Fall 2014 English Program Course Offerings
For all registration dates and deadlines, see the GC academic calendar.
To view detailed course descriptions click here or click on the faculty name in the grid below.
For the Practicum for English Program students teaching for CUNY click here
For Dissertation Supervision click here
Course listings and room numbers subject to change
Black, Brown & Yellow
Character & Caricature
Translation in Age Chaucer
DiGangi & Fisher
Hist, Thry & Erly Mod Sexualities
Thrizing African Diaspora
Intro Doc Stu
Thry/Pract Prof Schshp
PoWar Women Wrtrs & Intell
Sci, Sym & Stage in Erly Mod Eng
Formations of US Cult Stud
Queer Lines of Comm
Shape of Time
Course Descriptions in alphabetical order by faculty name.
ENGL 80200. Ammiel Alcalay. “The Shape of Time / The Poetics of Literary & Cultural History”. 2/4 credits. Thursdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. [CRN 25029] One comes to language already occupied by the ideological, political, communal, and formal weight of others who came before you. In this course we will attempt, in art historian George Kubler’s words, to “find cleavages in history where a cut will separate different types of happening.” The starting point will entail laying out a fairly complex but still schematic grid of lineages and relationships that comprise what will come to be seen as the mainstream of US culture, circa 1945-1975: Bebop, Beats, Black Mountain, Black Arts Movement etc., primarily as an example of how one might go about composing and analyzing various other clusters in different times and places.
We will explore continuity, lineage, transmission, interruption, and innovation through “thick” reading of clusters of texts across the spectrum of English and American letters. Linguistic, cultural, formal, and stylistic questions will be examined in larger contexts (orality and textuality; development of the vernacular; the growth of English into a dominant language, the relationship of American to continental English, etc.), with an emphasis on the vicissitudes and politics of prominence, transmission, storage (the archive), and the methodologies involved in the production of historical accounts, from more conventional to more idiosyncratic. This will mean, for instance, looking at the material and historical condition of texts (manuscripts, typescripts, editions), as well as the various ways in which literary and cultural histories are made.
Using Kubler’s Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things as an unorthodox guide to new organizational and taxonomic possibilities, our general background reading will be methodological, historical, informative, and investigative, including readings from linguistics, prosody, and poetics. However, the main focus of the course will be for each student to develop criteria for critical and contextual reading by creating their own investigative clusters drawn from any period or genre. We will present and explore these clusters together as we learn how to read.
Readings may include selections from: Alighieri, Dante. De Vulgare Eloquentia; Allen, Donald M. and Warren Tallman. The Poetics of the New American Poetry; Benveniste, Emile. Problems in General Linguistics; Brotherston, Gordon. Book of the Fourth World; Campbell, Lyle. American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America; de Saussure, Ferdinand. Course in General Linguistics; Dillard, J.L. Black English; Greetham, David. Textual Scholarship: An Introduction; Miles, Josephine. The Continuity of Poetic Language & The Vocabulary of Poetry; Saintsbury, George. History of English Prose Rhythm & History of English Prosody; Wogan-Browne, Jocelyn, with Nicholas Watson, Andrew Taylor, and Ruth Evans. The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory, 1280-1520.; Selections from classical rhetoric: Aristotle, Demetrius, Longinus, and Quintilian.
ENGL 83500. Rachel Brownstein. “Character and Caricature”. 2/4 credits. Tuesdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. [CRN 25030] Cross listed with WSCP 81000.
Literary theorists, literary journalists, and novelists themselves have been talking recently about character in fiction, and the author-character-reader nexus generally. Do you have to like the characters to admire a novel? What about the author? Do the muscles and habits of sympathy get strengthened when a reader identifies with a fictional character? What happens when we respond to eccentrics and types, flat and minor characters—and the voice (or the sense) of the narrator? The full humanity of some characters in fiction is frequently contrasted with “mere caricatures,” and sympathy is usually opposed to satire: are these binaries valid? In this seminar, we will look again at styles of characterization, mostly in novels by Jane Austen but also in graphic satires by her near contemporary, the caricaturist James Gillray.
