Spring 2016 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
For Dissertation Supervision click here.
Course listings and room numbers subject to change.
Curric of Counter
Disability Stu 19th C
Lit as Industry
Hum Right Thry & Prac
Send in the Clowns
Intro Doc Stu
Af Am Lit & Ed
Perform & Politics
Fem, Auto, Thry
Rev & the World
Neg Aes US Latino/a
Am Lit, Am Learn
ENGL 73100. The Curriculum of Counterinsurgency: Revolutions, Empires, Universities. Siraj Ahmed. Tuesdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30320] (Cross-listed with CTCP)
(Cross listed with WSCP 81000)
(Cross listed with WSCP 81000)
Students will be asked to post one question each week and to write a final paper. In order to place recent debates about ‘the crisis of the humanities’ and ‘the university in ruins’ into a broader historical and geopolitical perspective, this course will study the Enlightenment origins and colonial development of both institutions. It will focus on four interrelated topics:
(1) The revolutions of the long eighteenth century (English, American, French, and Haitian) and, more specifically, the political and intellectual legacies—counter-revolutionary as well as revolutionary—we have inherited from them. We will play particular attention to the distinction between constituent and constituted power—the fundamental conflict at the heart of every modern revolution—that was first articulated by the Abbé Sieyès in 1789 but would become seminal for twentieth-century critical thought. Possible excerpts from Arendt, On Revolution; James, The Black Jacobins; Negri, Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State; Badiou, ‘What is a Thermidorean?’ in Metapolitics; Agamben, ‘Potentiality and Law’ in Homo Sacer; Hardt and Negri, ‘Potentialities of a Constituent Power’ in Labor of Dionysus and ‘Constituting the Common’ in Declaration.
(2) The relationship of these revolutions to the Enlightenment models of education, particularly literary education,that would shape the modern university. We will study, at varying levels of depth, the bourgeois public sphere and the new practice of criticism that was designed to regulate it, as well as the intertwined development of biopolitics and the human sciences. Possible excerpts from Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere; Graff, Professing Literature: An Institutional History; Derrida, The Eyes of the University and ‘The University without Condition’; Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”; Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster.
(3) The imperial dissemination of Enlightenment by means of colonial education. Even the most honored principles of modern politics and knowledge take on a different appearance in the colonies. Here we will study the work of Subaltern Studies (and like-minded) scholars. Possible excerpts from Guha, Dominance without Hegemony; Chatterjee, Lineages of Political Society and The Politics of the Governed; Kaviraj, The Imaginary Institution of India and The Invention of Private Life; Scott, Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment; Seth, Subject Lessons.
(4) The place of postcolonial theory—and perhaps of the contemporary humanities more broadly—within the historical trajectory our class will have mapped to this point. Where do they unwittingly extend their own colonial genealogy and where do they instead interrupt it in nuanced ways? Until we understand the university’s global longue durée, we may not be in position even to evaluate the academic humanities today. Possible excerpts from Gramsci, The Southern Question; Fanon, ‘On National Culture’; Cabral, ‘The Weapon of Theory’; Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed; Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism; Spivak, ‘What’s Left of Theory?.’
ENGL 85410. Occupied America: Method, History, Poetics. Ammiel Alcalay. Thursdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30305]
Nothing could be more central to American reality than the relationships between Americans and American Indians, yet those relationships are of course the most invisible and the most lied about. The lies are not simply a denial; they constitute a new world, the world in which American culture is located.
In this course we will work from the recent present and the distant past to familiarize ourselves with pre-colonial “America,” that is, before colonization, drastically shifting the balance and burden of power backwards in order to relocate culture and politics. We will use these soundings to establish a different chronology for the study of human habitation, the relationship of peoples, and the interpretation of diverse cultures on the lands that come to be called the Americas.
At the same time, we will push back at the past through a range of contemporary materials—prose, poetry, investigative poetics, art—that can inform, support, interrogate, and perforate the wide array of methodological approaches and disciplines—geography, linguistics, anthropology, history, etc.—through which our understanding of the complexities of political life and cultural formation will emerge.
At the heart of our inquiry will be a willingness to dwell on singular form or instance and use it as a means to rethink methodological hierarchies and historical categories that, in fact, shift allegiances and suppress open approaches to inquiry and singular forms of expression. The course aims to begin familiarizing ourselves with the vast parameters of Native American studies, and how some understanding of this terrain necessarily complicates English and American Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and a host of other sub-fields and concerns.
