This course serves as an introduction to African American literature that refuses to take its own blackness for granted. Since race is a socially constructed fiction that rigorously maintains very real structures of privilege for some at the disadvantage of others, the perceived gains and losses enabled by racial passing have always been of the utmost concern to the African American writer. This course considers those texts that lend insight into how the African American literary tradition theorizes communal belonging in the face of a deep ambivalence around notions of racial identification and authenticity. It also suggests that this consideration offers a nuanced perspective on the canon of African American literature. Fiction and film will provide the opportunity to discuss privilege, surveillance, colorism, representation, and authenticity. We will also begin to think critically about the relationships between blood and the law, love and politics, opportunity and economics, and acting and being.
This course will include a selection of 19th century U.S. authors whose works are considered important to the development of American cultural identity. We will approach 5 novels (James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening) through the perspective of 4 central themes: Religion, Language, Nature and Race. Students will choose one of those themes as their primary focus and apply it to each of the 5 books. Exams on each book will take the shape of essay questions.
This course will cover Latino/a Literature written in English from the emergence of Jose Antonio Villarreal's POCHO in 1947 (the first Chicano/a novel in English) to the present and the exciting work of Sandra Cisneros, Cristina Garcia, and Judith Ortiz-Cofer. Latino/a Literature--which contains thus far the work of Mexican-Americans (Chicano/a), Puerto Ricans (Nuyoricans), and Cuban-Americans (there are a few other groups being represented now, for example Julia Alvarez as a Dominican and Francisco Goldman as a Guatemalan)--is constantly growing, and like African-American, Asian, and Native American Literatures, has established itself in the panoramic landscape that is American Literature. The work the course will focus on will be introductory in nature and will be unified by the following themes and perspectives: the "americanization" process, and the struggle to define, redefine, and attain the American Dream; the use of cultural myths; language & memory; gender; religion and spirituality; rural versus urban (the barrio) life; ideals and values; the role of Latino/a writers and poets; the question of universality and specificity. The reading load is reasonable and the rationale behind this "list" of required texts is that the student, during his/her student career, will unlikely run into these texts as supposed to those which have become popular. Of course, we will discuss and touch upon them as well.
Of what possible use is literature in the face of a global pandemic and accelerating climate change? Why read books when the world increasingly resembles a dumpster fire? This class looks to the fantastic, the speculative, and the supernatural in art, music, performance, and literature by people of color to answer Christina Sharpe’s call to “Imagine otherwise. Remake the world.” Readings will include work by Octavia Butler, Michael Zapata, Stephen Graham Jones, Ted Chiang, N.K. Jemisin, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Ken Liu and more.
Dystopian literature critiques an existing order by exaggerating its negative features, according to Mark Bould and Sherryl Vint. Recently, there has been a surge in dystopian thinking inspired by social, political, environmental and other changes. In this course, we will survey American novels of the twentieth century with dystopian elements. While paying attention to issues of language, form, gender, race, class and sexual identity, we will consider the following questions: What characteristics make a text arguably dystopian? To what degree does dystopian literature overlap with other genres? And how do dystopian narratives advance social and other critiques? Authors studied will likely include Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick, among others.
Our current political discourse is scattered with claims and accusations regarding which persons or groups qualify as “American,” “not American,” or “un-American.” This question has profound consequences that can range from the mundane—such as attempts at tarnishing a reputation—to the more serious, such as democratic inclusion, legal violence, and extralegal violence.
What it means to “be American” was pivotal in the nation’s founding as Paine’s Common Sense and Crèvecœur’s Letters From an American Farmer make clear, but the politics of Americanness were negotiated, oftentimes violently, in the centuries of Colonial Era politics and culture that preceded the nation’s founding. It is arguably more critical now than ever to understand what “Americanness” is (or can be) and what made it this way—starting from the beginning (or close thereto).
Focusing in pre-1800 American literature and culture, our endeavor will navigate through exploration and captivity narratives, US slavery and the trans- and circum-Atlantic slave trade, indigenous American literature, religion and the Puritan tradition, Enlightenment discourse, the ideological underpinnings of the American Revolution and the Constitution, early-American print culture (including the sentimental novel), gender studies, and perspectives in law and literature. Finding motivation in the problems, issues, and contradictions within the figuration of collective identity, we will better understand the political discourse surrounding “what it means to be American” as it was then, and therefore, as it is now.
This course takes a historical and theoretical approach to the study of Southern literature and culture, beginning in the colonial era and continuing to the present. We will direct focus first onto the peculiar genres that were produced in and by writers of the American South, among them slave narrative, plantation romance, local color writing, the Southern gothic, and grit lit; and we will situate these writers and genres in their complicated relationships with the rest of the United States, and with transnational, hemispheric, global, and planetary contexts and concerns. hemispheric, and global contexts and concerns.
This course will cover various poetic techniques including the use of images, figurative language, voice, style, meter, rhyme, and form. The class will culminate in a workshop that allows students to share their work and critique the work of their peers.
