|5220: Studies in American Literature|
|5300: Medieval Literature|
|5370: Victorian Literature|
|5380: Modern Literature||6300: Introduction to Graduate Studies|
|5390: Post-Colonial Literature|
|5660: Creative Writing Workshop—Fiction|
|5660: Creative Writing Workshop—Nonfiction||6520: Studies in Shakespeare—Tragedy|
|5660: Creative Writing Workshop—Playwriting||6660: Graduate Writing Workshop—Fiction|
|5660: Creative Writing Workshop—Poetry||6660: Graduate Writing Workshop—Poetry|
|5740: Grammar in Teaching Writing||6690: Methods of Teaching College Writing|
|6910: Research and Scholarship in English Education|
English 5220: Studies in American Literature
Jewish American Drama:
From Mordecai Manuel Noah (1820s) to Tony Kushner (the Present)
Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3017 Dr. Steve Feffer
Fulfills: Ph.D. requirement for Non-traditional literature; M.A.-level elective
[A Jewish doctor?… Really? I got a niece in Schenectady who’s single… Oh, a doctor of theatre… never mind.]
In his landmark study Staging the Jew: The Performance of An American Ethnicity, 1860-1920, Harley Erdman writes, “If ethnicity is something that bleeds over boundaries, then much more so is that ethnicity known as Jewishness, the ambiguities and uncertainties of which have frequently characterized a culture through two thousand of years of Diaspora” (6). Certainly these “ambiguities and uncertainties” become apparent when one sets out to characterize Jewish American drama. Is it plays by Jews? Is it plays where the subject is Jewish, but the author may not be? Is it Jewish drama if the author is Jewish, but the “J-word” doesn’t appear in the play, and/or the characters are not Jewish? And, of course, there are all those questions about what constitutes a study of drama, rather than theatre and performance. This new course will attempt to grapple with some of these issues, while beginning to place a broad definition of Jewish American Drama in the context of Jewish and American culture. My hope is that as we consider specific issues related to Judaism and its drama, we might begin to develop an approach that serves us well in considering other ethnicities in their culture contexts.
Our class will begin by considering the melodramas of the early-American period (the 1820s) by Jewish American playwrights such as Mordecai Manuel Noah and Samuel B. H. Judah. We will continue into the 1860s by looking at contemporary and classical plays that feature American approaches to “shylocks and peddlers,” as well as “the rise and fall of the ‘belle juive’”. In the 1880s, we will consider the grotesque ethnic variety performances that give rise to the first wave of Jewish comedians, such as “The Jolly Good Fellow” scenes and plays of the period.
As our attention turns to the 20 th and 21 st century, we will look at such plays and/or playwrights as Israel Zangwill’s The Melting Pot (1908) [a Brit BTW], Aaron Hoffman’sWelcome Stranger (1920), Samson Raphelson’s The Jazz Singer (1925), Elmer Rice, Clifford Odetts, Gertrude Berg, Sylvia Regan’s Morning Star, Arthur Miller, Paddy Chayefsky, Fiddler on the Roof, Wendy Wasserstein, and Tony Kushner, among others.
Additional topics will include the impact of Jewish dramatists and theatre artists on such American institutions as vaudeville, the Yiddish theatre, the Federal Theatre Project, the Broadway musical, and the 1960s American alternative theatre movement, as well as the long, significant relationship between Jewish theatrical producers (“show business,” if you will) and “becoming American.”
Our study will be guided by such secondary texts as the Erdman book cited above, Henry Bial’s Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen, and Julius Novick’s Beyond the Golden Door: Jewish American Drama and Jewish American Experience.
For more information firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Don’t pay retail for this class. I got an Uncle in the business… He’ll get you in wholesale.]
Did medieval people stay in one place? Did they move beyond the city gates, the cloistered abbey, and/or the castle moat? This course focuses on medieval travel narratives and travel compelled by mercantile desire, exploration, crusade, pilgrimage, and the promise of conquest and monetary gain. The Travels of Marco Polo, the Book of John Mandeville, theBook of Margery Kempe, Prester John’s letters, Chaucer’s Squire’s Tale, the Romance of Alexander, selections from the Arabian Nights, Middle English romances, Bevis of Hamptonand Floris and Blancheflour, transport us from Mongolia to Africa, from the Middle East to East Anglia, from otherworlds inhabited by dragon ladies and dog-headed men to familiar realms of pilgrims, pardoners, and plowmen. Literary and literal journeys such as these carry us into the unfamiliar worlds of the medieval imagination to reveal the reciprocal nature of global storytelling. Waldo’s Medieval Travel Writing database, a collection of manuscripts dating from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, will provide additional resources for our study.
