Scholars in rhetoric studies have long been attuned to the relationship between rhetoric’s disciplinary traditions and our ability, as a field, to engage with complex matters of concern. Indeed, from global pandemic to an ongoing climate crisis, we are increasingly faced with challenges that call for rhetorical engagement but that also expand the boundaries of rhetorical inquiry. Such developments invite us to revisit familiar questions in new ways. Among others: What is rhetoric? What are its boundaries and limitations? How do we conceptualize rhetorical theory and practice in an era where stable forms of evidence and expertise may no longer hold? How might we approach rhetoric in a way that allows us, in Donna Haraway’s words, to “stay with the trouble” in our work and in the world?
This graduate seminar does not assume to provide answers to the world’s problems. It does, however, aim to provide students with the means to understand and engage them through conscientious rhetorical study. Toward these ends, course activities will be organized around three related areas of focus: we will examine historical and emerging approaches in the field, with particular emphasis on rhetorics of science, technology, and medicine; we will develop a conceptual and methodological orientation to case-based research and analysis; and we will formulate research projects that we can use as a basis for argumentation, theory building, and rhetorical intervention. Complementary to these activities, course readings will include a selection of essays, research articles, book chapters, and scholarly monographs. Writing assignments will include reading responses, summary annotations, analytical memos, research proposal, seminar-length paper, and multimedia presentation. Each student will also help lead and provide materials for a class discussion.
Any student interested in the course is welcome and encouraged to contact Dr. Wickman directly if they have questions or would like to learn more (firstname.lastname@example.org).
English 7940 offers a conceptual and practical foundation for graduate students in
English who plan to teach first-year writing at Auburn University and at the college level more broadly. Toward these ends, you can expect to read and discuss scholarship from the field of Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing Studies; explore the sociocultural and institutional dimensions of teaching at a land grant university in the U.S. South; observe experienced teachers in the classroom; learn and apply good practices for teaching writing at the first-year level; generate course materials within a framework provided by the Writing Program; and develop a philosophy of teaching that reflects what you have learned in the course and through your own experiences in the classroom.
The purpose of this work is to support your development in becoming skilled teachers and working professionals who can deliver high quality writing instruction and take an active role in the university community. We will also spend time in class exploring, discussing, and generally puzzling through issues that arise based on our collective experiences in the classroom.
By the end of this course, you will:
Learn and apply good practices related to teaching college writing;
Design course materials within disciplinary and institutional frameworks;
Generate course materials for the first-year writing sequence;
Acquire practical strategies and techniques for facilitating day-to-day instruction;
Craft a philosophy of teaching that reflects individual experience and knowledge gathered through course readings and discussion.
Studies in Technical & Professional Communication
ENGL7030: Studies in Technical & Professional Communication
Radcom 101: Zines, Justice, and Public Policy
Zines are typically self-published magazines designed for small circulation and often DIY’d (Do It Yourself’d) together from whatever materials and technologies are available or desirable. They trace their origins to home-made fan magazines from the 1930’s, though their sense of radical communication practices extends to the origins of print itself. Author and designer Mike Monteiro sets them as “markers of fringe communities,” where zines are “the social networks those communities use to communicate with each other.” They often have an unruly or chaotic sensibility that embraces what Triggs describes as “graphic language of resistance” that came into its own in the 1970s in concert with the rise of punk.
In this class we’ll be using zines as a lens to look at non-standard forms of technical communication and consider how grassroots activism shapes public policy. Social and environmental justice groups can trace a lot of the “move” in their movements to folks working outside of what we might think of as “professional” communication practices. Our class readings will take us through historical, ethical, and design perspectives, with particular attention to radical environmentalism, LGBTQ+ rights, and Black Lives Matter events and actions.
