2013-14 Graduate Courses

Autumn 2013

Core Course: Comp Lit 593 / English 596 – Theories of the Text, Prof. Jeffrey Todd Knight, MW 9:30-11:20, MEB 102

This course surveys the most important recent thinking about “the text,” construed broadly to mean the object of literary and cultural study from physical bibliography to critical theory. Beginning with late-career calls for a “return to philology” from Paul de Man and Edward Said – the founders of American deconstruction and postcolonial theory respectively – we will look closely at the history of textual criticism and literary interpretation as they diverged in midcentury notions of “copy text” editing and the New Critical “well wrought urn.” We will then move to the epoch-making critiques of this consensus in the “socialized texts” of Jerome McGann and the “material texts” of Roger Chartier, D.F. McKenzie, and Peter Stallybrass. The second half of the course will be given over to perspectives on textual production, reception, and interpretation both canonical (reader-response theory, poststructuralist critiques of authorship, the history of the book) and newly emergent (surface reading, the descriptive turn, queer philology). Readings will include key works by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, Stanley Fish, Michel Foucault, Wolfgang Iser, Julia Kristeva, and Pierre Macherey. This course is appropriate for anyone who wishes to gain a focused introduction to literary theory and a working vocabulary in literary studies (intertextuality, paratext, author function, implied reader, etc.), as well as for those in other disciplines who wish to gain a theoretical foundation for work in media studies, information science, editing and publishing, or textual studies.

Recommended: French 594 – Letters and Literacy in Early Modern France, Prof. Geoffrey Turnovsky, MW 3:30-5:20, THO 202


Winter 2014

Recommended: English 554A – Close Reading and its Discontents, Prof. Gillian Harkins, MW 9:30-11:20, MGH 097

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.

Recommended: English 599A – Writing for Publication, Prof. Carolyn Allen, TTh 1:30-3:20, THO 217

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.

Spring 2014

Core course: Comp Lit 593B / English 593A – Seminar in Oral and Scribal Texts, Prof. Paul Remley, MW 11:30-1:20, MGH 289

An examination of the theoretical and methodological issues attending the study of texts produced in oral and manuscript cultures.

Recommended: English 531A – The Early American Republic of Letters, Prof. Juliet Shields, TTh 1:30-3:20, RAI 109

This introductory survey of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century American literature will explore the roles that print culture played in the consolidation of American identity. While some American writers embraced the disinterested pursuit of knowledge, seeking to create a literary sphere divorced from politics and personality, others aimed to develop a distinctive national literature marked both by its style and its subjects. Both of these projects, although seemingly at odds with each other, involved responding either implicitly or explicitly to works by British writers, which dominated the literary market in the American colonies and early republic. As we read a variety of texts—including autobiographies by Benjamin Franklin, Samson Occom, and Olaudah Equiano, novels by Charles Brockden Brown and Susanna Rowson, and poetry by Philip Freneau and Lydia Sigourney– we will question how eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century American writers understood the relationships between literary and political representation in their formative nation.

Recommended: Humanities 597B – Project Management for Digital Scholarship, Tyler Fox, M (April 7-28), 10:00-12:00, CMU 202

This course provides an introduction to project management, with a specific focus on digital projects. Students will engage in a variety of practical and theoretical exercises, readings, and discussion to learn the basics of project management. While we will examine different approaches to project management, the course will focus more on general concepts than any one particular style. Students will learn about core ideas and terminology, project cycles, and tasks associated with various phases of the project life span. Topics such as timelines, scheduling, budgeting, risk management, software tools, and Internet resources will be discussed.

Each week we will work on different aspects of project planning; students are highly encouraged to come with projects that they want to accomplish. We will use student projects as the focus of this course.

Students in this course will develop a project plan for digital humanities research project. Successful completion of this plan is required to receive credit.