ENGL 76000. Mary Ann Caws. “Modernist Singularities”. 2/4 credits. Wednesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. [CRN 25031] Cross listed with WSCP 81000. Looking at a juxtaposition of a few of the uncommon texts, visual and verbal, abounding in what we enjoy considering as the many varieties of modernisms, this seminar will concentrate on what features appear to mark them as unusual within their own context and in a larger one. The specific piece may differ in its peculiarity from others of its creator, setting it apart as an experiment that might have been contemplated, tried out, and not repeated. There will be room for the suggestions of the participants as to the works included, and as to the elements put in play. Among the writers and artists and thinkers on the reading and talking list will be Gerard Manley Hopkins, Henry James, Paul Celan, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Cornell, André Gide, Virginia Woolf, Jorge Luis Borges, Meret Oppenheim, Antonin Artaud, Gertrude Stein, Claude Cahun, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and D.H. Lawrence.
ENGL 80600. Kandice Chuh. “Black, Brown, and Yellow: On Ways of Being and Knowing”. 2/4 credits. Mondays 11:45AM-1:45PM. [CRN 25032] Cross listed with WSCP 81000.
This course takes as its point of departure the understanding that minoritized literatures and modes of aesthetic expression both register and articulate distinctive ways of being and knowing. Black, brown, and yellow are key among the terms used to refer to such onto-epistemologies. Following the lead of M. Jacqui Alexander, Gloria Anzaldua, Nahum Chandler, Cathy Cohen, Roderick Ferguson, Laura Kang, Audre Lorde, Chandra Mohanty, Fred Moten, José Muñoz, Trinh Minh-ha, and Mimi Nguyen among others, we’ll use this semester to consider the mobilization of color as an entry to the onto-epistemological dimensions of aesthetic expression. In what ways might an attention to color illuminate the inadequacies of the socio-political identities – African American, Asian American, Latina/o – by which racial difference is codified in the United States? How might a critical emphasis on onto-epistemological color-coding generate aesthetics and aesthetic sensibilities different from those that are the received legacies of enlightenment modernity? Of canonical literary histories and their relationships to normative socialities? How might thinking in these terms allow us to reconceptualize comparativity and relationality among ways of being and knowing? An archive of contemporary works in addition to those by the writers noted above, and including that by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Allan deSouza, Junot Diaz, Sesshu Foster, Miguel Gutierrez, Wangechi Mutu, Laurel Nakadate, Nam June Paik, and Ruth Ozeki, will ground our discussions.
Students taking this course for two credits should expect to write several short papers or the equivalent of a conference paper to fulfill the requirements of this course.
Students registering for four credits should expect to write several short papers and a seminar length essay (or equivalent other project) due at the end of the semester.
ENGL 80600. Kandice Chuh. “Theory and Practice of Professional Scholarship in English”. 2/4 credits. Mondays 4:15PM-6:15PM. Course open to Level 2 students in the Ph.D. Program in English. [CRN 25033]
Intended to be taken toward the completion of coursework, this course is designed to guide students in the transition from the writing of seminar papers to more independent forms of scholarship. Students will explore the usefulness of particular theories, methods, and resources for their own work, including the main tools of archival and bibliographical research in their areas of interest, with a view to the entering and participating in the profession.
Professionalization in this context is inadequately understood as referring to activities designed to secure an academic job. In this course, we will be working with a more satisfyingly robust understanding of the construct, with the overaching goal of illuminating the ways in which intellectual communities emerge and are formed, their importance to scholarship and pedagogy; and the various means and methods by which scholar-teachers in the academy can become immersed in them. By demystifying “the profession” in these ways, the objective of the course is to enable mid-level students to shape research questions and pedagogical practices in ways that accord with their own distinctive investments in the academy. We will work with calls for papers for conferences, symposia, and journal issues, as well as key journals in a variety of fields, to ground our work for the semester. Students registering for this course should come in with a particular project or area of interest identified. We will work on developing research questions and abstracts appropriate to these projects and areas, including identification of generative research methods, appropriate bodies of scholarship, and so on. We’ll also work on developing the basic documents of an academic life – c.v., statement of teaching philosophy – and illuminate the long arc of an academic career by way of discussing such materials as the job letter, dissertation proposal and abstract, book proposal, and teaching portfolio.
