In examining the far ranging perspectives that typically fall under the rubric of literary theory, this course will take as its focus the implicit and explicit assumptions that underlie much of such theoretical discourse. The course will examine five theoretical traditions in some detail, paying special attention to the interpretive priorities that these theories set in motion. The theoretical paradigms that we will examine are: new criticism/reader response theory, psychoanalysis-both Freudian and Lacanian, Marxism, and Post-structuralism. In each case, we will explore the ways in which a given theoretical discipline already posits a particular understanding of how literature is to be read and interpreted. In particular, we will consider what each of these theories takes to be the "important" work of literary criticism. By the same token, we will be also concerned to investigate what each of these theories may be said to neglect, overlook, or merely take for granted.
This course will be taught in English and is open to students from Romance Languages, English, and Comparative Literature.
Piers Plowman: Getting from A to B
The main focus of the seminar will be the earlier A Version of the 14th century poem Piers Plowman, which we’ll be reading in the new, electronic classroom edition that I am developing. The relationships between the A Version and its continuation and revision in the B Version provide lively matters for literary dispute and critical reading, and some of our discussion will focus on the work of the B-Reviser of the text of A. (We’ll also look, more briefly, at the substantial Continuation that constitutes the major contribution of B.)
The seminar will examine a number of (related) issues: textual variants; authorship; whether the A Version is unfinished or incomplete; the status of the controversial ‘John But Passus’; and the relations of the poem(s) to the social and political turmoil of the latter fourteenth century.
The poem is in a ‘foreign’ language (Middle English), and my edition will be looking for ways to help beginning (and more advanced) readers to become comfortable with reading a text contemporary with Chaucer but in a rather different linguistic and literary style.
Students will make oral and written presentations to the seminar and will submit a term paper related to topics in the seminar.
For reading, I will provide a CD of the ‘beta’ version of my edition of A to the class, and ask the Bookstore to order a paperback edition of the B Version: A.V.C. Schmidt, ed The Vision of Piers Plowman: A Critical Edition of the B-Text Based on Trinity College Cambridge MS B.15.17 (Everyman's Library) London: Dent, 1995. ISBN 0460875094.
"The Holy Land: Europe's First Colony and Its Post-Colonial Fallout."
The course deals with the rising ideology of "Holy War" in the 11th century Europe, which culminated in the First Crusade and the colonialization of the Holy Land. As the motive of penitence was transformed into the motive of conquest, Christian Europe defined and consecrated itself over and against Islam as its evil and subhuman "other".
The "Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem" became Europe's first colony, and gave rise to a new discourse that would endure in Western culture as an ideological precondition for the ensuing centuries of European colonializing initiatives.
Only recently has a very different "post-colonial" discourse emerged as a mature vantage-point for challenging the master-narratives of subjugation that served the colonializing nations of Europe so well during the last five centuries.
I hope to have a mix of disciplines represented in the participants in the this course, and my goal is to invite students to evaluate the relevance of this inaugural moment in European ideology to later colonial initiatives.
I hope you will circulate this course announcement among colleagues and graduate students who might be open to exploring the "pre-history" of European Christian colonial history.
English 525: Crime and Punishment
Representations of crime and criminals in eighteenth-century Britain. We will be reading both literary and nonliterary sources, including Moll Flanders, The Beggar’s Opera, Jonathan Wild, Hogarth’s Harlot’s Progress, Crabbe’s “Peter Grimes”; criminal biographies like those of the robber and escape artist Jack Sheppard, “dying speeches” hawked below the gallows but printed before the hanging, “criminal conversation” trial pamphlets dishing every lurid detail of posh adultery lawsuits; and the vivid records of proceedings against the non-posh characters of the London criminal underclass, petty thieves, wife-beaters, prostitutes, con gamers, in the sessions papers of the Old Bailey, now fully accessible in a weirdly involving edition online. Class and gender are obvious points of interest, and for the critical discourse on this subject we will survey some crucial work from the group of traditional Marxist social historians associated with the University of Warwick in the 60s and 70s, including E.P. Thompson’s classic Whigs and Hunters, on state power and plebeian resistance, as well as more recent scholarship. Foucault’s Discipline and Punish will also feature, and we will have a chance to see how his high-flying representation of criminal justice stands up against the raw evidence of the system at work on the ground in the Old Bailey sessions papers and other primary sources. Should be fun.
