Graduate Courses, Fall 2001

Times and locations of class meetings are subject to change. Consult the UF Schedule of Courses for an explanation of the class period abbreviations.

Course no. Time(s) Course title Instructor
downAML 6027 T 9-11 The City & the Country Hegeman
downAML 6027 T E1-3
screening: F 9-11
American Science Fiction Gordon 
downCRW 6130 T 9-11 Fiction Writing Bush
downCRW 6130 W E1-3 Fiction Writing Bush
downCRW 6331 W 9-11 Verse Writing Wade 
downCRW 6166 R 9-11 Studies in Literary Form Cech
downENG 6076 T 6-8  Theorists: Deleuze Leavey
downENG 6077 M 3-5 Forms: Narrative Theory/Narrative Frames Paxson
downENG 6077 W 6-8 Marxism, Feminism, Methodology & the Law: Re-visiting An Agenda for Theory – N.B.: This course is closed S. Smith
downENG 6137 W 9-11;
screening: M 9-11
Cinephilia & Criticism Ray 
downENG 6138 TR 9-11 Video Production Beebe
downENL 6216 W 9-11 Studies In Middle English Shoaf
downENL 6226 TR 2-3,3  Shakespeare: Doing It Homan 
downENL 6236 TR 4,4-5 Frances Burney & the Novel McCrea
downENL 6256 R E1-3 Theorizing Decadence: Images of Men, Women, Other Monsters in Late-Victorian Mythologies Snodgrass
downLAE 6947 M 9-11 Theories and Practices of Writing Dobrin 
downLIT 6037 F 6-8 Cultures of 20th-Century Poetry Bryant 
downLIT 6358 R 6-8 Womanist Intellectual Thought King
downLIT 6309 W 6-8 Comics and Animation Ault
downLIT 6934 W E 1-3 Rural Representations, 1730-1850 Duckworth
downSPC 6239 W 9-11 Rhetorical and Cultural Studies of Science & Medicine Scott

AML 6027

The City and the Country

Susan Hegeman
Tuesdays, per. 9-11 (4:05-7:05 p.m.)

It is almost a truism that much of the social imaginary of the United States is composed of agrarian ideals of a citizenry of farmers and pastoral visions of limitless supplies of exploitable land. Yet by twentieth century the United States was not an agricultural country.  Before the Civil War 60% of Americans worked the land; by 1900, this figure dropped to around 33% and it continued to drop throughout the twentieth century.  The postwar “green revolution” in particular instigated the loss of millions of rural jobs in the space of a few decades and precipitated new waves of migrations of rural African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and other formerly agricultural laborers from around the world into the urban centers of the U.S.

This course will address the contradiction between the ideals of pastoralism and agrarianianism that persisted throughout the twentieth century and the reality that farming and rural life have become increasingly marginalized in the face of twentieth century modernity. We will ask, for example: How is the country imagined from the perspective of the city? How do rural people, in turn, articulate their relationship to modernity and the urban world? We will look at a variety of different kinds of materials, including novels, historical texts, and studies of popular culture.  Topics may include the New Deal, the southern Agrarians, the Western, country music, the green revolution.  Possible novels: Sinclair Lewis, Main Street; Harriet Arnow, The Dollmaker; Bharati Mukherjee, Jasmine; Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres.


AML 6027

Studies in Twentieth Century American Literature: American Science Fiction

Andrew Gordon
Tuesdays, per. E1-3 (7:20-10:20 p.m.); screening: Fridays per. 9-11 (4:05-7:05 p.m.)

An introduction to American science-fiction literature and film in the twentieth century, especially since 1945:  the “Golden Age,” the New Wave, the New Women, Cyberpunk, and beyond 2001.  We will consider science fiction as the literature of science, technolgy, and change, and as perhaps the most characteristic American literature since 1945, a genre affecting all areas of our popular culture. We will also consider the intersections of science fiction with postmodernism and feminism.


Films (there will be a separate screening time for film showings):


  1. Response papers on the reading and viewing.
  2. Oral report.
  3. Attendance and participation.
  4. Term paper.


CRW 6130

Fiction Writing

Catherine Bush
Tuesdays per. 9-11 (4:05 p.m.-7:05 p.m.)


CRW 6130

Fiction Writing

Catherine Bush
Wednesdays per. E1-3 (7:20-10:20 p.m.)


