ENGL-UA 59.001 | Transnational America | Prof. Garcia | US literary and cultural formation. Focus on US, UK and German traditions of American Studies.
ENGL-UA 59.002 | New York City Theater in the Archives: the 1960s | Prof. Harries | It is now a commonplace that performance vanishes: the embodied moment of theatrical co-presence leaves no trace. Nevertheless, few plays leave no mark at all. Focusing on New York City in the 1960s, this course will focus on archives that surround plays and other forms of performance. What can we learn from newspapers, letters, videos, photos, drafts? What other traces may performances leave? What kinds of things can we learn about these plays, and about the 1960s, by looking closely at these archives? The emphasis of the course will fall on dramas from the period, but we will also consider other forms of performance, dance, and at least one musical. The course will include plays, performance texts, and accounts of performances across a range of genres. The course will include: Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending (1957); Jack Gelber, The Connection (1959); Edward Albee, The Zoo Story (1960); Adrienne Kennedy, Funnyhouse of a Negro (1964); LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Dutchman (1964); Yoko Ono, Cut Piece (1964); James Baldwin, Blues for Mister Charlie (1964); Gerome Ragni and James Rado, Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical (1967); The Living Theatre, Paradise Now (1968). Readings will also include scholarship by theater and performance theorists who have thought about the relationship between the ephemerality of performance and the material traces they leave behind. We will make substantial use of electronic archives: where and when possible, we will also consult paper archival materials. The course will culminate in final projects in which students prepare final research papers built around the archive of a particular play or performance.
ENGL-UA 59.003 | Drama and the Novel | Prof. Osburn | At a key point in Mikhail Bulgakov’s Black Snow, subtitled “a theatrical novel,” the narrator sees the figures in the novel he is writing “moving about” in a “little box” with “light streaming through the lines on the page.” Soon music and the sound of voices are heard, until “after three nights playing around with the first scene, I realized I was writing a play.” This course traverses the liminal zone between novel and play in both directions, a zone that is, like all such spaces, generative and informative. The aspiration of the theatrical Naturalists to the scope of the novel helped impel the creation of modern drama, and to this day novels are a source for dramatic texts, obviously in screenplays, but also in works such as the Elevator Repair Service’s Gatz or Kate Hamill’s Austen plays. In turn, novels poach the theater for characters, settings, symbols, and structures; they are case studies of the role of the theater and drama in the culture of their times. Novels incorporating the theater (e.g., by Austen, Bulgakov, Hardy, L. Klein, Maugham, J. Schumacher, Wharton, Woolf), dramatic texts based on novels (e.g., by Elevator Repair Service, Gerwig, Hamill, Zola), and the prose fiction of dramatists (e.g., Chekhov) are areas to be explored; along with notions such as “the dramatic novel,” “modern tragedy,” “the reality effect,” and the (questionable) drama/narrative binary. Some texts will be read in full, others excerpted; the goals of individual members will inflect the overall navigation of the course.
ENGL-UA 59.004 | Very Contemporary African American Drama | Prof. Jones | In an April 2019 article for The New York Times,critic Wesley Morris proclaimed that “in less than 18 months a new class of young and youngish African-American playwrights has established some kind of radical moment in American theater.” The writers Morris homes in on are actually part of larger cohort of black theatre makers who over the past decade or so have transformed Broadway, regional, and local theatre into spaces dedicated to negotiating minoritarian concerns with identity, representation, and politics. This seminar offers an in-depth examination of this corpus of contemporary African American drama in an effort to understand the ideological and material sea change that US theatre culture is experiencing. We will read playwrights such as Jackie Sibblies Drury, Jeremy O. Harris, Aleshea Harris, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tarell McCraney, and Dominique Morisseau alongside queer theory, trauma theory, and theories of redress and reparation in Black Studies. Assignments might include class presentations, short response papers, and a final essay. We will also see at least one performance during the semester.
ENGL-UA 101.001 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Prof. Vargo | This is a class on reading and perspective meant to cultivate our skills as students of literature. For much of the term, we will approach lyric poems, short stories and novels (Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the Arabian Nights), as worlds unto themselves, taking seriously the texts’ internal logic while probing their peculiarities, ambiguities, and paradoxes. We will attend to how poetry fuses intellectual, emotional and aesthetic concerns while developing a shared vocabulary in order to better understand and describe the ways poets utilize wordplay, figurative expression (such as metaphor, synesthesia, and synecdoche), and sonic devices (like rhyme and rhythm) as they transform ordinary language into art. For fiction, our approach will derive from narratology. We will consider how stories are narrated, their arrangement of time and space, their experiments with point of view, and the ways in which they instantiate character. In the final section of the semester, our perspective will broaden as we look at a case study of Langston Hughes’s 1949 poetry volume One-Way Ticket by considering how issues of race, diaspora, and urban life shape Hughes’s poetic practices. Finally, plenary lectures by other faculty members will introduce other texts and modes of reading.