In this nurturing, rigorous fiction workshop, the primary objective will be the creation and revision of competent apprentice-level 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 fundamentals that you can think of the way a 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.
Prerequisite: B or higher in Fiction Technique or permission of instructor.
In this class we’ll focus on the writing process, emphasizing revision. First you’ll write four two-page starter stories, and then develop a complete short story using one of them. You’ll have the opportunity to revise this story three times over the course of the semester, workshopping early versions in a small group, a later version with the entire class, and then reading a final version aloud at the end of the semester, receiving my feedback throughout the process. In addition, each week we’ll be analyzing/discussing published short stories--some by former FSU undergrads.
Because this is an advanced class, we'll brush up on the basics and then move beyond them to explore some of the subtleties of the craft. What risks do successful writers take and how can you learn from them? What risks might you take in your own fiction? How can you make your own fiction as dramatic, intense and engaging as possible? Our goal is the creation of a community of writers who can learn from and help each other. Courage, honesty and dedication are expected.
The spring undergraduate fiction workshop under Robert Olen Butler, as it traditionally does, will focus intensively on the essentials of process in creating literary narrative. He has found that the most elusive of these essentials are best explored by his proposing an aesthetic theory of the short short story, both as a distinct art form and as a paradigm for the beginning of any effective work of fiction, and then working strictly in that form for most, if not all, of the semester.
In this workshop we will concentrate on finding and developing your poetic voice, by which I mean every characteristic choice you make as a poet. Are your lines long or short? Do you use simple language, or do you use more complicated diction? Are you attracted to forms or not? What are your subjects? Do you use humor? Are you a surrealist or do you stick to the facts? All of these subjects and more will be explored during this semester.
During the first hour of class we will discuss the different elements of voice through essays and contemporary examples. The second two hours will be a workshop of your original poems. You will be expected to write a poem a week as well as a short response to the readings. At the end of the semester you will turn in a portfolio of six poems. I find that a warm and nurturing environment is so much more productive than its opposite. We will work hard, and you will see your writing improve during this semester.
In this course, we will move beyond parsing the important, intricate details of prosody and form you’ve ideally encountered in CRW 3311 (and possibly other sections of CRW 4320) and write into and against modes and schools of thought that dominate contemporary poetics, particularly our intense moment of hypervisibility and hyperviolence. We will resist a singular focus on refining the single “perfect poem” by navigating together the process of curating a series of poems whose speakers’ voices we can modulate to interrogate personal and cultural history and memory with greater veracity. We will attend to the ways that the performance of race, gender, and nationality contemporize and transform the ancient elegy and other modes. To achieve this ambitious feat, rather than reading several books, we will spend the better part of the semester studying these modes and schools vis-à-vis representative writers over successive fortnights before reading two new collections as exemplary models of our aim of producing a small poetry collection.
CRW 3311 (Poetic Technique) is the prerequisite for this class, and you need the instructor’s permission (write firstname.lastname@example.org). Every week, you’ll be turning in a new poem and also commenting on a section of the required textbook, Christian Wiman’s Joy (ISBN 978-0300248630). There’ll be discussions, group projects, and lots and lots of one-on-one action. You’ll need to have some poetry chops before you sign up for this class, but I guarantee you’ll have a lot more by the time we’re finished. This is a very specialized class and one that’s not easy to get into, but if you do and you work with me, I’ll do everything I can to make sure you achieve your poetic goals.
This course hopes to introduce the student to a variety of means to a very specific end: the crafting of a poem that is not only a clear expression of your imagination, but that can become an imaginative vehicle for its reader. This pursuit will be carried out within the context of weekly guided and independent readings of a wide selection of contemporary poetry. Students will concentrate especially on writing for an audience, creating concrete and evocative imagery, and exploring a variety of different strategies for the drafting and revising of their poems.
This course allows students to write, revise, and prepare for production a one to three-act play with playing time, roughly, not less than one hour. But it is not, strictly speaking, a playwriting course, although we will be writing a play; that is, it is not only a playwriting course, since it takes into account the performative nature of this third (or fourth, or fifth) genre of which the playwright is part, but only part, of a process of artistic realization. In fact, many directors function as playwrights themselves and put the production, the work of art, together in rehearsals. Even major playwrights like Tennessee Williams have worked through the rehearsal process, which opens up his creativity to multiple artists, and in that process the playwright is often not primary (unless you’re Samuel Beckett, that is). In the other direction, some playwrights have chosen to use rehearsals as part of the creative process by directing their own work and to cut out part of this collaborative process (Albee, Mamet, Beckett), but even then they work with designers and actors all of whom feed into the creative process, and they work with (or in) a restricted space, depending on the theater they’re working in/for.
As well as engaging techniques for the writing of dramatic texts, this is a course on writing for the theatre and so it takes on the historic issues of Literature versus Theatre, texts versus performance. The first matter we need to consider, then, is what or where is the artwork, in a script or in its performative realization, its staging?
This course is designated an “r” course, which means it is repeatable and so those students who want to continue working on a project for more than the 15 week limitation imposed by the semester system can do so.