CRW 6331

Verse Writing

Sidney Wade
Wednesdays, per. 9-11 (4:05-7:05 p.m.)


We will be studying the works of these writers, paying particular attention to form and rhetoric, technique and style, and translating particular poems into our own idiom.


CRW 6166

Studies in Literary Form: Children’s Literature

John Cech
Thursdays, per. 9-11 (4:05-7:05 p.m.)

This seminar seeks to explore some of the classic and current issues in the field of children’s literature – the controversies, trends, and critical problems that have been raised by parents, teachers, librarians, literary critics, the media, and other cultural commentators about this most contested area of our literature. Our class discussions will be based on “case studies” – galvanizing instances from contemporary, recent, or historical moments in evolution of children’s literature – that reflect the complex interplay of cultural forces that directly effect what our children read and what, ultimately, is created and published for them to read. Running parallel to these critical investigations, you will be asked to explore the very different dynamics of creating works for children. Through a series of original, imaginative works that you will produce over the semester, it is anticipated that you will develop a deeper, “inside” understanding of the process of constructing works for young readers. These creative exercises will provide you with an opportunity to place some of our critical assumptions next to our imaginative efforts in order to listen to the dialogues that it is possible for these two forms of discourse to hold with one another.

Primary Readings

Block, Francesca. The Weetzie Bat Books (Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Missing Angel Juan, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Baby Be-Bop; Dangerous Angels). Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way. de St.. Exupery, Antoine. The Little Prince. Grimm, Household Tales. Gorey, Edward. Amphigorey Too Lear, Edward. A Book of Nonsense. Lynch, Chris. The Blue-Eyed Son Books (Mick, Blood Relations, Dog Eat Dog). Jung, Carl. Essays Toward a Science of Mythology. Pullman, Philip. His Dark Materials trilogy. Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are; In the Night Kitchen; Outside Over There; The Nutshell Library; A Hole is to Dig. Seuss. To Think that I Saw It On Mulberry Street; The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham. Steig, William. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble; Solomon the Rusty Nail. Ungerer, Tomi. No Kiss for Mother; The Hat; The Beast of Monsieur Racine.



ENG 6076

Theorists: Deleuze

John Leavey
Tuesdays per. 6-8 (12:50-3:50 p.m.)

“What got me by during that period was conceiving of the history of philosophy as a kind of ass-f*ck, or, what amounts to the same thing, an immaculate conception. I imagined myself approaching an author from behind and giving him a child that would indeed be his but would nonetheless be monstrous.“ – Gilles Deleuze

This statement by Deleuze is one oft quoted, although translations differ. It is a limited statement, limited to what might be called the philosophical period that Deleuze never abandoned. The brevity of a semester will perhaps put us in the mode of getting by or the production of monsters in the reading of the vast corpus of Deleuze and Deleuze and Guattari. The seminar will consist of 12 sessions devoted to readings of selected texts from this corpus. A seminar presentation (15%) and a final paper (75%) (approximately 4500 words) are required, as well as attendance and participation (10%) in seminar discussions. The seminar presentations will take place in the last two sessions of the course.

Tentative Schedule (and subject to some changes):


ENG 6077

Forms: Narrative Theory/Narrative Frames

James Paxson
Mondays per. 3-5 (9:35 a.m - 12:35 p.m.)

This course will serve as a broad introduction to the modern theory of narrative, or narratology, that grew out of structuralism-influenced literary criticism in the mid-twentieth century.  Readings will be divided among theoretical writings and primary texts that represent one of narratology’s prominent topics: narrative framing or embedding, a formal effect taken by many narratologists to be the self-reflexive narratological problem par excellence.  In one sense, the frame stands as a prominent tool in cognitive theory, as the “frame analysis” of Gregory Bateson or Erving Goffman attests.  Yet the narrative frame adumbrates the very structure of signification – the binarity identified by Ferdinand de Saussure comprising the inner “signified” and outer “signifier,” or conceptuality and phenomenality.  And of course, this structure renders itself susceptible to dissolution or deconstruction since it can, and must, be taken as an enshrinement of the “center” upon which all cognitive “structures” are predicated, as Derrida has well proven.  But at the most basic critical level, the effect figures prominently in formalist or genericist determinations about literary traditions such as the novella or the Shakespearean play-within-a-play.

