Course Offerings for Spring 2014If you don't see a description for the course you are interested in, contact the instructor for more information. We try to keep this information about English department course offerings as accurate, timely, and complete as possible. However, schedules may change, and students are advised to consult the Banner schedule as the most authoritative source for scheduling information.
203 • Writing in Birmingham • MWF 11:15 am-12:05 pm • WellsIn this course, students will use the city of Birmingham as the subject and audience for writing. Course projects ask students to engage with the community as researchers, writers, and citizens. These projects include a service-learning unit that will provide students the opportunity to interact with young writers in our community and to write about service experiences for real audiences. Students will gain experience with academic, professional, and public kinds of writing.
214 • Literature and Empathy (Service Learning) • MWF 9:05-9:55 am • EllisOne good reason to study literature is that it can encourage empathy for others and expose us to different modes of perception and experience. In this course, we will each be assigned to a “buddy” who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and we will visit with our buddies over the course of the semester. As we learn techniques for empathetic communication through the Memory Bridge program (http://www.memorybridge.org), and we will also read, interpret, and write about literature that explores various themes that are relevant to our journey: memory, the body, illness, aging, narrative, consciousness, and empathy itself. Texts to be studied may include: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Life of Pi, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” The Death of Ivan Ilyich, King Lear, Death of a Salesman, “Sonny’s Blues,” selections from Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, Illness as Metaphor, Tinkers
301 • Reading, Writing, and Research • TTh 11:00 am-12:15 pm • SiegelIn this course you’ll learn the essential elements of literary scholarship, including research methods, interpretive strategies, critical theory, and the conventions of literary essays. The course aims to broaden your understanding of English as an academic discipline and to give you tools that you’ll be able to apply to your future coursework in English.
301• Reading, Writing, and Research • TTh 5:00-6:15 pm • BellisThis class is designed to introduce you to the tools and techniques of literary analysis and research, to help you prepare for more advanced work in English. As the title suggests, the course has several objectives: 1) we’ll discuss various literary terms and concepts, along with a sampling of literary theories that can inform and enrich your reading; 2) we’ll work on the processes and requirements of academic writing, with a particular focus on argument and structure; and 3) we’ll look at effective ways of conducting research and documenting it appropriately. Texts may include
- Ross Murfin and Supryia Ray, The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms (3rd Ed.)
- Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction
- Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Graff and Phelan, eds., 2nd. Ed.)
- Robert Frost, A Boy’s Will and North of Boston (in paperback or on Blackboard)
- Plus readings posted on Blackboard or at Sterne Library reserves
305/306 • Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop • TTh 12:30-1:45 pm • VinesEH 305 is a poetry writing workshop that emphasizes reading, writing, and critiquing poetry. Throughout the semester, we will explore the fundamental elements of poetry and closely examine poetry by writers with various styles and sensibilities. Our discussions will employ the types of vocabulary and considerations specific to poetry and poetry criticism. These discussions should help you to articulate your impressions and criticisms--a facility you'll need for workshopping the poems of your peers and for writing critical responses and original poetry. Required Texts
- Chad Davidson and Gregory Fraser, Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches
- Three to four contemporary poetry collections
307/308 • Beginning Creative Nonfiction Workshop • TTh 9:30-10:45 am • MaddenThis is an introductory course in the writing of creative nonfiction. We'll be exploring all possibilities of the genre. Our objective will be to grasp the techniques and the issues of craft and put them into practice in the writing of our own creative nonfiction. We’ll spend a certain amount of class time in every workshop writing as well as discussing different voices in creative nonfiction through Dinty W. Moore's book, THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER and CRAFTING THE PERSONAL ESSAY. Workshop discussions of student-written essays will be a major part of the workshop as well the necessary revisions to shape stories with an eye toward eventual submission and publication. Our objective will be to grasp the techniques and issues of craft and to practice them in writing creative nonfiction. We’ll be doing “free writes” in the workshop to spark ideas for the different forms of creative nonfiction including memoir, personal essay, and literary journalism. We’ll focus on techniques, writing in scene, forms, ethics in researching, interviewing, reporting, and writing about place with a special emphasis on voice in creative nonfiction. Our workshop will consist of combination of writing warm-ups, lecture, and workshop.
