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Spring 2022 Courses

English 6610: Medieval Literature

Professor Thomas Stillinger 
Tuesday/Thursday 2:00pm – 3:20pm
LNCO 3875

Course Description

Some Medieval Hybrids

The literature of late medieval Europe is full of interesting experiments. Modern conceptions of the author, the work, and literature itself were not yet codified; medieval writers often seem to be making things up as they go. In this course we will look at a number of texts that might be termed hybrid, in that (in very different ways) they combine lyric poetry with non-lyric modes of writing: prose, narrative, philosophy, literary criticism. Discussion will focus on issues of gender, representation, and literary form—and other topics arising from the texts and from students’ interests. We will begin with an actual prosimetrum (a text that alternates between prose and verse), and end with a masterpiece that subjects the lyric to attacks from all sides, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde.


The course itself will be a kind of hybrid: at first it will be a comp lit class, with modern translations of medieval texts, and after about six weeks it will become a Chaucer class, with texts in the original Middle English. No previous experience with Middle English is expected; we’ll start slowly with Chaucer and build up speed. Some contemporary criticism and theory will also be assigned.


Primary texts:


Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy (trans. Watts; Penguin)

Marie de France, The Lais (trans. Waters; Broadview)

            Dante, The New Life / La Vita Nuova (trans. Appelbaum; Dover)

            Chaucer, Dream Visions and Other Poems (ed. Lynch; Norton Critical Ed.)

            -----, Troilus and Criseyde (ed. Barney; Norton Critical Ed.)


English 6680: 20th Century American Literature

Professor Jeremy Rosen
Monday/Wednesday 3:00pm - 4:20pm
LNCO 3870

Course Description

Contemporary Lit.: “Genre Bending in Contemporary Literary Fiction”

For much of the late 19th and 20th centuries, novelists who aspired to produce books of literary quality explicitly defined their writing in opposition to “genre fiction,” popular and often highly commercialized genres, such as romance, western, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. But, surveying the field of global literary fiction in the 21st Century, one notices a striking phenomenon: these genres are everywhere. Many of today’s most prestigious “literary” writers have been working with genre fiction forms—often bending them in fascinating directions. In this course, we will read novels by acclaimed fiction writers that play with popular genres, and consider theory and criticism that examine the real or perceived divide between “high” literary art and commercial fiction, as well as theories of genre and popular culture, to try to make sense of this recent phenomenon. Readings will (likely) include fiction by A.S. Byatt, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Kazuo Ishiguro, Chang-Rae Lee, David Mitchell, and Colson Whitehead; theory and criticism will include work by Theodor Adorno, Frederic Jameson, John Storey, Claire Squires, Mark McGurl and others.

English 7030: Fiction Workshop

Professor Michael Mejia
Wednesdays 4:35pm - 7:30pm
LNCO 3875

Fiction Workshop

As a workshop, a good portion of our time will be spent asking questions of students' new and developing writing. Students will produce at least three new pieces of fiction in conversation with weekly assigned readings. While we'll be interested in specific issues and innovations in composition, in our sessions we'll also want to consider the various attributes of our contemporaneity, the aesthetic, social, physical, technological, and ideological world/s within which we're creating right now, and how our work reflects a deep engagement with this context. We'll feed these discussions with weekly examinations of texts that seek, more directly than indirectly in most cases, to make compelling fiction from the materials of social crisis—as an immediate concern, as a chronic condition, and as an opportunity for imagining possible futures. Students will be responsible for leading active group discussions on these texts, which may include work by Carribean Fragoza, Susan Neville, Ted Chiang, Sarah Blackman, John Keene, Rikki Ducornet, Yoko Tawada, Mariana Enriquez, Judith Schlansky, Cristina Rivera Garza, Diane Williams, and Carmen Maria Machado.

English 7040: Graduate Poetry Workshop

Professor Jacqueline Osherow
Tuesdays 4:35pm - 7:30pm
LNCO 3875

Course Description

Students in the graduate workshop will write one poem a week and read one book or the collected works of one poet a week. The poems submitted weekly will alternate between poet’s choice (form and subject determined by each student) and thematic or formal assignments, mostly drawn from what we’ve read in  the previous two weeks.  For the reading, we’ll begin with a few poems  from the Tang Dynasty on the very first day of class and move onto medieval Arabic and Hebrew poems (Poems of Arab Andalusia (trans. Cola Franzen) ,then  selections from The Dream of the Poem (trans. Peter Coloe) .  We’ll jump to Hopkins (I like to do one canonical English-language poet)  and then Tsvetayeva, Celan (I’m still making up my mind about which translations to use and am currently open to suggestions) and Hayden.  We’ll finish with Douglas Kearney’s Sho.   For the final five weeks of class, “books” will be collections by the students themselves. .  These might simply be collections of the poems students have written for this workshop.  They could also be manuscripts students are completing and sending out to publishers and contests.   A great deal emerges when students’ poems are looked at in collections, rather than one by one.  For their final projects, students will rewrite at least five of the poems they’ve written for the class.


English 7060: British Writers 

Professor Vincent Cheng
Tuesday/Thursday 12:25pm - 1:45pm
LNCO 3870

James Joyce and Minority Discourse(s)

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.


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)


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)

Last Updated: 11/19/21