Undergraduate Courses, Spring 2017
Upper Division (3000–4000) Courses
Note: Only course descriptions are listed below. For a comprehensive summary of course numbers, sections, times and locations, titles, and instructors, see the following web page:
This course explores autobiography, memoir, and autobiographical fiction produced by LGBTQ writers in the US, with a focus on the post-Stonewall era. Because queer self-fashioning has, historically, very often occurred within hostile and/or uncomprehending environments, we will seek to contextualize our readings not only in relation to the larger literary tradition of life writing, but also in connection to the theoretical and historical frameworks of specifically queer self-invention and representation.
We will generally read one book-length work—a novel, autobiography, or memoir—each week, often in conjunction with 1 or 2 contextualizing articles or essays. Although the books will be available on reserve for short-term use in Library West, students may find it more convenient to rent, buy, or borrow copies of the longer works to read at home. Assigned articles and essays, however, will be made available electronically. In addition to regular attendance and informed participation, two papers, a presentation, and occasional quizzes and homework will be required.
The Contemporary American Multi-ethnic Novel
This course will cover a range of multi-ethnic novels as a way to cut apart the unity implied by the term “contemporary American novel.” At the same time, we should resist simplistically accepting ethnic authors as native informants and indexing their novels as ethnographic evidence. This course aims, rather, for more rigorous articulations of how the multi-ethnic novel helps us come to grips with the new realities of our globalized or planetary existence. The multi-ethnic novel also offers new understandings of contemporary literature’s ethnic, racial, cultural, ideological, gendered, institutional, and economic coordinates.
The course aims to complicate and answer such questions as: How exactly do we define “American”? How do multi-ethnic novels register the legacies of slavery, genocide, emigration, and other collective traumas? Must they always be “about” such traumas, and to what extent do readers expect ethnic authors to be spokespeople for broader national, ethno-racial, or cultural experiences? To what extent is the American novel a product of—and how does multi-ethnic literature carve out its existence within—predominantly white institutions? How does the publishing industry (e.g. mainstream literary v. nonprofit indie) shape which novels we read and how we approach them? How do multi-ethnic authors deploy different popular genres in defamiliarizing ways? In what ways can we imagine the non-contemporaneity of ethnic minority groups in the US as critique, as strategy, as political resistance?
Readings will include several of the following (though you can expect a shortened final reading list before the semester begins): Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl; Octavia Butler, Fledgling; Teju Cole, Open City; Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Louise Erdrich, The Round House; Sesshu Foster, Atomik Aztex; M. Evelina Galang, Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery; Mohsin Hamid, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia; Nalo Hopkinson, The Salt Roads; Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story; Colson Whitehead, Apex Hides the Hurt; and Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.
Womanist Intellectual Thought
This course combines lectures with discussion as it introduces a few uses and abuses of womanism as a theoretical discourse and as a platform of social activism. The history of Black women’s intellectual thought will be presented in lecture, followed by an overview of womanism’s cultural, spiritual and academic origins. In an attempt to not only explore, but also break through the boundaries of womanist discourse and praxis, our discussions and the lectures will address questions such as: who can be a womanist and what exactly does this identity mean in terms of bridging the still obtrusive gap separating us all—black from white, European from Latina, Latina from African? What are the problems and issues that sustain these gaps and how can they be challenged and resolved? How might Womanism, and its “love-based technologies of change,” operate as a bridge for effectual, sociopolitical dialogue and shine as the light of a Global manifesto for humanity’s equitable sustainability? Students will engage with Womanist ontology, logic, axiology, and epistemology. We will end the course by examining how womanism “speaks” in Black women’s literature, particularly the work of Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston. Students will leave this course with an understanding of Womanist Thought and praxis as (using womanist scholar Layli Maparyan’s words) “a significant intervention upon the challenges of our times…a gift from Black women to all humanity.”
Imaginative Writing Fiction
Imaginative Writing Poetry
“Poorly depicted clouds – which most people would not notice as wrong – are so disturbing to Dr. Thornes that they almost spoil visits to museums. For a meteorologist, the distraction is as great as the ordinary viewer being confronted by a figure with three arms. . . . [He added that] too many artists had painted [clouds] as they would a backcloth in a theatre.”
