Graduate Courses, Spring 2009
|Course no.||Time(s)||Course title||Instructor|
|AML 6017||W 6-8||What is “American” Literature?||Smith|
|AML 6027||M E1-E3
|Studies in 20th-Century American Literature: Jewish-American Fiction since 1945||Gordon|
|CRW 6130||T E1-E3||Graduate Fiction Workshop||Ciment|
|CRW 6130||W E1-E3||Graduate Fiction Workshop||Robison|
|CRW 6331||M E1-E3||Graduate Poetry Workshop||Hofmann|
|CRW 6331||T E1-E3||Graduate Poetry Workshop||Logan|
|ENC 6428||M 9-11||History & Criticism of New Media||Harpold|
|ENG 6075||W 9-11||The Experienced Image||Ulmer|
|ENG 6077||M 6-8||The Persistence of the Dialectic||Wegner|
|ENG 6137||W 6-8
|Film Theory: Foucault||Nygren|
|ENL 6236||T 3-5||“The Rise of the Novel”?||McCrea|
|ENL 6256||W E1-E3||Victorian Genders & the Novel: Masculinities||Gilbert|
|LIT 6308||MWF 5
|Studies in Comics & Animation||Ault|
|LIT 6357||T 9-11||Sounds of Blackness/Signs of Self||Horton Stallings|
|LIT 6855||R 9-11||Issues in Cultural Studies: Medieval & Early Modern sorplus||Shoaf|
|LIT 6856||F 6-8||Postcolonial Literature/Cultural Theory: Introduction to Postcolonial Studies||Amoko|
|LIT 6856||T 6-8||H.D. & Modernist Studies||Bryant|
|LIT 6934||R 6-8||Childhood, Culture, Creativity||Cech|
What is “American” Literature?
In 1846, critic and writer Margaret Fuller published an essay titled, “American Literature: Its Position in the Present Time, and Prospects for the Future,” in which she surveyed the field, as it were, of her time and made predictions for the future – our future. Returning to that essay as a launching point, this class is going to re-examine an “American” literary heritage, what it is, what it might mean, and where it was in 1846, and where it went after 1846. Authors we shall examine will include Cooper, Douglass, Hawthorne, Wilson, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson.
Studies in 20th-century American Literature: Jewish-American Literature Since 1945
Texts at Goering's Books, 1717 NW 1st Ave, next to Bageland:
- America and I: Short Stories by American Jewish Women Writers ed. Joyce Antler (Beacon)
- Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge ed. Paul Zakrzewski (Harper Perennial)
- The Assistant by Bernard Malamud (Avon)
- The Victim by Saul Bellow (Penguin)
- Enemies, A Love Story by I.B. Singer (Noonday)
- The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow (Signet)
- Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer (Plume)
- Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
- A Weave of Women by E.M. Broner (Indiana)
- Bee Season by Myla Goldberg (Anchor)
- The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (Vintage)
- The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
- Cambridge Companion to Jewish American Literature ed. Michael P. Kramer and Hana Wirth-Nesher
Texts at Orange and Blue Texts, 309 NW 13 St, across from Krispy Kreme:
- Xeroxed readings from Handbook of American-Jewish Literature, ed. Lewis Fried
- Xeroxed readings from Jewish-American Stories,
ed. Irving Howe
This course traces the development of Jewish-American fiction since 1945 within the context of twentieth-century American literatures and cultures and deals with the role of ethnic literatures within our multiethnic nation. Most of the works we will read concern problems of assimilation of Jews into American society and the quest of the protagonists for identity as Americans and Jews.
We will study how Jewish-American fiction moved into the mainstream of American literature after WW II as the Jews became increasingly Americanized. We will also consider such topics as anti-Semitism, literary responses to the Holocaust and to the state of Israel, and the rise of Jewish feminism.
This is not a course in religion and you need not be Jewish to take it. An interest in American literature, history, and culture or in issues of ethnic identity and assimilation is sufficient.
- Regular attendance and participation.
- Ten one-two page (250-400 words) responses.
- One class presentation (approximately 30 minutes).
- One term paper (minimum fifteen pages) on one or two works.
