In this course, we will explore a variety of texts from and about the American South, with special attention to how race shapes Southern culture. Students will be expected to read and comprehend at a very high level (this is an advanced course and will be taught as such) and produce sophisticated, erudite, clear, and intellectually-rigorous writing.
WARNING: Books for this course are complex, difficult and often quite long. If you get behind on your reading, your grade will suffer. If you are not prepared to commit to challenging work, you might do better enrolled in another class.
This class is a workshop that features reading, writing and performing the short, quick-punch format called the 10 minute play.
Microsoft Word furnishes a free play script template that’s very useful, but students can use whatever format they feel most comfortable with.
We will read professional examples from:
Sam Shepard. Fifteen One-Act Plays (Vintage Contemporaries). New York: Vintage Press. ISBN-13: 978-0345802767
Tennessee Williams: One Act Plays (World Classics). London: Methuen Classics. ISBN-13: 978-1408164815
Samuel Beckett, The Collected Shorter Plays. New York: Grove Press, 2010 . ISBN-13: 978-0802144386
In this nurturing, rigorous fiction workshop, the primary objective will be the creation and revision of competent apprentice-level literary short fiction. This course will make you a better writer—and a better reader—in a supportive, tough-love environment in which you're free to fail. You'll learn how to embrace the positive, liberating value of the kind of failure that's crucial to any true artist's apprenticeship.
At this stage in your apprenticeship, the number of technical skills you need to recognize and master is daunting. But we'll prioritize four bedrock fundamentals that you can think of the way a wannabe handyman might regard a hammer, saw, screwdriver, and wrench: basic stuff, but if you can't use them well, you can't do much of anything. 1. What's really meant by the oversimplified advice "show, don't tell." 2. Acute tension and chronic tension (what that means, how nearly all stories are an interplay between those two elements, and how those elements are created from the very opening of the story). 3. Basic short-story structure, with a particular emphasis on openings. 4. Basic narrative shapes.
"A writer," said Saul Bellow, "is a reader moved to emulation." "I know of no good, ignorant writers," wrote Richard Wilbur. "I think of great stories and novels," said Charles Baxter, "as permission-givers." This course will develop your writing in tandem with your reading, to eradicate ignorance, receive permission, and be moved to great heights of emulation. The strangeness of individual talent will not, I guarantee you, be blunted by such things. Quite the contrary.
For admission, students must have completed Fiction Technique with a B or higher.
Fiction Workshop (CRW 4120) is a course on the craft and art of fiction writing, only available for those students who have already satisfactorily completed Fiction Technique (CRW 3110). This course assumes you have a serious interest in fiction writing, as well as in discussing the writing of fiction with others likewise engaged. Our concerns are mainly practical and craft-based: where you as author wish to go with a particular draft, and how we, as readers and writers engaged in a common cause, might help you get there. In class we will examine how various craft points are at work in a number of published stories, and very often these texts will serve as templates for imitation and inspiration. However, this class will primarily follow the workshop model, and therefore student work, and the discussion of same, will be our main focus. To that end, over the course of the semester students will be required to produce and share a flash fiction piece of between 500-750 words, as well as two short stories (8-15 pages each). Admittance is by application only.
The focus of this class will be discovering and developing your own distinctive poetic voice. We will look at many examples of contemporary poets and read essays about various aspects of voice including imagery, line and verse, metaphor and simile, subject, music, point of view, syntax, leaping, and duende. We will also explore forms, including the sonnet, the list poem, and the ode. The emphasis will be in discovering which poetic techniques work best with your voice.
You will be writing a lot in this class: a new poem every week and after you receive my comments a revision of each poem. You will also write a response to the readings for each class. The final project of the class will be the revisions of your six best poems.
In this course, we explore forms of nonfiction: journalism, essays, and investigative writing, focusing on the environment. Florida is Ground Zero for climate change, and while nonfiction can be about anything, and take a multitude of forms, it seems incumbent on us to confront our challenges, from algae-choked water to sea-level rise to disappearing wetlands and oil spills in our oceans. You will read different examples of nonfiction which look at the environment (in very different ways), perform some writing exercises and learn (we hope) how to research, to observe, and to use prose to create both a picture and an argument. The goal is to produce a draft of an essay, 10-15 pages long, and a revision of this essay, both of which will be workshopped by the class.
NB: If you want to write memoir, i.e. mostly about yourself, this is not the workshop for you.
This course examines the development of diverse technologies used to disseminate different texts, including papyrus paper, the printing press, and the Internet. One of our main considerations will be how the form of a text—an ancient scroll, a medieval manuscript, a cheap paperback, or a Tweet—shapes its meaning. Exploring examples from papyrus fragments to e-books, we will consider how material and digital technologies shape—and are shaped by—texts. Throughout the semester we will develop and use detective skills that will help us uncover how texts were printed and/or digitally encoded, how they were bound, how they might have been sold, and who might have been reading them. The course generally follows the historical development of text technologies, but we will be making some temporal diversions. This will help us see connections between different text technologies and the people who used them.
