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Winter 2013

Graduate Expanded Course Descriptions


Note: For additional graduate courses taught by English faculty, please see the Winter 2013 schedule.

210: Readings in English and American Literature

TOPIC: Thinking With Animals

Parama Roy
R 3:10-6:00, 120 Voorhies, CRN 73747
Breadth: Later British
Focus: ID, Interdiscipline, Theory

As is clear from the abundance of work in the field of animal studies since the late twentieth century, animals are good to think (with). The “animal turn” in the humanities had its origins in part in the animal liberation movement in Europe and North America, which sought to investigate the ethics of human co-existence with non-human animals and to expand the idea of rights beyond the limits of the human. At the same time cultural critics and philosophers (especially in the Continental tradition) have been profoundly interested in the representation of non-human animals and ecologies, and the questions animals raise about identity, identification, autonomy, difference, and agency. While this course, designed as an introduction to the question of the animal in modern (western) culture, hopes to cover both of these major modes of thinking about animality, it will privilege the Continental strain.

What is it that we call an animal, and how might we understand the relation between humans and nonhuman animals? What is the nature of animal consciousness (including self-consciousness), communication, and affect? What (and how) do animals know, and what (and how) can they learn? Is there an animal politics, and can animals be subject to law? Can animals experience death? Do (at least some) animals deserve the moral and legal considerations presently reserved for human persons? What is the nature of human obligation with respect to nonhuman life, even if such life is not the subject of rights? How do we understand animality with respect to categories of identity such as gender, race, class, sexuality, and ability, and can we think of speciesism as analogous to slavery, colonisation, or genocide? How have animals been used in the rhetoric (and practice) of the dehumanisation of slaves, women, Jews? These are some of the questions that the theoretical readings will pose for us.

Literature has always sought to address the relationship between humans and other animals, and to imagine animal experience and thought. We will read a handful of literary texts that treat of animal and human incarnation (including what it might mean to have and to use eyes and noses, faces, hands, carapaces, and tails); animal-human transformation; wildness, settlement, and domestication; and animal speech, death, and sacrifice.

In addition to the texts listed below, we will read essays, poetry, and fiction by Aesop, La Fontaine, Montaigne, Descartes, Bentham, Kipling, Angela Carter, Ted Hughes, Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Martha Nussbaum, Carol Adams, Thomas Nagel, Laurie Shannon, David L. Clark, Akira Lippit, and Temple Grandin.

Weekly posts to an online discussion forum; a keywords project or an annotated bibliography; a 17-20 page seminar paper.


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
Animal Philosophy, Peter Atterton and Matthew Calarco, ed.
gulliver\'s travels: a norton critical edition, ed. Albert Rivero, Jonathan Swift
The Animal That Therefore I Am , Jacques Derrida
The Lives of Animals, J.M. Coetzee
The Island of Doctor Moreau, ed. Patrick Parrinder, H.G. Wells
The Open: Man and Animal, Giorgio Agamben
"Becoming-Animal", Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
When Species Meet, Donna Haraway
Introduction, Animal Rites; “In the Shadow of Wittgenstein’s Lion”; “Before the Law”; “Human, All Too Human”, Cary Wolfe



232: Problems in English Literature

TOPIC: Contested Crossings: Studies in the History of Sexuality, Gender, and Genre in the Early Modern Era

Margaret Ferguson
T 3:10-6:00, 120 Voorhies, CRN 73748
Focus: Genre, Method, Theory

Enl 232 "Contested Crossings: Studies in the History of Sexuality, Gender, and Genre in Early Modern England"

The seminar focuses on cultural debates about category distinctions as they pertain both to genres of literary production and to representations of gender and sexuality in texts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We will pay particular attention to the ideological borders between virginity (male and female) and non-virginity; between marriage and divorce; between Catholic and Protestant (with a look at the category of "conversion" poem); between romance and epic; between translation and original; and between tragedy and comedy. Texts will include several major modern critical statements on genre and on translation; selections from Spenser's __Faerie Queene_; from Golding's translation of Ovid's _Metamorphoses_; plays and masques by Jonson; Middleton and Rowley; Shakespeare; Beaumont and Fletcher; Milton; Cavendish; and Behn; poetic texts by Skelton, Wyatt, Whitney, Wroth, Donne, Milton, and Marvell. Some primary and all secondary works on SmartSite--and in a hard copy reader if seminar members wish to read from print.

One pedagogical exercise of questions for one class (group project); a thesis atatement with preliminary bibliography for your seminar paper (approx 15 pp.); class participation.