As the class reads a range of representative texts in common, each student will embark on an individual course of research and be expected to inform the class regularly on their thought and findings; these trajectories can go in myriad chronological and disciplinary directions, while paying attention to incorporating critiques of historical, political, ideological, theoretical and formal assumptions that often govern disciplinary structures.
Readings may include:
The Book of the Fourth World
; Gordon Brotherston
Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand
, Richard F. Townsend
American Indian Languages: Cultural & Social Contexts
, Shirley Silver, Wick R. Miller
Changes in the Land
, William Cronon
Selected writings of Carl O. Sauer
Africans and Native Americans
, Jack Forbes
Native People of Southern New England 1500-1650
, Kathleen Bragdon
Women’s Indian Captivity Narratives
, Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola
Wisdom Sits in Places
, Keith Basso
Selected writings of Jaime de Angulo
The Mayan Letters
, Charles Olson
(and other selected writings), Edward Dorn
Waiting to be Interrupted
(and other selected writings and works), Jimmie Durham
Almanac of the Dead
, Leslie Marmon Silko
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: An American Modernist
, Carolyn Kastner
Selected works, Edgar Heap of Birds
Native North American Art
, Janet Catherine Berlo & Ruth B. Phillips
Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee
, Paul Chaat Smith & Robert Allen Warrior
ENGL 86500. Postcolonial Poetics: Body, Archive, Memory. Meena Alexander. Wednesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30319] (Cross-listed with CTCP and with WSCP 81000)
Using a range of texts -- poetry, fiction, theory -- we will try to connect archival knowledge in its sometimes ruined materiality with the intensely personal task of textual self-construction. We will brood on cultural memory and the archive it generates ; the function of art in a time of difficulty; acts of autobiographical meaning –making ; radical untranslatability. We will explore the search for voice in the face of racial violence and dislocation as we trace South-South connections (Wright, Manto); the work of contemporary American women poets (Cha, Rankine); diaspora and fractured identities (Naipaul, Rushdie); Indian Ocean cosmopolitanisms (Gandhi, Ghosh, Ananda Devi). We will read Fanon’s `Colonial Wars and Mental Disorders’, Djebar’s `Forbidden Gaze, Severed Sound’ and Mahasveta Devi’s short stories as well as selections from Dalit writers. There will be selections from theorists such as Appadurai, Debord, Derrida, Glissant, Guha, Lowe, Merleau-Ponty, Moten, Spivak, Stoler and others. This course will be run as a seminar with weekly readings and student presentations and a final research paper. Books for purchase will be on order at Book Culture, 536 W 112 St (between Broadway and Amsterdam): The Archive
(ed Charles Merewether); Theresa Cha, Dictee
; Mahasveta Devi, Imaginary Maps
; Assia Djebar, Women of Algiers in Their Apartment
; Amitav Ghosh, Antique
Land; V.S.Naipaul, Enigma of Arrival
; Claudia Rankine, Citizen
; Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses
. Other materials will be uploaded into the course dropbox.
ENGL 76000. Modernist Looking: Turnings in Portraits and Places. Mary Ann Caws
. Thursdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits [CRN 30301] (cross-listed with WSCP 81000)
I’d like to investigate various types of turns, not just the linguistic turn or the philosophical turn or any turn of events or serious paradigm shift, rather a modest and often merely metaphoric or visual bend in something as everyday as a road. Here is my initial thought: that modernism now is not so much about meanings but more about, or at least as much about what something turn and points to. Turnings call for a turning into, turnings involved a going back incessantly more than going forward. I am fascinated by re-turnings, inturnings, and turning aside, as in the so celebrated and celebratory theatre asides.
Modernism is, as I see it, about learning by its turns, not just by its forward progression, straight ahead.
Starting with the turn or turns in some celebrated texts (Virginia Woolf, etc.), and relating them to visual turns in some paintings (Nicolas de Stael, etc.), this seminar wants to look at how they work, and how we see them now – that is, turns in the landscapes, seascapes, and textscapes we will be caring about. We will be seeing them alongside various shifts in character and tone in a few novels, poems, and plays (Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, Edith Wharton, etc. –all these “etc.” mean to carry a big and unspecified load, on purpose). Depending on group interest, we may stretch our sights to points of view and sorts of style in essays, criticism, perhaps also films. There will be a certain emphasis on portraiture and self-portraiture, and on our ways of looking at a few rather singular beings and writers (such as Ronald Firbank, Henry Green, Andy Warhol, etc.) The improbable will sneak in shiftily, for example, when you think you know where a character is going and then it makes a turn in another direction. When you come to a fork in the road, take both roads simultaneously, that kind of thing (Cortazar, etc.) The visual pose striking nearest is that of the contrapposto, as if we could enact as well as imagine following two directions at once. Why not?
