ENGL-UA 56 | Speak like a Child! | Sandhu
American (higher) education is so boring. Expensive and boring. Joyless and boring. Students are patronized, disciplined by constant exams (mid-terms, pop quizzes, finals), force-fed a dulling language of professionalization, skill sets, outcomes. What they want though is to dream, to laugh, to be angry, to have fun, to feel. This class looks at experiments and utopian projects in education – North Carolina’s radical art school Black Mountain College, Tehran’s Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, Rabindranath Tagore’s eco-conscious laboratory for cosmopolitanism Visva-Bharati, Summerhill where the distinction between students and teachers was collapsed, Brazilian theorist Paulo Freire’s radical Pedagogy of the Oppressed, CalArts’s Blueprint for Counter Education. Guest artists, documentarians and musicians will propose heretical alternatives to the current status quo. We’ll watch obscure, innovative films that offer liberated – sometimes scary - visions of adolescence. We’ll discuss the importance of play, of boredom, of whimsy, of daydreaming, of being lost. Most of all, we will try to recover – or invent – the voice of the child.
ENGL-UA 59.001| Love and War in Renaissance Italy
Offers the opportunity to study two of the greatest works of Italian literature, Lodovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso (1532) and Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (1581). Looks at these poems in their historical context and in relation to the rich literary traditions of romance and epic that converge in them. Thematic focuses include the construction of gender and the representation of religious and racial "otherness."
ENGL-UA 59.002 | Gender and Queer Sexualities in French Literature
This course will explore the genesis of modern notions of gender and sexuality and the expression of queer identities in the French literary tradition, from the late 19th century to the beginning of the new millenium. We will discuss the decadents of the fin-de-siècle and their appropriation of perversion as an aesthetic and an alternative lifestyle (Jean Lorrain, Rachilde, Wilde), the shift towards a psychology of the homosexual (Marcel Proust), the beginning of coming-out stories and their demand for respectability, at the intersection of colonial history and racialized desire, or as a discourse on class and criminality (Gide, Yourcenar, Colette, Genet). Transitioning to the second half of the 20th century, we will discuss the fight for civil rights and acceptance in France in the age of the AIDS epidemic (Hervé Guibert, Jean-Luc Lagarce, Guy Hocquenghem). We will end by reflecting on the diversity of queer identities at the start of the new millenium, and how the intersection of gender, sexuality and race confronts the colonial legacy of French history with the hypothesis of homonationalism (Rachid O, Abdellah Taïa, Nina Bouraoui).
ENGL-UA 59.003 | Surrealism
Dream experiments, cabarets, cadavre exquis, calls for revolution: some of the highlights of Surrealism, an international avant-garde movement that emerged in Paris in the wake of World War I. Focusing on the period between the two wars (1919-1940), this course harnesses Surrealist works from a wide variety of texts (literary and visual) to explore the aesthetic, political, and psychosexual dimensions and implications of Surrealism, including: techniques of avant-garde subversion; the celebration of dreams, desire, madness, and the unconscious; the intersection and collaboration of artists, writers, and thinkers in journals and magazines; the rejection of “bourgeois” values; the aesthetic and social role of materialism and objects; the transformation of lieux communs into artistic dreamscapes; the rhetoric of violence and anarchy; and the politics of gender.
ENGL-UA 59.004 | New Trends in 21st C. Italian Lit
This course will explore the contemporary Italian literary scene and its voices, movements, inspirations, similarities and differences. From the “regional” literature to the literature of the new diaspora, from today’s women’s voices to the delineation of new literary genres outside the borders of Italy, this class will analyze the various, rich, complex and often contradictory scene of post-20th century Italian literature and its developing identities.
ENGL-UA 59.005 | Perverts, Degenerates, Sodomites: Politics and Sexuality in Europe's Fin de Siècle
Are “perversions” political? Who decides what is “normal”? This course explores the mutual influence among literature, medicine, law, and imperial politics in Europe’s turbulent fin de siècle. We will investigate the invention of “perversions” within the disciplines of sexology, psychiatry, and degeneration theory — and the passage of these Western European constructs into Russian social discourse, where they intersected with local notions of “private” and “public.” Our literary readings will include classics like Lev Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata (1889) and Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis" (1915), as well as lesser-known works that created a sensation in their day, like Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Against Nature (1884) and Mikhail Artsybashev’s Sanin (1904). By charting the history of sexual deviance in Europe around 1900, we will gain insight into contemporary debates around “normalcy,” be it sexual, political, or intellectual. Bridging scientific, literary, and critical sources, this course reveals the historical contingency of familiar sexual categories.
ENGL-UA 101.001 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Sunder Rajan
This course is intended to serve as an introduction to the study of literature. It will seek to improve your reading and writing skills, equip you with the vocabulary of literary criticism, develop critical thinking, and introduce you to library and digital research.
