Spring Quarter 2003
 English Graduate Studies  | University of Washington Graduate School English Department 

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505 (w/C Lit 535A & Span 575)

Comparative Literary Theories of the Americas


TTh 1:30-3:20

Across the diversity of cultures and traditions that have developed in the Americas, certain themes recur, such as the quest for a unique "American" identity, and the inevitable conflict "nationalists" and "internationalists" (cosmo-politans); the clash and co-existence of different races; representations of "American" nature; the invention of America as utopia; the ambivalence towards the colonial heritage. One goal of this course is to identify certain themes as the common ground for transamerican literary and cultural studies. The emphasis is on essays and cultural and literary criticism, but we'll read some short literary works. The north-south connections we will be making range from the "generic" (transamerican themes of general interest) to the "genetic", or transamerican genealogies where there has been documented influence and transmission between North and South American writers. Our goal is to establish unrealized conversations between North and South American literary and cultural studies isolated from each other within nationalist frameworks. The north-south connections we will make via thematic cheek-by-cheek readings and documented transamerican exchanges are intended to bridge this gap and explore the substantial common ground that justifies the project of New World studies.

There will be two parts to the class. In the first part of the seminar, we will consider two sets of common core texts. The first set will deal with foundational definitions of American identities (essays by Emerson, Whitman, Octavio Paz, Martí, Alfonso Reyes, and others), and cultural nationalisms and its critiques in Latin American and American Studies. For instance, the quest for a unique New World identity links the official, and later, critical nationalism of the Americanist myths-symbols school theorizing the mythology of the "frontier" (R.W. B. Lewis, Henry Nash Smith, Leo Marx, Leslie Fiedler, Richard Slotkin, Annette Kolodny) to the Latin American and Caribbean debate on "civilization and barbarism," an alternative non-Anglo America, "Our America," and postcolonial America as Caliban (Argentine Domingo Sarmiento, George Lamming, Cubans José Martí and Roberto Fernandez Retamar, José David Saldívar). And in search of a "usable past," North American inquiries into the Puritan origins of the American Self gained momentum in the 1930s, contemporary with the rediscovery of the baroque colonial origins of the Latin American culture (Mariano Picon-Salas, Jose Lezama Lima).

The second set of core texts will deal with the theme of representations of "American" nature. Specifically, we will consider one transamerican cultural genealogy on the New World sublime (rivaling the European), which connects various monumental transamerican sites such as Niagara Falls, the peaks of the Andes and Mexican volcanoes, pre-Columbian pyramids, the Brooklyn Bridge and extends into the "technological sublime" and postmodern sublime (as man-made technology replaces natural forces as objects of awe and rapture). The transamerican sublime affiliates figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and George Catlin, Walt Whitman, Cuban poets José Maria Heredia and José Martí, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Lewis Mumford, Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery, Christopher Dewdney.

The second part of the seminar deals with student presentations on topics. Students will research and present on topics such as: comparative theories of American vanguards and modernisms (ultraism, imagism, Mexico's contemporaneos, Vicente Huidobro, Octavio Paz's Children of the Mire, Oswald de Andrade etc.); Walt Whitman, José Martí, Jorge Luis Borges, William Carlos Williams and William Faulkner as writers of the New World; postcolonial theories from the Americas (i.e. How to read Donald Duck, Enrique Dussel, Walter Mignolo); transamerican aesthetics of black expression; New World theories of racial and cultural mixture (José Vasconcelos, Edouard Glissant, Nestor García Canclini, Fernando Ortiz etc.); the "invention" of America: New World as Utopia; women's writing and feminisms; the Canadian antithesis to U.S. Americanism; and/or the many topics which class members themselves will suggest.

We will be working with two readers, one containing the two sets of core texts and another correlating in part with student projects.

509 (w/C Lit 509 & French 577)

Literary Criticism: Early Modern


TTh 11:30-1:20

"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.

