Current Course Offerings
ENG 651: English Renaissance
MW 6-9:20 (Spring Term)
This course will offer a broad survey of the English Renaissance engaging a wide variety of texts and authors, including a number of minor writers (such as Daniel, Drayton, Davies, Elyot, Googe, Raleigh, Waller) along with the greats: More, Marlowe, Sidney, Spenser, Jonson, Donne, Marvell, Herbert, Milton. We will read Lewis's Discarded Image for intellectual background and Smith's This Realm of England for historical background.
Stephen Greenblatt, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th ed., vol. B: The Sixteenth Century; The Early Seventeenth Century
C. S. Lewis, The Discarded Image
Lacey Baldwin Smith, This Realm of England: 1399-1688, 8th ed.
ENG 605: Desiring Bodies and Souls in American Literary Life
MW 6-9:20 (Summer Term)
This course will take up the framing of the embodied lives with which we navigate the world, seeking connection to and nourishment for both the self and others. In 1960, Leslie Fiedler complained in Love and Death in the American Novel that American writers cannot and do not write love stories. The work of this course will be to argue that the American experience is replete with desiring. We will engage a number of texts from the last sixty years that focus on food, flesh, and eros in some combination. We will contextualize eros with Julia Kristeva’s master work, Tales of Love (1987) and supplement our historical, cultural, and theoretical framework with segments from Roy Porter’s Flesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul (2003), Dennis Patrick Slattery’s The Wounded Body: Remembering the Markings of Flesh (2000), Ron Hansen’s A Stay Against Confusion (2001), and Lorna Piatti-Farnell’s Food and Culture in Contemporary American Fiction (201).
We will read from among a surveyor’s feast of canonical American writers. We will study in particular some combination of the following works: Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding (1946), Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in a Castle (1962), Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior (1976), Andre Dubus’s Adultery and Other Choices (1977), John Updike’s Too Far to Go / The Maples Stories (1977, 2009), Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden (1986), Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1988), Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine (rev. 1993), Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies (1999), and / or Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist (2001), as well as selected stories of Flannery O’Connor .
Active research, as well as presentations that summarize criticism, will be a part of the preparation for each class meeting. A final examination and a seminar project—both the revised draft of your analysis and an oral report of its highlights—will conclude the course. Short papers throughout the six weeks will augment class discussion. Three personal narratives—“My Embodied Life,” “The Best Thing I Have Ever Tasted,” and “Crazy ‘bout Ya, Baby”--will diversify the work of the course and afford venues apart from the usual academic routes for presenting and publishing your prose.
ENG 600: Graduate Literary Studies Seminar
This course is an introduction to the field of literary studies, examining the history of the discipline and the history of literary theories, as well as current trends and issues in the field. Students in the course will also work on research projects of their own, with assistance from the professor and from library staff. We will also study the history of manuscript and book production and visit the rare books collection. Emphasis will be placed on close reading of literary texts, historical and intellectual contextualizing of literary texts, and research in primary sources.
Some potential texts:
--The Critical Tradition, ed. David Richter
--Peter Barry, Beginning Theory
--Gerald Graff, Professing Literature: An Institutional History
--G. B. Harrison, Profession of English
--Norton Anthology of English Literature
ENG 603: Early Modern Drama
In the wildly popular London theatre scene from the late 1580's through Elizabeth's death and James I's ascension to the throne in 1603, and well into the 17th Century, Shakespeare was only one playwright among many. In this course, we will read several of the best plays of Shakespeare's contemporaries, including those of his most important rivals and successors, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Webster, Thomas Middleton, and Thomas Dekker. Thomas Kyd, Robert Greene, Masters Beaumont and Fletcher and the rest of this company will entertain and enlighten us as we explore the immensely varied and richly textured world of the early modern theatre.
ENG 624: Medieval Epic and Romance
This semester we will read and discuss texts ranging from The Heliand to Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Our aim will be two-fold: first, to explore the characteristic features of each genre; and second, to gain a better understanding of why romance came to displace epic as the preferred literary form during the Middle Ages.
ENG 661: Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson
Although unappreciated in their time, these three authors are now revered as iconoclasts and innovators. Not only is their work crucial to understanding the mid-nineteenth century, but any study of modern US poetry must begin with them, as Ezra Pound churlishly noted in his “Pact” with Whitman: “I have detested you long enough./… I am old enough now to make friends./ It was you who broke the new wood.”
In this course, we will study Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson’s poetry both in its nineteenth-century context and in its legacy on US literature. Their verse registers and explores the transformative effect of the most significant rupture in US society, the Civil War, and we will investigate the formal strategies these poets developed to represent the unimaginable horrors of war—what Melville calls “battle’s unknown mysteries.”