By the end of the course, you should be able to:
Demonstrate an awareness of ethics in relation to communication and policy-related situations
Analyze and discuss image events, activism, advocacy, and elements of justice-oriented rhetoric
Analyze and discuss rhetorical situations
Discuss the policy-making process and the role of an engaged public
Make your own zine, and work through the design process in both theory and practice
Apply theory towards practice in shaping public policy
You will choose a specific area of focus at the beginning of class, then write (and design) your way through several assignments all related to the same topic. In this way you will become a local expert on your topic. Assignments will include two brief analysis projects early in the semester which will contribute to a larger, more substantial research project, presentations, short writing assignments (e. g., reading responses, reviews), and leading class. You’ll also make, and potentially even distribute, a few zines.
Studies in Composition
ENGL7050: Studies in Composition
Writing Studies Within and After the Public Turn
Within what Paula Mathieu has called the “public turn,” teachers and researchers in Writing Studies have sought to “connect the writing that students and they themselves do with ‘real world’ texts, events, or exigencies.” Under a variety of banners—public writing, community engagement and literacy, service learning, community publishing, and others—Writing Studies has sought to forge connections between the classroom and a range of communities and literacies beyond the university. This public turn has transformed disciplinary identity, from our pedagogical practices to our objects of inquiry to our research methodologies.
Yet Mathieu named this “public turn” way back in 2005, and as early as 2013, folks in Writing Studies were wondering what comes next. In his evocatively titled book After the Public Turn, Frank Farmer notes that while Composition Studies has taken many “turns,” we have often lacked “the knowledge of where exactly our turns may be taking us.” In 2023, we can start to track just where this has taken us.
In this seminar, we will draw on interdisciplinary scholarship to take stock of the public turn in Writing Studies now, as it currently exists, if it can still be said to exist. We will begin by exploring some theoretical foundations and key concepts: the public sphere; public(s); (subaltern) counterpublics; strategies; tactics; circulation; temporality; strangers; space and place; community; agency; public address; and genre. Out of this framework, we will track the emergence of public thinking in Writing Studies, from Susan Wells’s classic “Rogue Cops and Health Care: What Do We Want from Public Writing?” to current work on counterpublics, community literacy, digital publics, and community-university partnerships. Throughout the course, we will engage in a sustained discussion of absences and gaps in this conversation, current work on the subject, and especially, future avenues for public- and community-based writing and research projects. Students can expect to identify important lines of inquiry in current research, as well as think through what a more nuanced and theoretically informed engagement with publics might mean for their own research, teaching, and theories of writing.
Reading responses and/or annotations; discussion facilitation for one class period; various writing assignments leading to an article-length seminar paper or comparable project; class presentation on final project
This course will cover the design, implementation, and usability of websites. Students will learn how to use HTML5 and CSS to code, design, structure, and manage websites. Students will also learn about principles of site usability, localization, and accessibility for diverse and global audiences.
Students will work on client-based web design projects and give short presentations to the class. Students will complete a usability report and several short writing assignments.
Felke-Morris, Terry. Web Development & Design Foundations with HTML5, 10th ed. Pearson. eTextbook: ISBN-13: 9780136662402 or Paperback: ISBN-13: 9780136681540
In this class we will focus on the personal essay. You will write two of your own essays, as well as study the form in its contemporary iterations. We will break apart essays in order to answer various questions, among them: What ratio of scene versus summary is most effective in telling a story about your own life? How should past and present work in tandem with each other? How do you recreate past conversations? How do you create multi-dimensional characters? The point of nonfiction is not to simply tell the "truth"--the truth being a slippery, pronged affair—but to reflect and construct the past and the present in order to tell a story about your own life. Ultimately, we will be considering this question: How to bring meaning to bear on the story of your life.
All good stories have a mystery at their core, whether it’s centered around a homicide or a search for meaning. In this course, we’ll read several novels that will loosely or neatly fit into the genre of “literary suspense,” whether they are detective novels, like Tana French’s Broken Harbor, or an investigation of identity and the immigrant experience with a spy element, like Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker. We will study the craft of these novels, with a special emphasis on plot, creating false vs. real suspense, how to maintain momentum while orienting your readers, how to keep your readers asking productive and thought-provoking questions, and more. How do you keep readers turning pages? How do you tell an unexpected story within the conventions of a genre? How do you plant clues for your reader without being too heavy handed? We will explore these questions and more throughout the course. We will also work together to create our own rules of the genre, which will be helpful for writing compelling work across a variety of styles and subjects.