The course is broadly structured round the three major genres of literary writing broadly identified as: narrative, drama and poetry. In each case we will study closely one or more representative texts, contextualize them, identify some of the related critical terms and genres, and read a sample of influential critical or theoretical writings on the subject.
The course will begin with a look at the institutional beginnings of English literary studies and the formation of an English national canon, as well as the various challenges posed to it. Studying literature today inevitably brings up, in addition, questions about translation, multiculturalism, and the globalization of English. This understanding will help us to contextualize the study of literature and, more broadly, to reflect upon the place of the humanities in the contemporary academy. Students will be evaluated on a variety of assignments such as mid-term exam, final term-paper, in-class assignments (group presentations and quizzes), paper presentations in class, and on attendance and class participation.
ENGL-UA 101.002 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Fleming
This is a course in reading and writing about literary texts. We will be reading so closely that you will be able to see an entire world view contained in a single sentence, recognizing not only what is there but also what may be missing. As we read works from a range of historical periods in a variety of genres you will deepen your appreciation of how texts work and what we can learn from them; and we will be paying close attention to your own writing as the best and only tool for such inquiry. Four plenary lectures by English Department faculty will introduce students to some of the questions literary scholars ask and the kinds of materials they work with: as we discuss these lectures in our section we will in addition touch on some further theoretical issues.
ENG 101.003 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Biers
This course will introduce students to the tools and techniques of literary study in a variety of genres, from lyric poetry to detective fiction, from antiquity to the present. How does literature communicate its deep messages to us, and where do we go to understand and analyze those messages? Does the meaning of the work reside in the mind of the author or the reader, or is it in the text itself? Or some combination of all three? Essays, assignments, and class discussions will emphasize the pleasures of solving interpretive problems and the unexpected revelations of close reading. Three plenary lectures will introduce students to some of the major practices and methodologies in the field.
ENGL-UA 101.004 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Parikh
This course develops the tools necessary for advanced criticism: close-reading skills, knowledge of generic conventions, mastery of critical terminology, and skill at a variety of modes of analysis, from the formal to the historical. Also emphasizes frequent writing. This section will potentially emphasize some or all of the following: Asian American literature and studies; Latino/Chicano literature and studies; feminist and critical race theory; postcolonial studies; twentieth-century American literature
ENGL-UA 101.005 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Boggs
This course develops the tools necessary for advanced criticism: close-reading skills, knowledge of generic conventions, mastery of critical terminology, and skill at a variety of modes of analysis, from the formal to the historical. Also emphasizes frequent writing. This section will potentially emphasize works by James Baldwin; as well as other authors and texts that fall under the topic “African American Lit.”
ENGL-UA 101.006 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Williams
Gateway course to the major that introduces students to the demands and pleasures of university-level investigation of English literature. Develops the tools necessary for advanced criticism: close-reading skills, knowledge of generic conventions, mastery of critical terminology, and skill at a variety of modes of analysis, from the formal to the historical. Also emphasizes frequent writing. This section emphasizes work by contemporary poets writing in New York, and students will attend lectures by other faculty in the department on a range of topics.
ENGL-UA 111 | Literatures in English I | Gilman
This course surveys literature in English from the Old English epic, Beowulf (ca. 700) to John Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost (1674). Other readings will include selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,The Wakefield Second Shepherds’ Play, selections from Malory’s Morte Darthur, Spenser’s The Fairy Queen, the English sonnet, More’s Utopia, along with Bacon’s The New Atlantas, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, selected poetry by Donne, Herbert, Jonson, and Marvel. The focus throughout will be on the close reading of the literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts.
ENGL-UA 112 | Literatures in English II | Guillory
Survey of literature in English from the British Isles and British Empire, from the Restoration through 1900. Close reading of representative works with attention to the historical, intellectual, and social contexts of the period.
ENGL-UA 113 | Literatures in English III | Augst
Surveys the evolution of literary themes and forms from the period of European exploration through and beyond the Civil War, tracing distinctive traditions of writing and thinking that have shaped the development of modern literature and thought in the United States
ENGL-UA 114 | Literatures in English IV | Hendin and Trujillo
This course provides an exposure to English language literary production as it expands and diversifies from 1900 onward. Attending to global literary movements such as naturalism, modernism, magical realism, and postmodernism, it focuses on literature's interaction with transnationalism, colonial and postcolonial contexts, and the passage from an inquiry into concepts of social order and expectation to the primacy of social change, cultural multiplicity and uncertainty. The course explores the ascendance of globalization as US culture is both transmitted around the world and is increasingly diversified within by the growth of ethnic literatures and their institutional study. Our emphasis is on the changing scope of English-language literature and culture since 1900.