309/310 • Beginning Fiction Workshop • TTh 2:00-3:15 pm • MaddenThis beginning fiction workshop is designed for students to write and revise flash fiction and short stories and give thoughtful and constructive feedback to other members of the workshop. We will be discussing story beginnings of “want, obstacle, and action,” point of view, writing believable characters, plot, conflict, scene vs. narrative, language, setting, narrative voice, and outlining as well as many other aspects of fiction. Ellen Slezak (LAST YEAR’S JESUS, ALL THESE GIRLS) writes: “Fiction writing resists a timetable. Any given novel may take months or years to write. Another equally accomplished novel may come to its full potential in a rush. But the structure and demands of a writing workshop can help us to begin and end.” In addition, critical reading of work-in-progress is a learned skill and this will be a major part of the workshop. Each student will also select a published author to present and discuss that particular author's contributions to literature. The workshop will culminate in a literary salon open to the public for students to share work generated in the workshop. Our text is ON WRITING SHORT STORIES, edited by Tom Bailey.
324 • Special Topics in African American Literature: Introduction to Black Studies: Critical Race Discourse from Slavery to Obama • MWF 1:25-2:15 pm • DanielsThis course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the field of Black Studies, with special attention to critical race discourse, as it has been shaped by slavery, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement, and the presidency of Barack Obama. Foregrounding these major events as the key epochs that delineate the African American experience, this course charts the evolution of black racial thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including literature, film, music, history, politics, and visual art. The first part of the course explores antebellum struggles for rights and representation, black activism during the Age of Jim Crow, and the critical debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. The second half examines the Black Power Movement and the origins of Black Studies as a discipline, while also assessing current controversies in the field in the way of queerness and attacks from the political right. The final section focuses on Critical Race Theory, Black Political Thought, and Postracialism.
- Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)
- Course Reader
Books on Reserve
- Carla Peterson, Doers of the Word: African American Women Speakers and Writers in the North, 1830-1880 (1995)
- Regular, punctual attendance at and participation in class
- Complete all assigned readings
- 2 short papers (3-4 pgs.)
- Final paper (10 pgs.)
Grading PolicyYour final grade will be calculated as follows:
- Attendance & participation 10%
- Short papers 45%
- Final paper 45%
325 • Special Topics: Literature of the Protestant Reformation • MWF 9:05-9:55 am • ChapmanIn this course, we will look at the various ways in which the Reformation—England’s transition from being a Catholic country to a Protestant one—affected the literature of the period. In order to get a good handle on the nature of late-medieval belief, we will begin in the Middle Ages with works like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and The Book of Margery Kempe. We will also look at pre-Reformation theological writings and social practices such as pilgrimage. From this foundation we will study the main historical events that drove the Reformation in England (including Henry VIII’s divorce and the execution of Sir Thomas More). We will also look briefly at the writings of Protestant theologians like Luther and Calvin and Catholic writers of the Counter-Reformation like Ignatius of Loyola. Then we will turn to study of literary works of the English Reformation, like Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and Donne’s Holy Sonnets. Our discussions will focus on how these writers and others are wrestling with the seismic changes in England’s centuries-old belief system. Requirements for this class may include two short papers, a historical presentation, and two reading tests. This course satisfies the requirement for pre-1700 literature.
327 • Special Topics: Modern American Drama's Greatest Hits • TTh 9:30–10:45 am • HutchingsThis course will explore the variety and richness of American Drama throughout the 20th century—with a focus on controversies about theatrical content and major innovations in both the form and content of works written for the American stage. The plays to be studied will be:
- Eugene O'Neill, Desire Under the Elms and Long Day's Journey into Night.
- Lillian Hellman, The Little Foxes.
- Mae West, Sex and The Drag (In Three Plays by Mae West, ed. Lillian Schlissel).
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire.
- Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman.
- August Wilson, Fences.
- Edward Albee, A Delicate Balance.
- David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly.
