The Department's literature program offers a range of courses on English and American literature. First-year 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 courses offered in 2019-20 see this page.
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.
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.
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 short stories and novels, both classic and contemporary.
193 Historical Background to English & 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 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. 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.
'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 overview of British literature 1660-1890 surveys the major trends in English literature from the late seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Particular focus will be paid to the Restoration, Romantic, and Victorian periods as well as to understanding how literature reflects and participates in the broad social and political changes characterizing this historical span.
Eight of Shakespeare’s major plays will be studied 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.
6xx-level Electives (second- and third-year BA students)
Note: Not all electives are offered every year. Follow this link to see a list of electives offered in 2019-20.
664 Literature and Education - Dr. Ilana Blumberg
This course considers 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.
665 Gothic and Horror -- Dr. Yael Shapira
This course will follow the development of the Gothic tradition in English literature from the late eighteenth century to the late Victorian era. We will consider the beginnings of the tradition as the “dark” counterpart to Enlightenment culture and literature, and trace its evolution over the next century in a range of texts that extend and reconfigure the Gothic’s typical themes and figures. Reading list (tentative) may include works by Matthew Lewis, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson.
667 Children's Literature - Dr. Daniel Feldman
This course 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, Secret Garden, Wild Things, Anne of Green Gables, Little House, The Outsiders, and Brown Girl Dreaming in addition to secondary essays and articles. Regular attendance, short paper, midterm, and final exam required. First-year students not eligible.
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 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 course will examine texts and the art that has sprung from them through reading, listening, viewing, experiencing and attending performances and exhibitions.In class we will learn the vocabulary of artistic expression, discuss assigned texts, and view/listen to recorded performances.Students will prepare a mid-semester presentation and sit for an end-of-year written examination.Participation at a number of exhibitions and cultural events during the semester is required.
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.
682 Dystopias in Literature and the Media - 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 course will explore the implications of our obsession with dystopian futures--for the present and the past.
683 Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century British Literature - Dr. Yael Shapira
This 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.
696 Romantic Literature- Dr. Daniel Feldman
This 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 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.
4xx-level Seminars (second- and third-year BA students)
Note: Not all seminars are offered every year. Follow this link to see a list of seminars offered in 2019-20.
407 “A Woman in the Shape of a Monster”: Gender and Aberrance in English Literature - Dr. Yael Shapira
The course 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 course, 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.
417 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.
420 - Women and the British Novel - Dr. Ilana Blumberg
This course 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 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.
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 course 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.
4000 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.
4100 Scenes of Learning in English Literature - Dr. Ilana Blumberg
This course 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?
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 in 2019-20.
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 course 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 Doyle, James, Joyce, Woolf, 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.
707 - Prosody and Poetic Genre - Prof. Marcela Sulak
Eavan Boland has described poetic form as “a truth teller and intercessor from history itself, making structures of language, making music of feeling.” Poetic forms and genres emerge in response to the way people and cultures have expressed over time their most intense feelings and their most vital stories. 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 present moment. In this seminar, we will practice using various formal tools to shape feelings and perceptions into music by writing poetry in specific forms, and by participating in workshop sessions. We will also 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.
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 course 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
712 Modernist Drama - Prof. Jeffrey Perl
The course will examine the movement against prose and against realism in drama that began in the 19th century with the younger Romantics in England but had its most influential exponents in Germany and France. After exposure to precedents in Byron, Mallarmé, and Nietzsche, the bulk of the course will concern plays by major British, Irish, and American practitioners of this kind of avant-garde "anti-theater": Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett.
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.
715 Becoming Jane: The Austen Phenomenon - Dr. Yael Shapira
The course 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 read some of Austen's juvenilia and at least four of her novels, as well as critical works representing different points in the evolution of Austen studies. Topics of discussion will include Austen’s persistent themes and her evolving style and narrative devices, as well as the context historical and intellectual context, with an emphasis on aspects of gender.
716 T. S. Eliot - Prof. Jeffrey Perl
This course will treat the writings of T. S. Eliot, both collected and uncollected, published and unpublished, in the genres of poetry, drama, criticism, religious and social commentary, and philosophy. The course will deal, in addition, with the readings of his work by both his allies and opponents, and with Eliot’s influence on both his contemporaries and successors.
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 - Dr. 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 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.
Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida, ed. John Biguenet and Rainer Schulte
The Craft of Translation, ed. John Biguenet and Rainer Schulte.
The Sounds of Poetry, Robert Pinsky
Poems, translations, and any additional reading will be available in a course packet for students to purchase on the first day of classes.
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.