ENGL 85400. Decolonizing Thought: On Indigeneity, Race, and Modernity. Kandice Chuh. Mondays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits [CRN 30316] (Cross-listed with CTCP and with WSCP 81000)
This seminar takes as its point of departure the critiques and theorizations of the ongoingness of coloniality as another, more appropriate name for modernity. How do such insights transform the understanding and deployment of such concepts key to cultural studies as nation, race, sexuality, gender, sovereignty, postcoloniality, and justice? What are the possibilities for and obstacles to advancing decolonial thinking through aesthetic craft and pedagogic/intellectual/curricular practice? What are the stakes in such projects? Relying especially on the critical/creative work of Native American, American Indian, and First Nations discourses, we will devote the semester to becoming critically conversant with, and/or deepening our engagements with, decolonization as a theoretical, political, aesthetic, and economic construct and condition. Among others, students should expect to encounter work by William Apess, Joanne Barker, Jodi Byrd, Glen Coulthard, Louise Erdrich, Mishuana Goeman, Alyosha Goldstein, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Lisa Lowe, Walter Mignolo, Mark Rifkin, Leslie Marmon Silko, Audra Simpson, Gerald Vizenor, Robert Warrior, Sarah Winnemucca, and Sylvia Wynter.
Two shorter writings and a longer project constitute the formal requirements of the course for students enrolled for 4 credits; students enrolled for 2 credits would submit only the two shorter writings to meet these requirements. Everyone is expected to participate fully in the life of what will be a discussion-driven class.
ENGL 89010. American Literature, American Learning. Cathy Davidson. Wednesdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30303]
This course has three primary intentions. First, we will consider some foundational texts of American educational and cultural history, investigating the strategies of inclusion and exclusion they deploy. Possible topics include: the seventeenth and eighteenth-century establishment of religiously-affiliated institutions designed to educate clergy, schools which in time became bastions of privilege; the yoking of education and republican principle in antebellum America, particularly as that impulse is registered in Thomas Jefferson’s founding of the University of Virginia; the expansion of educational opportunity through the public school movement, as documented in Horace Mann’s reports to the Massachusetts Board of Education (1837-48); the rise of politically and ideologically-fraught institutions to serve women, African-Americans, and Native Americans; the expansion of educational franchise marked by the opening in 1847 of CUNY’s forerunner, the Free Academy, and by the passage of the First Morrill Act in 1862; and the emergence and consequence of liberal education theory at the end of the nineteenth-century. Second, we will read contemporary critiques/accounts of American education. Third, we will experiment with a variety of pedagogical practices that model different relationships between power and knowledge. The range of texts we might read is very wide indeed; writers under current consideration include: Increase and Cotton Mather, Thomas Shepard, Charles Chauncey, John Witherspoon, Jonathan Edwards, Olaudah Equiano,Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Bronson Alcott, Susanna Rowson, Catherine Beecher, Margaret Fuller, Lucy Larcom, Emma Willard, Horace Mann, Townsend Harris, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Zitkala-Sa, Henry Adams, John Dewey, Ralph Ellison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lani Guinier, Christopher Newfield, and Craig Steven Wilder.
ENGL 86600. Mongrel Nation: Race, Place, and Culture in Postcolonial Britain. Ashley Dawson
. Fridays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30321]
The open border policy that has defined the European Union for decades is on the brink of collapse as European nations turn against refugees from the imperial wars of the last decade. No European country is more culpable for this human blowback than Britain since it has been the most ardent participant in the US’s open-ended War on Terror, yet Britain has been one of the most reluctant of the European nations to abide by its legal commitments to provide harbor to refugees of political persecution. There is a long history behind such contemporary forms of imperial intervention and xenophobic closure. Indeed, twentieth century writers such as George Orwell spoke critically of a nation defined by an exclusionary “Little England” ideology, a land of “solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes.” As Orwell’s account suggests, culture plays a defining role in cementing a sense of belonging – and exclusion - in Britain. This seminar seeks to interrogate and challenge representations of Little England by tracing the transnational, multi-racial genealogy of Britishness, looking in particular at the role of aesthetic production – from literature to film, television, and popular music – in fomenting or contesting exclusionary definitions of national identity. We will begin our discussions in the era of trans-Atlantic slavery and continue by looking at Britain and Britishness during the zenith of imperial power, but will devote most of the class to analysis of the evolving cultural scene in the second half of the 20th century and the current moment, placing developments in the cultural sphere in the broader context of the political and economic transformations of British society.