- Paula Vogel, How I Learned to Drive.
- Tony Kushner, Angels in America: Part 1.
356 • Semantics• MWF 10:10-11:00 am • BasilicoMeaning in language with reference to questions of synonymy, ambiguity, and language use.
366 • African American Literature II: 1954 to Present • TTh 9:30-10:45 am • DunbarThis course will examine the significance of the African American literary tradition in shaping both the identities and the histories of people of African descent in the United States. The writers featured in this course spans such periods as the literature of post WWII or the “indignant generation”; The Black Arts Movement of the 1960s’ and contemporary African American fiction which is defined by what some scholars term a Renaissance in fiction by African American women. Throughout the course we will focus upon the historical and cultural contexts that shape the artistic development of African American writers as well as the manner in which they experiment with forms of writing. The purpose of the course is not only to serve as an introduction to the literature of major writers within the African American literary tradition and the eras which in part defined them, but, equally as important, to provide the skills and background that will enable you to identify and examine the most salient themes, forms and patterns that define their writing. Together these themes, forms and patterns constitute a shared symbolic geography from which emerges the dynamic and evolving tradition of African American literature.
403/503 • Business Writing • TTh 3:30-4:45 pm • RyanThis course introduces students to strategies for becoming superb communicators in the workplace. Students learn how to write clearly, efficiently, and persuasively by
- mastering problem-solving skills
- identifying and targeting appropriate audiences
- using effective business resources for strengthening messages
- experimenting with traditional and new media genres
- crafting personal as well as organizational identities, images, and brands
- practicing and perfecting communication styles that suit a range of workplace settings
407/408/507/508 • Creative Non-Fiction Writing Workshop • Th 5:00-7:30 pm • MaddenThis is an advanced course in the writing of creative nonfiction. Our objective will be to further grasp the techniques and the issues of our craft and put them into practice in the writing of our own creative nonfiction through memoir, essay, and literary journalism. We’ll spend a certain amount of class time in every workshop writing as well as discussing different voices in creative nonfiction through the texts TELL IT SLANT (Brenda Miller and Susan Paola) and YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP (Lee Gutkind). From David Foster Wallace to Joan Didion to John Jeremiah Sullivan to Alexandra Fuller to Dani Shapiro to Emily Rapp, we will be reading a range of both memoir and essay. Weekly workshop discussions of student-written work will be a major part of the workshop as well the necessary revisions to shape stories with an eye toward eventual submission and publication. Flannery O'Connor wrote, "Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days." With the words of O'Connor in mind, this seminar will focus on finding voice in our own personal narratives and discovering place as character and how a strong sense of setting breathes both life and voice into creative nonfiction. We will also be exploring memoir, immersion journalism, and the lyric essay. This seminar will be a combination of lecture, discussion, and writing prompts.
409/410/509/510 • Fiction Writing Workshop • M 5:00-7:30 pm • BrazielIntermediate work in prose fiction through critique of student writing.
424/545 • Special Topics in African American Literature: Black, White, and Red All Over: Cultural and Literary Exchanges Between African Americans and Russians • TTh 2:00-3:15 pm • DunbarIn his monograph, Russia and the Negro, Allison Blakely argues that before 1917 “blacks found tsarist Russia land of opportunity where they could not only survive, but could attain high social position" while "Soviet society has not proven to be a panacea for the Negro” due to the differential between the ideal of socialism and the reality of scarcity. In this course we will explore the forces that brought these seemingly disparate cultures to a point of mutual attraction and mis/understanding. Serving as an introduction to literary and cultural exchanges between African American and Russian peoples from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, the course will consider issues of gender, race, class, and economics while analyzing Russia’s Utopic promise to African American communities and the centrality of black America to the advancement of Russia’s communist agenda in the United States. Ultimately, we will consider the veracity Allison Blakely’s thesis through the writings of such authors as Nancy Prince, Claude McKay, Dorothy West, Langston Hughes, Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Dostoevsky.
