Graduate Courses Spring 2010

Graduate Courses Spring 2010

Department of English

Graduate Course Descriptions Spring 2010

 

5550: Major Authors: Chaucer

Medieval 6000: Law and Literature in Anglo-Saxon England

5660: Creative Writing Workshop-Playwriting

6150: Literary Criticism

5660: Creative Writing Workshop— Poetry

6120: Seminar in British Literature

5660: Creative Writing Workshop Fiction 6220: Seminar in American Literature
5660: Creative Writing Workshop Nonfiction 6660: Graduate Writing WorkshopFiction
5740: Grammar in Teaching Writing
5970: Studies in English: Amaerican Novel to 1865

6660: Graduate Writing Workshop Playwriting

5970: Studies in English: Blacks in Cinema 6800: Advanced Methods of Teaching Literature
5970: Studies in English: World Englishes 6900: Scholarship and Writing in the Profession

 

English 5550: Major Authors
Chaucer and Late Medieval Culture
Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4003
Dr. Eve Salisbury
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Late Medieval Literature; M.A.-level literature elective

As the “father of English poetry,” Chaucer contributes not only to the literature of Britain but to literary and social histories extending well beyond spatial and temporal boundaries, shaping modes of thought that reach into our present moment.  To get some sense of Chaucer’s influence in these fields of knowledge and experience, we read (and speak aloud in Middle English) The Canterbury TalesTroilus and CriseydeThe Book of the DuchessThe Parliament of Fowls,and some of the short poems.  We will ask questions about Chaucer’s characterizations, constructions of gender and class, the many genres in which he works, his poetic innovations, adaptations, and affiliations.  How do normative codes of behavior such as those implicitly and/or explicitly defined in chivalry and courtly love influence individual and group identities?  How does Chaucer’s work fit into and/or comment upon a vacillating and ever-expanding cultural milieu?  How does the notion of pilgrimage relate to other forms of medieval travel?  Since Chaucer often eludes definitive interpretations (one reason his work is still so intriguing to us), we may not come to any specific conclusions. Nonetheless, the process of reading, speaking, and interpreting these particular works promises to be engaging, enlightening, even entertaining.

Required Texts:
The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.
A Companion to Chaucer, ed. Peter Brown. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2002.

 

English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Playwriting
Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 3017
Dr. Steve Feffer
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

This is a workshop in the writing, critical reading and presentation of original drama.  We will spend most of our time in class on the presenting and workshopping of your work.  However, we will also have a few classes where a portion of the session will be devoted to playwriting exercises that will help you develop your existing work, start something new, or to integrate into your own writing process.  Additionally, we will have a couple of days of “ice breaking” and additional play development work.  Most weeks you will be assigned readings in contemporary drama for consideration of its structure, style, and theatricality, as well as other elements.  The emphasis in the class will be the process by which your playwriting ultimately is about writing theatre.  To this end: We will work with actors and directors who will assist you with the readings, staged readings or productions of your work—as elaborate or basic as you need—as well as taking part in the discussion of it in order to introduce you to the process by which through performance, drama emerges as theatre.

 

English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Poetry
Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 3017
Dr. Adam Clay
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

This is a workshop and conference course in the writing of poetry with emphasis on refinement of the individual student’s style and skills

 

English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction
Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3048
Unstaffed
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

Catalog Description: Any given section of this course will focus on either poetry, fiction, or drama.  Course organization will emphasize roundtable discussion of student writing.

 

English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Nonfiction
Mondays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 3017
Unstaffed
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

Catalog Description: An advanced course in the writing of poetry, fiction, or drama, with class criticism of each student's writing.  The course may be taken more than once.

