Spring 2018 English Program Course Offerings
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Course listings and room numbers subject to change.
ENGL 86600. Siraj Ahmed. Politics of the Refugee. Mondays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38197]
In a brief Word War II period essay entitled ‘We Refugees’ published in a Jewish-American journal, Hannah Arendt claimed that each of Europe’s refugee populations constitute the vanguard of its people—and diasporic Jews that of humanity in general. Exactly fifty years later, in the immediate wake of the Oslo I Accord, Giorgio Agamben returned, in an essay entitled ‘Beyond Human Rights,’ to Arendt’s argument. He suggested that the practice European states developed during the twentieth century of denationalizing their own citizens reveals the truth of contemporary politics. One enjoys political protection only by virtue of one's citizenship, and even those who possess this virtue no longer possess any guarantee they will continue to do so. Agamben attempted consequently to imagine a politics based no longer on citizenship but instead on the ancient and medieval principle of refugium, the provision of sanctuary to exiles.
The refugee crises now besetting Europe’s borders have once again occasioned calls—from Alain Badiou to Slavoj Zizek and beyond—for a politics of the refugee. But perhaps the figure of the refugee encompasses not merely those fleeing civil war in the Middle East and Africa. Climate change and ecological collapse may soon place a humanity much more universal than even Arendt imagined into flight. The need to imagine a politics of the refugee has thus become more urgent than ever.
In response to that need, this class will explore the hypothesis that refugees are natural by-products not of any particular political order—pace Arendt, Agamben, Badiou, et al—but of our concept of politics as such. This concept’s modern roots lie in the creation of the European interstate system (conventionally dated to 1648 Peace of Westphalia), which began to replace religious dynasties with secular nation-states and thus inaugurated the political order to which we remain wedded today. But the rarely acknowledged raison d’être of the interstate system was to redirect European sovereigns’ war-making powers from inside the new ‘lines of amity’ to its outside, where violence (and primitive accumulation) could occur without limit. In other words, the very point of modern politics was, originally, to displace environmental destruction—the conquest of territory, the dispossession of indigenous populations, the exhaustion of natural resources—from Europe to the rest of the world. Refugee-making might, therefore, be much more fundamental to our political way of life than Western philosophy has yet acknowledged. According to Carl Schmitt, the sovereign is the one who has the power to declare a state of emergency. But perhaps it would be more precise to say that from its modern origins, Western sovereignty has lain, instead, in the power to make environments so unlivable, life so precarious, that a different politics becomes practically impossible.
We will read early modern political thinkers such Grotius and Locke and contemporary critical theorists such as those listed above. But we will also turn to those postcolonial authors—such as J.M. Coetzee, Amitav Ghosh, and Mahmoud Darwish—most attuned to the interrelationship of politics and refugee-making and most concerned to imagine a way out of this vicious cycle.
This class will help first-years students in the English Ph.D. Program draft the annotated bibliography and/or the review essay components of their portfolio examinations.
ENGL 86600. Kandice Chuh with Thuy Linh Tu. Race, Capital, and Culture in the Transpacific. Tuesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38198]
Please note: this course meets at NYU [20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor, Seminar Room]
Major contemporary shifts in American policy towards the Pacific, from those that address the region as crucial to U.S. economic and political interests, to the intensely antagonistic stance of the current administration, which sees it as a military and industrial threat, renew the longheld and constitutive ambivalence of the U.S.'s attitude toward the Pacific. In this course, we will explore how these views have long been intertwined and have been shaped by the histories of war and empire, and by contemporary flows of images, ideas, feelings, bodies, capital and commodities across the Pacific, Americas, and Europe. We will address such questions as: how do race and racialization operate in a Transpacific context? In what ways are they meaningful, and how do they overlap with and diverge from Atlantic world racial formations? What do the specificities of their operations tell us about capitalism and culture past and present? How do these specificities key us into the contemporary conjuncture and the apparent return of Cold War geopolitics? To engage such questions, we will examine a range of historical, theoretical, and aesthetic work that focus critical attention on the Transpacific and help us understand not only the importance of this concept and geography to apprehending how race and capital function, but also that of the inextricable relationship between culture and political economy. Written requirements of the course include short response papers and a longer seminar paper.
This team caught course is offered across the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in English and the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU.
