Springl 2012 Graduate Course Descriptions

Springl 2012 Graduate Course Descriptions

Spring 2012 Graduate Course Descriptions

Past Course Offerings

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 October 17, 2011.
  • All English graduate students will receive a registration reminder via e-mail. Send your registration request to english-graduate@wmich.edu. Please be sure to provide the CRN number with your request.
  • If you need advising about your course choices or program requirements, stop by 621 Sprau. Fall advising hours are Mondays 1:00-4:30; Tuesdays 1:00-3:30 and by appointment.
  • 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

English 5220: Studies in American Literature - The Early American Novel English 6110: Literary Forms
English 5390: Post-Colonial Literature English 6150: Literary Criticism
English 5550: Major Authors - Chaucer and Late Medieval Culture English 6210: Studies in British Literature - The Victorian Novel
English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction English 6300: Introduction to Graduate Studies
English 5670: Creative Writing Workshop, Poetry English 6660: Graduate Writing Workshop, Poetry
English 5680: Creative Writing Workshop, Playwriting English 6790: Studies in Composition Theory
English 5740: Grammar in Teaching Writing English 6800: Advanced Methods in Teaching Literature
English 5970: Studies in English English 6900: Scholarship and Writing in the Profession


English 5220: Studies in American Literature - The Early American Novel

Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4037
Dr. Philip Egan
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Early American Literature; M.A.-level elective

The course will study Ameican novels from the early republic to about 1860. 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: Susannah Rowson's Charlotte Temple; Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly; Catherine Sedgwick's Hope Leslie; Sara Willis Parton's (Fanny Fern's) Ruth Hall; Harriet Wilson's Our Nig; 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 5390: Post-Colonial Literature

Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3037
Dr. Todd Kuchta
Fulfills: Ph.D. requirement for Non-traditional literature; M.A.-level elective

This section of Postcolonial Literature will focus on terrorism from the era European colonization to the present. We will consider the contemporary “war on terror” and related phenomena—suicide bombing, interrogation, torture, unlawful detainment, and the suspension of rights—within the context of western imperialism and its aftermath. What is terrorism? Who is capable of exercising it? How has it been deployed in different historical and cultural contexts? And how have writers from around the world attempted to understand it? The first half of the course will focus on representations of terror in highly regarded novels from Palestine, post-independence Kenya, and apartheid South Africa. These will likely include Sahar Khalifeh’s Wild Thorns, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood, J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, and Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People. We may also view The Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo’s stunning film about Algeria’s resistance to French colonization. In the second half of the semester, we’ll focus on more recent works inspired by 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These will include Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil, Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, and perhaps some short fictional accounts of the 9/11 hijackers by Martin Amis and Don DeLillo. Alongside the fiction we will read critical work by important postcolonial theorists (Frantz Fanon, Paul Gilroy, Edward Said, and Gayatri Spivak), as well as more recent scholarship on terrorism by Talal Asad, Derek Gregory, Anne McClintock, and Sangeeta Ray. Students will write regular response papers, one short essay, one research paper, and be expected to participate regularly in discussion.


English 5550: Major Authors - Chaucer and Late Medieval Culture

Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3010
Dr. Eve Salisbury
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for British Literature to 1500; M.A.-level 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 Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, The Book of the Duchess, The 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.


English 5660: Creative Writing Workshop, Fiction

Mondays, 4:00 - 7:30; Brown 3010
Professor Thisbe Nissen
Fulfills: Creative Writing Ph.D. or M.F.A. workshop requirement

A course focused on students’ original short fiction and on extensive, close reading of published work in the genre. Students train to be close readers, careful writers, and attentive editors. The goal is 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 5670: Creative Writing Workshop, Poetry

Wednesdays, 6:30 - 9:50; Brown 3010
Dr. William Olsen
Fulfills: Creative Writing Ph.D. or M.F.A. 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 5680: Creative Writing Workshop, Playwriting

Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:50; Brown 2037
Dr. Steve Feffer
Fulfills: Creative Writing Ph.D. or M.F.A. workshop requirement


English 5740: Grammar in Teaching Writing

Tuesdays, 6:30 - 9:50; Brown 3045
Dr. Karen Vocke
Fulfills: Ph.D. prerequisite 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 the instructor at Jonathan.Bush@wmich.edu.


