In this class, we'll probe an 18th-century cultural event that still reverberates, loudly, in the study of literature today: the establishment of a privileged group of poets as a British national literary canon. Why poets--that is, why writers of poetry--and why poets, as individuals firmly rooted in historical biographies and careers? Our major reading, Boswell's rich and monumental 'Life of Johnson' (1791), serves as both a narrative and a case study of the work of canonization: we'll investigate Johnson's own active contributions to the nascent historiography of English literature, through his 'Lives of the Poets', his dictionary of English, and his edition of Shakespeare, while we also study the ways in which Boswell's biography worked to establish Johnson in the same national pantheon. In addition to Boswell and Johnson, we'll become familiar with a few of the eighteenth-century writers Johnson admired, knew, and promoted, including Alexander Pope, Mary Wortley Montagu, Thomas Gray, and Frances Burney. And we'll consider recent scholarly writing on the eighteenth century's anxious sense of its own place in history, including essays by John Guillory, Nick Groom, Jack Lynch, and others.
America Everyday. This course will consider texts of American culture from the perspective of recent (and not-so recent) theories of the everyday. The purpose of the course is, first of all, to provide some overview to the range of approaches to everyday life. While the term “everyday life” might seem self-evident, its significance can best be summed in Blanchot’s phrase, “the everyday escapes.” The seemingly ungraspable experience of everydayness has come to stand in for those aspects of modernity by which we organize our daily practices of production and consumption. We shop, go to work, make dinner, go to a movie, all as if in some form of ether. Yet, the everyday conceptually organizes our world in its accepted and repetitive forms: the separation of production from consumption, the division of modern life into work and leisure, and the emergence of panoptical surveillance as the prevailing form of power. This particular course will explore the concept of the everyday by considering the places, practices, and objects that comprise the experience of everydayness . Among the issues we will consider are Bourdieu’s theory of practice as instantiated in his concept of the habitus, Bill Brown’s “thing theory,” Susan Willis’s discussion of exchange and use value, and Michel de Certeau’s influential work, The Practice of Everyday Life. This course will be transhistorical, which means we’ll be moving back and forth between the 19th and 20 centuries (and into our own) in order to investigate the evolution of the concept of everyday. It will also include a range of literary texts that will serve not only as illustrations of “theory,” but which produce their own theories within specific historical contexts.
The Virtue of the Impersonal
"Beauty itself must die," Schiller said. Brought forward here is the role of negativity at the core of the experience of the aesthetic, its basis in the displacement of ill-intentioned love. Hegel famously seconded the position, but he was not alone in doing so. Progressively unacceptable to the literature attached to our market ideal became the social implications of an aesthetic that was no more than an admonitorily spectacular display of the action of resentment. And thus there emerged a project of the modern period-the definition of the aesthetic as the product of a double action that made for a double bind, that of the preservation of negativity and the selective mitigation of the role of invidious response in its constitution. The resulting miracle: the protection of the bracing features of negativity that at once gave the slip to its socially inadmissible blowback.
The necessary attenuation was made possible through systematic and progressive distraction of attention away from the agencies and temporalities of negativity, away from that angry look at the hero and the time of his disgrace that had been the exclusive focus of Aristotle's "Poetics." In a reading of Kant's "Critique of Judgment" that will begin the course, we will notice how a displacement of the beautiful and the sublime from culture to nature causes the near unknowing of the interpersonal agon. The reader-indemnifying "impersonal" here makes its appearance, but its virtue would not suffice. The time of the death of Kant's flowers and mountains remained poisoned by a channeling of Aristotle's aesthetics of envy resolution. It would remain to those who followed-by eliminating from art the experience of the temporality of the action of readerly resentment--to finish the work that had been begun in the Third Critique.
The period between the end of the eighteenth century and the 1950s will be seen in the light of this struggle between the ghosts of an unembarrassed Aristotle and the nervous Kant. To be studied in this context will be representative texts by Schlegel, Schiller, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly, Ruskin, Arnold, Mallarmé, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Hulme, the Russian Formalists, Bahktin, Adorno, Frye and Burke.
Readings:Adams, Critical Theory Since Plato (new edition); Rousseau, Letter to D'Alembert on Spectacles; Kant, The Critique of Judgment; Hirshman, The Passions and the Interests.
*This course meets the requirements for the Ph.D. Program in Theory and Criticism
“Poststructuralism, Representation, and the State”
On the books one finds the following description for ENGL 510: “A study of the major issues in literary criticism and theory since about 1965. Offered: jointly with C LIT 510.” The vagueness of this description is symptomatic of the impossibility of any general overview of literary criticism and theory. To do such an over-view one would have to pre-comprehend a number of notions: 1) that literary criticism and theory share “major issues”; 2) that 1965 or thereabouts marks an important shift in both fields, if they can be designated a such (perhaps here the reference is to Derrida’s work); and 3) that providing such an overview is free from the power/knowledge determinations that would otherwise critique the politics of truth embedded within such an overview. Yet, a number of intellectual movements, including the work of Foucault, Derrida, feminism, postcolonial studies, ethnic and racial studies, etc. that emerge around and after 1965 contest exactly that which these acts of pre-comprehension mandate. Hence, we will commit ourselves to the impossibility and necessary failure of achieving the mandate set for this course. Indeed, we will learn how to think about the conditions of impossibility and failure as enabling intellectual work and not the negation of work.