Students will be invited to write one story that leans heavily on suspense, and one story of their choosing, one of which they will revise in a final portfolio. They can also expect to complete short writing assignments and to participate in hearty workshop discussions along the way.
Early Modern Studies
ENGL7160: Early Modern Studies
Early Modern Bodies
We find countless bodies in the early modern England: pregnant, erotic, aging, virile, monstrous, witchy, diseased, or dead; bodies beautified, racialized, sexualized, anatomized, faked, and metamorphosed. A body is a metaphor and a mystery, a site of shame and honor. We will explore some perspectives on the concept of the body in early modern England and in our own cultures. This course, furthermore, is about the exploration of the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and heart. How did the early moderns make sense of the body—and how do we do that now? What meanings are read in and onto the body? Why does a body work so well a metaphor? Are bodies seen as markers of difference or sameness, alienation or unity? What body-mind-soul hierarchies exist in the early modern period, and what are the consequences of our acceptance of these hierarchies? How are emotions layered with intellectual and physical awareness? What is embodiment and how is it understood in the early modern period and now? We will ask questions about the choices we make that uphold or set aside the heritage of the early modern Western thought. In tandem with the primary texts, we will read scholarly studies to help you discover the focus of your own research and hone the craft of writing a scholarly essay. We will combine readings that present medical, metaphysical, political, aesthetic, and gender-specific views on the body with examination of literary texts, using the latter as a testing ground of scholarly methodologies and findings as well as a field of exploration and development of our own insights.
Regular lively class participation, conference-style presentation, discussion leading, research project (c. 20 pages).
Anne Clifford’s memoir and diary; Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy; Middleton and Rowley, The Changeling; Dekker, Ford and Rowley, The Witch of Edmonton; Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, A Winter’s Tale, The Tempest; Webster, Duchess of Malfi; poetry by Margaret Cavendish, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney, and Mary Wroth; pamphlets; treatises, and scholarly essays.
Contemporary Literature & Culture
ENGL7210: Contemporary Literature & Culture
“DRAMA AND CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN IDENTITIES”
This course will introduce you both to the work of some of the most significant American playwrights working between 1992 and the present, and to some of the theoretical concerns, issues and problems characterizing the issue of identity. These plays are not simply by American writers, but implicitly or explicitly raise the question, what does it mean to claim identity as American? Indeed, the plays ask, what is the identity of America itself? Is there an identity or is there a multitude of identities? Do we even need the concept of identity now? Recognizing the intersection between literature and the context in which it emerges, it is worth noting that the period covered by this class—a period marked by various women’s movements, civil rights movements, sexual(ity) rights movements and the pluralism that defines cultural differences positively, as enabling and empowering, rather than in terms of abjection and otherness—has been called the era of identity politics. Identity in these plays does not only refer to the existential realm of Being (as it did for thinkers Heidegger and Sartre), but to class, ethnicity, gender, race, sexuality—the public, social identities that dominant culture either validates or attempts to marginalize. Although you may not be familiar with drama as with fiction and poetry, these works are exciting in content, form and style. Ranging from absurdist comedy to surreal fantasy to critical/psychological realism, from plays that make excellent use of the conventions of mainstream narrative to the experimentation of the avant-garde, all the plays are thought-provoking explorations of some of the range of identities on display in contemporary America. Ultimately, the importance of these works lies in the questions they compel us to address—questions that can prompt us to rethink the very nature of identity itself. To ground us in our discussion of our identity, so that we don’t use the term loosely, we will begin the class by reading and discussing philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah’s wonderfully lucid and thought-provoking book from 2018, a provocative meditation on identity, The Lies That Bind.
A 20-25 (i.e., article-length) research seminar paper (60%); 8-page “conference” paper which you will present to the class (20%); lively—but courteous—and engaged class participation (20%).
Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Lies That Bind; Lydia R. Diamond, Stick Fly; Tony Kushner, Angels in America; Matthew Lopez, The Inheritance; Lynn Nottage, Sweat; Suzan-Lori Parks, White Noise; Jose Rivera, Marisol; Sarah Ruhl, In the Next Room 9or The Vibrator Play); Paula Vogel, Indecent; August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean
African American Literature
ENGL7770: African American Literature
“Some of Us Are Brave”: The Words & Worlds of Black Women
“Now he knew why he loved her so. Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly…” This seminar is an opportunity to see how Black women fashioned or forged wings and worlds out of words/art. It seeks to reveal and/or magnify how Black female creativity always bears the traces of conjuring grandmothers, how Black female artistic expression is simultaneously remedy and rupture, the enigmatic embodiment of storm and sunshine. As a graduate seminar, Some of Us Are Brave pursues the question of how Black women writers used their art in the making of meaning. It asks of us to consider the complex ways Black women disturb epistemological groundings, or how Black women’s ways of knowing re-orients notions of the self and the world. Predominantly focused on African American female writers of the 20th century, this course critically engages both the theoretical and aesthetic implications of a variety of works. Whether delving into the interiorities of Zora Neale Hurston’s folk, surveying Morrison’s breathtaking hauntologies, or examining the roles of race and gender in shaping our perceptions of land, space, freedom and fugitivity, this course demands of us a willingness to endeavor and a capacity to be still. Some of Us Are Brave is, at its simplest, a journeying into the words and worlds of Black women. At its fullest, this seminar is an invitation to witness a whisper broken open – to hear, to feel, to experience Black women who could fly.
“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one,” wrote Flannery O’Connor in one her most famous aphorisms. An obsession with freakishness, abjection, and difference has long structured literary and other cultural representations of the South as exceptional, yet intrinsic to U.S. culture writ large. This course will consider some of the myriad ways that ideas of southern exceptionalism and difference manifest in literary and other cultural forms. We will consider the narratives of slavery and freedom that established the South as the concentrated heart of the country’s foundational moral sin, the parodies and burlesques of southern plantation life that minstrelsy centered in American popular culture for over a century, and the plantation romances that celebrated and mourned the loss of antebellum southern social structures and justified the violence that sustained Jim Crow. From there, we will examine the lingering afterlives of these nineteenth-century modes as they persist and morph throughout the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. From O’Connor’s southern gothic to exploitation cinema to the Dirty South, we will explore how ideas of the South as freakish, exceptional, and Other structure literary, cinematic, and musical modes, genres, and forms.
Special Topics in English Studies
12:00 pm (1st mini)
ENGL7870: Special Topics in English Studies
“Autoethnography: Writing Culture, Writing Selves”
This seminar asks: What is “autoethnography” and what does it mean for English Studies? By way of definition, Heewon Chang writes that autoethnography is “ethnographic in its methodological orientation, cultural in its interpretive orientation, and autobiographical in its content orientation.” That is to say, if ethnography is the rigorous attempt at writing culture, then autoethnography is the rigorous attempt at writing culture through and with the self. In this seminar, we will read foundational and recent work on autoethnography, paying particular attention to its uptake in Writing Studies. From Keith Gilyard’s Voices of the Self (1991) to Louis Maraj’s Black or Right (2020), and many texts in between, autoethnography has established itself as an important methodological tradition in Rhetoric and Composition and as a space for continued innovation and theory building. This seminar is, at its core, experiential and experimental. As we read and debate current and past work on autoethnography, we will mobilize these conversations in our own studies of self and culture. We will, in other words, do the work of autoethnography. We will interview. We will read archives. We will take fieldnotes. We will triangulate data. We will write up reports. In the end, the hope of this seminar is for students to, as Chang puts it, “gain a cultural understanding of self and others directly and indirectly connected to self.” Among other activities, students in this seminar can expect to: produce regular short writing; read and discuss key texts on autoethnography in Writing Studies and related fields; design and pilot an original autoethnographic study; and contribute to a course Spotify playlist.
