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Courses

Spring 2020

English 6700: American Cinema
Professor Angela Smith
Tuesday/Thursday 12:25pm – 1:45pm
LNCO 3870

 

Course Description This course will explore the aesthetic and political dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, and disability in significant American cinematic texts of the 20th and 21st centuries, drawn primarily from the genres of melodrama and horror. We will explore the ways in which bodies, individuals, and familial relationships may be seen to “stand in” for national, racial, and cultural identities and dynamics, and we will examine the powerful effects of American cinema’s narrative, aesthetic, and kinetic strategies. We will draw on pertinent materials from film theory and criticism, including feminist, critical race, and disability approaches, to help us investigate these films’ artistic elements, socio-political implications, and intellectual/ emotional effects. Likely film texts include Birth of a Nation, Imitation of Life, Forrest Gump, Precious, Moonlight, The Hitch-Hiker, Psycho, The Night of the Living Dead, Candyman, and Get Out.

English 7000: Experimental Forms
Professor Lance Olsen
Tuesday 4:35pm – 7:30pm
LNCO 3865

 

description & invitation. This semester we shall ask ourselves a deceptively straightforward question: How, if at all, can we write the contemporary rather than naively rewriting or abandoning the past? To begin to answer, we shall keep in mind Heidegger’s observation that not-being-at-home is a more fundamental human condition than being-at-home as we investigate how the possibility space called innovative writing may become richer by living alongside, in, and/or among several art forms and genres at once. What might happen, for instance, at the intersection(s) of fiction/poetry/nonfiction and photography, collage, music, architecture, painting, literary theory, new-media composition, book arts, critifiction, the lyric essay? In other words, our goal will be to explore the productive energies of liminal zones, hybridization, pla(y)giarism, the permeability of formal and generic boundaries that might give rise to interesting and illuminating configurations. I shall invite us, along the way, to move away from the tired contemporary mode of mounting critiques of every text we read (those by our peers and by other writers) and to look instead for ways to love them, celebrate them, learn from them, unlearn from them, enjoy their various blisses of language, allow them to put us into a generative state of unknowing. In other words, I shall invite us to treat texts just as we do flesh-and-blood human beings we meet and interact with in the non-paginal world. Along the way, I shall also invite us to professionalize ourselves (after all, that’s what this graduate program in creative writing is in good part about), even as I shall urge us to resist, rethink, and/or expand such notions as “the workshop” and “the workshop critique”; “narrativity”; writing’s “past,” “present,” and “future”; and the pragmatics of the current literary marketplace—all in order to bring into greater relief why and how we do what we do.

 

evaluation methods. At least two extended textual projects; weekly narratologically amphibious creative responses to readings; one 60-minute oral presentation & conversation on an experimental text from those listed below, with emphasis on the how and why of specific techniques at work within it; remarkably active class participation; reading and responding thoughtfully and respectfully to your fellow students’ work and to that of established writers and theorists.  PLEASE NOTE: You may NOT put up work here that has appeared in any other workshop, anywhere, ever, cross your heart.

 

required texts. Kathy Acker, Blood & Guts in High School (1984); Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable (1953); Anne Carson, Nox (2010); Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee (1982); David Clark, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (2009, online); Shelley Jackson, Skin Project (ongoing); Ben Lerner, 10:04 (2015); David Markson, The Last Novel (2007); Maggie Nelson, Bluets (2009); NourbeSe Philip, Zong! (2008); Graham Rawle, Woman’s World (2005); Steve Tomasula, VAS (2004).

English 7060: James Joyce and Minority Discouse(s)
Professor Vincent Cheng
Tuesday/Thursday 2:00pm - 3:20pm
LNCO 3875

 

This will be a course on the works of James Joyce.  Since I am assuming that some class members will not have read either Ulysses and/or Finnegans Wake before, this will be primarily a course developing a thorough and deep understanding of the body of Joyce's works, including the earlier ones.  However, I would like to do so by pursuing a particular focus and angle of investigation: the competing minority discourses in Ireland which Joyce gives voice to (sometimes consciously, sometimes symptomatically, often problematically) in his works--discourses involving race, imperialism, gender, class, religion and nationalism in a poor, colonial, Irish-Catholic patriarchy ruled by the British empire and by the Anglo-Irish Protestant ascendancy.  Thus, some of our critical readings will also have to do with issues/theories of cultural "hegemony" (in the Gramscian sense), colonial and postcolonial dynamics, racial typologies/constructions, gender dynamics, ethnic nationalisms, and the complex intersections of these issues--using Joyce's "Ireland" as our case study.

