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ENG 600: Research Methods
Dr. Brooks Hefner
Wednesdays, 5-7:45 PM
Keezell 307

Required for incoming students. Research Methods has several objectives, each of which is designed to introduce you to and help you begin to master the professional building blocks of the multifarious discipline known as English. Over the semester, you will move toward:

  • A greater understanding of the discipline as a whole, including its history and critical debates, its formal conventions and subdisciplinary components
  • A more sophisticated approach to literary critical research, including advanced digital and library-based research skills
  • A broad sense of major theoretical and methodological approaches to literature, including their histories and interrelationships, as well as a survey of influential literary critical arguments from a variety of perspectives
  • A clearer sense of the qualitative difference between undergraduate and graduate/professional level research and writing
  • A developing idea of what it means to be a (literary) critic in our current moment, in which the discipline of English and the humanities in general are (as usual) under threat

We will read a few novels and a great deal of theory and criticism, with an emphasis on recent and current trends in the discipline. Students will complete regular research and writing assignments as they work toward a more comprehensive understanding of the discipline and their place within it.


ENG 608: Create Dangerously - Textuality - Editing the Unfinished Book
Dr. Alison Fagan
Thursday, 5:00-8:00 PM
Room 307

“Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously.” - Edwidge Danticat

This semester, we’ll explore the object of the book and ways contemporary writers of color have used it to “create dangerously.” Alongside writers who experiment with the form and format of books, we’ll study artist’s books by creators of color held in Special Collections, and we’ll dig into some hands-on experiences with paper-making, binding, and printing. Guiding questions will include, how do writers and artists of color challenge our notions of what a book can be? How do they highlight and subvert the racist and colonialist underpinnings of some of our long-held beliefs about books as objects? How do they inspire new understandings of the materiality of reading and writing? 

Assignments may include discussion prompts, short essays, a presentation, and/or the drafting and editing of a course syllabus. 


ENG 612-0001: Postcolonial Dissensus and Literary Form
Dr. Babcock
Monday, 5:00– 8:00 PM
Keezell Hall 307
This course explores literary, critical, and theoretical approaches to dissensus in postcolonial contexts. British imperialism was known for its “divide and rule” strategy as it sought to maintain control over its overseas colonies. This meant cultivating division and conflict between different groups within these colonies, in order to play them off of one another. As a consequence, after independence the new postcolonial nations found themselves facing extraordinary challenges as they sought to move beyond the ethnic, socioeconomic, and political rifts that were left behind by the colonial governments—many of which have resulted in ethnic persecution, civil wars, and genocides.

“Dissensus” describes the situation when different parts of a society are incomprehensible to one another—as fellow citizens, as rational agents, sometimes even as fully human beings. Dissensus raises a number of essential questions in a democracy: How can excluded, disenfranchised, invisible peoples make themselves heard on the political stage, and have their voices make a difference? What do we actually talk about when we talk about “the people”? How important is the work of artists and writers in maintaining a functioning democracy? Taking up aesthetic theories on art’s relationship to political dissensus and social visibility, we will examine the formal strategies postcolonial literatures have used to make different fragments of society comprehensible to one another.


ENG 612: Narrative, Fiction, and the Form of the Novel: Theories and Histories
Dr. Heidi L. Pennington
Tuesday, 3:55-6:55 PM
Burruss 36

Combining a formalist approach to the study of narrative with a genre-studies approach to the history of the novel, this course will dive deeply into debates about the origins, structures, interpretive possibilities, and social lives of novelistic narratives from the eighteenth century to the present. How do the definitions, histories, and structures of “narrative,” “fiction,” and the “novel” overlap, intersect, and conflict? How do these categories operate to shape some of our literary and intellectual landscapes today? Most of the literary and theoretical works assigned in our course explore these questions from predominantly Anglophone, American, and/or European intellectual contexts; but students will have the opportunity to work beyond those (fluid) boundaries in some assignments. Readings will include extensive engagement with theoretical texts. We will conduct close-readings of theory and of a variety of novels and novellas, possibly including works by Samuel Richardson, Charlotte Bronte, Jamaica Kincaid, and Margaret Atwood, among others.

 

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