We are likely to read work by Monica Ali, Benedict Anderson, Ian Baucom, Aphra Behn, Hazel Carby, Daniel Defoe, Olaudah Equiano, Simon Gikandi, Paul Gilroy, H. Rider Haggard, Stuart Hall, Kazuo Ishiguro, C.L.R. James, Isaac Julien, Hanif Kureishi, Andrea Levy, Peter Linebaugh, Anne McClintock, Helen Oyeyemi, Pratibha Parmar, Caryl Phillips, Jean Rhys, and Sam Selvon.
Class assignments will consist of a seminar-length research paper and a conference-style public presentation of research.
ENGL 86000. Literature as Industry: The Business of Writing and Reading. Marc Dolan. Thursdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30306]
How does the way in which writers earn a living affect the sort of writing they compose? How do different literary eras and cultures invite/allow access by writers from marginalized groups in different ways? How does the form in which readers receive literature affect the themes and concerns it tends to take up? Fifty years ago, such questions might have been considered studies in “the profession of authorship” or “the history of the book,” but with the rise of cultural studies, so-called “distant reading,” and other systems-driven forms of scholarship, 21st
century researchers are more likely to think synchronically rather than individualistically about such matters.
This course will consider the business of literature—how its changing political economy in the modern era has affected its production, distribution, consumption, and influence—and it will do so with any critical means at its disposal. Among the topics we may
take up are: editors who then became authors (e.g., Willa Cather, Pauline Hopkins); authorial transitions from “exoticized” autobiography to fiction writing (e.g., Herman Melville, William Wells Brown); the practical benefits and aesthetic effects of writing for magazine publication (e.g., Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald) and lending libraries (e.g., Henry James, George Eliot); how MFA programs and college teaching jobs have affected the form and style of recent fiction (e.g., .Louise Erdrich, Jhumpa Lahiri); the promotion of Southern Hemisphere authors in Northern Hemisphere markets (e.g, Chinua Achebe, Gabriel Garcia Marquez); the taking-up of elite texts by popular fora (e.g., Book of the Month Club, Oprah’s Book Club); the creation of a literary reputation (e.g., David Foster Wallace, Maxine Hong Kingston).
After the first few weeks our topics may be shaped a little more by specific student interest, but they will necessarily range across time (at the very least the last two centuries) and place (at least three continents’ production of Anglophone literature). Consequently, no particular area of specialization is necessary for this course. Ideally, we will all bring different topical and critical specializations to the discussion, and construct our own shared critical language across the semester. As in any good seminar, my hope is that each of us will leave the course keenly interested in at least one topic or approach we previously thought irrelevant to our scholarship.
All students will give one short presentation summarizing scholarship relevant to a particular week’s discussion, as well as a longer talk and paper at the end of the semester presenting original scholarship that fits within our course’s (admittedly broad) concerns. Lively, collegial, and generative participation in all discussions is heartily encouraged.
ENGL 85500. Revolution and the World: Early American Literature 1780-1855. Duncan Faherty. Mondays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30307]
The landmark publication of Cathy Davidson’s Revolution and the Word
in 1986 recast the study of American literature by essentially establishing post-Revolutionary U.S. fiction as a field worthy of study. Davidson’s focus on the “coemergence of the new U.S. nation and the new literary genre of the novel” has shaped scholarship and the development of the U.S. canon ever since. This course seeks to reploy Revolution and the Word
as a springboard to interrogate how the field and its attendant canon have evolved across the last three decades. Central to our considerations will be thinking about the ways in which an accumulative plurality of revolutions (the U.S., the French, and the Haitian) impacted the formation of the early Republic. As such, we will examine how this larger political geography inflected the development of the novel. Indeed, a range of recent scholarship has fruitfully unsettled the notion that novels respect national borders, or that they retrospectively fit within the contours of mythic exceptionalist geographies. Instead of reading post-Revolutionary texts as an expression of an inevitable “American” subjectivity, this course will approach early American fiction both circum-Atlantically and transhemispherically, as we consider how the trajectory of U.S. cultural history was driven by the complex circumstances of settler colonialism and the horrors of enslavement. By moving beyond our proclivity to imagine national culture as a closed system, we will consider how early “American” novels situate themselves within global networks of exchange. In so doing, we will grapple with the shifting structures of feeling that define notions of democracy, empire, and nation in the early Republic, and attempt to account for the wider range of bodies which – either permanently or temporarily or theoretically – constituted the enthnoscapes of the early Republic. We will read a broad range of texts, including works focused on North Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Spain, India, Antarctica, and the South Pacific. Possible authors include: Susanna Rowson, Charles Brockden Brown, Martha Meredith Read, Tabitha Tenney, Washingon Irving, Caroline Matilda Warren, Leonora Sansay, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allen Poe, Royal Tyler, Hannah Craft, Olaudah Equiano, Mary Prince, Martin Delany, and Herman Melville.
