Undergraduate Courses, Fall 2015
Upper Division (3000–4000) Courses
Note: Only course descriptions are listed below. For a comprehensive summary of course numbers, sections, times and locations, titles, and instructors, see the following web page:
The Way We Weren’t: The Myths of American Life
The overarching myth of life in America is a story told in phases. Childhood is innocent and carefree; adolescence is turbulent and rebellious; adulthood is mature and productive. The family, idyllic and stable, accompanies each of these three phases, offering support along the journey. While the full reality of lived experience in the United States has long belied this particular fantasy, we as a nation have been reluctant to embrace or acknowledge anything that might challenge our perception of these stages. The images they invoke are powerful and hard to resist; they speak of life as many believe it should be, rather than as it actually is.
In this course, then, we will seek to complicate our understanding of the myth of the “traditional” life experience in America that these phases exemplify. To that end, the course will consist of four units, each of which takes up an important figure in American society: the child, the adolescent, the adult, and the family. Within each unit, we will read broadly, encountering novels, plays, short stories, comics, and other writings from the early 20th century to the present day, with an emphasis on the late 20th and 21st centuries. More importantly, our readings will reflect a diverse range of perspectives as we consider the ways in which questions of race, religion, sexuality, and gender play important roles in determining how—and even if—one can survive and thrive in this country. Together, we will seek an answer to the question of what it truly means to live in America.
Selected readings may include, but not be limited to, works by James Baldwin, Sandra Cisneros, Sherman Alexie, Shirley Jackson, and Alison Bechdel. Assignments may include a midterm and/or final exam, short papers, and a student-led presentation and discussion.
America Goes to War! Politics, History, and Identity
The aim of this course is to explore the development of American globalization through war and politics. We will begin by examining texts that depict the rise and fall of the old South and the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction. We will move into the 20th century and examine the ways in which the nation attempts to make a claim for power on the global stage and the development of the Cold War and US imperialism. Finally, we will move into the post-9/11 contemporary to explore the threat of “terror” and the United States’ longest wars—Iraq and Afghanistan. We will explore the traumatic impact of war on the individual, collective, national, and historical level. To help elaborate this point, in his book on trauma studies, Traumatic Realism, Michael Rothberg argues that “realism, modernism, and postmodernism can also be understood as persistent response to the demands of history. Like the demands themselves, these responses are also social; they provide frameworks for the representation and interpretation of history. In the representation of a historical event, in other words, a text’s ‘realist’ component seeks strategies for referring to and documenting the world, its ‘modernist’ side questions its ability to document history transparently, and its ‘postmodern’ moment responds to the economic and political conditions of its emergence and public circulation” (9). It is through this lens that we will examine texts addressing the real, the documentation of the historical event (and literature’s ability to provide a “true” historical account), and the socio-economic impacts of war. While trauma is only one of the exigencies in which we will examine modern warfare, tracing the historical and literary movements Rothberg outlines will help us put the traumatic moments in conversation with the historical event(s). We will look at theory, fiction, non-fiction, journalism, comics, and film.
Survey of African-American Literature 2
This course extends the definition of African American literature to include visual narratives by well-known artists as well as writers whose works have been overlooked for various reasons. Readings and film screenings will cover such playwrights as Amiri Baraka, Lorraine Hansberry, Lynn Nottage, Adrienne Kennedy, novelists as James Baldwin, Paule Marshall, James McBride, Toni Morrison, John A. Williams, poets as Bob Kaufman, Audre Lorde, Pat Parker, and filmmakers as Spike Lee and Marlon Riggs.
Lectures and class discussions will explore how artists, using black vernacular and various other literary and visual strategies, dramatize contemporary social and psychological conflicts that occur when individuals and groups resist societal pressures to conform to hegemonic beliefs about race, sexuality, and gender. (To describe a hegemonic belief formation is not to say that a majority supports this belief system about race, sexuality, and gender, but to say that there appears to be no other alternative to this singular racialized-sexualized-gendered vision of society.)
Studies in Genre: Indian Captivity Narratives
Captivity narratives are one most enduring and mythic early American literary genres, a potent genre for representing the early American “frontier” (or contact zone), the dynamics of cross-cultural contact and colonization, and hostile encounters with “Otherness.” We begin by reading the captivity narratives that gave birth to the literary genre: mostly first-person narratives by Euro-American frontier settlers (often women) who were captured by “Indians” in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and subsequently published accounts of their captivity, escape, and return. After a sustained look at the cultural work of the genre in colonial America, we will explore how the genre adapted and persisted through the early national era, the nineteenth century, and beyond.
In its most complex forms, the genre illuminates the captives fraught relationship to their home and captive communities and conveys the captive’s fraught psychological response to loss, hardship, and forced cultural adaptation. At its most sensational and ideological, the genre promotes racist cultural stereotypes, encourages the conquest of American Indians, and justifies Western expansion. Ministers, missionaries, settlers, propagandists, editors and amanuenses, captive whites, and American Indian writers—all contributed to the development and the reception of this enduring, controversial, and diverse literary genre.
A sustained final unit inverts the genre by reading accounts of “Captive Indians” in order to understand how American Indian authors invoke, adapt, and interrogate the genre. By reading American-Indian authored fiction and nonfiction by or about “Captive Indians,” the final unit disrupts narrative conventions, unsettles the genre’s problematic association with Anglo-American subject formation, and gives voice to its indigenous protagonists’ complex experiences, memories, and histories.