This course considers the genre of LGBTQ Theatre that encompasses dramatic literature, theatre, performance sites, theory, narrative traditions, and themes. The course will focus on theatre and drama written and produced by and for the LGBTQ community from the last sixty years. We will address how representations of the LGBTQ community began to change in the 1960s and became prominent in the 1980s and 90s, interweaving influences from theatre history and cultural and political histories across the impact of the Stonewall Riots, the AIDS Crisis, and human rights initiatives. What is the relationship of LGBTQ identity to aesthetics and how do they inform the genre of LGBTQ Theatre? How has changing terminology and visibility affected depictions of LGBTQ characters? What is the relationship of structure and language to the genre of LGBTQ Theatre? Readings from gender, sexuality, and queer theory will accompany readings of primary texts.
The class will include primary and secondary texts by Gloria Anzaldúa, Judith Butler, Mart Crowley, David Henry Hwang, Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner, Tarrell Alvin McCraney, Cherríe Moraga, Peggy Shaw, Paula Vogel, Monique Wittig, and others.
In the past 30 years, music has moved from the margins of fiction to being a central concern. This course surveys the recent and ongoing “musicalization of fiction” (Werner Wolf) from a variety of perspectives, including adaptation theory and narrative theory. Topics of discussion include: how does writing about music impact literary form? How do literary narratives incorporate the various fan discourses of rock and hiphop? How does music, and writing about music, help transact racial and gender identity? We will begin by reading James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” (1957), a landmark meditation on African-American musical culture, but our main focus will be on recent fiction: by Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, Jennifer Egan, Colson Whitehead, Michael Muhammad Knight, and Nick Hornby. We will also sample some recent work in Sound Studies, a new critical discourse that attempts to integrate musicology and literary studies.
This course explores the imaginative dimensions of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in the Middle Ages. We will consider the patterns of development and possible historical origins of the Arthurian myth; the particular historical and cultural events and conditions reflected in Arthurian fictions; and the ideological power the myth of Arthur has held (and continues to hold) as a way of defining the present by glorifying the past. Our readings—all composed before 1500—will include courtly romances, chronicles and pseudo-histories, Celtic legends, Breton lais, chastity-testing adventures, and epic poems. We will immerse ourselves in the highlights of medieval British Arthurian tradition (Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, substantial parts of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur) and will also discover the legend’s international dimensions (French, German, Scandinavian, Italian), paying especially close attention to the contributions of Chrétien de Troyes and the Anglo-French poet Marie de France. All materials will be read in modern English translation. Assignments tentatively include quizzes, midterm and final exam, essay(s), and group research presentations on the modern afterlives of Arthurian myth.
This course invites students to read, analyze, write about, and/or reconstruct cross-cultural spectacles and human rights events. Organized around a series of case studies, the course asks students to explore a variety of modes and forms—including hypertext, trauma narratives, testimonials, essays, archives, memorials, and graphic journalism—studying those modes and forms for insight into how individuals, nations, and discourses enact their human-rights interests from both local and global points of view. Case studies are wide-ranging, including past and present activism; vibrant cultural heritage projects, such as Kantha Threads (Bangladesh) and Art Against Apartheid (South Africa); and the annual St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs, to name only a few. Guest speakers will join us via Skype at key moments throughout the semester. And guiding questions for the course include, but are not limited to: What is involved in the interpretation and critical evaluation of cross-cultural spectacles and human rights events when they occur in such a range of modalities (e.g., written, oral, visual, gestural, spatial, multimodal)? What difference do these interpretive and evaluative abilities make in our own understanding of a liberal arts education? How should we think critically about textual production while we are also interacting with these texts in the world? How can we be, do, or live differently after interacting with them—especially if they relate to cultures and crises that are not our own?
In this course, we consider "rhetoric" as a way of making knowledge in the world. The way in which we interpret, respond to, or perceive ourselves to be involved in ecologies, digital revolutions, globalism, feminism, activism, ethnic profiling, and even war is inherently rhetorical because it requires our understanding of how symbols act on us and on others—what Kenneth Burke has famously called "equipments for living." Thus, this course will involve you in the study and practice of rhetorical criticism by introducing you to some theoretical landmarks that make it a living practice for the 21st century. Our course texts include a critical glossary, two graphic novels, a digitally secured collection of articles and essays available at the start of the term, as well as online and web-based texts -- sometimes read as case studies themselves, and sometimes read as critical lenses onto other cases.
