Transnational Literature by Women

Dr. Young-ok An, Spring 2018

Social Justice & Urban Design

Dr. Fernando Sanchez, Spring 2018

Global Transcendentalism

Dr. Laura Zebuhr, Summer 2018

Intro to Creative Writing & Publishing

Dr. Chris Santiago, Fall 2018

Chaucer & the Unruly Other

Dr. Martin Warren, Spring 2019


Spring 2018 Courses

Teaching College English

What is English studies for—to appreciate art, develop empathy, construct self or national identity, make social change?  Given that, how do we teach it?  This seminar will explore the debates and controversies in the research on teaching English at the university level.  We will hone in on key terms and threshold concepts in both Composition Studies and Literary Studies (including literacy studies, cultural studies, literary theory, pedagogy, and rhetoric), and translate what we learn in these debates to actual classroom practices that reflect both our evolving pedagogical values, and the current research in English studies pedagogy.  In their assignments, 507 students will explore and apply concepts to classroom practice.   This course is designed to prepare future university professors in English as well as current high school English teachers who teach in the College in the Schools program.

GENG 507-01 Teaching College English Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Lucia Pawlowski JRC 414

View in Classfinder.

Science Fiction Literature

In its fascinating evolution, science fiction has always functioned as a lens to think about society, whether it's Mary Shelley in 1818 looking on as Victor Frankenstein turns to modern experiments with electricity in the laboratory or Ernest Cline in 2011 imagining the energy crisis and global warming in a near-future world. We will approach the genre of SF as a mode of thought-experimentation and world-building that problematizes actual and possible political, cultural, natural, human, and techno-scientific realities. Among the themes included are environment apocalypse, the alien, utopias and dystopias, race, gender, and sexuality, religion, and culture. Possible texts (written and filmic) are Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), The Left Hand of Darkness, District 9, The Handmaid's Tale, Parable of the Sower, The Fat Year, and Black Mirror.


GENG 514-01 Science Fiction Literature Mondays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Martin Warren OEC 210

View in Classfinder.

Professional Writing: Social Justice & Urban Space

This course focuses on a pressing question in the field of professional writing: How can we promote social justice in urban contexts? Too often, the needs of low-income, disabled, and minority citizens are not taken into account when city planners, architects, and lawmakers make decisions about how urban spaces will be designed and used. As writers, we can influence decision-making in a way that takes into account the needs of disenfranchised members of our community. This course will provide you with the research and writing tools you need to promote "spatial justice" -- the creation of urban parks, buildings, and other public spaces that are safe, accessible, and useful for all members of the community. As part of the course, we will study issues of social justice and space right here in the Twin Cities community (e.g., the controversial redesign of the former Ford site in Highland Park). Students will also write and submit project proposals on issues pertaining to social justice and urban space to national conferences such as Conference on College Composition and Communication and The Watson Conference.

GENG 572-01 Professional Writing: Social Justice & Urban Space Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Fernando Sanchez JRC 481

View in Classfinder.

Transnational Writings by Romantic Women Writers

Travel, journey, voyage, sojourn, especially into a foreign land—the words are magic, and they evoke in us an opportunity for self-discovery and discovery of the new world. What about women’s travels or female travels imagined by women writers? Do these add additional “baggage”?

Inspired by the burgeoning “literary mobility studies”—which include studies of travel writing, narratives of migration and the impact of wars and power hierarchies—this course examines a fantastic array of women’s writing, focusing on the late eighteenth century through the mid-nineteenth century, when international traveling spread and became firmly established in cultural and literary discourse. The era’s important scientific and territorial “discoveries”—including Captain James Cook’s journeys to the Antipodes and to Hawaii and Mungo Park’s excursions to Africa—fed the reading public’s rising interests in the “outside” world, and literary writers met them with stories of the faraway lands.

Women writers increasingly participated in this repertoire, exploring the theme of journeys into foreign lands. Spanning various genres (including poetry, novels, plays, epistolary forms, literary annuals, etc.), these women writers experimented with various literary trajectories usually assumed to be the prerogatives of male writers (Byron being the most celebrated case). Residing in distant times or traversing different geographical areas, their memorable characters seem to work as their avatars; and the “exotic” female characters reflect their own aspirations and anxieties. Thus these women writers challenged the cult of domesticity inculcated in women of the time on the one hand (by becoming authors and by shaping the general public’s imagination about women’s mobility), and commented on the prevailing ideologies of British nationalism and imperialism on the other. They revealed that individual and national identities were often socially constructed, and along gendered lines. These issues concerning mobility, emigration, science, nature, imperialism, cosmopolitanism, and transnational crossings resonate in our time as much as theirs.