ENGL-UA 101.002 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Prof. Young | Why does the poem by Emily Dickinson that begins “I dwell in possibility” work so differently from Otto von Bismarck’s statement that “politics is the art of the possible”? In the same spirit as Dickinson, Wallace Stevens wrote that “Things as they are / Are changed upon my blue guitar:” in doing so he pointed to the particular quality of literature that it tells us how things really are while at the same time creating them, making them all up. Reading a novel feels as if we are entering a real world, in which the novelist can take us to anywhere, amongst any people on earth. But a novel is by definition fiction, not real. How does literature manage to combine these qualities of the real and the unreal at the same time? How does literature succeed in generating such powerful emotions in us, such intensity of feelings, when we know at the back of our minds that we are reading a work of pure imagination? What are the particular qualities of literary language—evident, for example, in the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ phrase “a grief ago,” which disobeys the rules of grammar and yet conjures up a powerful evocation of the emotion of grief by transforming it into a form of time, so that it speaks to us personally and discovers for us something about ourselves and our own memories and identities. These are the questions that will drive our enquiries into the experience and form of literature, as we seek to understand how it catches us captures us and intrigues us. How can we come to recognize, experience and evoke its uncanny power? We will consider examples of poetry, drama, fiction and autobiography from many different literatures of the world, comparing creative writings from different cultures while also thinking about what happens when we translate literary texts from one language to another, just as when we read a literary text we translate the black marks on a page into scenes somehow staged and taking place in our own minds.
ENGL-UA 101.003 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Prof. Augst | This course offers an introduction to the study of literature, exploring methods and concepts for reading and writing about texts as objects of critical, creative, and historical inquiry. By exploring diverse genres of writing, including poetry, drama, narrative fiction and life-writing, we will aim to cultivate attention to distinctive conventions of form by which words realize particular worlds and invite readers into them. How can works of literary art help us discover cultures distant from our own, provoking questions about thinking and feeling, motives and conflicts, that animate them? What can imaginative writing from the past teach us about ourselves and our relation to the world in which we live today? Through close reading and discussion of our texts, we will seek to practice skills for writing and revision necessary to become confident and persuasive critics and scholars of literature.
ENGL-UA 101.004 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Prof. 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. Three 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.
ENGL-UA 101.005 | Introduction to the Study of Literature | Prof. Feroli | In this course, we will examine literary works produced from the middle ages through the end of the twentieth century that represent a range of literary genres:narrative and lyric poetry, drama, novel, memoir, and graphic narrative. The purpose of the course is to teach students to develop analytical frameworks for writing close readings of literary texts. Toward that end, we will address the critical language and terminology that scholars use to discuss individual genres. We will also consider how literary works resonate with both the culture in which they were produced and more contemporary methodologies. A provisional list of works and authors we will read includes: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poetry of John Donne, the dramatic works of William Shakespeare and John Webster, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
ENGL-UA 111 | Literatures in English I | Hoover | Survey of English literature from its origins in the Anglo-Saxon epic through Milton. Close reading of representative works, with attention to the historical, intellectual, and social contexts of the period.
ENGL-UA 112 | Literatures in English II | Hanson | In this course, we will read literature from the 17th-20th century as a response to strikes and riots, prisons and plantations, and domestic and colonial violence. We will track the history of literature as it tames, illuminates and even resolves some of the conflicts of a tumultuous period in the history of the British Empire. Texts may include John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728), an anti-opera about thieves and prostitutes featuring popular music to which the audience could hum along; Alexander Pope’s poem The Rape of the Lock, which might land him a #metoo hashtag today; the narrative of Mary Prince, an enslaved woman in the Caribbean who details plantation violence in a prose at once cutting, calm and convincing; Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, in which slave rebellions in Antigua trigger riotous family breakdowns in England; Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations in which a convict who is transported to Australia controls lives in England, reversing the usual colonial order; Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South, in which a strike helps middle class and aristocratic characters find common ground against the working class; and the poetry and images of William Blake, which depict a global solidarity of rioters, revolutionaries and escaped slaves. The Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling will provide us with the lyrics of heroic imperial endeavor, even as his short fiction suggests the profound emptiness of the lives of colonial civil servants in India. Three short papers, a midterm, a final, quizzes (of the pop variety) and attendance are required.
