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

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Nature and Commercial Culture - Enlightenment/Romantic/Victorian


TTh 11:30-1:20

It can be said that late-18th and 19th 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 buildup of the late 18th C. We consider further developments in political economy in this period through a report on Thomas Malthus' 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 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 cities. Following a report on Carlyle's "Captains of Industry" comes Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. This sets off the north of industry, commerce, and city from the south of the country, and we also look at the gendering of this difference. We consider selections from Charles Darwin's Origin of Species and Darwin's debt to Malthus for the germ of "natural selection." Ideas of nature and economics converge. We see different responses of disquiet in Alfred Tennyson's "In Memoriam" (selections), John Ruskin's "The Nature of Gothic" (by report), short poems by Matthew Arnold and selections from Culture and Anarchy. The course culminates with Our Mutual Friend, Dickens' great novel of the city as nature, a place of pollution and recycling, predation and mutuality, destruction, production, and creation. If 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' 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. These, too, are typically 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 field; as opportunity for field consolidation for those with a primary interest.

Requirements: On-going seminar contribution, including a report or historical brief and leading discussion (25%); response paper on a single text or set of short texts (7-8 pp.) (25 %); longer paper building on the shorter one, more synthesizing and treating at least 2 authors (10-12 pp.) (50%).


Critical Conversations in Literary Studies


MW 1:30-3:20

How might the thinking about literary and cultural texts and sites you're doing enter larger "critical conversations"? This course is not a survey of contemporary theory, but we will read some work in cultural and literary thought and consider what it might mean to think about literature and culture in theoretical ways. We will also take up more pragmatic issues of writing and publishing scholarly essays, and read widely in current journals to see what kinds of conversations are happening at the moment. The course is designed for students new or nearly new to contemporary theory who wish to know more about widening the contexts for their own literary and cultural interests. Here are some (random) current terms making their way through the halls of Padelford and elsewhere: trans-many things, Things, space, national memory, the everyday, affect, surveillance, consumerism, the state, psychic life. How do they function in our professional discourses, OR what's it all about, anyway? The course can't quite answer that question, but it will try to delineate some conversations so that those beginning to think through their professional interests can start to speak.


Literary Criticism: Medieval & Renaissance


MW 11:30-1:20

This class will survey major theoretical positions taken towards literature in the western tradition from medieval times through the Enlightenment. Typically less studied than their classical antecedents or their romantic followers, the figures we'll read in this class fought battles again and again to clear space for imaginative fictions. First appropriating, then attacking, then defending earlier arguments about the cultural role of literary "making," these texts provide both links to our distant past, and the theoretical settings for our disputatious present. We will be reading at least a dozen different figures; chief among them will be Augustine, Sidney, Spenser, Boileau, Burke and Hume.

Some of you will have taken English 507; that's obviously a good thing. If you haven't, however, don't worry. Though nothing we read in this course will make full sense without your knowing something about Aristotle, Plato and Horace, we'll spend our first sessions reviewing (viewing?!) the Poetics, the Ion, parts of the Republic, and the Art of Poetry. If you don't already know those texts, you might take an early look at them (they are all in Adams) before the quarter begins.

Finally, this class will also ask you to think about teaching texts like this to undergraduates. What do students typically find difficult in these texts? What strategies can help them see how powerfully these texts have affected the world they live in? Who are the authors you'd absolutely have to include in such a course, and how many would they be? In most undergraduate teaching, "less" truly is "more"; but what exactly is "less" here? And how can we be sure it's "more"? In short, we'll be talking about the difficulties new readers have with complex theoretical texts, and about how best to develop approaches that will make their learning both deep and enjoyable.

Should you wish to talk more about the course, please contact me by phone or email:
(206) 543-6203, or

TEXTS: Adams, Critical Theory Since Plato, International Thomson Publishing; ASIN: 0155161423 (paper) OR Heinle & Heinle Pub ISBN: 0155161431 (hardcover).
Augustine, On Christian Doctrine. Library of Liberal Arts, Prentice Hall College Div; ISBN: 0024021504. Course Packet.


