Old England's Beowulf, put in the recent limelight by award- winning poet Seamus Heaney and the recent film by Robert Zemeckis, has been the domain, invisible to the public, of academia, wherein we find voluminous discussion of folklore material, teratology (study of monsters!), orality and literacy, historicity, gender, narrative, poetic technique, translation theory, and the volatile debates about dating it. This course will read this famous eleventh- (or seventh??) century epic in various modern renderings. For the poem itself and its story we will look at Howell Chickering with facing page original text and the acclaimed Seamus Heaney translation, newly presented by John Niles with illustrations of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and artifacts. We will make some excursions into Anglo-Saxon language, noted passages in the original Anglo-Saxon, related texts from Old Norse literature (notably Grettis Saga, Hrolfskraki Saga, and others). We will read prominent critical materials written of it, and view and discuss the four films made of it. I hope to explore the enigmatic quality of this one and only version (collected in the Nowell Codex, available on CD-ROM at the Robbins Library). Why does it elude us? Is its written form a late production of an earlier oral poem? What is its beauty and appeal? Why the digressions? What does it reveal about the people who produced it and why must we rewrite it, almost always giving the celibate and slightly monstrous hero some kind of love-interest that will make us able to relate to him? This course will fulfill the medieval as well as the Great Books/Authors clusters. For English majors, it fulfills the pre-1800 requirement.
This course focuses on drama written by Shakespeare's contemporaries. Classes center around careful study of individual plays. We consider, among other topics, the playwrights' emphases on their characters' psychological interiority, their staging of funeral pageants and madness, their use of props, their fascination with sensational and often violent events, their interest in memory, and their insistent references to contemporary performance practices (including the Renaissance tradition of boy actors playing women's roles). We also become familiar with descriptions of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century theatrical spaces-- their geographical location and physical properties, the composition of their audiences, the training and performance practices of their actors, and the aesthetic, economic, and political contexts of their productions. And we sort through the plays' depiction of the proper relations between ruler and subject, husband and wife, parents and children, and European and non- European characters. Readings include plays by Beaumont and Fletcher, Cary, Dekker, Ford, Jonson, Kyd, Marlowe, Middleton, Shakespeare, and Webster. Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for the English major. Applicable English Cluster: Plays, Playwrights, and Theater.
This course will survey the English Renaissance Lyric, from Wyatt to Marvell. Our authors will include Gascoigne, Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Jonson, Herrick, Lovelace, Herbert, Traherne, and Vaughan. Although the majority of our class time will be spent close-reading individual poems, we will also pay attention to literary convention and historical context in order to learn to read and analyze the poems with as much comprehension and pleasure as possible. Course requirements: attendance, two papers, a midterm, and a non-cumulative final.
This course introduces students to some of the major novelists in nineteenth-century British literature. While the course provides broad coverage of the nineteenth-century British novel, our discussion of these select nineteenth-century novels will be guided by the theme of possession. What is the connection, this course asks, between marriage and romance and other forms of possession such as land, money, or things, in the nineteenth- century British novel? In addressing this question, we will discuss how narrative devices like the marriage-plot offer vehicles for novelists such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot to explore the linkages between romance, sexuality, property, and capitalism. While possession may be a major theme underlying the courses structure, we will also discuss other topics such as nationalism, the woman question and the problem of separate spheres, changes in class structure, and British imperialism. In addition to addressing thematic and political issues, students will also have an opportunity to analyze the aesthetic dimensions of literary texts, paying attention to the techniques writers employ as they shape and experiment with forms of the novel.
The course covers the period roughly between World War I and World War II, dealing with the rich creativity we associate with Modernism. We will read and discuss such writers as Eliot, Faulkner, Hemingway, Dos Passos, Steinbeck, etc., studying not only the works but some of the major trends in art, culture, and knowledge that make the modern period so important and exciting. The method will be a combination of close reading, lecture, and discussion with (probably) one short paper and one longish paper. Not open to freshmen. Applicable English Clusters: American and African American Studies; Modern and Contemporary Literature.
This course surveys the entire tradition of African-American drama, paying particular attention to the genre's formal characteristics. Plays will also be read and discussed with attention to specific historical and thematic contexts, such as the era of slavery, social protest, interracial relations, intra-racial differences of class, gender, and sexuality, and contemporary attitudes toward black history. Featured playwrights include James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Alice Childress, Charles Fuller, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ntozake Shange, Anna Deavere Smith, August Wilson, George C. Wolfe, and others. Required texts include "Black Theatre USA: Plays by African Americans 1847 to Today." Students will be evaluated on class participation, weekly reading responses, and two formal papers. Students will also be required to attend Wednesday evening screenings of video/film performances of (approximately) eight of the course's plays or to view these performances independently. Applicable English Clusters: American and African American Studies; Literature and Cultural Identity. May also be applied to the cluster on Plays, Playwrights, and Theater on an exceptional basis.