427 • Special Topics: Three Tough Texts: Ulysses, The Waste Land, & The Sound and the Fury • TuTh 12:30-1:45pm • Quinlan (crosslisted with HON 317)James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in 1922, is the Ur-text of all modern literature. The novel employs an extraordinary number of innovative techniques—most notably stream of consciousness—as it follows the doings, thoughts, and anxieties of its two main characters during a single day of their lives in Dublin in 1904. At the same time, Ulysses is the most human document ever composed, one that explores every dimension of our lives from defecation to exaltation. American, but London-based, T. S. Eliot published his dense, difficult, disturbing (post World War I) The Waste Land, one of the most frequently quoted poems of the 20th century, also in 1922. Eliot’s work was significantly based on Ulysses, a text with which he was very familiar as sections of Joyce’s novel had appeared earlier in literary journals. He considered himself to be using what he called Joyce’s “mythical method”—adapting ancient myth to structure the chaos of the present—and, even though Eliot was mistaken in his assessment of Joyce’s intentions, the parallels are noteworthy. William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, the inheritor of Joyce’s techniques and Eliot’s somber mood, came out in 1929 and is generally accepted as the most important, and difficult, work of fiction in the modern American canon.
Required Readings and Other Course Material
- James Joyce, Ulysses
- T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land (in a facsimile edition of the original pre-edited poem)
- William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
- (and various critical essay handouts/edocuments)
- Individual student class presentation
- Two text-interpretation short essay exams
- 12-page research paper that explores issues related to the course.
430/592 • Writing and Emerging Communication Contexts • TTh 12:30-1:45 pm • BachaIn this course, students write about and write for a multitude of communication media. Beginning with the shift from print to digital publication practices, students will analyze how the act of text production has changed and they will learn rhetorical strategies necessary to write in emerging communication contexts. Specifically, students will explore how newer trends in communication, like social networking and mobile devices, are influencing how people read, write, and transmit texts. Additionally, the course will introduce students to a variety of communication technologies designed to help them participate in those contexts.
431/531 • Special Topics in Film: Film and Narrative • T 5:00-7:30 pm • SiegelThis course will explore the ways in which movies tell stories. From the basic functions of editing, shot composition, and cinematography, to the psychological effects of the film image, to the political dimensions of narrative form, we’ll learn to read film with the same kind of attention that we bring to complex works of literature. The movies we’ll study will be diverse, some very old and some very new, drawn from a wide array of genres and world cinemas. Every week students will view films and read essays outside of class; they will write one scene analysis, two formal essays, and a final exam. You are welcome and encouraged to take the course even if you’ve never studied film before! This class will help you learn to understand movies as works of art and to appreciate the nuances of visual storytelling. The “homework” of this class will consist of out-of-class group screenings of the films, to take place on Monday or Thursday evening (you can pick which evening works best). If you cannot attend either screening, it may be possible to make an alternative arrangement in consultation with the professor.
445/545 • Special Topics in African American Literature: Black Literary Realism • W 5:00-7:30 pm • DanielsIn his 1853 novel, Clotel or, The President’s Daughter, William Wells Brown—the African American abolitionist, orator, and playwright—proclaimed that black life constituted a “truth stranger than fiction.” What Brown meant was that the horrors of slavery were beyond imagination and that no purely factual account could articulate the injustices of bondage. This course revisits this argument from the vantage point of the postbellum era, focusing on African American authors’ merger of mimetic and ostensibly “more literary” genres, such the adventure narrative, the gothic novel, sentimentalism, and fantasy. Examining the various narrative strategies by which writers as diverse as Brown, W.D. Howells, Pauline E. Hopkins, George Schuyler, Richard Wright, and Ann Petry, represented tragedies such as passing, poverty, and racial violence—within the imaginative space of the novel—this class charts the rise and development of black literary realism. Some of the questions that this course will address include: How did African American authors define the “real”? How did the issue of race destabilize traditional generic boundaries and categories? And how did African American writers adapt, shape, and/or transform the cultural and literary discourses surrounding realism, as it was defined by white authors like Howells, Henry James, and Hamlin Garland?