Course readings may include authors such as Madame de Graffigny (Letters from A Peruvian Woman, translated from French), Flora Tristan (Peregrinations of a Pariah), Mary Wollstonecraft (Letters from Scandinavia), Mary Shelley (Collected Tales and Stories; Lodore), Felicia Hemans (The Forest Sanctuary and other poems), Letitia Landon (Romance and Reality and poems), and Jemima Layton (Spanish Tales), along with secondary sources.

This course satisfies the pre-1830 British literature requirement. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor.

GENG 629-01 Transnational Writings by Romantic Women Writers Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Young-ok An OEC 212

View in Classfinder.

Theorizing The Black Body

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, in Between the World and Me, that "In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body -- it is heritage." To some this may be a shocking claim, but to the black subject, this is a most unavoidable truth. From Federick Douglass, who enters the "blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery," by witnessing the brutal beating of his aunt; to the young girl Frado, of Harriet Wilson's Our Nig, whose body is slowly broken and destroyed by the vicious cruelty of her owners, the Bellmont family; to the thousands of black men whose bodies were destroyed in various awful ways in perverse lynching scenes; to the bloodied head of John Lewis; to Michael Brown's lifeless body lying in a Ferguson street -- the whiteness and American culture could not exist. This course will examine the black body as a manifestation of blackness, as a site of abjection, as a source of magic and power, and as a mystical technology. Primary authors may include Harriet Wilson, Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Octavia Butler, and Walter Mosely. Theorists may include Sadiya Hartman, Christina Sharpe, Alexander Weheliye, Franz Fanon, and others. This course satisfies the Multicultural Literature distribution requirement. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor

GENG 660-01 Theorizing The Black Body Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Todd Lawrence JRC 222

View on Classfinder.

Summer 2018 Courses

Power to the People: Street Art & Literature in London

This interdisciplinary course will introduce students to the diversity of contemporary British culture, focusing primarily on the art and literature produced in the multicultural metropolis, London. By visiting a range of sites, including multiethnic neighborhoods, museums, public squares, and community centers, students will understand the complex interactions of gender, sexuality, race, and class within contemporary London. “Power to the People” will allow students to explore the multiple ways in which communities across London have created their own art in their own spaces and written back to the dominant logic of Empire and Colony. This course will provide a strong grounding in postcolonial and migrant theories of art and culture, while also offering a cross-disciplinary perspective on the intersections between social change, popular resistance, and creative work.

“Power to the People” is structured around three seminar meetings on campus in Saint Paul and seven days of coursework on the ground in London (nine days, including travel time).

Visit our study abroad page for more details.

GENG 5xx-01 Power to the People: Street Art & Literature in London Hybrid on Campus/Abroad Dr. Kanishka Chowdhury & Dr. Heather Shirey Room TBD

Global Transcendentalism

This course considers the work of American Transcendentalists in a transnational and transhistorical context. We look at contemporaneous European philosophers -- Kant, Nietzsche, Swedenborg, Marx, Darwin, etc. -- to help frame the intellectual and literary context for Transcendentalism more broadly. We will then assess scholars' recent claims that these authors anticipate major twentieth-century philosophical movements like existentialism and phenomenology. Finally, we will investigate Transcendentalism's influence on movements such as Civil Rights, Indian Independence, and environmentalism. This course satisfies the pre-1900 American Literature distribution requirement.

This course will meet four times on campus during summer session II, with the remainder of classwork being done online. See the classfinder listing for all the details.

GENG 547-01 Global Transcendentalism Hybrid Online/On Campus (Summer II) Dr. Laura Zebuhr MHC 211

View in Classfinder

Fall 2018 Courses

Issues in Criticism

An introduction to the principal theoretical issues and questions in the discipline of literary studies. The course explores the major contemporary approaches to literary studies in the context of various traditions of literary theory and criticism. It encourages students to assess constructively some of the key controversies in contemporary critical theory and apply their learning to the interpretation of literary texts. This required course must be taken as one of the first three courses in the program.