—Guardian (London), 9 August 2000
They told stories about [the country and western singer] Bill Monroe biting into his first bagel (“Dang! This is the worst doughnut I ever did eat!”).
—Burkhard Bilger, New Yorker, May 14, 2007
In this workshop we will attend to words as closely as a painter attends to paint—or to clouds. You will read a broad selection of modern poetry, from Emily Dickinson to Gjertrud Schnackenberg, and write a poem a week. Every week in addition to poems from students the workshop will consider for discussion poems from poets past and present. This is an advanced workshop in poetry, for students who have already taken at least one lower-division workshop (CRW 1301 or CRW 2300) and who want to press their understandings of poetic language even further.
Email of your manuscript is necessary for early registration. Please submit four poems to email@example.com in one attachment in .pdf format. Mention the workshops you have previously taken.
Required reading (tentative):
Imaginative Writing Poetry
This is an intermediate undergraduate poetry workshop. We will study poetic forms, traditional and non-traditional, write imitations, and discuss canonical and contemporary poems in English.
Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing
This course is an advanced fiction workshop, open only to students who have taken CRW 3110. Basically, it will be run in the “traditional” workshop fashion with occasional lectures on structure, metaphor, plot, etc. Some writing exercises will be assigned at the beginning, but the primary emphasis is on self generated work. Each student will be expected to write two short stories, as well as complete a final draft of each.
Optimally, students will turn in stories 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.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich: Tolstoy (to be read before the first class meeting.)
Senior Advanced Workshop in Poetry
This is the senior undergraduate poetry workshop at U.F. Serious (and good-humored) students will write poems both to prompts and without benefit of prompts. Inspiration and an example will be provided by the 1996 Polish Nobel Laureate, Wislawa Szymborska (Map: Collected and Last Poems, tr. Clare Cavanagh), with others perhaps to follow.
Advanced Exposition: Aural Media
This course introduces students to the basic styles and techniques of expository writing. Put simply, expository writing refers to how information is organized and presented within a text. You probably utilize expository writing techniques on a daily basis when you compare and contrast different ideas, link causes to effects, or describe problems and offer solutions. This course will explore how such organizational choices are rhetorical. We often choose certain expository frameworks over others in order to persuade our audiences to view a situation or concept in a particular way.
However, the media and genres of expository writing are beginning to evolve alongside the rhetorical affordances of digital technologies, such as smartphones and tablets. Specifically, this course explores the impact of aural media —podcasts, location-based audio tours, etc.—on expository writing. Course readings (and listenings) will discuss the rhetorical affordances of aural media while at the same time serving as models of effective exposition.
Course assignments will provide students with opportunities to demonstrate expository writing techniques through both print and aural media. For their capstone project, students will create a location-based audio tour using free mapping and mobile app creation technologies. No previous technical experience with creating audio recordings or mobile apps is required. The word count for this course will be distributed among both print and digital assignments.
Advanced Professional Writing
This course builds on the principles and practices of ENC 3250 (Professional Communication). It emphasizes finer points of prose style in professional writing contexts. It focuses on longer-form documents and the challenges of maintaining good prose style throughout them. It tailors these concerns to individual students’ ongoing research projects, regardless of field.
Students taking this class should have a research project underway, or at least in mind. The project should be intended for a professional audience: NGO, governmental, academic, corporate, or otherwise. As part of the work of the course, students will study the writing conventions and expectations of their intended audience.
