New York University Department of English Spring 2013 Course Lists and Descriptions

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x-ENGL-UA 415.001

Colloquium: Shakespeare

TR, 11:00-12:15PM

Instructor: Guillory

Satisfies the Pre-1800 Requirement

Intensive reading of six to eight plays of Shakespeare chosen from among the comedies, tragedies, and histories, with attention to formal, historical, and performance questions.


ENGL-UA 420.001

Renaissance Drama: Theater and the Senses

**May also be listed under English Drama to 1642**

T, 3:30-6:10PM

Instructor: Jennie Votava

Satisfies the Pre-1800 or advanced elective requirement

This course examines the key roles of the senses in the literary form of drama and the institution and practices of theater in early modern London. As we read late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English comedies, tragedies, and romances, as well as one court masque, by authors including Marlowe, Kyd, Shakespeare, Dekker, Jonson, Middleton, Beaumont, and Webster, we will explore three sets of questions. First, as we attempt to “excavate” the venues and conditions of these plays’ original performances, we will inquire how the seemingly lost sensory worlds experienced by early modern actors and audiences might leave “traces” in the texts that have been passed down to us. We will also survey the specific sensory concerns of the different genres: from city comedy’s depictions of the sights, sounds, and no-doubt powerful smells of Renaissance London, to the violent visual and tactile spectacles of revenge plays, to the extremities of emotional and physical experience portrayed in the tragedy, King Lear. Finally, by reading early modern prose commentaries about the five senses, and tracts for and against the stage, we will investigate broader cultural attitudes toward the theater and the sensorium, and consider how drama both reflects and resists these attitudes, and perhaps even transforms them.

ENGL-UA 440.001
th C English Literature:

16th-17th C English Prose

MW, 3:30-4:45PM

Instructor: Horwich

Satisfies the Pre-1800 Requirement

The 17th century in England (which began, practically speaking, in 1603, when Elizabeth I died and James I acceded to the throne) was, in many respects, the precursor of the 20th.   The “early modern period” reached its end-stage in the self-referentiality and ironic world-view of Metaphysical poetry (Donne, Crashaw, and Marvell), the “New Philosophy” (materialism and empirical science, embodied in the writings of Sir Francis Bacon), the later “problem plays” of Shakespeare and those of his Jacobean successors (we will read a comedy by Shakespeare and a tragedy by John Webster), and in what is arguably the greatest epic poem in English, Milton’s Paradise Lost, of which we will read selections.  The single text for the course is The Norton Anthology, 9th ed., Vol. 1.

x-ENGL-UA 450.001

Colloquium: Milton

MW, 3:30-4:45PM

Instructor: Halpern

Satisfies the Pre-1800 Requirement

This course offers a survey of Milton’s major works in poetry and prose.  We will read from Milton’s early volume, the 1645 Poems (including On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, A Masque and Lycidas), with an eye toward the young Milton’s conception of a poetic career, his approach to literary tradition, and his early religious and political commitments. Selections from the prose works will allow us to see Milton as controversialist, addressing issues of marriage and divorce, republicanism, church government, and freedom of the press. We will conclude with Milton’s major poetic works: Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. Throughout we will attend to Milton’s engagement with radical thought, religion and politics, his interests in science and philosophy, his role in the English Revolution and Restoration, and his attitudes toward sexuality and gender.  Critical readings will supplement literary selections on most days.    

ENGL-UA 501.001

Mid and Later 18th C Literature

T, 2:00-4:45PM

Instructor: McDowell

Satisfies the Pre-1800 requirement

This course will introduce students to major literary works of the mid- and later eighteenth-century.  We will read travel narratives, literary biography, poetry, drama, and fiction by authors such as Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, James Macpherson, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Ann Radcliffe, and Jane Austen.  We will supplement these written texts with contemporary visual materials such as William Hogarth's Engravings. Typical concerns will include the role of literary texts (especially travel writing) in forging the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; poetry and oral culture; sentimentalism, social satire, and the comedy of manners; and the development of literary biography and the novel.  At least one of our class meetings will be held in a local special collections library such as the Fales Library and Special Collections of Bobst Library and the New York Public Library, allowing students a rare opportunity to work with three hundred year-old materials.