The formal requirements of the course include the preparation of an abstract in response to a conference or symposium cfp; the development of a work/revision plan for an essay for submission to an academic journal or other venue; and similar kinds of projects to be determined on an individual basis. Students registering for two credits can expect to work on shorter or more concise projects than students registering for four.
ENGL 88100. Mario DiGangi and William Fisher. “History, Theory, and Early Modern Sexualities”. 2/4 credits. Thursdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. [CRN 25034] Cross listed with WSCP 81000.
This team-taught seminar will explore and expand the repertoire of scholarly methods for reading sexuality in early modern literature, with an eye to current debates and future directions for the field. We will consider how different theoretical and historical approaches have produced varying accounts of sexuality as an object of inquiry; we will engage various reading strategies for elucidating sexual meaning in dramatic texts; and we will reflect critically on questions of evidence, affect, gender, subjectivity, language, genre, theatricality, textual editing, and periodization. The following kinds of questions will guide our discussions: What are the consequences of emphasizing historical alterity, as opposed to historical continuity, in the study of sexuality? Are concepts such as sexual identity, subjectivity, or community useful in analyzing early modern modes of eroticism? How might the field move beyond familiar sexual paradigms and taxonomies (i.e., homoeroticism/heteroeroticism) to access alternative forms of erotic knowledge, practice, and relationality in early modern culture? How do particular textual and performative elements (i.e., puns, soliloquies, gestures, costumes, voices, metatheatrical moments, offstage actions) convey or confound sexual meaning? In exploring these questions, we will draw on a range of primary texts (drama, poetry, and prose) from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
ENGL 70000. Matthew Gold. “Introduction to Doctoral Studies in English” 4 credits. Mondays 4:15PM-6:15PM. Open to Ph.D. Program in English Students only. [CRN 25035]
In a time when boundaries between academic disciplines are dissolving, how can the study of “English” profit from cross-disciplinary exchange even as it offers perspectives and methodologies of its own? This class addresses this question by exploring key facets of the study of literature. We analyze the historical, institutional context of literary study and consider how this background provides guidance for the future of the profession. We consider how individual literary works can be approached from different angles, including the theoretical, the textual, and the archival. Online archives especially pertinent to literary study are identified, and collections at the New York Public Library are sampled. Bibliographical and research training is provided. We probe principal theoretical approaches of recent times, and we tackle questions of textual authority, composition, reception, and dissemination. The course provides students with tools for graduate study and for competing in the academic job market. Students are expected to give oral reports and to undertake a semester project in an area relevant to one of the course’s main areas.
What is English Studies? This course takes an open and exploratory approach to answering that question as it considers past, present, and future directions of work in and around the field. Partly a history of the field, partly an introduction to the work of English studies and life in the academy, partly a foray into library and archival research, and partly a consideration of new digital methods in literary studies, the course aims to offer a broad introduction to the doctoral student experience and to limn some of the paths that students might take in their careers. Students will be expected to participate fully in the course, which includes online discussions, bibliographic and archival research assignments, an in-class presentation, and a final paper relevant to one of the main areas of the course.
ENGL 83500. Carrie Hintz. “Enlightenment Utopias”. 2/4 credits. Thursdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. [CRN 25050] Cross listed with WSCP 81000.