The figures of Lawrence and Woolf tend to dominate critical discussions of the 20th Century British novel. The two authors seem polar opposites in many ways, including those of class, gender, sexuality, politics, and narrative techniques. The seminar will study these two authors in tandem, considering how each one contributes to the dynamics of British modernism, and questioning whether their differences suggest a bifurcation of modernist theoretical assumptions. Approaches to teaching these major canonical figures will be one of several topics that the class will investigate. The seminar is suitable for first year graduate students as well as more advanced ones, although some previous experience with modernist texts and knowledge of the cultural, philosophical, and literary history of modernism would be useful. Texts: Lawrence: Sons and Lovers, Fantasia of the Unconscious, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley's Lover. Woolf: To the Lighthouse, A Room of One's Own, Mrs. Dalloway, The Waves.
This course will provide an introduction to theories of the novel, including narratology, Marxism, cultural materialism, new historicism, and a range of feminist, queer, and critical race approaches. We will read three sample novels alongside critical work by Gerard Genette, Ann Banfield, Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Mikhail Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, Nancy Armstrong, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Henry Louis Gates, Paul Gilroy, Frederic Jameson, Raymond Williams, Colleen Lye, Stephen Greenblatt, Catherine Gallagher, Dorothy Hale, and Lisa Lowe. Our sample novels are likely to be Henry James, Daisy Miller; Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse; and Caryl Phillips, Crossing the River.
James, Henry. Daisy Miller. Penguin Classics, 1987. 
Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Harvest Books, 1989. 
Winterson, Jeanette. Written on the Body. Vintage, 1994. 
Philips, Caryl. Crossing the River. Vintage, 1995. 
Thinking Theater / Performing Theory: Symbolism to the Absurd, Alienation to Body Art
“Our body is not in space like things; it inhabits or haunts space.”
If space is haunted by the body, the body is also haunted by space, sometimes bringing with it the feeling that there’s more than the body there. Some call it spirit, others may call it illusion, or whatever it is that is other than what we usually think of as life. Whatever this otherness is, real or illusory, it is very much there in the theater, which seems to have been troubled from the beginning with some ghostliness of appearance, along with the recurring question of whether all the world’s a stage or life is really a dream. Since the advent of deconstruction, this has often been approached as a delusion of representation, but there were times in Symbolist theater when it was hardly a question at all, or if life remained stubborn and resisted being a dream, the plaintive feeling was so much the worse for life.
In any event, we shall be moving across a landscape of drama that is at first an interior space, strange, sacerdotal, meditative, and unmooring, quite specifically there but indefinite in the mind’s eye, as if in the corporeality of theater there were no body at all. You may feel at times, indeed, that you’re out of this world, or perhaps in a world only too familiar, what Freud called the uncanny, that estrangement of the unconscious that finally brings you home. This was the condition of being, or “soul-complex,” that Strindberg was dramatizing even when he was deeply invested in a theater of naturalism, no less in The Ghost Sonata or A Dream Play, which we’ll probably be reading in the seminar, along with other Symbolist drama, by Maeterlinck, Yeats, or Hoffmansthal—or intended for no other stage but the page, maybe Mallarmé.
