Upcoming Courses

Previous Courses


Graduate Seminars

6215 Study in Renaissance Literature: Spenser, Milton & Epic History

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

Thematic Title: Transformations in Humanism

If there was a "Renaissance" in and around the sixteenth century, it had much to do, for intellectuals then and for students of the period since, with humanism. In this course we will discover some of the ways humanism, in a strictly defined but also in a much wider sense of the concept, changed and was changed by English writers. Taken strictly, humanism refers to the new engagement with the Classics, especially in philological, educational, philosophical, and artistic spheres; broadly, "humanism" connotes much what it does today: the positing of the centrality and potentiality of the human. We will ask how humanism animated and troubled the work of Erasmus, More, Marlowe, Sidney, and Jonson.

6300 Study in Restoration & 18th Century British Literature

Thematic Title: Literature and the Passions in the Age of Reason

101 TTH 3:30-4:45 Professor Melissa Ganz

Course Description
: Long heralded as an Age of Reason, the Enlightenment is now recognized as a pivotal period in the history of emotion. From Aphra Behn's The History of the Nun, or the Fair Vow-Breaker (1689) and Samuel Richardson's Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740) to Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey (1768) and Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1811), imaginative writers hold up a range of feelings for celebration and critique. In this seminar, we consider the changing meaning and role of the passions in literature from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. We necessarily pay close attention to feelings such as love and desire and to changing gender roles and sexual relations. But we also examine the relationship between sympathy and social reform, and consider the place of feeling in moral and political life. The course should be of interest to those focusing on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature as well as to anyone who wishes to gain a grounding in the literature and culture of the British Enlightenment.

Readings: Literary and philosophical texts by authors such as Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Bernard Mandeville, Samuel Richardson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Laurence Sterne, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Thomas Gray, Hannah More, William Earle, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Joanna Baillie, and Jane Austen. Secondary readings by G.J. Barker-Benfield, Lawrence Stone, Martha Nussbaum, Janet Todd, and others.

Requirements: A short mid-term essay (5 pp); a longer, final essay (15-20 pp); a presentation; and lively participation.


6500 20th C British Literature: James Joyce

MWF 12:00-12:50 Professor Leah Flack


Course description:This course will focus on the work of James Joyce in relation to the aesthetic, sociopolitical, religious, and historical forces that shaped his career and his tortured self-exile from an Ireland in the years leading up to the creation of the Irish Free State. As we learn about the formal, cultural, and political dimensions of Joyce’s ambitious modernist project, we will also have the opportunity to become familiar with the critical methodologies and theoretical perspectives that have yielded the most fruitful insights on Joyce’s writing in the past century. After reading all of Joyce’s major works up through and including Ulysses, we will turn to a few of the most inspired contemporary receptions of Joyce to get a sense of the continuing relevance of Joyce’s project nearly a century after Ulysses changed the course of literary history.


Assignments: Seminar paper; class presentation; conference paper abstract; pedagogy assignment; reading journal.

6600 American Literature to 1900: Writing in the 1850's


101 TTH 12:30-1:45 Professor Sarah Wadsworth


Course Description: This course introduces students to the History of the Book as a field of study and scholarly approach by focusing on American literature and culture during the 1850s: arguably, a decade of unsurpassed literary achievement in the United States. Tracing the emergence of modern authorship and publishing on a national scale, we will examine the parallel courses of popular and belletristic writing at the height of the American Renaissance. Readings for the course comprise key texts that have come to form the foundation of the American literary canon, along with examples of popular verse, the first national “bestsellers,” the earliest African American novels, and popular periodicals. We will also pay attention to the political and cultural climate of the decade leading up to the Civil War as we examine the shifting dynamics of the maturing literary marketplace and the rich literary record of the mid-nineteenth century.


Readings: Fanny Fern, Ruth Hall; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha; Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; E.D.E.N. Southworth, The Hidden Hand; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass; William Wells Brown, Clotel.


Assignments: Participants in the course should expect to complete a scholarly book review, an oral presentation, and a research paper of approximately 20 pages. Seminar members will also have primary responsibility for leading the discussion during at least one seminar meeting.



