will include selected chapters from:

· Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

· Janet H. Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace

· First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, Wardrip-Fruin and Harrigan (eds.)

· Jesper Juul, Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds

· Graeme Kirkpatrick, Aesthetic Theory and the Video Game

· Ian Bogost, Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism

· Souvik Mukerjee, Video Games and Storytelling: Reading Games and Playing Books

· Alexander R. Galloway, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture

· Michael Nitsche, Video Game Spaces: Image, Play, and Structure in 3D Worlds

· Shira Chess, Ready Player Two: Women Gamers and Designed Identity (2017)

· Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games, Jennifer Malkowski and TreaAndrea M. Russworm (eds.)

· Queer Game Studies, Bonnie Ruberg (ed.)

· Alenda Y. Chang, Playing Nature: Ecology in Video Games

· Aubrey Anable, Playing with Feelings: Video Games and Affect

· Brendan Keogh, A Play of Bodies: How We Perceive Videogames



ENG 758

Site-Specific Environments in English Renaissance Drama

Tu 1:00PM – 3:45PM

Dr. Christopher Foley

*old degree plans: British Literature to 1660

*new degree plans: British literature to 1800, early literature


From its earliest origins in ritual processions, drama has been—and continues to be—both an embodied and a spatial art form.  As such, it is uniquely suited among art forms for an embodied exploration of environmental issues and concerns across a range of historical and geographic settings, from ancient ritualistic processions to contemporary site- or place-specific performance locations across the globe.  Arguably, this intersection of embodiment and environment inherent to the dramatic experience is a fundamental yet understudied aspect of English Renaissance drama, especially in light of prevalent humoral and miasmic theories in the period.  Drawing on such historical conceptions of body-environment interaction as well as key theoretical writings addressing “site-specificity” and “environmental theatre” from the contemporary field of performance studies, we will ask and analyze how a range of plays written by Shakespeare and his contemporaries—first staged in a variety of performance environments across London—attended to the environmental and public health issues facing the exponentially growing city at the turn of the 17th century.  Such issues included, but were not limited to: rotting corpses, improperly disposed sewage, sexually transmitted diseases, precarious food supplies, noise pollution, and—of course—the plague.



ENG 763

Pathologized Bodies:
Race, Disability, and Romanticism

M 2:30-5:30

Dr. Emily Stanback

*old degree plans: British Lit 1660-1890

*new degree plans: British literature post 1800

*non-traditional requirement

Tobin Siebers has described aesthetics as the field of study that “tracks the sensations that some bodies feel in the presence of other bodies.” This fundamentally embodied concept of aesthetics is appropriate to literature of the Romantic era and serves as an inspiration for our discussion of Romanticism’s bodies in general, its marginalized human bodies in particular, and how non-normative modes of embodiment shape literature of the era.

As a class whose methodology draws significantly on the medical humanities, our starting point will be Romantic-era medicine and science. To contextualize literary depictions of non-white and disabled people, we will examine the ways that medicine and science similarly studied, exploited, and pathologized both disabled and non-European bodies in the 18th and 19th centuries.

This course will give students a general overview of the era; will foreground some of its key concepts (including sympathy, the imagination, and the sublime); and will dwell on some of its canonical literary authors (including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Mary Shelley), some of its canonical literary texts (including Lyrical Ballads and Frankenstein), and some of its better known scientific and medical figures (including John Hunter and Captain James Cook). But we will also discuss less canonical depictions of race and disability: William Earle’s Obi: or, the History of Three-Fingered Jack, for example, and William Parnell’s Julietta, Or The Triumph of Mental Acquirements over Personal Defects. We’ll also spend a week on “bad” (ethically problematic, but also in many cases stylistically problematic) medical poetry. Finally, we will briefly discuss the literary legacies of Romantic-era bodies, looking at Victor LaVavalle’s Destroyer and Suzan-Lori Parks’s postmodern play Venus.



Fall 2019 Course Descriptions


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