Graduate Courses, Spring 2003

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 6017 M 6-8 American Literature to 1900: Antebellum Narratives Leverenz
downAML 6027 W 9-11 Faulkner’s Daughters: Rewriting the Southern Renaissance Jones
downAML 6027 F 3-5 Variable Topics in American Literature: The American Short Story Seelye
downCRW 6130 T 6-8 Graduate Fiction Workshop Leavitt
downCRW 6130 T 6-8 Graduate Fiction Workshop Ciment
downCRW 6331 T 9-11 Graduate Poetry Workshop Hofmann
downCRW 6331 T 6-8 Graduate Poetry Workshop Greger
downENG 6077 W 3-5 Forms Ault
downENG 6137 W 9-11 Language of Film Ulmer
downENG 6137 T 6-8
screening TBA
Psychoanalysis in Film & Literature Turim
downENG 6138 W 6-8
screening M 9-11
Hyper/Video: Reconsidering Video Production Nygren
downENG 6138 W 9-11
screening T E1-3
Culture Critique after Cultural Studies (cross-listed with GEW 6826) Alter
downENL 6206 M 3-5 Studies in Old English Nelson
downENL 6226 R 3-5 Shakespeare’s Theater of Likeness Shoaf
downENL 6226 T E1-3 Renaissance Literature: Tudor-Stuart Drama Clark
downENL 6236 W 3-5 Before Alice: Studies in the Early History of Children&rsuo;s Literature Craddock
downENL 6256 R 9-11 Theorizing Decadence: Images of Late-Victorian Mythologies Snodgrass
downLIT 6855 R 6-8 Haunted Reading: The Example of Thomas Hardy Wolfreys
downLIT 6856 F 3-5 The Invention of Africa: African Literature & Colonial Anthropology Amoko
downLIT 6934 T 4, R 4-5 The Poetry of Emiliy Dickinson Brantley
downLIT 6934 W E1-3 Literature & Landscape 1730–1850 Duckworth

AML 6017

American Literature to 1900: Antebellum Narratives

David Leverenz

In this course we’ll focus on selected texts from antebellum American fiction. My emphasis will be on close readings, with some attention to ideological contexts both then and now. We’ll explore how constructions of authorship and constructions of blackness and whiteness intersect with gendered norms, and how those intersections affect the emergence of “sensational” and “sentimental” fiction. We’ll also discuss the strengths and limits of close reading, with some attention to the history of criticism.

We’ll begin with close readings of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative, his rewriting of those chapters ten years later in My Bondage and My Freedom, and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. (Texts will be Classic Slave Narratives, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Bondage, ed. William Andrews.) Next we’ll take several weeks to discuss a wide variety of short narratives by Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, in their Library of America editions. We’ll examine the interplay of sensational and sentimental modes, and we’ll try to figure out what Poe is doing with all those fragmented body parts in his satires. We’ll also discuss why several of Hawthorne’s sketches were so much more popular than the stories that have since been canonized. Here we’ll also read Karen Halttunen’s AHR article on sensationalism and several essays on sentimentalism.

We’ll conclude with Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harper Classics ed.) and either Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (Penguin ed.) or some shorter texts by Melville, depending on class interest. If there’s time and inclination, the class can add other texts and authors to read. Everyone should already have read Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

Class format will be informal, featuring what I hope will be vigorous discussion, usually with some preliminary student presentations highlighting aspects of the texts and/or reporting on relevant criticism. I hope we’ll explore some current critical tensions, e.g., between the more skeptical or political “race, class, and gender” critics and those who want to resurrect the possibility of aesthetic appreciation. I also hope to situate these texts and issues within and against capitalist dynamics.

Work required: one comparative close reading, probably in the fourth week (30%), an ungraded oral report on textual, critical, or theoretical issues, a brief prospectus for the research essay, and a 15–20 pp. research essay (70%). Grading will be based entirely on your writing, with one exception: missing more than one class without a valid excuse will lower borderline grades, and missing more than two will lower any grade. An “A” means I think your writing shows dissertation potential by sustaining a complex and original argument with sophistication. A “B+” means strong writing at the Masters level, usually offering original arguments and textual insights, though needing more sustained development and complexity. A “B” means competent writing at the Masters level. Lower than that means some relatively basic problems with either your writing or your commitment to academic work. E-mail me at if you have any questions, or come by my office (4362 Turlington); I’m there most days.


