Instructor: Marks, Sylvia
Satisfies advanced elective requirement for the English Major
What is the novelette: a novella, a long short story, a short novel, or something else? In order to understand and appreciate this genre, we will be studying such classics as Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Jack London’s Call of the Wild, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Each week we will do a close reading of a novella; we will also read a novel in weekly installments. During the course of the semester a short story will be examined as a point of comparison. There will be three short papers and in-class writing on assigned topics.
Drama in Performance
Satisfies advanced elective requirement for the English Major
Combines the study of drama as literary text with the study of theatre as its three-dimensional translation, both theoretically and practically. Drawing on the rich theatrical resources of New York City, approximately 12 plays are seen, covering classical to contemporary and traditional to experimental theatre. On occasion, films or videotapes of plays are used to supplement live performances. Readings include plays and essays in theory and criticism.
World Literature in English: Postmodernism and the Anglophone Novel
Satisfies advanced elective requirement for the English Major—Juniors and Seniors Only.
What, and where, is the postmodern? This course will be an exploration of the politics and aesthetics of the Anglophone novel in the last decade. What are the varied forms of experimentalism that structure the novel in India, in Africa, in the Caribbean? Beginning with Marxist literary theorist Fredric Jameson’s analysis, Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, we will take up the question of postmodernism through a sustained exploration of recent cultural production that engages in these debates. We will also consider the range of critiques of the terms modernism/postmodernism from the perspective of postcolonial and cultural studies. Some texts we will consider: Phaswane Mpe’s Welcome to our Hillbrow, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Raj Kamal Jha’s Fireproof, Mohsin Hamid’s Mothsmoke, Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel, Don Delillo’s Falling Man, Chris Abani’s Graceland, J.M Coetzee’s Disgrace, Hari Kunzru’s Transmission.
Satisfies advanced elective requirement for the English Major
This course will explore the cultural dynamics of transatlantic modernism as seen through the lens of urban experience. Focusing on London and New York as centers of gravity for modernist culture, we will explore the reciprocal relationship between modernism and the city: how was modernism shaped by the urban experience and how, in turn, did modernism help to mold our conception of the modern city? The course will explore the parallels and contrasts among a variety of forms including literature, film, art, music, stressing the uneven developments of the period, with special attention paid to the tension between highbrow and popular forms. We will investigate patterns of migration and diasporic movement from London, to Paris, to New York, and examine the relationship between the modernist metropolis and other modernist spaces such as rural areas and underdeveloped regions, the suburbs, and colonial metropolises and territories, and homefronts during two World Wars. The course will read modernist texts as both response to and symptom of the crises of modernity unleashed by urbanization, immigration, war, imperialism, revolution, shifts in gender roles, race relations, and class conflict. We will consider the claims of the modernists to represent the dominant cultural response to the age alongside the transformations of literary realism, the rise of mass culture and advertising, and revolutionary changes in modern architecture and in technologies of mass communications like film, documentary, radio and popular music.
Major Readings will include: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Norton), T. S. Eliot, The Annotated Waste Land (Yale), F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (Scribner), James Joyce, Dubliners (Norton), Carl van Vechten, Nigger Heaven (Illinois), Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (Dover Thrift),Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (annotated edition, Harvest Books). Other readings will include shorter selections from the work of H.G. Wells, WEB Dubois, Henry James, Ford Madox Ford, the First World War poets, Ezra Pound, Vera Brittain, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Alain Locke, Louise Brooks, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Tillie Olsen, Jean Rhys, George Orwell, and WH Auden. We will also explore visual and musical selections from New York Dada, the Armory Show, Jazz and Bebop, WPA Photography, Music Hall, the British Documentary movement, and selected films from the period. Recitation required.
Topics in 20th C Lit: Post Apartheid South African Literatures and Cultures
Satisfies the advanced elective requirement for the English Major.
South Africa has always been a country that raises global questions. The anti-apartheid struggle spawned an international movement that grappled with questions of race and justice. The term apartheid itself has become a potent and portable sign to stigmatize extreme forms of oppression in different parts of the world.
After its transition to democracy in 1994, the country has confronted a range of serious problems: persistent inequality, HIV/Aids, crime, rampant consumerism, xenophobia. These challenges raise pressing global issues: how to deal with catastrophic pasts; what to do with the wreckages of utopia. South Africa also speaks to new global futures emerging from the global south or ex-third world, dominated by India and China. As an important player in this arena, South Africa provides a vantage point from which to think about these developments.
