Spring Quarter 2008 — Graduate Course Descriptions

503 ABritish Poets 1800-1900 LaPorte MW 9:30-11:20 12881

The cult of poetry that emerged in British literature of the nineteenth century had great repercussions for female writers, since to write poetry was to lay claim to the highest levels of literary status. This course will study the poetry and poetics of many of the most prominent of Romantic and Victorian women poets and address what poetry meant to its practitioners and readers during this time, whether it meant something different when written by women rather than men, and whether the pedigree and the regard with which poetry was then viewed (above that of essays, novels, or short fiction) might better shape our understanding of these poets' various artistic achievements. Expect readings on women's legal situation in nineteenth-century Britain, on the Woman Question, on domestic abuse ("wife torture") and on the New Woman. Expect as well as a good deal of "feminine" poetry by Felicia Hemans, Letitia Landon, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Tennyson, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, and Augusta Webster. The course will assume no prior expertise in poetry or in nineteenth-century literature.

506 AIntro to Contemporary Critical Theory & Modern Antecedents Weinbaum TTh 1:30-3:20 12882

This course will provide a general introduction to contemporary theory and the practice of theorizing. While we will certainly treat theoretical works by some of the big names on some of the big issues, this course is neither meant to survey texts that might fall under the rubric of “contemporary theory” nor to offer a series of “best hits” that you are likely to encounter in graduate school. Rather, it aims to explore what it means to theorize, how theoretical debates unfold, and how you may most effectively, as a member of the profession, begin to intervene into such theoretical debates in a manner that demonstrates awareness of the larger conversation and the genealogy of the theoretical terms and concepts on the table. To this end we will examine textual clusters comprised of materials produced by theorists who are either directly or implicitly in conversation with each other. Our focus will be on discerning the stakes involved in these conversations and on evaluating the problems and possibilities that are sparked or foreclosed by different interventions into these conversations. We will pay special attention to the historical unfolding of critical conversations across time and space, and thus to the social and political contexts in which such conversations transpire.
Readings will include a range of texts on the following key topics: the discipline and its limits; cultural studies and cultural politics; political economy and literary production; race, nation, gender, sexuality and empire in literary study; effective criticism.

510 AHistory of Literary Criticism & Theory IV (w/C Lit 510) Cummings T 3:30-6:20p 12883

Biopolitics and the State:
The subject of this seminar is “biopolitics” and “governmentality.” The terms are Foucault’s who identifies these life management strategies with maximizing productivity and well-being among the state’s citizenry while withholding life to the point of death from those who are deemed to be incapable of self-governance or are otherwise identified as a “public threat.” Theories of racialization, nation formation, empire, capitalism, and the late modern state supplement Foucault’s understanding of biopolitical governance. We will examine its exercise and effects under colonial rule, US chattel slavery, the post Civil War Era, and the Bush presidency, paying particular attention to the state’s “war on terror.”


537 AGender, Race, and Nation in the U.S., 1780-1860 Cherniavsky MW 1:30-3:20 12884

Gender, Race, and Nation in the U.S., 1780-1860

My aspirations in this course are threefold. First, to engage a set of critical questions about nationalism – its mediation, publics, historiography, affects, spatializations, and organizations of bodily difference – that have rewritten the issues and methods of literary and cultural study with respect to the early national and antebellum United States. As a result of this critical reorientation, to think about “American Literature, 1780-1860 (as this category of literary historical study would be conventionally described) is to think about the constitution of national peoples, publics, counter-publics, and their literatures in the period spanning (roughly) the founding of the U.S. nation-state to what Michael Rogin terms “the American 1848.” Thus I hope the course will hail students with an interest in 18th and 19th-century U.S literatures. Second, to open a longer history to students with interests in gender, race, and nation in 20th century and contemporary U.S. contexts, broadly conceived (including comparative or multi-sited work in transatlantic, transpacific, or Americas study frameworks). In this regard, the course affords opportunity for students to take up genealogies of nationalist discourses and practices encountered in later historical moments. Third, to reflect in explicit, sustained, and critical fashion on the relation between critical questions, political stakes, and literary archives. How do we move from the conceptual to the political to the literary instance and how do we – indeed, should we – make the one accountable to the other? What does it mean to privilege a literary text in one’s work (to devote a chapter of the dissertation to it, for example)? The design of the course is meant to foreground this line of inquiry. Rather than attempt to survey or even narrowly to sample the “literatures of the period,” or, for that matter, the critical work on nationalism, we will read intensively a very small set of “touchstone” texts, in order to consider what is lost and gained by the selection.