This course will familiarize you with principles and practical applications of copymarking, copyediting, and comprehensive editing. We will work with professional writing from technology, business, science, as well as texts intended for academic publication. We will work with both print and online documents inside and outside of class. We will read scholarly and popular work related to sustainable publishing practices.
Course Objectives and Expected Student Outcomes
Students should leave the course with an understanding of the following:
The role(s) of editors in the document creation and production process, i.e., various ways that writers view editors, and that editors view their own role; points at which editing can occur; value added by editors.
Interpersonal strategies for working with subject-matter experts and with other members of a production team.
The concept of “levels of edit” and of differences among proofreading, copymarking, copyediting, and comprehensive editing.
Conventions of copymarking, copyediting, and proofreading (e.g., standard symbols) for types of texts commonly encountered in technical, scientific, and business writing.
Standard tools (e.g., Track Changes in Word and Advanced Editing in Adobe Acrobat) used for electronic and online collaboration, editing, and manuscript preparation.
Common problems in usage, syntax, and organization such as wordiness, faulty parallelism, and lack of cohesion.
Conventions and nuances of punctuation in standard written English.
Standard reference works (e.g., Chicago Manual of Style) that editors rely on, and how those works vary.
The concept of “house style” and the process of creating a style guide and style sheet.
Scholarly work related to editing and ways to analyze and evaluate scholarly work related to editing.
Assignments may include the following: class preparation assignments, in-depth practice assignments, and a major editing assignment.
Rude, C. D., and Eaton, A. 2010. Technical Editing, 5/e. New York: Pearson. ISBN 978-0-205-78671-8
The aim of English 7010 is to introduce students to the rhetorical principles, professional practices, and research skills vital to workplace communication. To accomplish this aim, the course will devote time to interrogating what technical and professional communication means, to building an understanding of professional communication as ethical action, and to discovering the meaning and value of core concepts such as culture, community, and technology. Given the nature of technical and professional communication, the course will involve both individual and collaborative work.
An individual research report, a collaborative research project, an annotated bibliography
Pedagogy remains the beating heart of Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing Studies and a site of theorizing and enacting social justice in both that field and Technical and Professional Communication. This seminar features major foundational and contemporary pedagogical currents in these fields: critical pedagogy, feminist pedagogy, antiracist pedagogy, digital pedagogy, linguistic justice, threshold concepts, teaching for transfer, and writing about writing. You can expect to gain a solid foundation in Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing Studies pedagogies along with familiarity with ethics-oriented and social justice pedagogies in Technical and Professional Communication, a foundation that can inform your teaching across a variety of courses and contexts. Further, with many academic journals devoted to dimensions of pedagogy, opportunities to publish scholarship/research conducted in this class abound.
A document conveys meaning in many ways. In most cases, the extra-textual components are as important, or even more important, than the written words. Picture a round, green sign with the word STOP on it, for example. Would you be confused? Design matters, particularly when there are cultural associations attached to shapes, colors, and more.
This course will approach document design as a rhetorical practice with the understanding that a document is any place where one agent may mark information for later use. This situates a document broadly as a container for meaning in a variety of media. Here, we will focus on physical and non-web-page design. We will consider a variety of material and cultural artifacts over our studies, and engage with scholarship on ethics, visual and cultural rhetorics, perception, and accessibility, among others. You will study real-world scenarios and users and produce documents under a variety of use constraints. You will work with a client.
This course will entail both hands-on and analytic work. By the end of the course, you should be able to apply and discuss principles of design; apply and discuss theories of design; discuss how differences in design shape your message; and use tools in document design to create rhetorically savvy documents.
This course aims to explore two elements of poetry studies that students may have only limited experience with: full collections and poetry in translation. Our central texts will all be recent collections by American poets, alongside which we will consider selections from major 20th century European poets, looking for stylistic/thematic connections between each poet’s work and considering the growing influence of international voices on the current landscape of American poetry. As Graham Hough has written, “Poets go to poetry in languages other than their own first for cultural blood-transfusions, especially at times when a native tradition has become exhausted.” Our class, then, will consider the nature of such “transfusions” and ask how looking for influences beyond the borders of our own country and language can help elevate our art. While this is an active workshop, and end-of-the-semester portfolios will account for nearly half of your overall grade, a significant portion of class time (roughly half) will be dedicated to discussing select readings, with the bulk of your writing and revision taking place outside of class.
