Fall 2012 Graduate Course Listings

Fall 2012 Graduate Course Listings

Fall 2012 Graduate Courses


Reminder about Registration Procedures:

Please keep in mind that we will register you in the order in which you submit your course requests to us. If there is a course you must take, send in your request as soon as possible.

  • Dr. Kuchta or Dr. Adams can begin registering you on March 12, 2012 
  • All English graduate students will receive a registration reminder via e-mail. Send your registration request to english-graduate@wmich.edu. Please recall that priority registration will be give to students whose request includes their WIN# and the coruse CRN#s for which they intend to register. Including this information expedites the process for us. 
  • If you need advising about your course choices or program requirements, stop by 621 Sprau. Spring advising hours are Mondays 1:00-4:30; Tuesdays 1:00-3:30; Wednesdays 2-4; and, Thursdays 2-4.
  • If there is a course you must take, send in your request as soon as possible


English 5300: Medieval Literature English 6110: Literary Forms - Forms of Poetry
English 5360: Romantic Literature English 6220: Studies in American Literature - U.S. Serial Novel
English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction English 6400: The Nature of Poetry
English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction English 6660: Creative Writing Workshop, Poetry
English 5670: Creative Writing Workshop, Poetry English 6660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction
English 5680: Creative Writing Workshop, Playwriting English 6690: Methods of Teaching College Writing
English 5970: Studies in English, Variable Topics - Slavery and the American Literary Imagination English 6760: Old English
English 6100: Seminar - Narrative Theory English 6910: Research and Scholarship in English Education


English 5300: Medieval Literature

Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4035
Dr. Eve Salisbury
Fulfills: Ph.D. Distribution requirement for medieval literature; M.A.-level elective

Since the publication of J. L. Austin’s How to Do Things with Words (1962), the concept of performativity has developed and changed over the years, becoming ever more expansive in its implications for language use, gender identity, and transformative potentialities of various sorts. Medieval scholars whose study of this phenomenon in relation to oral/aural narratives, their transposition to written documents, and the transmission of new ideas, ideologies, legal principles, and some of the most significant concerns of everyday life have contributed significantly to the ways in which performativity may be understood. From matters of war and woe to questions of love and marriage to constructions of safe havens and pleasure zones, many of the works we study in this course reveal an indomitable premodern desire for imaginative expression. Some narratives retain the bawdy comedy and edgy humor of folk tale; some envision phantasmatic and utopian/dystopian otherworlds; others have been shaped by the writing conventions of the time into sonorous and poignant works of art. Whether read in Middle English or modern translation, all the works studied in this course are provocative and pleasure-producing in some way.

Required Texts [listed in order of use]:
The Lais of Marie de France: New Edition, trans. Glyn Burgess (New York: Penguin, 1999).
Middle English Breton Lays, ed. Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1995).
Hildegard of Bingen: Selected Writings, ed. Mark Atherton (New York: Penguin)
Abelard & Heloise: The Letters and Other Writings, trans. William Levitan (New York: Hackett, 2007).
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. and trans. Marie Boroff (New York: Norton, 1967).
Sir Gawain: Eleven Romances and Tales, ed. Thomas Hahn (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000).
Pearl, ed. Sarah Stanbury (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2001).
John Gower, Confessio Amantis, vol. 1, 2nd edition, ed. Russell A. Peck (Kalamazoo: Medieval Publications, 2000).
Christine de Pizan. The Book of the City of Ladies, trans. Earl Jeffrey Richards (New York: Persea, 1982).
Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, trans. Guido Waldman (Oxford: Oxford World Classics, 1993).
Select Lyrics (handout)

Supplemental Critical Texts (on reserve):
Mark Amodio, ed. Writing the Oral Tradition: Oral Poetics and Literate Culture in Medieval England.
------. Oral Poetics in Middle English Poetry.
Richard Bauman, Verbal Art as Performance.
Nancy Mason Bradbury, Writing Aloud: Storytelling in Late Medieval England.
------. “Traditional Referentiality: The Aesthetic Power of Oral Traditional Structures,” in Teaching Oral Traditions, ed. John Miles Foley.
John Miles Foley, ed. Teaching Oral Traditions
Elina Gertsman, ed. Visualizing Medieval Performance: Perspectives, Histories, Contexts.
Leslie Stratyner, “The Middle English Romance and the Alliterative Tradition,” in Teaching Oral Traditions, ed. John Miles Foley.
Evelyn Vitz, Orality in Performance in Early French Romance.

