It can be said that late-18th C British culture confirmed its creative powers in mutuality with nature, and that it set those powers to work in the commerce, industry, and citybuilding that threatened nature and the human sense of connection to it. The course begins with the Enlightenment thought of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and the commercial/industrial/city build-up of the late 18th C. We will consider further developments in political economy in this period through a report on Thomas Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population. A report on Edmund Burke's On the Sublime and Beautiful in nature prepares the way from the 18th C. to Romanticism. We then read selections from William Wordsworth's The Prelude for depictions of Romantic relations to nature and the city. Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus marks a Romantic-Victorian transition. Creativity as imaginative response to nature becomes a work ethic of productivity—in industry, commerce, and city-building. Following a report on Carlyle's "Captains of Industry" comes Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. This sets the north of industry, commerce, and city in contrast to the south of the country, and we will also look at the gendering of this difference. We will consider selections from Charles Darwin's Origin of Species and Darwin's debt to Malthus for the germ of "natural selection." Here ideas of nature and economics converge. We see different responses of disquiet in short selections from Alfred Lord Tennyson's "In Memoriam," John Ruskin's "The Nature of Gothic" (by report), short poems (in handouts or by e-reserves) by Matthew Arnold, and selections (by report) from Culture and Anarchy and "The Study of Poetry." The course culminates with Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens's great novel of the city as nature, a place of pollution and recycling, predation and mutuality, destruction, production, and creation. As time allows, we will sample George Gissing's In the Year of Jubilee for mixed attitudes towards nature, city, commerce, and industry at the end of the Victorian period.
Tracing developments across Enlightenment, Romantic, and Victorian writings often studied separately, the course emphasizes primary texts and correlations between them. Historical "briefs" will provide historical context, and Raymond Williams's The Country and the City offers critical guidance, along with historical perspective. We will take note of recent critical interests in economics and literature and in ecocriticism—for instance, work by Jonathan Bate, Catherine Gallagher, Karl Kroeber, Andrew Miller, Nicholas Roe, and Mary Poovey. Such critical interests, too, are often pursued separately, but combine here.
The course can serve students in different ways: as introduction and overview for new students or those seeking a secondary period-field; as opportunity for period-field consolidation for those with a primary interest; as context and background for those interested in economic and ecological approaches, though not specializing in Enlightenment/Romantic/Victorian Studies.
Requirements: On-going seminar contribution, including a report (@15 min.), a historical brief (5-10 min.), and leading discussion of a primary text (25%--and for each of these please provide a 1-p. handout); a response paper on a single text or set of short texts (7-8 pp) (25%); a longer paper ideally building on the shorter one, more synthesizing and treating at least 2 authors (@12-15) (50%).
This course provides a general introduction to graduate study in English. Together we will review the making and unmaking of “English” as a discipline, focusing in particular on the rise of professional literary criticism and its relationship to continental philosophy, cultural studies, and critical theory. Course materials will include a range of theoretical and critical writing about the following key topics: language, literature, culture, aesthetics, political economy, racial formation, gender, sexuality, nation and empire.
This course will be on Plato and Aristotle. We will spend considerable time on the key texts about literature of these two authors, especially Aristotle’s Poetics, but, since what is called ‘literary theory’ involves a great deal more than literary criticism, we will also spend a lot of time on the larger projects of Plato and Aristotle of which their literary criticism forms a part: questions of the nature of human beings and of human society, the definition of the good life, the the relation of pleasure to ethics, the nature of the real and how the human mind knows the real, and so forth. The ideas of Plato and Aristotle on these topics form the indispensable background to the contemporary discussion of the ‘ethicopolitical’ that has come to dominate literary studies. All of this background will be brought to a focus on the question of what art, techne, meant to the Greeks. Techne is a much broader concept than our ‘art’; it includes shoemaking and politics as well as the art of poetry; and, as you will see, the concept of techne is fundamental to the way in which the original concepts of Platonic metaphysics were evolved.
Readings from Plato:
Oct 2, 7, 9--Phaedo
Oct. 14, 16, 23--Phaedrus
Oct. 28, 30; Nov. 4, 6--Republic
Readings from Aristotle:
Nov.13, 18, 20, 25, Dec. 2, 4—Poetics
Dec. 2, 4—Selections from Metaphysics, Physics, and Nichomachaean Ethics
I will ask you for a 5-7 page working paper on Plato, due Nov. 4, and a final paper of the same length on Plato and Aristotle, due finals week.
