Graduate Courses Spring 2011

Graduate Courses Spring 2011

Department of English

Graduate Course Descriptions Spring 2011


5220: Studies in American Literature - Native American Literature

6150: Literary Criticism

5320: English Renaissance Literature

6300: Introduction to Graduate Studies

5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction

6450: Studies in the Modern Novel - Literature and Terrorism: The 9/11 Novel and History

5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Playwriting 6660: Graduate Writing Workshop, Fiction
5740: Grammar in Teaching Writing

6790: Studies in Composition Theory

6100: Seminar - The Devil's in the Details: The Devil and His Minions in Anglo-Saxon England 6800: Advanced Methods of Teaching Literature
6110: Literary Forms & Graduate Writing Workshop, Poetry 6900: Scholarship and Writing in the Profession


English 5220: Studies in American Literature
Native American Literature
Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3002
Dr. Nicolas Witschi 
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Contemporary Literature or Non-Traditional Literature; M.A.-level literature elective

Over the course of the last four decades or so, literature by indigenous writers has undergone a series of dramatic and always interesting changes.  From assertions of sovereign identity and engagements with entrenched cultural stereotypes to interventions in academic and critical methodologies, the word-based art of novelists, dramatists, critics, and poets such as Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, Louis Owens, Linda Hogan, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Ortiz, and Thomas King, among many others, has proven vital to our understanding of North American culture as a whole.  In this course we will examine a cross-section of recent and exemplary texts from this wide-reaching literary movement, paying particular attention to the formal, thematic, and critical innovations being offered in response to questions of both personal and collective identity.  This course will be conducted seminar-style, which means that everyone is expected to contribute significantly to discussion and analysis.


English 5320: English Renaissance Literature 
Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4035
Dr. Anthony Ellis
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Renaissance Literature; M.A.-level literature elective

English 5320, a survey of English Renaissance literature, will extend from Sir Thomas More’s Utopia to John Milton’s Paradise Lost.  The course is designed to give students a sense of literary history, an understanding of some central primary texts (poetry, prose, and drama), and a grasp of how British literature and its readers developed over a 150-year span.  We will also read numerous critical studies, representing a variety of methodological approaches and theoretical perspectives.  The main textbook will be The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume B: The Sixteenth Century/The Early Seventeenth Century, ed. Stephen Greenblatt, 8th edition (2005).


English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction
Tuesdays, 4:00 - 7:30; Brown 3017
Professor Thisbe Nissen
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

This will be a traditional fiction workshop.  Each student will put up at least two pieces to be workshopped during the semester.  Class members are responsible for reading workshop stories and making line notes for the author, in addition to writing a thoughtful and substantive end note.  We learn better how to edit ourselves by carefully and conscientiously editing others.  We’ll dig into the meat of each other’s stories to figure out how they're working, how they might work better, and what the author and the class can learn from the effort at hand.  Revision is encouraged.  Discussion of readings in contemporary published short fiction will compliment workshop discussions.


English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Playwriting
Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:30; Brown 2048
Dr. Steve Feffer 
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

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


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

Catalog Description: Dealing with issues and methods in the teaching of grammar, this course for teachers focuses on using grammar to develop content, style and voice, and skill in revising and editing writing.   For more information, contact instructor at


English 6100: Seminar
The Devil’s in the Details: The Devil and his Minions in Anglo-Saxon England 
Friday, 1:00 - 3:20; Brown 4017
Dr. Jana Schulman 
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for British Literature to 1500; M.A.-level literature elective

This seminar will explore the appearance of the devil—explicitly or implicitly—in Old English texts.  There are poems, such as “Christ and Satan,” where Satan plays a major role, and others where some of his implements (arrows, darts) appear and wound a character.  In addition to reading texts and exploring the devil as character, we will also consider the role of serpents and dragons as agents of the devil or the devil himself.  Scholars who read Beowulf as Christian allegory argue that the dragon is Satan.  Is the dragon Satan or just a dragon?  Texts remain to be determined.

Prerequisite:  One semester of Old English


English 6110: Literary Forms & Graduate Writing Workshop, Poetry
Wednesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 2037
Dr. Nancy Eimers 
Fulfills: Ph.D. CW Forms or workshop requirement; M.A.-level CW workshop requirement 

“The history of poetry is a continual fixing and freeing of conventions.”—Hayden Carrruth

This course will fulfill a dual role—it will serve as a Literary Forms in Poetry class ANDthe graduate poetry workshop.