This course will cover a range of contemporary South African cultural forms that explore these themes. Texts include
Phaswane Mpe, Welcome to our Hillbrow
This seminar is designed as an immersive introduction to the intense pleasures and labors of literary analysis. As we read, discuss, and write about texts from diverse historical periods and genres, and also sample a selection of critical approaches, we will pay close attention to how literature engages our minds and bodies as readers and as scholars. Our unit on poetry will focus on close reading practices, with classes on sound and sense, poetic vision, poetic feeling, and the “lower” senses, while we consider poetic forms from the sonnet to free verse. We will then examine the multisensory medium of theater, as we read (and experience in video performance) both early modern and postmodern versions of Hamlet: Shakespeare’s, and Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. We will, additionally, view these plays from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Our investigation of the short narrative will move from the apparent empirical simplicity of the detective story, to unpacking the publication and reception history of Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-paper.” Finally, we will turn to a controversial and densely intertextual example of the late modern novel, Nabokov’s Lolita. Over the course of the semester you will become familiar with the specialized language of literary study, as you also strengthen your close reading, discussion, presentation, writing, editing and revising skills.
ENGL-UA 200.003, 004
This course introduces students to the principles and practices of literary analysis. We will read, discuss, and write about poems, plays, short stories and novels. We will also become acquainted with literary criticism, both for its methods of approach as well as examples of the academic essay. Students will work on honing their analytical skills, especially close reading; present their ideas in oral and written form; and become familiar with the methodologies of literary criticism. Reading will include a selection of poetry; James Joyce's Dubliners; William Shakespeare's King Lear; and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; as well as several pieces of literary criticism.
ENGL-UA 200.005, 006
This course introduces students to basic methods of academic literary study. We will read deeply in a small number of English-language works from a range of genres: poetry, drama, and fiction. Students will work on strengthening their close reading, discussion, presentation, writing and revising skills, knowledge and use of literary terminology, and all the methods for translating the pleasures and labors of reading into those of analyzing, discussing, and writing about literature.
In developing the skills and methods of literary interpretation, we will also ask broader questions about the meaning and purpose of literature itself. How and why do we read? What are the social, political, and ethical dimensions of reading? In this section of Literary Interpretation we will pay special attention to American literature, and consider the ways in which different literary forms demand different ways of reading. Authors include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Flannery O'Connor, David Foster Wallace, Nella Larsen. Vladimir Nabokov, and Tennessee Williams.
This course surveys the major genres of literature through the lens of the pastoral tradition and responses to it, whether expansions of its territory or anti-pastoral --satiric or ironic counterstatement. The readings are mostly chronological within each genre. We start with poetry using Stephen Adams Poetic Design as a guide to poetic forms with pastoral content to be downloaded from various web sites, most often Toronto’s RPO (Representative Poetry Online), which has reliable editing. After poetry we will explore fiction: Alice in Wonderland, Huckleberry Finn, Beloved, and drama: As You Like It, The Country Wife, The Draughtsman’s Contract (film) and Arcadia. In addition to a paper on each genre and a final paper, one posting per week on the Discussion Board for the course on Blackboard is required. It may be a response to a reading, a question, or a response to another posting. I will monitor the postings and comment occasionally.
This is an introductory level course in the reading of literary forms, including poetry, prose narrative, drama, and the essay. Readings will include a selection of poems from The Norton Anthology of Poetry, short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Brian Aldiss, Jane Austen’s Emma, Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, and essays to be selected. The aim of the course is to train students in strategies for reading literature closely and for writing persuasive and informed essays about literary works.
British literature I
Survey of English literature from its origins in the Anglo-Saxon epic through Milton. Close reading of representative works, with attention to the historical, intellectual, and social contexts of the period.
British literature II
This course offers an intensive introduction to major works of British literature drawn from poetry, prose, fiction and drama from the Restoration to the early 20th Century. We will consider how these writers responded to the conflicts and continuities of their culture, paying close attention to their explorations of questions of genre, power and the status of literary writing. Through lectures, class discussion, written responses, and longer essay assignments, students will master the fundamentals of literary history and critical reading and writing.
American literature I
This course surveys the literature of colonial Anglo-America and the early national United States, from seventeenth-century engagements with “the New World” to the literature of the “American Renaissance” on the eve of the Civil War. We will read high and low literary genres, the sermons, lyrics, captivity narratives, literacy primers, autobiographies, journals, tales and novels that arose in response to the historical pressures of migration, of encounters between cultures, of independence from England, of slavery and abolition, of Indian “removal.” Along the way, we will consider the status of children in a historically and demographically young nation; the expansion of the print marketplace and the spread of literacy; the rise of sentimentality and domestic ideology; and the drive to create a national literature.
Smith, The General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles
Rowlandson, Narrative of the Captivity
Edwards, Personal Narrative
Jefferson, “Declaration of Independence”
Paine, Common Sense
Rowson, Charlotte Temple
Douglass, Autobiography of Frederick Douglass
Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Melville, Moby Dick
Poetry of Bradstreet, Taylor, Sigourney, Bryant, Longfellow, Whitman, Dickinson
Tales of Irving, Poe, Hawthorne
In 2011, critic Ken Warren declared that "the collective enterprise we call African-American or black literature … has already come to an end." This highly controversial death announcement raises questions at the heart of this course: What aesthetic traditions define modern and contemporary African American literature, and what political and economic circumstances shape its history and future? When and where does “African American Literature” begin and end? What is African American literature in the so-called “post-racial” age of Obama? With these questions as a driving force, we will identify some of the signal features of African American literary tradition(s), from the origins of the Harlem Renaissance to the present day. We will situate African American literature in local, national and global contexts, rethink the gender paradigms that have structured the canon, and identify some of the connections between black and Anglo-American literature.
