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Fall 2018 English Graduate Courses and Descriptions

ENG 600: Research Methods
Dr. Brooks Hefner
Tuesday, 5:00-8:00 PM
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 612: Literature and the Antrhropocene
Dr. Katey Castellano
Monday, 5:00-8:00 PM
Both science and the humanities are using the category of the Anthropocene, which means “the era of humans,” to convey the idea that humans are now global agents that have altered the chemical composition of the climate and oceans, changed the direction of every major river, and precipitated the mass extinction of other species. This course will investigate how literary and cultural studies has taken up the idea of the Anthropocene. Former concepts that dominated environmental writing—such as nature appreciation, wilderness preservation, and pastoral harmony—no longer resonate with contemporary conditions, and writers are attempting to depict the vast temporal and spatial scales of anthropogenic ecological change. For example, the new genre of “cli-fi” or climate fiction endeavors to imagine multispecies survival within speculative global futures. Contemporary poets have engaged in activism, reading poetry before the United Nations and other world forums in order to convey the despair of being born into an irrevocably damaged world. Literary texts further point out that neocolonialism and racism facilitates the unequal distribution of environmental degradation. At the same time, writers have turned more optimistically towards emergent theories of resilience and traditional ecological knowledge in the wake of the “end of nature.”
Readings will include critical texts by Dipesh Chakravarty, Amitav Ghosh, Donna Haraway, Ursula Heise, Bruno Latour, Rob Nixon, Michel Serres, and Anna L. Tsing. Likely literary texts include poetry and prose by Chantal Bilodeau, Octavia Butler, Helon Habila, Linda Hogan, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Barbara Kingsolver, Ian McEwan, and Julianna Spahr. Questions about the class are welcome: castelkm@jmu.edu.  

ENG 615: Studies in Medieval Literature: The Aurthurian Romances of Chrétien de Troyes
Dr. Dabney Bankert
Wednesday, 5:00-8:30 PM
Between 1140 C.E. and 1200 C.E. a man calling himself Chrétien de Troyes wrote a series of romances. He was likely a resident of Champagne, France, which was, at the time, a hotbed o fcultural and literary activity. Of the many works he purportedly wrote, only five survive—four romances and one “spiritual adventure.” Although these five works established Chrétien as “the father of Arthurian romance” and “the creator of medieval romance,” and although they introduced the concept of courtly love, we know almost nothing about him short of some brief comments he makes in his work (Staines ix). Modesty was not among Chrétien’s virtues. He wrote in his romance Erec and Enide that the poem would “be remembered as long as Christianity endures.” So far his brash faith in his own work has been rewarded. The romances are Arthurian; that is, they are set in Arthur’s court, but the focus is on Arthur’s knights rather than on the king himself. They depict a surprisingly complex cultural world, where political and
social conflicts unfold within private relationships and through sometimes inscrutable public acts.
In this seminar, we will study the romances both by way of the scholarship that seeks to unpack and make sense of Chrétien’s oeuvre, and by way of the rich medieval manuscript and Victorian illumination traditions, which retell the stories through artists’ interpretive lenses. We will read in English translation.
The Complete Romances of Chretien de Troyes. Ed. David Staines. Indiana UP, 1991 (reprint edition). ISBN 13: 978-0253207876.
Capellanus, Andreas. The Art of Courtly Love. Columbia UP, 1990. ISBN 978-0-231-073059.

ENG 650: Studies in Early American Literature: The Native Presence in Early American Literature
Dr. Laura Henigman
Thursday, 5:00-8:00 PM

This semester we will examine the writings of indigenous Americans in the early periods of contact on the North American continent. We will continue our study into 20th and 21st century works of fiction by Native American writers, and will consider the impact that Native American studies currently has on our study of early American literature.

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