- William Dean Howells, An Imperative Duty (1892)
- Pauline E. Hopkins, Of One Blood; or, The Hidden Self (1902-03)
- George Schuyler, Black No More (1931)
- Richard Wright, Native Son (1940)
- Ann Petry, The Street (1946)
- Electronic copies of critical essays available for download
- Regular, punctual attendance at and participation in class.
- Complete all assigned readings.
- 2 Short Analytical Papers (3-4 pgs. each).
- Final Paper (10 pgs.)
Grading PolicyYour final grade will be calculated as follows:
- Attendance & participation 10%
- Analytical Papers (3-4 pgs.) 45%
- Final Paper (10 pgs.) 45%
450/550 • Advanced Grammar • MWF 9:05-9:55 am • BasilicoPresent-day English grammar.
456/556 • Visual Rhetoric • TTh 2:00-3:15 pm • BachaThis course offers intensive studies in the rhetorical characteristics of image communication, especially as it intersects with verbal communication. Students in this course will learn strategies for incorporating persuasive images into verbal texts, thus enhancing the overall impact of any document.
460/560 • American Women Writers Before 1900 • MWF 11:15 am-12:05 pm • G. TempleAmerican Women Writers Before 1900 is an upper-level survey course that focuses on writers and literary works not typically covered in other American literature courses. We will focus in part on the political, social, and historical contexts in which these texts appeared, as well as the current critical contexts in which they are now considered. The authors we will study come from a range of backgrounds that result in a wide variety of representative American identities and experiences—African-American freewoman, Western white pioneer, Chinese-British immigrant, educated white woman from Maine —and their texts are equally generically various—Indian conversion narratives, female “Robinsoniads,” domestic/sentimental fiction, regionalist sketch, etc. While some of the writers may currently receive attention in other American literature courses, many of them do not. I therefore hope to introduce you to both writers and genres you may not have encountered before and encourage you to continue to explore what other texts are waiting to be read and discussed that fall beyond our always necessary, but always necessarily limited canonical categories. Course requirements will include response essays, midterm and final exams, and a final term paper.
464/564 • American Literature, 1915-45 • MWF 9:05-9:55 am • Quinlan“Make it New!” was the mantra of American literary culture at the beginning of the 20th century. Following a conflict in social and religious outlooks between the older and younger generations—compellingly depicted in Willa Cather’s My Antonia and Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night--the era presented a startling degree of experimentation in all of the arts. This experimentation was intertwined with other innovations of the age—cars, skyscrapers, radio, and movies (for which several of the writers worked). At the same time, the Great War served as yet another disruptive marker between the coherent past and the fragmented present. We will explore these issues in texts by O’Neill, Cather, Stevens, Eliot, Faulkner, Hughes, and others as we flap our way through the Jazz Age and the bewilderments that followed.
470/570 • Arthurian Legend • MW 3:30-4:45 pm • BraswellThis course is an initial foray into the legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table from roughly the sixth century to the twentieth. The Arthurian corpus is enormous–both interdisciplinary and cross-cultural–and no one ever tries to do it all. Arthur’s legends range throughout literature, history, archaeology, art, philosophy, and media; they have influenced writers throughout Europe and America for hundreds of years. This term we will attempt a massive sweep through the ages to give you a clearer idea about 1. what is there, 2. where to find it, and 3. how to interpret it when you do. Then you are on your own to search the world through “Arthurian lenses.” Because the Internet is rich with Arthurian sites, some of your classes will meet online. Textbooks
- The Romance of Arthur, ed. James J. Wilhelm
- John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat
- Walker Percy, Lancelot
- MHSL packet of materials on the “Course Reserve” section of Sterne
- Library (go to “Local Catalogue,” click on “options,” “course reserve,” EH 470/570”). You can download these on your own computer and print)
- WWW sites noted on your syllabus. See hotlinks.
471/571 • Beowulf in Context • TTh 3:30-4:45 pm • KightleyThe epic poem that we call Beowulf is the longest and possibly greatest surviving example of the poetry of the Anglo-Saxons. These people, living in England over 1000 years ago, seem to have had a rich poetic tradition, but unfortunately little of it has survived (what is left wouldn’t fill a single small bookshelf!). Fortunately, what has survived includes an exciting assortment of elegies, legends, battle poems, riddles, saint’s lives, romantic poems and dream visions. And at the head of it all: Beowulf.