6700 Study in 20th Century American Literature: 20th Post-Reconstruction in US Literature

101 TTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Tol Foster


Thematice Title: America Re/Constructed: U.S. political and cultural formation in the twentieth century


Course description: In this course we will consider the way in which the United States project might be considered one of having to produce belonging, meaning, and community in a context in which there is not already a provided telos of belonging. The United States is a transparent construction, or import, from other places that has settled into this space and time, such that we are ''home'' as a discursive community in the sense the Germans would call heimisch - the act of settling down or becoming established. Germany - though also a construction - is however understood amongst most Germans to literally rise out of the soil and before-time human cultures that were indigenous to it, thus being in some ways pre-discursively indigenous (i.e. einheimisch - endemic, natural, homegrown).

Instead of just always being here since time immemorial, the American story is largely one of migration, displacement, and imagination in which even the construction of this continent as ''home'' is an act ofgenealogy, invention, and construction. Indeed even the term ''American'' is one we applied to indigenous peoples before apportioning it to our settler selves. Thus in some ways it is the experience of constructing home out of an alien space, where belonging is anegotiationbetween heimish (settling) and einheimish (coming from) that existentially and historically undergirds the American experience.


In the late 19th and early 20th century - where this course begins its inquiry - Americans were grappling all the time with the freedom and chaos of being able to both imagine and realize schemes of society and individualism that were free of old conventions and restraints, expected hierarchies and burdens of past institutions and histories, but were also political, contested, and unsettling. Thus eventhe understanding of who is, or is not, an American - particularly a ''full'' American - became not just a question of citizenry but in fact a question of identity in a space where indigeneity and tradition are inherently 'foreign' positions which haunt us like what D.H. Lawrence described as ''grinning aboriginal demons'' lurking along the edges of our precarious new settlement.

Free of hidebound customs and ways of being that both burden and provide us a pre-formed cultural identity, we imagined new identities and new ways of ordering ourselves and organizing our ways of seeing the world - often in novel and surprising ways. Thus indigenous people became foreigners and African immigrants came to count as 3/5 of a political unit they could not actualize. Even to claim and sell land we had to construct intellectual myths and histories to explain how it came to be, properly, ours, all while debating the contours and reaches of that land, whether it be continental or extend west to thePhilippines, north into Vancouver and Alaska, and south into Mexico and Cuba.


Thus in many ways the work of 19th and 20th century American literature was - like that of other American endeavors and discourses - the work of constructing a way of connecting to the larger world and of understanding and imagining our best position within it. Utilizing literary texts within the historical and legal conversations of this larger American cultural enterprise, we will be using this course to explore the ways in which ''we'' imaginatively made, contested, and re-constituted our community.

Beginning with D.H. Lawrence's thoughts on American literature and the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy'sThe Road (2009)as a prelude, we will considerEmersonacolyte Friedrich Nietzsche's 1874 essay ''On the Use and Abuse of History'' andWisconsin historian Frederick Jackson Turner's 1893 frontier thesis, presented at the Colombian Exhibition of Chicago. After Ray Bradbury (selections fromThe Martian Chronicles) gets his say on Turner,we will explore American consolidation and empire through select federal legal rulings related to primarily Pacific territories seized in the 1890s (the Insular Cases) withLeslie Marmon Silko as our guide (essays fromYellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, selections fromAlmanac of the Dead, andGardens in the Dunes).

We will trace urban (and inward) white consolidation throughTheodore Dreiser's Chicago (Sister Carrie)and the ''new'' twentieth-century America ofF. ScottFitzgerald (film version ofThe Great Gatsby2013), before getting a reality check fromRalph Ellison (essays fromShadow and ActandInvisible Man)andWilliam Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom). We will close out withTim O'Brien (In the Lake of the Woods) and Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Stephen King'sThe Shining, with some excerpts from the novel itself.


In this reading intensive seminar-style class, students will generate weekly reflections/extensions on the materials covered, construct literature reviews that link historical, legal, and cultural materials to trace genealogical arguments about American identity and community, write both a minor and major research paper, and produce a class powerpoint (or equivalent) presentation on their findings.



6820/101 Literary Criticism (M.A.)


101 TTH 2:00-3:15 Professor Diane Hoeveler


Course Description: 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 situation of the profession, and conduct a thorough review of scholarship for a research project in a defined area of study.














[an error occurred while processing this directive]