Modern Criticism & Theory
“Our age,” French intellectual Louis Althusser once declared, “threatens one day to appear in the history of human culture as marked by the most dramatic and difficult trial of all, the discovery of and training in the meaning of the ‘simplest’ acts of existence: seeing, listening, speaking, reading.” The heterogeneous body of texts that comprise modern criticism and theory in the humanities (and, more narrowly, in literature departments) has contributed to this “dramatic and difficult trial,” challenging common sense and teaching us to see, hear, speak, and read in new—and newly sensitive, self-conscious, and self-questioning—ways. Literary critics and theorists spent much of the twentieth century refining techniques of reading, developing theories of interpretation, and arguing over the nature of their object of study. Others, working in such diverse fields as semiology, sociology, psychoanalysis, Marxism, anthropology, speech-act philosophy, post-structuralism, feminism, postcolonial studies, and queer theory, have been developing ways of analyzing the psyche, the economy, the operations of ideology, power relations, logics of cultural production, speech acts, self-subverting structures of meaning, and the problematic codings that produce and reproduce differences of sexuality, gender, and race. Even as literary criticism and theory have learned from the work of writers in these various fields and disciplines, bringing different forms of knowledge to bear on the analysis and theorization of literature, the collective enterprise of trying to understand the “‘simplest’ acts of existence” has led to the emergence of new fields of study and objects of knowledge. “Theory” embraces this broader domain.
This course, then, will be an intensive introduction to modern criticism and theory. The readings, though often brief, can be quite challenging, and we will spend much of our time carefully reading and assessing the arguments we encounter. On the one hand, we will work to appropriate the crucial terms of arguments and to understand how those arguments unfold; on the other hand, we will try to discover perspectives from which to interrogate these arguments.
We will likely begin the semester by reading Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Our central text will be either The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (2nd edition; ed. Vincent B. Leitch et. al.) or Literary Theory: An Anthology (2nd edition; eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan). Readings dealing with theory understood in its more expansive sense will be drawn from among the work of such figures as Ferdinand de Saussure, Friedrich Nietzsche, Roman Jakobson, J.L. Austin, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx, T.W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Simone de Beauvoir, Monique Wittig, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Frantz Fanon, and Edward Said. Readings addressing literary criticism and theory more narrowly will likely commence with I.A. Richards’ 1929 study, Practical Criticism, which notoriously exemplifies the difficulties that inhere in the “simple” act of reading by quoting and discussing readers’ responses to 13 poems, and go on to include selections from such writers as Cleanth Brooks, William Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley, Northrop Frye, Tzvetan Todorov, Stanley Fish, Barbara Johnson, Annette Kolodny, Mikhail Bakhtin, Fredric Jameson, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
I anticipate that students will be evaluated on the basis of attendance and participation, two brief preparation pages, a mid-term examination consisting of short-answer questions, a discussion panel, and an essay of 8–10 pages.
History of Film I
This course will examine the history of film from its origins through the transformations that accompanied the development of sound film. We will look at issues of industry and audience, as well as the changing form of filmic expression. There will be emphasis on various styles of imagistic expression, intertitling, narrative structure, and musical accompaniment. One of my goals is to introduce you to the great art and pleasure to be found in these films, and to help you understand them in new ways. We will explore D.W. Griffith’s Biograph films and one of his features, look at early women filmmakers such as Alice Guy Blaché and Lois Weber, great silent stars such as Lilian Gish and Greta Garbo. We will look at the importance of silent comedy, including Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. We will look at the famous movements in silent European cinema, such as Russian Montage Films, French Impressionism and German Expressionism. All students must attend scheduled film screenings and do all the readings carefully. I also want you to do library research for your papers, and a major goal is to improve your writing and researching skills. There will be a CANVAS discussion board with weekly participation expected.
