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2022 Spring Course Offerings

ENGL597: Kindred Time in U.S. Literature, 1800-1865

Meetings: Mondays 5:00-7:30 pm

Professor David Blake

In his novel Pierre, Herman Melville wondered whether “matters which are kindred in time” have relevance to one another.  When writing history, he asserts, there are two recognized paths: to submit to the “general stream of narrative” or to set down “all contemporaneous circumstances, facts, and events.”  His statement prompts us to consider whether meaning comes from the passage of time or whether, like Thoreau’s God, it culminates in the moment. Inspired by what scholars call the “temporal turn,” this seminar focuses on a diverse group of 19th-century writers in contemplating time as a unit of measurement and meaning in literary studies. Students will conduct a semester-long research project that develops the concept of kindred time across a range of historical and literary archives.



ENGL 550: Seminar in Poetry

Meetings: Tuesday 5:00-7:30 pm

Professor Catie Rosemurgy

This course will explore the contemporary reader’s relationship to poetry in general and to books by a cross section of American poets in particular. What does poetry offer that other forms of media can’t, that other literary texts don’t? What does poetry ask of us as readers and is that work still necessary? In the age of the internet, can the slow, deliberate reading of poetry become an act of resistance?  These are the questions we will start off the semester asking. The focus in this course will be on the reader’s direct experience of the book as we consider poetry’s relationship to place, culture, selfhood, and citizenship.


ENGL 654: Literature and Theories of Water

Meetings: Tuesday 5:00-7:30pm

Instructor Jane Robbins Mize

In the first decades of the twentieth century, North Americans’ relationship to water transformed. The dredging of the Florida Everglades began as early as 1906, altering the landscape of the state. The Los Angeles Aqueduct opened in 1913, draining the Owens Valley to divert water to the growing city of L.A. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 led to the Flood Control Act of 1928, which resulted in the levees that now contain the Mississippi River. As industry developed—and engineers’ control over water bodies tightened—writers turned to fiction and verse to make sense of the socio-political and ecological repercussions.

This course will explore how literature responded to and represented the transforming waterscapes of North America across the twentieth century. We will also turn to recent critical theories of water—including the work of Melody Jue, Tiffany Lethabo King, Astrida Neimanis, and Christina Sharpe—to enrich and inform our readings. As the climate crisis intensifies and drought, flooding, and pollution become more severe, this course asks: How has the cultural imagination of water changed over the last century? And how can literature offer new ways of perceiving, relating to, and caring for water?

ENGL 505:  Literary Theory

Meetings:  Wednesday 5:00-7:30 pm

Professor Felicia Steele

 Students in “Contemporary Literary Theory” will learn the philosophical and ideological foundations of critical theory as used in literary studies and learn how to inhabit the critical positions used by the theorists (and literary critics who depend upon them) that we will read this semester. ENGL 505 is a graduate “reading seminar” rather than a “research seminar.”  In a “reading seminar,” students read copiously from difficult materials that they discuss with their peers and with a faculty member in order to develop a deep understanding of them. Moreover, students learn to practice the skills acquired in such dialogue and to translate their newly acquired verbal skill into writing.


ENGL 597: Seminar in Advanced Literacy Studies

Meetings:  Wednesday 5:00-7:30

Professor Emily Meixner

In this course for English educators we will dive more deeply into reading and writing best practices in secondary ELA teaching. We will pay specific attention to anti-racist as well as culturally and historically responsive instruction by reading the work of Gholdy Muhammad (Cultivating Genius), April Baker-Bell (Linguistic Justice), Felicia Rose Chavez (The Anit-Racist Writing Workshop), and Lorena German (Textured Teaching).  These texts will be paired with middle grade and Young Adult fiction and nonfiction narratives which offer portraits of school injustice as well as possible interventions and solutions. Authors may include Renee Watson, Jason Reynolds, Brittany Morris, Alicia Williams, Kacen Callender, and Dashka Slater, among others. *Students enrolled in this course must be certified teachers.


ENGL624:  Seminar in 17th Century British Literature: A War of Words, 1650-1700

Meetings: Thursday 5:00-7:30

Professor David Venturo

This course explores issues in British literature and culture in the aftermath of two civil wars and the beheading of King Charles I in the 1640s. The extraordinarily rich and diverse literature of the period from 1650 to 1700 reflects powerful divisions and tensions that exploded into warfare and social ferment in the 1640s and ‘50s and led to violent conflict again in 1688. The course offers the opportunity to study the tensions and debates of that perilous and engrossing world as reflected in the remarkable literature of the period. The course centers on the writing of John Milton, Andrew Marvell, John Dryden, Aphra Behn, and Jonathan Swift. Our goal will be to historicize their work, that is, to read it in the context of religious, political, and philosophical debates that shook the times.