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2020 Fall Course Offerings

ENGL 544: Seminar in Language and Culture

Meetings: Thursdays,5:00-7:30pm

Professor: Felicia Steele

A Clockwork Orange to Trainspotting: Language in Narrative

In their introduction to the “Anthropocene” as a distinct literary period, Alexandra Nikoleris, Johannes Stripple, and Paul Tenngart claim that “Literary fiction invents worlds in which both fundamental conditions and detailed elements are made up in order to tell a story with symbolical significance.” Some fiction writers are not content simply to invent worlds; they are also compelled to invent languages. This course will use the critical framework set out by the Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin to explore the tension between invented languages and national languages in fiction from the last 100 years. The novel, as a form, manipulates heteroglossia–the mixing of literary languages and the contest between “the completed, dominant literary language and the extraliterary languages that know heteroglossia.” This course will examine novels that exemplify and maximize the techniques suggested by Bakhtin’s theories while contemplating the responses of readers, critics, and theorists to these novels. In addition to foundational texts in narrative theory, we will read a number of novels that demonstrate the ways that writers bend and invent language to express a specific “symbolical significance”: Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange; Paul Kingsworth, The Wake; Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing; Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire; Suzette Haden Elgin, Native Tongue; and Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting.


ENGL 597: Partition and the Contemporary Novel

Meetings: Mondays, 5:00-7:30pm

Professor: Mindi McMann

This graduate seminar explores the role partition in the postcolonial world has played in nation-building, focusing on literature from India, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, and Northern Ireland. Protracted conflict tied to ethnic nationalism and religious sectarianism have has often followed in the wake of partition. The consequences of this violence can be seen in the literature produced. Building on a theoretical foundation of partition studies, postcolonialism, and cosmopolitanism, this course will examine how literature shapes our understanding of partition, the violence it often inspires, and the attempts, often failed, at reconciliation. We will consider the ways in which literature supplements and/or challenges the accepted narratives of partition and reconciliation that have emerged in the wake of decolonization. We will be reading authors such as Anna Burns, Sayed Kashua, Amos Oz, and Salman Rushdie, among others.


ENGL 554: Asian American Literature

Meetings: Tuesdays, 5:00-7:30pm

Professor: Harriet Hustis

This course will examine the intersections of literary history & identity (gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity) in Asian American literature of the 20th and 21st centuries. We will examine how literary texts, histories and traditions are “translated” for American audiences, how significant historical events are written (and rewritten), and how works of European & American literature are resisted and reimagined by, among others, Jade Snow Wong, Frank Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Louis Chu, Toshio Mori, John Okada, Joy Kogawa, lê thi diem thúy, and Carlos Bulosan.


ENGL 670: Women and the Holocaust

Meetings: Wednesdays, 5:00 to 7:30pm

Professor: Ellen Friedman

This class will consider all aspects of women and the Holocaust: victims, survivors, perpetrators. The class will explore visual and textual representations, memoirs, testimonies historical narratives, and scholarship. It will look at Nazi policies, laws, practices, and propaganda regarding gender and sexuality. Students will engage in a project that compares representations of women and the Holocaust to representations of women and another 20th-century genocide or conflict.