Literature Course Descriptions

The Department's literature program offers a range of courses on English and American literature. First-year Literature courses and survey courses are offered every year, as are the two mandatory MA courses. Each year's program also includes a selection of electives, seminars and workshops at different levels. Listed below are all of the literature courses taught in the department.

Please note that electives, seminars and workshops vary from year to year. For a list of particular courses offered during the current academic year, see this page.

For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here

First-Year Courses

(offered every year)

106 Academic Writing I

By focusing on skills – writing (fiction/creative nonfiction), editing, critiquing – this course is designed to help students gain proficiency in written self-expression through a variety of text types.

Note: A final grade of 67 is required for passing this course, which is a prerequisite for continuing in the English literature program. Students who do not achieve this grade will not be able to continue as English literature students in the second semester and beyond. A student who fails may repeat the course once. Under university regulations, students are not allowed to take the same course more than twice. Therefore, students who fail 106 a second time will not be allowed to continue in the literature program.



107 Academic Writing II

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of effective writing. Through a series of composition assignments and class tutorials, students will practice the basic skills of critical analysis and argument as they learn to express clear, coherent ideas at a university level.

Note: A final grade of 67 is required for passing this course, which is a prerequisite for taking second-year courses. Students who do not achieve this grade will not be able to continue as English literature students into their second year of studies. A student who fails 107 - Academic Writing II may repeat the course once. Under university regulations, students are not allowed to take the same Literature course more than twice. Therefore, students who fail 107 - Academic Writing II a second time will not be allowed to continue in the literature program.



190 Introduction to Fiction

The course aims to introduce students to the basic concepts used in the analysis and interpretation of fictional narrative. We will develop this set of critical tools through close reading and class discussion of a series of fictional works, whether classic or contemporary. 



193 Historical Background to English and American Literature

'Someone said, writes T.S. Eliot that "The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did." Precisely, and they are that which we know.'  Through our readings, we will see the Greeks as the original innovators: inventing literature, philosophy, and certainly the conceptions of the human of which we are the inheritors.  Our 193 course will follow the Greek tradition through Rome, and early Christianity.  Discovering the past, not only allows us to help read Shakespeare and the Brontes, Virginia Woolf and John Milton, but it helps us to discover the ways through which we define ourselves.  During this Literature studies We will focus on Big Ideas, but through close readings of English translation of these classic texts.



194 Introduction to Poetry

A detailed study of the elements of poetry: figurative language, rhyme, rhythm, structure and genre.

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Second- and Third-Year Surveys

(offered every year)



206 Renaissance Literature

'Modernity is our condition,' a great sociologist once said, and that condition began in the early modern period.  Through the great literary texts of what is also called the Renaissance, we will trace the beginnings of the modern individual, modern love, and modern liberty.  Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser and Donne among them, are not only among the greatest writers ever, but they helped shape who we are, even today in the twenty-first century.



254 American Literature

A survey of the development of imaginative writing in America literature from colonial times to the Civil War.  We will consider a broad range of forms—fiction and poetry, of course, but also essays, autobiographies, histories, sermons, diaries, and political documents.  Authors we will read include: Anne Bradstreet, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman.



303 Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Literature

This online Literature course surveys major trends and genres in British literature from the 1660s through 1890s. Through a combination of pre-recorded lectures, online discussion forums, regular quizzes, and group video meetings, we will study the intellectual and aesthetic movements that shaped English culture from the tumultuous years of the Restoration through the period of the Enlightenment followed by the Romantic and Victorian eras. Particular focus will be paid to the tension between expressions of collective and personal identity as it evolved in this span and gave rise to the English novel. During Literature course 303 We will analyze first editions of books in digital archives and sample the art and music of these periods. Major texts include Robinson Crusoe, Pamela, Lyrical Ballads, Frankenstein, and Hard Times. Regular online exercises serve as the basis of your grade.



314 Shakespeare

In this course, we will examine five of Shakespeare’s plays through close reading and performance. We will study these dramas in the context of the theatrical conditions of his time, the intellectual assumptions of the period in which he wrote, and with special attention to the dramatist’s growing concern with the subtlety and complexity of the human character. Over the course of the semester, you will also acquire the linguistic tools to demystify Shakespeare’s language so that you can continue to enjoy his works on your own.

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6xx-level Electives (second- and third-year BA students)

Note: Not all elective Literature courses are offered every year. Follow this link to see the list of elective Literature courses offered during the current academic year.


665 Gothic and Horror - Dr. Yael Shapira

This undergraduate elective will follow the popular tradition of Gothic and horror fiction from its emergence as the “dark” counterpart to Enlightenment culture and over the next two centuries. Our journey will pass through such iconic Gothic novels as Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) and Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) as well as short horror stories, both classic and contemporary. We will use a range of critical and theoretical viewpoints to ask the eternal question of Gothic studies: why do people like to read about what scares them?



671 African American Literature - Dr. Carra Glatt

From autobiographical narratives written by slaves in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to bestselling contemporary novels, African-American writers have produced an extraordinary body of literature. This Literature course offers an introduction to this rich tradition as we consider these texts’ concerns with the boundaries of identity, the legacy of slavery, and the role and responsibilities of the black artist living in a predominantly white society.



676 Literature in the Arts - Prof. Evan Fallenberg

For as long as humans have been writing texts, the written word has inspired artists of all kinds and served as a springboard to painting and sculpture, music, dance, theater, opera and other arts.  This online Literature course will examine texts and the art that has sprung from them through reading, listening, viewing, experiencing, attending virtual performances and exhibitions, and potentially creating something of our own.  Participants in Literature course 676 will receive weekly modules for review, complete written assignments, and take part in online group discussions, culminating in a final project.

For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here



679 Rhetoric, Persuasion and the Media - Dr. Esther Schupak

We are immersed in a sea of rhetoric: social media, commercials, newspapers, billboards all seek to persuade us. Indeed, Andrea Lunsford has observed that “everything’s an argument,” while Wayne Booth has defined rhetoric expansively as "all forms of communication short of physical violence: it includes gestures such as raising an eyebrow or giving the finger." In this course, we will seek to understand how rhetoric works by analyzing different forms and genres, from speeches to commercials to political cartoons. To provide a theoretical basis for our analytical work, we will study the foundational theories of both classical and contemporary rhetoric.



681 South African Literature and Film - Dr. Karin Berkman

This Literature course offers an introduction to South African literature and film under apartheid and in its immediate aftermath. We will study the historical context of apartheid in order to examine how South Africa’s unique racist policies affected the work of writers, artists and filmmakers. We will examine how South African writers and filmmakers continue to write and create despite the constant threats of censorship, bannings and exile. We will consider the role of the writer and film-maker in times of political crisis and examine the ways in which literature and film are implicated in practices of resistance, witnessing and commemoration.

In this Literature course we will view films and read different literary forms including short novels, short stories, drama and poetry. We will consider the works on some of South Africa’s most renowned writers, including Alan Paton, Nadine Gordimer, Athol Fugard, Oswald Mtshali, Mongane Wally Serote, Dennis Brutus, among others.




683 Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century British Literature - Dr. Yael Shapira

This Literature course offers an introduction to a range of literary works and styles produced in England from 1660 to the mid-eighteenth century. We will consider how the poetry, prose and drama of the period develop against a historical backdrop of political, economic and cultural changes. Our readings will touch on such topics as the emergence of the novel as a new literary form; the place of literary tradition within a world where literature is swiftly becoming a commodity; the expanding role of women as both objects and producers of literature; and the role of the colonialist encounter with other cultures in shaping the era’s literary output.