ENGL-UA 113 | Literatures in English III | Baker | This course is a literary historical survey of US literature from colonial encounter through the end of the 19th century, tracing distinctive traditions of writing that have shaped the development of modern literature and thought in the United States. How was this writing shaped by the history of occupation and colonialism; encounters among Indigenous, European, and African cultures; the arts of religious devotion and cosmopolitan enlightenment; the cultural politics of revolution and modern nationalism; the expansion of capitalism and slavery; the development of print media and modern literary values; the philosophy and aesthetics of American transcendentalism and sentimentalism? How might we situate the literature of what would eventually become the United States in relationship to literature of the Americas more broadly? Students will learn to read with attention both to history (what was American literature before the United States?) and to genre (poetry, fiction, letters, newspaper accounts, political and religious tracts, and autobiography). Writing assignments, exercises, and exams will reflect these dual commitments to historiography and literary interpretation. Writers studied may include: William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet, Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Washington Irving, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Edgar Allan Poe, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Francis E.W. Harper, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and Charles Chesnutt
ENGL-UA 114 | Literatures in English IV | Prof. Waters | This course provides a review of English-language literary production as it expands and diversifies from 1900 onward. Attending to such matters as the emergence of transatlantic modernism, the growing influence of U.S. culture around the world, proliferating literary activity in colonial and postcolonial contexts, and the intensifying demographic complexity of the U.S. and Britain, the course considers the changing scope and significance of English-language writing within an increasingly globalized cultural field. The course will explore the parallels and contrasts among a variety of forms including literature, film, art, music, stressing the uneven developments of the period, with special attention paid to the tension between highbrow and popular forms. The course will read texts as both response to and symptom of the ongoing crises of modernity unleashed by urbanization, immigration, war, imperialism, revolution, shifts in gender roles, race relations, and class conflict. We will investigate the influence on literature and culture of patterns of migration and diasporic movement between the US, Britain and the Global South and examine the relationship between the metropolis and other spaces such as rural areas and underdeveloped regions, the suburbs, and colonial metropolises and territories, and wartime home fronts. We will consider writers’ claims to represent the dominant cultural response to their age as they confront radical transformations in literary representation, the rise of mass culture and advertising, and revolutionary changes in the technologies of mass communications like film, documentary, radio and popular music. The course consists of larger lecture classes and a required recitation. Readings may include the work of Joseph Conrad, W.E.B. Dubois, James Joyce, T.S, Eliot, Harlem Renaissance poets like Langston Hughes, Claude Mackay and Gwendolyn Brooks, Virginia Woolf, Mulk Raj Anand, George Orwell, Chinua Achebe, Jean Rhys, Wole Soyinka, Kazuo Ishiguro, Phil Klay, Riverbend, Zadie Smith and Junot Diaz.
ENGL-A 125 | History of Drama and Theatre I | Prof. Harries | This course offers a broad survey of theatre, drama, and performance histories from the eighteenth through the mid-twentieth century. We will not attempt to create a single, continuous narrative spanning many centuries of wildly diverse theatrical projects. Instead, we will examine various performance forms in their historical contexts in order to question the function of performance in the propagation and negotiation of cultures. In order to study the ever-changing functions of theatre and drama, we will examine the varied ways that social, political, economic, and cultural conditions inform/reflect aesthetic output – and vice versa.
ENGL-UA 142 | Dante's Divine Comedy | Prof. Cornish | This course is dedicated to a one-semester guided reading of the Divine Comedy in its entirety. The text will be read in facing-page translation for the benefit of those who know some Italian and those who do not. Lectures and discussion are in English. Students will learn about the historical, philosophical, and literary context of the poem as well as how to make sense of it in modern terms. Evaluation will be by means of bluebook midterm and final, testing knowledge of key terms, concepts, and passages, two short papers, and active participation in lectures and discussion.