Advanced Reading in Old English: Beowulf


M-F 9:30-10:20

This course will be an introduction to the study of Beowulf, a long and splendid poem. Scheduled for one-hour daily meetings. Most days for nine weeks will be devoted to reading and translating the text, with at least one day each week devoted to some of the principal areas essential to the study of Old English poetry: historical backgrounds, meter, syntax, textual problems, dating, tectonics, and the like.


A Digital Edition of Piers Plowman A


TTh 1:30-3:20

The seminar will take up major textual and critical difficulties in Piers Plowman by means of careful reading and examination of its shortest version, the A Text. Our main focus for the seminar will be the production of a revised, electronic version of the edition of Piers A published in 1952 by Thomas A. Knott and David C. Fowler (Johns Hopkins University Press). This edition, designed to introduce the work to readers coming to the poem for the first or second time, has been out of print for a number of years and has not been superseded any more recent editions.

Collaboratively working to prepare an updated, hypertext version of this useful edition, we will examine a number of textual, pedagogical, linguistic, historical, and literary issues as we work to produce the text, introductory materials, textual and explanatory notes, glossary, and other components for a student edition of this fascinating work.

We will use the seminar to provide occasions for individuals to investigate and report on the developing world of digital editions, on Internet sites (like the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive), on the photographic reproductions of A Text manuscripts (in the David Fowler archives in Suzzallo/Allen Library), and on other pertinent matters. We will then incorporate what we learn from those investigations as we refine the format and presentation of the edition.


Romantic Aesthetics: The Beautiful, the Picturesque & the Sublime (w/Comp Lit 548)


MW 3:30-5:20

18th- and 19-century England witnessed the unprecedented popularity of the aesthetics of the sublime in its two primary incarnations, the Longinian and the Burkean sublime, as well as the emergence of the counter-aesthetics of the picturesque which introduced the following important changes in sensibility and cultural practices: 1) an investment in the contemplation of landscape as a complex and meaningful activity requiring expertise in art, especially Dutch and Roman landscape painters; 2) a preference for nature in its rough, varied and intricate forms that led to a change in British garden design from the formal garden to natural-looking extensive gardens that imitated the look of a wild, uncultivated stretch of land; 3) the preference for Gothic over Greco-Roman architecture and for landscape painting over the traditional genres of historical and portrait painting; 4) the paradoxical denial and assertion of the equivalence between landscape and property; and 5) the obsession with ruins and dispossessed people, such as gypsies, beggars and rural workers, who are represented as figures of narcissistic self-sufficiency. In this course we will be especially interested in studying the interaction between the aesthetics of the sublime, with its focus on transcendence, the monumental, the terrifying and the heroic, and the aesthetics of the picturesque, with its preference for aged over young people, and destitutes over heroes. These features of the picturesque are expressive of the fear of monumentality, of violence and of sacrifice in this period of vast political and social upheaval (The French Revolution) and economic change (the agrarian revolution which changed the face of the English countryside). We will explore the political implications of various aesthetic theories, wondering, for example, why Richard Payne Knight ends a work advocating the new ethos of the picturesque in landscape gardening with a defence against the charge that his "system of rural embellishment resembles the Democratic tyranny of France."

Readings for the course include selections from treatises on the picturesque (by William Gilpin, Uvedale Price, and Richard Payne Knight) and on the sublime (Longinus, Edmund Burke, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, and Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel), as well as representative works by British Romantic writers (Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and William Wordsworth). We will devote approximately two weeks to slide presentations of landscape paintings representing the 17 through the 19th century Dutch, Italian, German and English traditions, and will close with a brief look at the post-modern sublime, with readings from Slavoj Zizek, Philippe Lacou-Labarthe and Jean-Francois Lyotard.