Our seminar will center on utopian literature and thought in the late seventeenth century and eighteenth century in the light of contemporary utopian theory. Topics covered will include utopia as social critique, utopian satire and lampoon, gendered spaces in utopia, rationality and nonsense, the literature of colonization and exploration, and the ways in which the rhetorical construction of ideal selfhoods in these works serves to exclude—or even eliminate— individuals and populations outside Enlightenment norms. The last seven weeks of the seminar will be devoted to fostering student research and writing, and to crafting seminar papers with a view to publication or dissertation work.
ENGL 86600. Peter Hitchcock. “Postcolonial Globality: On the Speed of Place”. 2/4 credits. Wednesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. [CRN 25036] Cross listed with WSCP 81000.
Theorists have long attempted to unravel the vexed imbrication of postcolonialism with globalization. On the one hand, the West’s desire to be “at home in the world” (often expressed as imperialism) linked global forces of trade and politics to a colonial episteme; on the other hand, globalization tout court has also spurred vibrant forms of critical transnationalism and new ways to understand cultures of migration and diaspora. Rather than read these contexts and contacts as binaries for cultural critique, this course will examine how postcolonialism destabilizes from within the normative and by all means hegemonic assumptions of globalization.
ENGL 80200. Wayne Koestenbaum. “Punctuation”. 2/4 credits. Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. [CRN 25038]
“…what matters is the punctuation,” said Ludwig Wittgenstein, who also wrote, or said: “I really want my copious punctuation marks to slow down the speed of reading.” For speed, for slowness, for fastidiousness, for laxness—however punctuation means, and whatever punctuation means, we will read, in this seminar, primarily for the marks, the unvocalized, often unnoticed and unread points and curves (eyelashes? tears?) that constitute punctuation. We will read for meaning, whatever that is, but we will try to edge our reading toward the silent places where meaning arrives at its arrangements through punctuation—which can be explosive and whimsical, but can also represent chains of common sense, and consensual pacts of pacing. We will be reading, I suppose, for the symptoms, and thus will find a form of ease—a diagnostician’s calm?—in the contemplation of what usually goes unsaid: commas, periods, colons, and other symptoms of exactitude. “Exact resemblance,” wrote Stein, and “Exactitude as kings”; or, as she observed in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, “Gertrude Stein, in her work, has always been possessed by the intellectual passion for exactitude….” For poetic exactitude’s symptoms, we will closely listen.
To acquire visceral grounding in punctuation’s brutal stakes, we might begin with a reading of Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” and Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida (where his famous notion of punctum receives air time). The sky’s the limit, when punctuation is the subject, so I hesitate to advertise in advance what the course’s readings will be, but, in the spirit of fair warning, here are some possibilities: a quick dose of Emily Dickinson, if only for her dashes; Stein, to sample her peerless exactitude; perhaps some short and agonizing pieces by Samuel Beckett; exquisitely timed poems of Marianne Moore; a pointed tale of Henry James (perhaps The Aspern Papers or The Turn of the Screw); a dry novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett, or a lush novel by Willa Cather; Elizabeth Hardwick’s somnolent sprechstimme-recitative, Sleepless Nights; the late Amiri Baraka’s classic Blues People: Negro Music in White America; and Kevin Young’s tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat, To Repel Ghosts. Maybe poems by Paul Celan or Ingeborg Bachmann or Georg Trakl (in bilingual German/English editions)? And Nathaniel Mackey, and William Carlos Williams, among other indispensables… Details to follow!
Requirements: in-class presentation and final project.
ENGL 85000 . Eric Lott. “Formations of U.S. Cultural Studies”. 2/4 credits. Mondays 6:30PM-8:30PM. [CRN 25938].