This course will provide an introduction to the Victorian period (1837-1901) for both undergraduates seeking a specialized course in British literature and graduate students preparing for doctoral exams. We will investigate the period in its different phases and its preoccupations and ethos. Our focus will range from the early-century concern with social class and the “condition of England” to the mid-century confidence in progress, fascination with science, and anxiety about religious faith to the late-century rebelliousness and pessimism about agency. The reading list is still in progress but will likely include representative Victorians, such as Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Darwin, the Brownings, Christina Rossetti, John Ruskin, Edmund Gosse, Augusta Webster, Amy Levy, Olive Schreiner, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, and Thomas Hardy.
Literature of the early twentieth century is usually dubbed “modern,” an adjective that has come to mean brashly experimental, highly self-reflexive, and notoriously complex in form and style. This course will examine the range of stylistic innovations heralded by modern writers, considering how their writing both reflects and responds to the dramatic cultural and historical changes of the early twentieth century.
Modern literature is a product of exiles, émigrés, and travelers. While we will focus primarily on writers from the British canon, they represent a broad range of national and international contexts. As critic Terry Eagleton once put it, “the seven most significant writers of twentieth-century English literature have been a Pole, three Americans, two Irishmen and an Englishman.” We will focus on most of these authors—Polish-born Joseph Conrad, American expat T.S. Eliot, Irishmen James Joyce and W.B. Yeats, and Englishman D.H. Lawrence. We will also consider works by Virginia Woolf and Samuel Beckett, and perhaps take an American detour with William Faulkner.
All students will be expected to participate actively. Undergrads will write 3 essays. Grad students will lead one discussion, write 3 article reviews, and choose between two short essays or one seminar paper.
For questions, contact Dr. Todd Kuchta at email@example.com.
The colonial, imperial, and neo-colonial domination of the planet Earth by the Western European countries, especially Portugal, Spain, England, Denmark, and France during the last 500 years created the present world system with its dramatic political, economic, and cultural inequalities. Postcolonial studies explores that history emphasizing emerging literature and culture that speak back to European representations of the "other," "primitive," "uncivilized," and "oriental."
While drawing on a wide variety of texts from areas such as Africa, India, and the Caribbean, this class will focus energies on the Modern Middle East. We will consider Edward Said's work in Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism, and other theorists such as Fanon, Bhabha, and Spivak. We will look at contemporary Middle Eastern literature in translation, seeking to understand responses to on-going orientalist discourse about Islam, "terrorism," Arabs, Turks, and Iranians. We will consider the role of women, issues of social, class, and linguistic difference, and the current renaissance of Middle Eastern literature. We will consider the role of the United States in the Middle East, the history and consequence of American military and political incursions, including the on-going wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.
Along with literary works we will look at historical materials, imagery, film, news reports, and YouTube. We will have a diversity of speakers and activities. Students will create interconnected academic blogs, collaboratively participate in developing a book about teaching Middle Eastern literature, and, individually and in groups, explore related topics of their own interest. This course will be absolutely up-to-date, engaging us in rethinking some of the most pressing political and cultural issues of our time.
This course, which can be repeated for credit, is the most advanced fiction writing workshop that undergraduate English majors and minors with a creative writing emphasis can take. It is also open to graduate students in creative writing. Each member of the workshop will present at least two stories (or excerpts of longer works) over the course of the semester. In addition the class will read together short fiction by a number of contemporary authors, including those who will be visiting WMU in the fall; and there will be many short creative assignments based on these readings, each stressing some aspect of fictional technique.
If a cop jokes with a partner that their suspect is “getting creative with the truth,” he or she is saying that the person is lying. When we say the same of a politician, we are judging that individual to be dissembling, which is a kind of sophisticated duplicity wherein a grain of truth distracts from a field of deceptions.
We will explore what may be legitimately “creative” in creative nonfiction. We will note that the term arguably includes everything from prose reportage to “confessional” poetry, and that though the term is relatively new, the genre reaches back to the beginning of recorded history, even to prehistoric pictorial expression.
A good workshop is a seamless conversation about important ideas, and an opportunity to sharpen fundamental editing and critical skills. It must also be fun, a form of “play for mortal stakes,” as Robert Frost famously dubbed the creative process.
Whether you fancy yourself a poet, a fiction writer, a playwright, a scholar, a journalist or any combination thereof, this course will have something to offer you.