Studies in Medieval Literature
ENGL7150: Studies in Medieval Literature
Money Matters: The Crisis of Coin in Late Medieval Literature
Money matters shape nearly all human discourse. What is money? Apart from something that one never seems to have enough of (like chocolate or tea), why do we need it? Aristotle argued that money is a measure and a means of exchange. If a shoemaker wants to obtain food but a baker does not need shoes, how does the shoemaker eat? How many shoes does it take to buy a chicken? And, how does one make change from a boot, especially if it is the sole currency? Medieval England, of course, had money in the form of the silver penny, a coin that basically retained its value throughout the period when other currencies (such as the French sou) did not. Labor and goods could fulfill the function of exchange. But England was not a barter economy. Taxes, tithes, offerings, fines, fees, and many kinds of purchasing required coins. Late Medieval writers began exploring the role of money in an increasingly cash-based economy. Our purpose in this seminar will be to examine some works that try to understand how money worked in their society. We will be reading texts by Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, Thomas Hoccleve, and others. We shall learn that, in literature as in life, money matters.
Research paper, presentations, vibrant discussion, and a love of the pun.
ENGL7190: American Studies
The Mysteries of New Orleans
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans And miss it each night and day? I know I'm not wrong... this feeling's gettin' stronger The longer I stay away. --Louis Armstrong (1947)
We will consider New Orleans specifically and the Mississippi River Valley broadly as a major hub for artistic production in the South, with major implications for American cultural life. Long acknowledged as the birthplace of jazz, America’s most important contribution to musical art, New Orleans has also been fertile ground for important writing and for the growth of a cosmopolitan, racially hybrid, and linguistically rich culture in the American South. Of course, the troubled history of the South matters deeply for the literary production of this important region, and so we will attend carefully to New Orleans as a pivotal part of the antebellum slave economy, and as a link to the Caribbean and African cultures that have supplied much of its creative energy. Primary texts, chosen from the period 1855-2005, will include history, fiction, drama, ethnography, and film.
weekly reading notes, oral presentation(s), final paper prospectus, article-length final paper.
Texts (tentative): Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly (1852); “Lesbian Love” in Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein, The Mysteries of New Orleans (1855); George Washington Cable, Creole Days (selections,1867); Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899); Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men (1935); William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom (1936); Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951); Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side (1956); Michael Ondaatje, Coming through Slaughter (1976); Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market (1999); Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker (eds.), Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013).
ENGL7200: Literary Modernisms
American Modernist Mobilities
Think of anything, of cowboys, of movies, of detective stories, of anybody who goes anywhere or stays at home and is an American and you will realize that it is something strictly American to conceive a space that is filled with moving, space of time that is filled always filled with moving.
Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein’s America, 95.
In this graduate class, we will approach American modernism through the critical lens of mobility studies, which (in part) considers the form and significance of movement technologies as they contribute to the meaning of literary texts. The turn of the twentieth century saw a dramatic increase in circulation at every scale, from transnational migration by ocean liner and internal migration by railroad to joyriding in a Model T Ford. We will examine American literature from this period that grapples with vehicular mobility, different kinds of migration and tourism, as well as the movement of media and information. Some questions we might ask include how does mobility work differently depending on the identity of the body in motion? How is mobility associated with national identity, as it is in Stein’s “something strictly American”? How do networks of circulation put modern subjects in danger, and how do they allow them to flee danger? What are the feelings and emotions associated with new kinds of movement, and how do they translate into experiments with literary form?
Assignments will include: leading discussion for one class period; visiting the Jule Collins Smith Museum and writing a short essay about a painting in their collection; reflection posts; a conference paper (6-8 pages); and a longer, researched writing project dealing with the themes of the class.