AML 6027

Faulkner’s Daughters: Rewriting the Southern Renaissance

Anne Goodwyn Jones

Born in 1897, southern modernist extraordinaire William Faulkner was hardly in a position to father several of the women writers whose work we will read in “Faulkner’s Daughters,” whether literally, as a man, or figuratively, as a precursor. The title of this course is meant instead to suggest a long term cultural and canonical structuring of the relationship between the genders that took place especially but not only in the South, such that “man” was understood as “father” and “woman” as “daughter.” We will place a range of women writers of the first half of the 20th century U. S. South – black and white, radical and conservative, Victorian and modernist – into that single unlikely category, “daughter,” in order to focus not only on their relationship to Faulkner and other men who wrote professionally, but also on their responses to paternalist practices more generally. At the same time, we will at times pair specific Faulkner texts with specific texts by women writers to examine closely, through the lens of gender difference, their forms of participation in stylistic and thematic modernism. We will also survey the recent relevant critical literature such as Michael Kreyling’s Inventing Southern Literature and Patricia Yaeger’s Dirt and Desire. Close examinations of the texts will occupy most of our time, however, and close reading practices are central to those examinations. Short e-mailed responses to the readings will be due before each class. An annotated bibliography is due in the middle of the semester, and a major final project before the last week if you would like the opportunity to rewrite. Texts will most likely be chosen from the following list. I’d like to hear your preferences, if you have them – send to


AML 6027

Variable Topics in American Literature: The American Short Story

John Seelye

This is a survey of a distinctive American genre, beginning with its origins in the work of Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville and continuing down to recent times. The basic text will be Ann Charters’ anthology, but we will also be considering a number of writers in depth, such as Hawthorne, Henry James, Sarah Orne Jewett, Jack London, Mary Austin, Stephen Crane, and Sherwood Anderson. We may even find time for more recent writers like Faulkner, Steinbeck, Erskine Caldwell, Jean Stafford, and Raymond Carver, although the emphasis will be on the “classic” period of origins. Some attention will be paid to literary form, including short story cycles, like Winesburg, but lectures will point to the cultural contexts of the stories under discussion. Two papers and weekly “readings” of the assigned stories (establishing a basis for class discussions) will make up the written work.


CRW 6130

Graduate Fiction Workshop

David Leavitt

This is an intensive fiction writing workshop for graduate students in the MFA program in Creative Writing. Reading varies, according to the whim of the instructor. Last year I asked the students to select their own reading, with each member of the workshop presenting a work of fiction that he or she loved. This semester, I have put together a reading list consisting entirely of novels set in hotels.


CRW 6130

Graduate Fiction Workshop

Jill Ciment

This course is for MFA degree candidates in fiction only. Basically, it will be run in the ‘traditional’ writing workshop fashion – writer silent while his or her work is discussed. The emphasis this semester will be on structure. Both short stories and excerpts of novels are welcome. Optimally, students will turn in pieces that they have taken as far as they can on their own. The workshop should be a venue to test the waters, to try new things, to present first drafts as well as polished works, but only after the writer has struggled with it to the nth degree. The idea is for students to rigorously challenge themselves. Everyone not presenting work should take their jobs as critics and editors as seriously as they take their own writing. Attendance is important. My job as mentor is to help each individual student develop his/her drafts into full-fledged fiction. I don’t believe my role is to make students feel better about their writing, but to give students honest criticism. Reading will be assigned on an individual basis. Everyone, however, is required to read The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy prior to the first class meeting.


CRW 6331

Graduate Poetry Workshop

Michael Hofmann

A cosmopolitan course in voice and elegance in contemporary poetry, including such dandyish figures as Paul Muldoon, Adam Zagajewski, and James Schuyler. The motto for the course might be Yeats’s couplet: “Did not the poet sing it with such airs, / That one believed he had a sword upstairs.”


CRW 6331

Graduate Poetry Workshop

Debora Greger

We read. We write. We discuss. We revise.