The course explores a variety of forms including literature, poetry, drama, film, and graphic fiction. We will read texts as responses to the rapidity of cultural change under the pressure of urbanization, patterns of transnational migration, hemispheric diasporic movements, visual media, and turbulence in gender roles and national identities. It will explore relationships between globalization theory, literary form, and cultural themes.
ENGL-UA 132 | Drama in Performance
Course requires a $350 registration/ticket fee billed to tuition. This course focuses on the dynamic relationships between theater, performance, and the city of New York. Students will enhance their understanding of theater and performance by exploring critical approaches to both in relation to the city. Moreover, they will consider what they can learn about the city by studying its varied performances – addressing how the city itself is constituted through different kinds of performances (even our own), and how performance serves as a mode of understanding urban processes. Drawing on the rich theatrical resources of New York City, students see approximately 14 performances from across the boroughs, covering Broadway to Off-Off, traditional to experimental theater. Readings include plays and essays in theory and criticism. By focusing on both the material conditions of performance as well as the performative practices of living, working, and studying in New York, students will attempt to understand the complex and exciting imbrications of art and society, of theater and civic life. NOTE: In order to take this course, students must be available to see performances every Thursday evening (in addition to regularly scheduled class meetings).
ENGL-UA 143 | Dante and His World
This course proposes a reading of Dante’s work from Vita nuova to the Commedia, considered in light of the theological, rhetorical, and philosophical learning of Dante’s time. Dante’s Commedia will be considered in the context of his minor works. The objective of the course is to familiarize students with one of the most significant authors of Western culture. Through Dante’s texts, students will gain a perspective on the Biblical, Christian, and Classical traditions as well as on the historical, literary, philosophical context of medieval Europe.
ENGL-UA 175 | Intro to African Literature | Quayson
This course will be a detailed exploration of the major writers and diverse literary traditions of the African continent. We will examine various elements (genre, form, orality, etc.) across a variety of political, social and literary, categories (colonial/postcolonial, gender, class, literary history, religion, etc.). We will also address issues such as African literature and its relationship to world literature and the question of language and of translation. Writers to be discussed will include Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Tsitsi Dangarembga, JM Coetzee, Athol Fugard, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Naguib Mahfouz, and Tayeb Salih among others.
ENGL-UA-201.001 & .002 | Reading as a Writer: Creating The Text | Holt
This course is about reading as a creative practice: one that requires engagement, focus, and imagination. We will actively deconstruct texts, analyzing the various elements of craft (structure, perspective, voice, diction & syntax, etc.) and the effects of authors’ choices. Reading is the foundation of all good creative writing, so in addition to very short analytical responses, you will write creative responses to the reading assignments every week. Authors we are likely to encounter include: James Baldwin, Anne Carson, Michael Cunningham, Joan Didion, Mavis Gallant, Lauren Groff, Denis Johnson, Tony Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Maggie Nelson, and Yiyun Li.
ENGL-UA 201.003 | Reading as a Writer: Poetry, Hybrid Genres, Creative Encounter | McLane
This seminar launches a collective experiment, a commitment to work, play, analyze, respond, and create as a reader/writer: but what might this mean? Reading: processing, decoding, discerning, pronouncing, scanning, skimming, erasing, paraphrasing, sounding, critiquing, imitating, emulating, creating, destroying, romancing, absorbing, excreting, collaging, cutting, annotating. Reading: it’s not obvious. Nor writing. Reading-as-a-writer: reading for something, with something, against something, across something. That something will usually but not always be a text. Among the phenomena we will read/attend to: books and poems, but also musical compositions, comics, and paintings.
This class posits reading as activity, an activity we will often direct, constrain, mutilate, and celebrate. Reading is also a mode of attention, as is listening, looking intently, and otherwise being present. This is a class in creative as well as critical reading, which will occasionally flow into creative/critical writing. We will explore reading and writing as reciprocal activities: no strong writers are not also strong readers. What is it to be a strong reader? When and why might one choose to be a tactically perverse or resistant reader? We will also note when reading and writing are decoupled: historically and theoretically. Many more people have been readers than writers. We will explore writing as reading. Throughout this seminar we will, in Susan Howe’s words, aspire to “meet the work with writing—mind to mind, friend to friend,” and, if need be, enemy to enemy.
This seminar aims to strengthen your capacities for pattern recognition—i.e. sophistication about genre, style, and mode. Regular assignments aim to provide a space for critical experiments in reading and writing; the syllabus offers models and goads for weekly reflection and response. Students will write a mid-term analytic essay; there may be an excursion or two to museums, galleries, mystery sites. Students will direct and distill their inquiries into a substantial final paper (or project). We will explore how writers compose texts and at times how they decompose texts, genres, expectations. Thus “hybrid” genres: those works that evoke but are not dissolvable into standard categories. These are works that privilege the complex activity of reading/writing, the work of poiesis in the broadest sense: making.