ENGL-UA 201.001 | Reading as a Writer: Poetry, Hybrid Genres, Creative Encounter | Prof. 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 201.002 | Reading as a Writer: But Then You Read James Baldwin | Prof. Boggs | “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”― James Baldwin / What is the relationship between reading and writing? This is the question that will guide our inquiry in this seminar that combines critical and creative work. This is not a writing workshop, but rather a course in creative reading, a term we will seek to both define and problematize through an in-depth exploration of the life and work of James Baldwin. Baldwin began his literary vocation as an adolescent by sneaking into his local library in Harlem to read books prohibited by his preacher father. He went on to become one of the most important writers of the twentieth century whose work traverses the genres of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, children's literature, and literary criticism. As the required gateway course for the Creative Writing Track in the English major, we will turn to Baldwin's writing--critical, creative, and those texts that blend elements of both--as springboards for your own. In addition to a number of shorter writing assignments, coursework concludes with a substantial final paper or project, in consultation with instructor.
ENGL-UA 201.003 | Reading as a Writer: Creating the Text | Prof. Holt | This 4-credit 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 writing short analytical responses every week, you will write creative responses to the reading assignments. Texts will include short stories, essays, poems and plays by authors including Anne Carson, Michael Cunningham, Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, Edward P. Jones, Tony Kushner, and Joy Williams.
ENGL-UA 252.001 | Visual Languages of the Renaissance: Emblems, Dreams, Hieroglyphs | Prof. Cipani | 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.
252.002 | Ireland & the Environment | Prof. Sullivan | Ireland has a long history as a country that produces literature deeply engaged with place. Yet as climate change and ecological crises reshape the Irish environment, literature, visual arts, and history can help us rethink human and non-human relationships to place. In this class, we will read Irish literature —fiction, poetry, and non-fiction prose— of the nineteenth century to the present alongside critical and theoretical texts from the field of environmental humanities. Approaches including environmental history, animal studies, cultural geography, and ecocriticism will help us reorient our understanding of the contemporary environmental crises we (and Ireland) face, through a new understanding of the significance of landscape, climate, and ecology in Irish culture. Texts may include work by JM Synge, Emily Lawless, WB Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keane, Marina Carr, Tim Robinson, Ian Maleny, Sarah Baume, and others.
ENGL-UA 252.003 | The BBC | Prof. Sandhu | No British cultural institution is more important than the BBC. It's hard even to imagine a British culture without the BBC. Who would want to live in a world without Doctor Who, experimental radio drama, David Bowie on Top of the Pops, non-partisan news that is trusted all around the world, David Attenborough's wildlife series, the World Service, soccer cup finals, Monty Python, state-of-the-nation drama broadcast at primetime? Funded by a modest license fee and free of advertisements, the BBC believes in 'public service broadcasting' - a concept that appalls ideologically- and financially-motivated politicians, lobbyists and offshore media moguls. No wonder it is often described as the cultural equivalent of the National Health Service. This class looks at a broad range of its output (inc. children's TV, horror drama, chat shows, comedy, nature); explores how it responded to the challenges of wartime, censorship, pirate radio; and, with 2022 marking its hundredth anniversary, assesses its vitality in the face of streaming services, international digital platforms, and the rise of fake news.
ENGL-UA 320 | Chaucer | Prof. RustIn one of his early poems, The House of Fame, Geoffrey Chaucer tells the story of a dream he had, in which he was transported, in the grip of an eagle’s claws, to a celestial territory where he visited two fanciful houses: a House of Fame and a House of Rumor. In the first, he admires the poets of antiquity who uphold the fame of their nations; in the second, he encounters a much humbler variety of text--the “tidings” that circulate among a motley crowd of pilgrims, pardoners, sailors, and messengers. In this colloquium we will explore Chaucer’s poetry by situating it in the context of the diverse | “architectures” of literature that he himself surveys in the House of Fame though for the purposes of our exploration we shall term those structures pre-texts, intertexts, and meta-texts. Pre-texts will encompass the genres, historical contexts, and ideas about writing that precede Chaucer’s work, influencing its content and determining its form. A few important pre-texts for Chaucer’s poetry include the genres of dream vision, romance, and fabliau and the still-tenuous status of a poet writing in the vernacular. The category of intertexts will take in the vast library of texts in which Chaucer finds his materials and upon which he builds: from the Bible and patristic writers such as Jerome and Augustine to the thirteenth-century “best-seller” The Romance of the Rose. Finally, meta-texts will include writing about, on, or after Chaucer’s texts, including Chaucer’s reflections on his own writing practice, glosses on his texts in medieval manuscripts, selections from the centuries-long tradition of literary-critical response to Chaucer’s work, and, last, examples drawn from the rich hoard of take-offs on Chaucer’s oeuvre--from poems by his fifteenth-century admirers, to re-writes of Chaucer for children, to Brian Helgeland’s The Knight’s Tale, to Baba Brinkman’s rap Canterbury Tales.