“In the big picture of pop music, I don’t know if what I’ve created is seen as being that important or that necessary, at least not if you ask the experts. I was tagged right after ‘Piano Man’: I was a balladeer, I didn’t write substantive music, my records were overproduced, I played too many ballads. Oh, and of course my favorite: ‘He studied piano.’ I had never realized that one of the prerequisites for being critically acclaimed was not knowing how to play your instrument,” said Billy Joel, whose classical album Fantasies and Delusions: Music for Solo Piano, was influenced by Chopin and credited as the work of William Joel. Released in 2001, Fantasies and Delusions sold remarkably well, topping the classical charts for months – though, arguably, Joel could smash a piano with a ball-peen hammer for 75 minutes and release it as a live album, and it would still sell remarkably well.

The New York Times


ENG 6077


Donald Ault

Holograph(em)ic Singularities: Romanticism, comics, film, and mathematical notation.

“Textual transformation” is an operation that is implied by and inferred from graphic signs, but in at least one important sense there’s no such thing as narrative transformation per se as such in the texts to be considered in this course. “Holograph(em)ic” is a term I have coined to characterize a method that both mobilizes and displaces the “holographic paradigm,” a theory developed principally by philosopher/physicists David Bohm and Ilya Prigogine, in which structures of being, perception, knowledge, and the physical world are seen as special kinds of wholeness by analogy with the hologram. Coining the term “holograph(em)ic” allows me to play off the meaning of “holograph,” in the sense of a handwritten manuscript by an author, against “hologram,” thus permitting the “grapheme,” or elemental textual mark, to intrude and disrupt the potential for totalization from singular points by the visual intrusion of an “em” space, analogous to a printer’s spacing, into the word “holographic.” Holograph(em)ically, there are points of singularity in texts (often associated with graphic markers such as a parenthesis or ellipsis or with crucial revisions to a text that produce verbal friction at their points of insertion) at which forces that are distributed elsewhere throughout those texts are gathered into a focus. Calling attention to and manipulating them exposes how the graphic (or graphemic) characteristics of these finite textual spaces can be made simultaneously to perform and subvert the operations of the syntax and semantics of these distributed forces.

Texts to be considered include those by William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Byron, as well as certain films (including movie serials, which operate by an ontological principle of time-delayed retroactive revision), comic strips and comic books, and texts in the history and theory of punctuation, marginal glosses, and mathematical notation.


ENG 6137

Language of Film

Greg Ulmer

When imaging technologies are considered within the frame of the history of writing (grammatology), it is evident that the rhetoric, logic, and poetics of new media are emerging within the institution of Entertainment. Entertainment is to electracy what School is to literacy. The history of language as a social machine (apparatus) involves not only technology but also formations of identity and institutions. What sort of individual and collective intelligence does Entertainment support? To focus this inquiry we will draw upon the theory of “situations,” including a comparative analysis of three implementations: American situation comedy; the French situationist movement (Guy Debord); the Chinese Book of Changes (I Ching). Conducted in the Networked Writing Environment, the seminar undertakes an experimental syncretism of these three approaches to situation, to develop a logic of situations as a basis for an internet Web of Changes (the Ka-CHING, or Divination Comedy). The goal is to design a contemporary wisdom genre native to the World Wide Web.

The course project is a website, but no previous experience with Web authoring is necessary. Readings may include some of the following texts: William Irwin et al., Eds., The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer; François Jullien, The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China; Robert G. O’Meally, Ed., The Jazz Cadence of American Culture; Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century; Jerry Palmer, The Logic of the Absurd: On Film and Television Comedy; R. L. Wing, The Illustrated I Ching.


ENG 6137

Psychoanalysis in Film and Literature

Maureen Turim

Our goal is to explore Lacanian and post-Lacanian psychoanalysis as theories that transform the study and analysis of literature and film. The course is organized around key concepts in Freud’s and Lacan’s writings, but it will examine critiques of their positions, and some of the contemporaneous contributions of others to the reinterpretation of Freud as well. We will concentrate on psychoanalytic texts rather than on the commentaries on and applications of these texts (though I have assigned some of these) as an effort to reexamine the complexity and contradiction of these works. Students will be expected to read all assignments thoroughly and come to seminar prepared to participate in an ongoing exploration and discussion of these texts. The literary texts are chosen for their appearance in the psychoanalytical writings and the film screenings include films that have attracted psychoanalytic scrutiny. Others are ones I have chosen as an attempt to link films with the key concepts in new ways. Students will be assigned topics for oral presentation.