This course plays double with the “formations” of its title: it examines key cultural and social formations in the unfolding of the United States since the early nineteenth century in the context of notable debates in and constellations of Americanist cultural studies scholarship, so serving as an advanced inquiry into both. The interdisciplinary, and increasingly transnational, enterprise of American Studies has provided new perspectives on region, nation, and globe that challenge, too, the divides among culture, society, politics, and economy. Since the Cold War’s demise, in a newly globalized world, the field has been in a better position to devise an American Studies practice that views critically the boundaries of and reflexive allegiances to the nation-state, that 18th-century technology of compulsory homogeneity. Borders—of the nation, of community, of cultural production, of subjectivity (race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, et al.)—will be understood as both preeminently porous and continually policed. We will thus pay particular attention to the evolving nation-state’s evolving relation to global structures it decisively influences even as it attempts to keep them at bay. Periodization as a mode of speculation will focus our conversations around such key nodal points as 1848, 1898, 1914, 1945, 1989, and 2001. We’ll examine cultural and artistic shapes and forms of many kinds (literature, performance, cinema, television, music, and more) in the context of scholarship from several disciplines—forms and formations, bases and superstructures. Among other things, our inquiry will raise questions about just how to think all these together. Ultimately it will be our business to explore the historical and institutional links between American Studies and cultural studies, to think about where key debates in the field may be tending in the years ahead, and to develop an engagement with American Studies professional practices—conferences, collaborations, panels, journals—in which you will be encouraged to begin to participate.
ENGL 89000. Mark McBeth. “Queer Lines of Communication: Composing Intellectual Identity/Identifying Educational Normativity”. 2/4 credits. Tuesdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. [CRN 25445]
Perhaps most important, performance studies offers useful ways of theorizing the oftentimes slippery idea of “performing,” which is both medium and act, noun and verb. – Jenn Fishman, et al. “Performing Writing, Performing Literacy” (96)
The here and now is simply not enough. Queerness should and could be about a desire for another way of being in both the world and time, a desire that resists mandates to accept that which is not enough. - José Esteban Muñoz. “Cruising the Toilet: LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baracka, Radical Black Traditions, and Queer Futurity.” (365)
If according to J. L. Austin, words do things, then utterances at school can do things to students and teachers. When the President of an institution proclaims, “I hereby confer these degrees upon the class of . . .” an entire series of personal, social, economic, and political events ensue. As a way to refocus the attentions of our educational institutions (and even the field of composition), we flirt with the triangulation of composition research, performance studies and queer theory because all three attend to the processes and implications of actions—the rehearsal part. This course investigates the relationships between educational institutions, identity, and composing, calling upon Queer theory, performance studies, and composition/rhetoric research to explore the intersections between performing teaching/learning, uttering performative educational policies, and composing an intellectual self. This useful and pleasurable ménage a trois concern themselves with learning performance, the rhetorical force of language, ideas about development and identity, and most importantly, they don’t get hung up on the final products of academic tasks. Through an unpacking and a re-synthesis of these distinctive theoretical approaches accompanied by experiences and reflections that ground these theories in real educational life, we will focus our attention on how our language usage shapes the realities of our classrooms and administrative decision-making.
ENGL 88000. Nancy K. Miller. “Postwar Women Writers and Intellectuals”. 2/4 credits. Wednesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. [CRN 25447] Cross listed with WSCP 81000.
Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts was published posthumously in 1941. Beginning here, with the death of this author, we will proceed to examine the work of women writers who produced essays, novels, and poetry from the war years through the advent of second-wave feminism. Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Carolyn Heilbrun, Julia Kristeva, Audre Lorde, Mary McCarthy, Adrienne Rich, Susan Sontag, Simone Weil, Virginia Woolf. These prolific and brilliant women are not only major writers. As intellectual figures and cultural icons, they also have often played an important role in public debate. Of special interest to the seminar will be the relations among these women, who sometimes admired, sometimes detested one another.
Work for the course: one oral presentation, weekly responses, and one term paper, due at the end of the semester.
ENGL 81500. Tanya Pollard. “Science, Sympathy, and the Stage in Early Modern England”. 2/4 credits. Thursdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. [CRN 25051] Cross listed with WSCOP 81000.
