English is a huge banquet of words. Its history is one of invasions and adaptations. Brought to Britain by Germanic tribes in the 5th century, it was matured by violent and peaceful contact with other peoples and ideas. Few other languages are so accepting of neologism as English, so humongous in vocabulary, so malleable of construction. We‚Äôll peruse texts from Old, Middle, and Modern English and watch it grow from a Teutonic tongue to the powerful, ductile, and eclectic instrument it is today, spreading to other continents, colonizing, absorbing, and irritating. We‚Äôll read texts about linguistic Angst and jouissance by Alfred the Great, Aelfric, Robert of Gloucester, Chaucer, Caxton, Mulcaster, Shakespeare, Locke, Swift, Johnson, Webster, Orwell, and others who praised or blamed our shifty English. Finally, we‚Äôll grok urban dialects, vernaculars, slang, lolcat, texting, propriety, and proscription. Is it "based on" or "based off of"? Does it matter? Is English in decline or poised on a new horizon? lol! C U:)
Chaucer's reputation as "Father of English Literature," though deserved, sometimes obscures the fact that he is perhaps the funniest (lol) writer in our language. He is also among the subtlest, most outrageous, most intellectually curious, most book-learned, and most experimental of authors. Writing at a moment when there was virtually no "serious" poetic tradition in English (hence the paternity claim), Chaucer more or less invented vernacular writing (and style) as a category. He did this in part by placing the writer "Geffrey"—a version of himself—at the heart of many of his fictions, and this entirely likeable, intensely intimate, but totally elusive Chaucerian personality contributes greatly to the pleasure and challenge of reading. His portrayal of sexual identities and relations have unsettled the expectations of twenty generations of readers. Chaucer's language (Middle English) is unfamiliar, and initially requires conscious effort for understanding; it is also one of the most distinctive and direct versions of English that we have, melodious, abrupt, plangent, and guttural by turns, memorable in itself and in the ways it forces us to pay attention to the language we now speak. We will read Troilus and Criseyde (one of the two or three greatest poems in English), a selection from The Canterbury Tales, and a selection of shorter narrative poems. Students will have a chance to read and recite medieval English, and will write a series of response papers, as well as a longer final paper. Final exam.
This course will take up the richly varied literature of the English Renaissance, especially its poetry. Readings will range from love sonnets to heroic dramas, from social satires to religious hymns, from lyric comedies to mad-songs. The poetry of this period sends deep roots into classical and biblical traditions, even as it becomes increasingly exploratory, combining intricate verbal wit, intellectual play, and strength of dramatic voice. Readings will include the poetry of John Skelton, Thomas Wyatt, Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, and John Donne. We'll also be looking at Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and prose by Sidney, Donne, and Francis Bacon.
In 1660 the Puritans lost control of England; the monarchy was restored, and, after an eighteen-year ban on theater, the English playhouses reopened (with women acting on stage for the first time ever). Comedy flourished in particular, exploring with unparalleled wit such issues as changing gender roles, the institutions of courtship and marriage, and relations between children and parents. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the object of humor was often the theatre itself: playwrights pushed the limits of traditional genres such as the Heroic Tragedy, and introduced elements of farce, opera, and political satire, as well as reflections of middle-class life. This course will examine a variety of plays, while also considering questions of social context, theory and performance. Authors include Behn, Centilivre, Congreve, Dryden, Etherege, Fielding, Gay, Goldsmith, Steele, and Sheridan.
Race-based slavery in America ended over a century ago, but our nation continues to grapple with the legacies of "the peculiar institution." For example, slavery has haunted the literary imaginations of African-American writers over the last century. This course surveys a range of African-American novels in order to analyze the ways in which these texts both portray and represent slavery's lasting effects on American culture, society, and politics. The course also analyzes these novels' connections to—and discontinuities with—slave narratives and postmodernism. Readings include works by Steven Barnes, Arna Bontemps, Octavia Butler, Pauline Hopkins, Charles Johnson, Edward P. Jones, Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, Margaret Walker, and more. Students will be evaluated on class participation, an in-class presentation, weekly reading responses, and two formal papers.
In this class we will read widely in the writings by these three crucial figures in American nineteenth-century literature. We will relate their work to their cultural and historical moment, and also consider how they become founding figures both in an American literary and poetic tradition and also in the transatlantic development of modernism.
When the now-classic novels of writers like James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Lawrence were published in the first part of the twentieth century, readers were shocked by both their style and content. In the face of revolutionary upheavals in social and political life and in the understanding of human psychology and personal relationships, these writers proclaimed the end of fiction as we know it. Looking back at these novels from our vantage in the twenty-first century, we will reassess what made these works appear so shocking. Pairing earlier twentieth-century novels with novels from the second half of the century, we will also look at the way later writers revised the idea of modern consciousness and the fiction appropriate to it and at the ways they responded to the post-WWII remapping of the British Empire and to the construction of postmodern and postcolonial identities.