I'm Not Crazy!: Mental Illness on Film
This course will focus on a number of films in different genres that deal with mentally-ill characters and that address changes in mental hospitals, shuttered mental hospitals, and psychiatry as well as the histories of madness and of Freudian and Nazi psychoanalysis. Some attention will be paid to photography. Readings will include works by R. D. Laing, Michel Foucault, Christopher Payne, and Laurence A. Rickels. Films will include Vertigo, Psycho, Peeping Tom, Sisters, Dressed to Kill, Frenzy, The Jacket, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Session 9, Images, Three Women, Symptoms, The Other Side of the Underneath, Mother, The Snake Pit, Shock Corridor, Random Harvest, Ministry of Fear, Jacob’s Ladder, The Shining, Twelve Monkeys, Sunset Boulevard, Fight Club, Bedlam, The Three Faces of Eve, Repulsion, Bunny Lake is Missing, The Tenant, Spider, Blue Sky, and Peter Brooks’ King Lear. Requirements: Total Attendance; co-lead class discussion twice, once on a Tuesday and once on a Thursday; two discussion questions and three or more “BIG WORDS” or film shots for each class; student formulated quizzes each class; a Film Clip Analysis and two 500 word papers; and a willingness to reflect, think, respond, by paying very, VERY, VERY close formal attention to texts and films. For more information, go to http://users.clas.ufl.edu/I’mnotcrazy!/
Film & Video Production
ENG 4136 will expand students’ understanding of the fundamental elements of filmmaking through hands-on exploration of video production techniques. In screenings and class meetings, we will view and discuss how filmmakers have interrogated and evolved the most basic elements of the craft. Through a series of challenges, students will similarly explore the potentials of framing, movement, sound, lighting, and editing in their own short films. Students will accompany their work with written artist statements, and they will share their video and written work with the class. These challenges and discussions will culminate in five-minute long team projects which we will publicly screen at the end of the semester. Student’s grades will be evaluated based on participation, discussion, and collaboration skills in addition to the work they produce.
Prerequisite: at least one of the following - ENG 3115, ENG 3121, ENG 3122, or ENG 3125
Advanced Film & Video Production
ENG 4146 is an extension of the practices and skills developed by students who successfully completed ENG 4136. In this production workshop, students will work in teams to develop a project, write a pitch, script, cast, and shoot a 7–10 minute genre film. Additionally, students will help to arrange and schedule a screening of these films at the end of the semester, gaining practical experience in hosting a public exhibition of their work. Class time will include screenings of genre explorations and rushes from student projects, thus thoughtful in-class critiques of the work you produce will be a considerable part of the course. Written assignments and complete preproduction proposals will complement these class discussions. Student’s grades will be evaluated based on participation, discussion, and collaboration skills in addition to the work they produce.
Prerequisite: successful completion of ENG 4136 with grade of B or higher OR analogous production experience and film theory/history coursework.
An introduction to major concerns, methodologies, and texts in queer theory, this course concerns the construction and experience of gender, sex, and sexuality. We will work closely with foundational texts in the field and also explore their usefulness in analyzing and engaging current cultural and political issues, such as trans representation, gay marriage, censorship, and hate speech. Because some of the required texts are densely written and conceptually challenging, class discussion will be critical to clarifying their arguments and implications. We will also discuss the relevance of assigned readings to understandings of contemporary culture in general and LGBTQ lives in particular. Beyond the study of theory (i.e., of other people’s theories), this class comprises an incitement to theorize. Thorough preparation and active engagement will be required of all participants.
In addition to regular attendance and informed participation in class discussion, course requirements include occasional in-class writing and short homework assignments, two in-class exams, and two 5-6 page papers. Many of the assigned readings will be available through UF libraries’ electronic reserves, but students will also need to buy, rent, or borrow 2-4 required books, including Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, volume 1, and Dean Spade’s Normal Life.
Faculty Member of Choice
An Independent Study course may be taken for 1 to 3 credit hours, but will only count toward the fulfillment of the 10-course requirement for the English major if a student registers for 3 credit hours.
This course is for advanced students who desire to supplement the regular courses by independent reading or research under the guidance of a member of the faculty. The student must find a faculty member who is willing to supervise the semester-long study, and together, the two create a project. The student must meet with the professor at designated times, agreed upon in advance, and complete all assignments in a timely manner.
The English Department at the University of Florida offers three* credit hours of internship to its majors who provide the following to the Undergraduate Coordinator for approval:
Once the Undergraduate Coordinator has approved the internship requested by the student, the department will register the student for the internship credits.
Upon completion of the internship:
*For two credit hours, the student would need to work 8 hours per week in a Fall, Spring, or Summer C semester; and 16 hours per week for Summer A or B.
*For one credit hour, the student would need to work 4 hours per week in a Fall, Spring, or Summer C semester; and 8 hours per week for Summer A or B.