Two seminar papers are assigned; the topics may be either further discussion of texts introduced in class, as suggested by questions I will offer you or a topic agreed upon in advance that concerns a psychoanalytical approach to the student’s area of research. The first paper should be 8–10 pages, the second 12–15 pages. I am looking for careful analysis and original thought presented in well-written essays.

Readings may include:


ENG 6138

Hyper/Video: Reconsidering Video Production

Scott Nygren

This seminar will address problems in cultural theory through the making of video images and tapes, as a specific approach to the larger field of Media and Cultural Studies. Video will be conceived as a mode of embodied writing and knowledge production parallel to other more familiar modes of textual construction. Prior experience with video or computers might be helpful but is not required; all technologies will be introduced at a basic level prior to initiating your own work.

The seminar derives from three significant events in recent years, all characterized by a convergence of elements previously assumed to be categorically separate. Theoretical work and artistic practice have converged so that work in either area now freely borrows from the other. A similar convergence has occurred between computers and video, now fused in a new hybrid medium. Last, intercultural concerns and avant-garde strategies of representation have likewise merged to produce some of the most exciting video work since the 1990s.

The convergence of theoretical writing and artistic practice characterizes such critical texts as Derrida’s Glas, Blanchot’s Step / Not Beyond, Barthes’ and Ronell’s Telephone Book, and such videotapes as Yun-ah Hong’s Memory / All Echo, Woody Vasulka’s Art of Memory and Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied. We will read theoretical texts as possible models for video work, and view films and tapes that have previously attempted an intersection of cultural theory and moving image media. In both cases, established literary and filmic texts will act as points of departure for the generation of new models. At the same time, participants in the seminar will regularly produce and screen their own video work in response to class discussion and to each other’s video texts.

The merging of computers and video implies the imminent practicality of hypermedia, once video parallels alphabetic text as a primary organizing tool of interactive multimedia. This shift from hypertext to hypermedia remains in the not-quite-yet stage for individual artists and scholars, due to limitations of speed, memory and compression, despite hyperbolic claims that it has already arrived. As training for this newly determining context, we will look at works by avant-garde artists who have been conceptually interactive for a long time. Accordingly, the seminar’s video work will be produced and discussed in the context of such digital imaging developments as Hypermedia, Video CD-ROM’s, HDTV and a video-capable Internet. However, this discussion will be oriented not towards the technology as such, but towards its implications for the reconfiguration of knowledge, power and desire in a social context.

Last, a contemporary renewal of avant-garde strategies of representation has emerged to articulate problems of identity, race, gender, economy and history in a multidiasporic world culture. We will look at videos generated from such culturally hybrid situations as Korea/US, Britain/Nigeria, Uganda/US, Iran/Britain and Aborigine/Australia, as a currently active and dispersed media project by which we can set bearings for new work.

We will be working with Mac G4 Final Cut Pro editing systems, which are user-friendly desktop computers designed for video production. The department will provide digital camcorders for shooting high quality footage. Attention may also be given to problems of institutional design and innovation, as a social basis for work in video.


ENG 6138

Culture Critique after Cultural Studies

Nora Alter

This seminar focuses on a range of texts by some of the major cultural and aesthetic theorists of the twentieth century. The first part of the course will focus on the early twentieth century writings of Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, and Siegfried Kracauer, who pursued a multi-disciplinary research and approach to culture and were central in the establishment of what came to be known as culture critique (kulturkritik). One of the cental tenets of culture critique maintained that definitive objectivity was a practical impossibility for one could never stand outside of the culture and language in which one was working. The course will begin with a range of texts by these authors, placing their theoretical reflections and cultural analyses within the historical context in which they were written.

The second part of the course will focus on the post-war writings of some of the pivotal members of the field of academic inquiry known as cultural studies. This multidisciplinary approach to culture, drawing not merely on the orthodox approaches derived from the social sciences, but also on more radical approaches suggested by, for example, feminism, Marxism and semiotics, facilitated asking new questions, and thus reconceptualizing exactly what was entailed by the term “culture.” Rather than study cultural products in isolation from the social and historical context of their production and consumption, writers such as Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Michelle Wallace, and Kobena Mercer have sought to situate cultural products explicitly in relation to other social practices, and particularly in relation to political structures and social hierarchies, such as race, class and gender. An implication of this approach was that the cultural products to be studied could not merely be those selected and celebrated by an intellectual and artistic elite, but would rather be the material and symbolic products encountered in all strata and sections of society.

