Fall 2020 Graduate Course Descriptions
Section: 100 #1633
Instructor: P. Caughie
3.0 credit hours Seminar
R 7:00 – 9:30 PM LSC
This course introduces students to graduate study in the field of literary studies. The purpose is to better prepare students for their course work and their careers as scholars and teachers. The course covers the history and state of the profession; provides an introduction to various theoretical and critical approaches; offers guidance and practice in conceptualizing, researching, and writing graduate-level papers; introduces students to research methods and research libraries; and offers practical advice on the demands and challenges of graduate studies. The course will include a visit to the Newberry Library, guest lectures by faculty in the department discussing their current research, and readings in literary criticism and theory (texts to be determined). Assignments include brief synopses of the readings under discussion; a conference paper proposal and conference-length paper for a specific conference in your area; a library exercise (to be done at the Newberry); and, a seminar paper that we will work on in stages.
Section: 101 #4622
Instructor: M. Werner
3.0 credit hours Seminar
MW 4:15 – 5:30 PM LSC
“In Many and Reportless Places”: Emily Dickinson's Archive
Between 1853 and 1885 Emily Dickinson composed more than 1800 poems and 1050 letters as well as many fragments in both prose and verse. Taking Dickinson’s archive as our core example (with additional reference to the writings of Melville, Whitman, and Thoreau) we will probe questions fundamental to the study of literary manuscripts and the theory and practice of textual scholarship. The manuscript—its spatial coordinates and singular temporalities—will serve as our lodestar, guiding our exploration of competing notions of authorial intention; our diverse approaches to the representation of all stages of the writing process; our interpretations of bibliographical codes and our understandings of the significance of textual variants and versions; and our determinations of the identifies and boundaries of textual constellations. We will consider the particular challenges and delights associated with editing manuscripts of different genres—e.g., the epistle, the lyric, the extra-generic fragment—and trace the long continuum between private and public documents. In addition to examining the intricate coordinates of Dickinson’s draft- and fair-copy manuscripts, we will study multiple scholarly print editions of Dickinson’s works as cultural constructions, time-bound envoi, and autonomous agents. Finally, we will explore the promise and limits of the digital environment as a medium for the textual representation and interpretation of Dickinson’s writings.
This seminar is designed to emphasize the dialogue between theory and practice. Our seminar readings will touch on key tenets in Anglo-American and European textual scholarship while also leading us into new discourses inside and outside the humanities (e.g., spatial humanities; deep mapping; material vitalism) that meaningfully intersect with textual studies and help us to collectively imagine new horizons for our work in the age of the Anthropocene. Seminar participants can expect to read widely, lead focused seminar discussions, and engage in individual and collaborative project-based work with the primary documents under our consideration. Although this seminar will not require participants to develop the technical skills for creating digital editions, participants are strongly encouraged to explore the ground-breaking work unfolding in the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities and to attend events sponsored by the Center. All seminar participants are also expected to attend the fall symposia on textual studies hosted by the Martin J. Svaglic Chair. For the term project, participants will have the option of curating a small-scale scholarly edition in print and/or digital form, composing a biobibliography, or preparing a traditional seminar paper composed through the lens of textual criticism.
Section: 102 #4623
Instructor: J. Knapp
3.0 credit hours Seminar
W 7:00 – 9:30 PM LSC
Shakespeare and the Body
This course will focus on the body, bodies, and embodiment in Shakespeare’s poetry and drama. We will read the Sonnets as well as some of the long poems with questions about the nature of embodied subjectivity in mind. We will then move on to explore the way Shakespeare’s plays exploit the theatrical reliance on bodies, considering, among other things, how sleep, voice, music, death, violence and desire are connected to and severed from bodies in the course of theatrical performance. We will also consider the relationship of human to nonhuman bodies and the philosophical status of embodiment (and corporeality) to spirit and life in the moment leading up to the Cartesian distinction between extended body and non-extended mind. Recent theoretical work in the areas of phenomenology, distributed cognition, and material emotion will inform the seminar throughout.
Requirements will include a presentation, an archival project, some short written assignments, and a seminar paper.
Section: 103 #5818
Instructor: J. Stayer
3.0 credit hours Lecture
T 7:00 – 9:30 PM LSC
While it might be possible (though not desirable) to teach a course in British modernism without much reference to history, it would be unthinkable to read the literature of early 20th-century Ireland divorced from its bloody, fractious past. “History,” as James James’s Stephen Dedalus says, “is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” For Joyce, that history consisted of three terrible burdens that prompted his escape into exile: state, church, and family, or more specifically: the suffocating futility of Irish nationalism, the stranglehold of moralistic Catholicism, and the imagination-crushing responsibilities of family ties. Joyce will be the presiding consciousness of the course, and we will follow his increasingly bold narrative experiments: Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, several chapters of Ulysses, and a glance at Finnegans Wake.
We will begin the semester with a brief look at early Irish history, and a deeper dive into 19th- and 20th-century historical overviews. Our first literary texts will be late works by Oscar Wilde: “Ballad of Reading Gaol” and “De Profundis.” Setting aside the traditional figure of Wilde as tweaker of Victorian convention or product of English decadence, we will see him instead as the tragic hostage of Anglo-Irish relations. In addition to emphasizing Joyce, the course will spend a good chunk of time on W. B. Yeats (major poems, the plays Cathleen ni Houlihan and At the Hawk’s Well). Guiding our study of Yeats will be the question: is it possible or desirable to bracket or suspend disbelief in the fantastical, mythological world which Yeats insisted was real and which form the basis of his work? Lady Gregory’s role in cultivating the Irish literary scene will be considered (Colm Tóibín’s Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush) along with the poems of Freda Laughton and a novel by Elizabeth Bowen (The Last September).
Section: 104 #5819
Instructor: J. Kerkering
3.0 credit hours Seminar
M 7:00 – 9:30 PM LSC
Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Politics
In this course we will discuss the relationship between nineteenth-century American literature and politics. We often think of literature as enduring—as relevant to us today—precisely insofar as it rises above matters of mere politics to address perennial concerns. This thinking implies a particular understanding of both what it means to be literary and what it means to be political. But how might our understanding of particular works of literature, and of what it means to be literature at all, be affected by situating those literary works in the context of political debates contemporary to their publication? Similarly, what does it mean for us now, and what did it mean for the authors we read, for an issue to be political at all—as distinct from religious, ethical, personal, or familial? If there is, for us today, a “politics of…” just about anything, was this so in nineteenth-century America, or did nineteenth-century American authors employ a more delimited sense of the political? Our discussions will address important literary works in relation to compelling political concepts (such as communitarianism, liberalism, conservatism, and sovereignty) and urgent political issues (such as immigration, slavery, voting rights, and gendered “spheres”): how, we will ask, does an awareness of these concepts and issues affect our readings of the nineteenth-century American works that address them? We will also examine whether there is a politics that follows from an author’s choice of genre (fiction, poetry, drama, or oratory) and whether genres themselves carry certain political implications. To accomplish all of this, we will read nineteenth-century American literature alongside recent historical scholarship on nineteenth-century American politics and recent literary criticism on the ways authors participated in nineteenth-century political debates.