This course will explore early modern scientific models of bodies’ relationships with their environments, with attention to theories about the sympathies sparked by correlations between human, animal, and inanimate bodies, and the potent consequences of manipulating these sympathies. Readings will include Arden of Faversham; Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus; Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Tempest; Webster’s Duchess of Malfi; Middleton’s Changeling and The Witch; Jonson’s Epicoene and The Alchemist; Crooke’s Microcosmographia; and Wright’s Passions of the Mind in General.
ENGL 85500. Robert Reid-Pharr. “Theorizing the African Diaspora”. 2/4 credits. Thursdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. [CRN 25040] Cross listed with WSCP 81000.
This seminar will introduce students to some of the more significant critical and theoretical trends within African Diaspora Studies. Participants will be expected both to develop sophisticated understandings of the history of the African Diaspora as well as to understand the complex issues of identity and aesthetics that attend that history. Students will do in-class presentations and will write a series of short papers. Texts that we will examine include: V.Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge; Aime Ceasire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land; Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism; Michael Gomez: Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora; Michele M. Wright, Being Black: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora; Sarah Nuttall, ed., Beautiful/Ugly: African and Diaspora Aesthetics; Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzegwu, The New African Diaspora; Michel Rolph-Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History; Richard Price, The Convict and the Colonel; and Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation.
ENGL 80200. Joan Richardson. “American Aesthetics: Pragmatism as Experience”. 2/4 credits. Thursdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. [CRN 25041]
As the great Indian monk and teacher Vivekananda points out in Practical Vedanta: Lectures on Jnana Yoga—a text William James knew and valued—most of our differences as human beings “are merely differences of language.” (James brought Vivekananda to Harvard to lecture in 1896, introducing him as “an honor to humanity.”) Pragmatism is above all a method for making adjustments for these differences, for measuring our words, we could say. Charles Sanders Peirce, the framer of American pragmatism, learned how to make ideas clear by adapting the methods of adjusting for parallax, of accounting for the aberrations of starlight and irregularities in earth’s orbit, to how we use words. He established the field of semiotics, a truly native American sign-language, as it were. His aspiration continued the Romantics’ project to devise a use of language that might repair the consequences of the Fall. Peirce and James had taken deeply to heart and mind Emerson’ s brilliant summation of where we find ourselves in relation to language, a condition painfully exacerbated by the Darwinian information: “It is very unhappy, but too late to be helped, the discovery we have made, that we exist. That discovery is called the Fall of Man. Ever afterwards, we suspect our instruments.” This observation is at the core of Emerson’s most unsettling essay, “Experience,” an offering that performs the revelation of experience—which shares its root with peril and experiment—as risk, adventure, as projective attitude and activity appropriate to inhabiting a universe of chance. William James repeatedly reminds us that we each have a stake in what the future is to be:
the idea of a world growing not integrally but piecemeal by the contributions of its several parts…offer[ing]…the chance of taking part in such a world. Its safety…is unwarranted. It is a real adventure, with real danger, yet it may win through. It is a social scheme of co-operative work genuinely to be done.
The “co-operative work,” of course, depends on finding a method of not misreading one another’s signals as we shape language to imagine a future, knowing, as Wallace Stevens beautifully put it, that “the imperfect is our paradise.”
William James’s Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking (1907) will be at the center of our discussion throughout the term; we will read its eight lectures very slowly and deliberately. Around them will radiate other texts: some of those from which they grew and some of those growing from them—“…our knowledge grows in spots [James’s emphasis]. The spots may be large or small, but the knowledge never grows all over: some old knowledge always remains what it was.” Primary in this radiant circle will be excerpts from Jonathan Edwards, Emerson, C. S. Peirce, Wallace Stevens—the usual suspects, in other words. Secondary readings will include some of my own work and great surprises!
A term paper/project will be required.