732 Life Stories in Literature and Other Media - Dr. 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.
740 - Passing: Literary Lies and Open Secrets - Prof. Marcela Sulak
In this 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.
746 Teaching the Shoah through Literature - Dr. Daniel Feldman
How do we use literature to teach the Holocaust? This 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.
777 The Modern Novel - Prof. Jeffrey Perl
“Modernism" and "postmodernism" are tendencies that express themselves differently from genre to genre. This course will examine their specific expressions in British, Irish, and American novels. The reading list will center on works by Henry James, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, but will also include texts by at least some of the following: Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Wyndham Lewis, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, D.H. Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh, Samuel Beckett, Vladimir Nabokov, J.M. Coetzee, Susan Sontag, and Michael Cunningham.
787 - Arab American Literature - Dr. Dalia Fadila
Throughout this course students will study literature written by Arabs of American descent in the United States since the early 20th century. Students will work at analyzing and understanding a range of texts-including novels, essays, poetry and short stories and the different ways they attempt at defining Arab American literature as a genre. The politics of identity, language, gender and culture will be discussed along with revealing the ways Arab American literature theorizes about itself. Lines of comparison and contrast will be drawn with other genres of ethnic literature in the United States for further understanding the essence and impact of the literature at hand.
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.
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)
791 Classicism - Prof. Jeffrey Perl
This course reconsiders the meaning of the term “classicism” in literary and, more broadly, cultural history. The syllabus is arranged to put in question the usually accepted view that classicism disappeared slowly over the course of the modern centuries and that a revolutionary Romantic tradition displaced it. Readings in the basic (and conflicting) sources of classicism in antiquity will be followed by discussion of later elaborations and misreadings of them.
792 - Life Writing - Dr. 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. The 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 - Dr. 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.
797Jewish 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? 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 and 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.
"Honors seminar" are intended for high-achieving students who 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). To see which honors seminar is offered in 2019-20, 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.
8200 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 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.
The 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.
Note: Note: Not all graduate seminars are offered every year. Follow this link to see a list of seminars offered in 2019-20.
809 Symbolism - Prof. Jeffrey Perl
This course will examine the roots of the Symbolist movement in the poetry and critical essays of Mallarmé in the later nineteenth century, then trace its development in English, Irish, and American literature of the twentieth century. Emphasis will be placed on how the doctrine of "art for art's sake" was adapted to meet social, political, and historiographical needs during the era of the World Wars. The course will also treat the opponents of Symbolism, especially those arising in the aftermath of World War II. Readings from Mallarmé, Wilde, Yeats, Pound, T.S. Eliot, Stevens, W.C.Williams, and Donald Davie, among others.
8090 Literature and Religion - Prof. Michael Kramer
This class, designed for both literature and creative writing students, 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.
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.
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 - Dr. 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.
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 in 2019-20.)
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 Graduate Creative Writing: Poetic Forms and Genres - Prof. Marcela Sulak
The Irish poet Evan Boland has described poetic form as “a truth teller and intercessor from history itself, making structures of language, making music of feeling.” 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 present moment. In this class, we will practice using various formal tools to shape feelings and perceptions into music by writing poetry in specific forms, genres and meters. We will also 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. We will put these tools to immediate use in poetry workshop.
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 Writing Seminar: Poetry III - Prof. Linda Zisquit
The Poetry Course is both an intensive reading course, with required readings in American and other English-language poetry, as well as a creative writing workshop, with weekly class exercises and homework assignments. There is a required semester project of immersion in one reputable poet's work, with a final presentation of that poet's poetry and the student's work written "under the influence" of the chosen poet. In addition, a final portfolio of original poetry (10-12 poems) written during the semester is required.
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.
947 Writing Seminar: Creative Prose Workshop - Dr. Lazarre Simckes
If you are willing to try out new approaches and write spontaneously, working either with or against the grain of your talent as storytellers, both finding your voice and disguising it too, allowing yourself to take risks while remaining convincing, and juggling back and forth from inner to outer experience, shifting focus but always taking pains to get the tale told right and uncover buried secrets, this writing workshop is designed for you.
There will be short, in-class writing exercises to serve as springboards for new work and for work in progress.
948 Writing Seminar: Fiction II - 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.
949 Writing Seminar: Fiction I - Dalia Rosenfeld
In this course, students will hone their skills as writers by analyzing a range of short works by notable authors as well as peer works in-progress. A major aim of the course will be to help students develop narrative strategies that will make them better writers, readers, and critics. We will also look to discover the most effective means to engage and sustain readers’ attention. Identifying subject matter that is authentically one's own and a literary vocabulary to present it in compelling ways will be a paramount goal.
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 - Dr. 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.
954 - Creative Nonfiction IV
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.