ENC 3021: Rhetoric is one of three core courses for the Editing, Writing, and Media (EWM) major. As such, this course works to provide a foundation for the major. Studying the history of rhetoric provides students with the foundational principles and building blocks to motivate and organize their performances as writers, editors, and evolving scholars. To develop this foundation, students will read about the works of prominent rhetoricians, in addition to reading the works themselves. In so doing, this course introduces students to key concepts in the study of rhetoric; different epistemologies that underpin the conception and application of rhetoric across various contexts; and frameworks useful for the production and analysis of texts, events, communication, and other phenomena.
In order to address these concepts, epistemologies, and frameworks, students will trace the Western rhetorical tradition as it has evolved and changed throughout its 2500-year history. Beginning with 5th century BCE Greece, students will take a tour through rhetorical history, observing the ways rhetoric shifted from an art for oral performance to an epistemic lens for understanding, creating, and even controlling meaning. At each point in this historical tour, students will attend to who can speak and who is excluded, what can be said and what is silenced, and what are considered the appropriate manners in which to speak. In addition, this class will explore how language can create reality, change reality, and secure power within that reality. In the process, students will discover the intimate connection between rhetoric and philosophy, rhetoric and community, rhetoric and media, and rhetoric and the world.
ENC 3021 is one of three core courses for the Editing, Writing, and Media (EWM) track, and as such, the course works to provide a foundation for the major. Studying the history of rhetoric provides students with foundational rhetorical principles and building blocks crucial for writers, editors, and evolving scholars. This course introduces students to key concepts in the study of rhetoric; to frameworks useful for the analysis of texts, events, communication, and other phenomena; and to the principles of rhetoric in contexts across media and cultures.
We will trace Western rhetoric as it has evolved and changed throughout its 2500-year history. Although this course offers a survey of significant Western rhetorical theories and practices from ancient Greece to contemporary culture, it also emphasizes the evolution of rhetorical knowledges and meaning-making processes.
This course will ask students to explore and experiment with a variety of creative non-fiction. Students will immerse themselves in various authors including Roxane Gay, David Sedaris, and Maggie Nelson, as well as in texts which showcase a plethora of writing styles, genres, and subjects. Students will hone their voice, research, and writing skills, as well as become familiar with the contemporary creative non-fiction landscape.
ENC 3310 Article and Essay Technique class will focus on the form, content, and writing techniques of nonfiction essays. The main focus of this class will be trauma narratives such as Baldwin’s “The Native Son,” Paul Crenshaw’s “After the Ice, “and Jo Ann Beard’s “The Fourth State of Matter,” among others. Students will learn how writers put order to the disorder of their past lives, how they give completely the self to the reader and along the way, through interrogating and reflecting on their weaknesses, vulnerabilities and shame—they find the new transformed self.
Writing exercises will include writing essays, peer workshops and peer reviews, and polishing drafts for purposes of publication.
This course is for upper-level undergraduate students interested in writing creative nonfiction. Creative nonfiction is a common, but inadequate, even misleading, term. It exists on a spectrum that stretches between researched, journalistic articles on the one hand, and lyrical personal essays on the other. The genre is "nonfiction," and as such, it tries to be true, with the recognition that truth is various, not always objective, and exists within a contract established between the writer and the reader. At the same time, the genre is "creative," and uses many of the techniques of fiction, such as scenes, dialogue, characters, setting, sensory detail, narrative, plot, story, point of view, conflict, rising tension, climax, denouement, anecdote, etc. The genre has a history, and we can learn from great writers if we learn to read as writers. The genre also has a host of formal attributes, and uses many of its techniques with almost formulaic consistency. In this course, we will explore and practice a wide range of styles within the genre of creative nonfiction. The core tenet of the course is this: writing is an ongoing process, not merely expression, and so it requires time and revision.
An upper-level undergraduate seminar and writing workshop, with emphasis on the craft of creative nonfiction. In this course, we will explore and practice a wide range of forms within the genre of creative nonfiction, from researched journalistic essays to lyrical essays that investigate the emotional truth of one's personal memories and experiences. Readings and writing assignments will include narrative nonfiction, memoir, braided essays, literary journalism, lyric essays, audio, visual, multimedia, and hybrid storytelling, and "public intellectual" writings that reflect engagement with politics, pop culture, and social issues.
This course emphasizes the need for students to produce well-constructed, polished texts for a variety of audiences and expectations. Students will write and edit in genres most appropriate for their academic and professional goals. The workshop incorporates a rigorous professional refresher on grammar, punctuation, and usage; stylistic instruction, copyediting practices; and editing for digital media. Students will edit their own texts, make editorial notes on other’s texts, edit graphics and other visuals, and edit for layout and design.
This course will help you to take your editing skills to the next level, explicitly focusing on the work of improving another's writing. It seeks to develop the skills of synthesizing another's ideas and data, structuring and clarifying his or her argument, and ordering coherently any multi-part exposition. It is primarily practical in orientation, covering proofreading, grammar, spelling, fact checking, and line-editing. We consider carefully authorial goals and audience needs and how these should influence the editing process. The course aims to prepare students for the elementary practice of textual production between draft stage and final publication.