691 Modern American Poetry - Prof. Marcela Sulak

Focusing on poetry from Emily Dickinson to the most contemporary border crossings into America, this Literature course examines the way Americans have and continue to narrate a national mythology through the stories they tell about their country, their neighbors, and themselves. Focusing on roads, borders, and walls, we will attend to the limits of the myths of America, as well as to the ways in which previously excluded groups have sought to write themselves into American history.



6010 Witchcraft in Literature and History - Dr. Esther Schupak

Perched on broomsticks, witches fly through the dark skies of our stories and dreams, terrifying children, consorting with demons, stirring the bubbling cauldrons of the imagination. Witches embody our anxieties: of women, of old age, of the marginalized Other whom we fear and despise. In the West, historically we have persecuted witches in hopes of containing our own terror.

In this course we will pursue this elusive figure as she (and it is usually a “she”) winds her way through literature and history, and we will seek to understand the cultural forces that the witch represents. To that end, we will study not only literary works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Miller, and others, but also primary historical documents such as the Malleus Malleficarum and transcripts of the Salem witch trials in order to contextualize this phenomenon in a combined literary-historical approach.

For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here



692 - 20th Century British Literature - Dr. Karin Berkman

The course surveys developments in the novel, short story and poetry across the 20th century, examining the ways in which British literature responds to cataclysmic historical events. We will begin 692 by tracing the ways in which the novel provides a profound critique of the iniquities of British imperialism. We will turn to an examination of the poetry that emerges from the trenches of the First World War, focusing on the work of Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Edward Thomas and Siegfried Sassoon. We will consider too, the retrospective gaze at the Great War in the work of the late 20th century poets, Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Longley and in the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro. The poetry of Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes which occupies a prominent place in the British canon will be placed alongside the work of women writers like Carol Ann Duffy and Alice Oswald who challenge and re-orient Larkin and Hughes’ achievements. During this Literature course We will also follow the new directions of British literature in post-colonial and post -war Britain, evident in the work of Zadie Smith and Louise Bennett, paying particular attention to issues of class, race and gender in an increasingly multi-cultural society.




693 American Immigrant Writing

“American Immigrant Writing” introduces students to American literature written from the end of the Civil War to the present that has been produced by immigrants. During this course we will discuss the concept of national literature, as well as the concept of nation as narrated construct, identity politics, and individualism.  We’ll also consider the mechanisms whereby certain works are canonized into a national narrative and others are passed over. 693 Students will learn to close read, write 3 brief response papers, and take a final exam.



696 Romantic Literature- Dr. Daniel Feldman

This Literature course surveys the movement known as Romanticism in its British form between the years 1789-1830. What constituted the Romantic revolution in imagination, art, and literature? How did the Romantic movement arise out of the historic events of its day and how does it influence our understanding of literature today? This lecture course emphasizes close reading of works by the great Romantic poets: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Keats, as well as selected texts by William Blake, John Clare, Mary Shelley, and William Hazlitt. Students should have a firm grasp of poetry as a prerequisite for the course.



697 Modernist Literature - Dr. Carra Glatt

Fueled by rapid urbanization, social transformation, and the global trauma of World War I, the first decades of the twentieth century witnessed profound changes in modes of artistic expression. This Literature course examines the roots, principles, and varieties of Anglo-American literary modernism as practiced by major authors like Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, TS Eliot, Gertrude Stein and Wallace Stevens. As we discuss key poems, short stories, and novels of the modernist period, we will also consider contemporary developments in the visual arts and music, which, like simultaneous and often interconnected innovations in literary form, experimented with new ways of representing reality and human experience.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here

698 Medieval Romance: Damnation and Desire - Dr. Noam Schiff

This Literature course reviews the subject of Medieval Romance in British literature. Over the year, we will learn about classical and medieval fairytales and the fictional Arthurian court, covering  issues of morality, religion, adventure, honor and punishment within the context of medieval European Lays. The course’s main focus will be medieval British literature from 1136 to 1485 and it will also survey the Romance genre, from its inception in classical sources through Italian and French influences. In addition to the subject of Romance, we will also be touching on the connected issues of medieval authority, religious iconology, morality, fantasy and adventure.



6001 The 19th and 20th Century Novel - Dr. Noam Schiff

This Literature course will survey the transformation of the novel over the span of more than 100 years: from the beginning of the 19th century and until the advent of high modernism and beyond. Throughout the course we will be focusing on the way in which character depiction and development evolve as the nineteenth century progresses, tracing the role of the novel in the emergence of the modernist grasp of human consciousness as well as the realistic portrayal of psychological complexity.  Other themes to be considered will be the shifting relationship between man and nature, representations of the body and sociological contexts of the novel throughout this time span. The tentative reading list is Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (1847), Moby Dick (1851) by Herman Melville, James Joyce’s Dubliners (1914) (excerpts from Ulysses (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925) by Virginia Woolf and More Pricks Than Kicks by Samuel Beckett (1934).



6250 Troubled Writing: Irish Literature in the 20th and 21st Centuries - Dr. Karin Berkman

“Out of Ireland have we come.
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.”  W.B. Yeats, “Remorse for Intemperate Speech”

This course surveys Irish literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will relate to different literary forms including the novel, the short story, poetry, drama and film. These works will be studied in the context of historical, political and social developments in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland. We will consider the distinctiveness of Irish literature and examine the notion of a national literature. We will pay particular attention to the response of writers and film makers to religious and political conflict in Ireland, to the constructions of place in Irish writing and to Irish women’s writing.  The examination of literary texts will be accompanied by a study of theoretical and critical texts.

We will read the works of some of Ireland’s most renowned and influential writers, including James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Eavan Boland and Anna Burns, among others.



6300 Austen in Dialogue - Dr. Yael Shapira

This elective will introduce students to the fiction of Jane Austen, while focusing on the idea of dialogue in three senses. First, we will read Austen in relation to her time, exploring how her novels converse with the social, economic and artistic issues of her day. Second, we will consider the engagement of contemporary readers with Austen’s novels, which are continuously being interpreted, adapted and retold. And finally, we will conduct our own dialogue with Austen, exploring our individual and collective reactions to her fiction and asking what relevance we might find in her writing for our own modern-day lives.




6505 The View from Olympus: Classical Mythology from the Titans to Percy Jackson - Dr. Lisa Maurice

(Course offered by the Classics Department, in English; English literature students can opt to take the course as one of their electives.)

This course will provide an overview of the role and content of classical mythology in the ancient world, particularly that of classical Greece.  Through presentation and analysis of the mythological tales, it will demonstrate the importance of mythology in the ancient world, and will show how later societies, including our own have received classical myth.




6550 Life Stories in Literature and Other Media - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

In this course, we will investigate a wide range of texts (including documentary film) that are autobiographical in nature. We will consider how the work of life narration differs from and draws upon fictional literary genres, even as it also participates in a historical discourse. Students should be prepared to write in response to the life stories we study and to consider their own lives from a narrative point of view.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


4xx-level Seminars (third-year BA students)

Note: Not all seminars are offered every year. Follow this link to see a list of seminars offered during the current academic year.



407 “A Woman in the Shape of a Monster”: Gender and Aberrance in English Literature - Dr. Yael Shapira

The seminar will explore how ideas of aberrance and monstrosity have shaped representations of women in English and American literary works over the centuries. We will examine long-standing archetypes of “monstrous” womanhood as they appear in a range of literary works and traditions, as well as relevant theoretical and historical perspectives. In the latter part of the seminar, we will look at how such images are appropriated and transformed by 20th-century women writers in the wake of the Feminist Revolution. We will be reading poetry (including S.T. Coleridge's long poem "Christabel"), short stories, and Fay Weldon's novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, as well as a selection of theoretical and critical texts.