510 (w/C Lit 510)

Literary Criticism: Recent & Contemporary


MW 3:30-5:20

This course is designed as a genealogy of contemporary critical theory. Marx and Nietzsche are reference points in this genealogy. Our investigation begins with formative structuralist practices-most notably Freud's speculations on sexuality and Althusser's materialist reading of ideology. Derrida and Foucault exemplify the poststructuralist turn. The practices with which these theorists are identified inform contemporary critiques of capital, (trans)nationalism, race, sexuality, gender, and class. A short list of critics we're likely to read includes: Balibar, Bhabha, Butler, Edelman, Lowe, Probyn, Spillers, and Zizek. An annotated bibliography and two short (5-6) pp. critiques are required.


Africana Literature and Identity


TTh 3:30-5:20

Satya Mohanty's recognition that the "most basic questions about identity call for a more general reexamination of the relation between personal experience and public meanings-subjective choices and evaluations, on the one hand, and objective social location, on the other" (392, in Alcoff and Mendieta) helps us, in teaching, writing and theorizing about literature, to determine paths of constructive and positive human insight as we pick our way through the various forces that shape, inform, and interpret literary expression.

This quarter we will study two literary texts each from the African American, Afro-Caribbean, and African traditions in regard to postcolonial reckonings with identity, representation, and otherness. Lewis Gordon's Existential Africana will help us think through the texts in terms of "theoretical questions raised by struggles over ideas in African cultures and their hybrid and creolized forms in Europe, North America, Central and South America, and the Caribbean." Our guiding questions are: What is the context of Africana literature? What theoretical structures and definitions do the selected texts suggest? How are questions of nation, gender, class, race, color, and agency posed and explored by the selected texts? Lastly, what are the complexities of identity in Africana postcoloniality and how do they relate to "the historical project of conquest and colonization that has emerged since 1492 and the subsequent struggles for emancipation that continue to this day."

Students are required to read Jane Eyre in preparation for the class BEFORE Spring Quarter begins.

Required Texts:
Reed, Ishmael. Mumbo Jumbo
Marshall, Paule. Praise Song for the Widow
Dangaremgba. Nervous Conditions
Achebe, Chinua. Home and Exile
Rhys, Jean, The Wide Sargasso Sea (Norton Critical Edition)
Bronte, Charlotte, Jane Eyre


American Autobiography


MW 1:30-3:20

Why do so many people read and write memoirs today? It's the well-worn culture of "me," given an expansive new currency by the infamous baby boomers who can think of nothing else; it's the desire for story killed by postmodern fiction; it's the only literary form that appears to give access to the truth; it's a democratic form, giving voice to minority experience in an antielite decade; it's a desire to assert agency and subjectivity after several decades of insisting loudly on the fragmentation of identity and the death of the author. It's voyeurism for a declining, imperial narcissism. It's the market. --Nancy K. Miller, But Enough About Me: Why We Read Other People's Lives (2002)
This seminar focuses on auto/biography, with an emphasis on both "autobiography" and "biography," in twentieth-century American culture. This America is a global America with its diasporic roots, exemplified in our texts, in England, Mexico, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, Japan, and Korea. The auto/biographical texts we will study include a multitude of forms and media, ranging from the diary, written at the turn of the twentieth century, to collective biography as represented in auto/ethnographic film in the late twentieth century.

One of the structuring methods of the course is the pairing of a literary text from the earlier part of the twentieth century with a later literary text, complemented by texts from film and video. This will provide a comparative historical dimension, showing, among other things, how the auto/biographical impulse is being accommodated today in the mediums of visual culture. A question underwriting the course is: why is auto/biography one of the privileged-or most popular-genres of our contemporary moment. Is the promise of trust-a strong feeling but an elusive concept-central here?

The first two weeks of the course will be devoted to the discussion of theoretical and critical texts about autobiography, including the important notions of the autobiographical pact (Philippe Lejeune), autobiography as de-facement (Paul de Man), and the autobiographical act (Bruss); the relation of autobiography to confession (Brooks); the gendering of autobiography (Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Leigh Gilmore); and the key difference between the western concept of autobiography and the "testimonio" (Doris Sommer). We will also read short selections of academic criticism that are autobiographical in nature (Nancy K. Miller, Carolyn Steedman, and Madelon Sprengnether, among others), considering the idea of anecdotal theory (Jane Gallop).


