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Spring 2024 Course Offerings

ENGL 505-01 Contemporary Literature Theory and Methods
Professor: Steele
Course Meetings: Thursdays 5-7:30pm

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 550-01 Seminar in Poetry
Professor: Rosemurgy
Course Meetings: Tuesdays 5-7:30pm in the Blended Learning Format

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 651-01 U.S. Literature 1800-1865
Professor: Blake
Course Meetings: Mondays 5-7:30pm in the Blended Learning Format

ENGL 651/U.S. Literature, 1800-1865 3 cr. Advanced reading of representative works from the early national, antebellum, and Civil War periods. Potential themes include romantic individualism, race, gender, and print culture, and the problem of democratic nationalism in an era of slavery and settler colonialism.

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.

The temporal turn, however, is more than a useful theoretical paradigm. We will also use it as a call to immerse ourselves in the manuscripts, correspondence, newspapers, and “ephemera” of the period.  Being able to find and make use of disparate resources is an important skill not just for scholars, but for many professionals in the 21st-century workforce.  Students will work across a range of historical and literary archives in preparation for the writing of a final paper.


ENGL 670-01 Studies in Literature: Women Writing the Past: Fiction, and Autobiography
Professor: Ortiz-Vilarelle
Course Meetings: Wednesday 5-7:30pm

This course offers a study of fiction prose and autobiography by women whose work demonstrates the “presence of the past” in late 20th-century life. We will read a sampling of authors who construct and reconstruct their historical, cultural, and genealogical pasts through literature. Attendant theory and criticism will support our interrogation of the myths and legends that have come to be known as “history” and look at the methods, artifacts, and sources each author uses to acquaint readers with imaginative alternatives to official records of the past. We will also study the personal histories of the authors’ lives as well as the lives of lesser-known historical figures “remembered” by the authors.