4001 Reading, Writing, Thinking: On Houses and Homes - Dr. Yael Shapira

This undergraduate seminar will focus on the image of the house or home in literature, while also asking what it might mean to make a home for yourself in writing. Designed as part of the university’s new series of “Reading, Writing, Thinking” courses, the seminar will use writing as a means to generate ideas about the reading materials and, through a combination of formal and informal writing assignments, aim to develop students’ skills of self-expression and argumentation. Students who choose this seminar should expect to be writing regularly, during class and outside it.



4010 Femininity, Domesticity and Literature - Dr. Karin Berkman

In an interview to the magazine Believer in 2014, the Irish poet, Eavan Boland remarked: “I was a woman in a house in the suburbs, married with two small children. It was a life lived by many women around me, but it was still not named in Irish poetry. I’ve often said … that when I was young it was easier to have a political murder in a poem than a baby.”

In this seminar we will consider how women writers actively create a place for their experience in literature. We will examine constructions of femininity in literary texts and in seminal critical texts, with particular reference to the ways in which these relate to domesticity and motherhood. We will focus on representations of the home as a site of feminine experience, and on the complex delineations of the home as both a place of restriction and of liberation. We will trace the changing, often courageous representations of motherhood in women’s writing, studying both affirmations of motherhood and refusals of the imperative of motherhood. We will analyze the influence of race, class and sexual orientation on conceptions of domesticity. While the focus of this course is poetry, we will also read essays, short stories and life writing relating to our subject.



420 - Women and the British Novel - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

This Seminar will consider the historical links between women and the developing genre of the novel. Women were readers, writers, and subjects of novels about everything from girlhood to courtship and marriage, working lives, politics, law, and empire. How were women's lives imagined in novels? How did these depictions differ from or confirm social reality? And what have recent scholars found most notable about the relationship between women and the novel? ​

Through historical Literature studies and novels themselves, we will consider the crucial role that material developments in print technology and publication practices played in shaping the roles of women as authors, readers, and subjects of fiction. Reading list (tentative) includes works by Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens and others.



448  Poetic Forms and Genres - Prof. Marcela Sulak

Poetic forms and genres emerge in response to the way people over time have expressed their most intense feelings: joy, grief, thanksgiving, nostalgia, exaltation, despair, love and fear.    They shape readers’ expectations, they shape poets’ arguments and perceptions, and, most importantly, they allow poets to glean from the past the ideals, values and stories that shape our perceptions and understanding of the present moment.   In this class, we will learn to write within the basic poetic forms (sonnet, litany, sestina, ballad), genres (elegy, ode) and modes (pastoral, lyrical, etc.). We will become familiar and confident with the interpretative tools that enhance our understanding and enjoyment of poetry, and that allow us to communicate about this multi-faceted art form in a clear and thoughtful manner. Thanks to an innovative teaching grant, this course is enhanced by a series of podcasts and interviews with contemporary writers about structuring and creating poems. So you will have exposure to 8-10 exceptional practicing poets.



450 Creative Writing: A Multigenre Prose Workshop - Prof. Evan Fallenberg

You love a great short story, you’ve grown up on the finest novels, you’re enthralled by a well-written biography, you’re swept away by the clever dialogue in plays.  And now it’s time to try your hand at the craft in earnest.  In this workshop, participants will learn the tools of the trade; read what writers have to say about their craft; delve into masterful pieces of literature in order to learn from them; experiment with forms and styles; have their work critiqued by others; and will be expected to produce a significant body of new and revised prose writing throughout the semester. 



451 Creative Writing: Hybrid Genres - Dr. Marcela Sulak

The Seminar views genre distinctions as a question of degree, rather than category. Recently, verse novellas, documentary poetics, graphic novels, poetic memoir, lyric essay, micro fiction, prose poetry, flash nonfiction, and other hybrid genres have mapped out and explored new arenas of human experience, yielding exciting new insights.  In this class, we will examine skills necessary in all forms of creative writing while addressing the most salient generic features of poetry, essays and fiction, but we will understand that often distinctions can be artfully blurred to release tremendous energy and creativity.  While students may chose to write more traditionally recognizable poems, essays and stories, our readings will encourage experimentation in hybridity. We will examine the expectations we bring to works of various genres; we will write, and we will learn to write intelligent and helpful criticism about published works and the works of our classmates.



4050 English Careers & Literary Citizenship - Professor Evan Fallenberg

You may have come to the Department of English Literature because you love the language and the extraordinary literature it has given birth to, but while you’ve been reading and writing copiously the world has undoubtedly been asking you some variation on this question: Where is all that English literature going to take you, and how will it enable you to earn a living?

Of course you know you have been developing your critical skills, your textual comprehension, your oratory and presentational and writing skills.  You have been grappling with big ideas that have led you through philosophy and psychology and linguistics.  You have become a richer human being.

And yet, the question remains. 

In this course we will explore some of the options before you, from hi-tech, artificial intelligence, web content, social media, and localization, to journalism, translation, editing, literary agenting, ghostwriting, grantwriting, copywriting, archivism, teaching and more.  Concurrently, we will discuss the role of literature in our work lives, and how we can practice literary citizenship.

For each of these career paths and topics, we will meet with experts from the field – sometimes in their workplaces, sometimes on campus – who have been shaping the world of the future and want to share their experience and excitement with you. 





4100 Scenes of Learning in English Literature - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

This Literature Seminar will focus on literary representations of learning, and sites of learning. How have writers imagined, remembered, invented scenes of learning, whether institutional, informal, profound, rote? What models of learning and development do we find in their texts? How can we think about study, learning, engagement, development more fully when we see what literary models we have absorbed and integrated into our own sense of ourselves as learners and teachers?

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For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


4667 Children's Literature - Dr. Daniel Feldman

This Literature seminar offers a general introduction to the rich tradition of children’s literature in English since the nineteenth century. We sample key texts in the evolution of children’s literature and identify crucial interpretive issues that emerge from the critical study of this genre, including the role of adult authors in crafting texts for children; differences between texts for children and young adults; the significance of gender, race, and nationality in children’s literature; and the construction of juvenile worlds through language. How do texts construct childhood and how do children confront complex texts? Students will complete the class with critical tools for understanding literature written for young readers. Readings include Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, Wild Things, Anne of Green Gables, Little House, The Outsiders, and Brown Girl Dreaming in addition to secondary essays and articles.



4682 Dystopian Literature - Dr. Esther Schupak

Dystopias are increasingly to be found, both in the realms of literary fiction and popular culture. What is the reason for this phenomenon? What do such depictions reveal about the anxieties and uncertainties that underlie Western culture? This Literature seminar will explore the implications of our obsession with dystopian futures--for the present and the past.


4800 Introduction to the Art of Literary Translation - Prof. Evan Fallenberg

In this workshop, students will be introduced to the practice of literary translation – which Goethe called "… one of the weightiest and worthiest undertakings in the general concerns of the world" – and experience how texts both define and transcend cultural borders. Each week we will discuss students’ translations of literary works from any language (the language of their choosing) into English, together with essays, stories and published translations, in order to examine the principal challenges that confront translators of literature.