ENGL 80300. Cathy Davidson, Shelly Eversley and Allison Guess. Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication. Tuesdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38214]
Content: This course examines the inter-relationship between the Cold War, the early Civil Rights movement, and the writing and censorship of African American writers, especially during the McCarthy Era. By looking at a range of literary and theoretical texts, we will work to understand the relationship between a range of legal, political, and social conditions and the forms of Black protest and expression at that time. We will be looking at writers who were deeply involved in many forms of activism, including the organizing of domestic workers and other less well-known aspects of the Civil Rights movement (such Claudia Jones and Alice Childress), writers who wrote against and around censorship especially of same-sex sexual and affective relationships (such as Chester Himes and James Baldwin), writers who had to leave America to write about it (including Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright and others), and writers, especially Black women writers, who did not have the freedom to leave the U.S. and who, for the most part, disappeared within America and to literary history (including Alice Childress and Ann Petry).
Method: We will be using student-centered, activist, engaged pedagogy in this class. For graduate students who are also teaching, we will encourage you to try these methods in your own courses. These methods are rooted in traditions of progressive pedagogies that extend from Montessori and Dewey to Freire and bell hooks to Gardner and Dweck, All are designed to help students not only to learn the content but to be able to apply ideas beyond the classroom, to live and society. Students will take charge of choosing, collaborating, and organizing units; will work together on ways to have equitable, shared roles across collaborations (methods again applicable to their own present and future teaching); and to design their own active learning pedagogies for our class to try.
Requirements: Texts and topics for this course were designed for those especially interested in original research. Every student will leave this course contributing something “public” and published (online, in print, or in a conference paper), enhanced pedagogical tools for their teaching, and (where appropriate) contributions for their required departmental portfolios.
Website and digital components: Much of the activity of the course will be made public on a course website and in a “group” made for our course as part of the hastac.org network. Students will be expected to learn minimal digital literacy skills as part of the contribution to public knowledge that is at aim in the course.
Spring Symposium, Wed March 28: As a Futures Initiative course, our class will need to be represented in a panel, poster session, workshop, or other contribution on Wednesday, March 28th, 9:00am-5:00pm (Skylight Room). All class members will be included in the preparation or presentation at the Symposium (the equivalent of a midterm paper).
Some possible texts:
These texts were chosen because they are rich, multi-layered, and offer many opportunities for graduate students to do extensive theorizing, historical, and other kinds of research (including archival). They are grouped under topics, all of which students leading our discussions may wish to revise, remix, recombine, refocus.
Possible Topics for Students to Choose From:
The Sojourners: Women, Activism, Communism, Immigration, Deportation
Claudia Jones, “We Seek Full Equality for Women” (1949)
Black Nationalism, Marxism, Identity
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
Sexuality, Sex and Normalization of Surveillance
Ann Petry, The Narrows (1953)
Print culture (magazines, Black newspapers: how ideas are transmitted)
Langston Hughes, Simple Speaks His Mind (1950) or Simple Stakes a Claim (1957)
Alice Childress, Like One of the Family (1956)
Stories published in Afro American and Defender and Pittsburgh Courier
Editing, Censorship, Rebellion, and Incarceration
Chester Himes, Yesterday Will Make You Cry (formerly Cast the First Stone (1952)
Global Blackness in Exile: Debates and Controversy
Richard Wright, White Man, Listen! (1957) (“Tradition and Industrialization”)
James Baldwin, “Princes and Powers” (1957)
Franz Fanon, On Violence (1960)
Activism, Communism, Deportation, Women
Claudia Jones, “We Seek Full Equality for Women” (1949)
ENGL 84500. Marc Dolan. Sherlock: A Character and a World. Thursdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38199]
This is a course in transmedia worldbuilding, in how far a fictional character can travel from its nominal creation and still remain itself.
After an initial engagement with Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories (possibly in Klinger’s recent annotated edition), among the topics we may discuss are:
- the stories’ appearance in The Strand as an opportunity for periodical studies;
- the so-called “rivals” that Doyle’s stories immediately generated (especially Arthur Morrison’s Martin Hewitt);
- the character’s translation to Anglo-European silent and sound film;
- the amateur “scholarship” of the Baker Street Irregulars;
- more academic, semiotic scholarship on the Doyle texts (e.g., Eco, Seebok, Moretti);
- the affective bonds between Holmes and Watson and the origins of slash fiction;
- the literary pastiches of Mitch Cullen and Michael Chabon, as well as the more popular worldbuilding extensions of Nicholas Meyer;
- the increased prominence during the last half-century of Holmesiana of the briefly glimpsed Irene Adler;
- the Venn diagram of characterization generated during the last decade by the simultaneous production of three parallel Holmes series;
- and New Paradigm Studio’s medium- and -race-transforming Watson and Holmes, which leads us at a very essential level to ask “Who at his core is this 131/164-year-old character whom we think we know so well?”