ENGL 80200. Experiments in Art Writing. Wayne Koestenbaum. Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30315] (cross-listed with WSCP 81000)
In this seminar, we will investigate and experience the pleasurable complexities of writing imaginatively about visual art, mostly contemporary. How might art—however we define it—provide impetus and excuse for experiments in critical prose? Seeking inspiration, we will read many of the following writers: John Ruskin, Stéphane Mallarmé, Walter Pater, Gertrude Stein, James Schuyler, Rosalind E. Krauss, T. J. Clark, Molly Nesbit, Susan Sontag, David Antin, James Lord, Boyd McDonald, Hervé Guibert, Eileen Myles, Glenn Ligon, Maggie Nelson, Kellie Jones, Carol Mavor, Hilton Als, Bruce Hainley, and Rebekah Rutkoff. A wayward tradition of stylistic license—of liberties taken—awaits our fond analysis and emulation. In lieu of a final paper, students will write, each week, a two-page composition that responds to a visual occasion or a work of art. (I don’t mean to imply that art is always exclusively optical.)
ENGL 89010. African American Literacies & Education: The 20th and 21st Centuries. Carmen Kynard. Mondays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30302] (cross-listed with WSCP 81000)
Sick and tired of being sick and tired… Freestylin’ or lookin’ for a style that’s free… To protect and serve…Composition in a fifth key...Dukin’ it out with “the powers that be”
… These are all chapters in Elaine Richardson’s African American Literacies
, now a must-read for those researching race, new literacies, and contemporary composition studies. Richardson defines African American literacies as the vernacular resistance arts and cultural productions that are created to carve out free spaces in oppressive locations. Following her lead, we take up such literacies as a way of situating reading, writing, and schooling where learning is located within social and cultural processes. We will study an extensive range of sociolinguists, composition researchers, rhetoric scholars, and literacy/educational activists in order to unravel unique inventions of and interventions in African American struggles for freedom. Our subthemes will include (but are not limited to): literacy and black girlhood/black feminist studies, hip hop literacies, literacy from the contexts of black queer studies, and relationships between schooling and black masculinities. We will use a range of digital artifacts (webpages, ePortfolios, digital storytelling, etc) to engage and build public networks about and for African American literacies in the 21st
century (demos will be provided so you will not need prior technological experience).
ENGL 80600. The Performance of Politics. Eric Lott. Tuesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30309]
This seminar, co-taught by Eric Lott of the CUNY Grad Center and Tavia Nyong’o of NYU, will investigate the concept and practice of cultural politics, with a particular focus on the contemporary U.S. 12 students from the GC and 12 from NYU will meet Tuesdays from 4:15-6:15, probably alternating weekly between midtown and downtown classrooms (and since the two school calendars are out of sync some additional scheduling flexibility might be required). Topics and readings will be drawn from an array of current publications, productions, protests, and practices, and could well include Black Lives Matter/Rhodes Will Fall; uprisings in Ferguson, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and many others; student movements at the University of Missouri, Yale, and elsewhere; NYU and CUNY controversies involving labor, policing, and urban space; the politics (BDS and otherwise) of professional organizations such as the American Studies Association; the politics of the current “little magazine,” for instance n+1
, Social Text
, First of the Month
, and Avidly
; discussions and debates around figures such as Emma Sulkowicz, Claudia Rankine, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Bridget Everett, and Justin Vivian Bond; and such recent scholarly works (and the archives they study) as Jose Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia
, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s The Undercommons
, Kristin Ross’s Communal Luxury
, Rachel Lee’s Exquisite Corpse of Asian America
, Jack Halberstam’s The Wild
, Alexander Weheliye’s Habeas Viscus
, Mireille Miller-Young’s The Taste for Brown Sugar
, Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman’s Sex, or the Unbearable
, Scott Saul’s Becoming Richard Pryor
, C. Riley Snorton’s Nobody Is Supposed to Know
, and Eng-Beng Lim’s Brown Boys and Rice Queens
. Among other contributions (such as a critical research essay), students will be asked to follow a journal or online site through the semester and report on the style or tendency of the political as it arises in real time.