English 4218 introduces students to the principles of visual rhetoric, especially as it is enacted across diverse media, shaped by multiple genres, and designed to achieve different goals with different audiences. Students will learn to analyze the rhetorical function of imagery, use images to respond to and organize arguments, and consider the impact of visual rhetoric on personal, civic, and professonal lives.
We begin with a brief orientation to Western rhetoric, uncovering the ways in which it has always been a visual as well as a verbal performance (Note: This will involve work in some digial archives). Thus, we establish the historical trajectory of visual rhetoric in the West. We then turn to the image itself, the heart of visual rhetoric, investigating its contested nature; its contribution to (and constitution through) cognition, affect, and culture; and its variability (forms and media). Throughout, we experiment with the image, testing various claims (memory, vividness, emotion, and efficacy) by collecting data, collating it, reporting it, and discussing it. Next, we unite image and rhetoric, exploring theories of visual rhetoric and assessing those theories for their strenghts and limitations within the context of a specific social movement. Finally, you will conclude the course by articulating your theory of visual rhetoric, supporting that theory with apt scholarship, and illustrating that theory with example(s) of your own choosing.
Course grades will be based on the following: 1) three “mini-projects”: one identifying and describing a historical instance of visual rhetoric; one reporting on the results of our various “expermiments” with the image and addressing the implications of those results for your understanding of the image; and one assessing the use(s) of visual rhetoric in a social movement of your choice; 2) regular and sustained contributions to class discussion and in-class writings; 3) a final project in which you draw together the threads of the course and your own thinking to articulate your theory of visual rhetoric, illustrating that theory with a specific artifact.
In this course, we explore forms of nonfiction: journalism, personal essays, and investigative writing, focusing on the environment, both built and natural. 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, as well as infrastructure problems. You will read different examples of nonfiction which look at the environment (in very different ways), perform some writing exercises and learn how to research, to observe and 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. We will NOT be writing memoir in this course: our emphasis will be on facts to inform our prose.
Long-form journalism seminar within the Editing, Writing & Media major. Upper-level course focused on long-form narrative storytelling for magazines. Students will learn how to establish a news hook, article structure, and various research and interview techniques. Writing exercises included charting longform features, crafting compelling “ledes” and “nut grafs.” Peer workshops encourage close reading and editing for purposes of publication.
This is a course about helping yourself, and helping others, to think and communicate more clearly. This class strives to help you to improve your writing and editing skills across a wide range of writing situations and media. Writing and editing are distinct, though related, skills, and editing yourself is a very different situation than editing the work of others. How often have you found yourself in a situation in which everyone seems to assume you already know how to write and to edit well? In this class, we openly confront the challenges of writing and editing well. The primary goals here are that you become a better writer and editor at the end of the class than you were at the beginning, regardless of your starting level of competence and confidence. This class will help you to get better at organizing ideas and at getting those ideas across to others.
In this course, we read and discuss a lot of writing, and, especially, do a lot of writing and editing. Your success in this course depends on your whole-hearted engagement in these activities.
What is “citizen science” in the digital age? Known alternatively as “ecospeak,” “popular science,” and “science-based CSR,” the phenomenon of moving scientific facts into the public sphere is one that deserves our critical, rhetorical, and editorial attention. In this course, we will grapple with concepts of neutrality, objectivity, accessibility, velocity, and difference in public-sphere rhetorics, paying particular attention to how various communities get written into (or out of) particular conversations, and bearing witness to how conversations move differently across mediated platforms.
Assignments may include some of the following: (1) a scientific and technical blog; (2) a Wikipedia article revision; (3) a scripted video documentary, with analytic reflection; (4) the creation of a weblog that hosts occasional posts and serves as a digital portfolio for your work; and (5) a reflective analytical essay that synthesizes course readings to explain (for an outside audience) what you have learned.
This course serves as an introduction to modern literary/cultural criticism. We will discuss some of the key questions that animate discussion among literary scholars today, including the nature of art, the relation between culture and power, and the interpretation of texts. Most of our time will be spent carefully reading and assessing the arguments in the essays that we read. We will also consider how literary theory has evolved over the last century within its various historical, social, and institutional contexts. Most of our reading will come from The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (3rd edition, 2018; ed. Vincent B. Leitch et. al.), but we will test our critical reading skills on a variety of other brief literary texts that relate to our theory reading. The course requirements include quizzes, a mid-term exam consisting of short essay questions, a final research project that will function as a final exam, and active and frequent participation in class discussion.