Graduate Fiction Workshop
This course is for MFA degree candidates in fiction only. Basically, it will be run in the “traditional” writing workshop fashion – writer silent while his or her work is discussed. The emphasis this semester will be on structure. Both short stories and excerpts of novels are welcome. Optimally, students will turn in pieces that they have taken as far as they can on their own. The workshop should be a venue to test the waters, to try new things, to present first drafts as well as polished works, but only after the writer has struggled with it to the nth degree. The idea is for students to rigorously challenge themselves. Everyone not presenting work should take their jobs as critics and editors as seriously as they take their own writing.
Attendance is important.
My job as mentor is to help each individual student develop his/her drafts into full-fledged fiction. I don’t believe my role is to make students feel better about their writing, but to give students honest criticism.
Reading will be assigned on an individual basis.
Graduate Fiction Workshop
Course description is not available at this time.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
The graduate poetry workshop, paired with close readings, narrowly focused. (The focus, though, yet to be determined: one possibility might be the collected poems of Hughes and Plath; another is Rainer Maria Rilke; a third Louis MacNeice.) The course is not least what you make it.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
“There are four-and-twenty changes in a linnet's song. It's one of the beautifullest songbirds we've got. It sings ‘toys’ as we call them; that is, it makes sounds which we distinguish in the fancy as the tollock eeke eeke quake le wheet; single eke eke quake wheets; or eek eek quake chowls; eege pipe chowl: laugh; eege poy chowls; rattle; pipe; fear; pugh and poy.”
—from Mayhew's London
“The south-east coast of Van Dieman’s Land resembles a biscuit at which rats have been nibbling.”
—Marcus Clarke, His Natural Life
Being of an undiplomatic and demonstrative nature in matters that give me pleasure, I threw the paper up into the air and jumped aloft myself—ending by taking a small fried whiting out of the plate before me and waving it round my foolish head triumphantly till the tail came off and the body and head flew. . . . Then only did I perceive that I was not alone, but that a party was at breakfast in a recess. Happily for me they were not English, and when I made an apology saying I had suddenly seen some good news of a friend of mine—these amiable Italians said, “Hurrah, Signore, we also are delighted. If we had only got some little fish, too, we would throw them all about the room in sympathy with you!”
—Edward Lear, letter of November 24, 1865
The object of poetry is to find the equivalent in language for things seen and felt. This workshop will ask you to write a dozen poems, one per week, and to read a broad selection of modern poetry from Robert Frost to poems published this decade. Each week the workshop will discuss your work and the work of your predecessors. We will find a place for frivolity and fecklessness within the seriousness of verse, and hope that within our studies cheerfulness will keep breaking in.
- an anthology of modern poetry
- three or four volumes of postwar contemporary poetry
History & Criticism of New Media
A survey of the history and critical theory of new media. Readings will include early texts of the digital field (Bush, Engelbart, Nelson, Sutherland, etc.) and recent critical-theoretical and historical texts (Bolter & Grusin, Hansen, Hayles, Kirschenbaum, Liu, Manovich, etc.). Course requirements include two in-class presentations, an annotated research bibliography, and a research paper.
The Experienced Image
The tradition of critique argued that human experience has been radically impoverished in the modern industrial era, in conditions of commercialization and the mass media spectacle. At the same time, the colonization of lived experience by the commodity form has been contested throughout modernity by the arts and letters disciplines, with a dialogical struggle over the quality and nature of reality taking place within the category of substance (“thing”). A decisive factor in this struggle is the emergence of the image in the context of a new apparatus as the basis for a general education rhetoric and logic.
The goal of this seminar is to design and test an image logic for a general education engagement with the development of the Internet as experience. Maurice Blanchot provides the theory guiding our inquiry into the nature of literary experience, and the rhetoric includes an appropriation of brand design on behalf of humanities values and practices. The theoretical question for the project concerns branding as the site of the emergence of an identity experience specific to an Internet civilization.