 

Course readings will of course include primarily Joyce's major works (with some attention to the less well-known ones, if we wish) and important critical essays/studies on each work.  But I will also assign and suggest, week to week, relevant readings on related cultural and literary theory.  Class meetings and assignments will focus on both careful textual analysis and key critical/theoretical issues concerning the readings in question.  Assignments will include possibly a short paper, a long paper, an oral report, and a weekly page (minimum) of ideas based on the assigned reading (a final exam is an option, but improbable).

 

Below is the list of books (N.B. designated editions) I am submitting to the bookstore; a number of essays will be assigned separately each week, along with suggested readings.

Required:

James Joyce, Dubliners (Penguin Classics)

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Classics)

James Joyce, Ulysses (Vintage, The Corrected Text, ed. Gabler)

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (Viking/Penguin)

Harry Blamires, The New Bloomsday Book (Routledge)

Don Gifford, Ulysses Annotated (California)

Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake (Johns Hopkins)

Recommended:

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Grove Press)

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (Verso)

Edward Said, Orientalism (Vintage)

Robert Young, White Mythologies (Routledge)

Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (Oxford, 1982 revised edition)

Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce's Ulysses (Vintage)

Campbell & Robinson, A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (Viking)

Vincent J. Cheng, Joyce, Race, and Empire (Cambridge)

English 7460: Theory & Practice of Poetry
Professor Jacqueline Osherow
Monday 4:35pm - 7:30pm
LNCO 3865

 

This Theory and Practice will focus on poetic form and how the demands and constraints of form create poetic possibilities.  We’ll read texts in which form creates a space for the individual – I think of this as “forms for the self” – and others in which form creates a space for what is otherwise inaccessible – God, for example --  I think of this as “forms for the formless.”    The class will involve a great deal of reading and a great deal of writing.  Most of the reading will be poetry, but we’ll also include some of our poets’ defenses of or letters about poetry. Students will produce one poem a week, according to formal assignments. Half of class time will involve discussion of the reading; half will involving workshopping students’ poems.   Our first class – for which there will be a (fairly short) reading assignment  sorry;  but we’re off both for MLK and for Presidents’ Day) will first involve a review of scansion and then focus on a few medieval and early Renaissance forms  (Chaucer’s translation of a Petrarch sonnet into three stanzas of rhyme royale, the Spenserian stanza).  This first class will meet for the full class time.  We’ll spend the next two weeks on sonnet sequences --– reading Astrophil and Stella (as well as Sidney’s Apology) the first week and Shakespeare and Donne and Hopkins the next.  Then we’ll look at terza rima in some selections from Dante and Shelley.  We’ll read the first two books of the Prelude (Blank Verse) and Wordsworth’s “Preface to the Lyrical Ballads”, take advantage of two subsequent weeks off (this will involve three weeks total) to read Byron’s Don Juan (ottava rima) in its entirety and look at few of Yeats’ ottava rima poems as well, then selections of Whitman’s Song of Myself (free verse) and selections from Emily Dickenson (quatrains; hymn meter.)  Moving into the 20th century, we’ll look at Eliot’s Four Quartets (to understand the possibilities of a mixed form long poem in sections) at syllabics in Auden and Marianne Moore and read Auden’s “Making, Knowing, Judging”, Calvino’s Invisible Cities (prose poems), then look at some more contemporary formal poems:  Terence Hayes’ American Sonnets, Jericho Brown’s “Duplexes” in The Tradition, Marilyn Hacker’s Winter Numbers. Finally, we’ll look at selection of obsessive, repeating forms.  Students will be required to rewrite five of the poems they have produced for class (rewrites NEED NOT conform to the original assignments) or three rewrites and an ars poetica (either in prose or in verse). 