Catalog Description: A study of the major issues in literary criticism and theory since about 1965.
This is a beginning course which addresses the earliest written forms of the English language (up to c. 1000). Knowledge of Old English is indispensable for the study of literary (and other) texts from all phases of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, especially the study of poetry and early narrative texts. The principles introduced in this course will also help students acquire an understanding of the special features of modern English, and will provide tools that are useful for learning other languages. Moreover, knowledge of Old English is fundamental to the study of the History of the English Language, the Cultural History of the British Isles (including early Gender Studies), and many areas of Textual Studies, including manuscript study and the study of word origins.
- Richard Marsden. The Cambridge Old English Reader (Paperback). Cambridge University Press. 
- Michael Lapidge. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England (Paperback). Blackwell Publishing. 
A seminar reading of two great novelists of the English eighteenth century. The vivid fictional “histories” Richardson and Fielding produced between 1740 and 1750 made those years the most brilliant and decisive decade in the history of the English novel. All this began with Richardson’s strangely ridiculous, strangely compelling story of Pamela, which in turn called forth Fielding’s rude burlesque Shamela and then Joseph Andrews. The same pattern of collaborative antagonism and rivalry appeared in 1747 with Richardson’s great work Clarissa, followed by Fielding’s Tom Jones. And there is our reading: a lot, but I have a plan for covering the texts part of the time slowly and intensively, part of the time faster and more swimmingly. And we will read the whole of the amazing Clarissa: a serious undertaking but a powerfully absorbing experience once you surrender to it, like being abducted by aliens. We will give due consideration also to the critical topic of the so-called rise of the novel, as understood both then and now. Some topics of emphasis from the social and cultural period history will be sex, marriage, class relations, and law. Please feel free to get in touch with me for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This is a course investigating the cultural texts (literature, popular culture, and films) of and about American "reconstruction." Reconstruction refers to the historical period of national reunification (roughly 1863-1877) necessitated by the Civil War, but for our purposes it also stands for the much longer process of social, economic, and cultural changes that continue to affect the United States. Those changes were both progressive and regressive: Reconstruction saw the most liberal Civil Rights legislation in American history, even as it witnessed some of the most reactionary acts of repression. Vast wealth was produced and equally vast political corruption was unleashed. If the North won the Civil War, then the South won the ideological battle of Reconstruction. This course, therefore, will consider American Reconstruction as both a (literary) historical period and as a trope for long-term social transformation. These transformations include not only the production of new forms of racial identity (seen in Plessy v. Ferguson) but also new conditions of masculinity and femininity, new conceptions of national identity (read through the production of “regionalism”), and new technologies of observation. American writers participated in Reconstruction by trying to retell the story of America through the racial and social conflicts of the time. What is interesting to me, and what is central to this course, is that Reconstruction was also one of the favorite subjects of an emerging American film industry. Two of the most famous and important movies ever made--Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind--take Reconstruction as their subjects. Hollywood, like the earlier writers, attempted to create an American identity for itself by returning to what Kaja Silverman calls a site of "historical trauma." However, in its attempts to heal the national and social divisions, Hollywood found itself more often than not creating a nostalgia for a time before those divisions. This course will explore that nostalgia and those (continuing) divisions. Texts will include novels (e.g. Lydia Maria Child, Romance of the Republic, Charles Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition, Toni Morrison, Beloved, etc.) paired with theoretical texts.
We will use novels by Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Alejandro Morales, and Philip Roth to test Isabel Alliende’s view that within every democracy, there are fascist elements. Lewis, Faulkner, Wright, Morales, and Roth, that is, will help us bring into the open the authoritarian, police state, proto-fascist, or fascist tendencies stirring on or under the surface of American political culture. Secondary works will give the novels and topic a historical and theoretical context. Current debates on such issues as the Patriot Act, immigration, Guantanamo, warrantless wiretaps, and claims for unlimited executive power are part of the context. Beneath the surface of these topics a volcano is stirring. Ditto for the novels. Keep your fingers crossed. The motto for the course is Gramsci’s dictum: pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will.
Primary texts: Lewis, Elmer Gantry, It Can’t Happen Here; Faulkner, Light in August, The Hamlet; Wright, either Lawd Today or Native Son; Morales, The Brick People; Roth, The Plot Against America.