19th Century African-American Literature


MW 3:30-5:20

This seminar converges at three critical points on the continuum of African American literary study: chattel slavery in the US before and after Reconstruction, literacy and learning issues for 19th- and 20th-century African Americans, and spoken and written forms of black (vernacular) discourses. The principal questions of the course ask: What was slavery as it was represented and reconstructed by black persons who experienced it? Was it possible for (ex-)slaves ever, in William Andrews' phrase, "to tell a free story"? Can their descendants yet? Who is the author of a dictated slave narrative? What were the rhetorical situations of enslaved people who dictated narratives to amanuenses whose social locations often differed from their own in terms of race, gender, and caste? What complexities of race, gender, power, and rhetoric emerge in the study of dictated slave narratives? What interconnections existed, and which persist, between race/color, wealth, rhetoric, dominance, and literacy? The primacy of the trope of slaves' quest for literacy notwithstanding, were there divergent attitudes among enslaved peoples about English language acquisition and proficiency, about education (aka edumacation) and "book learning," about the (white, elite) academy? To address these questions we will read dictated and self-authored slave narratives, social and political history, racial identity formation theory, and theories of epistemology and pedagogy. Texts will include The Confessions of Nat Turner, Behind the Scenes, Remembering Slavery, Jim Crow's Children: The Broken Promise of the Brown Decision, and Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?


Trauma and Testimony


TTh 11:30-1:20

In 1992 Shoshana Felman declared the twentieth-century to be a "post-traumatic century," one in which previously unthinkable "historical catastrophes" fundamentally changed the relationship between narrative and history. According to Felman and other theorists of trauma, the present is marked by a catastrophic sense of its own loss, resulting in a type of historical bereavement best understood as "trauma" and best represented in the vanguard aesthetic form "testimony." In this course we will evaluate such claims about the rise of traumatic testimony as the formal expression of an era, asking how diverse political, economic, and social discourses of violence are translated in the language of trauma. In particular, we will ask how implicit assumptions about the nation shape such allegedly non-national or global accounts of trauma and testimony. What is the relationship between traumatic testimony and nationalist history? In what ways is testimony specific to a historical, geographic, or economic moment? How do counter-discourses of violence and modernity, such as those offered by post-colonial, anti-racist, or queer studies, transform such a notion of trauma and testimony? This seminar will provide an introduction to a theoretical field as well as specific readings in testimonial literature of the late twentieth century United States. Student research papers can focus in any geographic or historical area.


Postmodern Fiction: A Symposium


TTh 4:30-6:20

This class assesses the historical, pedagogical, economic, and aesthetic meaning and value of the vexed literary category "postmodern fiction." We will begin with Samuel Beckett's Molloy. Afterwards, we will be reading three novels--A.S. Byatt's Possession, Samuel Delany's Dhalgren, and Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow --in tandem with three of the most influential 1980s critics of postmodern fiction--Fredric Jameson, Brian McHale, and Linda Hutcheon. There will also be short, ancillary reading by such figures as Perry Anderson, David Antin, Terry Eagleton, Suzi Gablik, Ihab Hassan, and Francois Lyotard.


Allegory (w/CLit 502)


TTh 11:30-1:20

Allegory: from the Greek allęgoria (f. allos, other, + agoreuein, to speak in the assembly). Originally, the term referred to the practice of speaking publicly with a private meaning-an inherently political act. Rhetorical handbooks from antiquity onwards tell us that it refers, more generally, to the practice of saying one thing and meaning another. This course will offer an introduction to the theory and practice of allegory from antiquity to the present, with a focus on the transformations in its conception.

Issues to be considered include the origins of allegorical theory in philosophical commentary and Biblical hermeneutics; the application of scriptural interpretive techniques to secular literature and the development of allegorical poetics; the Enlightenment definition of allegory as a literary genre, with the consequent (and continuing) debate about whether Paradise Lost is or contains allegory; and the (supposed) Romantic reaction against allegory (esp. as manifested in the opposition of allegory to the symbol), which has conditioned most subsequent theorizing on the topic, including attempts to distinguish allegory from irony. A persistent theme will be the difficulty of accounting adequately for allegorical practice, whether interpretive or compositional, either rhetorically or generically. We might conclude by looking at allegory in film or television, and consider whether it's still a viable mode of expression.