4929 Literature and the Environment - Dr. Chen Bar-Itzhak

(A seminar offered by Department of Comparative Literature, in English; can be taken by English literature students as an undergraduate seminar)

The objective of this course is to explore the complex relations between literature and the natural environment. We will read literary works that deal with environmental themes along with theoretical writings in ecocriticism and the environmental humanities. Our literary readings will range from nature writing about forests, oceans and the wilderness to literary works engaging with pollution, species migration and the climate crisis. We will explore the ways in which literature can destabilize common perceptions of the natural world and the place humans occupy in it (such as the human-animal divide) and examine the ways literature can react to environmental crises through its aesthetic, formal, political and philosophical aspects. We will also focus on translation as a framework for examining ecocritical issues. Our theoretical readings will enable us to read literary texts through an ecocritical lens and to analyze texts in relation to broader cultural and environmental processes.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


7xx-Level Seminars (third-year BA students and graduate students)

Note: Not all seminars are offered every year. Follow this link to see a list of seminars offered during the current academic year.



703 Shakespeare, Adaptation and Popular Culture - Dr. Esther Schupak

Ben Jonson described Shakespeare as “not of an age, but for all time.” Indeed, 400 years later, and Shakespeare is still studied, still considered to be relevant—and still filling seats in theaters. Moreover, Shakespeare’s works reverberate in popular culture, transcending genre and transcending the divide between high and low culture. So we can read Shakespearean appropriations in the form of children’s books, comics, adolescent novels, and popular adult novels; and we can watch Shakespearean adaptations and appropriations on film—and even animation.

This Literature seminar will explore the tension between studying Shakespeare as an historically situated, contextualized dramatist and studying a Shakespeare who is “our contemporary,” a universalized, ahistorical participant in current popular culture. Alternating between studying the plays themselves and contemporary adaptations / appropriations, we will explore how these works resonate in popular culture, ideology, and political discourses.



704 Reading Minds - Dr. Daniel Feldman

As interpreters of narrative, what do we read and why? This seminar explores the intersection of fictional texts about reading others' minds and narrative theories about why our minds love to read fiction in the first place. The course includes works by James, Woolf, Nabokov, McEwan, and Dick in conversation with a range of critical theories about the nature of reading and interpretation. We will explore the thesis that literature develops a model (or models) of consciousness that hones our capacity for insight, experience, memory, empathy, and understanding. Furthermore, the seminar will introduce students to various theories of narrative that will prepare upper-level majors for advanced work in criticism and theory.



For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


708 - Poetic Forms and Deformations - Prof. Marcela Sulak

In this class we will survey the use of poetic form (sonnets, sestina, villanelle, octava rima,heroic couplets, etc) as a shorthand references for historical conversations. We'll look at the deformation of form as passageways into realms that transcend their time and space.

This seminar would be an excellent introduction to poetry for writers who do not specialize in poetry, for literary translation students, and for students who would like to learn to read and write poetry. We will cover such basic concepts as the poetic line (and where to break it), speed and velocity, and how to fall out of time, how to make metaphorical effects through the sounds of language, how to perform magic with punctuation, and other secrets.



711 Reading Like Sherlock - Dr. Carra Glatt

The nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of detective fiction as a distinct literary genre. The importance of detection to the practice of reading prose fiction, however, extends well beyond Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Indeed, the intricate plotting characteristic of the novel as it developed in the nineteenth century demands that readers, too, become detectives of a sort, considering the narrative and formal clues that guide us, not only to the solution to a mystery, but to a meaningful reading of a text. In this course we will read a series of detective narratives, using the lens of literal investigation to inform our understanding of the act of literary interpretation. Beginning with several classic works of detective fiction, we will then turn to non-traditional detective narratives of the twentieth century, which seem to cast doubt on the reliability of all conventional forms of evidence.



713 Art, Atrocity, Truth - Dr. Daniel Feldman

A comparative study of how fiction and fact structure each other in literature portraying the Shoah, atrocity, and mass human-rights abuse. What role does fiction play in rendering truths about tragic historic events? What is the relationship between culture and politics in representing or understanding trauma? “Art, Atrocity, Truth” is a comparative seminar examining how literature works with and against historical narrative to create new forms of depicting and comprehending collective trauma. Readings include autobiographical fiction, novellas, and critical texts about the Holocaust and other events of mass trauma. Our purpose is to examine the fraught relationship between art, especially prose fiction, and factual treatments of violent events. By reading and discussing texts that mix fact and fiction, we will ask what role is left to art in the wake of atrocity and whether there is a literary genre we can credibly identify as art of atrocity.



7169 Holy Love and Secular Love in Medieval and Renaissance Poetry - Dr. Yaakov Mascetti
What is love? And what does sex have to do with God and religion? And why have poets of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance provided us with some of the most exquisite love poetry of all times? What are the roots of our conceptions of love? In this course we will try to address all of these questions and many more, working our way from ancient sources, through classical and medieval texts, in order to then be able to read and understand the stakes of love lyrics and religious poetry of the early modern. We will read, compare, discuss and often dispute on texts where the love of a man for a woman becomes the allegory of the yearning of human beings for the Divine – or maybe becomes the excuse to move aside the Divine in the name of human love.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


722 Homecomings and Nostalgia - Dr. Daniel Feldman

Homecomings and Nostalgia is an advanced seminar on the concept of home in contemporary fiction. We take as our premise the thesis that homecoming (nostos) and nostalgia have always been closely bound up with literary versions of home. It was one poet (Heine) who said that a canonical book could serve as a portable homeland and another (Frost) who said that home is the place where, "when you go there, they have to let you in." But as much as literature has shaped the notion of home, nostalgia and the yearning to go home form key elements of modern literature. This course explores the literary construction of homecoming in a wide-ranging analysis that considers the rise of nostalgia as a distinct modern concept, the permutations of homecoming in a globalized world, and the ever-changing formulations of home in modern poetry, criticism, and fiction. Readings include Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, Robinson's Home, and Sebald's Austerlitz.



723 Victorian Egoism and Altruism - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

This seminar will explore the mid-Victorian discourse of egoism and altruism which organizes British novels, essays and works of socio-economic analysis in the second half of the nineteenth century. We will examine the selfishness/altruism discourse at the critical moment when the established Christian theological account of human selfishness and selflessness confronts the challenge of post-theological modernity. We’ll be reading works by (among others) George Eliot, Elizabeth Haskell and Wilkie Collins alongside relevant Victorian discussions of economics, religion and morality.



724 Writing the Nation - Dr. Daniel Feldman

How does nationalism influence literature? How does literature shape the nation? This research seminar studies the relationship between nationalism and literature. We begin with a historical survey of the emergence of the English novel against the backdrop of the rise of the modern Western nation-state, especially its British incarnation. We will then follow this line of investigation pursuing a link (lack thereof) between national character and literature across other contexts and periods drawing on the seminar participants' original research and writing. Coupled with considerable secondary reading by Fichte, Casanova, Brubaker, and others, the novels read in the course include Robinson Crusoe, Heart of Darkness, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Plot Against America, and Americanah. By reading widely from works both canonical and contemporary, fictional and scholarly, we will aim to discover the fundamental contours of the formative, frequently troubling, and constantly evolving connection between literary expression and civic nationalism.



727 The Art of Literary Translation: Poetry - Dr. Marcela Sulak

Literary translators attempt, on a most basic level, to carry a literal meaning from one language to another across a text.  Yet, as translation often involves surveying and mapping the boundaries of a literary world, a good translator recognizes that words often work within culturally and politically significant prosodic and rhyming forms. In a world marked by mass displacement of populations, in which much national and international literature is written by poets and writers in exile,  prosody can be a tent in which the Old World takes refuge in the New. Poetry is, as Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef puts it, a palm frond that will "carry pollen from exile to exile,” or it can serve as the path by which a conquering cultural force makes inroads into a formerly sovereign one. In this Literature course, students will become acquainted with options and strategies available for translating poetry into English while attending to artistic, cultural and politically significant features of the works they are translating.