ENGL 80900. Michael Sargent. “Translation in the Age of Chaucer: The Vernacularity Debate”. 2/4 credits. Mondays 2:00PM-4:00PM. [CRN 25042]
The role of literature in the vernacular was strongly contested at the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth century in England – including particularly the theoretical debate over the appropriateness of the translation of scripture. According to one school of modern literary criticism, the debate was definitively ended by the ecclesiastical authorities with the promulgation of Archbishop Arundel’s Lambeth Constitutions of 1409. Yet we must also observe the expansion of literary translation into English throughout this period, including not just the French literature that had often been translated into English throughout the medieval period, but also, e.g., translations of Italian literature by Chaucer and others.
ENGL 91000. Talia Schaffer. “Dissertation Workshop”. 0 credits. Wednesdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. Course open to Level 2 & 3 students in the Ph.D. Program in English. [CRN 25043]
This workshop will give students the opportunity to develop and complete their dissertation prospectus and/or produce dissertation chapters. It will be conducted as a workshop with students reading and commenting on one another’s work under the professor’s guidance. We will discuss writing and revision, research, documentation, etc. We will also work on how best to create a scholarly article or articles as part of the dissertation writing process, and look ahead to how the dissertation might become a first monograph.
ENGL 79010. Ira Shor. “Speaking Truth to Power: Discourses of Domination and Resistance”. 2/4 credits. Wednesdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. [CRN 25044]
With a new populist Mayor, New York City may see changes to its runaway inequality and feeble democracy. Can Mayor DeBlasio reverse the triumph of the billionaires? One lens through which to watch the evolving conflict is the domain of rhetoric and discourse. Certainly, many things will signal ups and downs in this class and race war; but, rhetoric and discourse are consequential tools for all sides. The success of democratic reform will depend on them. This is so because any egalitarian leader facing entrenched oligarchy can advance only by the force of mass activism from the bottom up; countless bodies of average people filling public squares are the best counter-weight against the formidable mountains of money blocking the way; a mass counter-weight to great wealth can only be rallied through discourses which inspire and lead conquered people to fight against plutocrats for the public good. This fight will take many forms, but one form will be a rhetorical contest between discourses of domination and discourses of opposition.
Discourses are specific acts of communication through which rhetors move receivers to see things a certain way, to prefer these ways of knowing and doing rather than those. Discourses flood everyday life with meanings that develop habits, preferences, perceptions, allegiances, and orientations (Bourdieu’s notion of “habitus”). The dense discourses of daily life can shape people in certain directions because human communication is inherently “suasive” (according to Kenneth Burke, Jerome Bruner, and Michel Foucault). Discourse, then, is a material force through which human subjects are socially constructed. Through discourse, we are acted upon and act on ourselves, on others, and on the conditions we are in. Ideology is the component of discourse which achieves this shaping effect on human subjects and social sites, through a process sometimes called interpellation (Althusser). Ideology in discourse achieves its formative impact by representing to us what is good, what is possible, and what exists(as Goran Therborn explains this process).
Rhetoric emerged as a persuasive practice 2500 years ago in the “civic assembly” or agora of ancient Athens, a “town hall” open only to the male citizens of that city-state. Rhetoric still functions as a tool-kit of techniques for composing discourses to effect our intentions and to affect our listeners and environs. One kind of rhetoric, “speaking truth to power,” appeared in ancient Athens as “parrhesia”(“fearless speech” according to Foucault, or “speaking truth to power” or “truth-telling”).
This seminar will examine rhetoric and discourse vis a vis power relations in society. How does rhetoric manage the composition of discourses and how does discourse manage the composition of human subjects and society? Dominant rhetorics guide the composing of discourses through which compliant human subjects are interpellated; dissident rhetorics guide the composing of opposition discourses for developing critical human subjects. One is a tool of the status quo; the other a tool of transformation. As Kenyan playwright Ngugi Wa’Thiongo pictured Europe’s conquest of Africa, he wrote that “the night of the sword was followed by the morning of the chalkboard”—guns defeated the natives and created imperial possibilities which were consolidated by rhetoric and discourse (in this case colonial education and European languages). In our town and time, a disfavored populist surprisingly won at the polls, creating an opening to the left which rhetoric and discourse may yet consolidate.