Readings will include Porphyry, On the Cave of the Nymphs; Augustine, selections from On Christian Teaching; Dante, "Epistle to Can Grande" and selections from The Divine Comedy; Spenser, "Letter to Raleigh" and selections from The Faerie Queene; selections from eighteenth-century critics, including Lord Kames and Samuel Johnson; selections from Romantic critics, including Coleridge and A.W. Schlegel; selections from twentieth-century (and twenty-first century) critics, including Walter Benjamin, Paul de Man, Hazard Adams, Stanley Fish, Gordon Teskey, and Catherine Gemelli Martin. Our point of departure will be Swift's first and greatest satire, A Tale of a Tub, which applies an elaborate external allegorical commentary to its own transparently allegorical narrative.

Swift, A Tale of a Tub (Oxford World's Classics, 1986)
Spenser, The Faerie Queene (Penguin, 1988; or any other edition that includes the "Letter to Raleigh," the best being A.C. Hamilton's heavily annotated but expensive Longman edition, 1977, revised 2001).
Milton, Paradise Lost (any edition)
The remaining texts will be made available online or in photocopy.


Cultural Studies: Passing, Policing and the Economy of Sex (w/CL 535)


TTh 1:30-3:20

The African-American who crosses or resides on the color line, the woman who works and lives as a man, the homosexual who seems to be heterosexual, the "born criminal" whose character cannot be read, the "low born" mimic of the "well-bred," the person who is transgendered, and the alien who plays at being a "true American" make up a family of passing figures. Each of them was familiar to late 19th and early 20th century American audiences, and their descendants are with us yet.

This seminar is about passing--primarily as a different race, class, sexuality, or gender. It is equally about individual and national anxieties which reports of passing and related practices of surveillance beget. One set of practices cites cultural minorities as sources of criminality, disorder, degeneracy and/or deviance; a second examines bodies, gestures, tastes, etc. for signs that differentiate "them" from "us"; a third pinpoints sexuality as the locus of (moral) health and disease; a fourth policing practice transmits the message that corporeal differences are slippery and difficult for untrained eyes to detect, warning that an unremarkable appearance may disguise an "abnormal" appetite, "degenerate" character or "deadly" threat. Accordingly, this seminar is equally about ongoing efforts to teach mainstream Americans how to read. No doubt, the aim of this reading project is to render human differences visible, to manage (i.e., discipline, subjugate, or otherwise control) cultural "others" and thus to assure "normal" Americans they are safe and the reproduction of their kin(d) is assured. Nonetheless, because alterity may not be apparent, and because passing renders every identity uncertain, the very act of reading potentially triggers a more intimate form of anxiety, raising the question: am I really the character I seem? Our study of passing figures and policing strategies draws on a range of cultural practices (e.g., fiction, law, bioscience, sexology, criminology, sociology, film, and other popular media) some of which are frankly regulatory, whereas others challenge the normative. and other popular media. The investigation focuses on three historical moments (i.e., late-19th and early 20th century, the cold war, and the present); and it aims to identify continuities and departures in the production and policing of normal and deviant Americans.

Texts will include: Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson; Nella Larsen, Passing, and a large course packet.


Current Rhetorical Theory


MW 11:30-1:20

We will work through key terms and polarities that position rhetoric as a field of inquiry (e.g. certain/probable, thinking/doing, reason/emotion, content/expression, words/images). One focal question will be how rhetorical theory can be extended to serve as a rhetoric of electronic text (visual rhetoric, rhetoric of hypertext).

Written work will be on paper (unless the writer chooses to go electronic) and will involve critically analyzing some of the issues and positions on these points, ultimately taking one's own position.

*Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, The New Rhetoric, University of Notre Dame Press, 1969
* Cynthia Selfe and Gail Hawisher, Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Technologies, NCTE/Utah State University Press, 1999.


The Ethnographic Study of Spoken and Written Discourse


MW 1:30-3:20

The purpose of this course is to explore the ways in which ethnography has been used to do research on and problematize our notions of orality and literacy. After we review several articles describing the key issues that have led to the reconceptualization of the relationship between orality and literacy as autonomous, continuous, and dialectical entities, we will engage in an extended discussion of their reformulation by The New London Group as multiliteracies and The New Literacy Studies Group as situated practices. After that, we will examine several articles that describe the methodology used in and the theory that informs current ethnographic research. During the second half of the quarter, we will read Guerra's Close to Home (1998) and Cushman's The Struggle and the Tools (1998), two recent ethnographic studies that investigate the uses of oral and written language among Mexican immigrants and African Americans, respectively. In addition to keeping a research journal and writing a midterm essay, each student will develop a final paper based on a pilot study that examines some aspect of spoken and/or written discourse in an area of personal interest.