This seminar investigates the relationship between the cultural and historical conditions that characterize the two decades following World War II and developments in literature, as well as visual art, music, and other cultural forms. Blending literary analysis and cultural history, our goal is to explore how various cultural forms respond to, reflect, subvert, and shape the dynamics of post-World War II American culture. We will pay special attention to the radical, oppositional aesthetics that emerged in a wide range of fields, including fiction, poetry, music (jazz, rock), art, and movies. We will also consider the continuities and discontinuities between the allegedly placid 1950s and the turbulent 1960s.
Throughout we will be considering such questions as: how do these works address the contradictions of the American doctrine (or myth) of individualism during an “age of conformity,” and how do they respond to the changing nature of the family and community, the impact of popular culture, and shifting constructions of race and gender? In general, the course will explore how and why postwar American writers and artists invented unconventional aesthetic strategies to cope with changing ideas about the nature of the self, language and literary form, racial and sexual identity, and the nature of “America” itself, in a world undergoing dramatic transformations. Authors will likely include Shirley Jackson, John Cheever, Richard Yates, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, Thomas Pynchon, Joyce Carol Oates, Joan Didion.
This seminar investigates media theory in case studies drawn from television and popular music in particular but also from film, advertising, and digital media. We will focus on contemporary media in the era of media convergence, in which old media (broadcast, analog, print) and new media (interactive digital media) merge in ever more complex ways. We will investigate how theories from literary studies and media studies can help illuminate key developments. We will pay particular attention to examples of what Henry Jenkins terms "transmedia storytelling," or stories that cross multiple media platforms in a coordinated way. This media trend places a renewed importance on storytelling, and we will examine innovative narrative techniques. Drawing on theories of textual analysis and visual culture, we will study methodologies for thinking about convergence culture, collective intelligence, and public knowledge. This course also looks at important work in critical race theory, feminist theory and gender theory, poststructuralism, active audience studies, ecocriticism, and various iterations of Stuart Hall's circuit theory. Assignments include Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, two shorter essays, and the longer final essay.
In this course, we will closely examine Chaucer's unfinished and highly experimental masterpiece, the Canterbury Tales, in the original Middle English. We will read as many of the Tales as possible, becoming literate in a wide range of medieval literary forms -- courtly romance, beast fable, saint's life, and bawdy comedy, as well as some that defy classification. In addition, we will become closely acquainted with Chaucer's language, the dynamic of tradition and innovation, and the dramatic relationship between tale and teller. Some questions we will puzzle over: Why does Chaucer emerge as such an instrumental figure in the development of English literature? And how "medieval" (or "modern," or even "postmodern") are Chaucer's accomplishments and values as a fourteenth-century poet in a time of cultural transition?
All Chaucer readings will be in the original Middle English. No prior experience with Middle English is necessary, though learning it is a formal expectation of the course. Reading Chaucer in Middle English, aloud as well as silently, is tremendous fun, but it requires commitment and steady effort; good study habits and a healthy sense of intellectual curiosity are vital for success in this course. Assignments tentatively include regular quizzes, a Middle English recitation exercise, informed class participation, a series of linked written exercises culminating in an original research project, and a final exam.
Specific textbook to be used (physical book required; no substitutions):
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Original-Spelling Middle English Edition), ed. Jill Mann. Penguin, 2005. ISBN 978-0-140-42234-4
This course offers a selective survey of literature composed in English, from roughly the 7th century CE (the date of the oldest extant poem in Old English, "Caedmon's Hymn") to 1798 (the date of the manifesto in the Preface to Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads). Focusing on genre, form, technique, and socio-historical contexts (including transnational contexts), we will seek both a broad, "big picture" view of 1,000 years of earlier English literary history and a "close reading" view of particular authors and works that form the broader survey. The course aims to build your skills of literary analysis and your knowledge of literary history.
This course will introduce students to literature in English from the 19th to the early 21st century, as we trace the evolution of literature through a series of major movements and key developments – from Romanticism to the flowering of American literature in the mid-19th century, to realism, modernism, postmodernism, and very recent contemporary writing. While the course focuses on honing skills of close reading and literary analysis, we will also be situating these works within their historical, cultural, and political contexts, as we explore how representative literary texts respond to a dramatically changing, modernizing world. Special attention will be paid to how modern literature innovates with form and subject matter, as it wrestles with issues of race, gender, sexuality, and politics. Authors will likely include William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley, John Keats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, Amiri Baraka, Thomas Pynchon, Claudia Rankine, among others.
This course offers opportunities to look at the short story and the novel as rhetorical tools employed by women writers around the world to register patriarchy and patriarchal violence. We will read Japanese, Polish, Brazilian, Pakistani and Indian fiction writers and focus on the narrative strategies the women writers of these traditions resorted to to subvert patriarchy and create alternative imaginary worlds against their male-dominated realities. Students are required to produce a short mid-term paper and a long critical/creative final paper.