ENGL 81500. Send in the Clowns: Fools and Jokers from Medieval and Early Modern Drama to Contemporary Standup. Richard McCoy. Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30310] (cross-listed with WSCP 81000)
In his instructions to the players, Hamlet inveighs against actors who improvise for vulgar laughs and insists that, “clowns speak no more than is set down for them.” And Shakespeare’s noble contemporary, Sir Philip Sidney, objected vehemently to “mongrel tragicomedies” for “mingling kings and clowns.” Yet despite the desire to send off the clowns, fools still proved to be essential dramatis personae in the gravest tragedies. Hamlet himself sometimes plays the fool and “put[s] an antic disposition on.”
This course will explore the intense synergy of comedy and tragedy, focusing on theories of humor from antiquity to the present. We will also discuss the clown’s role in drama, noting the diabolical affinities of clowns with Vice figures like Titivillus in Mankind
and Robin and Rafe in Doctor Faustus
. Their efforts to attack and engage the audience are rooted in a connection between comedy and aggression. This in turn can be linked to the clown’s tendency to break the fourth wall and directly address spectators, suggesting that, in some ways, fools can function as mouthpieces for authors. The clown’s paradoxical combination of stupidity and smarts also allows this figure to become both the joke’s butt and the wily joker – or what one critic calls “the clowning object and the laughing subject of his own mirth.”
This paradox enables clowns to resist the condescension and attack the complacency of their presumed betters on stage and off, challenging class barriers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
and gender barriers in The Roaring Girl
. We’ll also explore comparably paradoxical reinforcement and transgression of class, gender, and racial stereotypes in popular performance from commedia dell’ arte
and Punch-and-Judy through nineteenth-century minstrel shows. The clown’s edgy blend of improvisation and shtick
as well as the unsettling tendency of humor to go “too far” will be topics for discussion. And we’ll examine the metatheatrical self-consciousness and complex artifice of comic plays within plays like The Knight of the Burning Pestle
. Finally, we’ll discuss the fundamental and recurrent features of comic performance up through the present day (Amy Schumer, Key and Peele), including the challenge to dramatic decorum, good taste, and plausibility, jokes’ value as a “weapon of the weak” against social, racial, and gender norms, and humor’s ambiguous blend of aggression and self-abasement.
Research paper on topic of your choice + oral presentation.
ENGL 88000. Feminism, Autobiography, Theory: Women Writing Witness. Nancy K. Miller. Wednesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30835] (cross-listed with WSCP)
Feminist theorizing has long been entangled with autobiographical practices. In this seminar, we will explore texts from different literary genres that all deploy what we might call a “feminist I.” Memoir, testimony, poetry, essay, or fiction, in each instance the “I” bears witness to circumstances and desires that are not simply singular, but also transpersonal and collective. Through what literary strategies do these writers make connections between “I” and “we,” story and life, aesthetics and politics?
Readings include: Adichie, Beauvoir, Bechdel, Cixous, Dangarembga, Delbo, Feinberg, Gay, Hartman, Kristeva, Lorde, Menchu, Rankine, Rich, Satrapi, and, as always, Woolf.
Work for the course: weekly written responses, one in-class presentation, final paper.
ENGL 80600. Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Feisal Mohamed. Fridays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30311] (Cross-listed with CTCP)
Most of us would accept that human rights exist, but what is their foundation? On what grounds do we hold these rights? Do they still exist if we have no forum in which to seek remedy for their violation?
This course will proceed from philosophical debates on the nature of rights, pausing especially on Marxian critiques of “the rights of man” and charges of inherent Western bias. We will also look at the historical development of the concept of human rights, from Locke, to Mill, to Nuremberg, to the recent development of an individual petition process for violations of social and economic rights. The “practice” in the course title signals the ways in which we will seek to inform our critical practices, studying relevant literary criticism, and also to wonder how the theoretical questions we engage should impact real-world scenarios. Toward the latter end, we will seek to draw on the resources of the city, as site of the UN headquarters and major hub of NGO activity.
ENGL 85400. Towards a Negative Aesthetics in U.S. Latina/o Literatures. Richard Perez. Tuesdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. [CRN 30318] (Cross-listed with CTCP)
For the last two centuries, Latino/as in the U.S. have forged a literary tradition predicated on complex rearticulations of American sensibilities through generative and revisionary forms of negativity. In this course we will consider, using Adorno as a theoretical springboard, how Latino/a writers employ the negative to split and recombine languages, creolize racial identities, reimagine borders, and queer exile; and in so doing alter our notion of what constitutes aesthetic production, experience, and judgment. This literary sensibility runs counter, for instance, to Whitmanian flourishes of optimism or the ideological insistence on positivity that often veils the violence of colonial and market practices. Thus, we will examine how the formation of U.S. Latino/a literary aesthetics complicates what Marcuse calls given realities through a restless and critical imaginary attuned to the potential of the negative, a potential found, paradoxically, in privation, rage, failure, conflict, and confusion. In addition, we will explore the ways in which this negative potential aspires towards something revolutionary and utopic calling for sentient shifts both in our aesthetics and in our politics.