For the first four or five weeks we’ll read and discuss a poetic form—probably including the ballad, the sonnet, blank verse, repeating forms, syllabics, the prose poem—each week, with particular attention to the ways a generation—a poet—a poem—translates or reinvents the tradition.  Class members will explore their own responses to that tradition by writing poems in various forms, and a poem will be due each week.

During the remainder of the course we will read and discuss collections of poetry that raise important formal issues.  Among others, we'll talk about Berryman's 77 Dream Songs, Lynn Emanuel's Noose and Hook, Cole Swenson's The Glass Age, and Charles Wright's The Other Side of the River, and each week students will write poems in which they engage with formal questions raised in that week's collection.

Both Forms and Workshop students will officially register under the 6110 rubric, and the Graduate Director will individually enter the course (in consulation with the graduate student) as either a Literary Forms course or a Workshop.  Students will only receive credit for ONE of these courses, however.

All students will turn in a poem a week and we will have weekly workshop sessions; students taking the course for Workshop credit will have the option of interpreting the weekly formal assignments more loosely, and my hope is that we may learn much about form in poetry, both received and newly conceived!


English 6150: Literary Criticism 
Mondays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3010
Dr. Jon Adams
Fulfills: Ph.D. requirement for Literary Criticism; M.A.-level literature elective 

Specializing in the post-1960s rise of Feminism, Gender, and Queer Theories, this course will begin by (re-)familiarizing seminar participants with foundations of Literary Criticism & Theory.  Hence, students will study critical schools, key figures, and important concepts in theory via critical application of those schools, figures and concepts in pieces of feminist criticism. But the bulk of the course will feature readings of seminal whole texts in Gender and Queer Theory with the ultimate aims of assessing the political and social efficacy of the various formulations and of applying what we’ve learned to extended critical analyses of literature or culture in seminar projects.  Not for the faint of heart, but also essential, this course will augment students’ analytical and interpretive skills and fully acquaint them with discourses necessary for further work, study, and employment in literary professions. In addition to the seminar paper, students will write critical reaction papers to each major text, lead the class on discussion of one critical work, and share responsibility for the intellectual environment of the collective.  A prior introduction to literary criticism & theory would be helpful, but is not necessary; the initial discourse-level for the seminar will be determined based upon relative preparation of participants and lecture-based introduction of figures, concepts, and terms will feature early in the semester.

Cross-listed with Gender & Women’s Studies. Optional texts indicated by (opt.).


Butler , Judith (opt.) Bodies that Matter Routledge 0415903661

Butler , Judith (opt.) Gender Trouble Routledge 0415900433

Connell, R.W. Masculinities U of CA Press 0520246985

Firestone, Shulamith The Dialectic of Sex Farrar 0374527873

Foucault, Michel The History of Sexualityvol. 1, Introduction Vintage 0679724698

Halberstam, Judith (opt.) Female Masculinity Duke 0822322439

Halley, Janet Split Decisions Princeton 0691127379

Lacan, Jacques Feminine Sexuality Norton 0393302113

Macey, David (opt.) Penguin Dictionary of Penguin 0140513698 Critical Theory

Makaryk, Irena, ed.(opt.) Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory Toronto 080206860X

Mitchell, Juliet Psychoanalysis & Feminism Basic Books 0465046088

Moi, Toril Sexual/Textual Politics Routledge 0415029740

Sedgwick, Eve K. (opt.) Between Men Columbia 0231082738

Sedgwick, Eve K. Epistemology of the Closet U of CA Press 0520078748

Sullivan, Nikki A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory NYU Press 0814798411

Wittig, Monique The Straight Mind & Other Essays Beacon Press 0807079171


  English 6300: Introduction to Graduate Studies 
Mondays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4002
Dr. Gwen Tarbox
Fulfills: Prerequisite requirement for M.A. and Ph.D. in Lit; elective for all other students 

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.  You will 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, you will spend time in Waldo Library and in our classroom, developing research practices that will enable you to write an essay on the prose conventions particular to the field of English Studies that interests you.  For a number of weeks during the semester, you will have the opportunity to read the work of WMU professors who will visit the class to read from their texts and to answer your questions.   Finally, you will learn about professional development resources to help guide your career in academia.  Written assignments will include three short essays and an annotated bibliography.  Texts:  Graff and Birkenstein, They Say/I Say, 2nd ed.; Harris, Rewriting; Nussbaum, Not For Profit; Semenza, Graduate Study for the 21st Century.


