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University of Oregon

Winter 2015 Graduate Seminar Descriptions

ENG 529               Old English II: Love & War                                                                                                                                Bayless, Martha
This course follows on from Old English I, in which we’ll read and translate a number of short texts in Old English, including “Wulf and Eadwacer,” “The Battle of Brunanburh,” and charms. Prereq.: Old English I.

ENG 607                Seminar: Shakespeare and Levinas (Inside/Out)                                                                                    Shankman, Steven
“It sometimes seems to me,” writes the great and influential philosopher of ethics, Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995), “that the whole of philosophy is only a meditation on Shakespeare” (Time and the Other 47). Levinas’s work has had a profound impact on literary studies in the academy. In this seminar we will reflect on 1) how Shakespeare figures in Levinas’s philosophical development from the time of the appearance of Existence and Existents and Time and Other, both published just after the Second World War, through Humanism of the Other and Otherwise than Being in the early 1970s); and 2) how Levinas’s thought can, in turn, open up the ethical dimension of Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear, three plays that Levinas particularly admired.

This seminar will be taught at the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI), a medium-security facility three miles east of Salem. This is an Inside-Out class, i.e. a course taught behind prison walls that combines inside students (inmates at OSCI) and outside students (graduate students at UO). For information about the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and its pedagogical approach, log on to, where you can find a link to the award-winning documentary video made about an Inside-Out class taught at the Oregon State Penitentiary in 2009 on ethics and literature (Levinas and Dostoevsky). We will reflect on the relation between Inside-Out pedagogy and what Levinas means by ethics as a transcendence of the ego before the face of the other, for whom I am uniquely and inescapably responsible.
This course on ethics and literature promises to be transformational for graduate students on many levels, including for how you think about your own approach to teaching literature. Enrollment is not restricted to those specializing in the early modern period. The course is intended to have a broad appeal. Because half the seats in this seminar are reserved for the inside students at OSCI, space is limited. This will be the first graduate Inside-Out course ever taught at the University of Oregon.

Transportation will be provided up to Salem and back each week.

ENG 611               Composition GTF Seminar I                                                                                                                                      Bergquist, Carolyn
The Composition GTF Seminar is the theoretical component of the three course pedagogy sequence designed to prepare graduate students to teach in the Composition Program’s writing courses. Successful completion of this course is a necessary prerequisite for appointment as a GTF to teach composition courses in English. Policies regarding appointments are summarized in the 2010-11 edition of the Composition Program Policy Manual


ENG 613               GTF Composition Apprentice                                                                                                                                  Gershow, Miriam
Prospective Composition GTFs who are currently enrolled in or have successfully completed ENG 611 spend one term working with an experienced teacher in a section of WR121 or WR122. The apprenticeship is set up to complement the theoretical work in ENG 611 with practical experience for teaching WR121 or 122. Grading option is P/NP only.


ENG 614               Introduction to Literary & Cultural Theory                                                                                                                 Gopal, Sangita
This course will explore key theoretical works that shape and illuminate the study of literary and cultural texts. It will include three units. The first will take up semiotically-oriented accounts of symbolic formations including writings by Saussure, Barthes, The Frankfurt School, Althusser, Gramsci, Derrida. The second unit will be concerned with theories that explore the effects and affects of these formations and will include work by Benjamin, Arendt, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Deleuze. The third unit will focus on theories that are concerned with literary and cultural texts in relation to social and historical identities and will include work by Fanon, Djebar, Spivak, Mohanty, Gikandi, Gates, hooks and Butler.


ENG 620               Medieval Literature: Gift Theory & Medieval Literature                                                                                    Clark, Stephanie
Gift theory presents a productive lens through which to consider the relationships enacted in literary texts. This course will address a broad range of issues within gift theory, moving beyond their most usual application to heroic and aristocratic literature. Beginning with Marcel Mauss’s insight that gift-giving is fundamentally reciprocal in nature and can be used as a way to negotiate status, we will read a wide range of theoretical works that build upon and depart from Mauss, including the question Derrida poses about the possibility of the “free gift.” The readings will address questions such as: What is a gift? What work do gifts do? Where does the idea of a “free gift” come from? How do gifts structure community and the individual? Where are the lines drawn between gift and commodity or payment? How do gifts undermine or make room for autonomy? How does gift-giving intersect with conceptions of the divine or religious concerns such as the doctrine of grace? How is gift-giving represented in different types of genres (heroic epic, law, sermons, etc.)? Insofar as gifts are symbolic, what symbolic things might function as gifts? How might gifts be used to test, trap, or reveal character? If a given text is itself a gift, to what responsibilities does that gift then obligate readers? We will consider these questions within a limited number of primary texts which we will read and re-read in a variety of theoretical ways. Primary texts will include Beowulf, the fall of Satan and of man in the Old English Genesis, and Andreas Capellanus’s On Love. Although we will focus on primary texts from the Middle Ages, gift theory should be of use in the study of a broad variety of literatures. Additionally, this course will seek to train students in productive ways to approach a field of enquiry as vast and as sprawling as is gift theory.