What is an author? This course begins with the premise that the answer to this question is anything but self-evident. How does the literary ideal of the author as solitary genius as sole creator of a unique, original work of art correspond to the actual practices of ordinary writers? And, for that matter, how does it correspond to the actual practice of even the great authors (Shakespeare, for example) it purportedly describes? Was such an ideal ever anything but a myth? What role do editors play in the practice of authorship? When does an editor count as a co-author? How do market factors and modes of publication affect what and how an author writes? How has our understanding of authorship changed in a world of virtual authors and virtual texts? How do we make sense of the journalistic scandals (involving authors, editors, and sources) that seem to have become so prevalent today? What happens when readers become authors, as in zines? For some time now, debates have raged, in both the academy and the popular media, about the nature and practice of authorship. Looking at examples drawn from both literature and journalism, this class will examine a number of sites of these debates: collaborative authorship; ghost writing; editorial theory and practice; forgeries and hoaxes; plagiarism; cult or celebrity authorship; pulp fiction, best-sellerdom, and popular authorship; authorial practices in media other than print (film, electronic and digital media, etc.); vanity presses and on-demand publishing; copyright law; readership and reception. Students will have the opportunity to do original research and pursue case studies of their own choosing. May be applied on an exception basis to the English cluster in Media, Culture and Communication.
How do we account for the fact that innocent people die untimely deaths due to circumstances beyond their control? This course will examine some compelling responses to that question in the form of canonical tragedies of the western tradition, ranging from Sophocles to Beckett. (We will read at least three plays by Shakespeare so that you may use this course to satisfy your pre-1800 requirement.) To help focus our discussions, we will also read what philosophers such as Aristotle, Hegel, Kirkegaard, and Nietzsche have had to say about tragedy and what it represents. We will approach the topic both as literary critics, studying the aesthetic strategies that enable plays to move audiences to grieve over fictional people, and as cultural critics, asking how and why "tragedy" mediates historical events such as 9/11 or Katrina. Course Requirements: class attendance, two papers, and two exams composed of textual identifications.
Theater in its cultural and political context. Plays by: Catherine II, Pushkin, Gogol, Ostrovsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Kharms, Bulgakov, and others.
Theater in England will be conducted in London from Saturday, December 29, 2008, through Saturday, January 10, 2009. Students should arrive in London no later than the evening of December 28. They may return on Sunday, January 11. We will see and have classes on approximately 20 plays. At the end of the course, students will submit a journal that discusses all the plays seen. The journal is due at the beginning of the third week of classes after we get back. I do not yet know what plays we will be seeing, but you can be certain that we will see the best of what is available in the world's theater Mecca. Last year we saw such productions as Ian McKellen in Shakespeare's King Lear, Simon Russell Beale and Zoe Wanemaker in a legendary production of Much Ado About Nothing, and Chiwetel Ejiofor's definitive performance in the title role of Othello. As an out of town break, we went to Stratford-upon-Avon to do homage to Shakespeare, and see David Warner's Falstaff in Henry IV, Parts I and II. The range of the offerings was terrific, from Nick Stafford's War Horse (with its amazing larger than life puppetry) and a fascinating adaptation of Euripides' Women of Troy to a brilliant example of in-yer-face theater in Anthony Nielson's God in Ruins. We saw big musicals like Billy Elliot and Mary Poppins and fringe productions like Fletcher's Custom of the Country and Neil Labute's Bash. For information about the course over the past sixteen years go to www.courses.rochester.edu/peck/theatre/ The course is restricted to 23 students and carries 4 credits. The fee is $2550.00, which includes tickets to all plays and housing. Students must obtain passports and make their own travel arrangements. You may obtain the application from the English Department or Professor Peck. You need permission of the instructor to register. Contact Professor Russell Peck (firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 275-0110 or 585-473-7354).
An introduction to the history, technology, and cultural significance of motion pictures of the pre-sound era, with screenings of 35mm prints accompanied by live music in the Dryden Theatre. Special attention will be paid to the major pioneers, Dickson, Porter, Lumiere, Melies, and Griffith, but the course will include a variety of internationally produced films selected from the world famous archival film collection of the George Eastman House. Discussion sessions will cover the origins and development of the motion picture industry and its leading genres up to the general introduction of movies with pre-recorded music, sound and dialog, beginning in 1927. Broad issues relating to the transformation of American and world popular entertainment forms and traditions, in relation to the established performing arts of the period, will also be covered. Relevant connections to preserving the worlds film heritage will be highlighted and the film restoration facilities of the Motion Picture Department will be visited in the course of the semester. Students will be expected to take a mid-term exam and write one paper. Meets at George Eastman House. Applicable English Cluster: Media, Culture, and Communication.
The course would examine these two genres of film that both purport to have a direct effect upon the spectator's body - provoking laughter, screams, or, often, a combination of both. It would explore each genre's history and defining characteristics, while also emphasizing moments of intersect6ion between the two, as in the increasingly campy slasher films of the 80s and 90s, or horror film parodies.