We will examine not only the emergence and genealogy of narrative theory but also its fate in the 1990s: if structuralism itself has been subsumed, superseded, or demolished in contemporary theory, what of narratology’s legacy, especially regarding its most persistent contemporary subset, Theory of the Novel?  What of its implications in film studies, cognitive studies, web studies, science studies, the theory of orality, or folklore studies?  The slate of primary readings – selected according to their architectures of embedding or framing – will represent a chronologically traditional survey of literary forms, genres, and themes.  Yet the slate of theory readings will also serve as a general introduction to structuralism, especially as it functioned as one of the historical precursors to deconstruction.

Texts will include: Apuleius, The Golden Ass (Penguin); Beowulf (Norton Critical); Boccaccio, Decameron (Norton Critical); Chaucer, “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” (course packet); Kepler, Somnium (course packet); Bronte, Wuthering Heights (Bedford); Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Bantam); Nabokov, Pale Fire (Vintage); Barth, “Menelaiad” (course packet); Boulle, Planet of the Apes (Gramercy); Coetzee, Foe (Penguin); Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (McGraw-Hill); Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction, 2nd ed. (Chicago); Chatman, Story and Discourse (Cornell); Todorov, “Narrative Men” (course packet); Bal, Narratology: An Introduction to Narrative Theory, rev. ed. (Toronto); Genette, Narrative Discourse (Cornell); selections from Dällenbach, The Mirror in the Text (course packet); selections from Nelles, Framing the Text (course packet); Prince, Dictionary of Narratology (Nebraska); Kurosawa, Rashomon.

Course Work includes: attendance and participation (10% of final grade, while missing more than two class meetings can warrant failure); one 20-minute oral presentation (25% of final grade); weekly, one-page reports on readings which will each be graded numerically on a 1 to 10 scale (25% of final grade); 20-page term paper, due the final week of classes with S.A.S.E. (40% of final grade)


ENG 6077

Marxism, Feminism, Methodology and the Law: Re-visiting An Agenda for Theory

* This course is now full; it is closed to new enrollment *

Stephanie A. Smith
Wednesdays, per. 6-8 (12:50-3:50 p.m.)

In Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Spring1982 Vol. 7 No. 3, Catherine A. MacKinnon published a controversial essay titled “Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: An Agenda for Theory,” in which this Professor of Law sought to argue that “the task for theory is to explore the conflicts and connections between the methods that found it meaningful to analyze social conditions” using the vectors of sex and class. Although MacKinnon did recognize race as another vector, her primary interest was to prove that “sexual objectification is the primary process of the subjection of women. It unites act with word, construction with expression, perception with enforcement, myth with reality. Man f*cks woman; subject verb object.” And MacKinnon proceeded to re-shape Michigan rape laws, to significantly alter the legal definition of rape, in highly controversial ways. Because according to MacKinnon’s theory, which she has pursued, under currently existing social conditions, sex IS rape.

Since 1982, with the fall of the Berlin wall, and the rise of post-marxist, post-modernist, post-structuralist, post-feminist, post-colonial methodological debates, strictly “feminist” approaches like MacKinnon’s have come to be regarded as “old,” or as “out-dated,” that which belongs securely to the past. And yet the imbalance of economy and power to which MacKinnon’s theorization spoke has hardly vanished; legal prostitution, the “traffic in women (and children)” and pornography remain among the largest and most lucrative industries across the globe; women and children still represent the largest proportion of the working poor in the United States; domestic violence, child-abuse, racial discrimination and poverty remain deeply divisive and hotly debated issues.

This course is designed both as an historical investigation into the critical theory and the socio-political activisim that sparked and then sustained historical materialist, materialist-feminist, human and civil rights movements, as well as an inquiry into the legacy of those debates for continued contemporary ideological formations – debates that affect our lives as citizens, as scholars, and as teachers.

The course will be organized into thematic units, which will investigate such topics as: Revisiting Political Fields, Reclaiming Anticapitalist Feminism and the New Left, Sexing and Un-Sexing the Subject, Identity Politics, Queer Theory and Transgender Liberation.

The reading list will include work by the following theorists: Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Antonio Gramsci, Rosemary Hennessy, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Gayatri Spivak, Judith Butler, Raymond Williams, Roland Barthes, Slavoj Zizek, Michael Warner, Lee Edelman, Joan Copjec, Patricia Williams... and others.