English 5360: Romantic Literature

Thursdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Dunbar 4201
Dr. Christopher MacLean Nagle
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for 19th C. Brit Lit; M.A.-level literature elective

This fresh incarnation of the department’s core Romanticism course spans the broad range of rich literary offerings produced in Britain from approximately 1780-1830 and will feature the use of electronic resources as part of a non-traditional exploration of a traditional literary period. We will encounter a broad survey of diverse readings from across the genres of British Romanticism—poetry, prose fiction, essays, life-writing, and the visual art created to illustrate some of these literary texts—representing the contributions of both canonical and non-canonical figures. All of the canonical "Big 6" male poets will be present (Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats) as well as the essential voices of women writers such as Charlotte Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft, Hannah More, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Tighe, Sydney Owenson, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, and Felicia Hemans.  Ideal for graduate students considering this exam area (or those who simply lack familiarity with some of the most important influences on later writing—both creative and critical—of the 19th and 20th centuries), advanced undergraduates considering graduate school, and anyone wishing to be prepared for teaching Romantic literature, this course will provide a thorough survey of material essential to the field in the 21st century.

During the second half of the semester participants may work with a new experimental "virtual world" (time and technology permitting: TBA) that promises to expand vastly the possibilities of both creative and critical engagement with an early 19th-century "national tale," Sydney Owenson’s /The Wild Irish Girl/. This electronic media resource, /Inismore/, is designed to complement a more traditional reading experience by bringing together a host of interdisciplinary contextual materials to enrich students’ understanding of this challenging and important work. Additional virtual resources we are likely to utilize include the Blake hypertext archive, the Romantic Circles hypertext edition of the /Keepsake for 1829/, and Laura Mandell's Poetess Archive. For those who still consider themselves less tech-savvy, you can rest assured that our primary texts will be available in traditional print form, most of them included in the anthology that will serve as our core text.

This 5000-level course will be conducted seminar-style, which means that the emphasis will be on shared class discussion and other forms of collaborative learning, with brief supplementary mini-lectures introduced when necessary. Students will be expected to make at least one presentation during the course of the semester (including both a written and oral component), to write at least one short response paper and one longer final essay, and--most importantly--to contribute actively to class activities every week without exception.

English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction

Tuesdays, 4:00 - 7:30; Brown 4017
Professor Thisbe Nissen
Fulfills: Creative Writing Ph.D. or M.F.A. workshop requirement

This course focuses on students’ original short fiction, and on close reading of published work in the genre. Students train to be close readers, careful writers, and attentive editors. Our goal will be effective creative and critical articulation: thoughtful and artful production and critique. This course involves substantial amounts of reading and writing, both critical and creative.

English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction

Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 3048
Professor Richard Katrovas
Fulfills: Creative Writing Ph.D. or M.F.A. workshop requirement

Catalog Description: A workshop and conference course in the writing of fiction, with emphasis on refinement of the individual student’s style and skills.

English 5670: Creative Writing Workshop, Poetry

Mondays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 3045
Dr. Nancy Eimers
Fulfills: Creative Writing Ph.D. or M.F.A. workshop requirement

Art, says poet Carl Phillips, “is its own signature--irreplicable, strange, never seen before, not seeable again elsewhere in the future.” In this advanced poetry writing workshop, we will spend the semester exploring how, in poetry, this might be true. We’ll examine the “signatures” of contemporary poets by reading three contemporary collections, and each week we will consider the individual signatures of class members by workshopping class poems.

English 5680: Creative Writing Workshop, Playwriting

Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 3003
Dr. Steve Feffer
Fulfills: Creative Writing Ph.D. or M.F.A. workshop requirement

Catalog Description: A workshop and conference course in playwriting, with emphasis on refinement of the individual student’s style and skills.

English 5970: Studies in English, Variable Topics - Slavery and the American Literary Imagination

Mondays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3002
Dr. Scott Slawinski
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for EITHER American Literature I OR American Literature II; M.A.-level literature elective

How did chattel slavery inform and shape American literary history? This question will guide us as we explore images of slavery from the colonial era, ante- and post-bellum periods, and early twentieth century. Participants will examine a number of genres, including pamphlets, autobiographies, poems, and novels by both white and black writers. While some texts from the colonial period positioned themselves as either anti- or pro-slavery, many others merely represented the institution or used it as a metaphor to discuss other issues like American independence. The antebellum period witnessed a dramatic expansion of texts shaped by the debate over the abolition of slavery, and the post-Civil War era appropriated the memory of slavery as a basis for the authorship of nonfictional and fictional texts. Participants will also read a number of critical texts from historians, literary critics, and possibly postcolonial scholars. For Ph.D. students, the final seminar paper will determine the distribution requirement.