The final part of the seminar will revisit the practice of culture critique, assessing what it represents after the advent of cultural studies. To what extent is our perception of the work of Benjamin, Kracauer, Brecht and Adorno colored by the late twentieth century interest in cultural studies? How legitimate is such a deferred action of reading? How does the culture critique of these early twentieth century writers and intellectuals differ from the culture studies of the Birmingham School and its legacy? These and other questions will form the framework of this course, and of our study of the interrogation of culture in the twentieth century.


ENL 6206

Studies in Old English

Marie Nelson

Fiscas moton swimman, briddas moton fleogan
Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly

Old English looks different enough on the page to be considered a foreign language (and for this course to satisfy a foreign language requirement of the University of Florida English Department). But once you begin to see how its spelling system works (“fisc,” for example, is not that far from “fish” once you know that OE “sc” represents the same sound that “sh” stands for in Modern English), Old English begins to seem at least somewhat readable.

Bruce Mitchell’s Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England, our primary text for the Old English course to be offered Spring 2003, makes the spelling-sound connections we need, supplies enough historical background for us to place the beginnings of our written language in context, and fills in the basic grammar we need to sort out its sentence patterns. This text also includes a number of selections from Old English literature that range from a translation of the story of the Prodigal Son, to a Charm for Delayed Birth, to selections from Beowulf (Grendel’s Approach to Heorot, the Lament of the Last Survivor, and Beowulf’s Funeral).

Two short supplementary texts titled “Naming the Creatures” and “Working Texts” will be made available, along with selections from modern poetry (like Auden’s “Anthem,” a version of Cˆdmon’s Hymn; and Seamus Heaney’s version of the Beowulf-Unferth confrontation) and modern fiction (like J.R.R. Tolkien’s account of the dragon’s attack on Beowulf’ s people).

I find Mitchell’s approach to memorizing declensions, etc., rather appealing. His title for a basic grammar summary is “Some Paradigms – For Those Who Would Like Them.” There they are – pronoun, article, noun, adjective, and verb forms. We will need them for some of the exercises included in “Naming the Creatures” and “Working Texts,” but you don’t need to memorize them. You will, however, need to learn enough about how this earlier form of our own language worked to be able to select an Old English text – a short passage from Beowulf, for example, that can be presented with reference to a translator’s version of the story, an Old Testament story, a charm, a riddle – the choice is yours – as your own “working text.” This “working text,” to be presented in class – printed, proofread, read aloud, and presented from your own reading perspective – will be the concluding task for this Old English class. There will be no final exam. I don’t really believe in them.


ENL 6226

Shakespeare’s Theater of Likeness

Al Shoaf

The word like occurs some 2,200 times in the writings ascribed to Shakespeare. Consider, for the moment, the following, highly select list of occurrences of like (emphasis mine):

As You Like It (a title)

CAPULET’S WIFE (TO JULIET) Speak briefly: can you like of Paris’ love?
JULIET I’ll look to like, if looking liking move.

Romeo and Juliet 1.3.98–99

OTHELLO Thou dost mean something.
I heard thee say even now thou liked’st not that,
When Cassio left my wife. What didst not like?

Othello 3.3.33–40; 110–14

HELEN What power is it which mounts my love so high,
That makes me see and cannot feed mine eye?
The mightiest space in fortune nature brings
To join like likes and kiss like native things.

All’s Well That Ends Well 1.1.199–212

DUKE VINCENTIO Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
Like doth quit like, and measure still for measure.

Measure for Measure 5.1.402–3

LEONTES (To Mamillius) Thou want’st a rough pash and the shoots that I have,
To be full like me; yet they say we are
Almost as like as eggs.

The Winter’s Tale 1.2.128–31

The professional Shakespearean will recognize each example as crucial to its play. But a further contribution to Shakespeare studies is to notice that like is common to each, as it is also to hundreds and hundreds of others, in many of which it is as differential, or marked, as it is in these. Shakespeare’s, I propose, is a theater of likeness, “as you like it.”