Secondly, I will refocus the aspiration of the class, keeping with the spirit of the work that we will be reading for the class. While the course will offer students an advanced “introduction” to a number of thinkers that have been important to the “fields” of cultural theory, English studies, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, it will establish a singular orientation while reading this work (to expose the logic, stakes, and the limits of what is brought together and produced as a reading for this course). We will focus on the ideas of “representation and the state” as we study the works of a number of thinkers, including Karl Marx, Gayatri Spivak, Lisa Lowe, Frantz Fanon, David Lloyd, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Joseph Roach, Jacqueline Rose, Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, David Theo Goldberg, and Jacqui Alexander. When reading each thinker, we will ask ourselves how the interventions each has sought to produce has affected our thinking about representation and the state, two notions without which capitalist democracies are unthinkable. We will pursue the post-1965 periodization as a framework for engaging the crisis of culture in capitalist democracies, and we will study that crisis through analyzing different theories of representation and the state.
Medieval Legends of Good Women
At the end of the fourteenth century, the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer produced, among his last works, a collection of narratives he called ‘Seintes Legende of Cupide’ ( i.e., ‘the Legends of Cupid’s Saints’: Introduction to the Man of Law’s Tale). Alternatively titled The Legend of Good Women, the collection contains stories about a dozen ancient women (and their men)—e.g., Cleopatra, Dido, Thisbe, Medea, to mention a few. A close reading of Legend reveals how Chaucer’s late-medieval narratives about these classical heroines have been influenced by genres like the Christian saint’s life and the traditions of so-called ‘courtly love.’ The tensions between the ideals of Christian hagiography and courtly romance lend a lively complexity to his stories, and to their interpretation.
The course will attempt to define these competing ideals by discussing literary examples from ancient times—in the Old Testament (e.g., the books of Ruth, Judith, and Esther) and Ovid’s Heroides—through the Middle Ages, with its rich range of saints lives, retellings of Ovid, and classic works like the Romance of the Rose, Dante’s Vita Nuova, and Boccaccio’s Famous Women. After Chaucer’s Legend (and some of his other works), we will discuss his near-contemporary Christine de Pizan, esp. her Book of the City of Ladies, and conclude with a discussion of the mid-fifteenth-century Legends of Hooly Wummen by the English Augustinian friar Osbern Bokenham.
Requirements for the course will include active participation in seminar discussions, weekly short writing contributions (response papers), individual leading of seminar discussion on at least one text, and a substantial term paper.
In this course we will be reading Stephen Greenblatt reading Shakespeare. As one of the leading New Historicists and, according to some, the most important living Shakespearean scholar and critic, Greenblatt has had immense influence on how we read and understand Shakespeare’s works as part of a larger cultural matrix. We will be exploring Greenblatt’s notions regarding early modern cultural poetics, along with some of the most relevant Shakespearean texts, including (probably) Hamlet, King Lear, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Othello, and The Merchant of Venice, plus some of his poetry.
Greenblatt, Stephen, et al. The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, 1997. ISBN: 0393970876
Greenblatt, Stephen. Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. University of Chicago Press; 1983. ISBN: 0226306542
Greenblatt, Stephen. Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (New Historicism, Studies in Cultural Poetics, No 84). University of California Press, 1989. ISBN 0520061608
Greenblatt, Stephen. Hamlet in Purgatory. Princeton University Press, 2002. ISBN 0691102570
Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. W. W. Norton & Company, 2004. ISBN: 0393050572
The case of Charles Dickens's journalism and fiction that concerned times and places other than than London and England from which he made a unique imaginative world should help us consider the phenomenon of "dislocation" in writing. Dickens wrote in and about America and Italy, turned from his familiar present or immediate past to England in the 18th Century, and moved into the supernatural in his Christmas Books at a key point in his career. Were these distractions, tangents, or crucial stages for him? What relations can we discover between his novels and travel (literal and figurative) writings? Texts will include Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewitt American Notes, Pictures from Italy, and Christmas Books.