Recently the large-scale dissemination of erotic and pornographic literature and film has begun to affect the majority of the population in the West. There are two main issues in the course:1) the history of the changing genres of erotica and the social changes taking place because of its wide dissemination; and 2) the proposition that if societies were different little harm and much good would come from the inclusion of erotica in peoples reading and viewing habits: erotic materials, by removing sex from the realm of the forbidden and viewing it as a species of everyday life, can contribute to the education of both sexes and people of all sexual tastes and preferences. Readings in the course will concentrate on classical, early modern, enlightenment, and contemporary erotica, with attention to the contemporary debates about pornography begun by the activism of MacKinnon and Dworkin. Of particular interest in this critique is the claim that erotic materials encourage the practice of violence against women and children, and help to promote a culture dependent on the use of force and violence. The course reviews the current debate on pornography and sexually explicit language as a context for viewing the history of the more familiar erotic materials from classical times, to the Renaissance and 18th century, to D.H.Lawrence, and Erica Jong. Film showings Thursday evenings 7-10.
This workshop is for advanced fiction writers who have completed ENG 121 or have permission from the instructor. The course emphasizes the development of each student's individual style and imagination, as well as the practical and technical concerns of a fiction writer's craft. Readings will be drawn from a wide variety of modern and contemporary writers. Students will be expected to write three original short stories as well as to revise extensively in order to explore the full range of the story's potential. Applicable English Cluster: Creative Writing.
This course will introduce students to the theoretical backgrounds, practical challenges, and creative activity of literary translation. We will survey appropriate theories of language and communication including semiotics, post-structuralism, pragmatics, discourse analysis, and cognitive linguistics. We will consider varied and conflicting descriptions by translators of what it is they believe they are doing and what they hope to accomplish by doing it; and we will study specific translations into English from a variety of sources in order to investigate the strategies and choices translators make and the implication of those choices for our developing sense of what kinds of texts translations actually are. Finally, students will, in consultation with the instructor or with another qualified faculty member, undertake exercises in translation of their own. By the end of this class each student should have a working knowledge of both the critical backgrounds and the artistic potentials of translation.
The seminar has several goals: First, the close reading of two major poems of the late fourteenth century, John Gower's Confessio Amantis and William Langland's Piers Plowman, within their cultural environment, whether that be ethical polemics, theory of literary compilation, theory of rhetoric, social and political structures, or, especially, the developing of psychological structures that define concepts such as self, soul, and time. Second, we will explore the development of the use sophisticated first person narrators to develop fictional "autobiography" as a means of examineing epistemological as well as philosophical matters. Third, the seminar will be a phenomenological study in "being there," not so much in terms of our effort to historicise the material (though we will, of course, be doing that) as it will be a consideration of how medieval writers attempt to access themselves, i.e., to place themselves and their progressive enlightenments and frustrations within some kind of metaphysical relationship with imagined conditions of being. We will be concerned with several disciplines as the personas attempt to educate themselves amidst what Langland calls "a field full of folk" located between a tower and a pit, an image that suits well with Gower's wandering "middel-weie" amidst an existential desert. Seminar work will include two reports (one about 30 minutes in length, and another of about 15 minutes; a couple of one-page position papers, designed to lead to discussion; and a research paper ca. 15-20 pages in length.
In 1967, Roland Barthes famously proclaimed the Death of the Author. Yet the Life of the Author has long occupied, and continues to occupy, a central place in both the popular and scholarly imagination; as we scrutinize the biographies behind creative minds, what is it we hope to discover? the key to their works? to their artistic power? to the nature of "genius"? This already-fraught enterprise is made only more difficult by authors themselves, whose imaginative renderings of reality nearly always extend to their own lives as well, thus eluding and deluding future assessors. This course will work to theorize and historicize our culture’s attempts to separate "Author" from "Self," "Representation" from "Reality," "Public" from "Private," by examining instances of biographical criticism, literary biography, and writerly self-fashioning. Authors and (auto-)biographers will include Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Johnson, Boswell, Keats, Gaskell, Proust, and Nabokov, among others; we will also read texts by theorists such as Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Roger Chartier, Adrian Johns, Mark Rose, and Martha Woodmansee.
This course takes as its point of departure the so-called subculture of the Victorians—what, referring to the underworld of Victorian sexuality, Steven Marcus first named in 1966 the "Other Victorians." Extending and critiquing Marcus's formulation, this course examines a number of sites of cultural conflict in the Victorian period, including Victorian pornography and sexuality, prostitution, working class identity, the colonial empire, Jewish nationhood, madness and hysteria, "new women," criminality. We will look at a number of literary texts by both canonical and noncanonical writers, with attention to the question of what authors and works defined Victorian identity for the Victorians and for subsequent generations of academic and common readers. Literary texts considered will include such works as George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Princess, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh, and Bram Stoker's Dracula. We will also look at recent trends and developments in Victorian studies to consider how these "other" Victorians may have now become the Victorian mainstream.
Restrictions: Open only to graduate students in offering department
Restrictions: Open only to graduate students in offering department
This course introduces graduate students to the scholarly issues on rhetoric, composition, literacy, and cultural studies that focus on the teaching of writing. The class will examine a significant range of theory and research on teaching and academic writing. Using this background of research, students will create a syllabus for English 103, and they will write a syllabus rationale for the course.