Upcoming Courses


Previous Courses


Graduate Seminars

6210 Study in English Literature: The Beginning to 1500

101 - MW 2:00-3:15 Professor MC Bodden

Thematic title: Crime and Gender

What sort of behavior was considered “criminal” behavior that so large a proportion of people in medieval and early modern England were at some stage in their lives accused of misdemeanors and (less often) felonies? How does literature (including court records, letters and depositions) represent the actions that people took to deal with the inequities of class structure, of the economy, the bias of the law, and domestic violence? How did popular literature represent “the female crime wave,” (mid-late 1600's) whereby more than half of the defendants brought up on charges of theft were women? Topics examined in this course will include taverns and brawling, marital violence, domestic crime, rape, religion and ‘crime,’ treason by imagination, subversive women, cross-dressing, and the “female crime wave” of the late 1600's. Students will undertake palaeographical transcriptions on court depositions of the late 1500’s – early 1600’s.

Readings: Include: Canterbury Tales, General Prologue, Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale, The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale, The Reeve’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale, The Merchant’s Tale, Morte Darthur, Book of Margery Kempe, and The Roaring Girl.

6215 Study in Renaissance Literature: Spencer, Milton & Epic History
101 - MW 3:30-4:45 Professor John Curran

Description: This course will examine some of the ways England’s two most prominent epic poets approached the relationship between epic and history. Traditionally, this relationship was conceived as a very close one. With Virgil’s Aeneid as the model, epic was supposed to be history writ large – the story of a nation’s past explained, expanded, dramatized, theorized, and celebrated. Both poets are working with this standard of epic, but both at the same time problematize and complicate it. Our goal is to observe how this is so, and in the process we will consider three ideas of epic “history”: mimesis, the portrayal of a reality outside the poem; topicality, the referencing of issues, especially political ones, from the poets’ times; and teleology, the conception of a specific, linear, and purposeful time continuum with a beginning and an end. Developing a sense of these three ideas and of the relations between them, we will strive for a better understanding of the “great arguments” of The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost

Readings: The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost

6400 Study in 19th Century British Literature: Victorian Greats

101 - TTH 11:00-12:15 Professor Thomas Jeffers

6500 Study in 20th Century British Literature

701 -Monday 5:30-8:10 p.m. Professsor John Su

Thematic Title: ‘Cool Britannia’: Contemporary British Literature

Description: In this course, we will explore the transformations within British literature since 1950. This era is defined in many ways by the struggles to redefine British identity in the aftermath of Empire, and the literary texts written in these years depict this struggle to envision a more multicultural nation state. Toward this end, we will pay particular attention to three key moments in British history: 1) the aftermath of the Suez Canal crisis; 2) the rise of Thatcherism; 3) the development of literature by immigrant populations.

Readings: Major authors might include John Osborne, John Fowles, David Hare, Tom Stoppard, A. S. Byatt, Zadie Smith, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Assignments: Course requirements will include a scholarly research paper (20-25 pages), a formal oral presentation, an annotated bibliography, and active class participation.


6600 Study in American Literature to 1900

101 - TTH 9:30-10:45 Professor Angela Sorby

Thematic Title: American Romanticism(s)

Description: What's new in the field of American Romanticism? In this course, we will move beyond New Critical models to place the romantic movement at the center of contemporary conversations that cross national, generic, and disciplinary boundaries. Using relatively "canonical" texts by Emerson, Thoreau, Stowe, Fuller, Whitman, and Dickinson, we will turn to very recent scholarship to ask how these authors are being reinterpreted by 21st century scholars. Students should be prepared to engage in, and share, independent research, which will culminate in an original seminar paper.


6820 Study in Modern Critical Theory/Practice


101 TTH 3:30-4:45 Professor Jodi Melamed

This course is an introduction to literary research methods, the practice of literary criticism, critical and literary theory, and cultural and textual studies. The emphasis will be on acquiring portable research skills for literary study in graduate school and beyond. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to use essential research tools, understand the main schools of literary and critical theory, scrutinize problems related to the textual history of a work, investigate the history and present of the profession, write a grant proposal, and conduct a thorough review of scholarship for a research project in their defined area of study.

Readings: Harner, James L. Literary Research Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies., Leitch, Vincent B. American Literary Criticism Since the 1930s, Readings, Bill. The University in Ruins

Assignments: Literary research practice exercise, keyword essay, short oral presentations, 20-25 page research project, conference style presentation of research project














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