English 5970: Studies in English - Performing Gender in Shakespeare's Sonnets

Wednesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3017
Dr. Margaret Dupuis
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for British Renaissance Literature; M.A.-level elective

Shakespeare’s sonnets are among the most famous love poems in the English language, yet many readers are unaware that several (perhaps most) of them were addressed to a young man. In this class we will situate Shakespeare’s work within the sonnet tradition and examine his rhetorical strategies through an interrogation of the speaker’s voice(s), implied narratives both within individual sonnets and the order in which the sonnets are published. We will pay particular attention to the inherently dramatic character of the poems and the ways in which gender is performed by and within them.


English 6110: Literary Forms

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


English 6150: Literary Criticism

Mondays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3037
Dr. Christopher MacLean Nagle
Fulfills: Ph.D. prerequisite requirement for Literary Criticism; M.A.-level 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: Studies in British Literature - The Victorian Novel

Mondays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3048
Dr. Jil Larson
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for 19th Century British Literature; M.A.-level elective

This course will provide a survey of the Victorian novel (1837-1901) and will be especially valuable for doctoral students preparing for qualifying exams in Victorian literature, though it will appeal also to anyone with an interest in the history of the novel or narrative theory. We will investigate the period in its different phases, preoccupations, narrative modes and experiments. 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 late-century cultural concerns (degeneration, reverse colonization, the New Woman) and pessimism about agency. The reading list is still in progress but will likely include most of the following novelists: the Brontes, Thackeray, Dickens, Collins, Gaskell, Eliot, Wilde, Schreiner, Stoker, and Hardy. The course will test your stamina as a reader because of the sheer length of most Victorian novels, though I will make an effort to vary long novels with shorter ones.


English 6300: Introduction to Graduate Studies

Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 4048
Dr. Jon Adams
Fulfills: Literature Ph.D. and M.A. prerequisite requirement; elective for all other students

English 6300 introduces students to the vicissitudes of professionalization in English Studies, including information about sub-fields, work of individuals in various aspects of English Studies, and expectations for a professional career both in graduate school and beyond. Most intensively, however, ENGL 6300 prepares students to conduct advanced research in English Studies, to recognize the conventions that govern such study, and to continue the life-long process of refining their academic prose.

Required Texts:

Graff/Birkenstein They Say/I Say: Moves that Matter . . . Norton 9780393933611
Harris, Joseph Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts Utah State UP 9780874216424
McComiskey, Bruce English Studies: An Introduction NCTE 9780814115442
Semenza, Gregory C. Graduate Study for the 21st Century Palgrave 9780230100336


English 6660: Graduate Writing Workshop, Poetry

Wednesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 2037
Dr. Nancy Eimers
Fulfills: Creative Writing Ph.D. or M.F.A. workshop requirement

Muriel Rukeyser wrote that "All things change in time; some are made of change itself, and the poem is of these. It is not an object; the poem is a process." Ideally, our workshop will be a place to consider the poem as it is poised between what was intended and what might possibly be. Our task as a workshop will be to help instigate that change, or help the writer to imagine her/his way to the poem's next, ever more crucial version.


English 6790: Studies in Composition Theory

Wednesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 1045
Dr. Thomas Kent
Fulfills: Ph.D. teaching component; M.A.-level elective

Course Description: By focusing on a communication theory (paralogic rhetoric) that understands both reading and writing as non-systemic interpretive or hermeneutic acts, we will consider the development and the implications of post-process theory. In a seminar setting, we will discuss the neo-pragmatic philosophical background for paralogic rhetoric, primarily in the works of Richard Rorty and Donald Davidson, and read a variety of writings by post-process rhetoricians and theorists. Course participants will write a seminar paper and lead one or two class discussions.


English 6800: Advanced Methods in 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

Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3037
Dr. Staci Perryman-Clark
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.


Department of English
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Western Michigan University
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