Graduate Course Archive Spring 2016

Graduate Course Offerings - Spring 2016



Advanced Literary Theory: Globalizing Queer/Crip Theory

T 6:10-8:00 p.m.



This advanced queer and crip theory course will pay particular attention to the centrality of queer-of-color critique and trans theory in contemporary queer theory and in critiques of neoliberal capitalism.  We will examine how that centrality has allowed for, and continues to invite, textured conversations about embodiment, impairment, disability, illness, toxicity, access, mobility, migration, and securitization/militarization in a global context.  The course will look critically at the spectacularization of bodies and desires at this moment in the history of capitalism, while simultaneously attending to epistemologies, or cripistemologies, that aspire to exceed or disidentify with the spectacle of contemporary capitalism (and its paradoxical tendency to domesticate, detain, or contain queer/crip energies or cultural production).  Although open to all students who have a moderate facility with critical theory generally, the course will nonetheless attempt to build on students’ prior engagements with crip and queer theory.  Readings may be drawn from the work of Roderick Ferguson, Darieck Scott, Nirmala Erevelles, Mia Mingus, Dan Goodley, Toby Beauchamp, Fiona Kumari Campbell, David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, Kateřina Kolářová, Mel Chen, Jasbir Puar, Kevin Floyd, Richard Parker, Licia Fiol-Matta, Lisa Duggan, and others.




W 6:10-8:00 p.m.



Aesthetics has been variously understood as a “science of sensuous perception,” a “criticism of taste” and a mode of critical reflection on relations among art, nature, and culture.  Neuroaesthetics will explore the history of the term aesthetics, and influential accounts, of aesthetic experience.  The course will engage current debates regarding the function and effect, primarily, of literary aesthetics.  Readings will review research from four perspectives.  Traditional western accounts reflect essays from Plato to the Victorians.  Marxist and cultural accounts of the ideological use of aesthetics  will review readings from Eagleton, Bourdieu, and Jameson.   Current claims from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology will examine the work of Gabriella Starr, Nancy Easterlin and Eric Kandel and will be given particular emphasis.  Non-western discussions of aesthetics reviews work by Bhabha, Adunis, Li, and Narasimhaiah.  In addition to the readings of theory, the course will give attention to the close readings of  2 poems, 2 plays and 2 short stories.  Course requirements involve one presentation,  one short paper of 6 pages and one long research paper of 18 pages.   



Rights and Revolution: Transnationalism and Culture, 1776-1848

R 6:10-8:00 p.m.



“We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” writes Thomas Paine in Common Sense (1776), for “the birthday of a new world is at hand.”  Departing from Paine’s progressive vision of revolutionary action, the first half of this course examines representations of society, sovereignty, and citizenship in literary and cultural products spawned by the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions—three world-historical events whose class, racial, and gender dimensions (and failures) anticipate our present in remarkable ways.  Questions we will ask continually include: what are rights and where do they reside?  How narrow are the definitions of bodies in which rights inhere?  How do representations of rights in literature and other art forms mediate political discussions surrounding rights?  In the second half of the class, we will turn our attention to industrialization and the development of workers rights movements during the first half of the nineteenth century, especially insofar as these developments help us grasp the convulsive and transnational events of the revolutionary year 1848, as well as our own present.  As we look at this period, we will also ask questions about the boundaries of rights: is there such a thing as a right to literacy, for example, or a right to housing? Or a right to a living wage?--a demand that workers have been making since the first moments of industrialization.  What even is a right?


This course invites students who are interested in literature, politics, and the history of revolutionary thought.  In our readings of primary texts by Thomas Paine, Charles Brockden Brown, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Richard Price, Edmund Burke, Matthew Lewis, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Wollstonecraft, Hannah Moore, Victor Hugo, Émeric Bergeaud, and many others, we will examine literary tropes like but not limited to “the mob,” “the rebel,” “the reactionary.”  Beyond this, we will consider these eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writings as a necessary precondition for the fissures and blindspots that surround contemporary discourses surrounding human rights, a topic that is timely given our ongoing global crises surrounding (rightless) refugees, asylum-seekers, and forced economic migrants.  Toward this end, and in conjunction with our diverse array of primary texts, we will read compelling secondary criticism by writers like E.P. Thompson, Hannah Arendt, CLR James, Jacques Rancière, Susan Buck-Morss, and Daniel Heller-Roazen.  



Chaucerian Afterlives: Theory and Practice

M 6:10-8:00 p.m.



This seminar explores the global reception history of Geoffrey Chaucer from his earliest English and French contemporaries to modern-day popular culture and digital media. Focusing on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, our class will “code-switch” between medieval and postmedieval frames of reference. First, we will read selected poems by Chaucer in the original Middle English language alongside important works of historicist literary criticism; second, we will consider how Chaucerian works are repurposed in modern media (such as spoken word poetry, dialect literatures, YouTube videos, and comic books). As this course toggles between two modes of reading, it tests the boundaries between literary criticism and popular reception history. It also asks how present-day translation theory confronts a perceived chasm separating static text-based models of “translation” from embodied culture-based models of “adaptation.” Readings will provide exposure to key critical terms in medievalism studies, comparative literary analysis, and adaptation studies, and we will explore some new methods and practices emergent in disability studies and the digital humanities (such as the open-access journal Accessus and the Global Chaucers project).


Assignments will include a comparative close reading that engages with current criticism; an analysis of a digital adaptation, product, or archive; and 20-page research-based essay or a 20-minute conference paper.


Assigned works in addition to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales may include Deaf and Afro-Caribbean appropriations of The Wife of Bath’s Tale (Peter Cook’s “Finger-licious Stories,” Jean “Binta” Breeze’s “The Wife of Bath Speaks in Brixton Market,” and Patience Agbabi’s Telling Tales); Bruce Holsinger’s historical novel The Invention of Fire (2015); Paul Strohm’s public-facing “microbiography” of Chaucer entitled Chaucer’s Tale (2014).


No prior experience in Chaucer is assumed. With the exception of Chaucerian works in Middle English, all non-English works will be provided in modern English translation.



Modernism, at Home and Abroad

W 4:10-6:00 p.m.



This seminar on Modernist writing, “at home and abroad,” will feature the work of several U.S. authors, including Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cather, Dos Passos, Djuna Barnes, Stein, and Wright, who lived in Europe as well as America and wrote about life in the two cultures between the First and Second World Wars.  We will read the work of these authors with one eye on politics and the other on aesthetics.  On a broader scale, we’ll explore the historical and political conflicts or “fault lines” that defined Euro-American culture during this period while also examining Modernism as an international movement in the arts more generally.


Theoretical and historical readings include the work of Shari Benstock (Women on the Left Bank of Paris, 1900-1940), Michel Fabre (From Harlem to Paris: Black American Writers in France, 1840-1980), Paul Fussell (The Great War and Modern Memory), Eric Homberger (American Writers and Radical Politics, 1900-1939), Fredric Jameson (The Political Unconscious), Walter Benn Michaels (Our America: Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism), Tyrus Miller (Late Modernism: Politics, Fiction, and the Arts Between the World Wars), Raymond Williams (The Politics of Modernism), Judith Butler (Gender Trouble), and David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, eds., The Body and Physical Difference).  Some of the key topics to be considered include: modernity; nativism, transnationalism; commercialism; the “lost generation”; the body, normalcy, and conformity; radicalism and the avant garde; race, class, and gender.  Requirements include a short paper or book review on modernity and/or Modernism; two oral presentations; and a 15-20 page interpretive essay.






Independent Research




Folger Institute Seminars II





Thesis Research



Thesis Research



Advanced Reading and Research



Dissertation Research