The course’s theoretical approach will be deliberately left loose (although Michael Saler’s As If will probably be featured in the latter part of the semester). Students will be encouraged to bring their own preferred methodologies to bear on our common materials. Our discussions will be mostly collective bricolage of all our individually inflected responses. Like The Great Detective himself, we will discard theories to fit facts, not facts to fit theories.
ENGL 85400. Duncan Faherty. Formations of American Literary History. Tuesdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38200]
Since the birth of American literary studies as a distinct area of inquiry, scholarly formations of the field have been disproportionately influenced by the critically induced gravitational pull of the middle of the nineteenth century. While this logic was pervasive for much of the field’s history, twenty-first century Americanist scholarship has decentered the overarching primacy of the American Renaissance even as it has reinvigorated study of that period. Indeed, today’s formations of the nineteenth century, as represented in current scholarship and conferences, would almost be unrecognizable to twentieth century scholars. This course will explore the new terrains framed by these emergent counter formations. As such, it seeks to consider the more complex canons, traditions, generic classifications, routes (instead of roots), geographies (of region, of nation, of globe), scales, and temporalities animating Americanist scholarship of the last decade. Part of this work will be thinking about how the contours of the nineteenth century (once imagined as the American literary century) have been reoriented by early Americanist and C20th/21st Americanist scholarship. Along the way we will examine how a variety of professional organizations (and the new journals often associated with them) -- such as C19: The Society of Nineteenth Century Americanists, The Society of Early Americanists, Post45, and The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present -- framed around new conceptions of periodization (and an informed disregard for restrictive national borders) have reshaped literary studies. We will also consider how the digitization of archival materials has expanded our access to the print public sphere by exploring several important digital databases (like the Colored Conventions Project, the Early Caribbean Digital Archive, Chronicling America, and the Viral Texts Project) to trace how an increased attention to seriality, to periodical cultural, and to archival work has reshaped the field. In part, this class will serve as a laboratory for students to experiment with positioning themselves (and their work) within these new schemas, as well as offering a chance to undertake some exploratory archival projects. While we use these new figurations of the nineteenth century as a springboard into larger considerations of American literary history more broadly, students working on earlier and later periods are encouraged to pursue their own projects within those other subfields.
Requirements: Students will be asked to write several short papers during the course of the semester. They will also do at least one in class presentation.
The final selection of readings will be determined in consultation with the entire class (in an effort to account for individual and collective needs), but some possibilities include:
Elizabeth Maddock Dillon’s New World Drama (2014); Nazera Wright’s Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century (2016); Rodrigo Lazo & Jesse Alemán’s edited collection The Latino Nineteenth Century: Archival Encounters in American Literary History (2016); Anna Brickhouse’s The Unsettlement of America (2014); Chris Looby’s anthology "The Man Who Thought Himself a Woman" and Other Queer Nineteenth-Century Short Stories (2016); Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents (2015; Martha Schoolman’s Abolitionist Geographies (2014); Britt Russert’s Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture (2017); David Kazanjian’s The Brink of Freedom: Improvising Life in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World (2016); John Function’s Novel Nostalgias: The Aesthetics of Antagonism in Nineteenth Century U.S. Literature (2015); Kyla Wazana Tompkins Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century (2012); Robin Bernstein’s Racial Innocence Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (2011); Jacob Rama Berman American Arabesque: Arabs and Islam in the Nineteenth Century Imaginary (2012); Hoang Gia Phan’s Bonds of Citizenship: Law and the Labors of Emancipation (2013); Robert Lawrence Gunn’s Ethnology and Empire: Languages, Literature, and the Making of the North American Borderlands (2016); and Edlie L. Wong’s Racial Reconstruction Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship (2015).
ENGL 8211. Will Fisher. Early Modern Trans History and Theory. Tuesdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. 
This class will offer a broad survey of possible sites of inquiry for transgender (trans) scholarship on early modern English texts, and explore the intersections between the fields of early modern studies and trans studies. It will address questions like: How might gender-variant characters and historical figures speak to contemporary trans inquiries? What are the major premodern trans texts? How do recent developments in trans studies impact the way we read early modern texts, and vice versa? What are the methodological issues involved in understanding gender variability before the introduction of terms like trans, genderqueer, nonbinary, genderfluid, pangender, agender, and cisgender? How does early modern thinking about sex/gender and the body compare with contemporary thinking about these topics as articulated in trans studies?
Literary texts will include canonical works like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl, John Lyly’s Gallathea (along with other early modern iterations of the Iphis and Ianthe story), and Ben Jonson’s Epicoene, as well as lesser-known works like Francis Beaumont’s Salmacis and Hermaphroditus and seventeenth-century broadside ballads about gender-variant individuals.
