Instructor: Kathryn Shevelow

This survey course concerns approximately 170 years of literature, written in the British Isles from the Restoration period that began in 1660 through the Romantic period in the early 19th century.  This was a time of profound change on all levels:  political, economic, social, and aesthetic.  Changes included the growth of industrialization and imperial expansion; the growing power of the middle classes; changes in thinking about gender; revolution (the American, the French, and the Haitian); radicalism and political backlash; the growth of evangelicalism; and the rise of reform movements such as abolition, Catholic emancipation, women’s rights, and animal protection.  For the literary world, this was a time of the growth of the publishing industry; battles between “high” and “low” culture; the development of a new genre that came to be called the novel; and the emergence of professional women writers.  This course will examine representative literary texts in the context of these and other historical developments.

Literacy and Identity
Instructor: Nicole Tonkovich

During this class we will throw into question every one of the terms of this course’s generic name. We will ask what we might mean by American literature in an era well before the United States fully constituted itself as a nation. We will ask what constitutes literature, and what limits might be imposed if we think of literature only as alphabetic symbols on paper. We will ask what other forms of cultural representation might be considered as literature, and we will examine how expanding that notion might also expand our understanding of the peoples understood to be American. We will probe the idea of beginnings by reading a number of origin narratives: for example, we will compare a Native origin narrative with one written by a white Puritan settler-colonialist. And finally, we will consider why we take the dates of wars (in this case, the Civil War, which ended in 1865) as a useful way to mark literary periodization. What we will read: My aim is to introduce you to a variety of genres: oral narratives (sermons, stories), drama, poetry, narrative fiction, and non-fiction among them. We will discuss the purposes of those genres and will review methods of analyzing them. What you will write: You will write several short papers based on outside research, done both in the library and in electronic sources. You will also write a longer final paper that concerns the problem of what readings should be included in a literary survey class. To encourage you to keep current with your reading assignments, I give regular quizzes.

The Movement, Arrest, and Articulation of an Identity in US Culture
Instructor: John Blanco

ABC, FOB, LCV, desi, Hapa, Flip, Jap, gook, towel-head, Oriental, yellow, chinita, LBFM, Bruce, chingchong – the list of tags is by no means exhaustive. But it gives a sense of the many ways one codifies or becomes codified in a complex system of identification, recognition, violence, sexuality, and movement – across geopolitical boundaries and oceans, as well as across generations (Issei, Nisei, Sansei, for example, or Pinoy vs. Fil-Am). In this matrix of meaning, Asian immigrants and American citizens become targets of state policies, market data research, and cultural stereotypes. But they also come to reflect and act upon their present circumstances as individuals and collectivities, participating in the invention of new communities, trans-oceanic and transcultural solidarities, new directions of social movement, and redefinitions of globalization. Who called these people Asian American? By what right or authority? To what end or interest? And what would that mean for us today?

This introductory course focuses on the study of literature by Asian immigrants and so-called Asian Americans, as expressions of the racialized histories of groups immigrating from origins ranging from China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, to South and Southeast Asia.  Novels, short fiction, and films will be our media for studying the concept and historical emergence of a US racial minority defined by presumed national origins, immigration, citizenship / non-citizenship, and its relationship to other historically underrepresented minority groups.  The scope of our investigation encompasses the period between the late 19th-century and post-1965 immigrations, displacements by U.S. wars in Asia, the loss of ‘culture’ and the invention of ‘tradition,’ the spatiality of ethnic enclaves and suburbia, and gender roles and relations in immigrant communities.

This course contributes to the lower-division requirement for Literature majors in Cultural Studies (LTCS), English (LTEN), Literatures of the World (LTWL), and Writing (LTWR). For students majoring in fields outside Literature, consult with your advisor regarding whether this course may satisfy a requirement or elective in your field of study.

Performing Stand-up Comedy
Instructor: Camille Forbes

Students will study comics, review and create material, and finally, perform a 3-minute set of original material before an audience (size of audience to be determined).