Please note the following limitations on the English Internship:
Honors Thesis Project
Faculty Members (2) of Choice
Students must have have completed at least one semester of ENG 4936, Honors Seminar. Open to English Honors students.
The student must select two faculty members: one to direct the reading, research, and writing of a thesis on a topic of the student’s and director’s chosing, and another as the second reader. An abstract (100 to 200 words) must be delivered to the CLAS Academic Advising Center on Fletcher Road at least 10 days before graduation.
Philosophy, the Movies, and Everyday Life
This seminar will have two starting points: (1) Even after the first century of its existence, the cinema still presents us with perplexities – What is the task we call “movie star performance”? How do the movies distinguish between the real and the fictional? (Is, for example, a saddle in a western “fictional”?) How do we distinguish “acting” from “lying”? (2) Philosophy begins with Socrates’s practice of a method, the dialogue, a series of questions and answers intended to sharpen the understanding of the virtues Socrates wanted to define.
In the fall of 1982, the philosopher Gareth Matthews undertook an experiment involving philosophical dialogues with middle-school children. Like Socrates before him, Matthews assumed that “To do philosophy with a child, or with anyone else for that matter, is simply to reflect on a perplexity or a conceptual problem of a certain sort to see if one can remove the perplexity or solve the problem. . . . Sometimes one succeeds, often one doesn’t. Sometimes getting clearer about one thing only makes it obvious that one is dreadfully unclear about something else.” Matthews also discovered that young children took naturally to philosophical questions until their subsequent education trained them to regard such matters as “wastes of time.”
This seminar will take up perplexing questions posed by the movies and ask you to write dialogues about those questions. We will start by reading two of Plato’s Socratic dialogues before reading Matthews’s accounts of his work with children. We will also look at Wittgenstein’s seminars (which often involve questions posed to, or by, imaginary interlocutors), J.L. Austin’s essay on excuses, and at some of the writings by Harvard philosopher Stanley Cavell, who has written extensively about film. And, of course, we will watch some movies, including Anatomy of a Murder, Blow-Up, The General (Keaton), People on Sunday, and It Happened One Night.
Assignments: Weekly reading quizzes, class participation, bi-weekly two-page papers, a final 8-page paper.
Don’t be afraid of the course’s philosophical approach. If, as Matthews showed, 10-12-year-olds can “do philosophy,” so can we.
Comparative Settler Colonialisms
Settler colonialism has often been marginalized within postcolonial studies which have focused largely on colonization and decolonization in places such as Kenya, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, or French Indochina. This course attends to the different theories, practices, and literatures of settler colonialisms--marked by large populations of Europeans who have moved to places not simply as functionaries of a colonial power but to live permanently while enjoying the privileges of a ruling race. While the structures of some settler colonialisms have been dismantled and others still continue, the effects of settler colonialism are present to date. This course will focus on the theories and literatures of settler colonialism by focusing on five sites: North America, Hawai’i, Algeria, Palestine, and South Africa. We will study the specific constructions of race in different settler colonial contexts and the intersection of colonial racism and gender. We will read works by both settlers and the colonized in order to understand questions of indigeneity, sovereignty, racial politics, occupation, nationalism, the politics of recognition, and revolutionary solidarity. I’m not sure exactly which texts I’ll use but will most likely include the following: Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks, Djebar’s Women of Algiers in Their Apartments, Daoud’s The Mersault Investigation, Nongena The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena, Coetzee’s Disgrace, Shehadeh’s Palestinian Walks, Said’s After the Last Sky, Treuer’s Prudence, Erdrich’s Love Medicine, Davenport’s Song of the Exile, and Kanae’s Islands Linked by Ocean.
Requirements: One or two oral presentations; short weekly reading responses; 15 page term paper
Psychoanalysis and the Patriarchal Tradition
The seminar will examine a sequence of explicitly or implicitly autobiographical texts from antiquity to the nineteenth century. Our guiding thread will be how the Fall story in Genesis ties in with Freud’s concept of the Oedipus complex, and how both versions of “original sin” impact representations of gender. Beginning with St. Augustine’s Confessions, we will take up Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan, Fielding’s Tom Jones, Rousseau’s Confessions, and Dickens’s Great Expectations. In addition to active class participation, requirements include weekly one-page response papers to establish competence in writing and an eight- to twelve-page seminar paper.
