2017-2018 Graduate Seminar Descriptions
ENG 528 Old English 1
Introduction to Old English, the language in which Beowulf was written. OEI is the first of a three-course sequence studying the language and culture that flourished in England from the 5th-11th centuries. In this class, you’ll learn the basic grammar and vocabulary of Old English. We’ll read a variety of texts (some in OE, some in translation), and students will write a “Travel Guide to Anglo-Saxon England” (including an Old English phrasebook for tourists!) allowing for exploration of basic cultural information.
ENG 529 Old English 2
OEII puts the grammatical concepts learned in OEI to use as we read shorter poems and prose, some famous, some delightfully obscure, in Old English. Adding to students’ knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature and culture, the course culminates with a reenactment of the Battle of Maldon. OEII will also familiarize students with some of the basic research tools for studying and reconstructing Old English. The final goal of this course is to prepare students to translate Beowulf in the Spring term.
ENG 530 Old English 3
This course will use the tools and knowledge acquired in previous terms of Old English to read the dragon section of Beowulf with critical and philological skill. We will pay attention to language, literary, and scholarly issues. To this end, please come to every class prepared to translate, parse, and comment on the assigned text.
ENG 607 Secret Identity Politics: Transmedia Economies and Postmodern Subjectivities
The superhero genre first arose in comic books in the 1930s, but very quickly migrated to radio, film, and television. The earliest transmedia superhero successes were all based on white, male, and (officially) straight central protagonists, but since the 1970s, there have been efforts to reimagine these moralized fantasies of glamor and power in more inclusive ways. Theorist Ramzi Fawaz traces those efforts back to the Marvel Comics of the 1960s, arguing that the speculative possibilities inherent in these comics opened doorways to a more racially diverse and queer-friendly mode of popular fantasy than was generally available elsewhere in the culture. By contrast, cultural critic Charles Lamb has argued that the superhero concept is “inherently racist” because the notions of good and evil so fundamental to the genre are overdetermined by issues of race and class — making the project of imagining a super-person-of-color irredeemably fraught.
This critical disagreement — the question of whether the superhero fantasy is impossibly implicated up in the power structures of white privilege, or whether it can undermine those structures — takes on a new urgency in the present moment, when superhero fantasies have colonized popular media to an even greater extent than during the so-called “golden age” of comics.
In this class, then, I propose an intersectional analysis of the superhero genre as a transmedia fantasy with implications for our understanding of racial and sexual identity. Key characters will include The Fantastic Four, Wonder Woman, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, Black Lightning, and others.
ENG 607 Energy Humanities
The Energy Humanities is an interdisciplinary field drawing from the humanities, arts, and social sciences and focused on energy systems (e.g. fossil fuel, solar, hydro) as fundamental aspects of culture. The seminar will read historians, geographers, anthropologists, and literary and cultural theorists, in addition to novels, memoir, and film. Featured texts may include: Derrick Hindery’s From Enron to Evo, Timothy Mitchell’s Carbon Democracy, Stephanie LeMenager’s Living Oil, Jennifer Haigh’s novel Heat and Light, Adam Briggle’s A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking, artist Brett Bloom’s manual “Petro-Subjectivity,” Winona LaDuke on NODAPL, anthropologists Dominic Boyer and Cymene Howe on wind politics in Mexico, and Amitav Ghosh’s book about climate and energy cultures worldwide, The Great Derangement.
ENG 608 Workshop: Job Placement – ABD students only
This workshop prepares job candidates as they apply for academic and other positions. We will discuss and explain the job-search process and prepare and workshop the many documents and other job-search materials necessary for a search, from cvs to writing samples. We will also review job lists to find jobs for which students will apply, prepare for interviews and conduct mock interviews, and prepare for campus visits. When students have campus visits scheduled in winter and spring, we will reconvene for mock campus talks.
ENG 608 Workshop: Publication
Taken during the final year of doctoral coursework, this workshop familiarizes students working on the journal article requirement with basic practices related to publication: revision/expansion of essays; rhetorical forms and structures of essays; selection of journals; submission to journals; revision and re-submission; and, on the journal side, how editors and reviewers read and respond to submitted drafts.
ENG 608 Workshop: Teaching Literature
This one-credit seminar/professional-workshop prepares Graduate Teaching Fellows to be instructors-of-record in undergraduate ENG courses. It provides concrete, practical guidance on teaching literature and media to undergraduates. Short readings provide conceptual frameworks to consider when thinking about pedagogy, assisting large lecture courses, leading discussions, preparing syllabi, designing paper assignments, constructing lesson plans, and commenting and grading student writing within the lit/media course. The workshop will be primarily conducted as discussion, punctuated by guest panels and some presentations.
