A graduate survey of the literature and culture of the long eighteenth century (1660-1830), introducing key works, authors, and contemporary critical approaches, with special attention to subjects like the material text, gender, social class, travel and empire, consumer culture, and the rise of the modern novel. We will cover a range of genres (drama, poetry, fiction), represented by lesser-known examples as well as classics like The Rape of the Lock, Gulliver’s Travels, The Beggar’s Opera, Joseph Andrews, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice. Students can expect to come out of the course with a good command of the primary material and of current critical discourses and research methods in the field, along with some sense of how the literature and culture of this period relate both to what came before, in Shakespeare’s time, and to the Victorian and modern periods that followed. No previous experience is assumed.
Alternative Spaces, Shifting Landscapes: Perception, Orientation and Literary Form
in Nineteenth-Century America
During a period preoccupied with the nationalization, the mapping and the settlement of an identifiably “American” space, we’ll be exploring, on the one hand, how sense of space in the nineteenth-century U.S. is conceived through the lens of maps and paintings, aesthetic conventions and discourses, fraught with latent ideological implications. Pastoralism, the picturesque, and a jingoistic version of the sublime, along with a cartography deeply rooted in capitalistic economics and imperial politics, and a tendency to view the wilderness through the lens of culturally endorsed schemataBall contribute to the nationalization of the American continent and a would-be normalization of sense of space in the era of Manifest Destiny. But even as sense of space is heavily mediated through such organizing lenses, a counter-sensitivity develops to the way what W.J.T. Mitchell terms the apparent Agivenness of sight and site@ ultimately remains in the play of culturally mediated truth, falling between, for example, Western cartographical and aesthetic conventions and alternative possibilities of landscape which writers like Thoreau and Fuller grow sensitive to in studying native tribal languages and myths. At bottom, the most fundamental object-forms (such as a tree) prove surprisingly fluid and in the play of shifting associations and perspectives. The ostensibly literal is latently interpretative. The idea of a frontier separating known from unfamiliar, unknown space is reconceived as ubiquitous and diffusive; one can cross such a frontier into strange, unfamiliar space virtually anywhere. Indeed, as writers such as Poe, Melville, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman reveal, passage into an unfamiliar here and now, where governing epistemic paradigms break down, can occur within the precincts of bureaucratic urban offices or even in the confines of the bourgeois home setting.
In what will remain primarily a literary course supplemented by readings in spatial and epistemological theory and a review of nineteenth-century visual culture, our focus will be on how sense of space becomes an unsettled question rather than a site of visual and interpretative settlement that caters to ideological closure and a nationalism based upon a totalized sense of space. Primary readings in such authors as Poe, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Fuller, Whitman, Melville and Chief Seattle (the putative author of a “Speech” actually encompassing colliding viewpoints and voices); secondary readings will include W.J. T. Mitchell on imperial landscape, Angela Miller on nineteenth-century American painting, and chapters from my own book on “landscape and ideology”; extra-literary cultural materials will include maps, paintings, and lithography.
This seminar will consider 20th century British fiction beginning with the development of literary modernism in its first decades and ending with the emergence of post-modernism after the Second World War. Our discussions will involve how innovations of both movements are related to major social, technological, and cultural changes in Britain during this time period. We will explore several related issues here: the conflicted history of modernist canon formation; the significance of personal relationships and coteries in literary production, and how the influence of psychoanalysis and new theories of sexuality are reflected in fictional texts. Some of the writers we will probably read are Virginia Woolf, E.M.Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Julian Barnes, and Zadie Smith.
This course explores literary works connected to the British imperial and postcolonial orbit. We cast a historical look at writing produced under imperialism, as well as examining writing generated in the immediate aftermath of independence and in the twenty-first century. The course is organised chronologically and also geographically. The first half concerns literary titles from continental Africa, dating from the early twentieth century through to the 1970s. The second half of the course explores literature of the black diaspora (UK, Canadian and US) and centres on twenty-first century material.