ENG 650                19th Century Lit: Victorian Poetry                                                                                                                             Alfano, Veronica
In an 1849 letter, Matthew Arnold laments that his age is “deeply unpoetical.” Arthur Hugh Clough, writing in 1853, agrees that the times are “prudent and prosaic.” The preeminence of the Victorian novel, and the subsequent marginalization of verse, has since become a critical commonplace – one that we will re-examine in this course. We will survey the works of major Victorian poets and poet-critics, including Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Thomas Hardy. In the process, we’ll consider various conceptions of the poet’s position in or out of society (prophet? solitary singer? moralist?) and theorize the role of poetry during a seemingly prose-dominated era. While we will devote a great deal of attention to the formal properties of Victorian poems, we will also reflect on the cultural context in which these verses were composed – with particular emphasis on issues of gender and sexuality.

ENG 660               American Literature: Eco-critical Approaches to Race & Ethnicity                                                              Wald, Sarah
This class introduces an emergent subfield of ecocrticial analysis. We will read work by environmental literary and cultural critics that engages in an informed and extended manner with insights from U.S. Race and Ethnic Studies including with scholarship in Asian American Studies, African American Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Native American Studies. We will examine the ways in which race and nature are mutually constitutive in an U.S. context. We will consider the ways certain forms of understanding or experiencing nature have become racialized as well as explore how ecocritical scholars have contributed to discussions within U.S. Race and Ethnic Studies on topics like U.S. imperialism, borderlands studies, immigration, labor, and citizenship.


ENG 660               American Literature: Ethnic Impersonation                                                                                                         Fickle, Tara
What is the relationship between “originality” and “authenticity” in contemporary literature (and between the implications of the terms’ respective scare-quoting)? Which comes first, authorship or authority? This course employs an unlikely pair of critical discourses — “radical artifice,” a term which Marjorie Perloff coined in 1994 as a way to talk about the relationship between poetry and media discourses, and “racial asymmetry,” which Stephen Sohn used in 2012 to describe the peculiar millennial trend of “postracial” literature — in order to frame questions of ethnic radicalism through the issue of literary impersonation. How do we read a novel that purports to be an “authentic” memoir of a Native American boy, but which later turns out to have been written by a former member of the KKK? What about a book by a renowned African American novelist that lacks even one discernibly “ethnic” character? How, too, do these issues engage with broader aesthetic notions of literary “truth” or “realism,” especially as they translate the stakes of race into simultaneously political terms (of gender, class, sexuality, and disability) as well as formal ones (of style, genre, and voice)? The course will explore literary texts such as William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, and Chang Rae Lee’s Aloft, as well as critical writings by Gadamer, Sedgwick, Bateson, Heidegger, and Love.


ENG 695               Film Studies: Queer TV Studies                                                                                                                                 Miller, Quinn
This seminar examines tensions and contradictions among queer and conventional archives, sensibilities, and approaches to television culture. The course can serve as an introduction to queer studies and/or television studies. It asks students to collaborate in the development of queer approaches to TV history, theory, and criticism. It offers training in a constellation of anti-identitarian and anti-assimilationist methods of cultural study around gender, sexuality, race, class, ability, and global power. Working toward critiques of the contemporary field and historical trajectory of television studies, we will identify, negotiate, and refigure various combinations of normative forces that have, for the most part, limited TV scholars’ objects and investments.


FLR 684               Folklore Fieldwork                                                                                                                                  Gilman, Lisa
This course introduces students to ethnographic fieldwork in folklore by integrating research practice with methodological and theoretical readings. Topics include identifying a subject of study, developing appropriate research strategies, initiating fieldwork, establishing rapport, reflexivity, representation, and uses for technology. Each student will conceptualize and execute a fieldwork project while developing practical skills in proposal writing, observation, interviewing, analysis, documentation, and presentation.