In addition, we will be examining a range of non-literary sources, including the court cases of individuals like Eleanor/John Rykener and the “female husbands” of the late-seventeenth century like Amy Howard/James Howard. We will also study early modern medical writing about gender and the body, including the accounts of spontaneous gender transformation from the period and the discussions of intersexed individuals, in order to consider whether – or how – this material might help contest assumptions about the historical dominance of binary models of gender identity.
Finally, trans theorists like Susan Stryker, Jack Halberstam, Joanne Meyerowitz, Cheryl Chase, and Dean Spade will be read alongside the work of early modern scholars like Simone Chess, Colby Gordon, M.W. Bychowski, and Leah DeVun.
ENGL 89500. Matthew Gold. Approaching the Digital Humanities. Tuesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38202]
This course provides an encounter with the epistemological ground underlying the digital humanities (DH), asking how the use of technology in humanities contexts can offer new ways of knowing. The argument of the class is that technology is not simply an additive element to humanities inquiry, but rather that it can unsettle existing ways of thinking in ways that are both helpful and potentially troubling. Our emphasis will be on the various models of knowledge used in the digital humanities, and on the larger ramifications of those approaches for the field of literary studies in particular and the academy in general. Among the questions we will consider are: to what extent can hypothesis-driven computational inquiries help us make arguments about literary history? In what ways can quantitative text experiments avoid positivist forms of argumentation through the use of Dadaist or Oulipean models? To what extent can various DH approaches and methods be grounded in issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality? How can publication venues and review processes in the humanities account for and represent non-textual knowledge?
Among the thematics we will explore are evidence, scale, representation, genre, quantification, and data. Though no previous technical skills are required, students will be asked to experiment in introductory ways with DH tools and methods as a way of concretizing some of our readings and discussions. Readings will include work by Johanna Drucker, Lauren Klein, Alan Liu, Ted Underwood, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Todd Presner, Stephen Ramsay, Kim Gallon, Andrew Piper, Andrew Goldstone, Tara McPherson, and others.
DH skeptics are welcome. In lieu of the final paper, first-year students may write a review essay in preparation for the program's first exam.
ENGL 85500. Jonathan Gray. The Racial Imaginary. Wednesdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38203]
In their introductory essay to the collection The Racial Imaginary, Beth Loffreda and Claudia Rankine note that “race enters writing, the making of art…as something that structures feelings in the moment of encounter” while noting that “the racial imaginary changes over time, in part because artists get into tension with it” (18, 22). This seminar examines the racial imaginary during a discrete moment in time, the “age of Obama,” scrutinizing cultural texts published between 2008 and 2016 to extract a genealogy that allows us to apprehend the contemporary contours of the chimera called race. This period is of particular interest in part because the event that inaugurates it, candidate Obama’s sublime rhetorical performance of “A More Perfect Union,” the title of his so-called “speech on race,” seemed to presage a more capacious understanding of the political and cultural valences of race. While this class will be working with texts from this this particular period, I encourage participants to bring an array of theoretical and critical approaches to the subject matter.
This seminar will consider works from a range of media and genres including fiction (tentatively including Jesmyn Ward, Paul Beatty, Junot Diaz, Colson Whitehead, Jennifer Egan, Viet Thanh Ngyuen and others), poetry (including Nikki Finny, Claudia Rankine, Vijay Seshadri and others), memoir (e.g. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Maggie Nelson and others), children’s literature (Jacqueline Woodson, Angie Thomas, Jeff Lucia and others) and contemporary art (Glenn Ligon, Carrie Mae Weems, Dana Schultz, Sanford Biggers, Kara Walker and others). Each student will be required to deliver an oral presentation and produce a 15-20 page seminar paper. In lieu of the final seminar paper, students in the first year of the Ph.D. program may produce an annotated bibliography of 15 primary and secondary sources and a short (8-10 page) conference paper.
ENGL 85100. Hildegard Hoeller. Edith Wharton: Texts and Contexts. Mondays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38204]
Edith Wharton was a great American writer, a great woman writer, and a great New York writer. Her work is extraordinary versatile—spanning from short stories to fiction, from books on interior decoration, gardening and architecture to unique female war reporting and writing about World War I. Her fiction responds to several major literary traditions: sentimental fiction, realism, naturalism, and modernism. Her writing tackles most of the cultural and social concerns of her time, including issues of gender, race, nation, and class. On all of these issues, she held complicated views. Unlike most American writers, she managed simultaneously to become canonized and sell her work successfully as a professional writer. Many Wharton papers are available in reasonable vicinity from us, such as in the Beinecke Library at Yale or the Firestone Library at Princeton University. Some of her previously unpublished writings, such as a newly discovered play, have been recently published. This seminar will explore Edith Wharton’s wide-ranging work, from her juvenile novella to her last unfinished novel, from her letters to her fiction, from her writing on interior decorating to her World War I writings. It will encourage critical projects that link Wharton to a wide variety of contexts, materials, and critical approaches. This course is extremely well suited to develop publishable articles and conference papers as well as to fulfill one of the portfolio requirements.