From Romance to the Novel
In contemporary usage, the word “romance” refers to a type of novel, one whose plot is centered on love and romantic relationships. But romance also refers to a much older narrative tradition, in which love shares space with dragons and heroic quests in an open landscape inhabited by larger-than-life human figures. In its traditional meaning, romance was the dominant narrative mode of the Middle Ages, and it is only around the late seventeenth century that it began to give way to the modern novel. Or did it? This will be the question animating this course. We will consider the distinctiveness but also the mutual indebtedness of these two narrative traditions. We will begin by looking at examples of medieval and Renaissance romance; we will then turn to some of the first examples of the modern novel, reading works by Daniel Defoe and Henry Fielding; and we will consider how the themes and structures of romance either reappeared or persisted in hybrid modes, such as the Gothic novels of Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe or the historical fiction of Sir Walter Scott.
The 19th-Century English Novel
This course will cover key developments in nineteenth-century British novels through a consideration of their historical, literary-historical, and critical contexts. Novelists were often preoccupied with the condition of their own culture, and they considered it their duty and pleasure to criticize, praise, and generally comment upon current issues. These issues represent the formative phases of social concerns that we have inherited, and which we will address throughout the semester: for example, gender roles, the ethics of capitalism, education, the responsibilities of liberal government, pollution, the role of nation in the global community, etc. We will read a range of representative genres and consider them not only in the light of the emergence of the novel as a dominant form, but also as documents of a culture’s attempts to represent and work through these issues – aesthetically and ethically. We will also examine the ways in which Victorian ideas resonate for us today.
Possible Reading list:
Literary Nonfiction: Classics of Eighteenth-Century Prose
The philosopher David Hume once claimed to have been “seized very early with a passion for literature, which has been the ruling passion of my life.” In spite of his devotion to literature, Hume practiced none of the genres we now consider to be “literary”: no poetry, no plays, virtually no prose fiction. Instead, what Hume meant by literature was nonfictional prose, above all in the form of history and the philosophical essay. His peculiar understanding of literature was far from unique in his day. Many of the most distinguished British writers of the eighteenth century turned their literary talents towards nonfictional prose, producing highly influential masterpieces on a number of different fronts: the essay, letter writing, popular philosophy, history, literary criticism, biography, and political theory. Such genres were at their height in the hands of figures such as Joseph Addison, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, David Hume, Edward Gibbon, Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Classified under genres that we now consider to be nonliterary, their works are nonetheless regarded as an integral part of the English literary heritage. In this course we will engage with this tradition, focusing both on its foundational influence on later humanistic fields and on the features that make it nonetheless literary.
Seventeenth-Century Lyric Poetry
This course seeks to enhance students’ skills of close reading by focusing on the two major traditions of early seventeenth-century poetry, the “metaphysicals” and the “cavaliers,” the minor poems of Milton, and leading poets from the Restoration period. Writers to be read include Donne, Herbert, Jonson, Herrick, Marvell, Lovelace, Waller, and Rochester. In addition to active class participation, course requirements are a midterm, final, and one five-page term paper.
All Joking Aside: the Art and Craft of Comedy
The assumption in all my theatre courses is that the text of a play is not just what is written on the page but that text in performance, delivered by actors before an audience. This means the play’s text also includes gestures, movement, blocking (the stage picture), and sub-text (what the character is saying inwardly, beneath the lines delivered onstage, as well as the “history” for that character invented by the actor). In the theatre, we would further supplement this text with lighting, sound, set, costumes, props, and make-up. To be sure, one can approach a play in a thousand ways – as literature, as a repository for the thinking of an age, as the springboard for political or cultural issues. But, since I work both on campus and in the theatre as an actor and director, and since the theatre itself is a unique medium with its own aesthetic principles, I approach the plays, with my students, and as a fellow “student,” as something meant to be performed by an actor and ratified by an audience. In the class each student will have a scene partner with whom he or she stages several scenes each semester. Once performed, the class and I, as co-directors, “work” that scene with the two actors, trying out options, rehearsing it. The emphasis, therefore, is on learning by doing, and I judge student work by intent, what goes into the performance – not by finesse. If there is finesse, that is considered a bonus. Each actor also writes a short paper assessing his or her experience during rehearsal for a scene. Performances and the scene papers count equally.