Tentative Booklist:
Against Slavery (Penguin Classic)
Melville, Bartleby and Benito Cereno (Dover Thrift Edition)
Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (TBA)
Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift Edition)
Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (TBA)
Hentz, The Planter’s Northern Bride (e-text)
Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman and Other Stories (Penguin Classic)
Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (TBA)
Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson (TBA)
Hopkins, Contending Forces (Oxford)
Dixon, The Clansman (Kentucky)
Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (TBA)
& Various pdfs posted to e-learning

English 6100: Seminar - Narrative Theory

Wednesdays, 6:30-9:00; Brown 3002
Dr. Jil Larson
Fulfills: PhD Theory prerequisite requirement; MA prerequisite requirement; for Creative Writing MFA and PhD students - can serve as forms course requirement for secondary genre

This course will present an introduction to the study of many aspects of narrative, a human phenomenon relevant not only to the arts but also to philosophy, politics, history, and any other representation of events as they unfold in time. Although we will explore the broader implications and controversies in narrative theory, our application will be primarily to novels. We will read such theorists and literary critics as Gerard Genette, Mieke Bal, Seymour Chatman, Wallace Martin, Mikhail Bakhtin, Wayne Booth, H. Porter Abbott, Adam Newton, Paul Ricoeur, and James Phelan along with a few novels. As such, this course will be valuable for both creative writers seeking to better understand concepts and techniques--such as narrative voice, focalization, duration and pace, story and discourse, free indirect style, etc--and for literary scholars seeking both a grasp of these concepts and a more precise interpretive method.

English 6110: Literary Forms - Forms of Poetry

Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Dunbar 3208
Dr. Nancy Eimers
Fulfills: M.F.A. or Ph.D. in Creative Writing Forms requirement

“The history of poetry is a continual fixing and freeing of conventions.”
--Hayden Carruth

This is at once a reading and a studio course in the forms of poetry. Each week we’ll read and discuss a poetic form--probably including but not limited to the ballad, the sonnet, blank verse, repeating forms, syllabics, the prose poem--with particular attention to the ways each generation--each poet--each poem--translates or reinvents the tradition. We'll read three volumes of contemporary poetry to continue this conversation. Class members will explore their own responses to that tradition by writing poems in various forms and responses to the three poetry volumes, and a poem will be due each week.

English 6220: Studies in American Literature - U.S. Serial Novel

Mondays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3010
Dr. Nicolas Witschi
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for American Literature II; M.A.-level literature elective

Imagine opening the pages of a famous writer’s much anticipated new novel, and imagine making it through a couple of chapters to find yourself totally hooked. You can’t wait to discover what happens next, eager to find out, for example, whether Little Nell is dead or alive.* However, you’re going to have to wait a month for the next issue of the magazine that’s carrying your novel to arrive in your mailbox. So, in the meantime you pick up another periodical, starting into or returning to another novel that’s also being published serially, and you read a few chapters of that one while anticipating the arrival of its next installment as well. Consuming your fiction in this manner, you could be reading anywhere from three to ten novels at a time, taking upwards of six, eight, or even sixteen months just to get through one. During the heyday of the American Realist novel, this is precisely how a majority of readers encountered the works of writers such as Henry James, Sarah Orne Jewett, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, et al. And the salient question is: how was serial publication a factor in the late-19th-century literary marketplace?

In many respects, this is a seminar on fiction from the Realist & Naturalist period, with touches of Modernist and Contemporary literature included as well. In looking closely at fiction from this period, we will endeavor to understand its relation to such pertinent issues as increasing urbanization and immigration, class power and growth, gender definitions and delimitations, and representation and genre. However, the key variable in this seminar will be the attempt to reproduce one of the significant ways in which this literature was distributed and, hence, consumed. Rather than reading a series of primary texts sequentially at the usual rate of one book or novel per week/session, this seminar will seek to reproduce and understand the historical circumstances of reading fiction serially, by taking up multiple serial installments of multiple novels per week, with several plotlines and modes of representation (including original illustrations) going at any one time. Among the questions we will consider: How do texts that appeared more or less concurrently in serial form respond to or have an impact upon each other? How do the conditions of serialization affect the production and reception of texts? Do the material facts of serialization alter or modify our current assumptions about the cultural work of literature and about the production of the literary?

