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Graduate Program

Graduate Seminar Descriptions: Fall 2017


ENG 549 James Joyce

Instructor: J. Longenbach
CRN: 81853
M 1400-1640

At the center of this seminar will be a long, detailed reading of James Joyce's Ulysses, the most difficult and beautiful work of what we've come to call literary modernism. Leading up to our experience of Ulysses, we will read Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (to introduce ourselves to the world of Joyce) and a selection of Yeats's poems (to introduce us to the world of Anglo-Irish culture); following our experience of Ulysses, we will read two works marked deeply by Joyce's influence: Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Eliot's The Waste Land.

ENG 551 What is Literature?

Instructor: J. Michael
CRN: 81864
T 1400-1640

This seminar considers the nature of literature and its place in modern Western society. In particular, we will investigate the long evolution, since the Renaissance, of the discursive category we have come to know as literary and some of the major theoretical statements that have helped define its character. We will trace the shifting relationships of the literary to the real, of creation to representation, of art to politics and ethics, and to belief and skepticism. Texts may include: Montaigne, Sydney, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Kant, the Schlegels, Hegel, Marx, Flaubert, Poe, Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson, Arnold, James, Bakhtin, Ransom, Adorno, Sartre, Levinas, Derrida, Sedgwick, Butler, Rancière, and Agamben. We will not arrive at a conclusive answer to the familiar question, what is literature? However, students will learn to ask that question with an increased sense of its historical development and with greater scholarly force and theoretical awareness.

ENG 554 Religion, Science, and Literature

Instructor: W. Miller
CRN: 81888
R 1400-1640

In recent decades, many scholars of literature and other humanists have refocused their attention on a set of connections once consigned to the past: the historical and theoretical links between religion, science, and literary representation. This course introduces several important contexts and critical conversations stemming from these intersections. Areas of focus will include affect theory, post-colonial theory, secularity, and political theology. We will read a number of primary sources, including key texts by Bacon, Hobbes, Leibniz, Locke, Spinoza, and Vico, as well as important critical work by Talal Asad, Saba Mahmood, Charles Taylor, Simone Weil, and others.

What is Contemporary Cinema?

Instructor: J. Burges
CRN: 81897
W 1400-1640

What is contemporary cinema? This seminar will answer this question in two ways. First, we will consider a group of films that embodies some of the technological and aesthetic tendencies of film history from the 1970s to the present. Second, we will consider how cinema functions as a form of contemporary history, with a great deal of emphasis falling precisely on the issue of form. We will therefore delve into how films historicize the present not only through the representation of events central to the contemporary period, but also through narrative structure, visual style, performative qualities, generic choices, and media aesthetics. Focused heavily on the close reading of films, the seminar will also engage with salient scholarship in film and media studies; critical work in time studies, especially its attempt to understand contemporaneity; and relevant historiography regarding the contemporary period.