English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop—Playwriting
Writing and Performing the One Person Play or Performance
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00 - 4:50; Brown 1119
Dr. Steve Feffer
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement
This semester's English 5660 Advanced Playwriting Workshop is a special team-taught cross-listed collaboration between playwriting professor Steve Feffer in the English Department and acting professor Jim Daniels in the Theatre Department. This unique opportunity will explore the writing, developing and performing of one person plays or solo performance pieces.
The course will consider the one person play or solo performance piece in its multiplicity of forms, including the autobiographical monologue, such as those by Spalding Gray and Tim Miller; multi-character pieces with one actor, such as those by Eric Begosian and Danny Hoch; docudramas, biographical stories, or non-fiction plays, such as those by Anna Deavere Smith and Emily Mann; plays for one actor such as those by Sam Shepard and Terrence McNally; and performance poems and lyrics, such as those by hip-hop theatre artist Will Power.
During the first half of the course students will develop their performance texts through writing exercises and workshops, as well as acting and performance prompts; in the second half of the class, the focus will be on the performance of the solo pieces, while the text is shaped and dramaturged. This class presents an exciting opportunity for writers of all genres to see how their work might be transferred or translated to the stage in a form of performance.
See course catalog or contact instructor.
English 5740: Grammar in Teaching Writing
Mondays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 3045
Dr. Jonathan Bush
Fulfills: Ph.D. prerequisite requirement for English language course; fulfills M.A. in English with an emphasis in teaching language requirement; M.A.-level elective
This course integrates key concepts of teaching grammar into the 'best practices' of teaching writing. Grammar, as we talk about it, includes language skills for writers of all levels as well as key issues and areas of correction within writing. The course itself is a not a grammar study course. The focus is on pedagogical applications as we explore the best ways to approach grammar within and beyond our students' writing processes.
See course catalog or contact instructor.
English 5970: Studies in English
Language in the African-American Community
Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3045
Dr. Lisa Minnick
Fulfills: Ph.D. requirement for English Language or Linguistics Course; M.A.-level elective
African American English is often described as “incorrect grammar,” “slang,” or “broken English.” It is in fact none of these things but is, rather, a rule-governed, productive, and thriving means of expression with a rich history and complex structure.
English 5970: Language in the African-American Community explores the linguistic structure, generative rules, and historical development of the set of varieties known collectively as African American English (AAE), varieties that meet the communicative, cultural, expressive, and creative needs of millions of speakers.
This course will consider AAE in public, private, literary, and media discourse as well as in educational contexts, along with the social, cultural, and political issues surrounding its use. We will also analyze popularly held beliefs, attitudes, myths, and misconceptions about AAE and its linguistic success into the 21st century, success that is perhaps surprising in the face of unrelenting and institutionalized stigmatization.
Language in the African-American Community may be of particular interest to students interested in linguistics, literary stylistics, American and African American literature, and African American language and culture. Pre- and in-service teachers interested in social justice are also invited, as are creative writers interested in the opportunities, challenges, and problems associated with attempts to represent authentic speech in their own work.
Find out why this linguistically complex, historically significant means of expression, which James Baldwin described as "this passion, this skill, ... this incredible music,” is the most widely studied variety of American English, and the most controversial.
This course assumes no previous study in linguistics but includes substantial linguistic instruction and content, so interest in linguistics or at least curiosity about it is strongly recommended.
The ancient Silk Road was an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, West and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. The so-called Silk Road was not only a series of conduits of cultural and material goods, but was also very important for the transmission of local legends, epics, folklore, poetry, and music, linking the storytellers, ballads, and the singers of tales from the disparate steppes of Central Asia to the banks of the legendary Euphrates, Tigris, and Nile rivers, to the deserts of the ancient Iran, Azerbaijan, Anatolia, Arabia, and Egypt, and to the shores of the Caspian Sea, the Mediterranean and beyond.
In this course students will explore the sources of our affinity with the people who lived in disparate parts of the Silk Road and examine how the interplay of language, folklore, literature, music and poetry shape the historical experiences and identities of people. In the world of the Silk Road, what assuaged the pain and suffering of people were the stories, the myths, and the imaginary worlds of the ancient storytellers. In reading the accounts of these storytellers, the students will enter into their magical worlds and experience the magical truth of storytelling as well as the magic of the words.
In every age, the Silk Road has produced its master storytellers who have moved tradition into new dispensations through the magic of words. They have exerted their influence on the present, giving it a mythic image in a traditional context. The genius of these ancient storytellers can be traced in the traditional genres of the popular ballad and in the art forms of contemporary master storytellers and poets. In the work of these storytellers new myths arise from and intertwine with the old to create unique and inventive new worlds. Drawing from the contemporary folklore and literary theories, this course historicizes and conceptualizes cultural and social contexts that produced the verbal art forms of the Silk Road.