ENGL 84300. Richard Kaye. Brontës, Hardy, Lawrence. Wednesdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38205]
This course considers an important strain in British fiction in the writing of four major Victorian novelists and one innovative modernist writer. In the novels of the Brontës and Hardy, the setting is invariably a harsh rural landscape, in which crises of class, social restriction, female choice, mental discord, psychological derangement, bigamy, romantic love, and erotic desire dominate the narratives. We begin with Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, ignored on publication and saturated in stark, unresolved dualities, violent clashes, and Romantic archetypes, as we test Leo Bersani’s landmark “queer” reading that argues that Brontë’s novel represents two radically opposed works of fiction, one an asocial, anarchic narrative and the other a tame, convention-bound Victorian text. We will consider Jane Eyre, a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic, as we consider Brontë’s self-consciously anti-Austenian conceptions of desire, individual psychology, and the novel form. The class will discuss the novel’s paradigmatic standing as a feminist work as well as its enduringly controversial status as an unconsciously colonialist text. In Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, adultery, addiction, and marital abuse are central themes, with the rakish Arthur Huntington representing Anne’s more skeptical (arguably norm-preserving) version of the figures of Heathcliff and Rochester. We will consider, as well, the “Brontë Mystique” as it was formed in such influential accounts as Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1857 biography, Muriel Spark’s 1951 critical/biographical study of Emily, Daphne Du Maurier’s speculative 1960 biography of Branwell Brontë, Sylvia Plath’s several poetic tributes to the Brontë sisters, and Douglas Martin’s 2006 lyrical novel Branwell. Noting Hardy’s early start as a “sensation” writer, the class will explore the novelist’s absorption in the thematics of sexual scandal, working-class consciousness, tragic determinism, female transgression, and besieged masculinity in Far from the Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. Brontëan and Hardyesque concerns permeate Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Like Hardy, Lawrence struggled in his fiction to undermine Victorian sexual norms and class divisions as he registered historical trauma (the end of the Industrial Revolution, the catastrophe of the First World War) in direct and indirect terms. In Lawrence’s book-length essay Study of Thomas Hardy, the writer developed a major statement of his own modernist aesthetic, revealing, as well, his conflicted relation to Hardy as Lawrence insists on a more visionary conception of the novel and a non-deterministic conception of individual destiny. Greed, overreaching, the experimental excitement in human relationships (sometimes expressed as a male or female homoerotic sublime)--as well as the value of an “animal self” in an undestroyed natural landscape--emerge as Lawrence’s central preoccupations. We discuss, too, Hardy and Lawrence’s relatively neglected poetic work. Given that the Brontës, Hardy, and Lawrence have generated some of the most successful adaptations of British fiction in film, we will view clips of film adaptations of Wuthering Heights (including Andrea Arnold’s recent adaptation of Wuthering Heights in which Heathcliff is racialized as Black) and Jane Eyre as well as John Schlesinger’s “Far from the Madding Crowd,” Roman Polanski’s “Tess,” Michael Winterbottom’s “The Claim” and “Jude,” Ken Russell’s “Women in Love,” and Michael Almeyreyda’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” Critical readings and theoretical readings will be drawn from a variety of perspectives—-among them, Marxist, Feminist, Psychoanalytic, Humanist, Post-Humanist, Post-Human, Queer, Formalist, Post-Colonial, New Formalist, and Eco-Critical approaches. Among the critics we will consider: Virginia Woolf, R.P. Blackmur, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Irving Howe, Gayatri Spivak, George Levine, Nina Auerbach, Scott Sanders, Marianna Torgovnick, Christopher Craft, James Wood, Elaine Showalter, John Bayley, and Terry Eagleton. Oral presentations and a final paper.