 Sample books under consideration:

Ronald Black, ed., To the Hebrides: Samuel Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and James Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, School for Scandal and Other Plays

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey and/or Sense and Sensibility

William Hogarth, Selected Engravings, ed. Shesgreen

Plus substantial additional materials to be printed from our Blackboard course site

***REVISED NOVEMBER 27, 2012***

ENGL-UA 530.001

English Novel in the 19th Century

TR, 11:00-12:15PM

Instructor: Catherine Robson

Satisfies the advanced elective requirement

This course on the English Novel in the Nineteenth Century will focus on a selection of the works of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. To a certain degree it will function as two "single author" courses bolted together; we will therefore be surveying the full arc of these writers' literary careers; their biographies; their critical receptions, early and late; and so forth. We'll also look very closely at our chosen novels, giving special attention to the question of narration. The three Dickens novels are strategically selected so that we can think precisely about this novelist's conception of the first-person narrator: David Copperfield and Great Expectations present us with two of Victorian literature's most complex fictional autobiographers, while Bleak House provides the peculiar phenomenon of a story divided between two narrators whose exact relation to each other is never explained – one, Esther Summerson, who tells her life-story in chronological retrospect and the other, an unlocated third-person voice, who speaks consistently (and perplexingly) in the present tense. For reasons that I hope we'll spend a great deal of time establishing, Hardy resolutely avoids first-person narrators or autobiographical fictions in his full-length novels. Our study of Far from the Madding Crowd, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure will focus upon what Hardy's heterodiegetic narration reveals about this author's understanding of what it is possible to know about the lives of others. To shine a different kind of light on this same question, we'll also look at Hardy's poetry to consider how and why this writer makes use of "I" in his other major literary genre.

Expect to make two class presentations (one, a close reading of a short section of one of our primary texts; the other, on a critical article or chapter of a scholarly work), and to write a number of short papers, one of which will be expanded for the course's final essay.

Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield

_______. Bleak House

_______. Great Expectations

Hardy, Thomas. Far from the Madding Crowd

_____. The Woodlanders

_____. Tess of the d'Urbervilles

_____. Jude the Obscure

_____. Selected Poems

ENGL-UA 545.001

Colloq: 19th C Writer:

Gothic Melodrama and Sensation Fiction

MW, 11:00-12:15PM

Instructor: Vargo

Satisfies the advanced elective requirement

Much of nineteenth-century British culture celebrates a set of affirmative values: the primacy of reason, the sovereignty of the individual, the idea that scientific knowledge will improve the world, and a belief in economic growth and political development. This course looks at a counter literary tradition, which portrays the nightmare inversion of those same values. Gothic novels, Victorian melodrama, and sensation fiction (so named for the extreme reactions it provoked in readers) depict individuals ruled by untamed emotion instead of rationality. They describe a present in thrall to the “tyranny of the past” instead of one which looks confidently towards the future. In the place of social consensus, they record catastrophic conflict, a culture in crisis. Novels and plays of violence, passion, crime, power, and fear, this literature acts as the monstrous double to the nineteenth-century dream of progress. Probable readings include: Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, Douglass Jerrold’s Black Ey’d Susan, Ernest Jones’s Woman’s Wrongs, Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, George Dibdin Pitt’s The String of Pearls, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

ENGL-UA 605.001

British Novel in the 20th Century:

Empire and Emigration

TR, 3:30-4:45PM

Instructor: O’Malley

Satisfies the advanced elective requirement

The early years of the twentieth century witnessed the peak and decline of Britain's global empire. The modernist experiments of those years engage in this process in profound ways, both thematically and

formally. After the second world war, and the subsequent independence movements across the crumbling empire, British culture faced a profound challenge to its national identity as waves of immigrants
from newly-autonomous nations arrived on English soil. This course will investigate these two related processes, first with "British" modernism--writers like Joyce or Beckett trouble the term--and then
with the postmodern and immigrant-informed writings of more recent years. Writers may include Joseph Conrad, E.M. Forster, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi,
William Trevor, Zadie Smith.

x-ENGL-UA 625.001

Colloquium: Joyce

MW, 12:30PM-1:45PM

Instructor: Bender

Satisfies advanced elective requirement

For more information, please contact the Irish Studies Department.