To introduce students to the current folklore and literary theories and to discuss and assess their various relationship to the contemporary ethnomuicalogy, oral and literary forms.
To discuss the past and contemporary issues in the world of the nomads of steppes and the deserts of the Silk Road.
To develop and enhance students’ research skills in the field of oral and literary traditions, poetry and ethnomusicalogy.
Two 10-15 minute oral presentation on a topic and assigned reading to be determined by the student in consultation with the professor.
A 1-2 page abstract of a research project, with an annotated bibliography of 5 scholarly items (books or a combination of books and substantive articles) must be appended. Annotations should not exceed one or two paragraphs each
A 10-15 page research paper on a topic consonant with course content and objectives.
Four one page position essays, reacting to assigned readings.
SOME REQUIRED TEXTS
Cherry Gilchrist and Niles Mistry, Stories From the Silk Road
Thomas Gustav Winner, The Oral Art and Literature of the Kazakhs of Russian Central Asia
Abolgasem Ferdowsi, Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings
Faruk Sumer, Ahmet Uysal, and Geoffrey Lewis, The Book of Dede Korkut: A Turkish Epic
Muhsin al-Musawi, The Arabian Nights
Ilhan Basgoz, Hikaye: Turkish Folk Romance as Performance Art
SELECTED READINGS ON THEORY
Harold Sheub, Poem in the Story
Alan Dundes, The Study of Folklore
V. Propp, Morphology of the Folktale
M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination
To say that a piece of writing is “lyrical” is to suggest, among other things, that it shares qualities with song, but not any song. We don’t usually, for example, conceive hard or punk rock songs as lyrical. Both are anti-lyrical genres of popular music. That which is lyrical, over the centuries to the present, has been conceived more often than not as pretty or beautiful in some classical sense. The ideal of lyric, I submit, is what Longinus dubbed the sublime.
Lyric poetry is the gold standard of lyrical composition, and when we call an essay, story, novel, even a work of scholarship, lyrical we are suggesting that, like lyric poetry, it achieves a sublimity that we associate with beautiful songs. More often than not, such songs, such lyric discourses, are in the first person.
We will explore the lyric “I” across genres, from classically lyrical poetry to its Romantic, Modernist and Postmodernist manifestations; from dramatic soliloquies to personal essays; from short prose fiction and novels to prose poems and “flash” fiction. We will note, as well, that some of the best scholarly compositions aspire to and achieve what we may call lyric intensity.
Students will write two one or two paragraphs every week and take midterm and final exams.
English 6300, Introduction to Graduate Studies, prepares you to conduct advanced research in English, to recognize the conventions that govern such study, and to continue the process of refining your academic prose. We’ll begin the semester in a workshop format, as you and your classmates present examples of your academic writing, so that you can develop a manageable set of writing goals. Next, we’ll tour Waldo Library, where you’ll conduct research for a bibliographic essay, an assignment designed to increase your knowledge about an area of English studies that interests you. Then, you’ll write a book review—a genre that often represents a student’s first foray into academic publishing. For at least one class period, you’ll participate in a department-wide initiative, English 2000, designed to introduce undergraduate students to key ideas and approaches in the field of English studies. Finally, you’ll learn about professional development resources that will help guide your career in academia.
English 6400: The Nature of Poetry
Mondays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3048
Dr. Elizabeth Bradburn
Fulfills: Ph.D.-level prerequisite requirement in genre specific course; M.A. prerequisite requirement; for M.F.A. candidates - can serve as forms course requirement for secondary genre; for M.A. in English with an emphasis in teaching students--can serve as an elective
In this course we will read and discuss selected poetry of the sixteenth, seventeenth and late twentieth centuries. We’ll have a chance to explore the relationship between lyric and narrative modes, the influence of Renaissance writers on contemporary poets, and expressions of sexuality and spirituality in verse. First, we’ll establish our sense of the lyric voice and its relation to poetic form by considering the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop.
Next we will read four influential poetic works of the English Renaissance. Sonnet sequences by Philip Sidney and William Shakespeare will begin our conversation about the expression of desire and the extension of the lyric voice into narrative shapes. George Herbert’s The Temple will allow us to consider the language of spiritual, as distinct from erotic, desire and to see how a collection of lyrics may make use of non-narrative sequence. John Milton’s Paradise Lost, which we will read over three weeks, will conclude our look at the Renaissance and begin our examination of narrative verse.