The reading list for this class will provide a thorough grounding in the major texts of the first half of the AmLit II period, as well as a few from the second half and, as noted above, a couple of 21st-century pieces that we’ll use to gauge the evolution of the form.

*We will not, in fact, be reading Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop. However, the furor over Little Nell’s fate is often cited as the paradigmatic example of the suspense generated by serial publication--American readers reportedly rushed the docks to demand of disembarking English sailors whether they had yet read the final installment of the novel and whether they had brought any copies with them across the Atlantic.

English 6400: The Nature of Poetry

Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3048
Dr. Daneen Wardrop
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

English 6400, The Nature of Poetry, will be devoted to studying a great many poems that span the history of poetry written in the English language. While the intent of the course is more or less expansive with regard to examining form and literary history, we will also examine a short segment on a more specific topic—that of political poetry. The combination of politics and poetry has been seen, conventionally, to be an uneasy fit, even though poets as early as Tu Fu in the 700s A.D. have claimed, for instance, “Nothing in ten thousand kingdoms but war,” and as recent as Adrienne Rich, in this century, have described “ghosts of war fugitive / in labyrinths of amnesia.” In addition, we will devote time to the rigorous study of two or three authors in particular, perhaps a couple from this list: Muriel Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Levine, and/or Sherman Alexie. Requirements will include two papers, one individual presentation, one group presentation of a critical essay, vigorous preparation resulting in spirited class discussion, and a final examination.

English 6660: Creative Writing Workshop, Poetry

Mondays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4010
Dr. William Olsen
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

This class involves extensive criticism of student poems, in a traditional workshop environment. The workshop will also serve as a forum for discussions of aesthetics. Students may be encouraged to work with models, and the class will involve the reading and discussion of at least three books of contemporary poetry.

English 6660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction

Mondays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4010
Professor Thisbe Nissen
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

This is a traditional fiction workshop in which students put up at least two pieces each to be workshopped during the semester. Class members are responsible for reading weekly workshop stories, making detailed editorial line notes for the author, and writing a thoughtful and substantive end note. We learn better to edit ourselves by carefully and conscientiously editing others. Workshop stories are the texts from which broader conversations on craft and technique will spring. Discussion of readings in contemporary published short fiction will compliment workshop discussions.

English 6690: Methods of Teaching College Writing

Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3045
Dr. Stacy Perryman-Clark
Fulfills: Teaching component for Ph.D. and M.A. students

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 and projects will include discussion presentations, classroom observation reflections, assessment of student papers, a new course design, and a teaching portfolio. Instructors who are teaching college-level writing are the primary audience for this course.

English 6760: Old English

Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:45; Dunbar 2205
Dr. Jana Schulman
Fulfills: Ph.D. English Language requirement; M.A.-level elective

In this course students learn the fundamentals of Old English grammar and language, read and translate prose and poetry that bring to life the Anglo-Saxon period, and examine the historical and cultural forces that shaped the language and literature.

This course is a prerequisite for English 6100, offered in the spring, which is a translation and discussion seminar. The topic for this course is not yet determined, but previous ones have included Beowulf (Spring 2003), Anglo-Saxon Heroic Literature (Spring 2005), Law and Literature in Anglo-Saxon England (Spring 2006), Death in Anglo-Saxon England/Old English Literature (Spring 2007), Monstrosity in Anglo-Saxon England (Spring 2009), Education and Translation in Anglo-Saxon England (Spring 2010), and The Devil's in the Details: The Devil and His Minions in Anglo-Saxon England (Spring 2011).

Doctoral students who take the year-long sequence and complete each semester with a grade of “B” or better may use this to fulfill their foreign language requirement.

English 6910: Research and Scholarship in English Education

Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3045
Dr. Karen Vocke
Fulfills: Ph.D. English Education and MAET requirement

In English 6910 we will examine English Education-related research studies that support current best practices in the teaching of reading, writing, literature, and language.  An overview of the research process will focus on the literature review, human subjects protocols, developing and refining research questions, developing a proposal, data collection, and data analysis.


Department of English
6th floor Sprau Tower
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5331 USA
(269) 387-2572 | (269) 387-2562 Fax