This course, “All Joking Aside: The Art and Craft of Comedy,” grows out of, and will also be contributing to a book of the same name on which Professor Homan is collaborating with his friend Brian Rhinehart, a well-known actor and director in New York who teaches at the Actor’s Studio. The aim of LIT 3041 parallels the twin concerns of that book, namely: 1. to consider comedy as an art form, with its own aesthetic principles, whose message or purpose, its function in terms of its audience is inseparable from the medium of comedy; and to consider the place of comedy in the modern theatre; and 2. To explore the “rules” of comedy, what the actor does--and doesn’t do--to make it work with an audience; comedy as a style of acting; ways in which a comic character in the script can be brought to life onstage. The major texts of the course are the manuscript of the book in process and Laugh Lines: Short Comic Plays, which collects some thirty-six short works by playwrights like Christopher Durang, Steve Martin, and Elaine May, as well as other popular practitioners of the art and craft of comedy. We will also work with what is surely one of the most brilliant comedies of the modern theatre, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
A word of comfort: whether you have acted before or not, experience in the theatre is not a factor in the class. We use acting as a way of studying the text. Have no fears on this issue!
Sidney Homan is Professor of English at the University of Florida, the author of some eleven books on Shakespeare and the modern playwrights. He also works as an actor and director in professional and university theatres.
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail Professor Homan at< firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The Merchant in Translation: Translations of The Merchant of Venice into German, Yiddish, and Hebrew
This course highlights the Central European detour that Shakespearean reception and the play, The Merchant of Venice, underwent in German, Hebrew, and Yiddish. Such a detour, with its various discomforts, is used to penetrate a current historical and political historiography, rendering Shylock a character that remembers various languages and locations, as well as multiple alternatives for political self-definition. This complex Shakespearean character speaks in many voices and for various purposes and is the only character that can provide the missing link between two contradictory Jewish stereotypes—a persecuted and victimized underling and a merciless and violent plaintive, holding out his knife to draw blood.
Following a short introduction to the Shakespearean Theater and a methodology for reading Shakespearean plays, the course will follow the history of The Merchant of Venice in German, Hebrew, and Yiddish in various locations, media, and critical references. The discussion will consider the social, cultural, and political effects as well as the mutual influences of these three languages on certain contemporary readings of the play.
Women Out of Place
In this course we will look at women’s narratives of exploration, both the far off and the close-at-hand, focusing on the ways in which women have utilized felt encounters with the physical world – from wild land- and seascapes to gardens, architecture, cities, and the body itself – to investigate, critique, and disrupt restrictive ideological structures that circumscribe social identity and keep them “in place.” We will examine how these writers have used the relationship between language and space to adapt traditionally masculine aesthetic discourses for their own purposes, to engage with questions of gender and sexuality, and to express transgressive feminine subjectivity and experience located “out of bounds”.
The course will be discussion-based, requiring class participation, a panel presentation, 1 short paper (close reading), 1 medium-length paper with annotated bibliography, and an essay on spatial reading.
Interdisciplinary in nature, this course will include some of these texts:
African Literature in English: The Drama of Africa
Nationalism and the Novel
Postcolonial Literature, Culture, and Theory
In this course, we will explore the issue of postcoloniality through a lens made of Latin American and Latino/a texts. We will read and discuss several classic works, from cover to cover, that speak to some of the histories and consequences of the colonial experience in South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States. Texts may include:
You will write two essays—one at midterm, one at semester’s end. Ahead of every class meeting, you will write two questions, which I will use to organize our discussions.