ENGL-UA 410 | Shakespeare | Prof. Archer | In this survey of William Shakespeare’s career as a playwright we will consider the relation between the mingled genres of his plays (festive and problem comedy, history, tragedy, and romance) and the social and political conditions that shaped his developing sense of dramatic form. Critical analysis of the plays as both performances and written works will form the fabric of this course; the connection of the drama to its culture will be the its guiding thread. Excerpts from film, television, and audio performances will be played and discussed in class along with other visual materials. We will explore nine plays together. The requirements include two essays, two exams, and consistent attendance at both lectures and recitations. Individual editions of plays from the Pelican Shakespeare series will be ordered for this course, easy to read and to carry. Our plays include the cross-dressing comedies Two Gentlemen of Verona and Twelfth Night; the “problem” comedy All’s Well that End Well; Henry IV, Part I, a history play that features the comic creation Sir John Falstaff; the tragedies Titus Andronicus and Julius Caesar, and the romance Cymbeline. Our central tragic play for this semester is King Lear.
ENGL-UA 621 | Irish Renaissance | Prof. Waters | Covers the tumultuous period from the fall of Charles Stuart Parnell, through the Easter Rising in 1916, and into the early years of national government in the 1930s. Readings in various genres (poetry, short story, novel, drama). Writers may include Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Lady Gregory, John Millington Synge, Sean O’Casey, Samuel Beckett, and Flann O’Brien.
ENGL-UA 640 | Imagining Postwar America | Prof. Hendin | Fiction since 1945 reflects the creative ferment of a period of extraordinary cultural unrest. How writers and poets attempted to define and respond to the idea of the new or the transformed may illuminate specific works of literary art and the cultural contexts in which they were created. Through intensive readings in fiction and critical theory, the course explores innovations in genres, mores and forms, emphasizing the aesthetics and cultural meanings forged by novelists and analyzed by critics and social theorists in a period of creative richness and troubling uncertainty.
ENGL-UA 712.001 | Major Texts in Critical Theory | Prof. Biers | The difference between an ordinary theory and a critical theory is summed up by Karl Marx: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” But what makes a particular interpretation of the world transformative, and how does interpretation effect change? The first half of the course will provide an in depth study of critical theorists who have been influential for literary study, including Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Foucault. The second half of the course will examine the impact of these thinkers on late 20th and early 21st century literary critics working in fields such as gender studies, post-colonial theory, queer theory, and eco-criticism. We will conclude with an examination of the current “post-critical” turn across the humanities. Is transformative interpretation possible today?
ENGL-UA 712.002, .003, .004 | Major Texts in Critical Theory | TBA | Freedgood | Study of the major texts in critical theory from Plato to Derrida, considered in terms of their historical development. Topics and thinkers associated with such modern movements as historicism, psychoanalytic criticism, feminism, queer theory, subaltern studies, postcolonial theory, deconstruction, affect theory, and eco-criticism.
ENGL-UA 716 | Asian American Lit | Parikh | In this course we will examine a variety of genres (poetry, plays, fiction and nonfiction, literary/cultural criticism, and nontraditional forms) by writers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. We will explore the ways in which the writers treat issues such as racial and ethnic identity, immigration and assimilation, gender, class, sexuality, nationalism, culture and community, history and memory, and art and political engagement.
ENGL-UA 735 | Contemporary Readings in Critical Theory: Land, Labor, Property, and the Politics of Theory | Prof. Trujillo | This course introduces students to key texts that interrogate the modern categories of property, labor, and land and the vexed genealogies of violence and power that are inscribed in them. We will inquire into the ways these categories emerge as central to the colonial processes that constitute Euroamerican modernity, such as the invention of race, the formation of the nation-state, and the ascendance of capitalist political economies. Our inquiry will weave a number of classical and canonical theoretical texts from a European continental tradition with a range of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and subaltern writing that fundamentally rethinks the politics and place of theoretical enunciation.
ENGL-UA 775 | Latinx Prison Writing | Prof. Trujillo | This course explores the politics of imprisonment, incarceration, detention, and captivity through the prism of Latinx writing and cultural production. Through a range of literary, poetic, cinematic, and dramatic cultural forms, we will engage with the crisis of US mass incarceration while also attending to the regimes of captivity and detention that animated the Spanish colonial order and continue in regimes of Latin American statecraft. As such, we will ask questions about the interrelation between writing, punishment, literacy, freedom, captivity, justice, abolition, and decolonization.