Readings: Foucault (Society Must Be Defended; Discipline and Punish; Fearless Speech), Bourdieu(Distinction; Language as Symbolic Action), Scott (Domination and the Arts of Resistance; Thinking Like a State), Pratt(“Arts of the Contact Zone”), Therborn(The Ideology of Power); Hardt/Negri (Declaration); Chomsky(Understanding Power); Ngugi Wa’Thiongo, Decolonizing the Mind; plus other sources.
ENGL 84200. Alan Vardy. “Romanticism, Landscape and Nature”. 2/4 credits. Tuesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. [CRN 25045]
This course will offer a detailed tour of the relationships between art and nature as they developed from the latter half of the 18th through the first third of the 19th centuries, concluding with the poetry and natural history prose journal of John Clare. I use the term “tour” intentionally to highlight the centrality of walking in the development of these aesthetic experiences. As part of the seminar we will enjoy a short tour of the ‘Ramble,’ Olmstead’s picturesque masterpiece in Central Park. The course will study theories of the pastoral, landscape gardens, guidebooks, the picturesque, the beautiful, the sublime, Edmund Burke, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Clare. We will begin with Burke’s Philosophical Inquiry into Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful in order to develop a basic understanding of those aesthetic categories; the course will plot a shift from art focused on the aesthetics of landscape to one concerned with the value of nature. Students should read Burke prior to the beginning of the semester; there is a good inexpensive OUP paperback available. Please buy the Oxford edition of Clare’s poems in particular (there is a lot of controversy around various editing practices, and we should all have the same text).
Practicum: ENGL 79000. “The Teaching of College Writing: Practicum”. 4 credits
Baruch: Tuesdays, 12:30PM-2:15PM; Rm. TBA, 4 credits, Prof. Smith,Course opent to Ph.D. students in the English Program. [CRN 25048]
John Jay: Thursdays, 3:00PM-5:00PM; Rm. TBA, 4 credits, Prof. McCormack, Course opent to Ph.D. students in the English Program. [CRN 25046]
Queens: Tuesdays, 10:05AM-11:55AM; Rm. TBA, 4 credits, Prof. Fisk, Course opent to Ph.D. students in the English Program. [CRN 25047]
Lehman: tba Rm. TBA, 4 credits, Course opent to Ph.D. students in the English Program. [CRN 25049]
00401 Alcalay Ammiel
00719 Alexander Meena
00078 Bonaparte Felicia
00299 Bowen Barbara
00243 Brenkman John
00148 Brownstein Rachel
00402 Burger Glenn
00137 Caws Mary Ann
13028 Chuh Kandice
01030 Dawson Ashley
00080 Dickstein Morris
00571 DiGangi Mario
10945 Di Iorio Lyn
00758 Dolan Marc
00403 Elsky Martin
01032 Faherty Duncan
25820 Gold Matthew
00565 Greetham David
00890 Hintz Carrie
00581 Hitchcock Peter
01031 Hoeller Hildegard
00298 Humpherys Anne
01088 Israel Nico
00618 Joseph Gerhard
00893 Kaye Richard
00147 Kelly William
00378 Koestenbaum Wayne
00287 Kruger Steven
00182 Marcus Jane Connor
00167 McCoy Richard
00063 Miller Nancy
00330 Otte George 00591 Perl Sondra
11199 Pollard Tanya
00577 Reid-Pharr Robert
00221 Reynolds David
00146 Richardson Joan
00388 Richter David
00406 Sargent Michael
00407 Savran David
00408 Schaffer Talia
00274 Shor Ira
00570 Stone Donald
00782 Suggs Jon-Christian
00135 Tolchin Neal
00889 Vardy Alan
00751 Wallace Michele
00409 Watts Jerry
00325 Webb Barbara
00203 Whatley E. Gordon
00688 Wilner Joshua
19628 Yood Jessica
00891 Yousef Nancy