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Spring 2020

ENGL 610: Chaucer

Meetings: Monday, 5 – 7:30 PM

Professor: Glenn Steinberg

In this course, we read the entire Canterbury Tales in its original Middle English. As we read each tale, we examine current scholarly discussion about it, reading criticism by some of the most interesting and influential Chaucer scholars of the last thirty years or so. Our goal in the course, besides the straightforward enjoyment of Chaucer’s wit and artistry, is to familiarize ourselves with (and to situate ourselves within) the existing critical dialogue about Chaucer’s tales.  Chaucer is an author who has traditionally been viewed as universal and timeless.  As John Dryden wrote in 1700, Chaucer give us “God’s Plenty. We have our Fore-fathers and Great Grand-dames all before us, as they were in Chaucer’s Days; their general Characters are still remaining in Mankind, and even in England, though they are call’d by other Names than those of Moncks, and Fryars, and Chanons, and Lady Abbesses, and Nuns: For Mankind is ever the same, and nothing lost out of Nature, though every thing is alter’d.”  But such a view of Chaucer sterilizes the poet, disengaging him from the vital issues and concerns of his own time period.  Contrary to the traditional, universalizing reading of Chaucer, most current Chaucer scholars are interested in restoring the liveliness of England’s greatest medieval poet by relating him to his own very vibrant, exciting, and chaotic time.


ENGL 670: Contemporary Dystopia and Utopia

Meetings: Tuesday, 5 – 7:30 PM

Professor: Jean Graham

Margaret Atwood defines dystopia/utopia as a genre based on “blueprints of concocted societies . . . either ‘this is where you do not wish to live’ or ‘maybe things would be better this way.’” Whether the novel is Atwood’s own The Handmaid’s Tale or Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, this genre is written by idealists critiquing their own societies and offering suggestions for a better way.  We will start with several utopias from the 1970s, such as Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and Joanna Russ’s The Female Man, and work our way forward to some of the latest dystopias.


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 550: Seminar in Poetry

Meetings: TBA

Professor: Laura Neuman