GENG 513-01 Issues in Criticism Date TBD, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Prof TBD JRC 481


Intro to Creative Writing & Publishing

Introduction to Creative Writing and Publishing provides a primer to the expectations and conventions of graduate study in the field of creative writing, including creative writing pedagogy and practice, the running of a literary reading series, innovative forms of creative writing such as podcasting and interactive writing, as well as the study of the publishing field of creative writing; its areas of specialization, key issues, and forms of writing. How do writers orient themselves and their work in 21sts century workshops? What are the tools that govern print design, interactive prose, or literary podcasts? What is the history of the publishing industry and how does that inform our present moment? This course is required for the Master of Arts in Creative Writing & Publishing and is an elective for the Master of Arts in English.

GENG 501-01 Intro to Creative Writing & Publishing Date TBD, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Dr. Chris Santiago Location TBD


Black Mystery Novel

While for many Americans, the law and its enforcement have served to assuage anxieties about order and stability and to provide for a sense of security (“To Protect and Serve”), for African Americans the law has often been a barrier to freedom and dignity – a clear and present danger to human existence. It is the volatile nature of this relationship that makes detective, crime, and mystery novels by African American writers so fascinating. More often than not, the characters in these novels exist in a world where criminality depends entirely on one’s perspective. Often the real villain is a power structure that attempts to define and fix identity, status, privilege, and even humanity itself. This course will explore the complex terrain of crime and mystery novels written by black authors and seek to understand the ways protagonists of these works occupy a unique and precarious position while attempting to negotiate a world in which notions of “criminality,” “justice,” and “morality” are highly contested and almost always dependent on who occupies the positions of power. We will also explore the ways that black criminality can offer a powerful indictment of the very laws and systems that seek to regulate it. 

GENG 560-01 Black Mystery Novel Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Todd Lawrence Location TBD


Rise of the Novel

In this course, we'll study the eighteenth-century novel as it developed both in Britain and on the Continent. Early novels often took the form of autobiographies, and we'll examine the connection between life-writing and novel-writing. In tracing the birth and growth of what came to be a major genre, we'll be exploring class, gender, cultural and economic issues, and their relationship to what we now call the novel's realism. The writers we will study include Eliza Haywood, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Henry Fielding, Jane Austen, Choderlos de Laclos, Denis Diderot, and Goethe. The course takes its title from Ian Watt's classic study from 1957, which tied the novel closely to the emergent capitalism of the early eighteenth century. To what extent has has recent criticism and theory moved beyond Watt? Do we still see the phenomenon of the rise of the novel in the same way he did? Among the many critics and theorists of the novel, we will read work by Michael Foucault, Michael McKeon, Walter Benjamin, and Nancy Armstrong. This course satisfies the pre-1800 British Literature distribution requirement. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor.

GENG 628-01 Rise of the Novel Date TBD, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Raymond MacKenzie Room TBD


Colonial American Literature

In this course we survey various kinds of writing in the American colonies and United States from 1492 to the turn of the 19th century. Genres of writing include letters, captivity narratives, autobiography, political writing, slave narratives, fiction, and poetry. Our focus will be three-fold: the texts themselves; practices of literacy; and the historical contexts in which these texts and practices emerged. This course satisfies the pre-1900 American Literature distribution requirement. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor.

GENG 642-01 Colonial American Lit Mondays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Laura Zebuhr Room TBD


Spring 2019 Courses

Between Worlds: Living on the Racial Divide

This course will explore the history of women’s writing about miscegenation and its consequences for women’s lives in the United States.  Before the Civil War, “tragic mulatta” tales like Lydia Maria Child’s “The Quadroons” and Dion Boucicault’s popular play The Octoroon invoked sympathy for female characters born in mixed-race unions who are raised as affluent white women only to discover, on their father’s death, that they are legally black by the “one drop” rule and will be sold as slaves.  Like the parading of near-white slaves at rallies, these narratives were used in the service of enlisting white support for abolition.  Yet more sophisticated texts, like Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Child’s Romance of the Republic worked changes on the “tragic mulatta” tale that allowed these writers to grapple with complex questions of racial identity raised by the highly charged subject positions of mixed-race persons in antebellum society.  Obviously, the racial rift in America did not disappear with the ending of slavery; twentieth century writers continued to interrogate issues of identity formation, civil rights, women’s rights, and relational and familial dynamics using the liminal position of the mixed-race woman to define both problems and triumphs.  We’ll explore the no-win situations created by Nella Larsen in Quicksand and Passing and the somewhat more hopeful explorations of race offered by current authors like Gloria Naylor (Mama Day) and Natasha Trethewey (Bellotcq’s Ophelia), along with a selection from the compelling body of historical and literary criticism on miscegenation.  