ENGL-UA 626.001

Colloquium: Modern American Writer:

Bootstrap Fictions? Social Mobilities in the United States

TR, 2:00-3:15PM

Instructor: Fisher

Satisfies the advanced elective requirement

One of the central conceits of American culture is the notion of the self-made individual: the belief that any citizen may rise from rags to riches simply by pulling himself up by his bootstraps. But is a little hard work all it takes to rise in America? How do we explain the persistent fixation on downward mobility in American literature, from investigations into “how the other half lives” to narratives of racial passing, slumming, and undercover social exploration? What can narratives of social mobility—upward, downward, and across—tell us about race, class, and gender in American culture? This seminar will pursue these questions by examining literary and historical representations of social mobility in American culture from the nineteenth century to the present day. Working comparatively across a range of genres, including novels, stories, reform tracts, etiquette manuals, journalism, photography, film, and television, we will examine the various representations of social mobility that support a so-called “bootstrap culture” in the United States. Topics will include: assimilation and passing, the politics of capitalism, fictions of identity, self-invention and self-making, makeover stories, the American dream, slumming, undercover investigation, activism and collective organizing, and the role of literature as an instrument of social change.  

Course requirements will include active participation in class discussion and on the class blog, one oral presentation, three short papers, and one longer paper. Possible readings include novels by Fanny Fern, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Abraham Cahan, Nella Larsen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Patricia Highsmith, and Jamaica Kincaid; nonfiction by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Jacob Riis, Jane Addams, Booker T. Washington, John Howard Griffin, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Richard Rodriguez; a selection of films (Sullivan’s Travels; Now, Voyager; Imitation of Life) and a television show (Undercover Boss).

ENGL-UA 626.002

Colloquium: Modern American Writer:

Indic Traditions and American Culture from Emerson to the Beats

TR, 9:30-10:45AM

Instructor: Kearns

Satisfies the advanced elective requirement

This course will consider the American experience of what has sometimes been called “the oriental renaissance,” the remarkable nineteenth and twentieth century influx into Europe and the New World of a set of eastern traditions of ancient wisdom, spiritual practice and sacred writing so different as to challenge existing western paradigms in religion, philosophy, literature and popular culture as well. By the time of the transcendentalists, the major texts of these traditions had already begun to be translated, and these translations were eagerly embraced by American poets and intellectuals from then on through the sixties and beyond. American philosophers such as Josiah Royce and William James also became interested in eastern thought, and later still popular culture embraced both the spirituality and the cultures of India, sometimes with profound misapprehension and sometimes with great insight. Eventually, the influence of India and the far east transformed not only western culture but the western sense of self as well, if only by relativizing what had hitherto seemed absolute. In this course, we will trace the trajectory of this movement and look closely at some major figures whose work it shaped: Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman; William James and Josiah Royce; T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound; and Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder.

ENGL-UA 635.001

American fiction, 1900-1945

TR, 3:30-04:45

Instructor: Hendin

Satisfies advanced elective requirement

American fiction in this period embodies the variety and anxiety of an era of rapid change. How writers and critics attempted to define and respond to the idea of the “new” or the “transformed” illuminates specific works of literary art and the cultural contexts in which they were created. In literary practice and critical discourse, passages from realism to naturalism to modernism and the reinvention of forms in an era of variety and synthesis help shape the imagination of domestic and political reality. Through readings in fiction and selected critical essays, this course explores an aesthetic of change forged by working artists and analyzed by critics. The course is intended as a survey of forms and practices with an emphasis on modernism and contemporary, eclectic style.

ENGL-UA 640.001

American Novels of the 1950s

MW, 11:00-12:15PM

Instructor: Twitchell

Satisfies the advanced elective requirement

Popular representations of the 1950s portray the decade as an age of consensus and conformity, but the literature of the era tells a different story. In this course we will pursue a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, and political issues of the 1950s, while tracking the formal experimentations in which its authors were increasingly engaged.  Topics to be discussed include the constraints of suburban life, Cold War paranoia, counterculturalism, race, and gender. Authors include J.D. Salinger, Gwendolyn Brooks, Arthur Miller, Flannery O’Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, John Cheever, Richard Yates, Sylvia Plath, Chester Himes, James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg.