Ultimately, you will leave this class with a strong understanding of form and function of the genre, its enduring influence, and the diverse array of literary responses to the theme of “Indian captivity.” Moreover, you will gain strength in critical reading, writing, and literary analysis, gaining confidence in your ability to work in depth with a particular literary genre.
Authors include: Mary Rowlandson, Cotton Mather, John Gyles, John Marrant, Susanna Rowson, Mary Jemison (with James Seaver), Sarah Wakefield, James Fenimore Cooper, Angela Carter, Geronimo (with S. M. Barrett), Zitkala-Sa, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdich, Lisa Chavez, and Sherman Alexie.
Studies in American Literature and Culture Before 1800: Early American Life Writing
Puritans, Quakers, and heretics, ministers and merchants, settlers and displaced American Indians, exemplary citizens and criminals, captives, prisoners, and slaves: how did the diverse populations of early America “compose” themselves and adapt their complex personal experiences into legible literary forms? This course will introduce students to a range of early American life writing composed between 1600 and 1830, including conversion narratives and spiritual autobiographies, diaries, captivity and slave narratives, travel narratives, and secular accounts of notable lives.
Students will learn to analyze the form, function and development of life writing prior to the emergence of “autobiography” as a formal genre and to reflect on how authors translated the messiness and vicissitudes of daily life into print. Secondary scholarship on interpreting life narratives (by Sidonie Smith, Julia Watson, and others) will offer students tangible tools for interpreting and analyzing life narratives and autobiography.
Authors likely to include: Capt. John Smith, Thomas Shepard, Michael Wigglesworth, Mary Rowlandson, John Gyles, Sarah Kemble Knight, William Byrd II, Joseph-Bill Packer, Rachel Wall, Johnson Green, Elizabeth Ashbridge, Olaudah Equiano, “Belinda” the African slave, Venture Smith, William Grimes, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Burroughs, K. White, and Elizabeth Munro Fisher.
Assignments include 3 short (4–5-page) analysis papers, group work, and a longer essay (8 pages) involving primary and secondary research.
Novels of the Harlem Renaissance
This course focuses on novels that were written during the Harlem Renaissance and contrast them with other contemporary writing during of the period. Class discussions will consider how black writers, in redefining the black character in twentieth century literature, influenced how non-black writers construct the racial Other in their works and how the literature of this movement as received by its audiences.
Beyond Death: Ghosts and Race in Multi-ethnic American Fiction
Yen Li Loh
The genre of the ghost story not only preoccupies the Asian American literary imagination, but also fuels much of the multi-ethnic literatures of the 20th century. The hauntings in key US literary works are not only personal, familial, and intergenerational, but also historical, collective, and socio-political. Affected by the history of slavery and exclusionary immigration policies, for instance, American history is haunted by politics of empire that are ideologically gendered and racialized, making invisible or hypervisible the many histories and peoples that are involved in the making and imagining of an American landscape.
In this course, we will therefore read texts that engage with hauntings in multi-ethnic American literary production—including Native American, Asian American, and African American literatures—to explore how writers utilize ghosts to critique and reinterpret the broader racialized, gendered, and sexualized contexts of American history. This course seeks to understand the significance of representing history as haunting. Why are some people and places more haunted than others? Are phantoms those who were unjustly killed and so ghost stories always involve a question of justice? What kinds of histories of violence and oppression haunt these narratives? Is haunting a question of memory and trauma, of remembering and forgetting? How does the supernatural interrupt narratives of progress, reason, and science? Why are many multi-ethnic ghost stories articulated at the intersection of race and gender? We will consider the various meanings of haunting and being haunted, including spectral notions of citizenship, rights, knowledge production, and history, focusing on various themes and issues like national identity, racial difference, generational conflicts, and discursive and material violence, among others. Ultimately, this course stresses the importance of racial and gendered haunting in multi-ethnic American literature.
Readings include Lan Samantha Chang’s “Hunger,” Edwidge Danticat’s “Ghosts,” Heinz Insu Fenkl’s Memories of my Ghost Brother, Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome, Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Leslie Marmon Silkos’s Almanac of the Dead, and Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging.
“But Some of Us Are Brave”: Black Women, Writing, and Race
In 1982, Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell-Scott, and Barbara Smith compiled a collection of essays by Black women on topics ranging from political theory to literary analysis and entitled All the Women are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us are Brave. Taking its name from that groundbreaking collection, this course examines Black women’s literature and theory about race and processes of racialization throughout the Americas: North America, South America, and the Caribbean. The course seeks to highlight the ways that Black women’s literature has challenged dominant concepts of blackness that are firmly rooted in masculinity or a United States geopolitical context. In addition to surveying literature from writers such as Mary Prince, Zora Neale Hurston, Gayl Jones, and Edwidge Danticat, students will also engage with theories of Black women’s writing by scholars such as Carole Boyce Davies and Madhu Dubey. Students will be encouraged to consider multiple “blacknesses,” how gender shapes expressions of blackness, and why some literary expressions of blackness rise to prominence while others do not. Students will be required participate thoughtfully and critically in class discussions and to complete weekly readings, 6–8 weekly reading responses, a panel presentation, and a final paper.