All theater is a theater of likeness in the sense that it depends upon imitation. My contention, further, is that this very dependence motivated Shakespeare’s remarkable vocabulary of likeness. Anxious at all times about copying, Shakespeare employs his vocabulary of likeness throughout his career to interrogate the dynamics, and the inevitable pathologies, of imitation. Like is the marker of the crisis of imitatio in Shakespeare’s writings, psychological and rhetorical alike.

In (human) nature, however anomalously, likes do not repel, they attract. This anomaly may already be implicit in the word’s etymology: like derives from a root (lik) meaning “form” or “shape,” and in Anglo-Saxon means “body” (Dutch, Danish, and Swedish instances of the word mean “corpse”). In addition, even more “lawlessly,” likes and the shapes that embody them attract especially where difference appears to be extreme, the most vivid example in the works being Othello and Desdemona – but remember also Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare pursues insight as compelling as it is (apparently) absurd: where, to naive perception, there is little or no resemblance, will often be found great liking and even love (it is the body’s mystery – ultimately, too, the corpse’s); where, to naive perception, there is marked resemblance, will often be found stark unlikeness and profound resentment (the body’s mystery again and, again, ultimately, too, the corpse’s).

This latter dimension of the insight is of great importance. It will be found at the center of many of Shakespeare’s tragedies: families, where resemblance and thus liking and loving should abound, are actually the seats of terrible unlikeness and tragic antipathy – Lear and his daughters, Hamlet and his uncle and mother, Leontes and Hermione and their son Mamillius, Titus and his sons, Coriolanus and his mother, etc. Shakespeare understood, long before psychoanalysis, that too much resemblance can only breed the inevitable violence of separation and differentiation: too much likeness and the script of your life is only a pre-script, pre-scribed by another in a discourse not your own, from which you must escape, which you must rescript – “We defy augury. ... The readiness [read reading, too] is all” (Hamlet 5.2.157–61).

In this course, we will study likeness in approximately 20 of the works (about half the corpus) both to ascertain the historical context of Shakespeare’s insistence on the word and to analyze the effects of that insistence in each work. The course will demand a great deal of reading, a play a week plus secondary material.

Our primary text will be the Norton edition, based on the Oxford edition, but we will regularly consult the First Folio. A reserve list in Library West will provide a working bibliography of relevant secondary literature.

Each student will be assigned one play or poem to prepare for class discussion, presenting his or her position on the work of the word like in that play or poem (approximately one hour of the seminar). In addition, each student will prepare a term paper (minimum 25 pages), which may take its beginnings from the class preparation.

Extensive use will be made of electronic resources in the course. Also, all students taking the course will be expected to have seen Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet and Julie Taymor’s Titus, both of which are helpful in realizing the crisis of likeness in the plays.


ENL 6226

Renaissance Literature: Tudor-Stuart Drama

Ira Clark

In this course we will concentrate on reading about 25 plays from Elizabeth’s reign to the closing of the theatres in 1642. Our primary focus will be on reading these within various historical contexts and from wide-ranging critical perspectives that have proved persuasive and valuable to scholars past and present: from production and casting through genre and rhetorical studies to dramatic and metadramatic approaches to new historical and feminist interpretations, to name only a few. The class will read along lines of historical development first tragedies, then comedies, and finally tragicomedies. And we will progress from lectures based on the readings through students’ oral and written reports on important scholarly and critical contributions and through brief papers to independent discussions and more involved papers based on whatever approaches and contexts you deem valuable.

Grades will be based on two 20-minute class reports with attendant two-page analyses-outlines on an assigned critical approach (20% each) and three papers of increasing complexity and scope, beginning with a detailed interpretation of some technical consideration, possibly one inside a single scene or act within an assigned tragedy and concluding with a presentation of some non-Shakespearean play of the era not assigned to the class (15%, 20%, & 25%).

The course syllabus (without the report instructions and schedule) is posted to my web page.