The texts are not yet selected, but some of what we’ll be reading may seem, with an esoteric fundamentalism of its own, a kind of born-again drama, as with certain plays of Expressionism or those of the avant-garde, from Jarry to Surrealism, no less the work of Artaud, whose Spurt of Blood is an ecstatic preface to The Theater and Its Double, itself a demonic text not only influential on the most experimental theater practice, but on critical theory as well. “Theater is theory, or a shadow of it,” I wrote in one of my books. And we’ll surely see that not only in plays by Brecht, Beckett, and Genet, and the theater of the Absurd, but in the emergence of Happenings from Action painting, and subsequent manifestations of (non-theater or anti-theater) performance, including body art. In a wide range of such events, from those affiliated with minimalism and conceptualism (Chris Burden, Stelarc) to to aspects of feminist and gender-bending performance (Carolee Schneeman, Orlan) one may have a sense that at the extremity of performance, and no little risk to the body, what’s being performed is theory—which, in its shadow, brings us back to theater.
This course explores the complex relationships between nationalism, diaspora and transnationalism. Drawing upon the resources of African, black Atlantic, and postcolonial studies, this interdisciplinary course fuses literary analysis, cultural studies, critical theory, political thought and intellectual history. We use an archive from Africa and the Americas to examine the ways that intellectuals, activists and creative writers have articulated migration, empire, race, pan-Africanism, modernity and slavery. We consider not only the connections but also the disconnections that occur through black transnational movement, and attend to the global and comparative dimensions of diaspora, looking here in particular at comparative approaches to black and Jewish experience. We examine the ways in which gender informs the textual archive. Primary materials may include works by W.E.B. du Bois, Dionne Brand, Captain Harry Dean, Manthia Diawara, Brent Edwards, Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, Saidiya Hartman, Pauline Hopkins, Zakes Mda, Caryl Phillips, Sol Plaatje, Eslanda Robeson, Michelle Stephens and Richard Wright.
After a map and naming of the parts of language via systemic functional (i.e., Hallidayan) linguistics (discourse, genre, phrase and sentence, transitivity, modality, the whole shebang), we will narrow the focus to Cognitive Linguistics and Corpus Linguistics, which offer new concepts and methods (of very different kinds) for describing meaning.
We will use the excellent text by Croft and Cruse to examine Cognitive Linguistic treatments of categorization, lexical semantics, metaphor, construction grammar, and language change. We will then pursue issues of corpus and collocation further with Adolphs' book and some readings and look a variety of applications to literary criticism, critical discourse analysis, and ESL. There will be some practice using electronic corpora (including the British National Corpus) and analytic tools (including Wordsmith Tools), and come to grips with the very hot issue of the Web as corpus. Topics for the seminar paper may range from an application of these tools to address particular texts or issues to critical examinations of the theories and ideas presented.
Eggins, Suzanne. An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics 2nd Ed. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005. [ 9780826457868]
Croft, William and Cruse, Alan D. Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics, 2004. [0-521-66770-4]
Adolphs, Svenja. Introducing Electronic Text Analysis: A Practical Guide for Language and Literary Studies. Routledge, 2006. [0-415-32021-6]
This course is an introduction to some of the major approaches to studying oral and written texts. We will examine and practice various analytic perspectives, including conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, pragmatics/speech act theory, and interactional sociolinguistics. We will apply these approaches to a variety of texts; possibilities include the mass media, "naturally occurring" conversation, classroom interaction, policy documents, and other texts of special interest to seminar members. I expect students from a range of disciplinary perspectives. What unites us will not be the questions we ask so much as where and how we look to answer them: in discourse and its analysis. Our goals are threefold: 1. to acquaint students with approaches to and research in discourse analysis; 2. to provide a forum for evaluating this work; 3. to provide students opportunities to engage discourse analytic methods in relation to those texts/sites of consequence to them.
English 570 is a credit/no credit course in which students sharpen their understanding of the technical, interpersonal, and practical elements involved in effective ESOL teaching. The course involves regular observations of ESOL classes, daily language teaching, weekly observation of other language classrooms, microteaching, seminar discussion, and written projects. No required texts. This Practicum is only open to MAT(ESOL) students; the Fall Practicum is only open to TAs.