ENG 6137

Cinephilia and Criticism

Robert Ray
Wednesdays per. 9-11 (4:05-7:05 p.m.); screening Mondays per. 9-11 (4:05-7:05 p.m.)

To the extent that it derives from that feverish mix of theorizing, appreciation, and polemic that marked the 1950s Cahiers du Cinéma, academic film studies has its origins in scenes.  Bazin, Godard, and Truffaut repeatedly used specific moments as the starting point for their positions about directors, filmmaking, and the cinema itself.  “I like the freshness of certain ideas,” Truffaut wrote, praising Vadim’s And God Created Woman: “Brigitte Bardot lifting in her arms a little girl who wants to grab a newspaper placed out of reach, for example.”

In retrospect, as Paul Willemen once pointed out, Truffaut and Godard “were not doing criticism”: What they were writing at the time was a highly impressionistic account; in T.S. Eliot’s terms, an “evocative equivalent” of moments which, to them, were privileged.  These are moments, which, when encountered in a film, spark something which then produced the energy and the desire to write.

The word for that kind of response to the movies is cinephilia, and its theoretical roots lie in the Impressionist filmmakers’ celebration of photogénie and the Surrealists’ attention to the marvelous detail.  Can any genuinely useful writing about the movies issue from cinephilia?  Semiotic film studies has largely said no, insisting that the discipline’s maturity depends on its weaning itself from an earlier moment’s enthusiasms: recall Christian Metz’s notorious vow-of-chastity, “To be a theoretician of the cinema, one should ideally no longer love the cinema.”

This course will ask how contemporary film studies can use cinephilia, and the cinematic moments that awaken it, for the purposes of criticism.  It will assume that the discipline has evolved in three stages: (1) the pre-1968 age of cinephilia, (2) the post-1968 age of semiotic critique, and (3) our own time.  Can we use what cinephilia offers – in Willemen’s words, “the energy and the desire to write” – without foregoing the knowledge produced by semiotic critique?  Can, in fact, the two earlier modes be combined?



ENG 6138

Video Production

Roger Beebe
Tuesdays and Thursdays, per 9-11 (4:05-7:05 p.m.)

This course is a broad-ranging seminar covering the practices sometimes labeled “video art” or “experimental video.”  The exclusive focus of the course will be on non-narrative approaches to the theory and practice of videomaking.  Students will work on a number of short video projects throughout the semester (about one every two weeks) that engage simultaneously with different theoretical problems, technological challenges, and aesthetic strategies.  The projects will span all of the stages of video production from storyboarding to sound editing as well as a wide variety of aesthetic forms.  The course will conclude with a short final project of the student’s devising that grows out of one or a number of the theories and formal approaches that we have explored during the semester.


ENL 6216

Studies in Middle English: From Troy to Camelot to “Troynovant” (“New Troy,” or London)

R.A. Shoaf
Wednesdays, per. 9-11 (4:05-7:05 p.m.)

In this course, we will read the anonymous Middle English masterpiece Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid, Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, Spenser’s Faerie Queene I (“The Legend of Redcrosse Knight”), and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida. With the “city” (Troy, Rome, Camelot, London, often called “New Troy”) as our organizing “topic,” or (literally) “place,” we will examine the ways in which the Matter of Rome and the Matter of Britain intersect in the early formation of the British literary tradition. Or, put differently, we will assess the Latin heritage that everywhere informs Medieval and Early Modern British Literature – the writings of Vergil, Ovid, Horace, Statius, Seneca, Cicero, et al.

There are no pre-requisites for this course. All material will be available in translations as well as in the originals. The course will serve as a general introduction to the professional study of Medieval and Early Modern British Literature. Attention will be paid to methods as well as various contents; and students should be equipped after this course to navigate their way through scholarly research in the literatures of the period and, indeed, of periods beyond, to at least the beginnings of Romanticism. Moreover, students may want to note that the works we will be reading are among those that are frequently taught in sophomore-level surveys in most colleges and universities in America.

Requirements will include one in-class report from each student and either a research paper of 25 pages or two extended “explications” of 12-15 pages (the latter option particularly suits students interested in the material but not in Medieval and early Modern British Literature as a career specialization).

Extensive use will be made of the Internet where there are now vast archives of relevant material; and I will be especially prepared to help any students who need a general introductory orientation to using the Internet in scholarly researches.