The Modern Girl Project


TTh 1:30-3:20

"The Modern Girl" is a figure who appeared around the world in cities from Tokyo to Berlin, Beijing to Bombay, Johannesburg to New York City in the early to mid twentieth century. Modern Girls were known by a variety of names including flappers, garçonnes, moga, modeng xiaojie, schoolgirls, vamps, and neue Frauen. What identified Modern Girls was their use of specific commodities, their sartorial style, and their explicit eroticism. They put on lipstick and whitened their teeth, smoked packaged cigarettes, bobbed their hair, paraded provocative fashions, pursued romantic love, and used birth control. In general they disregarded the roles of dutiful daughter, wife, and mother. Contemporary social scientists and members of the press and the public debated whether Modern Girls were looking for sexual, economic, and/or political emancipation. They also raised the possibility that Modern Girls were a product of clever advertising campaigns and the new commodity culture. This course will focus on developing theoretical frameworks capable of tracking gendered, raced, and commodified cultural formations such as the Modern Girl. In particular, it will examine a variety of literary, social scientific, economic, and historical texts that theorize the social role of women as consumers and shapers of consumer culture. It will consider how modern femininity has been conceived of as a consumer practice, and how consumption has emerged in modernity as a constitutively gendered, classed, and raced activity. It will also examine how consumer practices and consumer identities cross national borders, following and simultaneously producing the flow of globalizing capitalism. Students will be expected to produce original research papers at the end of the quarter that grapple with questions of race, gender, and cultures of consumption. This class will be linked to JSIS 522. In addition to the scheduled class period on Thursdays, students must be free to participate in the Modern Girl Around the World speaker series which will be convened on Fridays 2:30-4. The five speakers for the series will consider how the modern girl was produced through colonial and neo-colonial relations, the media, and multinational capitalism. Participation in an all-day workshop on June 6th will also be required.


Post-colonial Writers Out of India: Naipaul, Narayan, Rushdie


MW 9:30-11:20

V.S. Naipaul is the centerpiece for the course, based on my long-time following of his fiction and travel-writing/social-historical commentary. Born in British Trinidad, of Hindu Indian ancestry, Naipaul was recently honored as recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, while he also sparks strong critical controversy. This makes study of his reputation especially revealing of approaches in the whole field of Post-Colonial Studies. R. K. Narayan is a perhaps less known, but, when known, much-cherished early-mid 20th C. Hindu writer from South India. He is creator of the small but complete, charming but fully-laden fictional world of Malgudi. Salman Rushdie is the exuberant and excessive storyteller of the Islamic Indian diaspora, unsilenced by fundamentalist Muslim death threats, with us again out of hiding. His career and reputation carry controversy, as do Naipaul's, in Rushdie's case played out at a dramatic, personal level. I approach this 20th -21st C. Colonial-Post-Colonial material from the vantage point of a scholar and teacher more usually associated with the field of 19th C. British literature and culture, including its imperial aspect. For instance, I recently taught a seminar on Victorian Literature and India. From this perspective I would call these 3 Modern and Contemporary writers in English out of India--funny, fraught, great--heirs of Dickens and Conrad (Naipaul), Austen and Gaskell (Narayan), Dickens, Kipling, maybe Carroll and Sterne (Rushdie), as well as heirs of The Mahabharata, The Ramayana, the Qur'an, and the Arabian Nights.

550 (w/CLit 570A & Germ 590)

Narrative Theory


MW 1:30-3:20

The course will be an introduction to some of the most influential theories and theorists of the novel in the twentieth century. Topics will include realism and representation, formalism, theory of narration, Marxist approaches, and feminism and novel theory. We will read much of Michael McKeon's new anthology, "Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach." For common reference read Flaubert's "Mme Bovary" before quarter begins. We will discuss its novelistic features at the first class meeting. Each student will present a class report giving clarifying and critiquing McKeon's introduction to one theorist or group of theorists and will write a 15-page paper either undertaking a critical analysis of one theorist's writings or testing one theorist or theoretical approach on Flaubert's novel.