We will also devote significant class time to sharpening and expanding our knowledge of poetics, engaging with classic and contemporary lyric theory and formalist criticism. If you are anxious about your ability to read and/or teach poetry, this course will give you the skills and practice you need to become confident. By the end of the course, students will be authorities on three of the most important US poets.
ENG 624: Modern and Contemporary Drama
This course will focus on dramatic works from the late nineteenth century to the present. We will begin by examining the innovative realism of plays by August Strindberg, Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekhov as a prelude to the rise of several other ‘isms’ – the absurdism, surrealism (epic theatre), and existentialism of mid-twentieth century European playwriting in the works of authors like Luigi Pirandello, Eugene Ionesco, Bertolt Brecht, Samuel Beckett, and Jean-Paul Sartre. We will spend the second half of the semester focusing on contemporary theatrical works in Britain and America; these may include texts by authors such as Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, Tom Stoppard, Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh, Sarah Kane, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Tony Kushner. We will be reading these plays in concert with excerpts from theoretical works on performativity and performance theory, such as Richard Schechner’s Performance Theory, Peggy Phelan’s Unmarked: The Politics of Performance, Judith Butler’s Bodies That Matter, and Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.
ENG 616: Literatures of Settlement--South Africa and Australia
This course is a seminar in Postcolonial Literature and Theory. We will focus primarily on postcolonial texts that attempt to imaginatively rewrite and reconstruct colonial encounters between European settlers and the indigenous peoples of South Africa and Australia during the late eighteenth century and the nineteenth century. We will also focus on texts that, while set in the twentieth century, emphasize the continuities between colonial and postcolonial histories. Given the similarities between the encounters that took place in these regions, coupled with the close affinities between their respective environments and ecologies, the pairing of South Africa and Australia offers an unusually rich basis for comparative analysis. Furthermore, the stark differences between the two regions and Europe posed significant challenges to settlers. We will focus on literature that dramatizes the struggle of settlers to adapt to new, formidable environments and recreate European social, political, economic and cultural institutions.
As we will see, the literature of settlement analyzes the unique difficulties that attend the process of orienting the self with respect to novelty, foreignness, and difference. For the historical phenomenon of settler colonialism was a profoundly ‘unsettling’ experience, both for Europeans and indigenous peoples. The colonial encounter unsettles European identity, along with notions of race, sexuality, gender and class, even the conceptual category of civilization itself. Thus we will analyze the creative process through which twentieth century South African and Australian writers attempt to imagine and come to grips with the histories of their ancestors, not to mention the legacies of settler colonialism as they are thought to impinge upon the contemporary, postcolonial moment.
ENG 651: Romantic Gothic
In this course we will explore Gothic poems and prose of the British Romantic Period (roughly construed as 1776-1837). We will ask why the Gothic had such appeal for the writers of the period, and consider how the Gothic deploys its ghosts, vampires and monsters in the service of discussing the essential political questions of the period. Primary texts will include Austen, Northanger Abbey, Byron, "Manfred," Coleridge, "Christabel," Godwin, Caleb Williams, Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Polidori, "The Vampyre," Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Wollstonecraft, Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman
ENG 661: E. E. Cummings
The poetry and prose of E. E. Cummings (1894-1962) is both a part of and apart from modernist and avant-garde trends in Anglo-American literature of the first half of the twentieth century. This course will explore how Cummings came to write his funny, lyrical, tender, satirical, idiosyncratic, genre-bending, and typographically-challenging works, placing them in the context of avant-garde and modernist experiments of the time. Close reading of Cummings’ prose and poetry will be supplemented with examples of analogous or influential avant-garde and modernist texts from authors like Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and Marianne Moore.
Cummings, E. E. Complete Poems, 1904-1962. Ed George J. Firmage. New York: Liveright, 1994.
---. The Enormous Room: A typescript edition with drawings by the author. 1922. Ed. George James Firmage. New York: Liveright, 1978.
—. The Theatre of E. E. Cummings. Ed. George J. Firmage. Afterword Norman Friedman. New York: Liveright, 2013. [Contains the plays Him, Anthropos, Santa Claus, and the ballet Tom.]
---. EIMI. 1933. Ed. George James Firmage. New York: Liveright, 2007.
---. i: six nonlectures. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1953.
Friedman, Norman. (Re) Valuing Cummings: further essays on the poet, 1962-1993. Gainesville: University P of Florida, 1996. [Recommended only]
Kennedy, Richard S. Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E. E. Cummings. New York: Liveright, 1980.
Various articles from Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society [on reserve and on line at http://www.gvsu.edu/english/cummings/Index.htm .]
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All courses are subject to change.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the schedule.
Page last modified April 19, 2013