The seminar project is framed within a meta-conversation about methodology, specifically, the methods of heuretics and grammatology used to design this course and my research in general. The goal is to generalize from our project to a method of creative inquiry adaptable to any area of disciplinary study. The course project is composed as a blog, supplemented by photoshop. Previous experience with these tools is helpful but not required.
Required readings (tentative):
- Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature
- Anna Klingmann, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy
- Juan Antonio Ramirez, The Beehive Metaphor: From Gaudi to Le Corbusier
- Maggie Macnab, Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication
The Persistence of the Dialectic
This course will explore the productive engagements with and reinventions of the tradition of Hegelian dialectical theory and practice in three of the most important literary and cultural theorists operating today: Fredric Jameson, Judith Butler, and Slavoj Žižek. Bruce Robbins, in a review essay on the occasion of the reprinting of Butler’s first book, Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987), argues that one of the inaugural gestures of the rich and diverse body of thought known as post-structuralism is the displacement of Hegel’s “master-slave” dialectic by Friedrich Nietzsche’s revision of this founding narrative in his landmark work, On the Genealogy of Morals. Butler’s thought, Robbins then suggests, marks its distinction from most post-structuralist influenced theory in its commitment, albeit in a critical fashion, to Hegel’s dialectic and the politics of emancipation that arise from it. In this course, we will attempt to test the validity of this claim, and see to what degree it also applies to Jameson’s and Žižek’s equally rich and influential critical programs. We will begin our discussion with an examination of a short text by Hegel: the Preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit (in a recent new translation by Yirmiyahu Yovel). We will then turn our attention to landmark works by two of the most influential dialectical thinkers of the middle part of the twentieth century, the French philosopher Alexandre Kojčve (Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit) and the German scholar, Theodor Adorno (Hegel: Three Studies). With this framework in hand, we will then look at early re-imaginings of the dialectical tradition and method by our three thinkers: Jameson’s Marxism and Form: Twentieth Century Dialectical Theories of Literature (1971); Butler’s Subjects of Desire; and Zizek’s Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology (1993). Finally, we will explore the persistence of these commitments in later work of these three thinkers, reading Jameson’s most recent book, Valences of the Dialectic (2009), Butler’s Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000), and Žižek’s In Defense of Lost Causes (2008). Our readings throughout the semester will also be supplemented with short selections from the useful volume edited by Dennis King Keenan, Hegel and Contemporary Continental Philosophy. Expectations for students will include active participation in our seminar discussion; serving as member of a group introducing the readings at least twice during the semester; and a final seminar paper.
Film Theory: Foucault
This seminar will consider film in relation to the theoretical project of Michel Foucault, whose premature death from AIDS in 1984 left his work unfinished and open.
Foucault’s work has transformed cinema theory so extensively, that many of his ideas have become less recognized because they are so widely assumed. Concepts such as subject positioning, classical and non-classical cinematic discourses, gender and queer theory, transgression, and Orientalism all derive from strategies introduced by Foucault. Yet Foucault’s unfinished project continues to generate radical and unanticipated effects. On the 20th anniversary of his death in 2004, a special issue of the journal Liberation, le feu Foucault, noted how Foucault’s work continues to catch fire in the imagination. Translations of his collected shorter works and of his public courses at the College de France continue to appear, and a complete English translation of his pivotal text Madness and Civilization was published only in 2006.
The seminar will work through available works in English to navigate Foucault’s process of thought. Readings will extend from his earliest book on Mental Illness and Psychology to his last work on The History of Sexuality, interspersed with essays from the three volumes of his collected shorter works in English. We will also consider material from his courses at the College de France to imagine trajectories from his published texts towards what remains unfinished, including the unpublished fourth volume of The History of Sexuality. Seminar topics will include Foucault’s critique of humanism and the subject, conceived not as a sovereign center of knowledge but as a historical construction and an effect of discourse. We will also discuss his analysis of power in modern society through institutions and disciplinary knowledge, from medical discourse through systems of surveillance and control.