This course will introduce you to the poetry (and a little bit of the prose) of the Anglo-Saxons in Modern English translations. On top of Beowulf itself, we will be looking at three other types of texts. First, we will begin with a sample of the shorter works of Anglo-Saxon poetry and prose. Second, we will examine two of the Old Norse (or “Viking”) sagas that are closely related to Beowulf, particularly Grettir’s Saga and The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, as well as a Norse myth or two if the class so wishes. Third, we will consider some modern adaptations of the poem, including two recent movie versions (Beowulf and Grendel and Beowulf).
478/578 • Milton • MWF 10:10- 11:00 am • ChapmanThis course will survey the works of the seventeenth-century English poet John Milton. We will explore the complexity of Milton’s art and thinking primarily through study of his rewriting of the Adam and Eve story, Paradise Lost, arguably the greatest epic poem in the English language. In this work, Milton takes up an extraordinary number of questions about human existence, ranging from the nature of free will to what kind of architecture Satan prefers to the quality of Adam and Eve’s digestion. During our reading of Paradise Lost, we will regularly turn to other texts by Milton—his short poems, his political writings and others. Assignments may include two short papers, a research project, a midterm and a final exam. This course satisfies the requirement for pre-1700 literature.
486/586 • 18th-century British Novel • Th 5:00-7:30 pm• Graves
The Price of Glory: Conquest and Commerce in Eighteenth-Century British FictionDuring the Restoration and eighteenth century, England established itself as a global financial center, and London became a showplace for wealth and fashion. This materialism which was shaping English culture played itself out by means of military campaigns waged within a colonial context. In this course we will look at how writers of the period represent the intersection of commercial values and military conflicts through literary forms such as sentimental fiction, picaresque narrative, formal realism, autobiographical memoir, mock epic, and satire. Course Texts
- Austen. Persuasion (Oxford World’s Classics)
- Behn. Oroonoko (Norton Critical Edition)
- Defoe. Roxana (Oxford World’s Classics)
- Smollet. The Adventures of Roderick Random (Penguin Classics)
- Sterne. A Sentimental Journey (Oxford World’s Classics)
- 8-10 page term paper
- Optional short writing assignments (3)
488/588 • British Novel: The Modern Age • T 7:30-10 pm • Hutchings
Transformation of Narratives—and NarratorsEH 488/588 is a study of the ways in which twentieth-century English and Irish authors transformed both the form and content of the novel as a genre, repudiating or redefining traditional realism and forcing readers, in effect, to “learn to read all over again” or, as one critic has put it, “to reeducate our eyes.” Each novel represents a new and different narrative technique, but in many cases the narrator also undergoes a transition or metamorphosis of some kind. The novels to be studied are:
- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Norton Critical Edition
- D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers (Signet edition)
- James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Norton Critical Edition)
- Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (Norton Critical Edition)
- Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
- Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Plume)
- John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Back Bay Books)
- Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (Norton Critical Edition, NOT the recently published "50th Anniversary Edition,” which does not contain the helpful and interesting critical articles of the Norton Critical). If you order a used copy via the internet or elsewhere, make sure it has twenty-ONE chapters! The older orange and white edition contains only twenty and should therefore be avoided.)
- Samuel Beckett, How It Is
496 • Capstone • MWF 12:20- 1:10 pm • BasilicoThe course will provide an opportunity for students to reflect upon and to use the knowledge, skills, and dispositions developed in previous English coursework. Required of all English majors. EH 496 is ideally taken in the final undergraduate semester.
602 • Modern Rhetorical Theory • T 5:00-7:30 pm • McComiskeyModern rhetoric examines the ways in which people use language to accomplish purposes—it is the study of language in use. Some of the questions we will explore include:
- How does language come to mean what it does?
- Do words carry inherent meanings that transfer from a speaker to a listener?
- Does the context in which words are used influence our understanding of their meaning?
- What is the relationship between philosophy and rhetoric?