This seminar rests on three premises: first, the reproduction of the nation-state is inextricably bound up with the production and regulation of sexualities; second, historic changes wrought by capitalism extend to and depend upon transformations of sexualities in whose construction the human sciences, law, literature, film and other disciplines participate; third, sexuality is embodied in articulation with race, gender, class, age, and other social specificities. These three understandings will orient a critically informed interdisciplinary investigation of both hegemonic U.S. narratives which predicate national belonging on not being (identified as) a “sexual pervert” or “degenerate” and on counter-narratives, which affirm queer desires, imagine queer alliances and work to identify the linkages between normative sexual regimes and regulatory apparatuses of capitialism, imperialism, racism and masculinism in which sexuality is enmeshed.
Three historical moments structure our examination of sexuality and national belonging. The first, which we will cover relatively quickly, spans the late-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. The nation-state is reconstructed at the expense of African Americans; restrictive immigration laws target Asians and Southeastern Europeans; the U.S. becomes an imperial power; capitalism transforms social relations and the landscape; America is “remasculinized”; the homosexual emerges as a pathological being and the heterosexual as his healthy/normal opposite; diverse biopolitical practices aim both to maximize the (re)productive life of (middle-class) Anglo Americans and to weed out, segregate or reform African Americans, recent immigrants, whites who cannot or will not be integrated into the circuits of capitalism, and homosexuals/inverts, all of are classified as “degenerates”; critical histories of nation, sexuality and race intervene in this nationalist narrative. The second historical moment stretches from the cold war into the civil rights era. Baldwin’s Another Country and shorter texts are in dialogue with liberalism’s “consensus narrative.” The latter promotes bourgeois domesticity and muscular masculinity as foundations of the national security state; it (re)identifies sexual and political dissent with each other and both with unAmericanism; it locates the source of homosexuality and communism in the Orient and domestic “momism”; it fetishizes the African American man and Asian woman, and offers various solutions to “the Negro problem.” The seminar ends with an extended analysis of how sexuality and U.S. citizenship are being articulated by queers and non queers under present conditions of hegemonic neoliberalism, transnational capitalism and the so-called “war on terror.” Essays from the Queer Issue of Social Text (fall-winter 2005) focus our discussion; if available, we will also read Chua’s Gold by the Inch.
A background in critical theory is strongly recommended; prior reading of Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Vol. I is required . All students should be prepared to discuss Foucault on the first day, and in September I will email the class a set of questions to guide our conversation about his genealogy.
In this course we will examine a specific strain of black cultural studies, namely that aspect of black cultural studies that has promoted a critique of modern liberal, marxist and revolutionary nationalist thought. Particular attention will be paid to the traditions of black radicalism, black feminisms, and black “queer of color” critique. The course will also pursue a discussion of a very specific archive of black social life with which to think about the kinds of possibilities that are released when these critical traditions put under erasure the universalizing categories that organize liberal, marxist, and revolutionary nationalist histories. Hence, we will examine the social forces that were brought to bear on black racial formation in the U.S. during the interwar years (1920s-1940s) and that were discussed under the rubric of “internationalism.” We will concentrate on how these social forces overdetermined the contradictions of black citizenship, precipitating a black internationalist subject that was not a citizen. For historically specific reasons that “subject” was produced and stabilized through an identification with the “Asiatic” in this period. Requiring a subject-position that was not the citizen, but its contradictory, disidentified and contiguous “other,” black intellectuals promoted an internationalism that was at once an interracialism, a specific politics of identification that linked and fused together incommensurable historical conditions and contexts through an internationalist anti-racist framework. The course will examine the emergence in this period of narratives and social practices of what I term “black alienage,” specifically inspecting these practices in relation to the social history of Asian immigrants and U.S. representation of Asia(n)s as the subjects and object of juridico-cultural alienage. In doing so, we will not be seeking merely to demonstrate a black-Asian interracialism founded on shared racial exclusion from the juridical and cultural life of “whiteness.” Rather, we will seek to argue that the history of Asian migration to the U.S. and U.S. imperialism in Asia are inextricable from the emergence of black racial formation during the inter-war years. It is this history, among others, that the universalizing categories of modern liberal, marxist and revolutionary nationalist thought continue to make a difficulty to “think”.