“When the Page Floats Transformed”: Literary Fiction/Feature Film
E. L. George
The limitations on the comparative analysis of literary fiction and the feature film are dominated by the socio-political situation of the two forms and disciplines which examine them. Literary fiction is an elite, privileged form--one which is legitimated by its commitment to an objective of excellence; however that is defined; while the feature film is produced by a commercial industry which is unable to survive without creating a popular audience. . . . The discomfort of the literary critic with popular cultural forms has a long and distinguished history . . . Similarly, film studies’ recognition of its situation as an area which has had to establish its respectability has produced a jealous wariness of the imperialism of other disciplines. . . . So the limited degree of intercourse that occurs between the two disciplines has to deal with suspicions of elitism and imperialism on the one hand, and accusations of ‘trendiness’ on the other.”
“National Fictions: Film, Fiction, and Culture”
I've never been one of those people who compared the book and the movie of the book. That's never interested me because I've always separated them as two very distinct art forms, so I never got mad if the movie wasn't the book, or vice versa. I knew from a very young age that it was impossible to do that. I mean, you're talking about a 300-page novel versus an hour-and-a-half or two-hour movie. It's impossible to convey in a movie the entire experience of a novel, and I always knew that.
–Sherman Alexie, fiction and screen writer
In conventional thought, print fictions and their film adaptations still clash—one considered elite and literary, the other trendy and crass. This course challenges that conventional notion and celebrates both hybrid forms of literature as well as serious literary and cultural critical analyses. We will read print narratives and their film adaptations to test the benefits of analyzing narratives in multiple rather than singular formats, when the printed page “floats transformed.”
Course texts will include a variety of shorter and longer contemporary American print narratives of various genres that have been adapted into film, perhaps Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain” and Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. We will research many scholarly as well as popular book and film reviews and articles from our UW library and other reliable databases.
Course requirements include reading print and film narratives critically, utilizing reader-response and reception theory perspectives; engaging vocally and thoughtfully in weekly active discussions of the print and film texts, including giving reports on reader/viewer responses that may challenge personal and social expectations; engaging in critical and persuasive analyses in spoken and written formats; researching online databases; writing a final, critically-based research 10 – 12 pp. research paper, and presenting a draft form of that research in a simulated (mock) academic conference session (of our class members).
Close Reading and Its Discontents
Indeed, it is the oddest thing about language, whose history is full of odd things (and one of the oddest facts about human development) that so few people have sat down to reflect systematically about meaning.
-- I.A. Richards, Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgment (1930)
I have been asked by the editor to write on the New Critics, but to engage to do such an essay is very much like embarking on the hunting of the Snark. The New Critic, like the Snark, is a very elusive beast. Everybody talks about him: there is now rather general agreement about his bestial character; but few could give an accurate anatomical description of him.
-- Cleanth Brooks, “The New Criticism” The Sewanee Review 87.4 (Fall 1979)
I guess the sad truth is that no one really thinks (if they ever did) that English as a discipline poses a real threat to the status quo. The Culture Wars of the 1980s and 1990s led some of us to believe that the end of the canon, the end of seemingly objective appraisals of “aesthetic complexity” through close readings, the end of the representation of the culture of white males as culture per se, meant that some major battles in the politics of representation had been won.
-- Judith Halberstam, “The Death of English” Inside Higher Education (May 9, 2005)
The place to move in the double bind is the classroom. The MLA has a hand there. Help us change the long-standing views of language teaching, culture teaching. Unleash them from their place on the totem pole and from identity, from religion: change their institutional structural position.
-- Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Close Reading,” PMLA 121.5 (October 2006)
“How to do a Close Reading”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adXdTXEzmzE
-- Eberlywritingcenter, “How to do a Close Reading” Youtube.com (uploaded March 7, 2011)
This class introduces graduate students to the history of “close reading” as concept and practice. We will survey twentieth century debates about language and interpretation with a focus on textual analysis and the professionalization of academic literary criticism. We will take the rise of English departments as our central focus, but we will certainly discuss its relation to other language and literature departments, to Area Studies, to Comparative Literature, to Cultural Studies, and to Ethnic and Gender/Women/Sexuality Studies. The goal of this course is to survey changing professional “theories” of textual analysis – including practical criticism, formalism, new criticism, deconstruction, and post-structuralism – while also considering those practices of textual analysis that bear strange or subtle relations to these theories. We will make sure to cover hermeneutic, critical, creative, poetic, narrative, descriptive, and reparative practices.
In other words, this is a class on both theory and method. We will review theories and practices that have been central to professionalizing trends in academic institutions: theory has often been associated with the status and value of “research” in the literary humanities, while practice has often been associated with the status and value of “teaching” literature, specifically in undergraduate pedagogy. We will pay close attention to the changing relationships between theories and practices of textual analysis as we work through the materials. The epigraphs preview our trajectory through professionalization and institutionalization, with the final Youtube clip serving as a reminder that “close reading” remains alive and well in undergraduate pedagogy even as professional critique describes its death and zombie-like shuffle through the undergraduate classroom as a kind of uncanny afterlife.
Course Requirements: one in-class presentation on a work of criticism; a critical notebook practicing academic note-taking for future use; one final paper of 13-15 pages treating at least two critical methods and practicing a “close reading” on a text of your choosing.
Introduction to Postmodernism
In contrast to the originally posted subtitle for this course, techniques of pastiche and rewriting will be only one of its organizing rubrics, along with metafiction, multiculturalism and the politics of representation in the contemporary period, and cyberpunk/technoculture/posthumanism. This course will serve as an introduction to some of the key critical and theoretical accounts of and developments within postmodern literature and culture, primarily but not exclusively American. We will be reading shorter critical and theoretical pieces, along with primary materials that either function as touchstones for these narratives of postmodernism or allow us to test their claims in new ways.
The readings will be organized to exemplify one or more central concepts or arguments from these critical accounts, possibly including metafiction and the “literature of exhaustion” (Barth); historiographic metafiction (Hutcheon); pastiche (Jameson), rewriting, plagiarism (Acker), textual poaching (Jenkins), or the “ecstasy of influence” (Lethem); the breakdown of high/low distinctions (Jameson, Jenkins); termite art (Farber); the disappearance of metanarratives (Lyotard), especially as that disappearance affects multicultural movements (Omi and Winant); the end of innocence (Flax, Hall); the simulacrum and the ecstasy of communication (Baudrillard); schizophrenia, the fragmentation of subjectivity, or the “death of the individual” (Jameson); time-space compression and postmodern geographies (Harvey); post-industrialism and postmodernism (Hardt and Negri); and posthumanism (Hayles, Wolfe), with some attention to object-oriented ontology or speculative realism (Harman, Bogost). The course will focus on the implications of the shift from modernist projects of “making it new” to postmodern techniques of revision that stress the inescapable conventionality of language and genre, though we will also consider other ways of narrating this historical shift. We will discuss some examples of popular culture (including genre fiction, comics, and TV), where there are traditions of pastiche, fan fiction, and unorthodox practices of collaborative authorship and reader participation, including some that precede the post-World War II period. Assignments will include one shorter essay and a longer, final paper.