This course will emphasize issues of form in connection with modes and ideologies of nineteenth-century realist fiction. We will read a cross-section of European fiction (shorter works to the extent possible), together with representative 19th-century manifestos and influential 20th-century criticism. Students will give an in-class report and write a 4000-6000 word essay on a novel or an issue in the theory of realism. For the first week we will examine the strategies of representation in a "typical" realist novel, Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane; please read it, or a substantial portion of it, before the first meeting. The remaining fictional readings will be:
Walter Scott, The Heart of Mid-Lothian
Honoré de Balzac, The Old Maid (La Vieille Fille)
Stendahl, The Red and the Black (Le Rouge et le noir)
Charles Dickens, Hard Times
Giovanni Verga, short stories from the collection Life in the Country
Essays and secondary readings will come from such authors as Scott, Balzac, George Eliot, Flaubert, Chernyshevsky, Zola, James; Lukács, Auerbach, Barthes, Jameson, Gallagher, Moretti.
Read the works in the original languages when you can.
American Literature in the Age of Empire
The contemporary political Right wants to turn America back to the Age of McKinley. In the course we’ll return to the scene of the crime. Using a mix of literature, history, and political/cultural criticism, we’ll concentrate on the formation of the American empire, its relation to the exporting of American products and the American Dream, the origins and dynamics of American advertising and consumer capitalism, America before the income tax and the safety net, the role of race in the America of Jim Crow and the White Man’s Burden, and the implications for American authoritarianism, proto-fascism, or fascism of all of the above.
The primary literature will include Twain’s Connecticut Yankee and his powerful anti-imperialist essays, Dixon’s The Clansman and DuBois’s Souls of Black Folk, Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class, Melville’s Billy Budd, James’s “The Jolly Corner,” and Crane’s “The Monster” and selected city sketches (list will probably be scaled down under the pressure of reality). Context studies will include selections from Wiebe’s Search for Order, LaFeber’s The New Empire, Greg Grandin’s “The Right Quagmire: Searching History for an Imperial Alibi,” Gore Vidal’s Empire, William Appleman Williams’s Contours of American History, Zinn’s People’s History, Rosenberg’s Exporting the American Dream, Leach’s Land of Desire, and Horsman’s Race and Manifest Destiny.
Freud remarks at the end of Civilization and Its Discontents that the “fateful question for the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance in their communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction.” Using this theme as the framework for our discussion, the seminar will consider how such modernist texts as The Waste Land, Mrs. Dalloway, Women in Love, and Point Counter Point respond to the prevalent sense during and following the Great War that civilization was in a state of crisis. The growth of psychoanalysis during this period --as an explanatory tool for both individual and social malaise-- will be one focus of our attention. Others might be contemporary politics, anthropology, science, and popular culture, depending on interests of members of the seminar.
Texts: Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents; T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems, D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love, Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point, David Bradshaw (ed.) A Concise Companion to Modernism.
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 or assistance, weekly observation of other language classrooms, microteaching, and seminar discussion. No required texts. Only open to MAT(ESOL) students.
While this course emphasizes the practical concerns of TESOL methodology, we will explore the theoretical underpinnings of the approaches we incorporate into our personalized teaching styles. Current theory will be presented through a critical examination of several instructional approaches, with the purpose of developing the ability to make informed pedagogical choices. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of the many facets of second/foreign language instruction, and to create opportunities in class for you to gain practical experience by applying these theories to classroom situations.
Assignments include discussion leadership of assigned readings, professional journal/website presentation, peer teaching, lesson planning and materials development, textbook review and a final project.
This course aims to familiarize MATESOL students to representative research methods in the field of applied linguistics. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches will be introduced. No statistical background will be assumed. Students will learn principles and examples of survey research, experimental research, ethnography, narrative inquiry, and action research. Students will also conduct a piece of original research that involves data collection and analysis.
This course covers the basic syntactic structures of English. Students develop a working knowledge of those grammatical structures most crucial in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages. They also practice relating and applying the structures studied to classroom situations (i.e., student errors, student questions, lesson planning, adapting textbooks, etc.). There is also a strong focus on grammar in use as students analyze authentic discourse and design teaching materials that emphasize form, meaning, and use of grammar. Coursework includes grammar quizzes, analysis projects, class presentations, materials development, and daily homework.
This course will look at several self-reflexive documentary films and lyric essays as a way to contemplate questions of writerly risk, readerly excitement, emotional urgency and intensity, and plasticity of form.
In this graduate workshop, I’ll expect you to generate new work and take risks. As you do so, you should be developing a good sense of your own passions, obsessions, and fears as writers, as well as honing your critical abilities. We will use the Critical Response Process developed by Liz Lehrman as the basis for our workshop sessions, a method that focuses on questions rather than statements, questions from both the readers and the writer, and places the writer at the center of the discussion. Written work will include at least 40 pages of fiction, written responses on each other’s work, and a variety of grammar exercises.
This course will introduce students to hypertext, and to digital text more broadly, as a mode of textual practice. We will attempt to understand what digital texts are (and aren't) and to evaluate critically the claims that are being made for them. We will explore some of the new literary and critical genres now emerging and the technologies underlying them, as well as the surrounding socio-technical infrastructure within which these works are embedded, such as copyright and preservation. The course will include several in-depth studies, among them hypertext fiction as a literary movement and online games and the narrative possibilities they provide.
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