The Faerie Queene Books Three and Four, Edmund Spenser, ed. Dorothy Stephens
The Changeling, Thomas Middleton and William Rowley (New Mermaid ed.)
The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol 1B (9th edition). !B is the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Century



233: Problems in American Literature

TOPIC: Environmental History and Literature

Michael Ziser
W 12:10-3:00, 120 Voorhies, CRN 52954
Focus: Interdiscipline, Method

This team-taught interdisciplinary seminar in the environmental humanities is an advanced introduction to an emerging field that explores the changing connections between peoples and the natural world as they are reflected in literature, the arts, and history. Through foundational texts and case studies drawn from environmental history, environmental justice, and ecocriticism, we will sketch out the major substantive questions, methodological challenges, and critical opportunities opened up by transdisciplinary and multi-methodological engagement with environmental issues. Students from all disciplines who are interested in environmental history, ecocriticism, Science Studies, American Studies, and postcolonial studies are encouraged to participate. The seminar will run concurrently with the Environment and Societies colloquium, for advanced students who wish to immerse themselves in the field. (Participation in the colloquium is not a requirement for this seminar, and vice-versa.)

Readings will include literary, historical, critical, and theoretical materials.

Instructors: Diana Davis (History), Julie Sze (American Studies), Michael Ziser (English).

Please note: this seminar is listed under two different departmental designations, English 233 (CRN 52954) and History 202H (CRN 74425). Students should sign up for whichever version works best with the requirements of their particular program. For English graduate students, the course may fulfill either the early or later national requirement, depending on the subject of the final paper.

weekly attendance and participation, including discussion questions and short reaction papers to be circulated at each meeting (25%); one-time leadership of seminar discussion, including preparation and delivery of a 15-minute framing of the material (8-10 written pages) and moderation of subsequent discussion (25%); final term paper (10-15pp) chosen from literature review, grant proposal, conference paper, prospectus, or article seed formats (50%).


Cambridge Introduction to Literature and Environment, Timothy Clark
Killing for Coal, Thomas Andrews
Toxic Bodies, Nancy Langston
Walden, Henry Thoreau
Defining Environmental Justice, David Schlosberg
The Problem of Nature, David Arnold
Zeitoun, Dave Eggers
The Arcadia Project, Corey and Waldrep, eds.
The Hungry Tide, Amitav Ghosh



236: Poetics

Joe Wenderoth
R 3:10-6:00, 308 Voorhies, CRN 73749
Breadth: Later American
Focus: Other National

OBJECTIVES: The intention of this course is to develop an understanding and/or a feel for the lyric cell, which has existed in one way or another in every society we have record of. By looking at a variety of poems, particularly poems closer to us in tongue and time and place, we will attempt to articulate a range a ways in which the lyric cell might be inhabited. I am particularly interested in your making the course your own, which is to say, in your taking the course material and finding in it what is of special importance to you, your work. While the course may be of use to scholars, it is designed for creative writers; I’d like, then, to make a real effort to see that the ideas and the critical analyses that the class forces upon you… might bear fruit somehow in relation to your own work as an artist.

REAL OBJECTIVES: Poetry is a black hole. A more or less comfortable erasure process. The more and the less, strictly speaking, being everything. Is it a question of the strange pleasure of being able to articulate the diminishment of everything—which may be, of course, the most sublime ensuring of everything, even as a kind of rest is achieved?





252: Victorian Literature

TOPIC: Victorian Media and the Victorian Novel

Elizabeth Miller
M 12:10-3:00, 120 Voorhies, CRN 73750
Breadth: Later British
Focus: Genre, Method

Victorian Media and the Victorian Novel

“In the old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press.” (Oscar Wilde, Fortnightly Review, 1891).

Wilde was not alone in recognizing that the Victorians had experienced an information revolution, and critics today have renewed interest in the question of how literary exchange participated in this shifting media sphere. This course will draw on several approaches to Victorian media that have changed critical conceptions of the Victorian novel: studies in seriality and serial reading; cultural-materialist approaches to print, periodicals, and the history of the book; theories of mass culture and mass media; and studies in photography, illustration, and visual culture. Reading prominent and lesser-known Victorian novels, we will consider the forms and forums in which these novels were published, and ask a variety of questions about narrative, visual, cultural, and social formations. Did Victorian serials and periodicals impose particular reading practices? What was the relationship between photography and novelistic realism? How did the verbal and the visual interact in illustrated novels? To what extent were mass media and mass literature emblematic of democracy? At the end of the course, we will turn to the late-Victorian invention of film, and consider Sergei Eisenstein’s claim that early film’s narrative practice followed from Victorian novels.