Testimonios: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in US Latina and Latino Popular Culture
This course is designed to explore the many ways in which US Latina and Latino identity has been constructed and shaped through popular culture. Rather than looking at US Latina/Latino identity as a monolithic construct, we will focus on the effects caused by the interactions among gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, class, and other social forces influencing modes of representation of US Latina/Latino subjects. Furthermore, the course seeks to reach an understanding of the role that genre, medium, author, and intended audience play in this dynamic. Therefore, we will study canonical literature, “genre” literature (such as “chica lit”), musical theatre, film/TV, blogs, and critical theory produced by US Latina and Latino authors as well as Anglo authors. This range of texts will open up possibilities to interrogate the concept of US Latina/Latino identity.
The assignments include a midterm and final exam (long essay response and multiple-choice answers), discussion questions, and reading quizzes. This is a seminar-style, participation-heavy course.
In addition to critical theory, the main texts for the class are: Drown by Junot Díaz, The Agüero Sisters by Christina Garcia, Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodríguez, Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps by Lara Ríos, Chica Lit by Tace Hedrick, the musical In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, and Queer Latino Testimonio, Keith Haring, and Juanito Xtravaganza: Hard Tails by Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé.
Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing
This workshop course, the penultimate in our series of undergraduate workshops in fiction writing, seeks to help you write fiction better than you might already. Time is spent also on correct usage. We also seek to have you read better: to read for form, recognizing strength and weakness in your own and in others’ writing, and recognizing various technical maneuvers in the published work we will read.
Students write three pieces of fiction, delivering a copy to each class member one week prior to group criticism. Students participate in that group criticism with wit and cogency and pertinence and deliver a letter of good criticism for each story read. This criticism has one object: to improve the work.
Assigned readings, from a book or two by a major writer, will also be discussed. This reading will be looked at usually in a somewhat technical manner; it is hoped that in the best of all possible worlds the reading will inspire a mimicry of correct form as you make the long trek unto your own vision and your own good writing.
Advanced Seminar in Poetry Writing
A small seminar focusing on contemporary Anglophone poetry and students’ own work, with an award-winning poet and full-time faculty member.
Advanced Seminar in Poetry Writing
“Poorly depicted clouds—which most people would not notice as wrong—are so disturbing to Dr. Thornes that they almost spoil visits to museums. For a meteorologist, the distraction is as great as the ordinary viewer being confronted by a figure with three arms. [He added that] too many artists had painted [clouds] as they would a backcloth in a theatre.”
―Guardian (London), 9 August 2000
“They told stories about [the country and western singer] Bill Monroe biting into his first bagel (‘Dang! This is the worst doughnut I ever did eat!’).”
―Burkhard Bilger, New Yorker, May 14, 2007
In this workshop we will attend to words as closely as a painter attends to paint—or to clouds. You will read a broad selection of modern poetry, from Emily Dickinson to Gjertrud Schnackenberg, and write a poem a week. Every week in addition to poems from students the workshop will consider for discussion poems from poets past and present. This is an advanced workshop in poetry, for students who have already taken at least one lower-division workshop (CRW 1301 or CRW 2300) and who want to press their understandings of poetic language even further.
Email or hard-copy submission of your manuscript is necessary for early registration. Please submit four poems to email@example.com in one attachment in .pdf format. Mention the workshops you have previously taken.
Required reading (tentative):
Senior Advanced Workshop in Fiction Writing
Senior Advanced Workshop in Poetry Writing
This is the senior undergraduate poetry workshop at U.F., for committed and experienced writers. We will draw inspiration and standards from Paul Muldoon’s anthology Contemporary Irish Poetry, supplemented by one of Muldoon’s own books (he modestly leaves himself out of his anthology—it’s about the only thing wrong with it), and you will write poems to a wide array of prompts and subjects, and none.
Advanced Exposition: Politics of Composing
Advanced Exposition covers modes of expository writing. Emphasizing analytical writing, this course addresses modes of informing, defining, describing and identifying. We will also attend to principles of written style and effective methods of conveying meaning in writing. While this course requires students to experiment with a variety of expository modes, students will have the option of focusing on the modes that best suit the types of writing appropriate to their individual studies or interests.
Students will write five essays, together totaling at least 6000 words. These essays will draw from independent research and course texts. Our collective research will explore politics of composition in higher education. As a class, we will discuss historical and conceptual changes to the structure of American higher education, social and cultural issues surrounding those changes, and their effect on how we understand the production and conveyance of knowledge in writing. The goal of this research is to ground our understanding of effective writing practices in certain social and institutional politics in which those practices operate. Doing so will help us both connect with those bodies of knowledge that attract us as well as empower us to engage those bodies in writing.
Students will be asked to critically reflect on issues and topics in their respective majors from a disciplinary perspective, eventually settling on one issue or topic to research independently throughout the semester. In addition to simply learning more about an interest or topic that interests them, students will have an opportunity to explore how textual conventions shape that issue or topic, allowing to them explore and discuss “writing” as both conveying and actively producing knowledge in the discourses that surround it.