I have not made final decisions on all materials, but the following are fairly certain: Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple; James Seaver (transcriber and editor), The Narrative of Mary Jemison; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Martin Delaney, Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; as well portions of The Federalist Papers, selections from Michael Warner, Jacques Derrida, Anne McClintock, Etienne Balibar, Partha Chatterjee, Hortense Spillers, Ranajit Guha, Gayatri Spivak, Robyn Wiegman, Michael Rogin, Priscilla Wald, and CLR James’ Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways (this last most likely in its entirety).


537 BNew Black Aesthetics Ibrahim TTh 11:30-1:20 12885

The New Black Aesthetics

What cultural, theoretical and political trends inform black literary production at the end of the twentieth century, or in the era to come after the civil rights movement, the black cultural nationalist movements of the late 1960s and 1970s, and integration? In this seminar, we will trace a critical genealogy, considering the political and institutional demands of formalizing the discipline of black literary studies in the academy, the movement from “criticism” to “theory,” and the manner in which interdisciplinary approaches have transformed methods for reading black literature and culture. A consistent concern will be the stakes and criteria for producing, evaluating, and critiquing various forms of black literary aesthetics; we will trace the approaches of various scholars and artists to define an aesthetics, from Larry Neal, to Barbara Smith, to Trey Ellis. Many of the critical and literary texts to be considered make self-conscious efforts to define the intellectual and political stakes for black cultural production, the meaning of black identity, and the conditions of community. As we engage this literature, we will consider how it addresses both past and present circumstances, and whether we can discern a “new” black aesthetics.

540 AModern Lit Burstein MW 3:30-5:20 12886

540: Introduction to British Modernism Spring 2008

This course does four things: orient the student with an overview of British modernism circa 1900-1930; provide a general background for modernity torqued toward aesthetics and philosophy (Georg Simmel, Henri Bergson); engage some current critical conversations in the field of literary modernism; and allow focus on the work of particular authors. As the first sentence may suggest, even as this course is about British modernism, we work with an international context. The class is loosely organized around two heuristic rubrics: minds and matter; we will engage the topoi of embodiment and materiality, with particular attention to the status of the modernist object. Along the way the student will get a grip on the historical avant-gardes of Vorticism and Imagism—that's history--and some sense of how to do research in periodical studies, arguably one of the major legacies we have from the era—that's methodology and history. To this end, we will dovetail some readings with the visit hosted here by the Modernist Studies Reading Group of Professor Sean Latham, one of the organizers of the Modernist Journals Project, as well as a terrific modernist scholar in his own right. This is damn great.

Texts include prose (Conrad's The Secret Agent; Ford's Good Soldier, West's The Return of the Soldier), poetry (Loy, Pound, Auden), essays and manifestos. Our guide will be the brand new Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (available in paperback), by the terribly smart and incessantly lucid Pericles Lewis. We won't read much Woolf on the assumption that you will or have elsewhere, but she is at the door: such discussion or orientation is welcome. Students will write a 1,000 word book review of a critical monograph published 2006-8 and a final research paper.

Suggested pre-class reading: Survey The Modernist Journals Project online—try Blast: http://dl.lib.brown.edu:8080/exist/mjp/mjp_journals.xq
Too, a canter through Levenson's The Genealogy of Modernism and Ekstein's Rites of Spring would be appropriate spring break reading and give a fulsome sense of occurrence.

