Fall 2010 Graduate Seminars

Eng 599R: Master's Thesis
Reiss, TBA, TBA, Max: 999

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)


Eng 710R: Studies in Renaissance Literature: Sacrifice
Rambuss, W 1:00-4:00, Max: 9     Eng 710R/CPLT 752

Content: A seminar on seventeenth-century English devotional poetry, principally the work of John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, and John Milton.  Our way into this body of work will be through the question of sacrifice and some "sacrifice theory" (e.g., Bataille, Girard, Agamben).  Why the sacrificial imperative in the Judeo-Christian tradition?  To what extent does Christianity remain a blood cult?  What are relations between medieval and Renaissance, English and Continental forms of crucifixion piety?  The seminar will move, in conclusion, from the English baroque of Milton and Crashaw to the Hollywood baroque of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.  We may also briefly consider some poetry by T.S. Eliot ("The Love Song of St. Sebastian"; The Four Quartets), who also wrote influentially about the religious verse of Donne, Herbert, and Crashaw. 

Particulars:  Attendance at all seminar meetings; seminar presentation; critical bibliography; final seminar paper. 

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)


Eng 710R: Studies in Renaissance Literature: Dark Shadows: Moors, Africa and the Early Modern Stage
Cahill, Th 10:00-1:00, Max: 12

Content: In early modern England, actors were known as shadows and the popular theater featured many proto-Gothic, highly melodramatic plots evoking black Africans and Moorish  figures, including Shakespearean dramas (e.g. Titus Andronicus and Othello) as well as Thomas Dekker's Lust's Dominion; John Marston's Sophonsiba; John Webster's The White Devil; Thomas Heywood's 2-part The Fair Maid of the West; and Richard Brome's The English Moor.   In this seminar, we'll engage English performances of Africa and Africans and  aim to make sense of both their modes of theatrical address and their racial logic. For example, we'll consider their fetishization of whiteness, their extraordinary claims about skin and climate, their fantasies of heritability and maternal impression, and the highly charged connections they forge between discourses of race, sexuality, and gender. As part of our inquiry, we'll look at archival traces of a substantial Black presence in early modern England and Scotland before the establishment of Atlantic slavery; we'll look at early modern texts about skin color and sensation; and we'll examine the many references to Africa and Africans in early modern texts such as Hakluyt's Navigations, Queen Elizabeth's infamous deportation letters, and Leo Africanus's History and Description of Africa Our inquiries may be aided by attention to other literary works (such as Edward Gilpin 1598 verses on Nigrina, Ben Jonson's 1605 Masque of Blackness, and a variety of medieval texts) as well as by scholarship current in early modern race studies.  

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)


Eng 740R: Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature:Thomas Hardy and Contemporary Poetry: Auden, Thomas, Larkin, Heaney
Schuchard, W 4:00-7:00, Max: 12

Content: This seminar will begin with a study of the poetry and poetics of Thomas Hardy and proceed to a study of Contemporary poets who looked less to the Yeats-Eliot-Pound tradition of poetry than to Hardy for liberation from the burdens of that tradition: W. H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney.

Texts: A Primary text will be The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy, in the hefty paper edition of 1024 pages. Other texts will include the collected or selected poems of Auden, Thomas, Larkin, Hughes and Heaney, together with their available critical writings.

Particulars: Each student will be responsible for preparing and leading discussions of particular volumes of poetry and criticism. The writing requirement (20-25 pages) will be worked out on an individual basis as to the number and kind of papers.


Eng 752R: Studies in Twentieth-Century American Literature: Issues in Southern Literature and Literary History
Ladd, Tu 10:00-1:00, Max: 12  

Content: The U.S. South is often distinguished from the rest of the United States as a culture of history and memory in a "great nation of futurity" (as John L. O'Sullivan put it in the mid-19th century). Today we know that there are many histories and memories associated with the literatures of the U.S. South. In this seminar we will explore travel narratives, novels, short stories, letters, essays, and other material, looking closely at the play of histories, memories, and imagined futures in literary texts. More specifically the seminar will be divided into sections of 2-4 weeks each, the first focusing on the Mississippi River, the Americas/the trans(south)atlantic, and U.S. nationalism; the second on creoles and creolization; the third on gender and social change (progressivism, atavism, war, and the New Woman); and the fourth on the questioning of history and memory. Participants should expect to read selections from the work of those political theorists, cultural critics, and scholars whose work is most relevant to the subject and to the texts in the course.