551(w/C Lit 571)

The Poetry of Modernism


MW 3:30-5:20

A subtitle of the seminar might very well have been "The Experimental Generation," with a double meaning to the word generation. For it refers not only to the historical placement of the poets we shall be studying, but also to the persistence of that history, the presentness of the past--T. S. Eliot's definition of the currency of tradition--its generative effect. If the poets in question are now canonical, with the tradition itself under suspicion, so it was then, in their dissidence, for some of them. Whatever their differences, however, poetry was restless and innovative, as a matter of principle, and there is very little on the scene today, surely not in literature, that is in any way similarly destabilizing, refractory, despite a rhetoric of decentering or subversion that is the promissory note, a virtual reflex, of the critique of modernism. We shall no doubt be rehearsing aspects of that critique, along with the ironic datum of the newest poetics: there is very little that poets want to do today (or possibly can do, a postmodern problem) that they haven't been able to do--despite all differences of race, class, gender, ethnicity--within the inheritance of disruptive forms invented by modernism.

Or partially inherited from French symbolism. In that regard, we shall review the still quite astonishing poetry of, say, Baudelaire and Rimbaud (in translation, but a bilingual edition) as a preface to a series of American modernists, two of whom, Eliot and Pound, were also powerful critics who formulated an aesthetic that is still being contested in theory. As for the actuality of the poetry, and its "ethos of difficulty," that still tests our understanding of "the ideology of the aesthetic." If the apparent elitism of that aesthetic was already discomfiting to William Carlos Williams, and sometimes (in the artfulness of her quirkiness) to Marianne Moore, it was nowhere more splendidly defined than in the poetry of Wallace Stevens, even when listening in the snow to the "Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is." Whatever's there, we'll be rethinking it by listening to the always demanding exactitudes of the language. Not beauty, said Williams, in his epigraph to Paterson, but "Rigor of beauty is the quest." And so it was for them all, though beauty," we've come to know, is a "transcendental signifier," ready for deconstruction. So be it. The rigor is no less compelling for that, and if there's pathos in the prospect, maybe the beauty too-if not a thing in itself, inseparable from the quest.

Requirements: a seminar presentation (written abstract to be submitted) and a prepared response to someone else's presentation; also, a final paper of about 20 pages. Other than that, with clear evidence of the reading done, participation should be a reflex.


Discourse Analysis


MW 11:30-1:20

This course is an introduction to and survey of some of the major approaches to analyzing oral and written texts. We will reflect on and practice various analytic perspectives, including conversation analysis, rhetorical analysis, genre analysis, sociolinguistics, and critical discourse analysis, all with an eye toward understanding language practices as integral to complex forms of social participation and organization--ways in which language use situates individuals within positions of articulation. In addition to introducing students to research in discourse analysis, the course will provide students with an opportunity to produce discourse analytic research.

Texts: Johnstone, Barbara: Discourse Analysis; Barton, Ellen, and Gail Stygall, eds: Discourse Studies in Composition; and Van Dijk, Teun, ed: Discourse as Social Interaction.


Practicum in TESL



ENGL 570 is a credit/no credit course in which students sharpen their understanding of the technical, interpersonal, and practical elements involved in effective ESL teaching through regular observations of ESL classes, daily ESL teaching or assistance and observation in an ESL classroom, and seminar discussion of issues and problems related to ESL teaching. The course is intended for graduate students enrolled in the Department of English MATESOL Program.


Testing & Evaluation in TESL


TTh 9:30-11:20

This course provides an overview of language testing with an emphasis on teacher-developed assessment tools. The major goals of the course are to provide practice in developing and critiquing tests; to introduce major concepts and issues in language testing; to provide experience with major standardized tests; and to familiarize students with very basic quantitative concepts.


Creative Writer as Critical Reader


MW 12:30-2:20


Advanced Fiction Workshop


MW 9:30-11:20


Advanced Poetry Workshop


TTh 11:30-1:20

Course description not available at this time.

English Graduate Studies

Graduate Study in English at the University of Washington