What happens to humanities education in a culture of images? The proposition to be tested in a semester-long project is that hypermedia (Internet) authoring explicitly supports creative thinking: there is a fortunate alignment in hypermedia relating the logic of creativity, the forms of popular culture, and the links-and-nodes features of networked technology. The non-traditional methodology of this course requires active engagement through practices such as inventive problem-solving and group collaboration in in-class presentations and an email listserv. The point of departure for the semester project is the observation made by cultural historians that a pattern of a few core images is found organizing the work of the most productive people across a wide range of disciplines. The historians note that the ingredients of the core image are in place by the time the individual leaves high school. Our project is to test the educational capacities of image thinking by exploring this pattern or “image of wide scope” in an experimental hypermedia self-portrait. The pedagogy for the course involves a hybrid of criticism, composition, and studio arts. The medium for the semester project is a blog (such as Wordpress), supplemented by basic photoshop and drawing programs. Extensive use will be made of online materials.
History of Film 1
The course provides an overview of the history of film from its origin to the coming of sound. The course is designed as the first part of a sequence on the history of film, but does not need to be taken in chronological order. The objective is to gain an overview of the historical development of early cinema, based on an understanding of key concepts in film studies and approaches to early cinema in film theory. Topics will include the beginning of film, the emergence of genres (western, horror, melodrama, comedy); the early social melodrama and the race film; montage and expressionism; and the aesthetics of a silent film language. The course relies on regular required weekly film screenings and readings.
History of Film 2
This part of the film history sequence covers the years 1930-1965. Topics include:
1. The consolidation of the Hollywood Studio System, derived from the model of Frederick Taylor’s industrial management and Henry Ford’s mass production. (Readings: Taylor, Ford, Schatz’s The Genius of the System) (Films: 42nd Street, Grand Hotel, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca)
2. The rise of Hitler, the issue of documentary, and the emigration of filmmakers and actors to Hollywood. (Readings: Stern’s Hitler) (Films: M, Triumph of the Will)
3. Jean Renoir (Readings: interviews with Renoir) (Films: A Day in the Country, Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, The Rules of the Game)
1. Film noir and Sartre’s existentialism. (Readings: Vernet on film noir, Sartre’s “Existentialism Is a Humanism”) (Films: It’s a Wonderful Life, In a Lonely Place, The Narrow Margin)
2. Italian Neorealism. (Readings: Zavattini’s manifestos, Cahiers du Cinéma essays on Rossellini and Neorealism) (Films: Rome, Open City, Paisà, The Bicycle Thieves)
3. The French New Wave. (Readings: Cahiers du Cinéma essays by Truffaut, Godard, et. al.; interviews with Truffaut and Godard) (Films: Breathless, Les Mistons, Shoot the Piano Player, Masculine-Feminine)
Assignments: 1. Brief daily quizzes on readings and screenings (20%). 2. Class participation (20%). 3. Two essay exams based on questions distributed in advance (60%). Attendance required: after two unexcused absences, further absences will reduce your course grade.
Note: ENG 3122 is a film history course that involves regular, and often lengthy, readings detailing the historical contexts of the movies we will watch. If such readings and the quiz and participation requirements do not suit your interest or habits, you should not take this particular course.
Note to Journalism Students: Many Journalism students, especially those in Telecommunications, take English Department film courses. In the past few years, some of these students have disliked and ignored ENG 3122’s requirements; the result has often been failing grades. While I have seen many fine Journalism students in this course, the numbers of the discontented and failing have recently increased. Like any university course, taking ENG 3122 involves a commitment. Look over the syllabus (when it appears over the summer) to see if you want to make this particular commitment.
Guilty Until Proven “Guilty!”
What if you were young, innocent, and inexplicably found yourself on trial for murder in the first degree? WHat if the judgment were a matter of your life or death? WHAt if you were convicted, imprisoned, escaped, and were caught again? WHAT IF? WHAT IF there were no court of appeals? WHAT IF?? WHAT IF you were not only prosecuted but persecuted? WHAT IF the state of exception proved to be the rule of law? WHAT IF you were detained indefinitely by the state? WHAT IF you were mistakenly identified by eyewitnesses and your own fingerprints matched those of the real criminal? WHAT IF your efforts to detect a crime only implicated you as the criminal?? WHAT IF you thought a madman got away with murder but when you told people they thought you were the madman??? WHAT IF you were the madman???? WHAT IF you found yourself powerless, paralyzed, unable to help yourself????? And WHAT IF you in turn persecuted someone else?! WHAT IF you were guilty but not at fault?!! More generally, WHAT IF the “reasonable” person on which the law depends turns out to be unreasonable?!!! WHAT IF the distinction between the reasonable and unreasonable person is impossible to draw? WHAT IF the rule of law is itself unruly?!!!! WHAT IF guilt is not a matter of biometrics, detection, forensics, or legally-admissible evidence, of enlightenment, of conjecture and clues, of innocence and guilt??! WHAT IF liberal democratic politics turns out to founder on a dark metaphysics, a metaphysics so dark that reason can itself become irrational, fatally so??!! WHAT IF critical accounts of the panoptic power of omniscient surveillance is just a paranoid hallucination? WHAT IF justice is a demented, deluded belief that one‘s own powers of observation and detection can correctly decide between the accused’s guilt or innocence???!!!! WHAT IF the law were a machine, a writing machine that no one controlled????!!!! WHAT IF every moment of seeming lucid rationality ends up casting longer and darker shadows of incrimination, perpetually postponing the possibility of exoneration, and that, even if reached, turns out to have been always already exhausted?????!!!!!! We will pursue these and other alarming and disturbing yet sometimes oddly humorous “WHAT IF” existential, legal, and philosophical questions by reading immersively in the cold, sometimes breathy, mysterious fog and boiling passions of wildly engaging literature and film, including two nineteenth-century British Gothic novels, a Greek tragedy, a German short story, a psy-fi novel, and German and Hollywood crime films and film noirs, including Fritz Lang, M (1931); Fritz Lang, Fury (1936); Fritz Lang, You Only Live Once (1937); Alfred Hitchcock, The Wrong Man (1956); William Godwin, Caleb Williams; Shock Corridor (dir. Sam Fuller, 1962); The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (dir. John Ford, 1962); Orson Welles, The Trial (1962); Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Stranger on the Third Floor (dir. Boris Ingster, 1940); I Was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (dir. Mervyn LeRoy, 1932); James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner; Missing (dir. Costas Gravas, 1982); Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; Franz Kafka, “The Penal Colony”; Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly; Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish; Jacques Derrida, The Death Penalty Seminar, Vol. 1; Orson Welles, Touch of Evil (1958); Nelly Bly, “Into the Madhouse,” in Around the World in Seventy-Two Days and Other Writings (Penguin Classics); Sherlock (BBC); and Carlo Ginzburg, Clues.