ENL 6226

Shakespare: Doing It

Sidney Homan
Tuesdays per. 2-3 (8:30-10:25 a.m.) and Thursdays per. 3 (8:30-9:20 a.m.)

We explore Shakespeare in this seminar by “doing it,” that is, staging scenes from the plays. No previous acting experience is necessary. The only requirement is that students be open to approaching Shakespeare as someone who wrote for the stage. The basic principle is that a play is not just the text, glorious as Shakespeare’s text may be.  Rather, a play is something taking place in space and time, and ratified by an audience.  It is both verbal and not verbal – and it is physical. Therefore, we approach Shakespeare’s plays the way and actor and director do: working not only with the text  but with the sub-text (all that the character is thinking, the “world” behind the lines), gestures, movement, blocking, the “look” of a scene.  To be sure, each play considered is attended by its relevant critical and theatrical history. But the emphasis is on performance, each student’s having an acting partner and performing scenes during the course of the seminar and  then writing about the experience from rehearsal through performance to working with the director. We will explore Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Much Ado about Nothing, as well as Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (as a commentary on Hamlet).  Students will also be involved in a production of Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class, which Professor Homan will be directing at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre.


ENL 6236

Frances Burney/Madame D’Arblay, Prose Fiction/Prose Journals, Fame/Power, Literary History/Cultural Studies

Brian McCrea
Tuesdays, per 4 (10:40-11:30 a.m.), Thusdays, per 4-5 (10:40-12:35)

Burney’s names are problematic. Chafing against its tendency to demean the author, Margaret Ann Doody has argued against referring to Burney as Fanny, the name by which her family knew her. Madame D’Arblay, the preference of eminent Victorians, is more antiseptic but equally misleading. It’s the name that Burney and her heirs affixed to the volumes of her journals and letters that sustained her fame in the 19th Century. The name came late to her, a forty year old bride, well after her early literary successes and her great literary friendships. The success of Evelina allowed Burney to identify herself on her subsequent title pages as The Author of . . ., a name that changed with each novel. She rarely referred to herself as Frances Burney, the name that eases postmodern anxieties, the name we will use.

Between 1778 and 1814, Burney published four novels. She also wrote comedies and tragedies, only one of which was produced. And she wrote assiduously  in her journals, which will run to almost twenty volumes when their publication is completed.

Had she wished to, Burney could have dropped some big names. During the last years of his life, she was far closer to Samuel Johnson than James Boswell was. As Second Keeper of the Queen’s Robes from 1786 to 1791, she bore intimate witness to the madness of King George. When her husband asked that he resume his commission in the French army but not be required to fight against the English, Napoleon forgave the preposterous request because Alexandre d’Arblay was the husband of the author of Cecelia. The Marquis de Lafayette was her emissary to the First Consul.

And Burney was famous in her own right. After the success of Evelina and Cecelia, shopkeepers begged to see Burney, and she could write without irony or false pride,“ Even if Richardson or Fielding could rise from the grave, I should bid fair for supplanting them in the popular eye.” As Burney’s family moved between England and France during the Napoleonic Wars, her celebrity helped them to the front of the queue. More recently, Burney has assumed a significant role in medical literature. Her recounting of her mastectomy in September 1811 is one of the most comprehensive and widely-cited descriptions of surgical procedures prior to anaesthesia.

Over the past twenty years, Burney has assumed a central role in 18th Century studies. Publications about her have tended to pursue psycho-biography; her fictions have been treated as covert dialogues with her father, the eminent musicologist Charles Burney. The emphasis in this course will be new historical insofar as we will focus upon the value Burney gives to anecdotes, her preoccupation with the nature of representations, her fascination with the history of the body, her sharp focus upon the smallest details of status and her skeptical analysis of ideology. This, however, makes the course seem more thesis-driven than it actually will be. We will open the semester reading together Evelina, Burney’s first and most popular novel. After that opening we will work between Burney’s novels and her journals. Students will be asked to read one of Burney’s final three novels and a ten year period in the journals. Our class sessions will study how Burney’s prose – both fiction and non-fiction – bespeaks her anxieties about social categories based upon race (the heroine of Burney’s last novel, The Wanderer, initially appears in blackface), class and gender. We also will raise questions of literary status: how do we distinguish between fiction and non-fiction? What did Burney mean when she used the term novel?