ENL 6236

Before Alice: Studies in the Early History of Children’s Literature

Patricia Craddock

The child – as a concept – is often said to have been “invented” sometime during the eighteenth or early nineteenth century.  Nevertheless, of course, children not only lived before they were invented, they read books.  Some of these books were written for them, and if these books were often heavily moralistic or merely informational – primers, catechisms (secular as well as religious), grammars – books were also written and published for children’s pleasure, both in the narrow sense of amusement, and in the broader sense in which the distinguishing feature of “literature” as a category is that it delights as it instructs.  Many more books were appropriated by children (and sometimes, therefore, reprinted by publishers in formats thought attractive to children) that were written for an adult audience.  The publication of Alice in Wonderland is regarded as a landmark in English-language children’s literature not because it was the first book for children, but because it was one of the first written for children that gave the child heroine and the child reader priority over adults, who, of course, have responded by appropriating the book for their use. After Alice, the deluge – so we will concentrate on what came before Alice.

This course will examine what actual children read before books like Alice were available, both books written for them and books that they appropriated, using two methodologies: we will search accounts of child readers both real and fictitious of the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century to identify types and titles, and we will also use the resources of the Baldwin Collection of  children’s books to find out both what was available and how books for adults were remade for child readers.  At least half our time, then, will be spent considering how books like Arabian Nights, Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim’s Progress, The Vicar of Wakefield, Gay’s FablesGulliver’s Travels affected the imaginative life of children (as represented in autobiographies and novels about childhood) and the other half will be spent considering how books like fairy tale collections and chapbooks, Little Goody Two Shoes, Sandford and Merton, Tom Brown’s School Days, The Swiss Family Robinson, Simple Susan supplemented or supplanted adult fare available for these children.

While histories of children’s literature will be available for consultation, the emphasis in this course will be on children’s literature as a subset of all literature and as an index to the society in which it was written, including but not limited to the ideas held about  childhood in that culture.  Students will write two or three relatively short papers – one dealing with a work that has proved to have a dual audience; one dealing with a historical aspect of publications for children in the long eighteenth century (1660–1815); one dealing with representations of and for children as indices of the author’s/buyer’s/social group’s conscious or unconscious assumptions about desirable formations for the next generation.  (Two of these approaches may be combined in one paper if the student finds a suitable topic and wishes to do so.)


ENL 6256

Theorizing Decadence: Images of Late-Victorian Mythologies

Chris Snodgrass

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 therefore intriguing 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 blind spot involve several of the cultural paradigms of the Victorian Period, not least the tenacious idea of a fin-de-siècle decadence. This course will investigate the cultural assumptions underlying a few late-nineteenth-century mythologies, especially those founded on carefully coded representations of gender identity and invoking 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 begin by reading a few twentieth-century critical discussions of Victorian ideas about the fin de si?cle and its fears of degeneration, 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 Empire. We will also read key Victorian commentaries touching on concepts of the grotesque and examine how the cultural paradigms they reference were embedded 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 be studying works by both familiar and relatively unfamiliar (“non-canonical”) figures. Among the specific figures we’ll study are 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, Graham R. Tomson, Edith Nesbit, May Kendall, Mary Elizabeth 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 will be 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.


LIT 6855

Haunted Reading: The Example of Thomas Hardy

Julian Wolfreys

What might it mean to take a writer, such as Thomas Hardy, at his word, concerning the question of how to read his novels? What is at stake in such a strategy? On one occasion, Hardy remarked that if one wished to understand his novels one should read his poetry first; on another occasion, in his biography, he offered the theoretical position that novels were impressions, not mimetically faithful documentaries or representations, they were the embodiments of feelings and the work of the imagination, the characters merely the human form given to philosophical ideas.

In reading 14 of Hardy’s novels and his poetry, the aim of this course is to examine matters of materiality, memory, text as mnemotechnic and archive, phantomaticity and phantasmaticity, cultural and epistemological encryption. Alongside Hardy, and as one possible means of orienting the act of reading Hardy, situating him within certain currents of thought and within a constellated discursive network, it is expected that there will also be readings from the texts of Freud and Husserl, as well as, possibly, a selection of texts from other theorists and philosophers. It is not the aim of the course to place Hardy either in aesthetic contexts of the late nineteenth century, nor to situate his work in the tradition of the English Novel.

Course requirements will include a seminar paper (c. 15–25 pp.) a presentation, and participation in discussion.