ENGL 80700. Steven Kruger. Religious Difference in Medieval and Early Modern Literature. Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38206]
In medieval and early modern England (and Europe more generally), religion operates in significant ways to shape individual and community identities. England officially expels its Jewish communities in 1290; in 1656, Parliament debated a proposal to readmit Jews (which was never officially adopted, although de facto Jewish communities began to reestablish themselves in this moment). Islam, throughout the long period from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, remains a strong ideological presence for Europeans, and confrontations between Christians and Muslims – in the period of the Crusades, at Nicopolis in 1396, at Constantinople in 1453, and in the long Ottoman-European struggle – often impinged in intensely real ways on lives in Western Europe (even when the crucial events in this confrontation remained at some considerable distance). Fractures within European Christianity, too – the Reformation, of course, but also earlier “heretical” and popular devotional movements – strongly shape medieval and early modern societies and cultures.
In this seminar we will look at a wide range of work that considers questions about religious difference, interreligious confrontation and cooperation. The texts read will range from the more canonical – Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale and Man of Law’s Tale, Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta – to more obscure and often anonymous works: seventeenth-century pamphlets produced during the debate over Jewish readmission; early modern pamphlets identifying Native Americans with the ten lost tribes of Israel; plays about Christians “turning Turk”; pro-Christian polemic produced by Jews who had converted to Christianity; late-medieval drama in which religious difference is placed center-stage; romances of Christian-Muslim confrontation like The Sultan of Babylon. Alongside these primary texts, we will consider some historical materials that help place this literary-cultural work into perspective. We will also read some theoretical and critical writing that considers how religious identity operates: Is medieval and early modern religion parallel in certain ways to modern race? How is it shaped by and intertwined with questions about gender and sexuality? In a period when the idea of the modern nation is born, how important is religion to that formation?
Each student will present orally as part of the seminar structure, and each student taking the course for 4.0 credits will produce a research paper for the course. Students working in periods other than the medieval and early modern can develop projects in their own field related to the course theme. First-year students in the Ph.D. Program in English can use this project to produce one of the four components of the portfolio required for the Program’s first examination: 1) a 12-15-page review essay; 2) an annotated bibliography of 15 primary or secondary sources; 3) a syllabus with a 1500-word account of a pedagogical approach to a text; or 4) a 10-page conference paper. In addition to completing one of these portfolio projects, students will write a brief (1000-1500-word) essay reflecting on the ways in which this project might provide the basis for a longer, research essay.
ENGL 78000. Nancy K. Miller. Postmodern Memoir: Mostly Women, Also Graphic. Thursdays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38207]
“I do not know how far I differ from other people,” Virginia Woolf remarks in Moments of Being, neatly summarizing the memoirist’s dilemma. In this course we will explore strategies of self-representation in the works of twentieth and twenty-first century writers and artists, mainly women, for whom questions of identity have led to experiments in form.
Writers include: Lynda Barry, Roland Barthes, Alison Bechdel, Julie Delporte, Roxane Gay, Zora Neale Hurston, Maxine Hong Kingston, Maggie Nelson, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Yi Yun Li.
Work for the course: in class presentations and a final paper, which may be a creative exercise.
ENGL 82100. Feisal Mohamed. Sovereignty. Wednesdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38208]
“The theory of sovereignty,” Foucault declares in Society Must be Defended, was “the great instrument of the political and theoretical struggles that took place around systems of power in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.” If one were to revise this observation, it would be only to add that the theory of sovereignty continues to be at the center of struggles around systems of power. In recent months we have certainly been reminded in thunder of the political charge of sovereignty in our own moment: with Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, with the rise of strongman politics in countries where democracy had always been precarious, such as the United States, Russia, Turkey, and India, to name but a few examples. Depersonalized authority, rule of law, proceduralism and overlapping consensus all seem especially now to be self-deluding liberal fantasies.
This course will thus focus on English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with an eye to later theoretical approaches to the questions of sovereignty. In exploring early modern material, we will pay attention to constitutional debates on the role of the sovereign, but also to the role of England’s rising imperial ambitions and to the complex political self-positioning of the period’s women writers. We will take into account recent scholarship on political theology, and examine how writers of this tumultuous period reinscribe the political imaginary implicit in various literary modes, epic, tragedy, satire, and pastoral. Especially important to the theoretical content of the course will be the cluster of theorists witnessing up close the collapse of liberal order in the Weimar Republic: Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Carl Schmitt, and Leo Strauss. We will also read theorists of our own moment of anxiety on sovereignty, such as Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, and Wendy Brown. Seminar participants will be expected to make a conference-style presentation leading to a research paper of 14-16 pages.
