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2019 Fall Course Offerings

ENGL 654: 20th Century American Literature

Meetings: Tuesday, 5 – 7:30 PM

Professor: Ellen Friedman

The finalists for the U.S. National Book Award in recent years include writers who were born or live in other countries, albeit they have U.S. citizenship.  Is U.S. citizenship all that’s required to be an American writer?  By studying novels written in the 20th and 21st centuries, this class will consider the complications, erosion, alienation, redefinition, and meanings of American identity as depicted by U.S. writers.  Through readings and discussion, it will explore how U.S. writers capture the changing meaning of “America” and its effect on ideas of home, community, and identity. The writers we may consider include Djuna Barnes, John Okada, Louise Erdrich, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Don DeLillo, Ana Menéndez, Nathan Englander, and Paul Bowles.



ENGL 626: Seminar in 18th Century British Literature

Meetings: Thursday, 5 – 7:30 PM

Professor: David Venturo

This course explores developments in English literature from approximately 1700 to 1820.  We will examine the rise of Augustan satire as a radical attack on the principles of seventeenth-century Baroque poetics, philosophy, and politics, with special attention to works by Jonathan Swift, John Gay, and Alexander Pope; trace reactions to Augustan literature in the later eighteenth-century writing of Samuel Johnson and William Blake; and conclude with study of Jane Austen’s Emma and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We will move from the skeptical finitude of the Augustans early in the century to a new poetics of infinitude, vision, and expressionism after 1750, evinced in a shift in interest from the physical to the metaphysical.



ENGL 505: Literary Theory

Meetings: Wednesday, 5 – 7:30 PM

Professor: Harriet Hustis

An introduction to the scholarly methods necessary for graduate work in literature and to the study of theoretical frameworks important to contemporary literary criticism, including formalism, structuralism, Marxism, deconstruction, feminism, post-colonial studies, cultural studies, new historicism, and psychoanalysis. The course exposes students to the primary texts from which those theoretical frameworks are derived and requires students to critique and construct applications of those theories to specific literary texts.



ENGL 670: Slavery and the Black Imagination

Meetings: Monday, 5 – 7:30 PM

Professor: Cassandra Jackson

In her Nobel Lecture, Toni Morrison pointed out that “language could never pin down slavery.” And yet, before this nation was a nation and until now, slavery has been a a profound source for the American literary imagination.  In this course, we will focus on how  20th Century African-American writers, such as Octavia Butler, Gayle Jones, and Colson Whitehead have made slavery the subject of literary art. While our focus will be on the late 20th and early 21st century Neo Slave narrative, we will contextualize these novels with a brief journey through 19th century slave narratives.