This literature course will consider both American and international poetry written from 1945 to present. An emphasis will be placed on thinking about poets as translators and about how American poets and readers have thought about poetry translated into English.
This course introduces students to several different twentieth-century approaches to literary analysis: from New Criticism to Formalism to Structuralism to Deconstruction to New Historicism to feminist and postcolonial theory, various theoretical movements have asked fundamental questions about (and offered provisional hypotheses on) the nature of signification, interpretation, truth, and knowledge. Not just methods for reading, these approaches challenge us to rethink the relationship between representation and reality, language and life. Students will gain familiarity with all of the major schools of literary theory and engage with them critically through writing assignments and exams.
The connection between word and image is foundational to the study of both art and literature. Whether the interaction is one of collaboration or hostility, study of the relationship between verbal and visual languages reveals their mutual interdependence on a multiplicity of levels. From consideration of the so-called "sister arts" of painting and poetry and the role of titles, captions, and illustrations to the interaction of the verbal and the visual in graphic novels and ekphrastic criticism, word and image cannot be separated. This course will address a selection of readings and topics designed to introduce the student to a broad range of themes and issues within word and image studies.
Memory has always been central to the work of poetry, whether in poems that celebrate past heroism and past poetry, or in poems that mourn the dead. But the operations of a more private, personal memory, and how this shapes our inner lives and sense of the world, becomes particularly important in modern poetry after Romanticism. Poetry in this tradition—which will be the focus of this class—often dwells on the particulars of childhood, its pains and pleasures, what of childhood vanishes or survives in other forms. This poetry also probes the seductions and disguises of memory, and its collaborations with imagination; it studies the collisions of personal and collective memory. It takes up things forgotten, even repressed, as well as remembered. Readings will include poetry by William Wordsworth, John Keats, Walt Whitman, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, James Merrill, and W. S. Merwin, as well as prose by Saint Augustine, Sigmund Freud, Marcel Proust, and Vladimir Nabokov.
What can fiction tell us about the action of imagination? Who imagines what in the formative novels and stories of the twentieth century? What can we learn from imaginative literature about the idiosyncratic workings of the mind, the expressive potential of language, the relevance of the unreal? These are some of the questions we'll ask in this exploration of modern and contemporary international fiction. As we read fiction written in English and in translation, we'll pay close attention to issues of cultural transmission and influence. Authors include Beckett, Kafka, Borges, Woolf, Faulkner, Dinesen, Garcia Marquez, Calvino, and Sebald.
This 4-credit intersession course will be conducted in London and Stratford-upon-Avon, UK, from December 29, 2011, through January 14, 2012. We will have a full range of theater experiences in venues as diverse as theater-in-the-round at the Orange Tree to the multiple stages of the National Theatre, from intimate fringe productions and experimental theater to the extravaganzas of West End. See the Theater in England website for descriptions of the program and syllabuses from the past 20 years. This year we will see the best of what is available (twenty or so plays). We will have seminar discussions of the productions which you will then write about in your journals. The fee for the course is $2,750, which includes tuition, tickets to all plays you see, 17 nights housing at the Harlingford Hotel, and transportation to Stratford-upon-Avon and return. The fee does not include transportation to London and back from the U.S.
The tangible object at the origin of the onscreen image: the social, cultural and historical value of motion pictures and national film cinemas through an understanding of "Film" as an organic object.
This course examines and participates in making machinima (machine/cinema). Its defining element is that it NOT shoot "real world" objects but use 3D immersive worlds for its imagery in motion, using software to film in "real time." That definition blurs when we consider iClone, Maya, and other capture methods. Halo, Half-Life, WoW, the Sims, and Second Life are popular environments for machinima. Changing as we speak, it is generically ambiguous: does it imitate cinema or is it creating something else? This course examines a genre poised between old and new techniques, its history and applications, and ultimately focuses on the Second Life art machinima, which adapts for its stories the cutting-edge 3D art being created in a permissive virtual world—surreal environments meant to be experienced first by its immersed users ("avatars"). We will open accounts in Second Life, explore its art, make some machinima, analyze the work of experts, and talk about film theory and what virtually happened to us.
The course will deal with a selection of American films from the richest and possibly most important decade in the history of Hollywood. We will screen and discuss a variety of genres, from horror to documentary, concentrating on the films themselves, their place in the history of cinema, their relevance to social, political, and cultural issues. Supplementary reading will include texts on the period and on films of the time. Two or three papers will be required, along with a final examination. Possible films include King Kong, Frankenstein, Our Daily Bread, Public Enemy, Golddiggers of 1933, Dinner at Eight, etc.