Preliminary list of literary texts:
William Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece, The Tempest, Macbeth
Ben Jonson, Sejanus
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book 1; View of the Present State of Ireland
John Donne, Satyres
Aemilia Lanyer, The Description of Cooke-Ham
Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World
John Milton, A Masque, Lycidas, Paradise Lost (selections), Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes
Lucy Hutchinson, translation of Lucretius’ De rerum natura (selections); Order and Disorder, cantos 1-5
Andrew Marvell, Upon Appleton House, An Horation Ode, The First Anniversary, the Advice-to-a-Painter Poems
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave
ENGL 80600. Robert Reid-Pharr. Theorizing Celebrity Culture. Wednesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. 
We will work in this seminar both to track the ways that celebrity, especially literary celebrity, has developed in the United States since the Second World War as well as the ways in which the basic ideological structures of celebrity—and celebration—are imagined as at once obvious and omnipresent, innocuous and inconsequential. As a consequence, the key role that celebrity plays in not only our cultural lives but also our political and social lives is often deeply misunderstood. Indeed the inability of cultural critics to understand the attraction of vulgar forms of celebrity demonstrates a continued incapacity, particularly among so-called cultural elites, to recognize the importance of celebrity to the reproduction of the basic, if hotly contested, ideological and discursive structures that allow for the maintenance and reproduction of a common American society. Texts that we will examine include: Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste; Anne Anlin Cheng, Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface; Frantz Fanon, Black Skin/White Masks; Nicole Fleetwood, On Racial Icons; Joshua Gamson, Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America; Loren Glass, Literary Celebrity in the Modern United States, 1880 – 1980; Stuart Hall, Familiar Stranger: Life Between Two Islands; Leonard J. Leff, Hemingway and His Conspirators: Hollywood, Scribner’s, and the Making of American Celebrity Culture; Norman Mailer, Marilyn; P. David Marshall, Celebrity and Power: Fame and Contemporary Culture; Joe Moran, Literary Celebrity in America; and Michelle Stephens, Skin Acts: Race, Psychoanalysis, and the Black Male Performer.
ENGL 91000. Joan Richardson. Dissertation Workshop. Fridays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 0 credits. [CRN 38210]
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. Talia Schaffer. Somatic Austen. Mondays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38211]
This course interrogates Austen’s crucial contributions to the history of the novel, with particular attention to the function of bodies in her oeuvre. We will interrogate disability, debility, and sickness as modes of signaling female virtue and instituting social relationality, and we will ask how important erotic desire really is for Austenian marriage. Austen developed the kind of realist fiction that would dominate the nineteenth century novel, centered on the marriage plot – but how might Austen’s work itself hearken back to older models of seduction, courtship, or rational esteem, and how might it depict marriage in ways that modern readers do not recognize? In terms of bodily impairments and marriageable bodies, then, Austen may have somatic values that are interestingly different from our norms. The course will therefore work to recast the role of the body, while also introducing students to the major critics and debates about Austen’s work, including work on political, narrative, and historical directions in Austen.
ENGL 89000. Amy Wan. Archivists with Attitude: Historical and Documentary Research in English and Writing. Thursdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38212]
Many scholars in English studies, whether in writing or literary studies, do historical research, yet our projects often do not look like those from our colleagues in history departments. What considerations must a scholars who are not historians make as they embark on historical projects? How do you find or assemble an archive? What are the politics of representations and ethical considerations when you seek to study those who did not leave behind traditional archives?
Archivists with Attitude (a class named after the foundational series of articles on archival methods published by College English in 1999) is designed for students who are interested in archival research and want to learn about the questions, politics, and debates around historiography and historical research within English and writing studies. While as a researcher I am most familiar with rhetorical approaches to histories of U.S. higher education, public policy around citizenship and immigration, and writing instruction in the first half of the twentieth century, this class welcomes all fields, interests, and time periods.
We will spend a third of the class engaging in theory about archives and historiography, a third of the class studying historical research on higher education and writing instruction as case studies to understand differing methods and perspectives (as well as to provide a way to contextualize our own work within English departments), and a third of the class with hands-on archival work. The class will work together to teach each other strategies for archival research, including finding and studying traditional archives, government documents, periodicals, personal archives, and digital archives. In particular, the use of digital tools is rapidly changing what historical research looks like, bringing additional questions and concerns, and the class will explore these in detail to understand how scholars are doing historical and archival research today. We will also consider the process of archiving and what it means to study archives of the present and archives in progress. Students should expect to finish the class with a clear archival and theoretical foundation for a historical research project, although you don’t need a specific project idea to enroll in the course.