Texts: tba. Some of the following are probable: Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi; Edward King, The Great South (selections), and selections from accounts of the River by other travelers and historians (ex.: Fanny Kemble, Dickens, Mrs.Trollope, Captain Frederick Marryat, Francis Parkman); George W. Cable, The Grandissimes, "Café des Exilés," "Jean-ah Poquelin"; Zora Neale Hurston, Tell My Horse; Evelyn Scott, Escapade; William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, Absalom, Absalom!, and Requiem for a Nun; Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian.

Particulars: Weekly informal reaction papers (300-500 words); student-led discussions; a substantive review of a significant book of scholarship, criticism, or theory relevant to the course and to student research interests. At the end of the semester, a review essay (with annotated bibliography) on the scholarship dealing with a more specific text, writer, or issue of interest to you or, if you prefer, a seminar paper.

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)


Eng 752R: Studies in Twentieth-Century American Literature: After the End: Literature in the Ashes of History
Caruth, Tu 1:00-4:00, Max: 8      Eng 789R/CPLT 752/ILA 790

Content: At the heart of the psychoanalytic, literary and (political) theoretical texts in this course are scenes or conceptualizations of a world beyond the end--not only the end of specific eras or experiences but also the end of thought, or of history, as such.  Beginning with the ashes of Pompeii at the center of Freud's reading of Wilhelm Jensen's Gradiva, this course will trace the delineation, in each writer, of a language that appears to anticipate, and paradoxically to survive, its absolute destruction.  In Derrida's rereading of Freud's "Gradiva" in Archive Fever, in José Saramago's rewriting of Camus's The Plague in Blindness, in Hannah Arendt's rethinking of her own earlier work in "Truth in Politics" and "Lying in Politics," in Stanley Kubrik's refashioning of film narrative in Dr. Strangelove, and in Cormac McCarthy's rethinking of theology in The Road, the writers produce a language that both participates in, and attempts to serve as impossible witness to, a world of ashes in which thought itself has disappeared.  In addition to the above texts, the course may include additional material by Shelly Rambo, Paul Virilio, Maurice Blanchot, Shoshana Felman and Jean Baudrillard.

Texts: McCarthy, Cormac, The Road; Saramago, José, Blindness; Camus, Albert, The Plague;,Jensen, Wilhelm, Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fantasy; Freud, Sigmund, Writings on Art and Literature; Derrida, Jacques, Archive Fever; Arendt, Hannah, Between Past and Future; Derrida, Jacques, Mal d'Archive; Freud, Sigmund, Der Wahn und die Träume in W. Jensens Gradiva; Camus, Albert, La Peste; Freud, Sigmund, Beyond the Pleasure Principle; , Freud, Sigmund, Moses and Monotheism; Yerushalmi, Josef Hayim; Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable.

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)

Eng 789R: Special Topics in Literature: Sleep in Science and Culture
Reiss/Rye, TT 2:30-3:45, Max: 6    Eng 789R/ILA 790

Content: This course will investigate human sleep from scientific and humanistic perspectives.  We will combine readings in the scientific study of sleep and sleep-related phenomena (including state boundary distinctions and functions of sleep, the significance of dreams, normative sleep patterns, and sleep disorders) with the study of literary and philosophical representations of such matters in their historical contexts.  Some questions we will pursue include: how might studying sleep in history, literature, and philosophy shed light on scientific problems? How can current scientific understandings of sleep clarify curious phenomena observed by writers and other observers through the ages?  To what degree can "sleep" as an area of scientific inquiry is separated from the cultural and historical circumstances of the sleeper?  How has human sleep changed over time, and how have medical, philosophical, literary, and religious understandings of it responded to these changes? 

Most of the course will be discussion-based, but we will have several visits from sleep researchers across the university and perhaps from outside.  We will work with students individually to develop final writing projects in areas germane to their disciplinary interests.

Note: Course will be team taught by Benjamin Reiss (English) and David Rye (Neurology)

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)


Eng 789R: Special Topics in Literature: Feminist Literary Theory and Critical Practice
Brownley, M 1:00- 4:00, Max: 6   Eng 789R/WS 585

Content: This seminar will examine various methods through which contemporary feminist theoretical work can be deployed in literary analyses.  The concern will be with practical applications, ranging from individual works to genres, evolved in terms of a number of the major theoretical movements within feminism.  The course will be developed as a series of individual case studies rather than as a comprehensive historical or theoretical survey. 