The goal of the class sessions will be to pursue Burney’s relevance to writers and issues in other periods. Burney’s crucial and direct influence upon Jane Austen is a cliche of Burney criticism. But Burney, in her life and works, anticipated the Brontes, George Eliot, and a good bit of recent theorizing about both the epistemological and the cultural status of fiction. Her novels and her journals offer an early instance of the sometimes uneasy dialog between literary history and cultural studies.

Beyond their reading in Burney and their participation in class discussions, students will be asked to submit an essay that uses Burney to engage another author or to pursue the relationship between our viewing novels as art and our viewing novels as artifacts.


ENL 6256

Theorizing Decadence: Images of Men, Women, and other Monsters in Late-Victorian Mythologies

Chris Snodgrass
Thursdays, per. E1-3 (7:20-10:20 p.m.)

For a long time now, literary/cultural criticism has accepted the proposition that cultural paradigms and the social “narratives” supporting them are constructions of a particular historical moment, not natural laws. It is intriguing, then, whenever modern criticism clings to ideological “mythologies” of distant historical periods, even as it ostensibly identifies such cultural paradigms as mythic constructions. Some of the more striking examples of this kind of anachronistic (but, apparently, strongly seductive) blind spot involve several of the cultural paradigms of the Victorian Period, not least the tenacious idea of fin-de-siècle decadence. This course will investigate the cultural assumptions underlying late-nineteenth-century “decadence” and various representations of gender and identity that supported that cultural narrative, particularly involving images of the grotesque. It will not be our focus to explain why certain prejudices about the late-Victorian era have resisted normal revisionism, but along the way you may be able to draw some conclusions about that.

We will read a few twentieth-century critical discussions of Victorian ideas about “decadence,” including the period of the 1890s routinely referred to as the Decadence, as well as some of the most famous criticism about certain supporting elements, such as the Woman Question, the Feminine Ideal, homosocial culture, and the project of Empire. However, mostly, we will read key Victorian commentaries about decadence and about the grotesque, and examine how the cultural paradigms they reference were imbedded in a large number of Victorian poems, short fiction, plays, and visual images; the visual images that bombarded the late-Victorian period will be considered as texts equal in interest to written texts. We’ll specifically be studying works by both familiar and relatively unfamiliar (“non-canonical”) figures, among them John Ruskin; Walter Pater; the melodrama playwright Arthur Wing Pinero; the “sex-crazed” poet, fiction writer, and premier critic Arthur Symons; poet Michael Field (pseudonym for lesbian aunt-and-niece collaborators); the iconic lyric poet Ernest Dowson; the New Woman fiction writers George Egerton (Mary Chavelita Dunne), Ella D’Arcy, and Victoria Cross; fiction writer Henry Harland (literary editor of The Yellow Book); acclaimed poets John Gray and Lionel Johnson; poet and critic Richard Le Gallienne; women poets Mathilda Blind, Olive Custance, A. Mary F. Robinson, Graham R. Tomson, Mary Coleridge, and Charlotte Mew; and, of course, considerable material by Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.

While most of the weekly assignments do not explicitly include twentieth-century critical theory – and a sophisticated knowledge of literary theory is in no way a prerequisite – you are strongly encouraged to employ whatever theoretical perspectives you know to help illuminate the issues under study. The course will try specifically to organize your efforts toward producing a publishable professional article. Approximately 50% of the final grade will depend on the term paper and the supporting bibliographical work and scholarship. The other 50% will be based on the quality of weekly reading notes, as well as the degree of preparation for and participation in the discussions of the scheduled course material.


LAE 6947

Theories and Practices of Writing

Sid Dobrin
Mondays per. 9-11 (4:05 p.m.-7:05 p.m.)

In this course, we will examine and critique the important theoretical issues and problems that concern contemporary scholars and teachers of composition and rhetoric.  We will examine the evolution of composition as a formal area of study, review some of the major projects that have shaped or reshaped thinking in the field, and evaluate various theoretical and pedagogical trends. In addition, we will study how scholarship in related fields – literary criticism, philosophy, and cognitive psychology, to name a few – affects studies in composition and rhetoric. We will look particularly at how computer technology and composition studies intersect, giving pause to consider how teaching in computer environments might be approached theoretically and pedagogically. These discussions will be tied to discussions of how we, as teachers of writing, engage students, develop assignments, and fulfill institutional and personal goals of the composition classroom. In other words, we will work to bridge the gap between composition theory and our own pedagogies.