- become familiar with several influential critical and theoretical approaches to literature
- grow adept at identifying and distinguishing among these approaches
- enhance interpretive skills by thinking particular theoretical frameworks
- refine writing skills through practice in expressing and supporting complex ideas
Since its birth, the cinema and its filmmakers have constantly drawn from literary sources to create narratives in the new medium. Though adaptation has been integral at the very core of film (studies), the topic has been debated for as long as the cinema has existed, debates that range widely: the valorization of literature over film as the “low art,” to film adaptation as the “democratization” of literature, to the concept of adaptation (or “change”) as central to the core of any representational art/text. When pairing literary and filmic texts, as we will in this course, perhaps the word “adaptation” itself needs to be adapted; for example, Dudley Andrew offered “borrowing, intersecting, and transforming” as options for analysis.
We will study classic and contemporary theories of film adaptation, borrowing as well as breaking from the concept of fidelity to create a space to explore how the cinema engages with literature, and how literary stories are deformed and reformed through the medium of film. Films (and relevant source texts) for study may include: Adaptation, Alice in Wonderland, American Splendor, Blade Runner, The Big Lebowski, The Big Sleep, The Birds, Don’t Look Now, Gun Crazy, The Killers, Persepolis, Strangers on a Train.
How has this genre gone from the bedrock of cinema in the late nineteenth century to a niche genre with the rise of Hollywood studio-driven, commercial entertainment in the succeeding one to a more democratized agent for truth telling, technological innovation, and social change in past three decades? This new course, a companion for ENG 3110 (Film Genres) and others, will chart the evolution of the form’s conventions as it continues to redefine the construction of “real”-ness, explore the nature of truth in a post-fact society, and interrogate the politics of representation and the sociological impact of the moving image.
Textual transmission has a long global history and over time humans have implemented “text” in a variety of discourses. Each technological advancement of textual transmission has unique conventions and problems that affect human understanding and appreciation of material textual culture. By concerning ourselves with changing textual forms, argues D.F. McKenzie, “allows us to describe not only the technical but the social process of their transmission. In those quite specific ways, it accounts for non-book texts, their physical forms, textual versions, technical transmission, institutional control, their perceived meanings, and social effects” (Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts p. 13).
We will begin by asking these questions:
How have humans communicated with each other throughout history? Speech? Visual Images? Text? What modes and mediums does human communication take? How does text evolve? Really at the heart of this class is how does text move and change from one text technology to another? What problems and implications arise from such radical influences of technological advancement and societal influences? This course will explore and unpack these questions using hands-on applications to understand the challenges each text technology faces and how it influences human understanding.
We will begin our inquiry into the history of text technologies around 30,000 B.C. with the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave of France, to the printing press and its use in America and the effects of creating imagined communities by fueling the separation and revolution between America and Britain, and we will end our journey with Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and society’s intervening role of his revisions in 19th century America.
This course explores the relationship between image and word in different historical eras by examining various texts and media. Students read, respond to, and analyze a range of materials, which may include Medieval manuscripts and graphic novels. Finally, students produce an original composition involving the interplay of image and language.
The nineteenth century in England was an era of enormous social, political, and cultural change. The French Revolution of the 1790’s set into motion a series of reactions on British soil, and though it’s monarchy remained intact, Britain experienced a revolution in its literature that still shapes our present notions of beauty, justice, nature, the formation of individual identity, and the defining qualities of imagination. This course will focus upon the poetry and prose (non-fiction) of England from the late decades of the eighteenth-century through the mid-nineteenth century. The majority of our attention will be directed toward the major poets of this period (Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats), but we will also consider prose from Mary Wollstonecraft, Felicia Hemans, Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt, Thomas De Quincey, and Edmund Burke.
At the end of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, the cowering tragic hero shouts, “I’ll burn my books!”—but it’s too late. Why does Faustus believe his books are to blame for his damnation?
Early modern English culture was fascinated with the performative power of texts. In exploring the title question of this capstone course for the Editing, Writing, and Media major, we will consider representations of powerful texts in Marlowe’s play as well as the textual transmission of the Faust myth itself from early modern contexts to contemporary remixes and remediations. In doing so, our class will effectively perform a case study, tracing Faustian intertexts over time. We will map the relationships among those involved in the production and transmission of the text: authors, printers, publishers, editors, performers, booksellers, readers. Situating the Faust myth in the cultural context of early modern England and among other primary texts, we will examine contemporary ideologies, including gender politics and the discourse of witchcraft.
We will take an iterative approach, examining three plays alongside primary and secondary readings, remediations, and adaptations, to inform and develop our thinking about texts and textuality. We will read selections on textual editing, and will edit a primary text to create our own “critical edition.” We will also consider performed texts: theatrical performance as well as film and other screen adaptations.
The following editions are required (other editions are not acceptable as they lack a number of additional required readings included in these specific editions):
- Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus (Norton Critical Edition)
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth (Norton Critical Edition)
- Thomas Dekker, John Ford, and William Rowley, The Witch of Edmonton (Bloomsbury/Arden Early Modern Drama)
The word "textuality" names a problem and opens a possibility. This course is a sustained inquiry into textuality, texts, and their meaning(s), playing with different notions of how a text comes to be and do work in the world. In order to explore textuality, this course will play with text(s + uality) as techne. Aristotle defines techne as a useful, teachable, and productive art—a practical skill with a systematic knowledge or experience which underlies it. However, many theories have questioned the role and even nature of text, author, and utility in the production, circulation, and reception of texts.