Theoretical work will be mobilized “next to” a series of filmic texts, to paraphrase Deleuze. In other words, theory will operate as neither hierarchically superior to film as explanatory narrative nor secondary to the text as passive interpretation, but as a parallel project in different terms. Accordingly, we will proceed by viewing films in relation to texts, to consider how each may inform a reading of the other. Diawara’s Rouch in Reverse will be considered next to Foucault’s critique of anthropology in The Order of Things, and Achkar’s Allah Tantou next to Foucault’s analysis of prisons in Discipline and Punish. Other films, from Wiseman’s Titicut Follies and Imamura’s Eijanaika to Pierce’s Boys Don’t Cry will be similarly mobilized in relation to texts from The Birth of the Clinic and The Archeology of Knowledge to The History of Sexuality.
A broad range of historical, international, documentary, avant-garde and early cinema will be screened as part of the seminar, to extend the parameters of how film is addressed. The complex relationship of avant-garde film with political activism will be of special interest, in order to think through the possibilities of textual agency in a postnational information economy.
Foucault’s strategies intersect productively with the work of Derrida, Lyotard, Lacan, Irigaray, Jameson and Deleuze, among others, and some of those intersections will be discussed. However, students are not expected to have read any of the theoretical texts in advance. Foucault’s work will be presented as both an introduction to theoretical work for new students, and as advanced material for those already conversant with theory.
“The Rise of the Novel”?
This course will investigate relationships between the “old” 18th Century canon – Defoe, Fielding, Richardson – and the “new” – Behn, Haywood, Burney, and Inchbald. Particular attention will be given to the question of how (or whether) the most traditional devices of narrative (the birth mystery, for one example) are gendered. We also will study how the most influential critics of the 1980s – Michael McKeon and Nancy Armstrong – and successful critics of the 1990s – Claudia Johnson, Jill Campbell – respond to Ian Watt’s classic, but dated The Rise of the Novel (1957). We will conclude by discussing Clifford Siskin’s work on “the great forgetting” (by 19th and 20th Century critics) of 18th Century female novelists.
Lectures will focus on the response of eighteenth-century writers to the “demographic crisis” (L. F. Stone’s term) that the English elite suffered from 1650 to 1740. We will analyze authors’ use of the birth mystery to rationalize the confusions created by the inability of patriarchs to provide legitimate male heirs. The course will open with Watt, then move on to subsequent critiques of him. Throughout the semester, we will consider the implications of Michael McKeon’s claim that the novel originates as part of an attempt to ameliorate both literary and social anxiety about “quality.” By studying eighteenth-century fictionalizations of kinship, we can see how deftly the writers of the period, even as they encourage subversive social attitudes, bring their readers back to the status quo, closing their stories by vindicating existing orders. We also will position ourselves to study differences (or lack thereof) in the versions of kinship offered by male and female authors.
Students will work toward a publishable essay. Besides participating in class discussions, students will comment upon a novel and a critical work they read “on their own.” (I will provide book lists for both.)
- Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel (California)
- Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction (Oxford)
- Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel, 1600–1740 (Johns Hopkins)
- John Richetti and Paula Backscheider, eds. Popular Fiction by Women, 1660–1730 (Oxford)
- Daniel Defoe, Roxana (Penguin)
- Samuel Richardson, Pamela (Penguin)
- Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (Oxford)
- Frances Burney, Evelina (Oxford)
- Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story (Oxford)
Victorian Genders and the Novel: Masculinities
This course will focus on Victorian genders with a special emphasis on masculinities, especially as manifested at mid century (mostly the 1840s–1870s) in the novel. Additionally, we will spend time reading and thinking about secondary works which interrogate and historicize our principal terms. Many of you have indicated interest in gender issues generally and specifically in masculinities, a topic which has received increasing attention in recent years. By the end of the course, you will have read a substantial amount of important secondary work regarding mid-century masculinities, as well as a good selection of both canonical and less-known Victorian novels.