The Canterbury Tales
Instructor: Lisa Lampert-Weissig

In this course we will read a large portion of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The course will attempt to situate Chaucer’s work within historical, cultural and literary contexts, with special attention paid to issues of gender and sexuality and how they inflect Chaucer’s poetics and politics. All readings will be in the original Middle English and students will be required to learn how to read Middle English aloud. Please bring required text, Jill Mann’s Penguin edition of The Canterbury Tales (ISBN: 978-0140422344), to the first class as we will begin with an intensive focus on Chaucer’s language.

Gender/Sex, Restoration Drama
Instructor: Jason Farr

In this class, we will explore English drama written and performed between the years 1660-1740, and we will pay close attention to how these plays depict—and simultaneously shape—social codes of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality. We will read (and in some cases, watch filmed footage of) some of the era’s best-known plays such as “The Country Wife,” “The Man of Mode,” and “The Rover.” We will also read the poetry of the sexually-explicit libertine John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, as well as the poetry and drama of an often-overlooked, innovative woman writer, Margaret Cavendish. Class discussion and research papers will be grounded in questions such as, how does the Restoration English stage negotiate gender norms and sexual relations through its stock characterization of aristocratic men and women, and how do these representations shift in the early 18th century? How do normative and non-normative genders play out on stage, and how can these performances enhance our understanding of contemporary English politics and class dynamics? In what ways do our present conceptualizations of sex and gender, including labels such as “homosexual,” “bisexual,” and “transgender,” differ from those of the Restoration and early 18th century? What kind of impact does the poetry of the era have on theatrical production, and vice-versa? How and why does the novel come to supplant the theatre as the most popular 18th-century cultural form? We may also discuss our readings’ portrayals of colonialism, empire, race, and disability inasmuch as they intersect with the course’s primary themes of gender and sexuality.

Wordsworth, Coleridge, & Revolution
Instructor: Fred Randel

William Wordsworth is widely considered the greatest English poet since Milton, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, his friend, collaborator, and rival, is generally regarded as perhaps the most eminent example in English of a major poet who was also a great literary and philosophical critic. They came of age just as the French Revolution erupted, and both of them were early supporters, and eventual critics, of it. Their major writing often wrestles with the meaning of that revolution, of the ideals of liberty and equality which it sought to put into practice, and of the terror which became one of its most discussed features. “Revolution” is also an apt name for the striking innovations--still influential today-- that they introduced into poetry and for the new kinds of ecological thinking which have made Wordsworth a seminal figure of modern environmentalism. Both men likewise experimented with new ways to reconcile some form of deeply experienced religion with the skepticism, distrust of traditional institutions, and immersion in materiality widespread in Europe after the Enlightenment. Both produced some of the English language’s most haunting and meaningful poetry. This course will aim to assist students to become more discerning and appreciative readers of poetry in general and of these two poets in particular. It will seek to show, through close analysis and attention to relevant historical contexts, why Wordsworth and Coleridge matter.

Captivity Narratives
Instructor: Nicole Tonkovich

This course fulfills the Literature Department’s C requirement. Captivity narratives were America's first best-sellers and performed an important ideological function in nation-building. In this course, we will survey this quasi- sensational genre, and expand our understandings of the objects, uses, and outcomes of captivity, beginning with its classic colonial-era figuration. Although the white woman taken by Indians is the topic of many such narratives, we will begin our work by reading about Natives--including Squanto and Pocahontas--who were captured by Euro-Americans. Throughout this course we will consider subsequent captivity narratives in a similarly comparative framework. The class is organized chronologically so that we may see how the genre changes over time. We will see that ideas of captivity have undergirded government policy toward Native nations by reading about reservation policy, boarding schools, and prison narratives. Along the way we will pair readings from the early historical periods with literary retellings penned by contemporary Native authors.