 

English 5740: Grammar in Teaching Writing
Mondays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 3037
Dr. Ellen Brinkley
Fulfills: Ph.D. requirement for English language course; M.A.-level elective

English teachers have traditionally been thought of as grammar police, ready to fine those who break the grammar "laws."  But many English teachers today have had little instruction in grammar, and they are unsure about whether or how to teach it.  This course won't provide quick and easy answers, but we will consider grammatical issues as they are viewed by the public and within the profession.  We'll consider how grammar has been taught historically and examine research studies that have influenced the teaching of writing and grammar.  We'll also examine NCTE statements and Michigan's k-12 English Language Arts Content Expectations and explore a range of grammar-related classroom strategies and structures that can support and strengthen student writing.  We will learn from each other, and produce position statements, curricular plans, and/or articles suitable for publishing.  For more information, contact Dr. Ellen Brinkley (387-2581, Ellen.Brinkley @wmich.edu).

 

English 5970: Studies in English
American Novel to 1865
Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3010
Dr. Philip Egan
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Early American Literature; M.A.-level literature elective

This course will study American novels from the early republic to about the Civil War.  In addition to some of the well-known works of this period by Melville (Moby-Dick), Hawthorne (The Blithedale Romance), and H. B. Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin), we will sample several works from, among others, the sentimental, domestic, and captivity subgenres of narrative including: Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland; Catherine Sedgwick's Hope Leslie; Sara Willis Parton's (Fanny Fern's) Ruth Hall; and Rebecca Harding Davis's “Life in the Iron Mills.”  We may do others if time allows.  In order to give us a more complete picture of American novels of this period, students will also report on some outside works as well.

 

English 5970: Studies in English
Blacks in Cinema
Thursdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3017
Mr. Dramane Deme
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level elective

Contact instructor.

 

English 5970: Studies in English
World Englishes
Mondays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3010
Dr. Paul Johnston
Fulfills: Ph.D. requirement for English language course or M.A.-level elective

Over the last few centuries, because of colonialization and global political, economic and demographic developments, English has transformed itself from the language of a small but powerful island nation to a true global language, with its speakers adapting it to suit the local conditions of the societies that use it.  In this class, students will learn about the structure, origins, patterns of use, and language ecology/interplay with other languages in a number of differing types of Englishes, from the British dialects from which other dialects stem to settler's Englishes outside North America (Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) to varieties spread by the American and British empires and increasingly molded into true national or regional varieties (South Asia, Anglophone Africa, Singapore, the Philippines) to pidgin and creole forms of English that developed in plantation settings through extensive contact with a multitude of languages (Caribbean and West African pidgins and creoles; South Pacific pidgins and creoles).  Through this examination, students will experience the linguistic diversity that characterizes English and gain an appreciation for the adaptability and vivacity of the language, learning much about the interaction of language and society in the process.

 

Medieval 6000: Law and Literature in Anglo-Saxon England
Thursdays, 2:00-5:00, Newberry Library, Chicago
Dr. Jana Schulman
Prerequisite: Must have had one semester of Old English

Law and literature both embody narratives that reveal much about the community that produces them. This seminar will explore legal issues such as feud, marriage, the status of women, and theft. We will read in the original and translate Anglo-Saxon legal texts that discuss these issues and then see how literary texts incorporate legal elements to create tension and drive the narrative. Some primary texts include laws issued by Æthelberht, Alfred, Edmund, and Canute, as well as selections from Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, "Juliana," and "Maxims I." Much has been written on feud in early Germanic societies, less perhaps on women and law, but the secondary sources assigned on these and other issues will help clarify the abbreviated language of the legal texts as well as provide background and fuel for discussion.