Women & French Cinema
The class is tailored around the topics of women, fashion and style in French culture and film. The perspective will be developed through the lens of literature, film and theory spanning over several decades of the twentieth century. The material bridges different areas of cultural and film studies. Through various readings, film screenings, virtual site visits, the student will acquire the necessary tools and terminology to decode the system and what distinguishes style from fashion in France, in a multidisciplinary approach. Areas covered include architecture, design, advertisement, theater costumes, the different use of color and fabric, perfumes etc. with a few excursions into American and British cinema. The course is taught in English; the course is designed for students who are already versed and interested in exploring and analyzing literary and cultural texts. The students will familiarize themselves with the proper terminology, and acquire knowledge in this domain that is rich in history and cultural markers. The readings contain biographical and personal narratives, as well as philosophical and cultural essays anchored in the fashion world. The films screenings go back to classical French cinema, as well as recent documentary and popular films.
*The cross-listed class (FRT 3520) may count toward the French major, minor, or as an elective.
M. Elizabeth Ginway
This class focuses on Brazilian Cinema from 1960 to the present. After examining examples of auteur films of Cinema Novo and the state-funded productions of Embrafilme, we will focus on representative works of the New Brazilian Cinema and other contemporary films. Students will learn how to analyze films in terms of their esthetic and ideological content, both of which evolve as directors shift from overtly political films to a cinematic esthetic capable of reaching a wider global audience, exemplified by award-winning films such as Central Station and City of God. Readings and discussions will explore the social and political forces at work in Brazil as it undergoes its modern metamorphosis, and how these forces are reflected in Brazil’s cinematic history.
Chinese Film & Media
Through a combination of theory and practice, this course will introduce students to the fundamentals of digital video production. The class will explore the process of expressing ideas and narratives in an audio-visual medium from the concept stage through post-production. You will be introduced to the basics of treatment writing and presenting a pitch. Each student will acquire hands-on experience in directing, shooting, sound recording, and editing in Adobe Premiere. There will also be weekly screenings of nonfiction and experimental films, which we will discuss in class and apply to the work you create. In-class critiques in addition to your participation will form a significant part of the course as well as written responses to the films screened in class. There will be a public screening of the work you create in the class at the end of the semester.
PLEASE NOTE: You must have completed at least one of the following UF courses before you can take this course: ENG 3115, ENG 3121, or ENG 3122. Since space in production courses is limited, I am asking prospective students to apply for the class in order to prioritize for those who are most qualified and most in need of the course at this time. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put ENG 4136 in the subject line if you are interested in taking the course. The deadline to apply is March 30, 2015.
An introduction to major concerns, methodologies, and texts in queer theory, this course concerns the construction and experience of gender, sex, and sexuality. We will work closely with foundational texts in the field and also explore their usefulness in analyzing and engaging current cultural and political issues, such as trans representation, gay marriage, censorship, and hate speech. Because some of the required texts are densely written and conceptually challenging, class discussion will be critical to clarifying their arguments and implications. We will also discuss the relevance of assigned readings to understandings of contemporary culture in general and LGBTQ lives in particular. Beyond the study of theory (i.e., of other people’s theories), this class comprises an incitement to theorize. Thorough preparation and active engagement will be required of all participants.
In addition to regular attendance and informed participation in class discussion, course requirements include occasional in-class writing and short homework assignments, two in-class exams, and two 6–8-page papers. Many of the assigned readings will be available through UF libraries’ electronic reserves, but students will also need to buy, rent, or borrow 2–4 required books, including Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, volume 1, and Dean Spade’s Normal Life.
Faculty Member of Choice
An Independent Study course may be taken for 1 to 3 credit hours, but will only count toward the fulfillment of the 10-course requirement for the English major if a student registers for 3 credit hours.
This course is for advanced students who desire to supplement the regular courses by independent reading or research under the guidance of a member of the faculty. The student must find a faculty member who is willing to supervise the semester-long study, and together, the two create a project. The student must meet with the professor at designated times, agreed upon in advance, and complete all assignments in a timely manner.