The overall goal of this course is to assess the political claims made for new media and new technologies and to define possible points of articulation and/or critique between Marxist traditions and new theories of radical democracy, on the one hand, and new technocultural formations, on the other hand. To that end, the course will weave together three strands of inquiry, all of which will combine readings in popular culture, understood as a site of critical reflection on and speculation about technocultural developments, and an examination of movements organized around new technologies. First, we will consider the ongoing structural transformation of the democratic public sphere and the mass mediation of social relations through new communications and computer interface technologies, as these changes affect models of citizenship and collective forms of belonging or “imagined community.” Key texts in this section of the course might include John Perry Barlow’s “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” the Peter Ludlow collection on “cyberstates” and “pirate utopias,” Bruce Sterling’s non-fiction work on ubiquitous computing, and Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs, along with critical work by Michael Warner and Lauren Berlant on the new norms of publicness that emerge in highly mass-mediated consumer societies, where there is a shift toward embodied self-production rather than rational self-transcendence. Second, we will discuss possible new models of collectivity emerging out of intellectual property debates, such as the copyleft movement, the creative commons licensing system associated with Lawrence Lessig, and attempts to elaborate such movements into a general open source culture, in the work of writers and musicians like Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky. In this section of the course we will also read Marxist theories of information technologies, possibly including selections from Hardt and Negri’s Empire, Dyer-Witheford’s Cyber-Marx, Wark’s Hacker Manifesto, Galloway’s Protocol, and Wendy Chun’s Control and Freedom. We may examine examples of this kind of collective culture, including mash-ups and wikis. Third, we will discuss claims for the progressive potential residing in new forms of technological self-transformation, of trans- or post-humanism, with a particular focus on their relation to social and liberation movements organized around more familiar categories, such as feminism or civil rights. Key texts in this section of the course might include James Hughes’s Citizen Cyborg, Joel Garreau’s Radical Evolution, Andy Clark’s Natural-Born Cyborgs, and Michael Chorost’s memoir Rebuilt, though we will also examine web sites and blogs such as the one run by the World Transhumanist Association. Popular texts might include fiction by Bruce Sterling, Samuel R. Delany, Greg Egan, John Wright, Charles Stross, Octavia Butler, and Nalo Hopkinson; films like Strange Days, The Matrix, Robot Stories, or Final Cut; and graphic novels like Transmetropolitan or Swamp Thing.
Assignments for the course are likely to include either two shorter papers or one longer one, as well as some kind of oral presentation.
This seminar serves as an introduction to pedagogical theory (primarily through the field of rhetoric and composition) for new Teaching Assistants. The course begins with an overview of current debates within rhetoric and composition about the teaching of writing, and then turns to readings and discussions that explore some of the theories and practices that guide various aspects of the teaching of writing. In the process of examining various pedagogical theories that guide the study and teaching of writing, we will make every effort to help you understand the “why” behind the “what we do” and “how we do it” when we teach writing. To this end, we will ask you to participate in some workshops in class and to undertake a series of shorter assignments that will give you an opportunity to reflect critically and build on the work you are doing as a teacher. By the end of the course, we will ask you to submit a final teaching portfolio in which you revisit the work you have done in the course, reflecting on its cumulative effect, and begin to develop a teaching philosophy which will guide you and which you can build on over the course of your tenure as a teacher and scholar, both with us here in the English Department and in the rest of your career. (Restricted to English department Teaching Assistants.)
See description for Section A.
This course examines central issues in teaching English to speakers of other languages. It is designed to be the first course in the MATESOL Program. Topics include theories of second language acquisition and approaches to language teaching. The course also addresses key issues in the field, including language and identity, the spread of English as an international language, and language policy. Readings will include a selection of recent articles on the topics of the course.
This course will explore some of the issues that guide and/or problematize the teaching of creative writing. As there is little theory about this special branch of teaching writing, the course will consider the different ways this field has been written about: the manifesto, the anecdote, the how-to. Reading will include articles that relate the teaching and learning of creative writing to current ideas in literary theory and creativity research, as well as articles “from the trenches”—articles by writers in the midst of teaching. In the process, each student in the class will develop a teaching philosophy and a pedagogy that reflects that teaching philosophy. Discussions and readings will cover topics such as choosing texts and exercises for creative writing classes, the traditional workshop and its alternatives, and responding to and grading students’ creative work. Written work will include a list of learning outcomes for an introductory creative writing class; a grading system; an annotated bibliography of anthologies, text books, or how-to books; a group of exercises focusing on a particular issue of technique; and an annotated list of readings to serve as examples for ways of handling that technique. By the end of the quarter, each student will have a refined syllabus that reflects his or her thinking on all these issues and will write a brief paper relating the syllabus to his or her teaching philosophy.
Registration priorities: Second year MFA students; first year MFA students with instructor’s permission; other graduate students with instructor’s permission; advanced undergraduates with instructor’s permission.
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