- Is language inherently metaphorical since it always refers to things other than itself?
- Are informal means of argumentation more effective than formal logic?
- Are there cultural influences on the way in which we communicate?
- Bizzell and Herzberg’s The Rhetorical Tradition.
- Foss, Foss, and Trapp’s Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric.
615/616 • Graduate Poetry Workshop • T 5:00-7:30 pm • VinesBe prepared to peruse and to critically investigate in writing and discussions contemporary poetry collections, to compose and revise poems according both to my draconian restrictions and to your dictates, and to critique your peers' poems during workshop. I will also anticipate, as Padgett Powell articulates so well, "full efforts at writing well, at criticizing for the benefit of others, at attending religiously, at speaking cogently when you can, at surrounding yourself in a warm air of intelligent reticence when you can't." Eliot said of Milton that a “man may be a great artist and yet have a bad influence.” We will be looking at poets who are by and large good artists and trying to discern what might make them good influence models for our poems. Leading critic and poet William Logan complains that
Many younger poets . . . have no concern for the richness of words, the complication of expression, and rarely use what might be called the subsidies of sense (as opposed to plain, bread-and-butter prose meaning). These subsidies might include ambiguity, nuance, the right word, music of various sorts (alliterative, consonantal) patterns of adherence (meter, set form), thematic tangles, sensitivity to verb tense, timing and delay—in short, the ways that poets have traditionally put English on English.In our poems, we will show concern for all of these complex subsidies of sense.
646 • Practicum in Teaching Writing • Th 5:00-7:30 pm • Minnix
EH 646 is designed to provide a thorough introduction and outline of the major concepts, theories, and conflicts that make up the field of Composition Studies. The focus of this course is both theoretical and pragmatic and will challenge us to develop pedagogical applications for our theoretical inquiries. These applications will take the form of our own First Year Writing curricula and course materials. Our course theme, “The Disciplinary and Public Spaces of Composition,” asks us to consider the relationship of our own sub-discipline (Rhetoric and Composition, Literature, Creative Writing, etc.) to the practice of teaching writing and to develop an interdisciplinary research project that presents a theoretically informed approach to teaching writing. This project will take the form of a conference presentation at the end of the Spring Term. In addition, we will challenge ourselves to think through the connections between our pedagogy and the broader outcomes of undergraduate education and the public perception of writing and the teaching and writing locally, nationally, and globally. Our main textbook for the course will be The Norton Book of Composition Studies.
656 • American Literature Before 1820 • W 5:00-7:30 pm • G. Temple
In this class we will survey a variety of North American writings from the Colonial period through the early nineteenth century. Throughout the course, we will connect the literature we read to the various social, political, and economic debates and discourses with which it was in dialogue, and we will also try to mine the significance of these debates to our lives as subjects and citizens in the present day. This period in American literary history is particularly fascinating to me because it gave rise to many of the core values (and, dare one say, neuroses?) that continue to define citizenship in the United States today. We will think in particular detail about some of the more vexing questions that engaged early Americans. For example, how should the values of Christianity (more specifically, Puritanism) be reconciled with those of a market economy? How should the concept of “freedom” be defined, and what sorts of limits should be placed on popular enfranchisement? How should the role of men in the new Republic differ from that of women? Are “freedom” and “equality” compatible ideals? How should patriotism be defined in the decades after independence from England? To what extent should the “melting pot” ideal define American identity, and how compatible is a melting pot with racial, ethnic, or religious difference? Is there even such a thing as an “American,” and if so, what are the defining traits of such a being? These questions had their genesis during the period we will study, and they continue to be significant to the political, economic, and social climate of the United States today. Early Americans dealt with these questions in ways that were sometimes unethical and often contradictory. It is my hope that in this class we can work our way back through the contradictions in order to arrive at some of the motivations, hopes, and anxieties behind them. Among the writers we will study are Mary Rowlandson, Jonathan Edwards, Edward Taylor, Benjamin Franklin, Unca Winkfield, Hannah Foster, and Charles Brockden Brown. Course requirements will include several short response essays, midterm and final exams, and a final term paper.