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Graduate Seminars

6210 Studies in British Literature to 1500

  • 101 TTH 12:30-1:45 Professor MC Bodden

    Thematic Title: Violence of Representation

    Description: This course ends with the films, Natural Born Killers and Shawshank Redemption. Your final project will likewise require your choice of two 20th-21st century films, “brilliantly conceived and brilliantly photographed,” as John Bailly says (in other words, not some B level film)—that “cast an unflinching look at violence in America,” concluding the trajectory of both theory and performance of the violence of representation and the representation of violence. The course begins with late medieval texts and, then, early modern English drama whose texts’ discourse of love, beauty and desire within the rhetoric of violence; texts, in other words, that expose the violence of desire, and the desire of violence, where the spectator's (or the character's) awe is stimulated because of the scene's violent essence, and the author's representation of violence transmutes into the violence of representation. Some questions to be examined: how does the author evoke the violence, the sexed bodies, the grotesque acts of revenge? If every scene in any literary work is being filtered through the writer's sensibilities, is it largely frisson, then, that is aimed for when reducing women (and men), at times, to stage props or dismemberment? What is lost when the writer reaches for a poetics of violence; and what are the ethical and political implications of that loss? Our materials cross multiple disciplines, dealing with literary, cinematic, performative and documentary texts.

    Readings: Slaughter of the Innocents, The Passion of the Christ, The Miller's Tale, The Wright’s Chaste Wife, Arden of Faversham, Edward II, Titus Andronicus, Revenger's Tragedy, Hamlet, Tis Pity she's a Whore, Kill Bill (excerpts), Natural Born Killers.

6220 Studies in Shakespeare

  • 101 MW 3:30-4:45 Professor John Curran

    Thematic Title:
    Shakespeare, his Contemporaries, and Greatness

    Description: In this seminar we investigate the issue of greatness as it seems to be reflected in Shakespeare’s drama. The idea of individual human greatness has accounted for much of the attention Shakespeare’s characters have enjoyed, but more recently they have been deemed interesting to the extent he undermines or interrogates this concept. Does Shakespeare cast his characters as “great?” What is greatness? What theoretical, political, or theological implications does it carry? In considering these questions with regard to Shakespeare’s characters, we also consider his own greatness. What makes him stand apart in our minds from his fellow Renaissance dramatists? Does he capture greatness better than they? Or does he rise above them for complicating the idea in ways they cannot? We will concentrate on Shakespeare’s histories and tragedies, examining each play in tandem with an analogous selection from another dramatist. Selections will include plays by Marlowe, Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Middleton, Chapman, Massinger, and Webster.

6400 Studies in 19th Century British Literature


6700 Studies in 20th Century American Literature


6810 Studies in History of Literary Criticism


6840 Rhetoric Composition Theory