Literature for Adolescents
This course will survey some of the major figures, historical developments, market trends, and critical discussions of literature written for adolescents. We will start by considering the adolescent as a social construct, beginning with its historical emergence at the turn of the twentieth century. Throughout the semester, we will pay attention to how shifting ideologies and cultural assumptions about childhood, adulthood, and the liminal space between these two categories all alter our understanding of the adolescent and our definition of adolescent literature. We will look at a broad range of genres and styles intended for or chosen by the adolescent reader; we will include both canonical “classics” from the mid-twentieth century and contemporary middle-grade and young adult texts that echo or respond to these cornerstones of the field. We will also address recent efforts championed by groups like We Need Diverse Books to diversify children’s and young adult literature and address the problems of inclusion, representation, and cultural appropriation that are apparent in many of our “classics.” We will not end the semester with a firm definition of adolescent literature because that definition is always in flux. Instead, we will end the semester with a better understanding of how (and why) adolescence is represented in literature and how (and why) we can read literature for adolescents.
Posthumography: Editorial Excrescences and Eco-graph-ologies of Death
Have you ever read a work of literature in a critical edition? Have you ever read an unedited work of literature? Have you ever read a book on paper? Have you ever read a book online? Have you ever read a facsimile edition? Have you ever wondered why college professors assign critical editions, what these editions are for, how they may help you understand the edited text so that you may read it more closely? Do you leave notes in your copy? Have you ever used an electronic annotation device? In this course, we will explore what it means to read today by comparing critical and trade editions of the same works, all of which concern a dead man’s writing. The purpose? To pursue questions about editing and narratives of editing found and missing manuscripts, unfinished novels, notebooks, letters, books planned but never written, sequels, prequels, versions, drafts, revisions, marginalia, annotations, doodles, diplomatic transcriptions and facsimiles. The title of the course? Posthumography: Editorial Excresences and the Eco-graph-ologies of Death. The thesis? Editing marks the endless generation of genetic narratives about narratives that frame themselves in relation to other writings, sometimes published after not, buried or frozen and later recovered, sometimes hidden in a desk, sometimes burned or deposited with a de facto heir without ever being published. Critical editions have a paradoxically uncritical genesis, stranded or founding or their inability to justify or rationalize in terms of literary criticism their publication of a particular version of a text. Although sometimes folded into philological notions of repairing a text or genetic criticism, editing has a marketing logic and serves as an alibi for academic work in progress. The definitive critical edition to come is on its way! The yet to be published edition, not the book to come, constitutes the horizon of a bio-biblio-political “life” and death of a text, a place-holder the serves as the blindest of critical blind spots, the most delusional para-philological dis-ability to archive preserve or destroy the text and misguide its reading through closed narrative tracks (“sources”; “backgrounds”; “a note on the text”; “contexts”; and so on). The second half the course subtitle demands a word of explanation. Possibly by chance, many of the books we will read and films we will watch involve travel narratives about the exploration and colonization of nearly uninhabitable parts of the Earth, the ends of the world, to paraphrase Werner Herzog. Posthumography involves corpus life, the monstrosities and horrors of decay, and the destination, if there is one, of the corpse and the corpus: Burned? Buried? On Ice? An ecology of death is also a writing of death, death as writing, or what I call Eco-graph-ology. Following out the illogic of publishing critical editions of what had already been published, including arbitrary and random series and lists, funds, if only on credit and possibly counterfeit money, an exploration of biobibiliothanatopolitics in relation to questions about storage and survival in scientific exploration; extraterrestrial, alien life forms; prehistory; bio-geo-logy; the fate of the corpse; the history of writing; reanimation; the discovery of race and scientific racism; travel; hitherto unknown foreign languages; and species extinction. Requirements: TOTAL ATTENDANCE; Co-lead class discussion twice, once on a Tuesday and once on a Thursday; two discussion questions; three film shots; and three or more “BIG WORDS” for each class; student formulated quizzes each class; three 700 word papers; and a willingness to reflect, think, respond, by paying very, VERY, VERY close formal attention to texts and films.
You must acquire these editions of these required works: