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Fall 2023 Courses

English 6480: Intro Critical Theory

Prof. Matthew Potolsky
Mo/We 1:25 – 2:45pm
LNCO 3870

Course Description

This course will provide an intensive introduction to the history and contemporary practice of literary theory. Rather than proceeding chronologically or by critical “schools,” we will focus on three major concepts that are or have been of central interest to the history of the discipline. In the first part of the course, we will look at the two major frameworks by which philosophy and critical theory have sought to understand the nature of art and literature: the theory of mimesis, which regards art as an imitation of something else; and the concept of signification, which treats representation as a code rather than a mirror. Here we will read texts by Plato, Aristotle, Saussure, and Barthes. In the second part of the course, we will examine the discourse of the aesthetic, which shifted attention from the nature of the art object to the judgments of the viewer. Key authors will include Kant, Heidegger, Benjamin, and Bourdieu. In the final part of the course, we will explore the history of biblical and literary interpretation from early Christianity to German hermeneutics and current investigations of the archive. Authors will include Augustine, Spinoza, Gadamer, Jameson, Fish, and Hartman. The aim of the course is to provide students with a broad genealogical understanding of the key concepts that continue to inform cultural study. There will be frequent writing assignments, student presentations, and a seminar paper due at the end of the semester.

ENGL 6610: Medieval Literature

Prof. Chris Jones
Wednesdays 4:35 – 7:25PM
LNCO 3870

Course Description

Old English Poetry: Craft, Translation, Practice

How is water like bone? A moth like a reader? A book like a beast? Early English poetry reveled in paradox and marvels, miracle and wonder (wundor in Old English). This class will provide a deep dive into the wundor of verse-craft in Old English (sometimes called “Anglo-Saxon”), the earliest surviving stage of the English language in our written records (our texts will range in date from the early eighth century AD to the late twelfth). For the first half of the semester we will intensively study Old English language, building up your understanding of Old English grammar, widening your vocabulary, and practicing your translation skills on several prose texts. During the second half of the semester we will read a range of shorter poems in the original Old English language, focusing in particular (but not exclusively) on the riddles of the late tenth-century manuscript known as The Exeter Book, which constitute a kind of early medieval English ars poetica. We will examine a number of the distinctive techniques of Old English verse, including kenning, variation and the alliterative metre (you probably say “meter”), as well as consider the theory and practice of translation as a literary activity. If you don’t like grammar and formal language study, this class might not be for you. But if you love riddles, crosswords, language games of all kinds, and poetry of devastating verbal ingenuity composed and written down over a thousand years ago by people whose names have been lost forever, then this class might just be your bag.

ENGL 6685: Contemporary Literature

Prof. Craig Dworkin
Mo/We 3:00 – 4:20PM
Location TBA

Course Description

This seminar will consider the politics of literature in the age of social media, where technologies of distribution have brought new focus to the status of celebrity, affect, surveillance, authorship, and geolocation. From newly relevant precedents, such as Andy Warhol and J. G. Ballard, to recent AI-written texts, we will read experimental fiction and poetry against the social analyses of Guy Debord and Tiqqun.

ENGL 7030: Fiction Workshop

Instructor TBD
Tuesdays 4:35 – 7:30pm
LNCO 3875

Course Description

TBA. Please check back later

ENGL 7040: Poetry Workshop

Prof. Katharine Coles
Mondays 4:35 – 7:25pm
LNCO 3875

Course Description

TBA. Please email the professor.

ENGL 7450: Narrative Theory & Practice

Prof. Lindsey Drager
Mo/We 11:50AM – 1:10PM
LNCO 3875

Course Description

This course will serve as an introduction to the basic principles of narrative theory for those who write—and those who are interested in writing—prose. Using Mieke Bal's theory of narrative as our guide, we will attempt to reveal the scaffolding upon which story is constructed in order to better understand who we are and what we do as storytellers. We will also ask what forces govern our stories (consciously and unconsciously) by reading work that operates as both fiction and its kin—theory, history, biography, essay, folktale.

We will study narratives from writers including Toni Cade Bambara, Charles Johnson, Lucia Berlin, Clarice Lispector, Julie Otsuka, Peter Ho Davies, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Jhumpa Lahiri, Percival Everett, Jamil Jan Kochai, Jose Saramago, Ursula Le Guin, Helen Oyeyemi, Susan Sontag, John Cheever, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, and others. 

We will pair these narratives with theory from Henry James, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, M.M. Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, Georg Lukacs, Linda Hutcheon, Ursula Heise, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Toni Morrison, Gerard Genette, Seymour Chatman, Tzvetan Todorov, Saidiya Hartman, Henry Louis Gates, Peter Brooks, Wendy B. Faris, Susan Lanser, and others.

Writers will endeavor in wide and close reading, generate and share new work, and curate a discussion of a short piece of prose which intersects with their personal writerly interests as well as the narrative theory/ies we are collectively coming to understand. It should be said that this course will adopt a methodology of research-creation (to borrow Natalie Loveless's term) and will be a space in which I aim to craft a tight-knit literary community founded on principles of reciprocal learning and teaching, where neither precedes nor follows and everyone is responsible for both.

ENGL 7720: Prose Fiction

Prof. Anne Jamison
Tu/Th 2:00 – 3:20PM
LNCO 3870

Course Description

TBA. Please email the professor.

Last Updated: 6/21/23