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Spring 2020 English Graduate Courses and Descriptions

ENG 612: Affect Theory
Thursday, 5:00-8:00 pm
Affect is feeling. It’s embodied knowledge, sensation, virtual reality, promise, and threat. It’s the vibe in a room. It’s unnamed emotion, contagious and often collective. In this course, we will trace the history of affect theory and examine creative and philosophical attempts to describe and influence feelings in politics, aesthetics, and everyday life.

ENG 630:  Queering 18th-Century British Literature
Monday, 5:00-8:00 pm
Chris Roulston has recently argued that, “Historical queer identities. . . rarely inhabit a stable context, they are frequently isolated, and often they can only be brought to light through a process of active interpretation. Queer history, in this sense, is as much an act of imagination as of historical record; it is definitionally unstable and ungraspable and tends to unravel as soon as it has been constructed” (761). As an act of such imagination, this course will examine British literature from the long eighteenth century (1660-1800).  Scattered this literature, we will find such figures as the sodomite, the fop, the molly, and the macaroni, the breeches heroine, the female husband, the romantic friend and the sapphist.   We will read texts from a variety of genres (drama, scandal narratives, poetry, novels) that manifest these figures in both naked and coded forms, and we will explore how/if we can/should read them in terms of modern queer identity.  In addition to its study of literature, this course will explore the parameters of what has become a rather contentious debate within queer historical scholarship, that between historicizing and “unhistoricizing” approaches to queer historical scholarship. 

ENG 672: Black Studies, Black Archives, and the Black Digital Humanities
Wednesday, 5:00-8:00 pm
As an academic discipline, Black Studies has its roots in the 1960s, the era that also heightened the modern civil rights movement, African nationalism, and the Black Arts Movement, among others. During the second half of the decade, students at various universities including Howard University, UC Berkeley, Cornell, and San Francisco State University among others demanded the creation of programs addressing Africana/Black experiences. These demands came in the form of uprisings, building takeovers, marches, sit-ins, and the writing of manifestoes. The direct result of increasingly diverse and increasingly radicalized student populations, this wave demanded equal access to public higher education, more faculty of color, and a new more inclusive curriculum, all with the goal of challenging what the movement’s champions described as Eurocentric cultures of the higher education and its curricula.

Now celebrating fifty years of Black Studies, this course purposes to locate JMU within this national history by working with newly collected oral histories and materials related to Black Studies and Black Spaces at JMU, and by creating digital means of accessing, interacting with, and learning from these materials. We will read recent scholarship not only in the broad field of Black Studies, but also in the emerging fields of Black Archival Studies and the Black Digital Humanities—fields that use the methodologies of Black Studies to reveal the racialized systems of power at work in how we understand archival studies and the digital humanities. Our goal will be to uncover the intersections, gaps, and possibilities that emerge at the overlap of these three fields. We will also use and critically examine digital tools such as ArcGIS,,, Juxtapose, Notability, Omeka, Otter, Palladio, Piktochart, Voyant, Scene, Soundcite, StoryLine, StoryMap, Timeline, and more. By the end of the semester, we will be able to use our reading, discussions, and experiments with these tools to theorize, prototype, and pitch potential grant proposals for DH projects that engage with this new archive of Black Studies and Black Spaces at JMU in innovative, ethical, and decolonial ways.



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