Instructor: Michael Davidson

This course will offer a survey of postwar U.S. poetry with a sustained focus on changing ideas of the material text, 1945-2013. With the recent advent of language-writing, conceptual, procedural, digital, stand-up, Deaf, flarf, and other new poetries, the idea of the poetic “text” and the “voice” for which it is the score has come under intense scrutiny–or dismissal. We will begin by studying the various ways that a certain formal model was perfected in the period immediately following the war, influenced by the New Criticism in literary studies and consensus ideology in intellectual life. We will then study the gradual emergence of an expressive poetics in the 1950s and 1960s–marked by Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and the Confessionalism of Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath--that coincides with new social movements (anti-War, Civil Rights, feminism) and cold war geo-politics. Projective Verse, “personism,” immanence and “field theory” dominate the neo-romantic poetics of this period. In the latter third of the course we will bring things up to date by looking at more recent experiments that challenge the status of the expressive subject and the identity politics that formed around it.

Literary Responses to Trauma
Instructor: Lisa Lampert-Weissig

In her acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Toni Morrison said “Language can never 'pin down' slavery, genocide, war. Nor should it yearn for the arrogance to be able to do so. Its force, its felicity, is in its reach toward the ineffable.” Despite the impossibility of “pinning down” slavery, genocide and war through language, writers have, nevertheless tried to convey the impact of atrocity, of collective trauma on groups and on individuals. In this course students will read literary responses to war, genocide and slavery by individuals from several ethnic groups in the U.S.: African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans and Native Americans. I have chosen the U.S. works below because they are each explorations of responses to collective trauma as it impacts the individual and family across generations. These works represent experiences of those who are native to the U.S., those who immigrated here either willingly or as refugees and those who were brought here forcibly. Each work engages with the experience of the ethnic group within the larger frame of the “American experience.” Another striking thing that the works covered in the course all share is their engagement with some form of the otherworldly, either through representation of the supernatural, the use of “magic realism” or, in the case of Octavia Butler’s science fiction novel about slavery, Kindred, exploration of time travel. A focus on the fantastic, magic realism and experimental form will unite our readings and explorations. We will specifically consider the ways in which the authors we examine use literary form and the fantastic to attempt to convey extreme experiences both in the past and in the present day and how these literary choices affect the reader. Some of the readings planned are: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Enemies, a Love Story (1972), Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979); Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine (1988); Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987); Art Spiegelman, Maus I and II (1991); Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated (2002); lê thi diem thúy, The Gangster We are All Looking For (2003); secondary readings on magical realism, collective memory and the fantastic.

Black (Anti)Prison Sounds
Instructor: Dennis Childs

In this class we will examine narratives of the formerly enslaved (i.e. of the antebellum period) and those of modern prisoners and former prisoners in order to examine the way captive narration interrogates liberal tenets such as “progress,” “freedom,” “citizenship,” and “democracy.” Some questions of concern will be: What are the connecting links between the slave narrative and the prison narrative? What do the aesthetic, political, and legal connections between both narrative forms reveal about the nation state and the position of racial others in (or outside of) the body politic? Why do prison narratives repeatedly invoke the antebellum period (slavery) in reference to supposedly post-slavery moments? What institutional, social, and cultural apparatuses inform the current status of the US as the most incarcerating nation in the history of humankind? How do social structures such as capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and homophobia inform strategies of criminalization across different time-periods? Even with the narratives that we read that reach back to the nineteenth century we will attempt to read texts as a “history of the present”--i.e. we will be concerned about how narratives of slavery and imprisonment shed light on the current prison industrial complex, a system that now incarcerates well over 2.5 million people both domestically and globally. Our readings of captive narratives will be supplemented by analysis of alternative cultural forms—e.g. chain gang songs, blues, and hip-hop—that have been used by the enslaved and the incarcerated to give expression to (and protest against) the experience of racialized, gendered, and class-based incarceration.