The essentials of the language and mastery of core vocabulary, then close study of a number of lovely short poems. By the end of the semester students should be ready to tackle Beowulf in the spring. Texts: Peter Baker, Introduction to Old English, 3rd edition and Stephen Barney, Word-hoard.
Also LING 500.
Comparative study of lyric poetry in the medieval and modern periods, in French and English, with equal emphasis on theory and practice, in order to explore basic questions in poetics: Is it possible to define lyric poetry across periods? What is lost and gained by doing so? What can contemporary debates in poetics teach us about medieval literature? What can medieval literature contribute to contemporary poetics? Topics include poetry and music, the idea of voice, the relation between lyric and dramatic monologue, and the imaginative possibilities and technical demands of archival research. Theoretical readings focus on the debate between genre theory and historicism in recent criticism, with reference also to sound studies and new formalism. Readings in medieval poetry include troubadour and trouvère poetry, and a selection of anonymous English, French, and Latin songs and graffiti; readings in modern poetry focus on Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and Susan Howe. All medieval texts are available in translation.
The seminar looks at a number of plays that have been attributed to Shakespeare (on early title pages, in seventeenth-century booksellers’ catalogues, or in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century editions of Shakespeare’s works), almost all of which he is now (generally) thought not to have written. We explore the conditions of play making in early modern England; historical and theoretical accounts of authorship; questions of style (particularly, what might it mean to think of something as “Shakespearean”?); a set of bibliographic concerns about the publishing and printing of playbooks; the various media in which we engage plays (from the early modern theater to digital facsimiles of the early texts); and, not least, a miscellaneous group of plays worthy of study in their own right but largely ignored except for the question of authorship.
What did happen to race, class, and gender? This course examines the persistence of older theoretical frameworks such as Marxism or feminism in current critical discourse. It also explores new critical keywords—biopolitics, affect, the Anthropocene, and others—that now help structure theoretical debates in the humanities. Intended as a fast-paced, reading-heavy introduction to recent critical theory, the course will help graduate students in literature acquire a better sense of their field of study and reflect upon the methodologies they will use in their dissertation projects. Readings include the work of older theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Donna Haraway, as well as recent ones such as Jasbir Puar, Sianne Ngai, Tiqqun, Paolo Virno, and Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Also RUSS 882/CPLT 882
This is a class on epistemology, aesthetics, and literary form. We will read major works in empiricism and moral philosophy alongside poetry and fiction in several genres. We’ll ask, for example, how do poetry, fiction, and the visual arts recruit and account for perceptual experience or consider material and natural objects? What happens when the empirical psychology of consciousness or the categories of the sublime, beautiful, and picturesque take narrative or poetic form? What sort of ethical models follow from formal or generic decisions? We’ll focus throughout on how these topics have been discussed across the history of literary studies, and we’ll pay close attention to current debates in the field, including those prompted by new formalisms and materialisms, critical race studies, cognitive literary studies, and the digital humanities. Authors include Locke, Behn, Defoe, Pope, Addison, Hume, Burke, Sterne, Smith, Kant, and Wordsworth.
Introduction to the work of Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats, with some attention to Byron, to the poets’ own problematic revisions, and to the minor poets of this rich period of poetic innovation and revolutionary spirit. Graduate students would participate in the seminar with undergraduates, but also have some opportunities to explore in sessions exclusive to them (as well as in essays) the rich critical tradition and its most recent configurations. How many such sessions we would have would depend on the number of students interested.
Case studies in the visual and verbal representation of persons in Anglo-American painting and fiction, with particular attention to novels that themselves include portraits or address relations between the two media. Novelists tentatively to include Henry Fielding, Jane Austen, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde, and Virginia Woolf. Painters to include William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Lawrence, James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Vanessa Bell. Selected readings in recent theories of fictional character and in the history and theory of portraiture. Whenever possible, we draw on paintings in Yale’s collections.
Nonhuman life forms in fiction and poetry from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, including plants and animals, “legal persons” such as corporations, large-scale phenomena such as the market and the Internet, war and environmental catastrophes, as well as intelligent machines and extraterrestrial aliens. Authors include Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Upton Sinclair, Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Erdrich, Richard Powers, Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Dave Eggers. Theorists include Giorgio Agamben, Jane Bennett, Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, N. Katherine Hayles, Fredric Jameson, Brian Massumi, Timothy Morton.
Also AMST 344/AMST 723/ENGL 433
An investigation of the connections between the crises of realism and the historical novel, the emergence of high modernism, magical realism, and various forms of postcolonial historical narrative considered in the wider global context of inter-imperial conflict, anti-imperial struggle, and the restructuring of the world capitalist system. The seminar will combine literary readings, critical theory, and contemporary studies on ‘world literature’ to explore ruptures and developments in modern fiction and the politics of empire in Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia.
Students are expected to attend class punctually, to be well-prepared, and to contribute regularly and meaningfully to seminar discussions. They will be required to offer one class presentation and to submit one or two questions on a regular basis in advance of some of the classes to sharpen and develop ideas prior to discussions. One final paper at the end of the semester.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899)
Joseph Conrad, Nostromo (1904)
James Joyce, Ulysses (1922) [selections]
C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins (1938)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
Marguerite Duras, The Lover (1984)
Monique Truong, The Book of Salt, A Novel (2003)
Georg Lukács, The Historical Novel (1938)
Erich Auerbach, Mimesis (1953)
Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters (1994)
Franco Moretti, Modern Epic (1995)
David Scott, Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment (04)
Also CPLT 855.
This course considers key debates, texts, and institutions that have shaped African American culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Possible topics include the New Negro movement, the Black Arts movement, black internationalism, canon formation, and Afro-futurism.
Also AFAM 650
An introduction to the history of literary criticism and to contemporary debates about “the commons.” Our particular focus is on the ways in which sophisticated thinkers in and around the Anglo-American literary-critical tradition have sought to perceive and articulate the underlying unity of the social order.
Why are there so many poems about pictures, other art objects, and things–including human things–viewed not as occasions for narrative or mimetic representation but for seemingly unmotivated description or sheer ostensive pointing-toward? To be sure, there are more such poems in some periods than in others (e. g., the later 19th century and much of the 20th), and that in itself will arouse historical reflection, but every period harbors an ekphrastic moment, so our trajectory will carry us from Homer to the present looking for an answer to our question. Foundational and intermittent topics will include: Picture and poem in Plato and Aristotle; Notional ekphrasis and illusionism in ancient literature and anecdote; Pygmalion stories; Two Sister Arts, Leonardo to Lessing; Where mimesis seems to lose motivating force (representation becomes description); Where form seems to lose motivating force (composition becomes ostension); Ekphrasis as picture envy; Ekphrasis as thing envy; What’s in an Urn (or pot, or jar)? Special attention will be given to women’s ekphrasis (brief focus on Gjertrud Schnackenberg) and to picture-poems by persons of color (Hayden, Tretheway, Dove).
An introduction to the teaching of literature and of writing with attention to the history of the profession and to current issues in higher education such as the corporatization of the university, the role of the state in higher education, and the precarity of the humanities at the present time. Weekly seminars address a series of issues about teaching: guiding classroom discussion; introducing students to various literary genres; addressing race, class, and gender in the teaching of literature; formulating aims and assignments; grading and commenting on written work; lecturing and serving as a teaching assistant; preparing syllabuses and lesson plans.
Designed to help fill gaps in students programs when there are corresponding gaps in the department’s offerings. By arrangement with faculty and with the approval of the DGS.
Open to current students in the English graduate programs. Submit a completed Directed Reading Proposal Form to the department registrar by the end of the first week of classes.