English 6450: Studies in the Modern Novel
Literature and Terrorism: The 9/11 Novel and History 
Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3048
Dr. Todd Kuchta
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Contemporary Literature; M.A.-level literature elective or ENGL 6440

"One must probably find the humility to admit that the time of one’s own life is not the one-time, basic, revolutionary moment of history. . . . At the same time, humility is needed to say without solemnity that the present time is rather exciting and demands an analysis.  We must ask ourselves the question, What is today?"  —Michel Foucault

"He tries to see it, feel it, in historical terms, this moment in the last decades of the petroleum age . . . . But he can’t quite trick himself into it. . . . He doesn’t have the lyric gift to see beyond it."  —Ian McEwan, Saturday

This seminar will examine novels that address 9/11 and the “war on terror,” whether directly or obliquely.  I’m interested in asking how such fiction both reflects and shapes the historical moment we now inhabit.  How does this body of work historicize our present—whether by memorializing 9/11, reframing public discourse, or chronicling everyday life in the so-called age of global terror?  To what extent do these novels offer the “lyric gift” that Ian McEwan’s protagonist lacks—the ability to see beyond the present and understand ourselves in historical terms?  As Foucault suggests, this ability requires a humility that neither overdramatizes nor underestimates our unique place in history.  Thus, we may begin the semester by considering portrayals of terrorism from modern British and postcolonial contexts (e.g., Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and Gillo Pontecorvo’s film The Battle of Algiers).  We will also consider theoretical treatments of post-9/11 life by Giorgio Agamben, Jean Baudrillard, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, and Slavoj Žižek, among others.  Assignments will likely include brief written responses, an oral presentation, a 5-page essay, and a 20-page seminar paper.

Primary readings will likely include:

Paul Auster, The Man in the Dark (2008)
Nadeem Aslam, The Wasted Vigil (2008)
J.M. Coetzee, The Diary of a Bad Year (2007)
Don DeLillo, Falling Man (2007)
Jonathan Safer Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005)
Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)
Yasmina Khadra, The Attack (2005)
Ian McEwan, Saturday (2005)
Joseph O’Neill, Netherland (2008)


English 6660: Graduate Writing Workshop, Fiction
Wednesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4002
Professor Thisbe Nissen
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement 

This will be a traditional fiction workshop.  Each student will put up at least two pieces to be workshopped during the semester.  Class members are responsible for reading workshop stories and making line notes for the author, in addition to writing a thoughtful and substantive end note.  We learn better how to edit ourselves by carefully and conscientiously editing others.  We’ll dig into the meat of each other’s stories to figure out how they're working, how they might work better, and what the author and the class can learn from the effort at hand.  Revision is encouraged.  Discussion of readings in contemporary published short fiction will compliment workshop discussions.


English 6790: Studies in Composition Theory
Wednesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4025
Dr. Staci Perryman-Clark
Fulfills: Teaching component for Ph.D. and M.A. students 

English 6790: Studies in Composition Theory, is a graduate-level introductory course in the field of Composition Studies. For students interested in taking one of their area qualifying exams in Composition Studies, this course will offer a broad overview of several theoretical foundations informing the field. We will begin the course by exploring histories of the field, and then focus on theories of process-based writing and theories of writing research. We will also consider significant special topics that influence the field, including: cultural studies and composition; language and composition; and computers and composition. Students will be required to complete an annotated bibliography of a special topic in the field, and a final project based on the annotated bibliography.


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 

Dramatically increasing state control over education, curricular standardization, uniform assessment, standardized testing, accountability, and accreditation is taking place simultaneous with expanding canons, new conceptions of text, critical pedagogy, multicultural and perspectival teaching, and empowering new technologies.  This complex and contradictory dynamic in English education occurs in a rapidly globalizing world in the midst of major capitalist crisis.  The context in which we live and teach literature today will frame and guide this section of English 6800.

Considering the teaching of literature at secondary and university levels, this seminar aims to foster teacher intellectuals and professional leaders and develop their pedagogical content knowledge.  To do so, we will examine the historical development of our discipline, issues in textual and interpretive authority, canon formation, educational standardization, cultural studies and multicultural materials and perspectives, literary theory and teaching, textual intervention and alternative knowledges, and the democratizing possibilities of emerging Internet tools and resources.

From the beginning of the course students will focus on a literature course that they currently teach, or would like to teach, and course work and the final project will be carefully and systematically developed around that class, putting into practice the analysis and transformation approaches we will be studying.

The class will be taught in a wireless laptop classroom and will experiment with a variety of new technologies including remote hosted websites, collaborative writing forums, threaded discussion, social networking, blogs, Nings, etc.


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 and prior completion of at least 21 hours of credit toward the Master of Arts in English.


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