Honors Seminar: Camerawork
Honors Seminar: Late-Victorian Aestheticism, Decadence, and Sexual Politics
The Victorian Period comprised perhaps the first modern era in which gender and sexuality were central, and possibly primary, organizing principles of the culture. The Victorian fin de siècle, was also perhaps the first era that hypothesized aestheticism as a defining cultural ethic. The convergence of these two idea-sets incited a significant tension between tradition and modernity, stability and transience, linear history and aestheticized or “suspended” time, the classical ideal and the grotesque, among other dichotomies. The intersection of aestheticism (extended in late-Victorian “Decadence”) and sexual politics will be the focus of this course. Visual images that bombarded the late-Victorian period will be considered as texts equal in interest to written texts. The course will be conducted in approximately the same manner as a graduate seminar. Roughly 60% of students’ final grade will be based on weekly one-page “insights” responses and class participation; and roughly 40% will be based on an 8–12 page term paper and comprehensive bibliography.
The English Department at the University of Florida offers three* credit hours of internship to its majors who provide the following to the Undergraduate Coordinator for approval:
Once the Undergraduate Coordinator has approved the internship requested by the student, the department will register the student for the internship credits.
Upon completion of the internship:
*For two credit hours, the student would need to work 8 hours per week in a Fall, Spring, or Summer C semester; and 16 hours per week for Summer A or B.
*For one credit hour, the student would need to work 4 hours per week in a Fall, Spring, or Summer C semester; and 8 hours per week for Summer A or B.
Please note the following limitations on the English Internship:
Department Seminar: Victorian Masculinities
This course will focus on Victorian genders with a special emphasis on masculinities, especially as manifested at mid-century Britain (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. 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.
The course will focus on novels and secondary readings about gender and especially masculinity. Most of these readings will be critical and historical, rather than theoretical in the strict sense, 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 will likely include two short or one long paper, five two page response papers, and a creative project – as well as lots of reading and discussion.
Department Seminar: Shakespeare’s Sonnets
This course will undertake a detailed reading of the sequence of poems originally published as Shake-speares Sonnets in 1609, and of the bibliographic, formal, rhetorical, social, sexual, and critical histories in which they are embedded or to which they have given rise. The emphasis will fall squarely on acts of reading: our reading and re-reading of the sonnets, Shakespeare’s reading of prior texts and of his own sonnets within the sequence, the readings performed by editors who have had to decide (for example) how to present modernized texts and who have produced annotations and commentaries on the poems, and the readings critics have produced of the poems, especially in the course of the last hundred years. By focusing so intensively on a single sequence of poems, and on the various forms of knowledge, the interpretive gestures, and the multiple contexts that allow us to understand and assign shifting significance to it, students should come away with not only an enriched sense of this almost notoriously enigmatic sequence, but also an enhanced awareness of the range of critical and historical reading practices that are necessary for an informed and nuanced appreciation of any text that has resonated with readers in such varying ways over time.
We will work with one of the recent scholarly editions of the Sonnets (probably that of Colin Burrow for the Oxford edition of Shakespeare), but also consult others. Certainly, whether I order them or not, Stephen Booth’s prodigiously annotated edition (1977) and Helen Vendler’s The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1997) are likely to be constant (if rival) reference points. As we explore the history of how the Sonnets have been read, Hyder Rollins’ magisterial 1944 Variorum edition will prove invaluable. We will want to consider the relations between Shakespeare’s sequence and other early modern sonnet sequences, as well as the modes of material and social circulation of lyric poetry in the early modern period. The twentieth-century critics from whom we will attempt to learn about the act of reading the Sonnets will range from New Critics and modernists such as John Crowe Ransom, L. C. Knights, and William Empson, through figures such as Thomas Greene, Valerie Traub, Heather Dubrow, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Bruce R. Smith, Paul Alpers, and Joel Fineman. The state of criticism at the beginning of the 21st century will probably be represented by James Schiffer’s Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Critical Essays (2000).
At the moment, I expect that students will be evaluated on the basis of attendance and participation, 4 brief writing assignments, a close reading of one of the poems, leading class discussion, and a longer (12–15 page) seminar paper.
Honors Thesis Project
Faculty Members (2) of Choice
Students must have have completed at least one semester of ENG 4936, Honors Seminar. Open to English Honors students.
The student must select two faculty members: one to direct the reading, research, and writing of a thesis on a topic of the students and directors chosing, and another as the second reader. An abstract (100 to 200 words) must be delivered to the CLAS Academic Advising Center on Fletcher Road at least 10 days before graduation.
Nineteenth-Century British Novel
This course samples key developments in the British novel through the nineteenth century. We will examine the novels within three contexts: historical, literary-historical, and critical. If you have not had English 2022, you should plan to familiarize yourself with the period: the Norton Anthology introduction to the period is a good place to start. Gilmour’s and Houghton’s books are also very useful and are on reserve in the library.