Among the reader/writers we are likely to encounter: Roland Barthes, Matsuo Basho, Alison Bechdel, John Cage, Anne Carson, Gerard Genette, Susan Howe, Fred Moten, Maggie Nelson, Jeff Nunokawa, Claudia Rankine, Eve K. Sedgwick, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, old ballads, punk poets, writers on linguistics, Renaissance painting, marginalia, poetics and genre.
ENGL-UA 250 | 18th & 19th C African American Literature | Jarrett
This course examines the development of black literary expression in the eighteenth and nineteenth century United States by reading a diverse selection of writers and texts (some classic, some not) that have fundamentally shaped what might be called the African American literary tradition. Through slave narratives, poetry, novels, autobiographies and memoirs, and speeches and journalism we will trace the dynamic circulation and transmission of ideas by African Americans, free and slave, as well as the relationship between cultural production and historical phenomena. We will pay particular attention to the ways that African Americans negotiated and troubled the divide between history and fictional forms, and how their fictions worked to produce alternative understandings of national history and civil liberty than that which had emerged from the “founding fathers.” The second part of the semester will take up post-emancipation literature: why, we will ask, did black authors return their readers to antebellum slavery in the post- bellum years seemingly at the very moment they wished to cultivate their image as “new Negroes” and self-consciously create a Negro literature with a lasting impact in the twentieth century? How did African Americans negotiate through language and in literary terms the competing and contested concerns of heritage and historical memory, on the one hand, with the deterioration of race relations and rise of slavery’s legacy of racial thought in the years W.E.B. Du Bois famously identified with the “problem of the color line”? Students will be introduced to the critical questions and paradigms that are central to African American letters, exploring how black literature engages with the politics of cultural identity formation, and notions of freedom, citizenship, and aesthetic forms. Required textbook (any format): The Wiley Blackwell Anthology of African American Literature, Volume 1: 1746 - 1920
ENGL-UA 252.001 | The Passions of Elena Ferrante
The success of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels is astounding, not only because of the record-breaking sales, but also because of the strong emotions they thematize and arouse. In this course we will read novels, interviews, and essays by Ferrante, asking why her work inspires such passionate reading, and whether there is political efficacy in all this affect. Engaging with Sianne Ngai, Elspeth Probyn, Lauren Berlant and others, we will consider the political and aesthetic implications of ugly and opaque emotions like irritation, envy, disgust, and shame. We will also study major influences—including writers Ferrante cites frequently in interviews: Adriana Cavarero, Carla Lonzi, Luisa Muraro, and Elsa Morante; as well as those she tends to refrain from naming: Christa Wolf and Ingeborg Bachmann
ENGL-UA 252.002 | Visual Languages of the Renaissance: Emblems, Dreams, Hieroglyphs
Making knowledge visible was one of the great Renaissance endeavors. Some of the period's most characteristic products were born out of the conviction that concepts could be turned into images and organized into a visual language, more profound and universal than discursive logic. Egyptian hieroglyphs and dream visions were considered typical vehicles of this advanced mode of communication. The desire to emulate their symbolic density is reflected both in literature and in art, often in ways that challenge common distinctions between visual and verbal communication. In this course you will be introduced to an assortment of works representative of such interplay between text and image: emblem books, dream books and dream-centered works, hieroglyphic inventions and studies, collections of proverbs, iconology manuals, etc. Among the books examined are some widely considered as the finest examples of design in the history of printing. Early modern and recent theory of emblems will also be discussed. As a present-day counterpart of Renaissance emblems, the course will conclude with a survey of corporate logos and Russian criminal tattoos.
ENGL-UA 252.003 | Literary Animals
Literary Animals: Pets, Pests, or Family: On Companion Species
ENGL-UA 410 | Shakespeare | Halpern
Why is Shakespeare still a vital cultural force 400 years after his death? How was he able to speak both to us and to audiences of his own day? This course will survey Shakespeare’s major plays and poems, and will look at their historical, cultural and theatrical contexts. But we will also consider Shakespeare’s afterlife on stage and screen, including performances by Kenneth Branagh, Ian McKellen and Mark Rylance. We will read the following plays: The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Richard III, Henry IV Part 1, Henry V, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, A Winter’s Tale and The Tempest. Course requirements: two papers of 5-6 pages each, a midterm and a final exam.
ENGL-UA 420 | Renaissance Drama | Archer
In this broad survey of late sixteenth and early seventeenth century English drama exclusive of Shakespeare, we will read a range of plays within their generic and social contexts. In the introductory weeks, we will study two exemplary Elizabethan dramas that both define, and defy, common conceptions about tragedy and comedy and the differences between these genres. The first section of the course includes five lively comedies. We will emphasize their city settings and their often satirical depiction of middle class life, gender, and sexuality. In the second part of the course, we’ll refine our definition of tragedy by pitting the code of revenge that drives many of these tragic plays against the aristocratic and romantic ideals that also possess their male and female characters. The course is roughly chronological in its choice of plays. Thus, the development of each genre from Elizabethan to Jacobean times will guide our reading, but we will also consider how comedy and tragedy were often mixed together throughout the period from the 1580s through to the 1620s. We will read about one play a week and some introductory essays; assignments include 2 ten-page papers and 2 exams. The textbook is: David Bevington, ed. English Renaissance Drama (Norton, 2002).