 

English 7800: The Imagination of Commercial Life: Fiction, Film, Economic Theory
Professor Howard Horwitz
Monday/Wednesday 11:50am - 1:10pm
LNCO 3875

 

The course counts as an American literature course, a seminar, and an advanced theory

course.

We will examine representations of commercial life in fiction, film, journalism, economic theory, and a memoir by the first great oil magnate, John D. Rockefeller. We will consider the sorts of narratives that appear in these different genres, including in recent critiques of neo-liberalism. Yes, economic texts involves narratives of the subject (the desires, motives, aspirations, anxieties that constitute a subject). We will ask how characters and persons in these texts experience commercial life in different settings. To what extent do persons and fictional characters identify themselves through commercial relations? How does economic life affect our sense of ourselves?

 

Course materials. I may decide to order one or two short novels, but generally we will read short literature, excerpts or discrete chapters from economic (and some political) texts, or brief essays by economic theorists. We will read short literature by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Herman Melville, Louise Erdrich, Don DeLillo, and several others, and study a few films, like Margin Call (2011), which we will view when we consider materials about the global financial crisis @2008. We will also study the Harold Lloyd spectacular (at the time) Safety Last! (1923) and Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). We will read recent newspaper articles about economic life and read excerpts by economic theorists like Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, John Maynard Keynes, Thorstein Veblen, Karl Marx, and Joseph Stiglitz. We will examine several critiques of neo-liberalism, by Etienne Balibar, for example. We will examine the economic materials as narratives, recounting the progress of economies but also the aspirations of individuals and populations. Generally, we will attend carefully to the language and strategies of all the course materials, so that we can learn how to interpret them. The range of materials will give us a broader view of the issues than reading fewer, longer texts. All of the films we study should be available for streaming through the Marriott Library, though sometimes the stream is more consistent through Netflix or YouTube or other websites.

 

Most of the selections from economic theory are accessible to a general audience. The excerpts from John Locke and Adam Smith and the essays by John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman—all very famous figures—are straightforward as well as brief. Each author tells a lively story. Thorstein Veblen wrote more difficult prose (he did so deliberately, for reasons I will explain when we study him), but the excerpt is not that long and not that hard, and Veblen introduces a crucial concept, “pecuniary emulation,” as well as the better known “conspicuous

consumption.” The 20-page excerpt we will study from Karl Marx’s Capital, on the inevitable concentration of capital, is hard to read, a result of his writing style, quirks of German, and problems of translation. But this excerpt, I think, explains a key element of modern economic activity. (Consider the frequency of mergers nowadays. Google and Amazon, for example, constantly seek means to expand their footprint, as in Google’s acquisition of YouTube or Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods and the online pharmacy PillPack. The U.S.

government has just permitted T-Mobile and Sprint to merge. Globalization was well underway in the 19th century.) Marx thinks people desire the concentration of capital (and thus the huge growth of a few firms at the expense of smaller firms and at the expense of labor), even as we protest many of the effects of these increases in economies of scale. The Marx is difficult, but you will forever think differently about large scale capitalization and consumer demand. And the Marx prepares to

understand some recent critiques of neo-liberalism.

 

 WRTG 7760: Topics in Rhetorical Decolonial Theory & Practice
Professor Romeo Garcia
Monday 1:25pm - 4:20pm
GC 5620

 

This course introduces the project of decoloniality at the intersections of literacy and rhetorical studies. Decoloniality begins temporally and geographically with the discovery of the Americas. It introduces a set of analytical concepts (Americanity, coloniality of power, knowledge, and being, modern/colonial world system, and colonial and imperial difference) and regenerative concepts (geo-and-body politics of knowledge and understanding, exteriority, border gnsosis, de-linking, and pluriversality) in pursuing the question, a decolonial option? We will consider this question at the intersections of subjectivity and positionality, settler colonial and modern/colonial technologies, and everyday human project(s). Theorists include

Anibal Quijano, Enrique Dussel, Walter Mignolo, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Madina Tlostanova, Catherine Walsh, and Maria Lugones.

 

 

Jeremy Rosen

Last Updated: 11/18/19