Loyola University Chicago

Department of English

Fall 2022 Graduate Course Descriptions

ENGL 400 Intro to Graduate Studies
ENGL 413 Textual Criticism
ENGL 420 Topics in Critical Theory
ENGL 457   Seventeenth-Century Literature
ENGL 496 African-American Literature


ENGL 400 Intro to Graduate Studies 

Section: 100 #5829 
Instructor: J. Kerkering
3.0 credit hours Seminar 
R 7:00–9:30 PM  LSC 

This course introduces incoming graduate students to important issues in the profession of literary studies.  It offers insights into current critical theories and methodologies as well as discussion of research techniques and bibliographic methods. 


ENGL 413 Textual Criticism 

Section: 100 #5830 
Instructor: M. Werner 
3.0 credit hoursSeminar 
W 7:00–9:30 PM  LSC 

“This Me that Walks and Works Must Die”: Editing Emily Dickinson Across the Three Great Problematics of Existence

 Between 1858 and 1885 Dickinson composed more than 1800 poems and 1050 letters as well as many fragments in prose and verse. Dickinson’s textual body — the material witness of her radical experiment in lyric address — will lead us to engage questions central to the theory and practice of textual scholarship. In this seminar Dickinson’s manuscripts will be our lodestars, catalyzing and focusing our exploration of competing notions of authorial intention; the coordinates of public and private documents; the complex interplay of bibliographical and linguistic codes; the significance of textual variants and versions in the imagination of textual identity; the challenges of reconstructing and analyzing the temporalities of the writing process; and the way of philology that encourages us to follow the histories and longings of key words in her lexicon.

The study of Dickinson’s textual body offers us, moreover, a singular opportunity to consider how to read, interpret, and represent what Edward Said called the “three great problematics” of a life: the “moment of birth and origins,” the “dialectic of incarnation,” and “the untimely end.”  In the textual work we engage together we will imagine an edition of Dickinson’s works that illuminates the key episodes of what she called “This me that walks and works.”

Seminar protocol and assignments are designed to promote dialogue and to marry theory and practice.


ENGL 420 Topics in Critical Theory

Section: 100 #5831 
Instructor: A. Aftab 
3.0 credit hours Seminar 
TR 4:15–5:30 PM   LSC 

Theories of Coloniality and Gender

What is the relationship between coloniality and historical and contemporary constructions of gender and sexuality? How are the processes of racialization and gender formation co-constitutive? This seminar takes a critical look at the theoretical intersections of colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, race, gender and sexuality by introducing students to foundational and current writing in decolonial thinking, postcolonial studies, transnational feminism, queer of color critique, and Black trans studies. As we explore the debates between postcolonial and decolonial theories, we will examine the major epistemic interventions and possible futures in the study of how empire and race mediate and shape the gender binary. We will also consider what counts as “theory” as we encounter the theoretical implications  of novels, short stories, memoirs and political manifestos. Some key theorists we will read include Maria Lugones, M. Jacqui Alexander, Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyěwùmí, Audre Lorde, Jasbir Puar and C. Riley Snorton. The course will be divided into three modules: gendering the postcolonial nation; examining the coloniality of the modern (white) gender binary; and moving towards decolonial speculation.   


ENGL 457   Seventeenth-Century Literature

Section: 100   #5832 
Instructor: K. Lecky 
3.0 credit hours Seminar 
M 7:00–9:30 PM  LSC

Savage Romance: Rape Culture in the Early English Empire

We live in a society rife with sexual harassment and sexual assault. Evidence of this rape culture is everywhere: it infects the home, the educational system, the entertainment industry, and national and international governance. And the political nature of this culture is undeniable: rape corrodes structures of justice to systematically strike down humanist ideals of equality and basic rights.

Early modern England had its own version of this culture. The political problems that rape exposed were exacerbated by the fact that the seventeenth-century nation was in the process of transforming into the massive empire of the eighteenth century. As an increasingly imperial England shouldered its role as heir to ancient Rome, it encountered and innovated upon a classical canon that defined rape as simultaneously a tragedy, an inevitability, and a social and imperial good.

This course examines some early modern English literature that grappled with this issue. We'll read drama, poetry, and prose in conjunction with English translations of classical texts to discover how authors such as Aphra Behn, Ben Jonson, John Milton, and William Shakespeare responded to this vexed past as well as its contemporary manifestations. We will also delve into accounts by lesser-known voices in colonial travel narratives and stories of enslavement. We will pair these early modern texts with a range of secondary sources to facilitate our discussions about how this institution still helps codify cultural, economic, ethnic, racial, and statist inequities. Fair warning: the topic is sensitive, and we will not shy away from speaking frankly about it.


ENGL 496 African-American Literature 

Section: 100   #5833 
Instructor: F. Staidum 
3.0 credit hoursSeminar 
T 7:00–9:30 PM  LSC 

Black Queer Feminisms and the Literatures of Slavery

In recent years, scholars of African American literature and culture have engaged gender and sexuality in ways that have challenged earlier heteropatriarchal and cissexism assumptions about race, liberation, citizenship, diaspora, and identity formation, while making legible those embodiments and positionalities that exist outside of these assumptions.  Nevertheless, and as with literary studies writ large, extending gender and queer interpretive moves to pre-twentieth-century writing has remained controversial and rare.

In this course, we will focus upon the literatures of slavery (i.e., nineteenth-century ex-slave autobiography, anti-slavery fiction and drama, and twentieth-century neo-slave narratives) in order to explore how early Black writers wrestled with the ways in which black(ened) genders and sexualities, including the seemingly cisgender embodiments and heterosexual practices of Black peoples, were always already queered according to normative, post-Enlightenment racial ideologies.  In this way, we will study how normative gender and sexual ideologies were always already racialized and were sources of asymmetrical power relations and privileges within the institution of slavery.

An additional goal of this course is to provide students with a range and breadth of creative and non-fiction works that ground them in the critical sexual and gender frameworks emerging from Black Studies (e.g., Kimberlé Crenshaw’s intersectionality, Hortense Spiller’s ungendering, Roderick Ferguson’s queer of color critique, and C. Riley Snorton’s “mechanics of invention” of blackness and transness), as well as familiarize them with a range of authors and creative traditions from the canonical, such as the slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, to the largely overlooked, like Julia C. Collins’s serial novel and William Wells Browns’s rare antebellum Black play.  All are equally vital voices offering new perspectives, methods, and perhaps even “solutions” for reading and interpreting both asymmetrical power relations under slavery and the potential for early Black queer and trans possibilities.

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