ENGL-UA 450 | Milton | Archer
The syllabus for this colloquium is designed around a reading of Paradise Lost in its entirety: paced so as to allow students considerable time with the epic book by book, at key moments the course will also encourage you to draw connections between Paradise Lost and Milton’s major lyrics, long poems (for example, Lycidas), and dramatic works (A Masque and Samson Agonistes). In addition, we will read Areopagitica, Milton’s prose defense of the open exchange of ideas in print. Our concerns include the development of Milton’s poetic career and his political ideas during a time of civil war and revolution. We will consider religious toleration and its limits in Milton’s writing. We will also address the claims that Paradise Lost makes on global history amid emerging notions of gendered subjectivity and racial difference in the later seventeenth century. Assignments include two term papers, in-class writing, and presentations. I have ordered two paperback textbooks for the course: Paradise Lost (Oxford World’s Classics) and Milton’s Selected Poetry and Prose (Norton).
ENGL-UA 511 | Jane Austen | Lee
Does literature achieve formal and philosophical perfection in the works of Jane Austen, whose lavish global 2017 bicentenary attests to her enduring powers? Such, at least, is a truth universally acknowledged by modern critics and historians of the novel. In this course, we will consider what it means to read and to love the author known by generations of her adorers—from heads of state to secret societies to knitting circles—as “The Divine Miss Jane.” Such godlike powers of narration, moreover, must be considered alongside what is regarded (by fan and foe alike) as her world-class hatred. As one Austenian famously put it: “Her books are, as she meant them to be, read and enjoyed by precisely the sort of people whom she disliked.” Readings will focus on her compact oeuvre of fiction, whose critical reception has been so formative to the discipline of English literature itself. We will consider Austen’s deep, virtuosic inheritance of eighteenth-century narrative forms as well as their afterlives in contemporary culture, including popular film adaptations of Austen’s work (Clueless, Love and Friendship). In both lectures and discussion sections, students will embark on a careful study of the author recognized—on par only with Shakespeare—as the master stylist of the English language.
ENGL-UA 548 | Emerson and Thoreau: Writing Lives | Kunhardt
This seminar will take students on a personal exploration of the lives and writing of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, two of the most inspiring figures in American history and letters. Emerson was at the center of the most searchingly brilliant, progressive, and creative community in 19th century America. His friends kept diaries, wrote letters to one another, explored alternative lifestyles, contributed to reform movements, and served as public intellectuals. And both he and his friends strove to live fully engaged lives—“to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours,” as he once exclaimed. Emerson used private journals to advance his thinking, writing, and living. His extraordinary essays and published poems were largely drawn from these, which were modeled in part on Puritan diaries. But the Emersonian journals were in fact a new creation, and together came to comprise Emerson’s book of the self. It is not surprising that when he met 20 year old Henry David Thoreau on the streets of Concord in 1837, his first question was “Do you keep a journal?” In response Thoreau began his own literary workplace, a journaling project that eventually made possible the creation of Walden. In this reading, writing, and discussion-intensive seminar we will focus on these two authors’ quests for wisdom and meaning, and will explore such influences on them and colleagues as Samuel T. Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Margaret Fuller, and Elizabeth Peabody. The course will involve creative essaying, and will encourage students in the personal art of journal keeping and self-writing.
ENGL-UA 621 | The Irish Renaissance
This course seeks to understand the extraordinary achievements of Irish writers in the last decade of the 19th and the first third of the 20th century. We will read widely in all the different genres — poetry, polemic, short story, novel, drama — that were remade by Irish writers during the tumultuous period from the fall of Charles Stuart Parnell into the early years of national government in the 1930s. Authors read on the course include Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Lady Augusta Gregory, John Synge, Sean O'Casey, Elizabeth Bowen, Flann O'Brien and others. We will balance our readings of literature with consideration of the social and historical contexts of Ireland under the Union with Britain, and after that Union was partially broken. In attempting to refine the proper lens through which to view this literature, we will address a number of salient issues, including the nature and cultural forms of Irish cultural nationalism, the violence of civil war, the social position of literature and of intellectuals in projects of national reconciliation and national identity, and the clash between revolutionary anti-imperialism and conservative Catholicism, between rural and urban identities, between provincialism and cosmopolitanism as strategies for literary self-fashioning.