We will use historiography to explore how texts come to have histories and operate as always-already contextually and rhetorically situated, using archives and archival practices to situate and build relationships between texts. We will consider how digital technologies have shaped our notions of textuality, especially when considering questions of audiences, computation, and the experiences of texts. In doing so we will examine how algorithms, circulation, and hypertext have both changed and reinforced notions of textuality. We will work at places of praxis, where theory meets practice, to critique, study, and produce texts.
The catalog describes ENG 4815 as an investigation into “the nature of textuality and its relationship to various media and technologies, which explores theoretical and practical questions related to the production and reception of texts in a variety of different forms and media. Students read works in which textuality is broached as topic, including multimedia texts, and also produce a final project in at least two different media.”
As such, the focus of “What Is a Text?” is a sustained inquiry into the constitution of a “text” and its meaning(s). To underscore the intricacies of the text, this course considers two frameworks for unflattening textuality: new materialisms and decoloniality. It draws on new materialisms to explore things—objects such as pencils, screw drivers, smart phones, and archives—as material-visual “texts” with meaning and agency. And, it considers decoloniality as a means to rearticulate the power structures, identities, and localizations of texts. We will pursue our inquiry through these theoretical frameworks, via analyses of specific texts, and with the production of our own textual projects. Texts for analysis may include speeches, music, archives and archival texts, films, photographs, and comics. Textual projects will be innovative creations that seek to answer questions about textuality and will culminate in a Theory of Textuality. Through our interactions, we shape our realities and interpret them. In the process of so doing, we shape and interpret ourselves and each other. This course thus illuminates these intersections as sites for better understanding textuality.
Oprah loves books—and she has made America love them too. Since 1996, Oprah Winfrey has shaped America’s literary taste with the selections made for her hugely successful “Oprah’s Book Club.” With her stamp of approval, writers like Toni Morrison and Edwidge Danticat find new and eager audiences, publishing industries change their marketing strategies, and Jonathan Franzen and James Frey apologize. In this interdisciplinary course, we will read Nobel Prize winners, memoirs that made it to the big screen, and one of the club’s latest picks. We will also consider secondary sources that help us understand the historical phenomenon of the American book club, discourses of what constitutes “high” and “low” art (and why that distinction exists or even matters), and what “book club scandals” can teach us about reading.
What is the Future of Music in the age of streaming? We will consider this question and others as we explore how digital technology and social media have transformed popular music in the last few decades. Our reading includes some of the best writing on music and technology in recent years, from novelists (including Ishmael Reed, Jennifer Egan, and Nick Hornby), critics (Anne Powers, Greg Tate, Alex Ross) and media theorists (Marshall McLuhan, Alondra Nelson, Kodwo Eshun, and Jacques Attali).
This course examines the use of realism in television narratives, drawing on theories of realism as a literary technique and on histories of its evolution. As we evaluate the status of televisual realism, we will consider how each era has its own favored forms for conveying reality or verisimilitude, and we will explore what each form reflects about its own socio-historical moment. In contemporary media, realism in television narratives has become increasingly relevant, in formats ranging from serialized dramas to documentary to reality TV. As some of these genres extend, question, or undermine realism, they illuminate anxieties about the status of truth claims and authenticity in our digital era of easily-manipulated images. We will discuss key television case studies and will read relevant scholarship on realism and in television studies. Coursework includes two short essays, an online presentation, Canvas discussion posts, a midterm exam, and a longer final essay.
This course studies the first professional woman writer in the West, Christine de Pizan. We’ll read several of her major works in English, and we’ll study her reception in Tudor England as a major author: among her 45 main works are revisionist mythographies, allegories, political theory, military theory, poetry, and dream-vision narratives. Was she a proto-feminist? How did she earn a living writing in her constrained context? Although she died in the 1430s, her works had a key place at Henry VIII’s court in the earlier sixteenth century; how did the translators of her work into English manage to enhance her authority long after her death? Did textuality matter (manuscript versus print)? What can we learn about “medieval” and “Renaissance”/“early modern” literary culture from this author’s reception? REQUIREMENTS: Textbooks (purchased or rented, but you will need physical books); Zoom attendance and alert participation in scheduled classes; daily readings, HW, and exercises; in-class presentations; final research project.
This course is a survey course on medieval English literature. All materials will be read in modern English translation and include various genres from romance, drama, to poetry including Chaucer. Students will learn how to approach medieval literature in the context of medieval English society. They will be required to write short response papers for class, a close reading essay for the midterm, and a final research paper.
This course introduces students to representative plays from the Shakespeare canon, together with the historical and literary context within which they were produced.