In addition to critical essays or book chapters, we will read some selection from the following works (we will read many, but not all, of these works):
Donald Barthelme, Snow White
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
Ishmael Reed, Flight to Canada
Mark Leyner, Et Tu, Babe
Philip José Farmer, Tarzan Alive
Kim Newman, Anno Dracula
Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Ann Vandermeer, ed. Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution
Alice Walker, Meridian
Samuel R. Delany, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
Bruce Sterling, Distraction
Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Short stories by John Barth, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Kathy Acker,
Octavia Butler, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Gerald Vizenor, and some examples of Sherlock Holmes pastiche and the shared-world fiction of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos
This course is an introduction to and survey of the basics of language analysis beyond the sentence level, covering approaches both to discourse analysis and sociolinguistics. It is also a survey of the various ways in which discourse analysis is theoretically grounded, with a special focus on critical discourse analysis (CDA) in its two major presentations, neo-Marxist and Foucauldian. Students in ENGL 562 will also study the social theorists–Foucault, Bourdieu, Habermas, and Giddens–so that they will be able to ground their work in theory.
Meyerhoff, Introducing Sociolinguistics, 2nd ed. (2011)
Mills, Discourse, 2nd ed. (2004)
Wetherell, et al., Discourse as Data: A Guide for Analysis
Wodak and Meyer, Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis, 2nd ed. (2009)
A good linguistics dictionary
The drive to control and regularize the English language has made it possible for us to read texts from four centuries ago and texts from across the world. It has also created a culture of anxiety about proper usage and a culture of condemnation of English varieties deemed to be non-standard. This course will examine the social, economic, and linguistic factors that promoted and policed standardization in English language history (and the factors that resisted it). We will consider some theorists of comparative standardization (Benedict Anderson, Einar Haugen) and read proposals of premodern standard Englishes (Winchester standard, Chancery English), on the way to investigating the rise of current practices of standard English in the eighteenth century. Ideas about correctness in English are often expressed in moral terms -- good, bad, right, wrong, pure, corrupt -- we will examine the history of these ideological discourses and the ways that they have shaped conversations on education, national language policy, and social attitudes. Along the way, we will interrogate dictionaries, grammar books, and style guides in order to examine the nature of language authority and the relationship between language and social power. Readings will include texts by Jonathan Swift, Robert Lowth, Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster, and James A. H. Murray, as well as contemporary scholars of standardization (Tony Bex, Richard Watts, Laura Wright, John Hurt Fisher), language ideology (Deborah Cameron, Rosina Lippi Green), creolization (Salikoko Mufwene), and language attitudes (Lynda Mugglestone, John Rickford, Geneva Smitherman). Course requirements include several brief response papers and one seminar paper.
This credit/noncredit course aims to extend student teachers' understanding of the technical, personal, and practical elements involved in effective language teaching by bringing together multiple tools. These include regular classroom practice scaffolded by a master teacher, observations of veteran teachers, journaling, observations of peers, reflective inquiry, self-evaluation, group support in regular seminars, videotaped microteaching, analytical lesson reports, and peer evaluation.
The goal of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the historical developments in TESOL methodology from the current perspective of a ‘post-method’ era. This is a practical course that will include workshops and other hands-on activities to familiarize learners with a variety approaches, philosophies, techniques, and materials. The course will explore recent developments in the field, and help students to better analyze learning situations, enhance their professional skills, and increase their ability to promote learning. Students will learn to develop and adapt instructional materials based on their students’ needs, desires, learning processes, and on institutional environments.
Creative Writer as Critical Reader. Life Is Short; Art Is Shorter.
A course in brevity: the excitement of compression, concision, velocity. In class we’ll discuss and analyze line by line dozens of very short works of prose, which have been organized into different themes and approaches. Students will go to school on these exemplary works and write several of their own short-shorts, mini-essays, and prose-poems. By the end of the course, no one will be able to write anything longer than a haiku.
Writing for Publication
Publishing during your years as a grad student is one of the best ways to prepare for your future on the job market. This seminar will introduce you to the ins and outs of scholarly publishing, to academic journals in your field, to the art of conference papers and other such professional tools. You'll be preparing an essay to submit to a journal and we will all work together to move your work from a grad student paper toward professional publication now or in the near future. You can work either on an essay you've already started, or begin to draft something new. Students at any level who have an interest in academic publication are welcome.
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