ENGL-UA 625 | Joyce
James Joyce’s encyclopedic 1922 novel Ulysses is considered by many to be the greatest literary achievement of the twentieth century. This course offers an in-depth reading of Ulysses, as well as Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and selections from Finnegans Wake. Discussions of the primary texts are complemented by social/historical, biographical, and political contexts that situate Joyce’s formal experimentalism and ethics in relation to modernism, postcolonialism, feminism, psychoanalysis, and other literary-critical and theoretical approaches.
ENGL 675 | Literature and the Environment | Williams
This course introduces a range of theories about the relationship between writing and the world: narrative theory, theories of reference, the social production of space, queer theory, and others. We will read work by a range of poets, political scientists, novelists, sociologists, ethnographers, and philosophers. (This course counts toward the theory requirement.) Our primary texts include the new novels Freshwater by Awaeke Emezi and The Vegetarian by Han Kang, poems by C.S. Giscombe and Lisa Robertson, and event scores by Yoko Ono.
ENGL-UA 712 | Major Texts in Critical Theory: The Poverty of Theory | Hanson
What we call critical theory is a history of exclusions and bans—of poets from the city, of the poor from philosophy, of conscious from the unconscious, of students from revolution, etc.
In other words, thinking has a history. This history is neither straightforward or unambiguous. For instance, Karl Marx generated one of the most significant theories of modern revolution by excluding the chronically unemployed, sex workers, and domestic laborers from it. In turn, members of the Black Panther Party actively theorized a revolution for those same people through intensive study of Marx, and G.W.F. Hegel as well.
Strangely enough, critical theory gives us some of the best tools for understanding why exclusion and division are so central to thinking. In this course, we will engage with critical theory by using an expansive lens of exclusion, where theory is both a reflection on and also an agent of these operations. In particular, we will focus on critical theory as it intersects with the reading, writing and production of literature and culture.
Students can expect to read some, but not all, of the following writers: Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Ranciere, Jacques Derrida, Louis Althusser, Walter Benjamin, Denise da Silva, Sara Ahmed, Brenna Bhandar, Stuart Hall, and Saidiya Hartman.
ENGL-UA 716 | Asian American Lit
This overview begins with the recovery of early writings during the 1960s-1970s and proceeds to the subsequent production of Asian American writing and literary/cultural criticism up to the present. The course focuses on significant factors affecting the formation of Asian American literature and criticism, such as changing demographics of Asian American communities and the influence of ethnic, women?s, and gay/lesbian/bisexual studies. Included in the course is a variety of genres (poetry, plays, fiction and nonfiction, literary/cultural criticism) by writers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The course explores the ways in which the writers treat issues such as racial/ethnic identity; immigration and assimilation; gender; class; sexuality; nationalism; culture and community; history and memory; and art and political engagement.
ENGL-UA 724 | Italian American Life in Lit
A study of the fiction and poetry by which Italian American writers have expressed their heritage and their engagement in American life. From narratives of immigration to current work by "assimilated" writers, the course explores the depiction of Italian American identity. Challenging stereotypes, it explores changing family relationships, sexual mores, and political and social concerns.
ENGL-UA 732: PAPYRUS TO PDF: AN INTRODUCTION TO BOOK HISTORY NOW
This course, co-taught in the Fales Library and Special Collections at Bobst Library by a librarian and an English professor, provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field(s) of Book History. A discipline that engages researchers in many fields of study (history, literature, librarianship, sociology, and media and communications, to name only a few), Book History addresses more than books: it investigates the production, dissemination, and readership of all kinds of texts, from Egyptian papyrus to illuminated manuscripts, the Gutenberg Bible to handwritten letters, and newspapers and magazines to modern e-books. What unites book historians is a sense of the irreplaceable importance of physical artifacts: the material form of a text, whether codex or e-book, is an integral part of how it constructs its meanings.
735 | Reading Derrida | Fleming
This course assumes no prior knowledge of Derrida’s thought: its aim is to provide students with the experience of reading Derrida’s writing in a close and sustained manner, and its assumption is that whenever we read Derrida’s texts, we do so as if for the first time. Nevertheless, reading Derrida is difficult, and if you don't want to work hard at it this is not the course for you! We will begin with a sustained reading Of Grammatology  before moving on to a number of Derrida’s essays on literature and book history: by the end of the class you will have an informed appreciation of what is means to ask the questions 'What is literature?' 'What is a book?' -- and, most importantly, 'What is writing?'
ENGL-UA 761 | Irish Women Writers
Male writers often dominate courses in Irish literature, and have dominated the Irish literary canon. Women, as the poet Eavan Boland points out, were more frequently enlisted as emblems of the nation, not as literary creators. Perhaps precisely because of this tension, Irish women writers have created some of the country’s most daring and complex works. This class will survey a range of women’s writing in Ireland from the Act of Union (1800) to the present, including poems, novels, short stories, plays, cultural history, and criticism. Some concerns that will organize our discussions include the Protestant “Big House” and its decline, the influence of religion and the state on women’s lives in a newly independent Ireland, the dazzling changes and persistent stereotypes in a radically modernized, demographically transformed twenty-first century Ireland, and the persistent mythic, cultural, and literary trope of woman-as-nation—an image bound up with Ireland’s colonial history. We will supplement our literary reading with academic scholarship including postcolonial theory, Irish feminist theory, and other relevant literary and cultural criticism.