 

English 6150: Literary Criticism
Wednesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 2045
Dr. Christopher Maclean-Nagle
Fulfills: Ph.D. requirement for Literary Criticism; M.A.-level literature elective

“The value of thought is measured by its distance from the continuity of the familiar.”—Theodor Adorno

“To work is to undertake to think something other than what one has thought before.”—Michel Foucault

Starting with these assumptions, the main goal of this course will be to provide a representative overview of the most important and exciting works of literary and cultural theory from the past two centuries.  We will focus primarily on the second half of the 20th century, but not before laying some vital groundwork for understanding our more contemporary texts: first, by tracing briefly the shift from Enlightenment modes of thought to the shaping forces of Romanticism; then, by focusing on the modern triumvirate whose revolutionary contributions have shaped theory as we know it today—Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.  Equally important will be our efforts to do the kind of intellectual “work” suggested above, to think about the practice of reading—both traditional literary texts as well as other cultural manifestations which bear critical interpretation—and about the implications of the choices we make (consciously or not) when we approach them with a critical eye.  No previous expertise in this tradition is expected, though students will surely benefit from having read some theoretical works in other courses.

Above all, this is a course meant to provide exposure to a broad range of theoretical perspectives, not to elicit conversion to a particular critical school.  You will be encouraged to approach each group of readings with an equally open, curious mind, and to explore further the critical avenues you ultimately find most troubling or compelling, both through additional recommended readings and through the final seminar paper that you design.  As a previous student observed: “in this course there should be something for everyone.”  Additionally, since we will always be looking for concrete examples to help us engage texts that are often quite dense, abstract, and generally difficult, all seminar participants will be encouraged to introduce literary or cultural texts from outside of class—in the news, at your “day job,” in other classes, or simply in other forms of media (film, TV, internet, etc.)—whenever you are struck by meaningful connections between these texts or experiences and our primary readings.  I want this seminar to open up as many multiple, generative intellectual roads as possible for all of us.

Requirements: short, weekly response papers; at least one seminar presentation; a final, medium-length seminar paper; and (most importantly) active participation in our discussions every week.

n.b.: as in previous years, there is a strong likelihood that we will be treated to a visit with an internationally distinguished visiting scholar during the semester, someone who will enrich our perspectives by sharing some recent cutting-edge work.  More details will follow during the semester.

Questions: Christopher.Nagle@wmich.edu

 

English 6210: Seminar in British Literature
Empire and the English Imagination
Wednesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4010
Dr. Cynthia Klekar
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Renaissance Literature; for Restoration and Eighteenth-Century; M.A.-level elective

This course will consider how British literatures from 1600 through 1800 imagined the process of forging a world empire.  The central project will be to map shifting conceptions of national and personal identity, self and other, and East and West.  The map of the course will take us to the Far East, Middle East, the Americas, and the South Seas. We will read a wide range of texts—novels, poems, drama, travel books, letters, and slave narratives—to examine how attitudes toward gender, wealth, power, and religion both shaped and challenged claims of cultural superiority.  Selected postcolonial theoretical and critical readings (including, for example, writings by Homi Bhabha, Mary Louise Pratt, Sara Suleri, and Anne McClintock) will be integrated in the course, but students are encouraged to bring their own theoretical approaches and social concerns to the material.

 

English 6220: Seminar in American Literature
American Women Prose Writers
Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4003
Dr. Katherine Joslin
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for American Literature, 1865-1945; M.A.-level literature elective

Current literary conversations pose the question of what women have contributed to American literature.  In the late twentieth century, “second wave” literary feminists had led a movement to retrieve discarded female texts and reconsider the female contribution to literature.  Now, in the early years of the twenty-first century, scholars and critics are revisiting that project.

In A Jury of Her Peers, Elaine Showalter constructs what she celebrates as the “first literary history” of American women writers.  In reviewing that book, Francine Prose charges that earlier prejudices against women’s fiction have prevailed.  Perhaps proving the charge, Jane Smiley’s case for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s accomplishment over Mark Twain’s elicited an uproar among readers and a literary establishment that continues to prize male writers.  Recently in SLATE, Laura Miller wonders if the new suspicion of women writers constitutes “an aesthetic variation on the conservative shibboleth of affirmative action run amok.”

Are women writers worthy of canonical status or are they read simply because they are women?  Showalter, in her reconsideration, promises to assess the artistic quality of female authors and to make judgments about their relative value.  The latest voice in the controversy comes from Shelley Fisher Fishkin in Feminist Engagements, a reassessment of twentieth-century gender battles over the canon of American writers.