ENGL-UA 645.001

Faulkner and Hemingway

F, 11:00-1:45PM

Instructor: Twitchell

Satisfies the advanced elective requirement

An intensive study that reads the works of two key American novelists in their historical, cultural, and literary context. Topics will include race, violence, masculinity, war, modernism/modernity, the construction of history, and the far-reaching implications of literary style. Works by Hemingway include In Our Time, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls; works by Faulkner include The Sound and the Fury, Sanctuary, Light in August, and Sanctuary.

ENGL-UA 712.001

Major texts and critical theory

T, 3:30-6:10PM

Instructor: Lockridge

Satisfies critical theory requirement

In this course we study key texts in critical theory from Plato to Derrida. Raising theoretical questions is not necessarily inimical to literary art. More than half these theorists are also poets, dramatists, and novelists curious enough about the origin, structure, and purposes of literature to raise such questions themselves.

We begin with Plato’s attack on poets in The Republic. Much subsequent theoretical discussion, from Aristotle and Longinus to Sidney and Shelley, is an attempt to answer Plato, who may have hoped to be refuted.

In the first half of the semester, we focus on four major types of theory: mimetic, pragmatic, expressive, and formalist. In the second half, we study twentieth-century critical schools, such as Russian and American formalism, archetypal criticism, structuralism, psychoanalytic criticism, feminist critical theory, queer theory, reader theory, deconstruction, postmodernism, and historicism. We consider pertinent literary texts in light of theoretical issues.

The textbook for the course is The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, ed. Vincent Leitch (W.W. Norton, 2001).

ENGL-UA 714.001

Topics: Romantic/ Victorian:
Decadence: Desire and the Double
TR, 3:30-4:45PM
Instructor: Thain
Satisfies the advanced elective requirement

‘Art for art’s sake’ was the motto for a group of writers (most famously, Oscar Wilde) who scandalised society, and whose pursuit of beauty was seen to be at the expense of morality. Exploring in detail the concepts of ‘decadence’ and ‘aestheticism’, and drawing for comparison on opposing movements (particularly Victorian popular literature) which help to define it and reflect on it, this course examines a late-nineteenth-century period of British literature crucial to the formation of modern aesthetics.

Topics central to our understanding of ‘decadence’ and ‘aestheticism’, and which structure the course, include: beauty, degeneration, class, nation, sexuality, the body, and sensation. These will be explored through the concepts of ‘desire’ and ‘the double’ which will help anchor and focus our consideration of a diverse range of literary impulses, and will facilitate comparisons across texts and other art works
Texts studied will include:

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray and selected essays; Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poetry and paintings; short stories from Daughters of Decadence, edited by Elaine Showalter; A course pack of poetry; Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret; Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; E. M. Forster, Howard’s End.

x-ENGL-UA 715.001

Literature and Psychology: Memory

T, 2:00-4:45PM

Instructor: Rust

**Course No. has been changed to ENGL-UA 800.004**

Satisfies advanced elective requirement

The questions “What is memory?” and “What is forgetting?” have intrigued thinkers for millennia. Thanks to the written records that serve as our cultural memory, we know that memory has been a topic of inquiry at least since those records began. Today’s philosophers, psychologists, and literary scholars are continuing to hone the concept of the self as it was understood by John Locke, David Hume, and Ralph Waldo Emerson among others, as a dynamic tension between memory and consciousness. Together this work pursues such questions as “How is memory embodied?” How and why do we forget? What is the connection between memory and the self--and with language and story-telling-- and with moral and ethical reasoning? What events are best forgotten and how do we go about forgetting them? The proliferation of memorials of war and conflict today has led some cultural critics to wonder if so much remembering gums up the salve of forgetting so necessary for the healing process of forgiving. The course is structured around six units: Life Memories, The Idea of Memory, The Science of Memory, The Art of Memory, Cultural Memory, and Forgetting. Readings represent the full spectrum of western thinking about memory, from Plato to the Pew Research Center’s report on memory and the internet. It is hoped that in addition to learning a great deal about memory and forgetting as academic topics, students will come away from the course having gained new insights into the workings of their own memories and having developed a personal practice of memory that will serve their growth as individuals long after their memories of the course itself have dimmed.

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