Requirements:  2 class facilitations; short paper; final paper Please note that for graduate students in the Women's Studies Certificate Program, this seminar fulfills the feminist theory requirement.

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)


Eng 789R: Special Topics in Literature: Explorations in Interdisciplinary Scholarship
Bammer/Grimshaw, M 1:00-4:00   Max: 4   Eng 789R/ILA 771/CPLT 751/WS 585

Content: This course is based on the premise that in a complex world, problems must be approached from many different angles. The current focus on interdisciplinarity reflects this premise. Yet all too often, interdisciplinarity is treated more as a rhetoric than an actual practice. Its transformative challenge is reduced to an additive list without clear motivation: philosophy plus literature, anthropology plus history, x plus y. We take the challenge of interdisciplinarity seriously to ask how it changes the way we do things: the questions we ask, the materials we work with and what we do with those materials, the forms in which we present our findings. This course is aimed at students interested in scholarly practices that cut across established fields of inquiry.

Materials: A selection of critical materials on the question of interdiscipinarity, the structures of scholarship and intellectual life will provide a starting point; other materials will be generated by our work together. Points of departure for our inquiry will be:  Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual; Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch, Chronicle of a Summer;  John Cage, "I have nothing planned "

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)


Eng 789R: Special Topics in Literature: Call and Response
Byrd, W, 9:00-12:00, Max: 7     Eng 789R/ILA 790

Content: Theorizing Culture, Race and Gender in Racial Formations. As an introductory Prose Seminar in African American Studies, this seminar is designed to meet the intellectual aspirations and research needs of graduate students in African American Studies, and it is open to all graduate students who are interested in the study and theory of race, culture and gender in African American Studies. Drawing upon texts in Anthropology, Sociology, Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, Literary Studies, and Film Studies, this seminar also seeks to introduce graduate students to canonical as well as new works in these areas of critical inquiry and to situate them within the field of African American Studies.

Texts: Include Alain Locke's The New Negro; Melville Herskovitz's The Myth of the Negro Past; E. Franklin Frazier's The Black Bourgeoisie; Albert Murray's The Omni-Americans; Patricia Hill Collins' Fighting Words; B. Sheftall and J. Cole's Gender Talk; Stuart Hall's Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies; W. E. B. Du Bois' Dusk of Dawn, and Anthony Appiah's In My Father's House.

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)



Eng 789R: Special Topics in Literature: Psychoanalytic Approaches to Literature
Rudnytsky, Th 9:00-12:00, Max: 5    Eng 789R/CPLT 751/PSP 789/ILA 790

Content: This course has three principal aims: (1) to present an overview of the history of psychoanalysis and its main theoretical currents; (2) to foster an appreciation of how different psychoanalytic perspectives can illuminate literary texts; and (3) to examine how literature in turn anticipates and deepens our understanding of psychoanalysis. The authors and texts to be read will include Freud, Sophocles, Klein, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Winnicott, Lacan, Poe, Shakespeare, Bowlby, Wilde, Kohut, Nin, and Fanon. Active participations in class discussions is encouraged, and students will be asked to write a substantial seminar paper.

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)  

Eng 796R: Survey of English: Histories, Theories, Methods
White, W 10:00-1:00, Max: 12 

Content:  This seminar is designed to introduce first-year graduate students to many of the key theoretical and methodical issues that shape the discipline of English. In addition to surveying a wide range of twentieth-century and contemporary theoretical movements (for example, deconstruction and psychoanalysis), the seminar will expose students to some of the central questions and debates that drive English literary studies today. Through our readings and discussions, students will receive a framework for the discipline of English that ideally will support and energize their future studies and research in the field.

Particulars: Active class discussion; presentation; final paper.  This course is required of all first-year students in English.

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)

Eng 797R: Directed Study
Reiss, TBA, Max: TBA

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)

Eng 798R: Dissertation Colloquium
Womack, Tu 4:00-7:00, Max: 12  

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)

Eng 799R: Doctoral Dissertation
Reiss, TBA, Max: TBA

(Written Permission of DGS required prior to Enrollment)