Graduate Courses - Spring 2024
ENGL 7006 Speculating for the Real World
Th 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Isaac Bashevis Singer stated that the purpose of fiction is "to entertain, and instruct." Some say that Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror) is meant only to entertain. In this Seminar, through reading and writing, we will examine how Speculative Fiction can offer a broader palate of figuration to illuminate and comment on the Human Condition.
ENGL 7050 Instruction, Enhancement, Enchantment: Betterment and Improvement in Enlightenment Culture
Tu 12:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Writers, thinkers, and artists of the Enlightenment promoted optimistic processes. “Progress,” “reform,” and “advancement” were central entries in a favored lexicon of future-invoking phraseology. The expectation that the world would—must—change for the better evoked a vast body of art committed to upgrading nature, human experience, and the arts. This course will explore many of the high and some of the low points of the improvement tradition. Attention will occasionally focus on obvious (and often non-canonical) genres such as proposals, how-to manuals, and futurism, but the course will also look at how more familiar and possibly less enthusiastic genres such as satire, the novel, and comedy interact with optimistically instructive texts. Allied arts and sciences such as landscape design, painting, architecture, astronomy, theology, and even cookery and housekeeping will receive their due. Students will gain insight into both “major” and overlooked works.
ENGL 7007 Building the Bridge: Writing the Long Poem
W 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.
This course will focus on the craft and techniques of writing the long poem. How can we sustain a poem's energy, structure, and content across multiple pages? How can we scaffold our lines and stanzas to accommodate a larger project? Throughout the semester, we will look at a wide range of long poems, from three pages to book length poems; some in sections, some in forms, some completely free verse. We’ll look at a range of contemporary poets including Li-Young Lee, Campbell McGrath, Denise Duhamel, and many others.
ENGL 7109 Interactive Storytelling
W 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.
How do you tell a story when you don't control the protagonist? This course is an examination and workshop of different forms of interactive storytelling, including interactive fiction, video games, smartphone apps, augmented and virtual reality, and more. It will cover examples from popular branching narratives like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch to virtual reality, self-guided documentaries to 360-degree video experiences, hypertext fiction to AAA video games, and, of course, AI. We'll look at how technology can merge with storytelling and the challenges that presents to the artist. The course will introduce students to the tools that are available to allow them to incorporate interactivity into their own work no mater their comfort level with technology. Students will work on a semester-long interactive project of their own creation, which will be pitched, workshopped, written, and built by the end of the course. A background in programming or graphic design is not required.
ENGL 7623 Arts Administration: Delta Mouth
M 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.
The course will be available to the Director and Associate Director of Delta Mouth, and any MFA and PhD students eager both to learn the logistics of running a literary festival and to have a hand in staging the springtime event.
ENGL 7783 What is Movement?
Th 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.
This Cinema Studies course addresses the topic of movement in three ways. First, it explores camera movement, particularly by way of the possibility that the experience on offer in a moving image might serve as a kind of metaphor for a roving, unsteady epistemology. We then use this framework to think about what a political movement is, and how it might relate to this account of cinema. Finally, we will conclude this class by thinking about movement in a more literal sense—that is, as physical movement—and how it might be enlivened by these other understandings of this subject. Ultimately, this class will explore the experience of cinema and think about how cinematic aesthetics might help us think in new ways about politics. To do this, we will draw on 20th and 21st century works of philosophy and critical theory paired with major relevant works in global cinema.
ENGL 7922 Jane Austen's Intimacies
W 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Jane Austen’s novels are studies in intimacy and its avoidance. Lovers vacillate between a yearning to get close and a need to self-protect. Plots hinge on moments of destructive intimacy: distressing moments of oversharing, exposure, and embarrassment. Narrators revel in a voyeuristic knowledge of the people whose lives they tell. Outside of the books themselves, Austen invites yet other intimacies: readers famously feel close with her protagonists (‘I am Elizabeth Bennet’), and modern ‘Janeite’ cults get cozy with the Regency world of teas and balls. Meanwhile, in ways that are under-appreciated, the novels divulge an intimacy with contemporary politics, nonnormative sexualities, and revolutionary history. In this class we will explore this range of Austenian intimacies within the context of the emergent British novel of the 18th and 19th centuries. Readings to include works by Austen and her contemporaries, political and social tracts of the era, classic as well as recent literary criticism on Austen, studies of reception, and writings about the theory of the novel.
ENGL 7972 Speculative Souths
Th 12:00 - 3:00 p.m.
In popular culture, literary fiction, and political discourse, the U.S. South is frequently imagined as a region haunted by the past. Sometimes those hauntings appear as shimmering visions of generous hospitality and sustaining community, and sometimes they assume unsettling forms that evoke the horrific racial and sexual violence associated with the region. A growing body of cultural production and critical writing, however, has turned its attention to the ways that the South might represent an image of the future—a warning, a beacon, or something in between. Such works engage with questions of ecological health and justice, strange temporalities, apocalyptic conflagrations, and uncanny refigurations of the human. Focusing primarily on prose fiction, this course will survey a wide range of works that consider what it at stake when we chart a trajectory South to the future.
ENGL 7975 Forms of Black Criticism
Tu 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.
This course addresses the transhistorical relationship between Black literary form and Black literary criticism in U.S. cultural discourse, as the two interact to define the category of "African American literature." By exploring this chicken-and-egg relationship, we will ask: what raw material did the cultural archive provide to Black critics in the late 20th century, as they formalized disciplines to study Black writing? What sorts of extrapolation, fabulation, and anachronism did Black critics project onto the cultural past, in order to gain this foothold in the U.S. academy? And how has this relationship informed Black literary and critical production since? We will give sustained attention to the dialogue that exists between writers and critics.
ENGL 7981 Post American Literature
M 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.
This class will examine American fiction from the 21st century that places the nation in global contexts which destabilize the country's conceptual and historical borders. How are the textual Americas that appear in the fiction we read responsive to global events such as war, migration and climate change? How do these fictions re-inscribe past histories of the nation through forms such as the neo-slave narrative or the reimagined contact narrative? How do these fictions create continuities between communities and histories embedded within the United States and other communities and histories located elsewhere through narrative tropes such as migration? How has the global war on terror destabilized secure notions of national borders?