This course will survey the career of Jean-Luc Godard from Breathless (1959) to In Praise of Love (2001). Through close analysis of his films and a range of critical responses we will explore numerous issues that Godard places before us as spectators and critics. While Godard is perhaps most famous, even notorious, for his commitment to politically engaged cinema, his interests in history and aesthetics remain central across this diverse corpus. Although he is known for his experiments in style and medium, he also remains committed to traditional film history and art history. We will explore the complex relationships his films establish between image and word, between sound and image, between stillness and motion. Our analyses will examine the central importance of literature and art history, as well as of popular culture, to the individual films and the corpus as a whole.
This course combines a survey of major historical movements and styles in documentary film with an examination of more recent trends and challenges to the tradition. So, in addition to studying the expository political documentary, ethnographic film, and the direct cinema and cinéma vérité movements, we will explore forms including reality TV, mock documentary, and autobiographical film.
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 people's 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 eighteenth century, to D. H. Lawrence, and Erica Jong.
Restricted to "Selznick" students.
Restricted to "Selznick" students.
Restricted to "Selznick" students.
An advanced creative writing workshop in poetry. Students' poems will be discussed weekly. Creative writing assignments will be combined with brief essay responses to a selection of contemporary poetry books. A special emphasis on translation will also be included.
An introduction to the three-act film structure. Students will read and view numerous screenplays and films, and develop their own film treatment into a full-length script.
This course will examine the ways in which writers and artists in the centuries on both sides of 1492 imagined the "contact zone," that cultural ground on which Same and Other meet. We will begin with medieval authors' attempts to define "Europe" against its others. The travels and conquests of Alexander the Great in Afghanistan and India and Gerald of Wales' account of Ireland will set the initial extremities of East and West. The Spanish Jew Benjamin of Tudela, the Venetian Christian Marco Polo's Asia, and the African Muslim Ibn Battuta will provide fact checks for the most popular of all voyage accounts, Mandeville's Travels. We will then examine the import and impact of the numerous printed travels, including those by Columbus and Vespucci to the West, and Vasco da Gama and others to the "East" Indies, with particular attention to the first book in English to name America. Finally we will look at both sober and celebratory accounts of globalization in Las Casas' Destruction of the Indies and Camoens' Lusiads, alongside other "first accounts" in English. Throughout the semester we will also study an extensive archive of images, manuscript illuminations, paintings, woodcuts, broad sheets, pamphlets, charts, and maps that created and enforced a vivid presence for non-Europeans within European consciousness. The course will require a half dozen short response papers during the semester, and a final longer research or analysis essay.
This seminar stipulates the following issues as underlying problems of Western civilization: pederasty, slavery, censorship, heresy, witch-hunting, androcentrism and misogyny, violence against children, and war. It studies literary treatments of these issues as well as some nonliterary texts. Emphasis is on how literature (and our responses to it) dealing with these problems reaches forms of understanding that are distinct from what is given by critical and historical accounts. The seminar addresses how the different problems overlap and continue in contemporary societies. We will ask how they are rationalized and treated as normal or as strange aberrations, though rarely as practices that constitute civilization. The seminar proceeds in two phases. The first part, of seven or eight weeks, articulates the themes. Modern readings come from Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas, Kafka, Morrison, Ibsen, Dostoevsky, and Freud's commentaries on the problems of civilization. Classical readings will likely include: Plato's Symposium and Republic, Aristotle's biology, Aristophanes' Lysistrata, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. The second part of the course asks members to present research proposals related to one or more of the stipulated problems. Readings and discussions in this part of the course are determined by the students' research projects.
What makes David Sedaris funny? How about the likes of Tina Fey, Mark Twain, Stephen Colbert, Jonathan Swift, Nora Ephron, Lord Byron, Wanda Sykes, Dave Barry, Dave Chappelle, and The Onion? In this course we‚Äôll seek inspiration from some of the funniest people alive (and dead) while writing our own humor pieces. Students will have a chance to explore a variety of genres, from essays to memoirs to song parodies—and to share work by their own favorite humorists with the class.