ENG 610 Theorizing Global Blackness and the African Diaspora
In this interdisciplinary seminar students will be introduced to historical, theoretical, social, and cultural approaches to understand the multiple meanings and articulations of blackness across time and space. To study blackness is to study how race suffuses social, cultural, political, economic, and legal parameters. We will engage with the following questions: What is Blackness? What does it mean to occupy a Black body? How has our understanding of Blackness changed over time and space? What are the potentials and limitations of Blackness as a category? We will examine articulations of blackness in the US, Britain, the Caribbean, Canada, Ghana, and South Africa in order to understand the discursive production of blackness in different temporal and spatial contexts. We will also consider the relationship between blackness and ethnicity, diaspora, class, gender, and sexuality. Furthermore, we will seek to understand what, if anything, connects these different articulations of blackness. In order to delve into these questions we will examine the manner in which the Middle Passage, transatlantic slavery, colonialism, imperialism, apartheid, mass incarceration, and the gendered racial terror that defined these systems of power and exploitation—the effects of which are still felt across the Americas, Europe, and Africa—produced and continues to produce blackness as a racial category. We will engage with what it means to be black in an anti-black world and will consider how blackness is represented, consumed, and negotiated. Furthermore, we will also examine texts that turn to race, particularly blackness, to critique the genre of the human, which, at its core, has always been anti-black. Students will be introduced to different critical approaches to the study of blackness that includes diaspora and transnational studies, black feminist thought, black queer studies, and visual culture studies.
ENG 611 Comp GE SEM I
The Composition GE 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 GE to teach composition courses in English. Policies regarding appointments are summarized in the 2017-18 edition of the Composition Program Policy Manual.
ENG 612 Comp GE SEM II
This course supports GEs who are teaching in the University of Oregon’s Composition Program for the first time. We will discuss ways to foster a good learning environment for your students, specific aspects of the Program’s pedagogy, and review Program and campus-wide resources for you and your students.
ENG 613 GE Comp Apprentice
Prospective Composition GEs 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
This course will serve as an introduction to theoretical approaches to the study of literature and culture including Marxist literary criticism, structuralism and post-structuralism, postcolonialism, the new materialism and media theories old and new.
ENG 620 Early Medieval Literature
Religion in Anglo-Saxon Literature
This course focuses on the way religious belief is expressed and represented in Anglo-Saxon literature. We’ll begin by approaching the concept of “religion” as a theoretical frame, reading scholarship on the role of religion in culture and especially focusing on the way that religion in non-modern, non-secularist cultures functions. We will then look at the way religion is specifically expressed in Anglo-Saxon literature as Christianity, and in portrayals of paganism and Judiasm. We’ll read specific Anglo-Saxon texts (in translation) including Beowulf, Andreas, Elene; some of the Anglo-Saxon saints’ lives (Guthlac, Edgar, Æthelthryth); charms and sermons against pagan practice; and conversion narratives found in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History. We’ll also read some Norse mythology for comparative purposes. Finally, we’ll think about approaches to teaching any religious content in texts of any period.
ENG 630 Thinking Matter in Early & Late Modernity
In formulating her theory of vital materiality, Jane Bennett claims Renaissance philosophy as a “touchstone.” The desire to return to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has been a recurrent pattern in the new materialisms and ecocriticism. This course follows the contours of that desire by pairing its focus on early modern literature with contemporary theory engaging materialist ideas. By taking the course, students will gain a sense of the importance of materialism to Renaissance literature, an introduction to important critics and issues in new materialism and related fields, and a sense of how and why studying historical periods can lead to theoretical innovation. Authors will include Lucretius, Spenser, Herbert, and Hutchinson; theorists include Bennett, Agamben, Marder, Arendt, and early modern critics engaging materialism and ecocriticism.
ENG 645 Species and Print, Extinction and Archive
The species concept is fundamental to environmentalism. Species extinction is a particular concern due to the threat of the Sixth Extinction and its role in marking the onset of the Anthropocene, and the Endangered Species Act is the most powerful tool in United States law for the protection of natural habitats. For eco-critics and environmental activists, the importance of protecting biodiversity seems self-evident. In the broader public, the sentimental appeal of charismatic megafauna undergirds support for protecting habitats and reducing carbon emissions.