Through weekly Blackboard posts, class discussions, creative assignments, and formal essays, students will learn to analyze the formal and rhetorical strategies of poetry, fiction and drama while also exploring the historical and cultural circumstances in which these works were produced. Field trips, performances and/or visits from contemporary writers may supplement our readings and discussions. Possible readings include: W.E.B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk, James Baldwin’s Another Country, Toni Morrison’s Jazz, Sapphire’s Push, and poetry by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, The Last Poets and contemporary hip hop artists.
Topics: The Consolation of Philosophy: Boethius and Boethian Literature in the middle ages
Satisfies the pre-1800 Requirement
Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is Fortune so cruel? Is our fate predetermined? If so, is there any point in exercising our free will? How can we ever be happy? Can philosophy help us get through difficult times? These are some of the questions raised in The Consolation of Philosophy, a dialogue written by the Roman philosopher Boethius (c.480-524/6), while staying in prison and waiting for King Theoderic’s order for his execution. Boethius’s Consolation touched the hearts of many readers in the Middle Ages (and beyond) and influenced the work of numerous writers and philosophers from this period. In the Divine Comedy, for example, Dante places Boethius in the Fifth Heaven. His Consolation was translated by, among others, King Alfred (848/9–899), Chaucer (c.1340–1400), and Queen Elizabeth I (1533–1603). In our course, we will consider questions raised by Boethius by close-reading The Consolation of Philosophy side by side with (mostly) medieval adaptations of and responses to Boethius and Boethian themes, such as Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, the Death of King Arthur; and The Seafarer and other Old English elegies. We will also consult philosophical works that influenced Boethius: e.g. Plato, Aristotle, and St. Augustine.
Topics: Ancient and Renaissance Festivity: Its Literary, Dramatic and Social Forms
Satisfies the Pre-1800 requirement
This class will investigate the role of festive custom and holiday release, and the kinds of performance and literary form that they enable or frustrate, in ancient Greece and Rome, and in Renaissance Europe, with a 20th century Caribbean postlude. Why does festivity sometimes lead to political revolt and at other times does not? Why does the "carnivalesque" often include festive abuse as well as celebration? We will look at theories of festivity and release, at the dionysiac, at the human/animal union in festivity, and at the role of the classical period in shaping Renaissance and even modern ideas of festivity, irony and the festive worship of the gods. We will also explore the effect of the Protestant suppression of festive holiday and theatricality in Shakespeare’s England, and at the tensions inherent in festivity between excess and moderation, between the saturnalia and the philosophical symposium. The class will begin with classical festivity, with Plato's “Symposium,” Euripides' The Bacchae, selections from Ovid's Fasti and the Metamorphoses, and Apuleius' Golden Ass. Readings from the Renaissance will include: Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel; Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1 Henry IV; Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra,The Winter’s Tale. Concluding with carnival practices in the circum-Atlantic world, we will take as examples the film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro, directed by Marcel Camus), New Orleans carnival and Jazz Funerals, and Paule Marshall’s novel The Chosen Place, the Timeless People (1969) in order to see how these older traditions shape modern experience.
Satisfies the Pre-1800 Requirement
This course offers a thorough survey of Chaucer's poetry, with particular attention to 'Troilus and Criseyde' and 'The Canterbury Tales'. We will begin with a workshop on Chaucer's language, and look, as we go, at some of the more interesting aspects of his style. Our goal is to be able to Chaucer's poetry, not only with pleasure, but closely. More generally, we will pay some attention to important insights offered in the criticism of Chaucer, and see, as well, what kind of light Chaucer's own reading might shed on the shape of his own texts. Our main task will be to tease out what is particularly 'Chaucerian' in individual works and all the works we read taken together. The pay off will be an enjoyment of Chaucer's writing in exactly those particulars that have made it so lasting.
Shakespeare Survey II
Satisfies the Pre-1800 Requirement
In this course, we will read many of Shakespeare’s principal seventeenth-century plays, which were first performed during a time of social and political alteration in a rapidly-expanding world. As King James succeeded Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare and his acting company coped with the evolving tastes and changing concerns of the London audience. The Gunpowder Plot to blow up the King in his new Parliament marked the delayed start of a new century. Political violence, competing religious ideas, crime and criminality, new roles for women, the nature of kingship, racial difference and the prospect of empire were all part of the Jacobean scene. Shakespeare adapted the main dramatic genres of comedy and tragedy to address his time, and he helped invent tragicomedy to accommodate its strange mixture of anxiety and confidence. Excerpts from film, television and audio performances will be played and discussed in class along with other visual materials. We will explore eight plays, including Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, King Lear, and Macbeth. The requirements include two essays, two exams, and consistent attendance at both lectures and recitations. The course text is The Norton Shakespeare, but other scholarly editions of the plays are permitted.