This course will examine the theatre of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. Disguise, revenge, crossdressing, illicit sex, stage violence, plays-within-plays—all feature prominently in the exciting works of playwrights such as Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, and Dekker. Our course will begin by exploring theoretical issues that arise when we consider the relationship between oral performance and printed text. We will then read a variety of Renaissance plays with an eye to their theatrical and cultural contexts. Detailed literary analysis will be complemented by discussion of issues as gender and sexuality, medicine, religion, witchcraft, seasonal festivity, and popular culture. Active class participation is required. No background in Renaissance literature necessary, though prior experience with Shakespeare is a plus.
What the novel is to us moderns, the romance was to medieval readers: the most accommodating and widely registered forum of fictional expression. The corpus of medieval English romance includes finely wrought masterpieces as well as pulp fiction; it embraces the sublime as well as the absurd, and most everything in between. In this course we will become acquainted with the imaginative and stylistic range of the romance genre in medieval England, with a focus on those stories and traditions that have most resonated over time. A first substantial segment of the course will be devoted to the "matter of Britain", i.e., the resilient romance tradition of King Arthur and his knights, which to a large extent defines our modern apprehension of the Middle Ages. We will then consider the "matter of England," which follows the adventures of homegrown knightly heroes as imbued by folktale patterns. Finally, we will explore diverse thought-worlds and locales in romances that afford a glimpse of faerie land and other sites of cultural difference and exchange. No prior experience with Middle English language or literature is expected, but a willingness to engage with texts in the original language, with the help of translation aids, is important.
This is an Honors class. Our concern is public intellectuals: not academic specialists but groundbreaking thinkers whose work has broad appeal. We’ll be doing lots of reading of and writing about authors from the ancients to contemporaries. As a result, I guarantee you’ll be a better thinker and writer in April than you were in January. Write email@example.com if you have any questions. Here are our books; you may want to order them now to make sure you have them on hand.
- Plato, Gorgias and Timaeus (Dover, ISBN 9780486427591)
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Dover, ISBN 9780486298238)
- Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (CreateSpace, ISBN 9781495298523
- Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward (Dover, ISBN 9780486290386)
- Rachel Lloyd, Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself (Harper Perennial, ISBN 9780061582066)
- Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys: A Novel (Anchor, ISBN 9780345804341)
- Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (Scribner, ISBN 9781501133107)
- Anders Ericsson, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 9780544947221)
Each year new books win prestigious awards and earn coveted spots on “best of” lists to become the latest and greatest recommended reads. Yet while the promotional churn of the publishing industry predictably produces fodder for the literary appetites of the reading public, no one can ever know what contemporary literature will have the staying power to become the canonical classics of the future. This course embraces the uncertainty of the present and simply asks what to read next? Readings will include the work of Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward, Fernanda Melchor, Claudia Rankine, Natalie Diaz, Brit Bennett, Cathy Park Hong, Juliana Delgado Lopera, and more.
In “The Short Story,” students will be reading, analyzing, and writing about short stories written by diverse authors across a range of time periods. Students will investigate how the short story form and genre impact the text’s meaning and effectiveness. A key question for the course will be: What questions do these stories attempt to answer? Coursework will include a close reading paper, a research paper, active class participation, and discussion board posts.
This course introduces English majors and minors to the most noteworthy authors, formative texts, and key imaginative traditions of British literature before 1800. Students will gain familiarity with the historical development of early English writing from the beginnings of the English language in Anglo-Saxon heroic epic; through the later medieval flourishing of courtly romance and satire; to the dazzling formal innovations of Renaissance lyric, epic, and drama; and concluding with the literary experiments of the eighteenth century as an age of progress and exploration. Students will encounter the major canonical authors of these periods (the Beowulf-poet, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Pope) as well as marginalized voices--especially female--and, toward the end of the period, transatlantic perspectives. You will learn to identify and analyze a variety of genres that are crucial to English literary tradition, and you will discover how authors imaginatively respond to their predecessors. The creative forms and major thematic investments of each era will be contextualized within the social and cultural history that shaped them.
A survey of Anglo-American literary history from the 19th to the late 20th century focusing on landmark texts in various genres and including a higher-than-usual proportion of works by women. This course will be reading-intensive and learning-intensive but also largely discussion-based.
Courses in Literature and Medicine often study how literary texts address questions in medical ethics and public health. In Literature and Medicine: Diseases and Debates, students will read a selection of brief essays, fiction, poetry, and other texts from the 19th century alongside critical and historical work from today’s medical landscape, in order to understand the roots of contemporary medical debates and how they have changed over time. These controversies helped shape the landscape of medical ethics. We will compare, for example, how questions around anesthesia, patient privacy, or contagion play out “then and now.” This course builds skills in critical reading and writing, cultural practice, and ethics.
We’ll examine illness as metaphor; the art and science of medicine; the rise of medical realism, objectivity and authority; the roles of the physician, nurse, and patient; the meaning of patient privacy and consent; medical professionalism and alternative medicine; food adulteration, nutrition; disability rights; prosthetics and the integrity of the body; pain, anesthetics, and drug use; and the “good death.” The new “COVID edition” of the course revises and expands the unit on epidemiology, sanitary reform, epidemics, and personal/public health.