Early English Drama is essentially a course in religious tragicomedy—bawdy, pious, salvific, threatening, exemplary, and pedagogically vital tragicomedy—that interfaces with the humanistic plays of the sixteenth century. After a brief look at Christian liturgical drama, we will trace the origins of vernacular folk drama through the mystery cycles and less scripturally oriented morality plays. We will conclude with the university wits and the secular pedagogy of spectacular ethics of representative Tudor drama. We will read two Corpus Christi cycles (the York and N-Town plays), along with excerpts from others (Chester and Towneley, particularly the Wakefield master), three saints and conversion plays, a couple of morality plays, the several examples of humanistic drama in Bevington, and conclude with Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, and a couple of other early Renaissance plays that the seminar deems suitable to our conclusion. We will examine the plays in terms of their stagecraft, their message and performative values, their comic genius, and their cultural significance. Some attention will be devoted to iconography and parallels of representation within the plays and other literary and fine arts. We may be able to make a day trip to Toronto later in the semester to see a couple of productions at the Center for Medieval Studies. Texts for the course include David Bevington, Medieval Drama; Clifford Davidson, The York Corpus Christi Plays; Douglas Sugarno, The N-Town Plays; Richard Emmerson, Approaches to Teaching Medieval English Drama; Russell Peck, Heroic Women from the Old Testament in Middle English Verse; Saint Bonaventura, The Mind's Journey to God; the Middle English Middle English Pearl; and the seventeenth century plays.
This course will focus on classical, English Renaissance, and contemporary discussions of genre, form, and style. We will assess their explanatory power by considering carefully English Renaissance prose (treatises, historical fiction, prose romance) and drama (tragicomic closet drama and tragicomedies written for academic, public, and private stages). Renaissance tragicomedy is a useful case study because it is a notoriously difficult category to pin down. We find critics defining tragicomedy as a genre, a mode, and a mood; in relation to classical, continental, and English medieval traditions; in relation to historical fiction and prose romance; and through the calibration of responses (ironic detachment, modulated sentiment, oscillating engagement) that it so deliberately elicits. We will consider classical definitions of comedy, tragedy, and tragicomedy that informed the writing and reception of Renaissance tragicomedy; various kinds of Renaissance tragicomic drama (with its varying literary influences, audiences, and theatrical venues); Renaissance historical fiction and prose romance; and Renaissance and contemporary critics whose remarks about genre, form, and style emphasize the aesthetic, educational, professional, political, and theological qualities of literature. Our readings will include criticism by Aristotle, Horace, Plautus, Rosalie Colie, Northrop Frye, Fredric Jameson, John Guillory, Victoria Kahn, Michael Neill, and Lori Newcomb; and the criticism, prose fiction, and drama of Francis Beaumont, Richard Braithwait, Richard Brome, Samuel Daniel, Richard Edwards, John Fletcher, John Florio, George Gascoigne, Robert Greene, Giovanni Battista Guarini, Thomas Lodge, John Lyly, Philip Massinger, Thomas Preston, William Shakespeare, John Shirley, Philip Sidney, George Whetstone, and Mary Wroth.
Slave Narratives and Neo-Slave Narratives will begin with an exploration of American slave narratives by such authors as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Louisa Picquet, William and Ellen Craft, and others. We will consider issues of audience, national ideology, and rhetorical tensions surrounding sexuality, violence, and agency. The second half of the semester will be dedicated to examining how contemporary authors re-imagine the experiences of antebellum slaves as in Beloved, The Chaneysville Incident, Corregidora, and Middle Passage. We'll consider the limitations and creative possibilities of the neo-slave narrative for writers of various racial backgrounds.
This graduate seminar provides an introduction to the vibrant field of contemporary documentary studies that finds its home in the annual international Visible Evidence conference. It examines theoretical approaches to documentary film and video and reality television since the publication of Bill Nichols's landmark study Representing Reality. We will explore perspectives on reality-based film and media rooted in cultural studies, feminism, Marxist theory, queer theory, critical race studies, and phenomenology. The course includes texts by Bill Nichols, Jane M. Gaines, Vivian Sobchack, Brian Winston, Michael Renov, Alexandra Juhasz, Cynthia Fuchs, Abé Mark Nornes, and others.
"Utopia" commonly refers to an ideal society; this course presents "utopia" as a verbal construction, an occasion of sociological modeling, and as a mode and attitude as well as an object or state. The course addresses literary representations of utopias throughout the tradition of literature in English. Topics for discussion include the relationship between utopia and dystopia (including "critical dystopias"), utopian literature's influence on modern science fiction, the politics of utopias, and intersections with the history of intentional communities. Primary texts include works by Thomas More, H. G. Wells, Edward Bellamy, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, George Schuyler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Samuel R. Delany, Joanna Russ, Kim Stanley Robinson, Octavia Butler, and more. Supplementary readings include works by Fredric Jameson, Tom Moylan, Darko Suvin, Dick Hebdige, and more. Course requirements include an in-class presentation on a supplementary reading and a seminar paper on one or more primary texts.
Special application required and/or instructor's permission required.