ENGL-UA 800.001 | WRITING MACHINES | Biers
In Jack London’s 1906 short story “The Apostate,” an exposé of child labor, the narrator notes of a young millworker: “There had never been a time when he had not been in intimate relationship with machines.” Drawing on novels, short stories, and essays by American and English writers from 1880 to the present, this course seeks to understand what it means to become “intimate with machines.” How has technology shaped perception, consciousness, identity, and the understanding of the human from the fin de siècle onwards? In what ways have new “writing machines,” like the telegraph, phonograph, typewriter, and computer, affected the way authors write and the works they produce? How has technology, especially large-scale technological systems from railways to computer networks, affected everyday experiences of class, race, and gender? What fears and fantasies do new inventions inspire? We’ll examine the theories of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, and Marshall McLuhan, and novels, short stories and plays by Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, Samuel Beckett, and Don Delillo.
ENGL-UA 800.003 | Race and Identity in the American Graphic Novel | Teresa Feroli
From their first appearance in American newspapers in the late nineteenth century, comics have been engaged in questions of race and identity. They have been the site of racist caricature and, more recently, of innovative projects that challenge readers to interrogate categories of racial difference. This course will begin with an introduction to the comics form and an overview of the representation of race in early comics, and then proceed to a detailed examination of literary graphic novels and superhero comics. Our focus will be on how race and difference are represented in comics narratives and toward that end we will consider Art Spiegelman’s use of animal characters to tell his father’s story of surviving the Holocaust; Dwayne McDuffie’s appropriation of elements of the Superman persona to create an African American superhero Icon whose female sidekick Rocket suggests that his capacity for flight lends new meaning to Toni Morrison’s portrayal of flying at the end of Song of Solomon; and Jaime Hernandez’s account of L.A.’s punk rock scene as seen through the eyes of a close-knit group of Chicana women. These are just a few of the stories we will read as we explore the wide range of ways comics speak to the issue of race and identity in the American cultural landscape.
ENGL-UA 911 | Creative Writing Capstone Colloquium
The Capstone Project in the Creative Writing Track in the English Major is a self-contained collection of fiction (stories), non-fiction (essay, profile, memoir), a poetry chapbook, one-act play, or mixed genre work. Subject and length vary in consultation with faculty advisor. In addition to the course, “Reading as a Writer,” The Creative Writing Track Capstone Colloquium is the one experience common to all English majors on the Creative Writing Track. It is a semester-long works-in-progress seminar and workshop in which students refine their creative work and participate in a larger discussion about writing, revision, and the writing life.
ENGL-UA 953 | #MeToo 1.0: Eighteenth-Century British Women Writers | McDowell
"If all men are born free, how is it that all Women are born slaves?" So demanded Mary Astell in Some Reflections Upon Marriage (Preface, 1706), her treatise responding to Enlightenment philosopher John Locke. In seizing the new media form of their time -- print -- to challenge institutionalized inequities and forge gender-based solidarities across divisions of geography and social rank, eighteenth-century women writers anticipated our own moment in saying "MeToo" to one another and to those in power.
At no time in the past three hundred years has there been easier access to early women's writing (now available via anthologies, scholarly editions, classroom paperbacks, and digital collections). Yet even today, many English majors graduate unaware of the extent and diversity of these women's poems, plays, fiction, essays, satire, conduct books, letters, periodicals, and other works. We will examine the media forms, genres, and literary and rhetorical conventions and strategies of Restoration and eighteenth-century authors such as Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, Elinor James, Anne Finch, Eliza Haywood, Mary, Lady Chudleigh, Mary Astell, Mary Wortley Montagu, Mary Leapor, Ann Yearsley, Francis Burney, Mary Wollstonecraft, Anna Letitia Barbauld, and Jane Austen. We will supplement these readings with selections from male authors such as Locke, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, and William Blake. Addressing issues such as courtship and marriage, literacy and education, spirituality, sexuality, and female agency (economic, political, legal) and its lack, these women held different -- sometimes competing -- views. (As Astell observed in 1706, "Women are not so well united as to form an Insurrection.") Yet if we believe in the Enlightenment notion of "progress" (Astell did not), why is it that in our "electronic age" of near-instant global communication, we might well make the same observation today?