For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


726/728 The Art of Literary Translation: Prose  - Prof. Evan Fallenberg

Translation is a cultural sleight of hand and translators are the magicians who perform it, not only bringing one culture into another but also shaping the literary tradition of the target language in the process. But translators are also creative artists in their own right and translation itself is an art.

In this workshop, students will be introduced to the practice of literary translation and experience how texts both define and transcend cultural borders. Each week we will discuss students’ translations together with essays on the craft by leading writer-translators in order to examine the principal challenges that confront translators of literature. There will also be discussions on ways in which translation can facilitate and enhance one’s own writing.

Students may translate from any language into English.



731 Transatlantic Modernism - Prof. Marcela Sulak

The course is predicated on the idea that modernism in the English language is, effectively, a single event occurring nearly simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. As we survey the major English language works from 1890s-1940s, we will avail ourselves of the major changes in literary methodology that have occurred over the past few decades – the rise of new modes of literary theory, and new sensitivity to issues of social justice and gendered and racial inclusiveness.



732 Life Stories in Literature and Other Media - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

In this course, we will investigate a wide range of texts (including documentary film) that are autobiographical in nature. We will consider how the work of life narration differs from and draws upon fictional literary genres, even as it also participates in a historical discourse. Students should be prepared to write in response to the life stories we study and to consider their own lives from a narrative point of view.



735 Science Fiction in Literature and the Media - Dr. Esther Schupak

Science fiction is a literary genre that allows us to speculate about the future, yet such works often reveal just as much about the present in which they are written and its cultural constructions. Science fiction is really a kind of desire for technological salvation and social, political, economic, and ethical ideals, transmuting into multiplying, chimerical forms. We will explore the discourse of science fiction in various media to understand how this genre accesses our deepest longings for our posterity, our fears for the future, and utopian visions for positive change.

For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here

736 - African American Poetics - Prof. Marcela Sulak
African American poets have often lent their art to calls for social justice. Poetry is the arena in which issues such as feminism, mental health, and psychological well-being are explored. This course will examine these topics, as well as the artistic contributions African American poets have made to national and international literary culture. We will focus on the 1950s-present.
737 - Whiteness and the Study of American Literature

How does twentieth-century and contemporary literature of the United States represent racial whiteness? And how can critical race theory help us answer this literary question? Since the early 1990s, many race theorists have taken whiteness, rather than People of Color, as an object of study, arguing that doing so opens up a unique perspective on race in the U.S. During this Literature course we will explore their ideas about terms that are now commonly used in popular culture, such as privilege, supremacy, abolition, colorblindness, and fragility. As we move through our theoretical readings, we will constantly ask what new understandings of American literature and film emerge with whiteness critique as our lens, and what these forms have contributed to the critical project. For example, what do we gain from considering racial whiteness from the position of both white and minority (particularly African American) writers? Can economic class play a role in building political solidarity between whites and
People of Color? And how has the terror of whiteness, experienced by People of Color at different moments in U.S. history, found expression in literature and film? Toward the end of the course, we will study the relationships that immigrant groups have had with whiteness, including Arab- and Jewish-Americans, and look at recent attempts to map American critical race theory onto identity formation in Israel.



740 - Passing: Literary Lies and Open Secrets - Prof. Marcela Sulak

In this Literature course, we examine various kind of “Passing,” in writers or literary characters who have lied or omitted the truth to hide their age, sex, religion, ethnicity, or competency levels for various reasons. These moments of “passing” have occurred in print—in the level of movement between masculine and feminine verbs, between the printed world of the text and the physical world in which the text was produced, and in the appearance of the literary character or author. Related terms we will consider are translation, transgender, transexual, transubstantiation, transitioning, etc.



741 Poetic Antagonisms - Dr. Daniel Feldman

This seminar offers an overview of the sphere of contested influences and dynamic change that shape the English poetic tradition from the late Renaissance through contemporary verse. In addition to introducing students to Harold Bloom’s model of revisionary misreading, the seminar also offers more advanced training in how to read canonical English-language poets, their literary descendants, and their critical dissidents. Each week the course will present in-depth readings of one major poet – as well as poetic antagonists who repudiate his or her art.



743 Literature and Education - Prof. Ilana Blumberg


We will consider literary texts that meditate on the purposes, strategies, and experiences of what we call "education." 

We will consider what it means to educate oneself, what it means to educate others, whether there is such a thing as a personal or private education, and how circumstances of nation, ethnicity, gender, race, class, and generation shape education. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their own educations, past and ongoing.




746 Teaching the Shoah through Literature - Dr. Daniel Feldman

How do we use literature to teach the Holocaust? This Literature course, specifically designed for current or future teachers of literature but open to all advanced students, addresses the network of unique pedagogical challenges associated with teaching texts about the Shoah. The course is part lecture and part pedagogical workshop: we will study seminal texts of Holocaust literature and read crucial commentary on the issues presented by Holocaust education.



747 Political Shakespeare - Dr. Esther Schupak

In order to arrive at a full understanding of the political aspects of Shakespeare’s work, we need to appreciate the circumstances of censorship that underlay his artistic production. We will therefore begin the course by learning about Elizabethan and Jacobean censorship and the limits that this practice imposed upon artistic expression. We will then consider the issue of republicanism in an early modern context, defining and exploring its ideological ramifications and how these manifests in Shakespeare’s works. 

Given the limitations of censorship, Rome was often a metaphorical substitute for London, so examining Shakespeare’s Roman dramas opens a space for exploring his ideological leanings. The beginning of the course will, therefore, focus on Shakespeare’s Roman plays and The Rape of Lucrece. Later on in the semester, we will examine two of Shakespeare’s history plays in order to explore the juxtaposition among monarchical, anti-monarchical, and republican ideologies that critics have debated for centuries.



751 Hybrid Literature - Prof. Marcela Sulak

This creative writing workshop is a study of literary genres; what they do, how they work, how to write about them, and how to produce them. This Literature course takes as its guiding principle the idea that genre distinctions are a question of degree, rather than category.  The first Western medical texts, histories and narratives were written in verse form. In Greece, poetic meter was described in dance steps. More recently, verse novels, such as Elizabeth Barrat Browning’s Aurora Leigh 1852, Vikram Seth’s 1986 Golden Gate, and Dereck Walcott’s Omeros (1990) have been surprising best sellers.  Prose poems, flash fiction, and lyrical essays further confound our attempts to separate genres; so do fictional memoires, and documentary poetry.  In this class, we will examine skills necessary in all forms of creative writing while addressing the most salient generic features of poetry, essays and fiction, but we will understand that often distinctions are and can be artfully blurred.  While students may choose to write more traditionally recognizable poems, essays and stories, our readings will encourage experimentation in hybridity. This workshop is appropriate for graduate students in the Literary Translation track, students in the creative writing program, and upper division undergraduate students.



753 - Food and Literature - Prof. Jeff Birkenstein

This course offers students the opportunity to explore food in literature. We will consider how food is featured significantly in literature, that is, how it is used in one or more ways that significantly advance the narrative and/or our understanding of it.  Massimo Montanari contends that the dialect of food, “[t]his aggregate of conventions, which we shall call ‘grammar,’ informs the food system not as a simple compilation of products and foods, assembled in a more or less casual fashion, but rather as a structure, inside of which each component defines its meaning” (99). This class, then, investigates the intimate and complex “grammar” of food in literature, and suggests ways to learn more deeply these structures and why they matter.