Here’s your opportunity to finally read Herman Melville’s classic sea tale, Moby-Dick. This is a novel that requires careful reading and rewards contextual reading. We’ll do both. Readers who come to the work for the first time expecting an action-packed drama centered on mad Captain Ahab’s pursuit of an indomitable whale will be surprised to discover that the novel reads like one part scientific whaling manual, one part digressive poetic-philosophical essay, and one part psychological-sociological character study—with a little bit of Homeric action thrown in for good measure. Moby-Dick is first and foremost an experiment in language, style, genre—the creative essaying or prose poetry of its eccentric narrator, “Ishmael,” and his theme, the white whale. We’ll begin the course by exploring Melville’s source materials and inspirations for his masterpiece before working through the novel’s chapters slowly and deliberately, for 7 or 8 weeks. Along the way we’ll highlight many of the novel’s themes that continue to help us think critically about our own historical issues—from environmental crisis to global capitalism, from the persistence of American racism to the fragility (or fictions) of American democracy. As something of a reward for finishing the novel, the last part of the course will survey the happy afterlife and legacy of Moby-Dick in contemporary culture—film, comics, music, and other popular media.
This course will familiarize the student with important works of poetry from the High Modernist period—that is, poetry produced in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, generally associated with the free verse movement. It will include such writers as Yeats, Pound, Eliot, HD and Stein, and it will take on the principal techniques, themes and values of this innovative period. In addition to reading, discussing and writing about a variety of relevant texts, students will each choose a poet or topic on which to concentrate.
The Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, liked to tell the story in which the nations of the world are asked to write an essay on “The Camel.” The Frenchman’s was called “The Camel and Love”; the German’s was “The Camel and Metaphysics”: the Irishman’s “The Camel and the fight for Irish Freedom.” Such then is the nature of the Irish ethos and sensibility, the Irish preoccupation if not obsession for some 700 years. The purpose of this course is to examine the Irish quest for independence in a literary context and concurrently to examine Post-colonial Irish literature (that is, after the winning of independence in 1921 and ratifying a Free State in 1922) in its broader cultural context. We will study several dominant figures in modern (that is essentially twentieth century, although in Ireland the past always weighs heavy on the present) Irish literature, particularly William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and Sean O’Casey, as they develop in, struggle with, and develop beyond an Anglo-Irish literary heritage, and the conflicts of subsequent generations of Irish writers to develop and flourish in their shadows. We will also examine the shift into more popular forms of culture like Irish film and music.
One basic question we will examine in this struggle (and the subsequent struggle to overcome the obsession with the struggle) is who speaks for Ireland, whose voice is that of the Irish? What writers, which politicians, what group speaks for Ireland? And on whose authority? We need to keep in mind as well that Ireland is still, after more than eighty years of independence, still a work in progress, a nation still trying to define what it means to be Irish. Are the Irish those that live within the borders of what is now Ireland, or does one need to have been born there. Is there a religious test to Irishness? And what of the six counties that are part of the island of Ireland but are still under British rule, the territory we call Northern Ireland. Or what of the Irish diaspora, the scattering of the Irish all across the world at least since the mid nineteenth century famine. Are they Irish, or hyphenated Irish: Australian-Irish, Canadian, Irish, Irish-American. In what order should the compound be stated? These are some of the issues we will try to grapple with this term.
This course will examine poetry written in English following WWII and leading up to the present moment in order to identify the central trends and values of Postmodernism, as well as the major figures. Studying such schools as Black Mountain, Beats, Confessional, Post-Colonial and Poetry of Witness, we will discover what distinguishes these writings from Modernist poetry (early 20th century) and suggest ways in which the genre may move in the future.
Ours has been called a global "age of rights," an era in which respect for human rights is considered the highest aspiration of the international democratic community. With its literary approach, this course endeavors to make human rights “real” by emphasizing limitations in our own backyard. Rather than a globalizing gaze directed elsewhere, since the legitimate aim of the International Declaration of Human Rights is to eradicate significant and systematic human suffering, a closer inspection of its erosion at home may guarantee our democratic idea of freedom, dignity, and personal equality for all. Ultimately, the course will interrogate a multiplicity of genres (from contemporary novels to graphic art); models of oppression beyond the usual suspected –isms by including adultism, ableism, ageism; and engaging a range of historical moments.
A reading-intensive (a novel a week) exploration of prominent women authors in the Anglo-American tradition, representing a diversity of cultural perspectives and working in a diversity of genres. We will engage in close textual analysis of classic works such as Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre along with more recent masterpieces by the likes of Toni Morrison and Sandra Cisneros. Requirements: weekly reading quizzes, two critical essays, class participation, 5-minute presentation, final exam. Be advised that this course follows a strict NO-TECH POLICY. Required text-books are to be purchased in BOOK FORMAT ONLY and portable electronic devices may not be used in the classroom.