ENGL-UA 800.001 | Literature and Science: from Newton to the New Quantum Age | Prof. Siskin | When Isaac Newton first connected falling apples to orbiting planets, “Literature” referred to all types of writing” and “science” just meant “knowledge” (“nescience” meant “ignorance”). How, then, did we end up having to make a choice between them? To major in one is to leave the other behind. Our journey to understand how literature and science parted ways will have four primary stops: 1) the 17th-century revolution in knowledge in the words of Francis Bacon, Mary Cavendish, Isaac Newton, and Mary Astell; 2) the 18th-century takeoff in knowledge, featuring Watt’s steam engines, the formation of the novel, and the rise of lyric; 3) the 19th-century emergence of the modern disciplines and their partition into humanities/sciences/social sciences as embodied in Charles Darwin and Matthew Arnold; and 4) the 21st-century possibility of a new compatibility among the disciplines as they all remake themselves to face the same digital future.
ENGL-UA 800.002 | Critical Race and Ethnic Studies | Prof. Sudhinaraset | This course will introduce students to core concepts and theories used in the study of critical race and ethnic studies. The 1960s signaled a shift in paradigms for thinking about race, class, sexuality, and gender within broader social movements and institutions of higher learning. We will trace its development into the present and explore the historical, political, and cultural emergence of ethnic studies in the university, and the formation of its attendant disciplines—Native American Studies, African American Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, and Asian American Studies. We will explore how the preoccupations of critical race and ethnic studies dovetail with the study of literature. We will consider how critical race and ethnic studies analytics do not merely seek to surface information “about” racialized identities, but rather how these approaches shift, imagine, materialize, push against, and move forward ethnic studies imperatives—such as relationality, intersectionality, interdisciplinarity, and epistemology—for studying histories of US imperialism, colonization, decolonization, social movements, politics, culture, and the production of knowledge itself.
ENGL-UA 800.003 | Utopia: From Thomas More to Science Fiction | Prof. Mann | A “utopia” is an imaginary world, a fantastical “no-place” that claims to convey important truths about the real world. This course surveys the literary genre of utopia from the Renaissance to today, focusing on attempts to invent new worlds through fiction. Beginning with Thomas More’s Utopia, we will explore utopia’s emergence in the sixteenth century in response to European political upheaval and New World exploration and exploitation. We will then examine how British and American writers transform utopian visions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Finally, we’ll consider how utopia is re-worked in 20th-century science fiction, particularly in its seemingly paradoxical emphasis on both fantasy and realism. Topics will include the politics of gender and race, the purpose of technology in a perfect society, and the textual forms characteristic of utopian fiction by Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Margaret Cavendish, Jonathan Swift, Sutton E. Griggs, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, and Cathy Park Hong among others.ENGL-UA 800.004 | How Writing and Writers Work | Prof. Regaignon | What do writers do? How do they compose, revise, imagine their texts? In this course we will think about this not only for so-called imaginative writers (fiction writers, poets, essayists) but also for those engaged in workaday writing, including students. We’ll consider what research has learned in the last 30 years about how writers think and act while composing written texts, and we’ll consider as well what such written texts can—and do—do in the world. This is a class about studying literacy practices in their broadest form: What are some of the behavioral, cognitive, and interpersonal aspects of making and reading texts? How do humans use written texts? And, finally, what do those texts do, apart or in addition to our intentions for them?
ENGL-UA 800.005 | Theaters of the Absurd | Biers | “Absurd,” from the French, absurde, or “out of tune,” has many meanings in English: illogical, incomprehensible, purposeless, devoid of reason. This class will examine 20th and 21st century dramatic works that incorporate absurd elements. What can absurdism tell us that naturalism can’t? We begin with the post-WWII playwrights who first received the name--Beckett, Ionesco, Camus, and Genet--and the philosophy and aesthetic practices that inspired them. We then move to examine several varieties of theatrical absurdism in England and America as they address late 20th and early 21st century concerns, from nuclear war and politics in Harold Pinter, to consumerism and suburbia in Edward Albee, to race and slavery in Suzan Lori-Parks.
ENGL-UA 910.001 /.002 | Creative Writing Capstone Colloquium (PROJECT) | Holt / Boggs | APPLY HERE: https://forms.gle/Q3eEyShy34RBZgmD7 | This 2 credit course stands in for the work you do on your project on your own time, as an “Independent Study.” This class should be taken at the same time as ENGL-UA 911.