After discussing Paradise Lost, we will move to a twentieth century epic poem, Derek Walcott’s Omeros, followed by Vikram Seth’s verse novel The Golden Gate. Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons, a narrative sonnet sequence by Marilyn Hacker, leads us back to a consideration of the relationship between lyric and narrative, as well as that between the Renaissance and the present. Louise Glück’s The Wild Iris, our next reading, links thematically to Paradise Lost and shows the influence of Herbert, as does the poetry of Bishop. At the end of the course, therefore, we will return to Elizabeth Bishop, taking into account Hacker’s queer sonnet sequence to consider the much debated question of queer sexuality in Bishop’s poetry. Some selected poems by Adrienne Rich and John Ashbery will round out this conversation. Requirements include thorough preparation for class discussions, one oral presentation on an issue in literary criticism, and a long (20 pp.) seminar paper.
Students unfamiliar with Paradise Lost may wish to do an initial reading over the summer. There will be a reading assignment for the first class, to be sent by email to registered students in August. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
English 6440: Studies in the Novel
Wednesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4003
Dr. Jil Larson
Fulfills: Ph.D.-level prerequisite requirement in genre specific course; M.A. elective; for M.F.A. candidates--can serve as forms course requirement for secondary genre; for M.A. in English with an emphasis in teaching students–can serve as an elective
In this seminar we will study the novel as a genre, with some attention to narrative theory. In contrast to a strictly chronological approach that traces a history of the novel, our approach will consider different kinds of novels and novelistic methods. The reading list is still in progress but will most likely include novels by some of the following: Flaubert, James, Dostoevsky, Woolf, Faulkner, Kafka, Greene, Calvino, Gordimer, Atwood, Ishiguro, Winterson.
In this seminar, we will read most of Shakespeare’s plays typically classified as tragedies, along with one history play (Richard III) referred to as a tragedy on the title page of its earliest quarto edition. The intensive study of a single playwright provides an opportunity for reading in depth, both in the drama and in the history of thought about that drama.
We will read the plays mostly in chronological order (to the extent that an order has been reconstructed by scholars), which may give us a progressive sense of the development of Shakespeare as a tragedian. As we do so, we will investigate the nature of the genre, the language of the plays, their social and historical contexts, and the ways early modern scripts can function as guides to performance. We will also discuss a number of issues present in the drama involving identity, family and generational succession, marriage and sexuality, race, and politics. In some class meetings, we will view clips from film versions of the plays, in the interest of comparing a director’s or actor’s interpretation of a given scene with our own and those of other critics.
Required books are any recently published scholarly edition of Shakespeare’s works and the anthology Shakespeare’s Tragedies: A Guide to Criticism, edited by Emma Smith (Blackwell, 2003). The Norton Shakespeare: Tragedies, 2 nd edition, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, and Smith’s volume will be on sale in the campus bookstore.
A workshop in writing short stories. Each student will present at least two short stories in class, and we will read one single-author story collection to discuss issues of craft. Literary fiction only, no genre work, i.e., science fiction, fantasy, detective fiction, horror, romance, young adult fiction, children's literature, etc. Our aim will be to transcend formulas and strive for invention in narrative, language, and structure.
See course catalog or contact instructor.
Participants in this course will learn and share strategies for teaching first-year composition. We will consider a range of theoretical frameworks and practical strategies for college composition courses. Writing and research for this course will center on building a personal teaching philosophy and a set of usable strategies and plans for future teaching situations. Course activities will include reading responses, presentations, classroom assessments, and the creation of lesson plans and a teaching portfolio. In the fall of 2008, the class participants will also be working to create multimedia research narratives for use as teaching tools in first year writing courses. Instructors who are teaching college-level writing are the primary audience for this course, but any individual interested in college-level writing courses (whether currently teaching or not) is welcome.
English 6910: Research and Scholarship in English Education
Wednesdays, 5:30 - 8:00; Brown 3045
Dr. Ellen Brinkley
Fulfills: Ph.D. English Education and M.A. in English with an emphasis in teaching requirement
Many high school, middle school, and college English teachers today are learning to “live the questions” as they conduct classroom and academic research to inform their teaching. They are growing into new leadership roles as they share their findings with other teachers, lead sessions at professional conferences, and submit their work for publication. In English 6910 we will read selected research studies that led to new understandings about what constitutes best teaching practices related to writing, reading, literature, and language. We’ll develop and refine research questions and conduct classroom and/or academic research. Ultimately, we’ll present our findings in a written paper or article that can be submitted for publication, developed into a curriculum plan, and/or presented at a professional conference. For more information, contact Dr. Ellen Brinkley (387-2581,email@example.com).
Note: Readers should consider all course descriptions and booklists to be tentative and are encouraged to confirm all times and locations before attending class.