551 APoetry & Theories of Metaphor Searle MW 11:30-1:20 12887

English 551 A: Studies in Poetry

This seminar will focus on metaphor, as both a theoretical problem and as an element in questions of reading and interpretation. While the overall design of the course is addressed to the theory of metaphor, work for the seminar will draw upon a wide range of examples from the poetry of John Donne, Shakespeare, William Blake, Wordsworth, Whitman, Rilke, Mallarme, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, and others. We will also examine how metphor functions in fiction as well, with attention to James Joyce's Dubliners and John Hawkes Second Skin. The theoretical readings will include both familiar treatments of the topic in literary criticism as well as logical and philosophical studies of metaphor.

556 ACultural Studies: Nationalism and Narrative Benitez T 3:30-6:20p 12888

“Nationalism—at a given time, in a specific space, and in the name of particular nationally defined and constituted peoples—constructs and professes a narrative of the nation and of its relation to a projected potential or already existing state. In doing this, nationalism lays claim to a privileged narrative perspective on the “nation” and thus justifies its own capacity to narrate—to organize and link the diverse elements of—the nation.” Mary Layoun, 'Wedded to the Land?'

What would it mean to propose that nationalism is a narrative? How do national narratives link the diverse elements of a society into what Benedict Anderson famously calls an ‘imagined community’ or what Charles Taylor calls a 'modern social imaginary'? How are we to understand the potentials and pitfalls of nationalism as a project? Beyond these questions, together we shall explore how theories of narrative and of narrativity can aid us in understanding what such projection might mean for the citizen-subject and the metaphor of the nation-as-subject.


564 ACurrent Rhetorical Theory Bawarshi MW 11:30-1:20 12889

In this course, we will examine contemporary rhetorical theory by way of genre theory, which will enable us to examine rhetoric not only as a dimension of all discourse, but also as integral to complex forms of social participation and organization. We will study how genres, as typified rhetorical formations, work to organize and generate social practices, relations, and identities within systems of activity. We will begin the course by briefly reviewing rhetorical theory and then, out of this historical framework, embark on an intensive introduction to current rhetorical genre theory, first locating it in relation to linguistic and literary genre traditions, and then exploring its claims that genres are not just ways we define, describe, and organize kinds of texts, but also ways we rhetorically define, organize, and generate kinds of social actions. Along the way, we will grapple with such questions as: What is/are rhetoric(s)? What is a rhetorical situation (and can there be such a thing as a non-rhetorical situation)? What is the relationship between social and rhetorical action, and what role does genre play in this relationship? Where do genres exist and how do they relate to one another within systems of activity? How do individuals resist genres, and how and why do genres change? What role can genres play in literacy instruction? We will examine how genre analysis enables us to inquire into and grapple with the above questions, which ultimately have to do with questions of power and cultural production, to which genres seem integral. Coursework will include presentations, a mid-term short essay, and a final research paper or its equivalent. Please note, there will be a cap of 10 students in the course.


570 APracticum in TESL Brenner F 10:30-12:20 12890

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.

574 AResearch Methods in Second Language Acquisition Wennerstrom TTh 12:30-2:20 12891

This course is intended to improve your understanding of the research process, to familiarize you with a variety of research methods commonly used in the field of TESOL and Applied Linguistics, and to gain hands-on experience in research. The course will focus on a variety of research models, including survey research, discourse analysis, case study, correlation analysis, legal policy research, and corpus research. The main task of the quarter involves conducting an original research project in small teams. Much of the course time will be spent on workshops to help you carry out the project: developing a literature review, writing a conference proposal, organizing your methodology, designing data collection instruments, analyzing data, and writing a research report. In addition, you will read and critique selected research in second language acquisition and become more sophisticated "consumers" of research.

576 ATesting and Evaluation of English as a Second Language Johnston MW 9:30-11:20 12892

This course is an overview of language testing with an emphasis on teacher-prepared classroom tests. The major goals of the course are:

1. to provide students practice in developing, analyzing, and refining tests.