And yet the definition of species and sub-species, the counting and documentation of species for the measurement of biodiversity, and indeed the very concept of species are all hotly contested by scientists. These questions also need to be scrutinized by environmental humanists. In science, politics and aesthetics, we use several different definitions of living species that operate on different scales, and that arose out of different historical moments. For some purposes, a species matters only if it has a visible identity and emotional impact, if we can see it in a zoo or possibly in the wild. For other purposes, microbial species matter even though they are not visible and known only by a Latin name bestowed by specialist naturalists, or even a number associated with a database file. Herbaria stocked with pressed leaves and flowers began in the sixteenth century, and by the eighteenth the collections of new natural history museums and academic gardens included treasured type specimens, the referential guarantee for the Linnaean binomials of the quickly expanding dictionary of plants, animals, and insects.
This seminar examines these issues through the notion of “species media.” As media have changed, from manuscript to print, from painting to printing to photography, and from specimen collections to genomic databases, species diversity has changed as well. Both visual and verbal conventions for species classification operate within the constraints of media reproduction technologies. We will study natural history and species media from the Renaissance to the age of genomics.
ENG 650 19th Century British Culture: Image of Feeling
This seminar will explore nineteenth-century British culture as an extended response to the following question: how does this historical period — one that includes cultural forms we call Romantic as well as those we classify as Victorian — become the epoch of feeling? To respond to this question we will pose another one: why and how is “feeling” (or emotion or sensibility or affect) principally represented as — or in –“images”? From the agitations of William Blake through the provocations of Oscar Wilde, we will explore the period’s cultural representations of feeling through the medium of the image. If nineteenth-century British culture epitomizes the very “image of feeling,” is this the result of a fundamentally affective dimension of the literary and visual image? To address these questions, we will read poets (Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Percy Shelley, Hopkins, Dante and Christina Rossetti), novelists (Austen, Mary Shelley, and Emily Bronte), essayists (Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Pater, Wilde), and a playwright (Wilde). And we will look at paintings and photographs of the period, especially pictures by Blake and the Pre-Raphaelites. To frame these questions and to measure their “afterlives,” we will read some influential treatments of “feeling” and the “image” in contemporary literary and film theory (Benjamin, Barthes, Badiou, Berlant, Brinkema, Copjec, Doane, Mulvey, Ranciere).
ENG 660 American Literature: Contemporary Black Fiction
In this course, we will study contemporary African American fiction in its historical, political, and literary contexts. As we read these works and relevant scholarly texts, we will consider questions of periodization, genre, and literary tradition. We will study the function of genres such as satire, contemporary narratives of slavery, science fiction, realism, gothic fiction, and horror in our readings. We will think through the utility of periodizing terms such as modernism, postmodernism, post-soul, and hip hop generation for understanding these works. We will investigate whether there are formal and thematic characteristics that define contemporary African American fiction. Throughout the term, we will consider how these contemporary works participate in, reflect on, complicate, or otherwise engage the broader tradition of African American literature that spans the late 18th century to the present. This course requires substantial reading and writing and vigorous participation.
ENG 660 Bioethics and Literature
This course will explore the ways that literary and cultural texts from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first have engaged with bioethical dilemmas and discourses. We will work with a broad definition of “bioethical” but will focus on two main areas: 1) medical and bio-technological innovations (actual and imagined) that have led writers to rethink understandings of “humanness” and “life” and 2) literary representations of unequal access to health and well-being. Topics will include constructions of race in relation to reproductive technologies, the unequal global burden of illness and unequal access to health care technologies, the implications of assisted reproduction innovations, understandings of mind and brain, and confrontations of genetic editing technology discourse with disability theory and activism. Our objects of study will be medical texts and popular science-focused publications as well as novels, short stories, and films, including such texts as the 1861 medical novel Elsie Venner, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Joseph Green’s 1962 film The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and the 2000 science fiction novel The Midnight Robber by Jamaican-Canadian writer Nalo Hopkinson.
ENG 660 Race, Nation, and Belonging in the Ethnic American Bildungsroman.
Bildungsroman. Arguably one of the most widely recognized and hotly contested critical terms in literary studies, it has been read as everything from an organic, mimetic allegory of national community to an insidious instrument of social discipline. Its coincidence with the emergence of empire, nationalism, bourgeois individualism and modernity not only encourages interrogation of its normative representations of social order and subject formation. It also demands interpretive frameworks and comparative methodologies capable of addressing intersections between race, class, nation, gender/sexuality and coloniality that consistently exceed the genre’s formal impulse toward containment and closure. Informed by secondary readings at the intersections of genre theory, race/ethnicity, and nation/nationalism studies, this course explores ethnic American negotiations with the American bildungsroman in five novels from the modernist 1920s-30s: Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers (1925), Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928), John Joseph Mathews’ Sundown (1934), Ameríco Paredes’ George Washington Gomez (1936, 1990), and Younghill Kang’s East Goes West: The Making of an Oriental Yankee (1937). Marked by post-War Anglo-nativism, intensified racial violence across the South and Southwest, drastic shifts in immigration and federal Indian policies, and the cultural/literary influences of modernity and American modernism, these writers chose the bildungsroman as the literary form through which to examine the contradictions of national subject formation for the racially-marked American citizen-subject.