Showalter’s literary history and Fisher Fishkin’s review of theoretical “interventions” will serve as background for class discussion.  Over the semester, we will read a variety of prose by American female authors and review the current debate over how to take the measure of women writers in the twenty-first century.  As in any seminar, stimulating conversation is essential.  You will also concentrate on an author of your choosing and write a researched essay that considers her contribution to American literature.

 

English 6660: Graduate Writing Workshop, Fiction
Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3048
Unstaffed
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

Catalog Description: Any given section of this course will focus on either poetry, fiction, or drama.  Course organization will emphasize roundtable discussion of student writing.

 

English 6660: Graduate Writing Workshop, Poetry
Wednesdays, 7:00 - 9:30; Brown 2048
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: Graduate Writing Workshop, Playwriting
Mondays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4017
Dr. Steve Feffer
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

This is a workshop in the writing, critical reading and presentation of original drama.  We will spend most of our time in class on the presenting and workshopping of your work.  However, we will also have a few classes where a portion of the session will be devoted to playwriting exercises that will help you develop your existing work, start something new, or to integrate into your own writing process.  Additionally, we will have a couple of days of “ice breaking” and additional play development work.  Most weeks you will be assigned readings in contemporary drama for consideration of its structure, style, and theatricality, as well as other elements.  The emphasis in the class will be the process by which your playwriting ultimately is about writing theatre.  To this end: We will work with actors and directors who will assist you with the readings, staged readings or productions of your work—as elaborate or basic as you need—as well as taking part in the discussion of it in order to introduce you to the process by which through performance, drama emerges as theatre.

 

English 6800: Advanced Methods of Teaching Literature
Thursdays, 6:30 – 9:00; Brown 3045
Dr. Allen Webb
Fulfills: Ph.D. English Education and M.A. in English with an emphasis in teaching required class; Ph.D. and M.A.-level elective; pedagogy elective

This graduate seminar will address the theory and practice of the teaching of literature. We will examine the historical development of literature curriculum and teaching in English, the inclusion of multicultural and cultural studies materials and perspectives, the relationship of literary scholarship and theory to pedagogy, instructional models and best practices (including how to lead dynamic discussions), the use of internet technology and resources for teaching in the 21st century, and presenting and writing about the teaching of literature at professional conferences and for professional journals.

Graduate students in Creative Writing, Literary Studies, and English Education are welcome.  The class is appropriate for students teaching at or intending to teach literature at university, college, community college, or secondary school levels.  The class will be taught in a wireless laptop classroom and will experiment with a variety of new technologies.  Students will publish a professional, interactive, teaching website modeling reflective curriculum development for a course that they are teaching, or would like to teach.  Students are expected to join the National Council of the Teachers of English or the Modern Language Association and to present at a professional conference.

Syllabus on-line at: http://www.allen.webb.net

 

English 6900: Scholarship and Writing in the Profession
Mondays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4025
Dr. Elizabeth Bradburn
Required Course for All M.A. and M.A. in English with an emphasis in teaching Students

This course is the culminating requirement for the M.A. in English.  In this class you will develop a project begun in one of your other courses.  You will work with your classmates to analyze and evaluate journals and articles in areas relevant to your research topic, for use as models. The class will also learn about forms of scholarly discourse and the publication process.  The final products will be a revised and edited scholarly paper, suitable for submission to a refereed publication, and an oral presentation for the Master’s Colloquium.  Graded on a credit/no credit basis.  Prerequisites: English 6300 (for M.A. students) and English 6910 (for M.A. in English with an emphasis in teaching students) and prior completion of at least 21 hours of credit toward the Master of Arts in English.

 

Note: Readers should consider all course descriptions and booklists to be tentative and are encouraged to confirm all times and locations before attending class.

 

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