The Victorian period was the great age of the novel’s emergence as a dominant popular form within a newly extensive literary marketplace, and Victorian novelists were consummate entertainers driven to sell widely and well. They were also preoccupied with the condition of their own culture; to paraphrase Richard Altick, rarely is the Present so much present in literature as it is in the novel of this period. Victorian novelists considered it their duty and pleasure to criticize, praise and generally comment upon current issues, and they developed new forms and genres to accommodate their purposes. These issues represent the formative phases of social concerns which we have inherited and which still define us: for example, the role of mass media, the ethics of capitalism, gender roles, the responsibilities of liberal government, the welfare state, pollution, the role of nation in the global community, etc. We will read a range of representative genres and consider them not only in the light of the emergence of the novel as a dominant form, but as documents of a culture’s attempts to represent and work out these issues of contemporary importance – aesthetically and ethically – and consider the ways in which Victorian ideas resonate for us today.
This course provides upper-division credit in the major, and will be taught with that in mind; therefore, students will be expected to know how to do research in the field and to attempt the application of critical frameworks. Due to the nature of the material, there is a considerable amount of reading. Carefully consider your reading speed and the expectations of the other courses you are taking before committing to this course.
Shakespeare—Learning by Doing
We “study” Shakespeare by staging scenes from his plays. Each student works with an acting partner—the couple is responsible for performing 3–4 shortened versions of scenes, then working with me as their director.
In effect, we approach Shakespeare’s plays as actors and directors, charged with building a character, enacting that character through delivery, gesture, stage movement, subtext.
We will look at Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Much Ado about Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and also Tom’s Stoppard’s reworking of Hamlet in his Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
Students are graded equally on their scene work and a short paper in which they assess their rehearsal experience with the scene, from the perspective of both the character and their decisions as an actor.
Sidney Homan is Professor of English at the University of Florida, the author of some eleven books on Shakespeare and the modern playwrights. He also works as an actor and director in professional and university theatres.
Modern Drama: Learning by Doing
The assumption in all my theatre courses is that the text of a play is not just what is written on the page but that text in performance, delivered by actors before an audience. This means the play’s text also includes gestures, movement, blocking (the stage picture), and sub-text (what the character is saying inwardly, beneath the lines delivered onstage, as well as the “history” for that character invented by the actor). In the theatre, we would further supplement this text with lighting, sound, set, costumes, props, and make-up. To be sure, one can approach a play in a thousand ways—as literature, as a repository for the thinking of an age, as the springboard for political or cultural issues. But, since I work both on campus and in the theatre as an actor and director, and since the theatre itself is a unique medium with its own aesthetic principles, I approach the plays, with my students, and as a fellow “student,” as something meant to be performed by an actor and ratified by an audience. In the class each student will have a scene partner with whom he or she stages several scenes each semester. Once performed, the class and I, as co-directors, “work” that scene with the two actors, trying out options, rehearsing it. The emphasis, therefore, is on learning by doing, and I judge student work by intent, what goes into the performance—not by finesse. If there is finesse, that is considered a bonus. Each actor also writes a short paper assessing his or her experience during rehearsal for a scene. Performances and the scene papers count equally.
In this course, we will thus consider Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Embers, All That Fall, Play, Eh Joe, Not I, and Come and Go; Harold Pinter’s The Lover, Old Times, Betrayal, and No Man’s Land, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; and a variety of short comic sketches by Steve Martin, Elaine May, Christopher Durang, and others in the collection Laugh Lines (edited by Eric Lane and Nina Shengold).
A word of comfort: whether you have acted before or not, experience in the theatre is not a factor in the class. We use acting as a way of studying the text. Have no fears on this issue!
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail Professor Homan at email@example.com.
Modern Science Fiction: American Space Opera: The Roots and Political Blowbacks
Coined by Wilson Tucker in 1941 as a pejorative, the science fiction subgenre of “space opera” has become a staple of science fiction narrative, most popularly envisioned in film by the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises. But far from mere visual spectacle or adventure, space opera’s history suggests a complicated relationship between the subgenre and the contemporary culture in which it is written. From its roots in the often paranoid and sometimes blatantly racist narratives (e.g., “Yellow Peril” stories) of what I.F. Clarke calls “future war fiction,” to its development as a legitimate subgenre in the pulps and the Golden Age via writers such as E.E. “Doc” Smith and Alfred Bester, space opera has always been in conversation with its time. It reinforces contemporary values or, as science fiction is apt to do, it critiques or deconstructs those values.
This course will explore the development of American space opera from its literary origins in late 19th-century “future war fiction” and the “Edisonades” to its codification as a subgenre in the pulps via writers such as Edmond Hamilton and E.E. “Doc” Smith. From there, the course will trace the legitimization of space opera as a subgenre in the Golden Age and the political blowbacks to its imperialistic and/or “conservative” themes or narrative tropes in the New Wave (Samuel R. Delany, et. al.) and New Space Opera periods (Tobias Buckell, C.J. Cherryh, et al.).
Readings will consist of serialized fiction, novels, and critical readings on science fiction, history, or relevant literary or cultural theory. Students will be expected to keep up with the readings and to regularly participate in class discussion. Written course requirements will include two short essays, a group discussion panel, weekly discussion questions, and one final essay.