LIT 6037

Modern American Poetry at the Milennium

Marsha Bryant
Fridays, per. 6-8 (12:50-3:50 p.m.)

This course will assess the competing narratives and cultural constructs that frame 20th Century American Poetry in the 21st century. Besides asking what makes a poem, we will also ask how poetry has been used in American culture during the last hundred years. Our main text will be Cary Nelson’s new and controversial anthology, MODERN AMERICAN POETRY (Oxford, 2000). This collection continues to delight and enrage academics both here and abroad, and we will be following reviewer’s competing narratives about the book in cyberspace. You’ll be widening your exposure to a variety of poetry: from standard modernist figures (such as Eliot, Pound, H.D., Stevens, and Hughes), from recovered women and minority poets (such as Lowell, Millay, Grimke, Tolson), from recovered Asian-American voices (haiku by Chinese immigrants and interned Japanese Americans), and from an especially controversial selection of contemporary poets. We will study both the poetry itself and the anthology’s central narrative about American poetry. We will also make productive use of the anthology’s companion website, which now has more hits than any comparable literary site. In addition, we will read Rachel Blau du Plessis’s forthcoming book, GENDERS, RACES, AND RELIGIOUS CULTURES IN MODERN AMERICAN POETRY, 1908-34). Finally, we will read some of J. Hillis Miller’s deconstructive analyses of poetry in conjunction with the Department’s fall forum, “Rethinking Deconstructions.”

Assignments will include: (1) a teaching presentation on a poem from the anthology; (2) a cultural assessment of a poet from the anthology – for example, Plath & women’s magazines, Hughes and jazz, Dove and the U.S. laureateship, Ginsberg and celebrity culture; (3) a comparison of Nelson’s anthology with another recent anthology of modern American poetry, (4) a conference paper proposal for your major essay, which I encourage you to submit to an appropriate conference (several recent students of my poetry seminars have had these proposals accepted).


LIT 6358

Womanist Intellectual Thought

Debra Walker King
Thursdays, per. 6-8 (12:50-3:50 p.m.)

Objective: The obscuring position of African American women in the record of American intellectualism has resulted in a consensus among the uninformed that the phrase “black womanist intellectual” is an oxymoron. This seminar disputes that assumption by focusing on black women’s intellectual traditions and challenging imposed boundaries that define intellectual thought. Students will discuss the influences of black female intellectuals like Anna Julia Cooper, Zora Neale Hurston, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Alice Walker, Karla Holloway, and bell hooks in the development of literary and cultural criticism, education, law, and American social and political issues. We will address the following questions. What is an intellectual and how is this identity constructed? How does the intellectual differ from the academic? What is womanism? Is it as Audre Lorde once charged an “attempt to disclaim being feminist”? How does the black feminist differ from the womanist? Is there a need for such distinctions? Can someone who is not a black woman be a womanist (or can someone who is not a woman be womanist)? What is the relationship of community, family, religion, and spirituality to womanism? What is low and high culture (or low and high theory) and how does womanism address these distinctions? How do advocates of womanism view the activist and public intellectual? How does womanism differ from feminism?


Class sessions include lectures, discussions, and student reports. The seminar is designed so that participants may not only understand but experience various modes of womanist intellectual engagement such as call and response dialectics and testimonial discourses. We will also focus on the meaning and importance of metaphors and coded phrases such as “willfulness,” “audaciousness,” “survival whole,” and “purple to lavender” that are associated closely with womanism.

Grade Distribution

25%: Each student is asked to participate in a Panel Presentation. These fifteen-minute presentations are individual papers focusing on assigned texts and are presented using a conference format. There will be no more than four panelists for each unit of reading material. I expect extensive research and contemplation on the part of each panel member. The focus of these papers is up to panel members but each paper must address the reading material and the unit topic in some way. This is not a group project therefore students are not asked to coordinate their papers beyond an attempt to avoid repetition.

75%: Seminar Paper. The content of this twenty-five-page paper should emphasize some aspect of the course focus and objectives, using any of the required texts you wish. You may develop your panel paper. If you do, I expect an essay of publishable quality to result.


LIT 6309

Communications and Popular Culture: Comics and Animation

Donald Ault
Wednesdays, per. 6-8 (12:50-3:50 p.m.)