Reading and writing and oral presentation assignments address the fundamentals of exploring and learning about the art of narrative, such as plot, setting, dialogue, character, voice, and style, but also that certain something that the best writers are always after. Assignments are designed to foster habits and practices common to experienced and critical readers and writers. Class discussion, freewriting, workshopping, peer review, and reading the superior work of others, whether fiction or criticism or essay, are all integral to the course.  You are all readers and writers already; this course will be about striving for...more. 




755 American Literature Civil War to Present - Prof. Marcela Sulak

This course is a continuation of 254, and in it, we examine the way Americans have and continue to narrate a national mythology through the stories they tell about their country, their neighbors, and themselves.  We focus particularly on poets and writers' engagement with Walt Whitman and with the myths of the American frontier. We will attend to the limits of the myths of America, particularly the ways in which excluded groups have sought to write themselves into American history with a focus on immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, and women. 


783 Seventeenth Century Religious Lyrics in England (Parts I and II) - Dr. Yaakov Mascetti


In this course, we will explore the rich tradition of religious poetry in England during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, focusing on the works of prominent poets such as John Donne, George Herbert, Robert Southwell, and Henry Vaughan. We will delve into the theological context that shaped these poetic expressions of faith, examining the influence of various religious currents, from the established Church of England to the growing Puritan movement and the Catholic underground. The course will also investigate the rhetorical strategies employed by these poets, tracing the influence of the Humanist tradition and its classical roots on their writing, and considering the vital role that poetry played in religious devotion and contemplation during this period. Through close readings, critical analysis, and engaging discussions, students will gain a deep appreciation for the diversity and complexity of religious thought and experience in Renaissance England, as reflected in the enduring beauty and power of its devotional poetry.

(Offered by the Department of Comparative Literature, in English; Parts I and II can be taken together by English literature students as an undergraduate or graduate seminar.)




788 The Fate of the Novel in the Digital Age - Dr. Taylor Johnston-Levy

From its beginning, the novel has swallowed other kinds of writing into its own form, from letters, to diaries, to newspaper clippings, to poems. This voraciousness has even led theorists to argue that the genre’s most defining feature is its capacity to absorb other forms. But what happens when these forms include smartphone photos, blogs, tweets, Wikipedia, and PowerPoint presentations? In this course, we’ll read contemporary novels that invite these features of the digital age into their pages and ask how the genre has evolved as a consequence. How, for example, has the overwhelming vastness of online information made its way into a genre already known to be a “baggy monster” (in the words of Henry James)? How have digital forms helped the novel portray an increasingly global social world? And in assimilating these forms, what do contemporary novels tell us about an individual’s interior life in the twenty-first century? Along the way, we’ll discuss what novels have to offer a world defined by the digital. Why, in other words, read a novel about digital media when you could just read digital media? Students will also have the opportunity to attempt their own fictions of the digital age.

Reading list: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013); Teju Cole, Open City (2011); Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010); Ben Lerner, 10:04 (2014)





789 Bob Dylan, American Poet - Prof. Michael Kramer

In this seminar, we’ll take an in-depth look at the kaleidoscopic career of Bob Dylan, arguably the most influential American songwriter of the second half of the twentieth century, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.  We’ll look at the cultural and intellectual reservoirs from which he drew, analyze the poetic and musical forms he adopted and transformed, and follow him from his early days on the 1960s folk-music scene in New York’s Greenwich Village through his many metamorphoses: rock’n’roll iconoclast, country music recluse, religious evangelist, tin-pan-alley crooner, and more.  We’ll analyze his lyrics and other works, place them in historical and biographical context, and, yes, listen to his music.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


790 Assimilation in American Literature - Prof. Michael Kramer

One of the most fascinating phenomena in American history is the process by which immigrants (and others) become Americans, the process commonly known as "assimilation." Equally fascinating are the various ways writers in America imagine that process. In this seminar, we will survey American literature – from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century – with an eye to the way the stories writers tell about themselves inscribe versions of the process of assimilation.  Some of the authors we will discuss: Mary Rowlandson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexis de Tocqueville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Cahan, W.E.B. Du Bois, Mary Antin.  (cannot be taken if 940 has been) 



792 - Life Writing - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

This course will focus on ways that the genre of autobiography has been transformed and newly conceived in the last few decades to include forms such as correspondences, graphic novels, autofiction, and variations of all kinds of memoir. This course requires of students an interest in how human beings narrate their own experience, how we create ourselves in part through the narratives we work to construct in the midst of our own living.



793 Autobiography as Literary Genre - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

In this course, we will look at early as well as contemporary examples of autobiography, seeking to define the aims of the genre at different moments in its development. We will consider autobiography alongside other forms of life writing. We will also take up questions of the boundaries between fiction and fact as well as the social values of autobiography and testimonial writing.



797 Jewish American Literature - Prof. Michael Kramer

A consideration of the major periods and themes of Jewish American literature, from the 17th century to the present. How did Jews in America imagine themselves as Jews and as Americans?  During this course we will look at narratives of assimilation, accommodation, and return and discuss the many ways Jewish identities (religion and ethnicity) are constructed in a broad range of texts and genres. Some attention will be given to theories of Jewish literature ,literary history and to American and world historical contexts. Authors we will analyze include: Emma Lazarus, Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Isaac Asimov, and a host of others.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here

7125 - Early Modern Women Writers - Dr. Yaakov Mascetti

(Course offered by the Department of Comparative Literature; English literature students at the BA or MA level may take it as one of their seminars).   

The objective of this Literature course will be to explore the very first signs of a modern feminine consciousness in European women writers. In order to acquire a sense of what it means to be a woman writer and / or a woman reader, we will begin the year with a series of readings taken from the canonical works of European feminism. Having acquired the right tools, we will then make our way into three distinct types of feminine discourses: religious, philosophical and social. Early-modern women writers were not revolutionaries, they did not radically change their societies, but more often were compliant with the patriarchal context. It will be our work to see how, under the social and cultural constraints of the time, these writers managed to express their yearning for culture and gender identity. 



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Honors Seminars

"Honors seminar" are intended for high-achieving students who are looking for an advanced learning environment and willing to commit to a demanding reading load. These courses are open to (1) MA and PhD students and (2) BA students with a grade average of 90 and up. Graduate students are welcome to register on their own; BA students should contact Dr. Shapira ( To see which honors seminar is offered during the current academic year, click here.



8000 Honors Seminar: Reading the Serial Victorian Novel - Dr. Carra Glatt

Many Victorian novels were originally published as a series of weekly or monthly installments in magazines and literary journals, making the experience of reading these works far more similar to watching the episodes of a serial drama on TV than to reading a modern novel. In this course, we will read novels by Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell in their original parts, considering as we do the way that the form of publication may have shaped the writing and reading of these novels. Topics discussed will include Victorian advertising and print culture, nineteenth-century reading practices, the dynamics of literary suspense, and the relationship between Victorian serial novels and contemporary serialized entertainment. 