Practicum in TESL



English 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. No required texts. Open only to MAT(ESL) students.


Methods and Materials in TESL


MW 9:30-11:20

This course will explore the role of English language teachers in a 'Post-Methodological Era'. The focus will be on examining the most salient aspects of language learner behavior and determining a local pedagogy for different learning environments. The course will include an historical overview of language teaching methodologies and there will also be a strong emphasis on how to manage learning processes, including selecting, adapting and creating pedagogical materials. The course motto will be "The Subordination of Teaching to Learning."


Research in Second Language Acquisition


TTh 10:30-12:20

This course is intended to improve your understanding of the research process, to familiarize you with recent research in second language acquisition, and to provide basic, practical skills in designing, carrying out, and reporting on a research project. The course will focus on a variety of research models, including survey research, interaction analysis, case study, experimental research, and ethnography. The main work of the quarter involves conducting an original research project. In addition, you will read and critique selected research in second language acquisition.


Advanced Fiction Workshop




Advanced Poetry Workshop


TTh 11:30-1:20

Caveat: English 586 this winter term will be taught as a "Forms Workshop." I plan to review the elements of poetic form, including and particularly the technics of meter. The class will involve lecture, assigned problems, student experiments and presentations, and open workshop construed as a laboratory for the testing of our thoughts. The objectives are 1: by exercise to equip participants with some technical tools, and 2: through conversation to encourage the development of a general account of these mysteries, with consideration of their practical relevance for a journeyman writer.


Textual Studies: Printed Texts (w/Hum 522A and C Lit 596C)


MW 11:30-1:20

One of the four required core courses in the Graduate Textual Studies Program, this seminar offers an introduction to bibliographical resources for the study of printing as an art and as a means of textual transmission, as well as a practical view of hand and machine press printing; and introductory surveys of such topics as analytical and descriptive bibliography; the transmission of texts, the history of the book and book production, and current textual theories. The seminar also provides practical experience in editing printed texts. There are no prerequisite courses. We begin at the beginning. Guest sessions will be conducted by Sandra Kroupa (UW Rare Books), Faye Christenberry (UW Library), John De Nure (Curator, Thorniley Collection of Printing Presses and Type), Tom Lockwood (UW editor, Fielding's plays), Dick Dunn (UW editor, Bronte's Wuthering Heights), and Peter Shillingsburg (U North Texas theorist and practitioner, printed and electronic texts).


Independent Study: The Structure of the Lyric: a micro-seminar with Helen Vendler

Jan 13, 14, 15, 17 2:00-4:00

In conjunction with her visit to Seattle to deliver the Solomon Katz Lecture in the Humanities, distinguished critic Helen Vendler will conduct a micro-seminar. The course will include the discussion of essays by poets (including Wordsworth, Eliot, Keats & Heany) and of poems with complex or invisible structures. Work for the course is limited to readings and discussion. A reading packet for the course will be available in Padelford A101 during the first week of winter quarter. Two credits of English 600 (CR/NC) are available for Graduates participating in this class. Permission forms for graduate students are available in A105 Padelford. Undergraduate students should enroll in English 499 in undergrad advising, A2B Padelford.

Helen Vendler is currently a University Professor at Harvard University, where she has taught since 1980. Professor Vendler has published 8 volumes of reviews and essays, including books on the poetry of Wallace Stevens, George Herbert, John Keats, Williams Shakespeare, and Seamus Heany, as well as a textbook. She has edited the Harvard Book of Contemporary American Poetry, and from 1968 has written on contemporary poetry for The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. She has received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies, as well as honorary degrees from ten universities in the United States and seven universities abroad.

English Graduate Studies

Graduate Study in English at the University of Washington