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Spring 2019 English Graduate Courses and Descriptions

ENG 610: Studies in Gender and Sexuality
Decolonial Imaginings: Gender and Sexuality in the African Literature
Dr. Besi Muhonja
M 5:00-8:00 PM

This course challenges students to apply critical thinking perspectives beyond normative Eurocentric definitions and discourses in interrogating gender, sexuality, the feminine principle, femininity and masculinity. We will explore philosophical works alongside Anglophone African literary productions to combine interdisciplinary and decolonial analyses. Using select novels, short stories, poetry/songs, and dramas from different regions, historical and cultural contexts, we will audit composite themes that intersect with and impact identities and performances of gender and sexuality: the colonial encounter, decolonization, cultural and other nationalisms, modernity, postcoloniality, cultural imperialism, and African cultural traditions, to mention a few. In this exercise, students will operationalize critical African studies/African-centered perspectives and philosophies including negritude, critical African queer theory, critical African womanist theories, postcolonialism, Afropolitanism, and Ubuntu.

 

ENG 620: Studies in Renaissance and Early Modern Literature
Reformation Culture
Dr. Mark Rankin
TH 5:00-8:00 PM

This graduate seminar will engage the literature and culture of the European Reformation(s), political and religious revolutions which redefined Western Christianity during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Their effect spread far beyond matters of religious belief and devotion to include a sea change in attitudes toward the self, government, authority, education, representation, and culture. Recent scholarship in Reformation studies has debated its effect upon the modern world, whether or not it was imposed upon or desired by the populace, whether its destructive impulses and seemingly new ways of reading made a positive improvement upon a shared medieval inheritance, and how to account for the Catholic Counter-Reformation response to Protestant Christianity within the evolving story. Reformation historians and literary scholars have examined surviving sources for evidence of changing views toward the nature of human emotion, the purpose and risks of art, and the importance and function of material culture. This field of inquiry as proved to be receptive to scholarship in the history of the book, because its attention to forms of communication and media offers a useful frame of analysis for explaining Reformation cultures of persuasion.

When Renaissance humanist scholars sought to recover written works by classical authors beginning in the fifteenth century, they directed renewed attention to the original scriptural languages of Greek and Hebrew. Humanists such as Desiderius Erasmus were impatient with existing religious corruption. When the German Augustinian monk Martin Luther posted Ninety-five theses in 1517 in order to encourage theological debate, his opponents transformed the debate into one about authority. A flood of literature followed, and as the revolution spread throughout Europe, people assembled on both sides of the pen and the sword. Cheaply printed pamphlets emerged alongside new, vernacular translations of the scripture, and these in turn encouraged increased literacy and, in the English tradition, a new biblical poetics and “plain style” that has proved to be enduring. Polemics (i.e. argumentative literature) attempted to overwhelm opponents with learning and citation drawn from classical and early Christian sources. Literary forms such as drama, allegory, and metaphor were harnessed in the onslaught, and became subject of fierce controversy. Iconoclasm and iconophobia thrived alongside new understandings of religious and national identity.  

Our seminar will seek understanding of this complex period of European literary history. We will familiarize ourselves with current debates in Reformation studies, and apply these debates in analysis of primary and secondary sources. In addition to texts gathered within the following anthologies, the seminar will read major statements of Reformation thought that may include Luther’s Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Calvin’s Treatise on Relics, Tyndale’s Practyse of Prelates, and more. During the semester, students will be expected to complete an independent research project of their choosing.

Texts

1) A Reformation Sourcebook: Documents from an Age of Debate, ed. Michael W. Bruening. Toronto, 2017. ISBN 978-1-4426-3568-5

2) Early Modern Catholicism: An Anthology of Primary Sources, ed. Robert S. Miola. Oxford, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-925986-1

3) Voices of the English Reformation: A Sourcebook, ed. John N. King. Pennsylvania, 2006. ISBN 0-8122-1877-9.

4) Patrick Collinson, The Reformation: A History. New York: Modern Library, 2003. ISBN 0-679-64323-0.

A course packet of shared readings.

 

ENG 662 –Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature of the United States
“Race and Place in American Modernism”
Brooks E. Hefner
Wednesday, 5:00-8:00 PM

William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha. Zora Neale Hurston’s Eatonville. Ernest Hemingway’s France and Spain. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s New York. Jean Toomer’s Sempter. Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg. Willa Cather’s Nebraska. American modernists were obsessed with places and spaces. Modernism was understood at once as the liberation of bodies from the fetters of inherited spaces—the movement of writers across the globe as expatriates—and a mode that might more fully and completely reveal the truth of a space through fragmented and experimental techniques. It offered an opportunity to alienate oneself from familiar places or to abandon these spaces entirely for a constant experience of the new. This seminar will consider how these obsessions with place in American modernist fiction intersect with notions of race. We will read a variety of globetrotting novels by white and black writers from the period, wrestling all the while with questions of embodiment, emplacement, representation, and movement. Readings may include work by writers like Gertrude Stein, James Weldon Johnson, Jean Toomer, Nella Larsen, W.E.B. Du Bois, Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, John Dos Passos, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Willa Cather, George Schuyler, and Nathanael West.

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