Primary texts include: Down These Mean Streets
by Piri Thomas; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz; The Second Death of Unica Aveyano
by Ernesto Mestre-Reed; Across a Hundred Mountains
by Reyna Grande; and Try to Remember
by Iris Gomez.
Theoretical works will include selected readings from Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Emmanuel Levinas, Frantz Fanon, Giles Deleuze, Michael Taussig, Juan Flores, Judith Butler, Gloria Anzaldua, Rey Chow, Fred Moten, Silvio Torres-Saillant, Chela Sandoval, Jose David Saldivar, Shoshana Felman, Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez, Doris Sommer, Lyn Di Iorio Sandin, Jose Esteban Munoz, Mary Pat Brady, Laura Lomas, and Sianne Ngai.
ENGL 70000. Introduction to Doctoral Studies in English. David Reynolds. Wednesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 4 credits. Restricted to Ph.D. Program in English students. [CRN 30312]
This course will seek to address four aspects of graduate studies in English: 1) English studies as a field and discipline; 2) research questions and practices; 3) connections to intellectual communities and networks (i.e. professionalization); and 4) the function of the university. Theoretically, we will examine the boundaries and objects of interest for the field, discussing how they intersect with but also remain distinct from other areas and approaches, and how various theories and methods (formalist, historicist, activist, etc.) define, in sometimes contradictory ways, English studies. Practically, we will discuss how to define objects of inquiry (“texts” and “contexts”) within the field, how to research such objects, how to identify the main debates currently circulating around them, and how to develop new knowledge and innovative ideas and approaches. Four short essays responding to assigned readings will constitute the written requirement for this course. The first will require situating your own current research interests in relation to contemporary issues in English studies and university education. The second will identify and analyze a current critical essay in terms of its argument, audience and evidence while explaining its objectives and methods. The third will propose a research question and an annotated bibliography explaining how you plan to use your research and define your own distinctive approach; this paper offers an opportunity to rehearse and reflect on seminar papers for another course. Your fourth essay will propose two or three of the texts assigned in this course that you consider essential for the field along with one or two additional ones not included that are particularly important to your research and teaching, explaining their importance.
ENGL 91000. Dissertation Workshop. Joan Richardson. Thursdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 0 credits. 0 credits. Restricted to Level 2 & 3 Ph.D. Program in English Students. [CRN 30298]
This seminar will give participants the opportunity to develop and complete their dissertation prospectus and/or draft dissertation chapters. It will be conducted as a workshop with members reading and commenting on one another’s work under the professor’s guidance. We will discuss the dissertation as an always-evolving genre as well as practical issues of writing and revision, research and research methods, documentation, presentation, and more. We will also talk about professionalizing matters including engagement with current scholarly conversations and theoretical discourses, creating conference presentations and scholarly articles as part of the dissertation writing process, and thinking about the dissertation as a draft of a first monograph.
ENGL 84500. Disability Studies and Nineteenth Century Literature. Talia Schaffer. Wednesdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30304] (Cross-listed with CTCP and with WSCP 81000)
This course investigates the burgeoning field of disability theory, with special attention to the Victorian period as an era with interestingly different ideas about minds, social relations, and bodies – formulations that may help us to fresh understandings of disability today. What did disability mean in a period with profoundly other ideas about cognition, physical capacity, and social relations? We will start with some of the formative disability studies theoretical and critical texts, by Lennard Davis, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Alison Kafer, Tobin Siebers, Robert McRuer, Martha Stoddard Holmes, and Ato Quayson, looking at the invention of the normate, the social model versus the medical model, the way disability challenges normative ideas of identity, and the way disability studies intersects with both queer theory and feminism. The course will focus on recent disability studies work in particularly interesting fields: neurodiversity (particularly around autism), sensory issues (including blindness and Deaf culture), and social conditions (including the built environment and the gaze).
These case studies will be paired with major nineteenth-century texts in which disabled subjects have crucial roles. Choices may include novels by Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre (paired with the recent collection, The Madwoman and the Blindman) and Villette; novels by Charlotte Yonge, The Heir of Redclyffe, and The Clever Woman of the Family; novels by Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady and The Wings of the Dove; novels by Charles Dickens, Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend; and novels by George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss and Daniel Deronda. We may also (or instead) examine two noncanonical but enduringly popular and influential texts, John Halifax Gentleman, or The History of Sir Richard Calmady. These novels will be chosen both to give a sense of the alterity of Victorian conceptualizations of disability and the range of thought within each author's oeuvre, as idealistic earlier works that focus on ecstatic nursing relations often give way to later novels that explore the costliness of caregiving and the stress of chronic conditions.
Finally, this course will ask a major question: can the philosophy of ethics of care be employed as a literary-critical methodology? We will be reading care ethicists including Nel Noddings, Eva Feder Kittay, and Virginia Held. We will ask what care means, what the responsibilities of the carer and cared-for might be respectively, how a care community (or doulia) can be formed, and how care leads us to think differently about gender and social roles. Care is performative (one need not feel or know anything to do it) and in this way it might provide an interesting alternative to sympathy as a motive for social relations. Care is also generic (one can care regardless of one's identity), so that carers can include neighbors, retired military men, cousins, toddlers – a way of regarding social relations and characters that radically reassess their values. How, we will ask, might we read Victorian fictional communities differently if we read them from a standpoint of care relations?
ENGL 84200. Romantic Concepts of Nature. Alexander Schlutz. Mondays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30313] (Cross-listed with CTCP)
Since the rise of ecocriticism and green Romanticism it has become commonplace to present Romantic writers as anticipating contemporary environmentalist concerns and to (re)mobilize for contemporary ecological debates the Romantic critique of nascent processes of industrialization and a Cartesian, mechanical, view of the natural world. At the same time, ecologists and environmental writers perceive the “romanticization” of nature – the projection of imaginary, aesthetic and cultural constructs onto a material world fundamentally alien to them – as one of the main obstacles to a fruitful understanding of our relationship to the environment. Hence, in the contemporary discussion, one can see the Romantics both being lauded for writing against the objectification of nature, and being critiqued for neglecting the difference between the products of the writer’s consciousness and affect, and the material Other he or she confronts.
To find answers to such conflicting assessments, we will interrogate the concepts of nature of several poets and philosophers in the Romantic period in England and Germany. We will examine central philosophical texts of Spinoza and Kant and discuss the poetry and philosophical positions of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Clare, and Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis). One of our goals will be to examine the answers these Romantic writers give to questions about the place of human beings in the natural world and the relationship of mind and matter, central philosophical questions they indeed share with contemporary environmentalist thinkers.
ENGL 84200. Romantic Autobiography. Joshua Wilner. Tuesdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 30299] (Cross-listed with CTCP)
As The Prelude
was first approaching completion, Wordsworth wrote in a letter to a friend: “[It is] a thing unprecedented in literary history that a man should talk so much about himself…If, when the work is finished, it appears to the judicious to have redundancies, they shall be lopped off, if possible; but this is very difficult to do...The fault lies too deep and is in the first conception.”
Whether or not Wordsworth was right in judging his undertaking unprecedented, his identification of a fault embedded in its conception speaks to what is both generative and unsettling in the gesture by which autobiography, and Romantic autobiography in particular, puts the writing subject in a position of self-authorization. In this course we will be exploring the varied ways in which this founding tension plays out in a range of Romantic autobiographical writings, including Rousseau’s Confessions,
, Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal
, Keats’s “Fall of Hyperion,” Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
(particularly the “Author’s Introduction”), and De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater
. Critical readings in de Man, Johnson and others.
29335 Agathocleous Tanya
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
00890 Hintz Carrie
00581 Hitchcock Peter
01031 Hoeller Hildegard
01088 Israel Nico
00618 Joseph Gerhard
00893 Kaye Richard
00147 Kelly William
00378 Koestenbaum Wayne
00287 Kruger Steven
27972 Lott Eric
18187 McBeth Mark
00167 McCoy Richard
00063 Miller Nancy
29683 Mohamed Feisal
00330 Otte George
00591 Perl Sondra
11199 Pollard Tanya
00577 Reid-Pharr Robert
29333 Reitz Caroline
00221 Reynolds David
00146 Richardson Joan
00388 Richter David
00406 Sargent Michael
00407 Savran David
00408 Schaffer Talia
29400 Schlutz Alexander
00274 Shor Ira
29334 Steel Karl
00782 Suggs Jon-Christian
00135 Tolchin Neal
00889 Vardy Alan
00751 Wallace Michele
00325 Webb Barbara
00688 Wilner Joshua
19628 Yood Jessica
00891 Yousef Nancy