Graduate Course Archive Spring 2015

Graduate Course Offerings - Spring 2015



Literary Analysis and Digital Networks
M 6:10PM - 8:00PM 

 Scholarly research in the humanities is not about answers: it's about generating informed, conceptually nuanced questions. Digital networks (including online technologies and social media) are transforming humanities research and changing the ways scholars think about our archives and our modes of inquiry. Can a computer read a text as well as a human? Is there an ideal way to present, access, and interpret a digitized archive? What kinds of communities do DH projects produce...or exclude?

This seminar explores the history of DH and will address some major theoretical and cultural issues raised by DH projects. Our focus will be on question of how digital media shapes literary analysis. To this end, we will read major literary texts and examine relevant DH projects related to those texts. We will also consider how literary scholars collaborate with other disciplines to explore the cultural work of images, maps, and audiovisual materials.


Assignments will include regular blog postings; one will entail an evaluation of a DH resource or project, and one will show how DH theory enables new readings of a literary text (or set of texts). By the end of this course, each student will produce a substantial, researched piece of scholarly writing that combines DH theory and original literary analysis; this piece will be written in stages in order to mimic the process of peer review for an online academic venue.


Literary texts will include works by important medieval and early modern authors (such as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, Margery Kempe, John Mandeville, Matthew Paris, and William Shakespeare). DH scholarship will include Franco Moretti's Graphs, Maps, Trees(2007), Matthew Jockers' Macroanalysis (2013), academic blogs (EXM, Postcolonial Digital Humanities), online projects (Map of Early Modern London), and peer-reviewed journals (Accessus, Deaf Studies Journal, Disability Studies Quarterly, and Hybrid Pedagogy).


NO COMPUTER SKILLS are required beyond word processing and Internet access.


Students taking this course are happily encouraged to enroll in Prof. DeWispelare's ENGL 6350, which will include some instruction on digital humanities project building.


Chang / Dugan 

Early Modern Women Writers
T 4:10PM - 6:00PM

This course analyzes the work of women writers in two distinct cultural contexts: early modern England and France. Revisiting influential scholarship about women writers in the Renaissance while also surveying new approaches to this field (particularly those clustered under the umbrella of the digital humanities), we will read a wide variety of primary and secondary sources that capture the expansive, but too often occluded, histories of women in all aspects of book production in the Renaissance, including writing, editing, translating, printing, and selling books. How did gender shape literary networks of influence in England and France? How does a comparative approach change the kinds of claims we make about “women writers” in the Renaissance? How does our own cultural investment in networks frame our approach to those of the past? And how do new digital approaches change the way we work on and think about women’s writing and history?  By the end of the course, students will have gained familiarity with the works of writers like Christine de Pizan, Louise Labé, Marguerite de Navarre, Margaret Cavendish, Aemilia Lanyer, Mary Sydney, and Hannah Wolley, as well as work by Elizabeth I and Catherine de Medici. They also will continue to hone their writing and the networking skills that define research in the humanities, including developing skills in the digital humanities.

This is a graduate level course, but it is also open to advanced undergraduates in French. Students registering for the course through the French department are encouraged to read the sources in French. The rest of the class will read these works in translation. All seminar discussions will be conducted in English. Please contact Leah Chang or Holly Dugan for more information.



Nineteenth Century
W 6:10PM - 8:00PM

We will approach these materials through the scrim of contemporary theory.  In particular, this course takes as its point of departure the ten-year anniversary of the publication of Ian Baucom’s Specters of the Atlantic (2005), a masterful work of literary and cultural theory that will serve as our central secondary text.  Baucom’s innovative account of the 1781 massacre aboard the slaveship Zong creatively interweaves and applies thinkers like Agamben, Arrighi, Buck-Morss, Burke, Davis, Glissant, Gilroy, Kant, Lynch, Makdisi, Marx, Mbembe, McKeon, Spivak, Williams, ŽiŽek—but even this alphabetical list is but a paltry simulacrum of this book's rich and exciting theoretical bibliography.  As we discuss the course’s primary works alongside a slow reading of Specters of the Atlantic, we will examine Baucom’s presuppositions, explore his interlocutors, test his conclusions, and dwell on the enduring three-way problem of capital, slavery, and the philosophy of history that Baucom explores so provocatively. 

In lieu of an extended research project or seminar paper, this course will feature instruction and guidance in the practical execution of a digital humanities project.  Students will learn basic techniques for the design and implementation of a digital source database. The goal is that as a group we will collectively produce an online resource where students can circulate occasional writing and research produced in conjunction with the course material.  Absolutely no previous programming experience is required, but curiosity is obligatory.  Because this course will limit itself to the practical skills required of online digital humanities programmers, students who are interested in the theoretical and cultural issues raised by DH are highly encouraged to enroll concurrently in Prof. Hsy’s ENGL 6130: Literary Analysis and Digital Networks.   



Twentieth Century
R 6:10PM - 8:00PM

Asians have been coming to America since 1849, but the writings of the immigrants and their descendents didn’t become “Asian American” until the discipline as such was formally recognized as a response to student strikes in 1968.  In fact, there was no such racial group in 1878 when the United States Congress created a new legal category, “aliens ineligible to citizenship,” just for Chinese, and then began to pass laws that also excluded other Asians and Pacific Islanders from immigration and citizenship—setting them apart from Europeans and placing them into a middle category, neither white nor black.

Asian Americanist scholars argue that the treatment of Asian Americans in America has always been shaped by U.S. foreign policy objectives, by the Orientalist perception of Asians as unassimilable aliens, and by a suspicion of “orientals” borrowed from European colonialism and re-framed just for America.  In response,  Asian American writers have turned from writing only about their efforts to claim identities as fully American citizens to questioning American “exceptionalism” and to reconceiving themselves as citizens of the world.  Or have they?

This course introduces constructions of Asian American race and ethnicity and provides alternative accounts of Asian American experiences.  We’ll discuss the political roots of the terms “Asian American” and “Asian American literature”; nineteenth-century East-West encounters; Chinese immigration and exclusion; Japanese American internment narratives; feminist, national, and postcolonial influences; adoption; transnational migration; theories of narrative, genre, mourning, melancholia, and loss.   Authors anf filmmakers include



Writing, Race and Nation
T 6:10PM - 8:00PM               

This graduate seminar will look at representations of race and nation in nineteenth-century American writing, from David Walker’s Appeal (1829) to W.E.B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk (1903), and explore how issues of race complicate or contradict both popular and legal conceptions of the nation in this period.  We will examine conflicts over land ownership between native Americans and white aristocrats, as seen in genealogical fictions by Melville (Pierre) and Hawthorne (House of the Seven Gables), and conflicts between slaves and slaveholders over questions of ownership of human capital, citizenship, and racial passing in Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, William Wells Brown’s Clotel, or The President’s Daughter, and Frances Harper’s Iola Leroy, and other narratives by African Americans.  Featured theoretical writings include Robert S. Levine’s Dislocating Race and Nation (2008), Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (rev. ed. 2006), and Eric J. Sundquist’s To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature (1993).  Requirements include oral reports, a review of scholarship, and an 18-20 page essay modeled after the publishable article.



Independent Research  



Independent Research  



Folger Institute Seminars II



Thesis Research



Thesis Research



Advanced Writing and Research