This course will provide students the opportunity to closely read several classic novels in English which broke new ground in experimenting with first-person narrative form. The list might change slightly but as of now I aim for us to take a serious look at Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851), Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952), Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street (1984), and Toni Morrison’s Jazz (1992). Our focus will be on the self as voice as novel and the novel as voice as self, the compositional design of the narrator’s world building and self-representation, and the relationship between novelistic style and poetic/lyrical subjectivity. We will also contextualize the novels historically and in terms of genre, while also putting each work into critical conversation around the politics of narrative and nation, race, class, gender, sexuality, and other identity formations.
This course will provide students with a firm grounding in modernism and modern American poetry. It will also give you the skills necessary to read, understand, enjoy, and write about poetry in general. We will engage in a comprehensive investigation of the major figures, movements, and innovative styles in modern American poetry, as we move from its roots in the 19th century (Whitman and Dickinson) to the mid-20th century. The course will pay special attention to ongoing debates about the definition and nature of “modernism”; to situating the poetry within its cultural and historical context; to issues of gender, race, and the dialogue between politics and poetry; and to modern poetry’s relationship with other developments in the arts, such as modern painting. Poets we will study include many of the most influential American poets, including Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Countee Cullen, and Robert Frost.
This course will provide students with a firm grounding in the major figures, movements, and innovations in American poetry since World War II. We will pay special attention to the rich period from the 1950s to the 1980s, as we focus on such topics as the postwar reaction to modernism and to the New Criticism, the conflict between closed and open forms, the turn to the self, the development of a poetics of everyday life, and the tension between individuals and literary movements. We will discuss how contemporary poetry grapples with issues related to gender, race, and the dialogue between poetry and politics, and will situate the poetry within the cultural climate and politics of Cold War America, the 1960s and beyond.
As we trace the roots and development of postmodernist American poetry, we will investigate the relationship between poetry and such developments as: the unprecedented historical calamities of World War II, the Holocaust, and Hiroshima; the Cold War era’s culture of economic expansion, conformity, repression, and paranoia; the rapidly changing values and circumstances of American society during the 1960s and the nation’s experience with Vietnam, the counterculture, and Watergate; the increasing omnipresence of the media and popular culture (TV, rock music) and the blurring of distinctions between high and low culture. Throughout the semester, we will explore how and why these poets invent new, unconventional literary methods to address changing ideas about the nature of the self, language and literature, racial and sexual identity, and America itself, in a world undergoing dramatic transformations.
Poets discussed will likely include Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Robert Hayden, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Carolyn Forché, and Yusef Komunyakaa.
This course explores how the conventions of American drama changed in the last fifty years. How has engaging “the political” been made explicit or implicit on American stages? This class looks to the work of a diverse set of playwrights to engage a conversation about the relationship of power to identity, structure, and language. American drama showcases the performance of various identities and the intersections of them: ethnic, racial, gender, sexuality, religious, and regional. We will also address various dramatic narrative structures and styles.
Primary texts are American dramas from the playwrights listed below. The class includes several writing assignments, short-form exercises to engage with theatre from a creative lens, and a willingness to engage critically in conversation about theatricality, representation, and identity.
Primary texts include plays by the following: Ayad Akhtar, Migdalia Cruz, Maria Irene Fornés, Quiara Alegría Hudes, David Henry Hwang, Tony Kushner, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Cherríe Moraga, Suzan-Lori Parks, Luis Valdez, Paula Vogel, August Wilson
In this course, we will study literature that organizes around disseminating information about, preserving accounts of, witnessing, and/or theorizing atrocity and systemic injustice. Our focus will emphasize how the category of “human” has been rhetorically shaped and strategically deployed, raising questions such as:. How do events and creatures become recognized as situations and subjects of rights? What significance does the designation “human” have for the way that subjects negotiate space and power? How does the discourse of human rights facilitate and limit legal frameworks, create and regulate subjectivity and categories of identity, ameliorate and intensify our senses of injustice, and turn persons and societies away from and toward violence? Readings will include formal legal texts, graphic images, fiction, nonfiction, and other media.
This course will introduce a broad sampling of postcolonial literatures from Africa, India, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Ireland, and Britain, emphasizing the diversity of styles, genres, and forms employed by postcolonial authors to address issues related to colonization, independence struggles, language, education, cross-cultural conflict, xenophobia, and sexual repression. We will explore short stories, novels, plays, poetry, graphic novels, and other forms. The authors studied may include Joseph Conrad, George Orwell, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Brian Friel, Derek Walcott, Anita Desai, Agha Shahid Ali, Saleem Haddad, and others.
We will read and discuss important works by six established writers: Mary Shelley, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin, Virginia Woolf and Zora Neale Hurston. Of particular importance will be the development of a strong female voice within the work and its relationship to the male-centered culture each writer inhabited. Examination of four central themes will aid in this process: issues of Creativity/Style, Concepts of Power, Gender Roles and Expectations, Monsters and Monstrousness. Exams on each book will take the shape of essay questions.