Graduate Courses Summer 2010

Graduate Courses Summer 2010

Department of English

Graduate Course Descriptions - Summer 2010


Summer I
Summer II
English 5550: Filming Jane Austen English 5970: The Coming-of-Age Novel
English 5970: American Expatriate Writers  English 6100: Seminar in American Literature - The Harlem Renaissance
English 5970: New Play Project English 6970: Third Coast Writing Project


Summer I

English 5550: Major Authors
Filming Jane Austen
Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:20; Brown 3002
Dr. Christopher MacLean-Nagle
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Nineteenth-century British; Ph.D. and M.A.-level literature elective

This course will explore the various ways in which Jane Austen can be considered as a cinematic novelist, and how the experience of the film adaptations of her works has influenced the way we read her novels.  To this end, rather than confining our attention to thematic and contextual elements of her fiction, we also will emphasize (among other things) the visual and auditory dimensions of Austen's work and the difficulties of translating Austen’s inimitable style into a different medium.  By doing so, we should be able see her own artistic practice anew, and to engage in productive new readings of major films adapted from her fiction and from her life.  The point of the latter will not simply be to assess “fidelity to the original,” however tempting that exercise might be.  Rather, we will work diligently to take the film adaptations of Austen’s novels as serious works of artistic and cultural production in their own right, and on their own terms.  Ultimately, we will seek a kind of dialogical engagement between film and fiction, exploring the ways in which each illuminates the other.

We will begin by reading a generous selection of Austen’s remarkable letters, thus preparing the way for two recent biopics exploring important moments in her life.  Due consideration of her fiction will follow, accompanied by multiple adaptations of the novels, including several looser, non-traditional reworkings (possibilities include: Bride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Clueless, The Jane Austen Book Club, Lost in Austen).  Much of our inspiration will come from the recent collaborative volume, The Cinematic Jane Austen, which will help to bring up to speed those who have had little or no exposure to the formal analysis of film or to film theory; no such expertise is required, although enthusiastic immersion in the world of Austen *is*. 

Course requirements likely will include outside screenings of films for class, a cluster of short response papers, one longer final paper (8-10p for undergrads, 15-20p for grads) that engages in substantive, comparative analysis (e.g., of multiple filmic adaptations of a single novel or of formal strategies shared by adaptations of different novels), and possibly a short class presentation.  If you have questions or would like a list of the required texts, please contact Prof. Nagle: christopher.nagle


English 5970: Studies in English
American Expatriate Writers 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3002
Professor Richard Katrovas
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for American II; Ph.D. and M.A.-level literature elective

A nation built by immigrants and slaves, America is populated primarily by hyphenated citizens, though many of us are a blending of ethnicities and races. How many among us when asked, “What are you?” answer that we are a half or a quarter Irish, say, or Italian or Chinese, or an eighth or even a sixteenth German, African, Greek, Arab or Indian? How many of us proudly claim to have Native American ancestors? However, when we are abroad, no matter our ancestry, we are Americans. Abroad, our national identity trumps ethnicity and race.

American literature acquired many of its more salient features through the expatriate experience, American writers living abroad, usually but not exclusively in Europe, sometimes isolated though more often in colonies within major European cities. What compelled so many of the major American writers of the 19th and 20th centuries to forge careers on foreign soil?

Reading and discussing some of the classics of the past 150 years, poetry and prose, we will seek to understand better why many of the most important American writers fled America.  Each week each student will compose one or two well-crafted paragraphs in response to particular topics centered on our readings. Class discussion will be spirited and, I hope, fun. There will be a relatively easy final exam.

We will center our conversation on such expatriate American writers as Mark Twain, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.


English 5970: Studies in English
New Play Project
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:00 - 10:00; Gilmore Theater Complex 1119
Dr. Steve Feffer
Fulfills: Ph.D. or M.A.-level CW workshop requirement

Now in its seventh year, the Western Michigan University New Play Project has developed and presented almost seventy plays over five summers to standing room only audiences in the York Arena Theatre. Twelve-fifteen short plays will be competitively selected to be developed for a public staged reading in the York in a class with a company of actors and directors from the Theatre Department. Each play will receive two weeks of rehearsal for the script-in-hand reading. Additionally, while the playwrights are not in rehearsal on their own plays, they will serve as dramaturgs, stage managers, and, sometimes, actors on the other readings. Other classroom activities include workshops on other ways that plays are made and activities that examine the new play rehearsal process.