Reading may include some of the following, for example:
- Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship
- Gaskell, North and South
- Hughes, Tom Brown’s Schooldays
- Meredith, Ordeal of Richard Feverel
- Ouida, Under Two Flags
- Collins, Man and Wife
- Kingsley, Westward Ho
- Lawrence, Guy Livingstone
- Pater, “Diapheneite” (1864) and “Winckelmann” (1867) [two short essays-handout]
- Darwin, From Selection in Relation to Sex (vII, Part II, Chapters XIX–XXI: “Secondary Sexual Characters of Man” (two chapters) and “General Summary and Conclusion” 1871
- Haggard, She 1886
- Sedgwick, Between Men
- Adams, Dandies and Desert Saints
- Foucault, History of Sexuality vI
The course will focus on novels (probably seven or eight) and secondary readings about gender and especially masculinity. Most of these readings will be critical and historical, rather than theoretical stricto sensu, and so you should either be familiar with basic concepts in gender theory or be prepared to do a little extra reading on your own. However, the class discussion will be tailored to (and by) the class members, so you if need to know more about something, please ask. I would also like to emphasize that, although the course will focus on the construction of masculinity in the period, that topic cannot be discussed without reference to female identity, class, and sexuality, among other issues. The use of the plural in the course title is not simply a convention; it reflects the imbrication of gender with other identity categories, despite the increasing sense of a widely shared masculine “essence” which marks the period and which it left as a legacy. In short, I expect seminar conversation to be rather wide-ranging.
Requirements include regular attendance and participation, eight short (1–2 page) responses to the reading, posted to the class email list, substantial contributions to discussion of response papers over email, one full length paper (21–25 pages), and possibly one formal oral presentation (based on outside reading).
Response papers are due each week. You may choose which eight weeks you will turn something in, but please do not turn them in late. Response papers should be circulated and shared; you must post them electronically at least 48 hours before class. (I will create an email list for the class, to which you may post papers, responses, questions, etc.) Response papers should be short (one to two pages), focused essays which engage the reading (primary, secondary or both) directly.
You are also expected to contribute substantively to discussion on the list, as well as, of course, in class. The class will be conducted as a seminar; each member will be expected to speak during each class meeting and to discuss collegially with other class members. I will contribute as a discussion facilitator and resource person, but not, generally, as a lecturer. You should plan to use the class to explore and expand your own research interests wherever possible. If you would like to tailor your final project for a particular purpose (dissertation chapter, for example), please let me know.
Studies in Comics & Animation
This seminar will provide an introduction to a selective and somewhat idiosyncratic history of animated cartoons, comic strips, and comic books and a consideration of theoretical implications of the relations and disjunctions between these fields of imagetextual production. There will be an emphasis on early American productions (1890s–1960s), with considerable focus on the animation and comic book work of Disney artist/writer Carl Barks as central to the historical and theoretical problems to be addressed in the course.
- Online course pack and a series of course pamphlets available from Xerographic Copy Center: 927 NW 13th St, (352) 375-0797;
- Esther Leslie, Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avante-Garde;
- Paul Wells, Understanding Animation (These book titles are tentative.)
Requirements: active, productive seminar participation, an in-class presentation focused on your own specific interests and concerns in this vast field of material, and a final essay that may (but need not) emerge from your in-seminar presentation.
Sounds of Blackness/Signs of Self
Blackness is a narrative conveyed through various mediums and genres. This class will investigate the writing of blackness and the sounds of blackness from the 19th–21st century. We will note the influence of African-American musical aesthetics on African-American fiction, poetry, and drama, as well as the influence of African-American literary tradition on African-American music. Emphasis on the literary use of jazz/blues/be-bop, soul/neo-soul/ hip-hop, gospel/spirituals, funk, and go-go.
Emphasis on musical use of autobiographical techniques, folk traditions, nationalist thought, afrocentricity, science fiction, and pulp fiction aesthetics. Literary, musical, and cinematic texts to be supplemented with literary theory and ethnomusicology criticism.