8250 Honors Seminar: Milton - Prof. William Kolbrener

**offered in 2019-20**

Milton’s work stands at the center of the English literary tradition: he not only placed himself in poetic competition with his predecessors and contemporaries (including Homer, Virgil, and Shakespeare), but the works of his poetic imagination made possible the works of the great writers in both American and English literary traditions. Our seminar will focus on Milton’s poetic achievement—attempting to elaborate his radical conceptions of poetic representation and literary authority in the context of the works of contemporaries including works by Ben Jonson, Amelia Lanyer, as well as the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. As Milton was not only a poet, but was deeply implicated in the revolutionary politics of his time (acting as Lord Secretary for Oliver Cromwell), we will be focusing on Milton’s work in the context of the emerging modern political languages which he helped to shape. In our discussions of Miltonic conceptions of individuality, spirituality, community, and gender, we will look to contemporary theological and political contexts—including the works of Thomas Hobbes, Margaret Cavendish, as well as the writings of the radical sectarians with whom he associated.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here

8200 Honors Seminar: Inventing the Eighteenth-Century British Novel - Dr. Yael Shapira

As readers in a world where novels are ubiquitous, it may be hard for us to grasp that they were not always there. But for observers of the literary scene in eighteenth-century Britain, prose fiction was not only a new development, but an alarming and possibly dangerous one, not unlike modern-day reactions to the Internet. In this Literature course we will follow the pioneering experiments in fiction-wriitng of Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson,Henry Fielding and others.


We will consider how an entity eventually known as "the novel" emerges out of the period's explosion of print goods, as well as the considerable panic that this new kind of writing arouses in the society around it. We will examine how writers gradually invent the conventions of the form we now take for granted, but also how they address concerns about the alleged dangers of novel-reading through their fiction itself.


This course will combine readings in eighteenth-century fiction with critical essays, with special attention paid to the skills involved in reading scholarship and engaging with it in your own writing.


Open to MA and PhD students in literature, and to BA students by permission of the instructor; creative writers interested in the history of fiction are encouraged to sign up as well.



Graduate Seminars

Note: Not all graduate seminars are offered every year. Follow this link to see a list of seminars offered during the current academic year.



829 Literary Conversations: Introduction to Advanced Studies in Literature - Dr. Carra Glatt

required of all new MA students in Literature

Authors write novels, poems and stories. But ultimately, it is up to us as readers to determine what these texts mean and why – or whether – they matter. Over the years, critics representing a variety of “schools” of interpretation have proposed different approaches to reading literary texts. Some approaches emphasize the importance of considering the historical context in which works were written.  Others focus narrowly on the formal and structural elements of a text – genre, style, diction, imagery – to the exclusion of external influences. Some locate meaning in the intentions of writers, some in the responses of readers.

English 829 will introduce you to a number of key twentieth and twenty-first century critical schools, including formalism, postmodernism, feminism, cultural studies, reader-response criticism, and post-colonial criticism. Above all, however, it will ask you to think about and refine your own approach to literary texts, preparing you to take part in advanced literary conversations.

Our central text will be Henry James’s novella “The Turn of the Screw,” a ghost story that has spawned a number of radically different readings and interpretations since it was first published in 1898. Other readings will include short stories by Jorge Luis Borges and Edgar Allan Poe, in addition to excerpts from critical books and essays.




8004  Shakespeare and Gender - Dr. Esther Schupak

Early feminist criticism often coalesced around the two binaries of viewing Shakespeare’s work as either proto-feminist or unredeemable misogynist, while later feminist work has tended to adopt the narrative of women’s oppression. The limitation of this narrative is not that it is incorrect, but that it is reductive, failing to account for the many subtleties and complexities of Shakespeare’s writing and its interplay with the history of early modern England, which we will seek to understand in this course. To fully apprehend the relationship of gender and power in Shakespeare’s work, we need to examine the historical context in which he wrote in terms of societal constructions of gender, how gender hierarchies intersected socio-economic divisions, and how anxieties about female power influenced the performance of gender.



For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


8005 The Eighteenth-Century British Gothic - Dr. Yael Shapira

In the latter half of the eighteenth century, Britain witnessed the rise and virtual explosion of storytelling that focused on the dark and fearful sides of human existence. Breaking sharply with the dominant mode of realist fiction and the rationality of the Enlightenment, authors and readers turned with great enthusiasm to narratives where terror lurked behind every door, while ghosts and demons threatened the scientific understanding of the world. In this graduate seminar we will try to understand the Gothic turn of late eighteenth-century British culture through its manifestations in fiction, poetry and drama. A range of critical, historical and theoretical readings will allow us to put this Romantic-era literary phemoenon in context and probe the political, sexual and cultural anxieties it helped to express.




8006 The Metafictional Novel - Dr. Carra Glatt

Traditionally, fictional works encourage a “willing suspension of disbelief”: as we read, we immerse ourselves in a literary world by forgetting, as far as possible, that we are dealing with a constructed fictional text, rather than a record of actual human experience. Metafictional texts, however, deliberately inhibit this practice, persistently calling our attention to their own fictionality. Often featuring stories-within-stories and protagonists who are themselves writers (and sometimes, fictionalized versions of the author him or herself), metafictional narratives challenge boundaries between the real and the fictional, raising ethical questions about truth, representation, and the combined value and danger of the stories that we all use, in one way or another, to structure our sense of the world.

In this Literature course, we will read a number of metafictional texts—mostly novels, but also poetry and short fiction. Tracing the development of metafiction from its historic origins as far back as the middle ages to its explosion as a distinct literary movement in the late twentieth century, as we read we will consider the aesthetic concerns and implications of this postmodern narrative form.



8090 Literature and Religion - Prof. Michael Kramer

This Literature course designed for both literature and creative writing students. Throughout the course we will explore the complex relation between literary creativity and religious perception.  We will reflect upon some of the fundamental issues of theology—faith and doubt, immanence and transcendence, discipline and ecstasy, the mystical and the mundane, the character of the divine, the power of prayer—as they are take shape in a variety of texts and contexts, from the Bible to Bob Dylan, from hymns to Hollywood.  Some of the thinkers we will consider: Maimonides, Coleridge, Kierkegaard, James, Otto, Freud, Soloveitchik.  Some of the writers we will read:  Eliezer Azikri, Rabi'ah al Adawiyya, Franz Kafka, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O'Connor, Denise Levertov, Andre Dubus, Steven Milhauser … and others.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here


8715 Jane Austen - Dr. Yael Shapira

The graduate seminar aims to acquaint students with Jane Austen’s development as a writer as well as with the tradition of literary criticism devoted to her work. We will study Austen's fiction alongside a  range of critical readings providing an "Austen toolkit" - that is, the set of historical facts and theoretical concepts needed to understand the nuances of Austen's work.



895 Cinderella Stories: Unequal Matches in the British Novel - Dr. Yael Shapira

This M.A. seminar focuses on a recurrent plot motif of British fiction since the appearance of the novel in the 18th century: a marriage that takes place between a man and a woman of unequal social standing. We will read a series of English novels published between the mid-eighteenth century and the present day, all exploring a fantasy in which romantic love intertwines seamlessly with upward social mobility. Drawing on the insights of feminist scholarship and theory, we will explore both the appeal and the darker implications of this enduring narrative paradigm.



919 Advanced Academic Reading and Writing - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

required of all new MA students in literature

Writing critically about literature, conveying complex ideas in a clear way, engaging with the thoughts of others while keeping your own voice distinct and strong - these are the challenges of advanced academic writing, challenges that even professional scholars never stop grappling with. Required of all new MA students in literature, this course aims to practice the reading and writing skills needed for higher-level academic work in literature. By focusing on several key texts and the body of critical writing about them, we will learn how to find, read, and cite scholarly articles and books. No less importantly, the course aims to give students ample opportunity to practice making their own critical claims in dialogue with the opinions of others. We will return to the basics of critical writing - structure, argumentation, citation - in order to explore their uses in longer and more complex writing projects.


For more details about our Literature Courses kindly contact our office here

Creative Writing and Translation Workshops

(Note: These workshops are intended for Creative Writing students only. Literature students interested in taking a creative writing workshop may apply to the instructor, who will consider their request based on availability and qualifications. Follow this link to see a list of workshops offered during the current academic year.)