The purpose of this course is to provide you with knowledge and experience in ESOL teaching methods and an understanding of the theoretical principles behind them. This is a practical course that will include workshops and other hands-on activities to familiarize you with a variety of materials, activities and techniques. The class will help you better analyze learning situations, enhance your professional skills and increase your ability to promote learning. You will learn to develop lessons based on an understanding of the students’ backgrounds, needs and learning processes.
Brown, Douglas. Teaching By Principles 2nd Ed. Longman, 2001.
Richards, Jack and Renandya, Willie. Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge, 2002.
This class will be unusual to the point of peculiarity. I want to assemble a circle of writers interested in reading together about the origins of language. I have no authority in this realm whatsoever; we will have to teach each other. This is a field which was formally closed to speculation by the French Academy and the Royal Society in the nineteenth century, and informally closed to speculation by Noam Chomsky in the latter third of the twentieth. The last ten or fifteen years have seen a resurgence of interest and a flourishing of research and thought. It’s an inherently fascinating thing, of course. How does it relate to poetry? I will make that case, framed in the interrogative, by way of Robert Frost, in the first several weeks of the term. I will tell you some of what I think and suspect; I will frame a set of questions, laid out in the form of a bad map on the back of a napkin: my very provisional sense of directions people might want to take in their own exploratory way. The class will help expand the map, not so much by filling in the white space as by adding more white space. Thereupon the class will scatter, each by the compass of a somewhat different thought. Each member will read, learn interesting things, and bring them back for general delectation. Each presentation (verbal, from notes: no papers) will be coupled with a writing pitch, in the manner to which I and my students over the years have become accustomed. If this is unfamiliar to you, well, you’ll get used to it, and chances are you’ll enjoy it.
This seminar is one the four core courses developed by the campus-wide Textual Studies Program. Course credit will count toward the Textual Studies Ph. D. track in all participating departments and may count toward the Critical Theory concentration in Comparative Literature. This course is open to all graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Students completing this course will develop basic skills of literary scholarship (the use of literary archives; aspects of physical bibliography and the printing and production of books; scholarly editing; manuscript-based textual criticism) which will be of help for other courses.
The goal of this course is to challenge the assumption that textual theory and practice occupy a domain separate from literary theory and criticism, and from other disciplines such as art history, architecture, music or film studies. Confronting this territorial fallacy, the course will show that developments in contemporary theory have influenced, and at times radically altered, the direction of textual studies; and conversely, that textual scholars have often anticipated and conceptualized the speculations of theorists in intellectually provocative ways. The first part of the course will familiarize students with major theories of textual criticism and editorial traditions that address the concepts of authorship and authorial intention; the distinction between document, text, work and the physical book; "ideal" texts and transcendental hermeneutics; the relationship of biographical and sociological contexts to texts, and of creators to producers of literature; and the functions of readerships. It will also document contemporary controversies in textual editing (such as the challenge posed by Jerome McGann to established canons of editing), as well as debates about the editing of particular texts in Renaissance (especially Shakespeare), romantic (especially Keats and Mary Shelley) and modern literature (especially Joyce's Ulysses). Students completing this course will learn to scrutinize the texts they are using and develop awareness of the editorial and cultural ideologies that inform them.
The second part of the course will explore the relevance of textual theory to the study of paintings and film adaptations of literary works, focusing on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The course will involve the participation of librarians and visiting faculty who will come for one to two weeks at the UW, spending ample time with students in seminars, public lectures and social occasions. A two week segment of the course on the arts will be taught by the distinguished art historian from the University of Rome, La Sapienza, Dr. Ricardo de Mambro Santos, a specialist in the Italian and Northern Renaissance, and author of nine published and six forthcoming books, in addition to numerous translations and documentaries for Brazilian and Japanese television and cinema. Assignments will include a final paper on one of the following topics: an essay on a particular aspect of textual theory; a critical edition reading text (with editorial rationale) of a poem or short story; a review of an exisiting edition and of controversies surrounding it; the history, transmission and alteration of a given literary or artistic work.
back to schedule