Issues in Cultural Studies: Medieval and Early Modern sorplus
Throughout the courtly love tradition (better called the fin’amors tradition), the word sorplus is a powerful code for all forms of excess, most especially orgasm. It is used to suggest the ineffable joie that comes with the access as well as excess of love. (It is jouissance before Lacan dreamed he had invented it.) It is also a term of economics, materialism, and ethics as well. I propose to examine sorplus in a wide selection of European texts from Virgil to Shakespeare and to attempt to contextualize certain key questions. Among them, what kind of excess is poetry? Is there a vocabulary that can adequately describe the relationship between the sorplus of poetry and the sorplus of eros? Why does sorplus seem transgressive? What changes in the understanding of the erotic body parallel changes in the understanding of poetry as a form of knowledge? What is the relationship between pornography and erotica in the early modern period? On these and related questions we will bring to bear various theories and theorists, but we will be primarily concerned with how medieval and early modern writers were themselves already theorizing these questions and their implications. All readings will be in translation, but we will have access to the originals as well. Students will be expected to present a seminar report and to write a term paper for the course.
Postcolonial Literature/Cultural Theory: Introduction to Postcolonial Studies
This course will examine canonical theories and fictions in postcolonial studies. The field refers to an effort by scholars in diverse disciplines to come to terms, from a global perspective, with the legacy of European colonialism. In the wake of the voyages of exploration and “discovery” from the fifteenth century onwards, a handful of European powers (England, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands), came gradually to exercise sovereignty over vast territories covering roughly eighty percent of the world. In political, social, economic and cultural terms, the colonial situation effected epochal transformations of not only the conquered societies but also imperial Europe. The colonial encounter resulted in the consolidation of the idea of a European or Western modernity at the apex of human civilization. It also resulted in incomplete, chaotic, and traumatic attempts forcibly to transform other societies in the image of Europe. By the end of the twentieth century, virtually all formerly colonized territories had become independent nations but the effects of colonial rule continue to be powerfully felt at multiple levels. For example, the practice of everyday life in vast sectors of the both the imperial and the colonized worlds continue to be governed, often with devastating consequences, by ideas about racial, national, continental, gender, sexual and other identities invented in the context of the colonial encounter. As well, the political economies of many formally independent nations continue to be characterized by fundamental contradictions, inequalities and dependencies brought about by colonial rule. Finally, the global economic, political and cultural order continues to be organized in terms of a contest pitting the interests of a handful of wealthy and disproportionately powerful nations against a multitude of poor and relatively powerless nations.
H.D. and Modernist Studies
This course examines a key figure not only in modernism, but also in the recent field of modernist studies. Because of H.D.’s involvement with avant-garde movements, an in-depth look at her career allows us to assess a variety of literary, visual, and intellectual experiments. With Ezra Pound and Richard Aldington she founded the Imagist movement, which sought to break free from traditional poetic form. H.D. was photographed by Man Ray, and participated in the Close Up cinema group; the latter published the first English-language film journal, for which H.D. contributed reviews. By witnessing and writing about the Tutankhamen excavations, H.D. engaged debates about cultural origins in the field of Egyptology. She also engaged with emergent psychoanalytic theories through writing about her sessions with Sigmund Freud. We will read H.D.’s poems, her film reviews, her story about ancient Egypt, her memoir of Freud, and her autobiographical novel, The Gift. In exploring her last major work, Helen in Egypt, we will compare H.D.’s portrayals with cinematic depictions of the Helen myth. Other modernist materials will include Ray’s Paris photographs, Carl Dreyer’s film La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, and Kenneth McPherson’s film Borderline (whose actors include Paul Robeson and H.D.). We will also examine H.D.’s status in the Modernist Studies Association, which featured the poet prominently in its inaugural conference. The MSA-affiliated journal Modernism/modernity will supply us with additional course texts.
Childhood, Culture, Creativity
This seminar will probe the connections between how we construct our cultural ideas of childhood (in and through film, literature, toys, games, music, and other “texts”) and the kinds of works of the imagination that we create for and about the children who inhabit these (and our own) cultural moments. The seminar fuses the historical and the experimental, the received and the innovative; and it relies on the creative openness and the initiatives of the participants. One of the concerns we will have in the seminar is to look at those boundaries that have been drawn, arbitrarily or consciously, to define children’s books, and thus what creative works we believe are important to bring into the lives of young people. We will look at “classics” as well as unusual works that are testing accepted assumptions. Throughout the term, along with examining these texts from a number of critical perspectives, we will also be responding to them in creative ways, producing works that build imaginatively on these possibilities.