ENGL-UA 911.001 / .002 | Creative Writing Capstone Colloquium | Holt / Boggs | APPLY HERE: https://forms.gle/Q3eEyShy34RBZgmD7 | The Creative Writing Capstone Colloquium is a semester-long class that accompanies your individual creative project. It is a sustained practicum in criticism, a discussion of craft, and an opportunity to workshop drafts of your capstone as you revise it to the point of polish. Classes will consist of faculty-led workshops. Each student will have the opportunity to be workshopped twice. Your professor is also your project adviser, and she will read a full draft of your capstone halfway through the semester, and give you feedback. You will then have more than a month to revise the project before the final is due at the end of the semester. In addition to reading your peers’ work, you will read some published work and author interviews, and keep a Craft Journal, in which you’ll record stray observations and thoughts about the reading. At the end of the semester, at our capstone celebration event, you will read publicly your work.
ENGL-UA 951 | Bordering the Nation in Shakespeare’s England | Archer | Current critical interest in ethnicity, race, religion, citizenship, and migration has led to renewed questions about the idea of the nation and its possible origins or precursors in early-modern times. Through roving provincial performance as well as its permanent sites in London, theater in Renaissance England was well-positioned to help its audiences imagine something like a national community, to adapt Benedict Anderson’s classic phrase. What is, or was, a nation? Did English people see themselves as part of a nation? What role did gender and sexuality play in their self-image? Did emerging national feelings limit a militant religious identity or enable it? How did Wales, Scotland, and Ireland define the immediate borders of English nationality? What exchanges and conflicts did borders make possible? Furthermore, how did earlier concepts of geographically-defined community border upon or anticipate the coming idea of the nation in later modernity? Finally, how do earlier texts and performances alert us to the limits of the renewed interest in the nation today? Our class will address these questions through the careful reading of seven or eight plays, mostly by Shakespeare. Along with each play, we shall take up one or two theoretical statements or critical articles that deal with the nation from different points of view; older approaches like new historicism will be included, but the focus will be on work from the past decade. Along with Anderson, we will read treat the perspectives of Gloria Anzaldúa, Etienne Balibar, Hannah Arendt, and Sandro Mezzadra, along with a range of approaches from scholars of early-modern England, Ireland, Scotland, and Cymru (Wales). We shall begin in the Elizabethan period with Richard II and the Henry IV plays, and proceed to Henry V. Attention will be given to Elizabethan Wales and especially Ireland; we will read the anonymous Stukeley play, the only play from the period that includes scenes set in Ireland. During the final part of term we shall consider two nearly contemporary tragedies from the Jacobean period: the Scottish play of Macbeth and King Lear, along with the British romance, Cymbeline. Immigrants, resident aliens, and refugees figure in our secondary readings along with the developing problematic of “the nation” as exponent of physical, human, and political geographies in Shakespeare. This course will be useful to students interested in Shakespeare and early modern drama, political forms, legal and economic criticism, landscape and environment, religion and secularism, colonial and postcolonial studies, ethnicity, and Irish studies. Requirements will include presentations, papers, and constant, well-informed class participation.
ENGL-UA 962 | Reading Jane Austen Reading | Prof. Mcdowell | Most of us know what Jane Austen wrote, but how many of us know what (and how) she read? To borrow the title of a series of courses in the NYU English Department, how did Austen “read as a writer”? This course will focus on Austen as a reader, as well as writer: one who was deeply read in eighteenth-century literature, and who incorporated her reading in her own works. Along with key texts by Austen, we will read texts that she drew on, alluded to, or mentioned in her writing, and that she expected her contemporaries to recognize. When Marianne Dashwood assesses her male suitors according to how they read William Cowper’s poetry, what is Austen trying to tell us? When Mr. Collins reads aloud James Fordyce’s Sermons to the Bennett sisters, or Henry Tilney lectures Catherine Moreland on the “picturesque,” does Austen expect us to listen? Readings will include novels, poems, plays, periodical essays, conduct books, and political writing by authors such as Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, John Gay, Samuel Richardson, William Cowper, James Thompson, Thomas Gray, Frances Burney, Ann Radcliffe, Thomas Sheridan, Samuel Johnson, John Gregory, and Mary Wollstonecraft. (We may even read selections from Henry Fielding, whose “wicked” novel Tom Jones, is, not coincidentally, one of very few works the boorish John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey declares “tolerable” and claims to have read.) Along the way, we will think about how we, too, “read as writers”: how our reading serves us, shapes us, and sometimes, liberates us: in short, how our reading literally becomes the stuff of which we’re made.