Introduction to Postcolonial Studies
Literary and/as Science Fiction
In this course, we will explore the increasingly prominent place of science fiction within the global English language literary output of the early twenty first century. For many years, there was an implicit divide between what was understood by many critics and readers to be “serious” literature and genre fiction, including science fiction. However, a growing number of the most prominent younger authors of the last two decades or so have drawn more and more upon the figures, tropes, and devices of science fiction, and some have even produced works that would be identified as science fiction. At the same time, established writers previously enjoyed only by fans of science fiction have garnered wider and more diverse audiences as their work begins to move into new territories. The result has been a tremendous revitalization of contemporary world English language literature as it has been able to respond in ever more productive ways to the rapidly changing realities of our increasingly planetary lives. Our readings will be drawn from a diverse range of national traditions, including the US, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and the Caribbean, and will include many of the following: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Krake; Kevin Barry, City of Bohane; Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others; Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; William Gibson, Zero History; Joe Haldeman, Camouflage; Nalo Hopkinson, The Salt Roads; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; Ursula K. Le Guin, The Other Wind; Karen Lord, The Best of All Possible Worlds; Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven; Cormac McCarthy, The Road; David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas; Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312; China Miéville, The City and the City; Colson Whitehead, Zone One; and Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.
Literature for the Adolescent
This course is designed as a survey of some major figures, historical trends, and critical approaches to that vibrant, edgy, immensely popular field of literature that occupies the shifting, transitional ground between works for children and adults. We will look at a broad range of genres and styles intended for or chosen by the adolescent reader, beginning with some canonical “classics” from the mid-twentieth century, and ending with some innovative novels from our own literary present. Taken together, these works will raise many of the questions (psychological, social, philosophical) in our discussions that are asked by adolescents themselves about their own challenging, demanding, and often defining experiences. A principle interest of the course will be to examine the ways in which successive generations have “constructed their ideas of the adolescent through a variety of cultural forms, among them: literature, film, television, music, and, most recently, the internet.”
The Golden Age of Children’s Literature
The “Golden Age” of Children’s Literature (1865–1926) was an exceptionally fruitful and formative period for children’s literature in America and Britain. Peter Pan, Alice, Dorothy, Tom Sawyer, and Winnie-the-Pooh all hail from the Golden Age, and their adventures have become ingrained in our cultural imagination. This course will examine representations of the child and childhood in popular Golden Age texts and the literary construction of characteristics now commonly associated with childhood, such as innocence, imagination, and sentimentality. Through analysis of primary sources and scholarship, as well as archival research in UF’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, we will think through questions regarding the cultural work of the Golden Age. How do Golden Age texts bolster or challenge the Romantic concept of the “child of nature” or the Victorian “cult of the child”? How do they interact with the cultural, industrial, and political shifts of the Victorian and Progressive eras? How do they complicate the binaries that often dominate discussions about children’s agency: e.g., conventional vs. subversive behavior or oppression vs. empowerment? We will also think about legacies of the Golden Age in our own cultural moment, which—given the massive popularity of children’s authors such as J.K. Rowling, Lemony Snicket, and Philip Pullman—many consider a new “Golden Age” of children’s literature.
ENG4122 Kierkegaard, Kafka, and the King James Bible
This course will pursue very broad questions about repetition, disaster, and the law by triangulating selections from the King James Bible with several short stories and two celebrated novels by Franz Kafka and three celebrated works by Søren Kierkegaard. Beginning with a question about the parable as an oblique, opaque, and elliptical narrative form, we will read parables told by Jesus in all four Gospels, Kafka’s parable “Before the Law,” and several parables told by Kierkegaard. Our focus will be on the relation between parabolic storytelling and understanding the justice or injustice of repeated disasters or near disasters in the “Old Testament” (Noah, and Abraham and Issac in the Book of Genesis; the Book of Job; and the Book of Jonah) and of disasters (yet) to come in the Book of Revelation along with Kafka’s novels The Trial and The Castle, on the one hand, and Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and Repetition on the other. Having read comparatively two tranlations of Kierkegaard’s Repetition and two translations of Kafka’s The Castle, we will then refocus our narratological questions about parable, repetition, disaster, and the law by turning to translation, itself a somewhat parabolic kind of interpretation, a “carrying across,” and philology. Word up. We will see how repetitions either structured in the King James Bible or perceived to be in them make it next to impossible to distinguish sacred text from secular text or to construct an orderly relation (such as promise and fulfillment, or the lack thereof) between the Jewish religion of the book and the Christian religion of the book. One heuristic premise of the course is that Judaism and Christianity have a mutually uncanny relation (that is, they are not oppposites to be sequenced (old and new) nor are they to be conflated, as in “JudeoChristian”). We will also take detours to Nietzsche and to Walter Benjamin’s essays on Kafka. A related premise is that ontotheological and hauntological problems regarding divine violence and justice, or the force of law follows, related to a desire for an end, an apocalypse, a last judgment, or verdict persist as narrative interruptions, hesitations, or decisions that are compulsively revisited. We will consider how sacred text is the condition of secular text and vice versa by attending to similarities between Rabbical commentary in the Talmud; the Catholic recanonization of the Bible at the Council of Trent, Protestant commentary on Paul’s Letters to Romans and to Corinthians, especially William Tyndale’s translation of Martin Luther’s translations and commentaries on the New Testament, and other Reformation Bibles, especially Tyndale’s Old Testament and the Geneva Bible; the Higher Criticism as represented by Wilhelm Dilthey’s and Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics; and Gershom Scholem’s early diary entries on Kierkegaard and Walter Benjmain’s comments on Kierkegaard.