ENG 660: Asian American Literature
This course offers an introduction to Asian North American Literature from the late 19th century to the present. Students will become conversant in the historical and cultural contexts of Asian America; the major themes, tropes, and formal features of the canon; and the primary debates and trajectory of the field of Asian American literary studies. The course will explore a range of ethnic traditions and historical periods, and a variety of genres, including the novel, poetry, and comics. Authors will likely include Maxine Hong Kingston, Sui Sin Far, Susan Choi, Ted Chiang, John Okada, and others. Literary texts will be accompanied by critical works by Colleen Lye, Mark Chiang, David Palumbo-Liu, Lisa Lowe, and others.
ENG 670 Modern Literature: Popular Modernisms
This seminar participates in the current reassessment of relations between aesthetic modernism and popular culture. The rise of “New Modernist studies” over the past twenty years, with its expansive historical orientation and interest in modernism’s original cultural contexts, has led to a serious re-examination of the nature and extent of modernism’s relations with and responses to the popular. Questioning both new critical views of modernism as a mode of radical formal experimentation detached from and superior to the crass productions of popular culture and postmodern views of modernism as a mode of neurotic fear and disgust in response to the feminized and feminizing productions of popular culture, this seminar studies works of popular culture produced during the modernist moment of the early twentieth century that innovate upon the popular conventions they also employ. We will consider works by H.G. Wells, Dorothy Parker, Anita Loos, Louis Armstrong, Dashiell Hammett, the Marx Brothers, George Herriman, and Orson Wells. Short paper, oral presentation, annotated bibliography, and research paper.
ENG 660 Literary Monsters and the Anthropocene
During the past 20 or so years, we’ve seen a radical increase in the use of the monster figure in contemporary U.S. literature. Whether it’s the vampires of Justin Cronin’s The Passage Series or the zombies of Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, monsters have increasingly served as a mode through which anxieties about climate change, globalization, and neo-liberal multiculturalism are expressed. In this course we will read a series of “monster” narratives, with a particular eye toward how questions of global climate change and violence are envisioned–especially as they intersect with representations of race and ethnicity. Primary sources will include texts by Justin Cronin, Colson Whitehead, Victor Lavalle, Junot Díaz, Mario Acevedo, Mat Johnson, and others. Secondary texts will include Kate Marshall, Ramón Saldívar, Stacy Alaimo, Rob Nixon, Sarah Juliet Lauro and Karen Embry, and others.
ENG 690 Introduction to Graduate Studies
This course provides a rigorous introduction to scholarly writing and speaking through the process of conceiving, researching, writing, and revising one long paper and presenting this work as a conference paper at the end of the term. We will also analyze, discuss, and workshop components of scholarly writing.
ENG 691 Kenneth Burke
Kenneth Burke (1897–1993) is among the foremost literary and rhetorical critics of the twentieth century. His ideas transformed the field of rhetoric by redefining its scope, informed by his expansive theory of “dramatism,” or “language as symbolic action.” His work explores human motive in terms of the nature of language, drawing on traditions of thought ranging from classical and European philosophy, theology, social and political theory, linguistics, aesthetics, poetics, and psychology to rhetoric in its traditional sense as the study of persuasion and argumentation. In this seminar, we will read and discuss his major books (and some individual essays) in chronological order, following the progression of his thought toward an ethical rhetoric of human relations—with each other and with nature.
Since Burke exemplifies inter-disciplinary thought in its boldest form, and his ideas are often used methodologically to study symbol-using in the widest sense, graduate students with any special interest are welcome to join this seminar. In the spirit of Burke’s dialectical theory of perspectives, the more voices the better. Students will engage Burke’s ideas in short, weekly reading-response papers and apply his ideas to any issue in their respective fields in a research essay.
ENG 695 TV Aesthetics
TV Aesthetics focuses on the formal analysis of mainstream U.S. television and the production practices that support these aesthetics. While we will take an “introductory” look at television form, this course will use specific case studies—such as commercials, sitcoms, and music videos—to provide a deeper historical and production-based approach to a select few televisual genres. Students can select from a range of final projects, including a research project led by Dr. Ovalle, that will hone their research, analysis, and writing skills/methods.