ENGL-UA 963 | Black Poetry & Social Movement(s) | Prof. Posmentier | This course is an immersion in selections of black diasporic poetry from its 18th century beginnings to the present, including such writers as Phyllis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes, Anne Spencer, Claude McKay, Aimé Cesaire, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Audre Lorde, Kamau Brathwaite, M. NourbeSe Philip, Claudia Rankine, as well as the chants, leaflets, and manifestos of a range of social movements. Our semester will be organized around different types of movements and their implication for the development of black poetry as an aesthetic and social form in the US and the Caribbean. How have poets responded formally and ideologically to the radical geographic, cultural and linguistic displacements of the transatlantic slave trade from the 18th century to the present? How have poems circulated (orally and in print) through more recent migrations and immigrations around and across the Atlantic; and been shaped by cultural and social movements, like the Black Arts Movement and Caribbean Artists Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, or the Black Lives Matter movement of today? We will take special interest in the vitality of poetic communities, and so we will find occasions whenever possible to attend readings and performances or welcome visitors. Students will learn about the literary history of black poetry in the United States and the Anglophone Caribbean, attune their eyes and ears to a range of aesthetic practices, and develop methodologies for reading and a vocabulary for writing about poetry. In addition, this class will guide students through the process of writing a literary research paper: identifying central scholarly questions, unearthing archival materials housed in libraries or online, formulating a research question and bibliography, exchanging ideas with fellow scholars, and making a persuasive written argument about poetry in its literary, cultural, and/or historical context. Through this process, students will have the opportunity to shape the class according to their own interests.
ENGL-UA 965.001 | Transatlantic Modernism | Prof. Deer | This course will consider the trajectories of British and US literary modernism from the 1930s through World War II into the post-1945 era. Reading novels, poetry and film in a transatlantic frame, we will explore how modernist, avant garde and realist aesthetics mutated in the face of imperialism, war culture, mass media, and decolonization, as well as the institutionalization and commodification of modernism. The course will extend students’ knowledge of high modernism, and explore works by both canonical and lesser-known late modernists from the 1930s and 1940s. How did modernists respond to the dominance of advertising, radio, avant garde film and photography, sound cinema, the dominance of Hollywood, or the documentary film movement, all of which lay claim to artistic experimentation? How did late or belated modernisms lay the ground for the literary, artistic or political responses of neo-realist, anti-modernist, or postmodern writers, intellectuals, and critical theorists after 1945? We will also ask to what degree the afterlives of transatlantic modernism continued to shape the era of postmodernism and Cold War. Literary texts will be read in an expanded cultural field including film, radio, popular music, art, visual and material culture. Authors will likely include F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, C.L.R. James, Ernest Hemingway, Djuna Barnes, H.T. Tsiang, Mulk Raj Anand, WH Auden, George Orwell, Nathaniel West, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, Ralph Ellison, Joan Didion, and Zadie Smith.
ENGL-UA 973 | Authorship | Prof. Hoover | Although Roland Barthes famously proclaimed "The Death of the Author," in 1967, authors, authorship, authorial intention, and the questions surrounding them remain important to the study of literature. In this seminar, we will look back at Barthes's famous provocation, and at Foucault's "What is an Author?" and also at some more recent discussions of significance of authors, authorship, and authorial intention for literary studies. We will also study authorship from a more practical point of view by learning some computational tools for telling authors apart and learning something about their styles. We will applytools and methods of Digital Humanities to some real-world authorship attribution problems and to questions of authorial style. The course assumes no knowledge of computer programming, and we will not be writing programs, but we will be using a general purpose statistical analysis program and some tools written for Excel. You will need to be comfortable with computers, and you will need a relatively recent laptop with Excel installed. The other tools will be supplied, or are available on the Virtual Computer Lab website.
ENGL-UA 995 | Editing and Publishing Lab | Holt | In this 2-credit course students will serve as the editorial and production staff of the Greene Street Review, an online publication of cultural criticism in the vein of the New York Review of Books. The Greene Street Review will serve as a critical complement to the Creative Writing Department’s West 10th Street Review. The course will bridge the gap between English majors’ scholarly abilities (as close readers and cultural critics) with professional practices, as they learn about publishing and cultural journalism. Students will be responsible for soliciting, selecting, and editing work for each issue, and for publishing it on the digital site. The menu of possibilities includes creating audio content (podcasts or interviews) for the site as well. The students will acquire both editorial and digital production skills (they could earn “digital badges” for particular skills) and will come out of the class with marketable experience and a portfolio of work to share with potential employers.