8860 Literary Translation Seminar - Prof. Evan Fallenberg

This translation seminar is designed to enable advanced practitioners the chance to try their hand at “that which transforms everything so that nothing changes,” Gunther Grass’ succinct and accurate description of translation.  Participants, translating from any language into English, will present their work and defend their decisions to classmates in weekly workshops, in addition to reading translation theory and practice. 





8870 Translation and Prosody - Prof. Marcela Sulak

 In this course, students will become acquainted with the most common prosodic and generic forms in germanic, romantic, slavic, and semitic language traditions (with flexibility for others, as needed) from Beowulf and the Bible to hiphop and the cento. We will survey the options and strategies available for translating poetry into English while attending to artistic, cultural and politically significant features of the works we are translating.





931 Jewish Arts Seminar - Prof. Michael Kramer

"The English Writer and the Jewish Literary Tradition."  What does it mean to write in a literary tradition?  What did Leonard Cohen learn from King David?  Naomi Shemer from Yehuda Halevi?  Bob Dylan from Kafka?   This seminar is designed as a forum for the discussion of the interaction of tradition and art and the relation between reading and writing. Close readings of a wide variety of Jewish texts, from the Bible and Midrash to contemporary fiction, poetry, film, and popular music. 




932 Poetry I: Because You're mine, I break the Line: (Super)natural Love Poetry and its Line Break(up)s - Prof. Marcela Sulak

Through love poetry, we will explore the way the lyric I emerges against and merges itself with the (super)natural source of life and love, with the lover, the beloved, and the complicating world. Focusing on the line break to navigate, we will explore various aspects of love from the spiritual to the physical, as well as the physicality of the line and the words of a poem. 

In this workshop, students will learn to read, write, write about, and workshop one another's poetry.




934 Make It News: the documentary poem & poetry of witness - Prof. Marcela Sulak

"The successful documentary poem withstands the pressure of reality to remain a poem in its own right: its language and form cannot be reduced to an ephemeral poster, ready made for its moment but headed for the recycling bin. While it may be that such poems will not “stand up” in a court of law, they testify to the often-unheard voices of people struggling to survive in the face of unspeakable violence."

Philip Metres, the Poetry Foundation

In this workshop we read and experiment with writing poetry that both creates new realities in language and documents the world as it is now. 




936 Poetry III: Poetic Form and Deformation - Prof. Marcela Sulak


In this course, enhanced with an innovative teaching grant, we survey the use of poetic forms (sonnets, sestinas, villanelles, ottava rima, heroic couplets, etc.) as shorthand references for historical conversations. We will look at the deformation of form as a point of particular embodiment. We will cover such basic concepts as the poetic line (and where to break it), speed and velocity, how to fall out of time, how to make metaphorical effects through the sounds of language, how to perform magic with punctuation and syntax, and other natural and supernatural acts.  We will practice constructive criticism through workshop and book reviewing contemporary works of poetry. We will write about our own work and how it converses with past and contemporary poetry.



946 Writing Seminar: Poetry IV, Poet's Tool Box - Ms. Jane Medved

In this course, we will examine and employ the myriad of literary devices used in poetry.  Metaphor, simile, sound, diction, syntax, narrative, persona, time, place, even punctuation are all tools waiting for us to pick up and use for ourselves.  We will look at how other poets have utilized these devices, study their techniques and try them out. The class will be devoted to reading and writing prompts and workshopping poems that have been revised and crafted at home. In addition, each student will choose a poetic mentor whose work they will examine and use as a springboard for their own.



948 Writing Seminar: Fiction II - Dr. Taylor Johnston-Levy

n this advanced workshop, you will devote yourself to producing new fiction writing and to helping others do the same. Our time together will serve students still looking for their next pursuits, as well as those with a clear sense of the projects or style they wish to develop. Toward this end, class will include discussions of craft in dialogue with masterful writers from the last century and our own, occasional generative writing exercises based on these discussions, and ample time for us to critique the fiction you will write. Each student will produce two works of fiction over the first two months of class and choose one of them to revise over the last month. I aim for you all to engage in this work with a sense of discovery about your own writing practice – whether this will be the first or the fiftieth time you consider elements of fiction writing in an academic setting.

Our discussions of craft will move through the elements of fiction most central to what you will write, including voice, point of view, plot structure, detail, and dialogue. We will also contemplate more specific stylistic possibilities, like adopting elements of other genres, experimenting with the surreal, or working with constraints. Rather than rote knowledge of narrative forms, what these discussions will offer you is a palette of techniques you can turn to as you write and revise your own work over the course of the semester.


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950 Writing Seminar: Fiction IV - Prof. Evan Fallenberg

Participants in this workshop will be expected to create new writing and revise existing texts; discuss issues of craft; read excellent writing and what writers have to say about writing; analyze and discuss work written by members of the workshop; and engage in writing assignments designed to inspire and enlighten.         



951 Creative Non-Fiction - Prof. William Kolbrener

Creative Non-Fiction explores the nature of the personal essay. Beginning with a brief history of the essay form, we will together survey a wide range of different kinds of essays in the genre: including profiles of people, pilgrimages to places, explorations of the body, elaborations of ritual. We will use all of these examples from the genre -- classics from Baldwin to Didion to more recent experimental writing -- as a means to try to find our own voices in relationship to the personal essay form in the many ways in which it can be defined.


953 Creative Nonfiction III - Prof. Ilana Blumberg

In this course, we will examine models of creative nonfiction in order to shape our own writings. We will consider different ways in which memoir can be organized and use fictional and nonfictional strategies of representation in order to make our writing vivid and evocative. 



9340 Documentaries - Prof. Marcela Sulak

“Documentaries” explores how to create and write about art that is made out of news, current events, and topics of social and cultural relevance. We will attend in particular to representing voices, events, and phenomena that are underrepresented in national, social, and cultural discourse. The course introduces student writers to the genre of lyric essay, documentary poetry, and researched creative nonfiction/poetry.  During this course students will read various examples of contemporary and modern documentary poetry/lyric essays, studying their composition, social, and aesthetic goals. Students will write their own documentary poems/lyric essays.


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9470 Prose Workshop - Ms. Ayelet Tsabari

In this workshop, students will acquire literary techniques to enhance their prose, refine their editing, rewriting and critiquing skills, and experiment with new and creative ways to write, while retaining a sense of joy in their craft. Supportive and constructive feedback will help polish and deepen the work. An emphasis on workshopping will allow students to hone their skills, develop technique, and experiment with voice, style and form. Close analysis of assigned readings will further students’ understanding of their chosen genre and enhance their critical abilities while maintaining a supportive and dynamic environment that encourages authenticity, boldness, and originality.



9800 Issues in Writing Fiction - Prof. Evan Fallenberg

This MA-level seminar is designed to emulate the working life of a writer of fiction by dealing with issues of craft, genre, form, structure, revision, publishing, literary citizenship and the daily work of producing writing of quality and relevance.


9880 Fiction: The Novel - Prof. Evan Fallenberg

To paraphrase the novelist Jane Smiley, all practitioners of the art of novel-writing are on a continuum that stretches back to the earliest novel-writers, and it is from them that today’s writers learn their trade.  With that in mind, this seminar offers the chance to learn about novels by reading what some top practitioners have to say about the art; to read novels that offer something particular to novice novel-writers; to investigate relevant aspects of novel-writing, like structure, narrative voice, setting, style, etc.; to delve deeply into one novel that resonates personally for each participant of the course; and to read and give copious feedback on each of the novels being written by fellow participants.

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