2. to introduce students to key concepts and major debates in language testing

3. to provide students some experience with commercially available assessment tools.

4. to familiarize students with basic test statistics so that they can test their own tests and understand the claims made about commercially available exams.

581 ACreative Writer as Critical Reader Feld MW 2:30-4:20 12893

The goal of this course is to provide students with an advanced education in the history and evolution of lyric poetry in English, from its Old English origins up to the extraordinary variety of contemporary poetic practices. We will study the formal principles which have traditionally distinguished poetry from prose (meter, rhyme, stanza and form), poetic conventions such as courtly love and Romantic nature worship, and poetic genres such as the epic, the pastoral elegy and the greater Romantic lyric, and we will study how these forms, conventions and genres have changed from one historical period to another. In order to fully understand these changes we will study several of the important texts, written by poets, philosophers and critics, which have provided the theoretical foundations for each period’s dominant poetics, and we will examine how aesthetic judgments have been and are made about individual poets and poetic schools and styles. Students will learn how to read a poem closely, how to place a poem in its proper context, and how to appreciate and take pleasure in the rich complexities of this vibrant art.

584 AAdvanced Fiction Workshop Sonenberg MW 12:30-2:20 12894

ENGL 584
Graduate Fiction Workshop

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 (from both the readers and the writer) rather than statements, 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 exercises devoted to analyzing prose styles.

Priorities for Graduate workshop registration—in the following order: First year MFA students in fiction; Second year MFA students in fiction; MFA students in poetry; other graduate students, with instructor’s permission only; others, with instructor’s permission only

585 AAdvanced Poetry Workshop Triplett T 3:30-7:20p 12895

Graduate Poetry Workshop: focus on works submitted by MFA students, with both required and optional writing prompts featured. We’ll pay particular attention to various issues of craft, such as voice, diction, syntax, lineation, image, metaphor, etc., with a view toward revision and creative process. In several classes, we’ll devote some time to discussion of the work of contemporary and traditional practitioners of the art. Final portfolios due at the end of term.

593 ATextual Studies: Oral Scribe (w/C Lit 596B & Hum) Vaughan TTh 1:30-3:20 12899

Oral and Scribal Texts (Spring 2008)

Description of seminar :

This seminar on oral and scribal texts examines the first of the chronological stages in the production and transmission of written texts. Focusing particularly on the manuscript transmission of literary texts in medieval England, it will look at a number of distinct features in the development of scribal handwriting (paleography) in Western Europe, the construction of books (codicology), and the ways in which written texts may reflect (and interact with) elements of their writers' and readers' oral cultures. We will consider topics dealing with a range of books from the production of early (monastic) Insular manuscripts (such as the Lindisfarne Gospels) to vernacular literary collections in early 14th century London (such as the Auchinleck MS) and onwards into the fifteenth and sixteenth century, when manuscripts continue to be produced alongside early printed books. With the increasing availability of facsimiles online, we will have access to a rich variety of texts (in Latin and the medieval vernaculars) for individual research and study.

Books required for the seminar include:

Roberts, Jane. Guide to Scripts Used in English Writings up to 1500. London: The British
Library, 2005. ISBN: 0712348840.
Amodio, Mark C. Writing the Oral Tradition: Oral Poetics and Literate Culture in Medieval
England. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004. ISBN: 026 8020248.
Clanchy, M. T. From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307. 2nd rev. ed. Hoboken:
John Wiley, 1993. ISBN: 0-631-16857-5.
Shailor, Barbara A. The Medieval Book. Toronto: U of Toronto Press, 1994.
ISBN: 091 0747468.

Recommended are:

Bischoff, Bernhard, Latin Paleography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Cambridge:
Cambridge U. Press, 1990. ISBN 0 521 36726 3.
Brown, Michelle P. A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600. Toronto: U
of Toronto Press, 1994. ISBN: 0 8020 7206 2.

back to schedule

to home page
top of page