LIT 6856

The Invention of Africa: African Literature and Colonial Anthropology

Apollo Amoko

This course examines the vexed relationship between, on the one hand, the founding texts of colonial anthropology and, on the other hand, the founding texts of modern African literature. Colonial anthropology first emerged as mode of understanding the radical other, the African subject initially thought to be outside the realm of reason and rationality. Modern African literature first emerged as a mode of knowledge designed to liberate African subjects and worlds from the colonial library; this literature sought to positivize the negative image of Africa normalized in the colonial library. But, paradoxically, the founding texts of African literature depended, for their revisionary power, on the grammar and conceptual infrastructure of colonial social science and, in effect, normalized an anthropological episteme for Africa. As Simon Gikandi argues, “The founding texts of African literature claimed to have an African world as their referent but this was the African world which social science had produced for African writers […] These texts are more useful for telling us about their authors’ – and subjects’ – anxiety about colonial modernity than they would ever tell us about ‘traditional’ or ‘precolonial’ Igbo, Yoruba or Gikuyu worlds.” To what extent is Gikandi’s radical contention justifiable?

The anthropological texts to be studied will include, Evans Pritchard’s Witchcraft, Magic and Oracles Among the Azande, Branislaw Malinowski’s The Dynamics of Cultural Change: An Inquiry Into Race Relations in Africa, Placide Tempels’s Bantu Philosophy, Jomo Kenyatta’s Facing Mount Kenya and the writing of Leo Frobenius. The fictional texts to be studied will include Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s The River Between, Okot P’Bitek’s Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol, Flora Nwapa’s Efuru, Buchi Emechata’s The Joys of Motherhood, Chiekh Hamidou Kane’s Ambiguous Adventure, Camara Laye’s A Dark Child and the poetry of Negritude. We will also study the following theoretical/critical texts: V. Y. Mudimbe, The Idea of Africa and The Invention of Africa, Christopher Miller’s Theories of Africans and the work of Simon Gikandi.


LIT 6934

The Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Richard Brantley

The approach to Dickinson’s 1789 poems and 1049 letters is historical, interdisciplinary, biographical, and formalistic. Topics included are: tones, voices, punctuation, meters, metaphors, controlling ideas; dashes, compression, nonrecoverable deletions, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, variant words and phrases; rhymes; riddles; fascicles (or manuscript books); biographical criticism (an overview); the issue of morbidity; love; nature and consciousness; God and self; death; pain and aftermath; creativity; the enigma of self and other; feminist perspectives on recurring questions; gender and multiple meaning; Dickinson as comic poet; and biographical/cultural contexts. Directions for the optional midterm and the optional (noncumulative) final are as follows: “Comment on three of the following five passages. Take class discussion into account and go beyond it.” Twenty-to-twenty-five typed, double-spaced pages of critical response are required, though not necessarily all at the same time, together with a twenty-minute oral report on the final project. The text is Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Poems of Emily Dickinson.


LIT 6934

Literature and Landscape, 1730–1850

Alistair Duckworth

We will seek to account for the extraordinary importance the countryside assumes in English culture from the eighteenth century onward. Our texts will include the following: rural scenes (the landscape gardens at Stowe and Stourhead, Wordsworth’s Lake District, Constable’s Stour Valley); tours of England, Scotland, and Wales by such authors as Defoe, Gilpin, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Cobbett; rural poems by such poets as Thomson, Gray, Clare, and Wordsworth; and rural paintings by Wilson, Gainsborough, Constable, and Turner. What kind of politics do these representations inscribe? What kind of economy? What place do writers and artists assign to women? to the poor? How do they portray work and leisure?

From the age of Pope to the age of Wordsworth, writers and artists defined ideas of England (and Britain – a different idea) through representations of the countryside. As local scenes were destroyed or left behind for urban or colonial homes, compensatory images of the countryside took on powerfully evocative significance. Such images, which were portable in the forms of books or prints, served ideological purposes. Our concerns will be with the contestatory nature of rural representations over a period in which the local became national, “landscape” became “nature,” and the landed ownership of real property became the middle-class ownership of representations. A good deal of excellent scholarship has addressed these concerns, and our reading will include the work of John Barrell, Ann Bermingham, Michael Rosenthal, Tim Fulford, and Elizabeth Helsinger.

The main requirement of the seminar is a 6,000 word paper on which students will work over the course of the semester (with submission of bibliographies and draft versions). Student will also give class presentations on verbal and visual texts and they may also be asked to report on their research at the end of the semester.