News from Nowhere, William Morris
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
The English Common Reader, Richard Altick
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
New Grub Street, George Gissing
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
The Romance of a Shop, Amy Levy



262-1: American Literature After 1914

TOPIC: American Regionalisms/Regional Americanisms

Desire Martn
M 3:10-6:00, 120 Voorhies, CRN 52960
Breadth: Later American
Focus: ID, Interdiscipline

In recent years, American cultural studies have been productively redirected away from the hegemonic national model and towards other categories such as the transnational and the regional. These are categories that might seem to be diametrically opposed to one another, as regional literatures have been historically thought of as minor or peripheral categories of a national tradition, while transnationalism is generally regarded through the lens of border-crossing, narratives of contact zones, and globalization. Yet narratives of nationalism are also structured through the transnational and regional, while the transnational and regional may be read through various forms of nationalism. In this seminar, we will examine the intersections between the national, transnational, regional, paying particular attention to the manner in which all of these terms shape each other.

Class participation
In-class presentation (@ 20 min) with written analysis (2-3 pgs)
15-20 pg. seminar paper

In addition, you will be required to submit an abstract of your final paper a few weeks before it is due so that I can provide comments and feedback (will not be graded)


Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner
Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
Tropic of Orange, Karen Tei Yamashita
Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
George Washington Gomez, Americo Paredes



262-2: American Literature After 1914

TOPIC: Poetry In Crisis: North American Poetics 1973-2008

Joshua Clover
W 3:10-6:00, 120 Voorhies, CRN 73751
Breadth: Later American
Focus: Genre

ENL 262: Poetry In Crisis: North American Poetics 1973-2008

This course will read US (and Canadian) poetry from the sixties onward in the context of a double crisis: poetry in the situation of crisis, and the crisis of poetry as cultural form.

The first is largely that of economic/hegemonic crisis centered in the United States, in the period spanned by the two late modern crises c. 1973 and 2008: how poetry fashioned itself in relation to the situation of crisis (and here I include ecological crisis as part of the same nexus); how the category of crisis helps us think poetry, and how the poetry and poetics of the era helps us think crisis.

The second sense of the course’s title is inseparable from the first: the sense that poetry itself, especially the lyric, as a cultural form (much less a privileged one) is itself marked as being in a state of crisis in this period, its audience denuded, its character and purpose uncertain.

In this period, often identified with the fragmenting or dissolution of the modern lyric tradition, poetry increasingly takes up not just the question of crisis in general but of its relation to empire and economy — inquiring after and modeling the changes in the lifeworld of late capitalism from globalized interconnection to immaterial labor, from the obdurate quality of the built world to the vast accelerations of finance. It is awesome and terrible.

Readings will follow three strands.

1) Signal books of poetry from this period.
2) Studies of poetry (or literature more broadly) in the context of crisis.
3) Crisis theory as such.
[many of the listings below will be read only in selection]

In addition to regular attendance, completion of all readings, and extensive participation in seminar (including leading one discussion), students will submit a final seminar paper reading a significant text from this period in the context of crisis. This text will be off-syllabus and chosen by the student, subject to instructor's approval.


Aesthetics and Politics , various
Zong!, M. NourbeSe Philip
R's Boat, Lisa Robertson
The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune, Kristin Ross
Golden Age of Paraphernalia, Kevin Davies
Capital Vol. 1, Karl Marx
This Connection of Everybody With Lungs, Juliana Spahr
Three Poems, John Ashbery
My Vocabulary Did This To Me, Jack Spicer
The Long 20th Century, Giovanni Arrighi
The Matter of Capital, Christopher Nealon
The New Spirit of Capitalism, Boltanski & Chiapello



290F: Seminar in Creative Writing of Fiction

Yiyun Li
R 12:10-3:00, 248 Voorhies



290P: Seminar in Creative Writing of Poetry

Joe Wenderoth
T 6:10-9:00, 120 Voorhies

We will endeavor, in this course, to encounter poetic speech. We will do so from both sides—as speaker and as hearer, as writer and as reader. The guiding intention of our discussion will be the development of an understanding of what poetic speech has been and might now be, which is to say, what human (or inhuman) purposes it might now serve, and how it might be crafted to better fulfill their intentions and/or impulses.

12 poems submat. participation, a few small assignments.



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