Summer I. Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00 AM - 11:50 AM, with public readings and rehearsals Thursdays 8 pm - 10:00 pm.


All interested playwrights or creative writers or theatre artists—graduate and undergraduate—should submit two copies of a completed short play (10-30 pages, standard play format) to the mailbox of Steve Feffer in the English Department office on the sixth floor of Sprau Tower by 5 PM, Friday, March 13. Between 12 and 15 plays will be selected from among these submissions. The selected playwrights will then be enrolled in ENGL 5970.

Please note: Playwrights currently enrolled in 3680 or have only taken 3680 (and not 5660 or another New Play Project) are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED by the professors to submit a ten minute play.


The course will be team taught by Prof. Mark Liermann, Theatre Department, and Dr. Steve Feffer, English Department.


The course will provide the unique opportunity for playwrights, actors, directors, and dramaturgs to explore the process by which new plays are developed and produced through the rehearsal process, as well as through full company classroom discussions, readings, and devisings. Plays from the New Play Project have gone on to publication and further local, regional and national productions.

For more information please contact Dr. Steve Feffer at


Summer II

English 5970: Studies in English
The Coming-of-Age Novel
Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3010
Dr. Gwen Tarbox
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for Non-traditional Literature; Ph.D. and M.A.-level literature elective

This course draws upon a variety of fields—childhood studies, cultural history, and literary studies—to trace the evolution of the Bildungsroman from its18th-century European origins through to its present-day manifestations in American and British literature.  Readings will include excerpts from such early texts as Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Fielding’sTom Jones, Douglass’ My Bondage and My Freedom, Dickens’ David Copperfield, Brönte’sJane Eyre, and Alcott’s Little Women.  In addition, we will read these texts in their entirety:

  • Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908)
  • James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
  • JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
  • Julian Barnes, Metroland (1980)
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home:  A Family Tragicomic (2006)

Assignments will include a blog entry, a semester essay and a final examination.


English 6100: Seminar in American Literature
The Harlem Renaissance
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 - 9:00; Brown 3003
Dr. John Saillant
Fulfills: Ph.D. distribution requirement for American II; Ph.D. and M.A.-level literature elective

This will be a research and writing seminar in the leading African-American artistic movement of the early twentieth century, with attention paid to various art forms.


English 6970: Studies in English
Third Coast Writing Project
Time and Location: TBA
Dr. Ellen Brinkley
Fulfills: Ph.D. specialization requirement and Ph.D. and M.A. in English with an emphasis in teaching elective

2010 Summer Program Schedule

1.   Invitational Summer Institute 
June 21-July 16, 2010
TCWP’s flagship program features a strong professional learning community for teachers at all levels and in all content areas. The focus is on writing, the teaching of writing, and using writing to learn in all content areas. This program includes a significant tuition grant. Interviews begin in March. (4-6 graduate credits)

2.   Writing 2.0: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age Workshop
June 14-18, 2010 
Participants explore ways to teach writing using today’s tools for tomorrow’s world—blogs, digital stories, wikis, podcasts, photo-editing, and more. Teachers at all levels, in all content areas, and with all levels of writing and technological experience are welcome. Two optional graduate credits paid for by school, district or individual participant at regular WMU rates. (2 optional grad. credits )

3.   Reading, Thinking, and Comprehension Workshop 
July 6 – 9
Teachers at all levels and in all content areas learn practical, research-based strategies that help students become stronger writers, readers, and thinkers. (2 optional grad. credits, with follow-up)

4.   Teacher as Writer Workshop
June 21 – July 2
Teachers in this open program welcome the time and response provided in support of their own writing. They work with outstanding guest writers, focusing on narrative, poetry, or the genre of their choice. In the fall they take their summer writing experiences into their classes and their work with student writers. (2 optional grad. credits)

5.   Writing with English Language Learners workshop 
July 6-9
Participants and leaders learn from TCWP teacher consultants who work with English language learners in their middle and high school classrooms. They share a wide range of writing and teaching strategies that support student learning for all students. (2 optional grad. credits with academic year follow up)

6.   TCWP Camps for Young Writers
June 14 – June 25 (tentative dates)
Summer camp programs for young writers feature time for writing and sharing among fellow campers. Camp programs are designed and led by TCWP Teacher Consultants and a WMU student group. Camp programs for 2009 included the following:  
7.   What Do Authors Do? (ages 8-10)
8.   Grammar Schmammar (ages 11-13)
9.   Writer’s Choice (ages 14-17)


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