GENG 558-01 Between Worlds: Living on the Racial Divide Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Cathy Craft-Fairchild Room TBD


Language & Identity in Anglophone Literature

Detailed course description is forthcoming.

GENG 598-01 Language & Identity in Anglophone Literature Mondays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Juan Li Room TBD

Writing Fiction

A workshop experience involving the ongoing exploration of subject matter and technique. Readings will include theoretical and creative texts. This course will also discuss fiction writing in publishing contexts – how literary works are written, revised, submitted, acquired, edited, and marketed by presses. The course will also give students insight into broader issues in the publishing world such as the rise of small and independent presses, university presses, traditional major presses, as well as online publishing, self publishing, and issues of access and diversity in the literary marketplace. The course will include guest lectures or other engagements with agents and/or editors from the publishing community.

GENG 602-01 Writing Fiction Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Sal Pane Room TBD


Chaucer and the Unruly Other

Geoffrey Chaucer, the fourteenth-century English poet, ambassador, and controller of customs, was a man well-versed in a variety of languages. Notable for his translation of Boethius' CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY and his translation of the French classic THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE (a translation which the French raved about), Chaucer is known mostly for his great social comedy, THE CANTERBURY TALES as well as his TROILUS AND CRISEYDE. This seminar will explore how in a highly stratified society, Chaucer offers a sympathetic treatment of women, the common people, and those deemed as the Other or outsider. This course satisfies the Pre-1800 British Literature distribution requirement and counts as a 600-level seminar. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor and degree-seeking status.

GENG 621-01 Chaucer & The Unruly Other Mondays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Martin Warren Room TBD


Transnational Lit in the Age of Neoliberalism

In a recent piece, "The Location of Literature: The Transnational Book and the Migrant Writer," Rebecca Wolkowitz suggests that "contemporary literature in the age of globalization is, in many ways, a COMPARATIVE literature: works circulate in many literary systems at once, and can-- some would say, need [to]--be read within severe national traditions" (my emphasis). In this course, we will examine the premise of this claim, examining a range of texts within the context of some of the vast changes that have taken place in the global economy in the last twenty years. We will focus on just a few distinctive feature of the present conjuncture: the political economy of transnationalism--how the acceleration in transnational capital accumulation and the accompanying dispossession of the poor and rise in migrant and refugee populations (especially in/from the Global South), have been highlighted or displaced in the transnational text; the emergence of a transnational citizen --how questions about citizenship have evolved at a time when national borders have become both more rigid and more fluid; gender in a transnational world--how gender has been used to demarcate and negotiate political and economic conflicts; and finally, the idea of transnational ethics-- how the events of 9/11 and the subsequent "war on terror" have realigned our notions of human rights. The texts we will read do not merely serve as "vessels" for economic or social positions, nor are they simply allied or resistant to dominant neoliberal paradigms; instead, like most texts, they yield contradictory "meanings," and we will consider ways in which these texts succeed or fail within the conditions of their own production. The course will explore a range of voices, including Arvind Adiga, Anthony Appiah, Giovanni Arrighi, Alain Badiou, Judith Butler, Rey Chow, Teju Cole, Amma Darko, David Harvey, Eduardo Galeano, Muhammed Hanif, Caren Kaplan, Arundhati Roy, Amartya Sen, Gayatri Spivak, and Slavoj Zizek. Each student will write blog entries, a mid-term paper, and a final essay, and s/he will also be responsible for an extended presentation. A list of books and films will be available at the end of the fall semester. This course satisfies the Multicultural Literature distribution requirement and counts as one 600-level course. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor.

GENG 658-01 Transnational Lit in the Age of Neoliberalism Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Kanishka Chowdhury Room TBD