ENGL-UA 954 | Queer Austen | Lee
“I do not understand her,” says Henry Crawford of Fanny Price, the least likeable of Jane Austen’s heroines. “What is her character? Is she solemn? Is she queer? Is she prudish?” Our undertaking in this seminar will be to discern a queer Austen, as one who consistently exposes the failings of patriarchal norms within the unlikely form of the courtship plot. In reading her six novels alongside game-changing theoretical accounts in Austen studies (Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl,” Claudia Johnson’s Equivocal Beings, D.A. Miller’s The Secret of Style), we will explore the singularity of this iconic writer, whose ethical outlook, psychological insight, and, of course, inimitable style changed the course of English fiction. Enrolled students need not have read all of Austen’s work before but at least enough to know that they enjoy it (the texts, not the movies).
ENGL-UA 961 | Henry James and Modernism | Patricia Crain
We will read tales, novels, and essays by Henry James, from the Civil War to WWI, thinking not only about what he once called the “atmosphere of the mind” evoked in his late style, which we might call modernist, but also about the pot-boiling melodramas of his tales and serialized novels. How does the radical voice that emerges in the late works develop? Along the way, we will consider the use James makes of ghosts, of children, and of ghosts and children, as well as his relation to the changing media environment of the 1880s and 1890s (typewriter, telegraph, film) and to the popular magazines in which many of the works we will read were serialized. Likely works will include The Portrait of a Lady, The Ambassadors, selected tales, A Small Boy and Others, among others, and, depending on group ambition, The Golden Bowl. Course requirements include a substantial final research paper and in-class reports.
ENGL-UA 962 | Contemporary British Literature & Culture | Deer
How have British writers responded to the end of empire, Cold War, economic decline and radical changes in racial and sexual politics? This course offers an introduction to contemporary British culture in an era of profound political and economic change and social upheaval. In order to give students a rich sense of context and history, the course will integrate multimedia elements drawn from visual culture, film, art and popular music, with rigorous textual analysis of contemporary British literature. We will explore novels, poetry, music and film profoundly influenced by the shadow of war, by immigration from the former colonies and racial and ethnic diversity, by dramatic shifts in gender relations and sexuality, by class conflict and deindustrialization, environmental catastrophe, and by the potential “break up” of Britain and impending Brexit. Caught between an ambivalent “special relationship” with America and a technocratic European superstate, how has British culture adapted to its uneasy geopolitical position? How does a nation so obsessed with images of its past traditions remain at the cutting edge of music and popular culture? How has British involvement in postcolonial conflicts, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, or in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan affected its culture? What is Britain’s position in the global cultural economy? We will examine a range of avant-garde, postcolonial and popular texts which challenge received notions of Englishness. Particular attention will be paid to the interaction between literature and other cultural forms such as cinema, punk music and other popular and independent music, and sport.
Readings may include:
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (Back Bay Books)
Alexander Baron, From the City, From the Plough (out of print; on NYU Classes)
George Orwell, 1984 (Signet)
Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim (NYRB)
Samuel Selvon, The Lonely Londoners (Longman)
John Osborne, Look Back in Anger (Penguin)
Ian Fleming, Dr. No (Penguin)
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Harper Perennial)
Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (WW Norton)
Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine (Samuel French)
Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore (Mariner Books)
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (Vintage International)
Zadie Smith, NW
Alan Moore, V for Vendetta (Diamond)
Suggested: Kathleen Burk, The British Isles Since 1945 (Oxford University Press)
ENGL-UA 964 | Disability Studies and Latin@ American Literature | Noel
This seminar explores Latin@ American literature through the framework of disability studies, an interdisciplinary field that interrogates disability as it is socially constructed while seeking out alternative/non-ableist politics and aesthetics. With an emphasis on 20th- and 21st-century U.S. Latin@ and Latin American texts (fiction, poetry, intermedial work,etc.), we will pay particular attention to how bodies are represented in literature, and to how literature can model new social bodies.
Primary readings may include literary texts by authors such as Jasminne Méndez, Jorge Luis Borges, Mario Bellatin, Lina Meruane, Gloria Anzaldúa, Aurora Levins Morales, and Pedro Pietri. Critical readings may include Julie Avril Minich's Accessible Citizenships: Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico, essays from Susan Antebi's edited volume Latin American Literature and Film through Disability Studies, as well as works by scholars such as Tobin Siebers, David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, Robert McRuer, Lennard J. Davis, Ato Quayson, Christopher Bell, Alison Kafer, and Suzanne Bost. Assignments may include a short midterm paper, regular contributions to a course blog, and a final creative-critical project. There will also be screenings and special visitors.
ENGL-UA 995 | CLS Lab: The Art of the Book Review | Holt
This two-credit course will focus on the art of writing book reviews that engage deeply with the text and are engaging to read. We will read many reviews. by different critics, of the same book, and students will write their own reviews. At least one book critic will visit the class to discuss the practice of professional literary criticism. Only open to English majors who are juniors and seniors / it is preferred that you have taken ENGL-UA 201 Reading as a Writer