Recent Course Offerings

Summer 2019 Courses

The Victorian age was a period of literary innovation. With the rise of periodicals came the serial novel, which soon became a ubiquitous part of everyday life. The three-volume realist novel emerged with the proliferation of lending libraries, which imposed a censoring effect on literary production. The sensation novel, New Woman novel, and detective serial genres were all born in the Victorian period, and the epic poem, fairy tale, and gothic novel were reinvented in ways that spoke to the scandals and social controversies of the modern age. New genres arose alongside other new technologies and innovations – e.g., the railway, illustrated advertisements, film, mass-market journalism, and photography – which intersected with literary genres in exciting ways. The reading list will include works by Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Mary Braddon, and Frances Browne. This is a hybrid course. We will meet three hours per week for ten weeks. The other four weeks will be dedicated to conferencing and independent research. This course satisfies the Early British Literature requirement (previous curriculum) or the Early British/American requirement (new curriculum).

GENG 630-01 Victorian Literary Genres Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Alexis Easley OEC 208

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Spring 2019 Courses

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 Sal Pane OEC 210

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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. This course satisfies the pre-1900 American Literature distribution requirement for the old curriculum or the early British/American requirement for the new curriculum.

GENG 573-01 Between Worlds: Living on the Racial Divide Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Cathy Craft-Fairchild OEC 212

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In what forms do Chaucer and the Middle Ages persist in the modern cultural landscape? This question will guide this seminar, which explores the global reception history of Geoffrey Chaucer from his earliest English and French contemporaries to modern-day popular culture and digital media. Focusing on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the seminar will “code-switch” between medieval and postmedieval frames of reference. First, we will read The Canterbury tales by Chaucer; second, we will consider how Chaucerian works are repurposed in modern media (such as spoken word poetry, visual art, film, dialect literature, YouTube videos, and comic books). As this course toggles between modes of reading, it tests the boundaries between literary criticism and popular reception history. It also asks how present-day translation theory confronts a perceived chasm separating static text-based models of “translation” from embodied culture-based models of “adaptation.”

Thus, beyond studying Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the seminar will (1) examine the online Global Chaucers project that logs and links translations and adaptations across the world; (2) explore the work of British-Nigerian poet, performer and rapper, Patience Agbabi, who revisits The Canterbury Tales and mines the Middle-English text to offer a 21st-century take on the characters, its poetry and its performance elements; and (3) wrestle with the six-part BBC Canterbury Tales adaptations of specific Canterbury Tales which are transferred to a modern, 21st-century setting, but still set along the traditional Pilgrims' route to Canterbury.

This course satisfies the Pre-1800 British Literature distribution requirement and counts as a 600-level seminar. This course also satisfies the Literature in a Global, Transatlantic, or Transnational Perspective for new curriculum. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor and degree-seeking status.

GENG 621-01 Telling Tales: A Chaucer Remix Mondays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Martin Warren OEC 212

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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. This course also satisfies the Literature in a Global, Transatlantic, or Transnational Perspective for new curriculum. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor.

GENG 660-01 Transnational Lit in the Age of Neoliberalism Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Kanishka Chowdhury JRC 481

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Fall 2018 Courses

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 Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Dr. Chris Santiago LIB LL21

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This course provides an introduction to the expectations and conventions of graduate study, including research and writing methodology. In addition, it will introduce students to the field of English studies: its areas of specialization, key issues, and genres of writing. This course must be taken as one of the first three courses in the MA in English program. This course is required for the Master of Arts in English program.

GENG 513-01 Intro to Grad Studies in English Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Young-ok An JRC 481

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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. This course satisfies the multicultural literature requirement.

GENG 560-01 Black Mystery Novel Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Todd Lawrence JRC 246

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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-1900 British Literature distribution requirement (previous curriculum) or the early British/American Literature and Literature in a Global, Transatlantic, or Transnational perspective requirements (new curriculum). Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor.

GENG 628-01 Rise of the Novel Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Raymond MacKenzie JRC 222

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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 OEC 210

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Summer 2018 Courses

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 (previous curriculum) or the early British/American Literature and Literature in a Global, Transatlantic, or Transnational perspective requirements (new curriculum).

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

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Spring 2018 Courses

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

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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

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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

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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

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Fall 2017 Courses

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 Mondays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Alexis Easley JRC 481

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In this course, we’ll study the literature of the Early Modern period in England, with some glances at its Continental context.  Among the many topics we’ll be examining are the new sense of human psychology and the inner person, the new view of religion and its relation to the state, new views of women and of male-female relations, and new views of literature and its place in society.  The works we will study represent a broad range of genres, styles and approaches; the authors will include Thomas More, Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare as well as Amelia Lanyer, Mary Wroth, and Margaret Cavendish. This course satisfies the pre-1830 British Literature distribution requirement.

GENG 522-01 The English Renaissance Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Ray MacKenzie MHC 211

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This course investigates a concept that is very intimately tied to commonplace narratives about the United States: freedom. Specifically, we will ask 19th-century literary and philosophical texts to help us think through the relationship between freedom and constraint. While we might perhaps think of freedom as the absence of constraint, such a conception of freedom makes it challenging to imagine our lives together, or to speak of “the common good.” We will look at how 19th-century texts theorize and represent what it might mean to be free. Secondary readings that introduce transnational philosophical and political debates about freedom and free will in the late 18th and 19th centuries, as well as slavery and emancipation, Indian Removal, immigration, and industrialization will frame our discussions. This course satisfies the pre-1900 American Literature distribution requirement.

GENG 547-01 19th-Century American Literature Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Laura Zebuhr MHC 211

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2.9 million marching for women’s rights and for human rights…. In the words of the 1960s rock band Buffalo Springfield, “There’s something happening here / What it is ain’t exactly clear / There’s a man with a gun over there / Telling me I got to beware / We better stop, children; what’s that sound / Everybody look what’s going ‘round….” In a lot of ways, it does feel like we have landed squarely in a twilight zone that harkens back to the protests of the 1960s. But it’s not 1967; it’s 2017. What is happening here? That’s what this course will examine, currently and historically, through a Woman’s Studies lens. We’ll be using a combination of the text Reading Feminist Theory by Susan Archer Mann and articles available digitally via Ms. Magazine in the Classroom and our library edition of Bitch magazine. We’ll look at the intersectionality at work in the world and in our small corner of it. Our goal will be to write conference level papers that could be presented at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference (NWSA) or the Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference (FemRhet) or any of a number of other conferences that focus on feminist / womanist scholarship. Prerequisite: GENG 513 or permission of the instructor.

GENG 613-01 Feminisms in Thought & Action Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Dr. Elizabeth Wilkinson JRC 481

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