Primary texts will likely include: Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth; selected poetry of William Carlos Williams; Osip Dymov, The Melting Pot; the silent film Traffic in Souls; Jean Toomer, Cane; Mae West, Sex; Muriel Rukeyser, Book of the Dead; Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust; and Jacob Lawrence’s painting cycle The Migration Series.
Secondary readings will be drawn from: Wolfgang Schievelbusch, The Railway Journey; Cecelia Tichi, Shifting Gears; Cotton Seiler, Republic of Drivers; Jayna Brown, Babylon Girls; Enda Duffy, The Speed Handbook; Miriam Thaggert, Riding Jane Crow; The Edinburgh Companion to Modernism and Technology, and Robert Volpicelli, Transatlantic Modernism and the U.S. Lecture Tour.
Studies in Race, Gender, & Sexuality
ENGL7780: Studies in Race, Gender, & Sexuality
Blackness and the Problem of the Human
This graduate seminar attends to questions concerning the relationship between blackness and the human. It invites an exploration of blackness—both racialized and cosmic—for its boundless capacity and its potential limits. Herein, we attend to the inherent tension between black being and human life. Framed by the speculative/theoretical works of Zora Neale Hurston, Sylvia Wynter, Hortense Spillers, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Kevin Quashie (and others) and the fiction of Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Octavia E. Butler, W.E.B. Du Bois (and others), this seminar seeks to unsettle static perceptions of black humanity. Through a rigorous engagement with the black speculative, participants are encouraged to reimagine blackness as a site of unmitigated possibility and potential that is wholly, and rigorously, imaginative in its desire to trouble, and disavow, the conventions and categories of the human.
This course begins with a consideration of the revolution in literary theory and academic literary criticism brought about by the introduction of poststructuralist philosophy into humanities scholarship in the 1970s and 1980s. Through readings of seminal, programmatic essays by Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Althusser, Cixious, Kristeva, Said, and others, we will discuss the themes and permutations of poststructuralist thought and its influence upon a variety of approaches to literature that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s: deconstruction, feminist and gender criticism, postcolonial theory, materialist political critique, and cultural studies. After looking in more detail at the kind of scholarship and criticism such theoretical, philosophical orientations foster by exploring Foucault’s History of Sexuality, vol. 1 (1978) and Landry and McLean’s Materialist Feminisms (1993), we will sample critical trends since 2000 through readings of Bruce McConachie’s entwinement of cognitive theory and performance studies, Engaging Audiences (2008), and Steven Shankman’s combination of ethical theory and comparative literature, Other Others (2010), before concluding with Rita Felski’s reassessment of theory’s effects upon criticism, appreciation, and enjoyment of literature, The Limits of Critique (2015).
one short, analytical paper (5 pages); one larger term paper (15-20 pages); one 15-minute presentation; final exam; reading quizzes; class participation, class attendance.
Adams and Searle, Critical Theory Since 1965; Foucault, History of Sexuality, vol. 1; Landry and McLean, Materialist Feminisms; McConachie, Engaging Audiences; Shankman, Other Others; Felski, The Limits of Critique.
The Practicum will provide guidance, support, and, most of all, space to experiment and explore for the new Graduate Teaching Assistants (first-year MAs & MTPCs in English). I invite you to think of the Practicum as a Studio-Lab. This will be, first and foremost, a safe space to share, ask questions, and look for answers. It will be a Studio because teaching is an art, and it will be a Lab because teaching also has elements of science. Of course, you need some knowledge about pedagogy and the subject you teach, but you also must never lose the ability to be surprised, to be creative, and even to be confused. Undoubtedly, as novice teachers, you need the substances, ideas, and research findings developed in the field, as well as the equipment and tools with which to experiment. In our Studio-Lab, we will roll up our sleeves and learn both through art and science, through theory and practice, through trial and error.
Requirements will likely include faithful attendance, lively participation, keeping a reflective teaching journal, designing partial and full lesson plans, conducting a teaching observation, developing a Teaching Philosophy, and creating a teaching ePortfolio.