ENGL 84100. Joshua Wilner. Wordsworth’s Prelude: Origins and Afterlife. Mondays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38215]
The Prelude: Or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind occupies a central but anomalous position within the body of Wordsworth’s work and indeed within the history of Romanticism. For us it is a canonical text, a paradigmatic Romantic autobiography. But by Wordsworth’s own account he only undertook to “record, in verse, the origin and progress of [his] powers,” in order to see if he was qualified to write “a literary work that might live”– by which he meant not The Prelude but The Recluse, a three-part “philosophical poem containing views of man, of nature, and society.” On the one hand, that larger poem was never completed, part of the reason why The Prelude was never published during Wordsworth’s lifetime. (As he wrote in a letter, “[I]t seems a frightful deal to say about one’s self, and of course will never be published (during my lifetime, I mean), till another work has been written and published, of sufficient importance to justify me in giving my own history to the world.”) On the other hand, by a strange temporal logic, in its afterlife The Prelude has revealed itself as the legacy to posterity for which it was only meant to prepare the way. At the same time, while Wordsworth held The Prelude in reserve until his death, he returned again and again to its elaboration and revision. This complex textual situation raises questions on many levels. What is the significance – psychological, historical, and structural – of the fact that Wordsworth left The Recluse largely incomplete? Does The Prelude resist, at the same time that it is conceived as subsidiary to, the totalizing project represented by The Recluse? How does the complex recursive temporality operating between the writing of The Prelude and its “afterlife” already inform for Wordsworth the relationship of the poem to the past it recalls, as well as the relationship among its multiple textual states? In this course, we will explore these questions by tracking the growth of the “Growth of a Poet’s Mind,” from its beginnings in some fragmentary entries in a 1798 notebook (“Manuscript JJ”) through its successive elaborations in the “Two-Part Prelude” of 1799, the “Five-Book Prelude” of 1804, the “Thirteen-Book Prelude” of 1805 and, finally, the “Fourteen-Book Prelude”of 1850. We will give some preliminary consideration to Lyrical Ballads, whose 1798 publication immediately preceded Wordsworth’s earliest work on what was to become The Prelude; and we will also give some consideration to The Excursion, the one part of The Recluse that was completed. Finally we will look at the reception of The Prelude, and in particular at the process by which The Prelude came to displace The Excursion as Wordsworth’s magnum opus. Throughout, our fundamental concern will be with the recursive nature of Wordsworth’s writing process and the possibilities it discovers. Primary text: The Prelude: 1799, 1805, 1850, ed. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams and Stephen Gill (Norton Critical Editions); Requirements: 4 credits: a reading journal and a term paper; two credits: a reading journal.
ENGL 79010. Jessica Yood. The Culture Wars: History and Possibility. Thursdays 6:30PM-8:30PM. 2/4 credits. [CRN 38213]
The culture wars, wars “for the soul of America,” “ never end.” And they are wars “started by English departments.”
We begin with this widely believed view: that the nation’s divisions about identity are rooted in the American academy and in the fields of literary and cultural studies.
Methodologies from reception studies will guide a history of the culture wars and unpack persistent myths about them. Studying little-known documents from the early twentieth century and moving to nationalist documents that inspired the general education revolution of the 1940s, we discover that the culture wars--and radical views of cultural literacies--did indeed begin in the American academy, but not by literary or cultural critics. Once we enter the last two decades of the twentieth century, our attention focuses on the link between scholarship and pedagogy in the humanities and the problems and possibilities of a never-ending culture war. The final weeks of the term will be reserved for a writing workshop focused on two questions: Should we own the culture wars? If so, what kinds of teaching, research and writing warriors do we want to be?
Readings include the novel Welcome to Braggsville (T. Geronimo Johnson, 2015) and publications from The Aspen Institute, The National Society for the Study of Education, Radical Teacher, and The Journal of Basic Writing. We will also read excerpts from Hartman, A War for the Soul of America, Harpham, The Humanities and the Dream of America, Ferguson, The Reorder of Things: The University and its Pedagogies of Minority Difference, Smitherman and Villaneuva, eds, Language Diversity in the Classroom, Fleming, From Form to Meaning: Freshman Composition and the Long Sixties, Ball, Arnetha F., Multicultural Strategies for Education and Social Change, Graff, Teaching the Conflicts, Zavarzadeh, “The Pedagogy of Pleasure,” Hirsch, Cultural Literacy, Bowers, Cultural Literacy for Freedom. A more complete reading list will be available in late December.
29335 Agathocleous Tanya
00401 Alcalay Ammiel
00719 Alexander Meena
00299 Bowen Barbara
00243 Brenkman John
00402 Burger Glenn
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
38772 Kynard Carmen
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
00135 Tolchin Neal
00889 Vardy Alan
00751 Wallace Michele
38742 Wan, Amy
00325 Webb Barbara
00688 Wilner Joshua
19628 Yood Jessica
00891 Yousef Nancy