Previous Courses

Graduate Seminars


6210 Studies in British Literature, the Beginnings to 1500

  • 101 MW 3:30-4:45 Professor Elizaveta Strakhov

    Course Title: Medieval Literature – Chaucer and the English Language

    Course Description: Although we have two full volumes of government records for Geoffrey Chaucer’s busy life as customs official and minor diplomat, oddly enough no English contemporary of Chaucer’s ever mentions his no less voluminous poetic output. The only contemporary acknowledgment of Chaucer’s poetic success comes from an unlikely source: Eustache Deschamps, a French poet from the Continent, himself not known to have been an English speaker, praises Chaucer for having been a “great translator” ... whatever that means. By the mid-fifteenth century, however, Chaucer was proclaimed as the “father” of later poets and “lode-star of the English language,” a lofty position he has not lost since in the Western canon. And yet, the term “great translator,” odd as it may sound, is not a bad representation of Chaucer’s literary enterprise. Chaucer absorbed material from an astonishing array of sources: classical epic and Late Antique philosophy; the Church fathers and saints’ lives; scholastic philosophy and theology; the Italian poetry of the great masters Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio; the French lyric of Guillaume de Machaut and Jean Froissart; English and French romance; scientific works; morality treatises, and on and on. From this perspective, for his successors to call him the “lode-star of the English language” suggests either willful ignorance of the vast linguistic and generic range of his literary influences or that their fifteenth-century vision of the “English language” admitted far more diversity and internationalism than that of later epochs. This question – of what it means to call Chaucer a “great translator” and “lode-star of the English language” – will be the object of our enquiry. In studying Chaucer and his various literary sources and analogues, we will further gain a sense of the extraordinary richness of medieval literary culture.

    Readings: Texts included but not limited to: the Riverside Chaucer, Vergil, Statius, Ovid, Macrobius, Pierre Abelard, William Ockham, the Romance of the Rose, Petrarch, Dante’s Inferno, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, the Book of John Mandeville, medieval conduct literature, and assorted secondary articles.

6400 Studies in 19th Century British Literature

  • 101 TTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Al Rivero

    Course Title: The Romantic Period, 1790-1837

    Course Description:
    Race, class and gender have emerged during the past few decades as central to the study of the literature of the British Romantic period. This course examines major poems as well as novels of the period in relation to a complex of issues—e.g., authorial voice, symbolic structures and ideological configurations—that can be read differently when one takes into account race, class and gender. This was a period of rapid social change, of revolutions, of slavery and abolition that ushered in the onset of modernity—a comprehensive economic, social, political, and cultural transformation that was also a field of contestation, explicitly or implicitly political, between different interests. In the public sphere, convincing rhetorical performances of such modern subjectivity were crucial to validating arguments for contending versions of modernity.

    Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (Norton); Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (Norton); Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Norton); poetry selections from Blake, Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Wordsworth from The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: The Age of Romanticism (2nd edition).

    Assignments: One or two oral presentations; one major seminar paper (ca. 15-20pp.); class participation; and regular attendance.

6700 Studies in 20th Century American Literature

  • 101 MW 2:00-3:15 Professor Gerry Canavan

    Course Title: Utopia in America

    Course Description: 2016 marked the 500thanniversary of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, which inaugurated a literary genre of political and social speculation that continues to structure our imagination of what is possible. We will read Utopia and selected 19th-century utopian texts from the U.S., as well as consider utopian critical theory from thinkers like Fredric Jameson, Darko Suvin, Carl Freedman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Susan Buck-Morss, and Michel Foucault. But the major task before us will be exploring the role utopian, quasi-utopian, dystopian, and downright anti-utopian figurations have played in the work of several key canonical writers of the 20th century: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Philip K. Dick, and Octavia Butler.

    Readings: Major texts will include Utopia, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Slaughterhouse-Five, Galapagos, Oryx and Crake, The Man in the High Castle, Parable of the Sower, and Parable of the Talents, as well as short stories and critical readings distributed via D2L.

    Assignments: Class participation; weekly forum posts; in-class presentations; sample course syllabi, lesson plans, and statement of teaching philosophy; seminar paper.

6840 Studies in Rhetoric and Composition Theory

  • 101 TTh 11:00-12:15 Professor Rebecca Nowacek

    Course Title: Foundations for Writing Teachers

    Course Description:
    This course is designed to help new teachers as well as teachers new to college-level writing instruction develop historically informed, theory-based, data-driven approaches to teaching writing (especially first-year composition) and to participating in first-year composition programs such as the First-Year English Program at Marquette. Our twice-weekly meetings will emphasize discussion of readings, writing assignments, and teaching-related research. Everyone will have opportunities to complete scholarly projects that include (if desired) creative and/or digital components, and the class will participate in an end-semester pedagogy conference held at Marquette and planned in collaboration with UWM graduate students and faculty.

    Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, and other selected readings.

    Assignments: Will likely include a series of integrative, reflective writings; a more formal, systematic inquiry into teaching and learning; presentation of the findings of that inquiry at a joint conference with grad students at UWM.

















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