Required Text:
Class Packet (available from Xerographic Copy Center, 927 N. W. 13th Street)

This seminar will provide:

Some specific issues to be addressed (this list is neither exhaustive nor is it ordered in terms of importance in the course or the sequence in which the questions will arise):

  1. What perceptual processes are involved in viewing comics and animation?
  2. What are the differences in narrative possibilities and limitations of comics and animated cartoons,
  3. How are narrative possibilities altered when characters are translated from one medium to another?
  4. What happens to narrative and perception when verbal/visual dimensions of texts are reorganized?
  5. What kinds of cultural work do animated cartoons and comics perform-especially Disney productions; how does this problem relate to work emanating from other animation studios such as Warners, Fleischers, MGM, Van Beuren, Mintz, Iwerks, etc.?
  6. What is the state of scholarship in comics and animations studies?


Numerous short exercises and experiments, active seminar participation (which may or may not include a formal presentation), and a final paper/project


LIT 6934

Rural Representations, 1730-1850

Alistair Duckworth
Wednesdays, per. E1-3 (7:20-10:20 p.m.)

We will be concerned with representations of the countryside in landscape theory and practice, in literature, and in painting. Our texts will include actual landscape gardens such as Stowe and Stourhead; “tours” of England and Scotland by Defoe, Gilpin, Young, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Cobbett; rural poems by, among others, Thomson, Clare, and Wordsworth; fictional works by Scott, Mitford, and others; and rural paintings by Gainsborough, Constable, and Turner. We will seek to account for the extraordinary importance the countryside assumes in English culture from the eighteenth century onward. Guided by the excellent recent work of such scholars as Ann Bermingham, Michael Rosenthal, Elizabeth Helsinger, and Tim Fulford, we will examine the connections between aesthetic and political “representation.” What kind of economy do various scenes favor or assume? What place do they assign to women and the poor? How do they portray work and leisure? Who are their intended viewers or readers?

Particularly toward the end of our period, the countryside becomes a place of turbulence and unrest. Even before the rural disturbances that occurred between Waterloo and the first reform bill, however, the countryside was a site of contestation, as the “paper war” of the 1790s over the merits of the landscape garden attests. From the time of Addison and Pope, writers and artists sought to define ideas of England through representations of the countryside. Increasingly, as local scenes were destroyed or left behind for urban or imperial homes, compensatory rural images took on powerfully sentimental meanings. Such images were portable, in the form of books or prints. They were often consoling, sometimes disturbing, and seldom innocent of ideology. How the local became national, how “landscape” became “nature,” and how the landed ownership of real property became the middle-class possession of representations: these will be among our concerns.


SPC 6239

Rhetorical and Cultural Studies of Science and Medicine

Blake Scott
Wednesdays, per. 9-11 (4:05 p.m.-7:05 p.m.)

This seminar will acquaint students with rhetoric of science scholarship and rhetorically oriented cultural studies of science, technology, and medicine. We will focus largely on ways to fruitfully combine approaches from these two areas. We’ll define “cultural studies” fairly broadly – looking at examples from literature, communication, sociology, and anthropology (though most of what we’ll study comes out of the tradition of the Birmingham school). This course will not, for the most part, include work in the history and philosophy of science. The course will be organized largely around method – we’ll study, in turn, examples of rhetorical and literary criticism, discourse analysis, ethnography, and cultural analysis.

To facilitate our comparison of approaches, much of the reading will consist of studies of the life sciences and of HIV/AIDS-related sciences (e.g., immunology, epidemiology, virology, clinical medicine). Our engagement of these readings will revolve around the following basic questions:

  1. What “texts” do the writers analyze? What relationships among text, context, and intertext do they posit?
  2. How do the writers configure the relationship between language and materiality (or, to use Hayles’s terms, inscription and incorporation)?
  3. What does each study define “science,” “culture,” and their relationship?
  4. How do the writers theorize agency? In what ways are these theories humanist and post-humanist?
  5. What do the studies suggest about the role of the rhetorician/cultural critic?
  6. How is each study rhetorical and how does it depart from or redefine traditional rhetorical analysis?
  7. What does each study teach us about rhetoric? About science and medicine?

We’ll also ask these questions of ourselves, as our goal is to tailor the hybrid methods we develop to our specific projects or ideas for projects.


Assignments will include a review essay, presentation on a method of analysis, and an article-length paper that both makes a methodological argument and presents a case study of science/medicine showing the proposed methods at work.

Likely Required Texts