ENG.100: Modern Critical Theories (13553)
T. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. Elda Tsou

This course will be taught as an intensive graduate-level introduction to theory. Its aim is to familiarize students with the major theorists and their key ideas. We will consider each of these theorists as offering a certain model of thinking or theorizing. Our aim is not to “apply” these ideas, but to learn to think with them; consequently, our focus will be understanding these basic concepts in order to learn from them how to think more critically and more rigorously about our individual research projects and interests. In this task, we will be guided by advice offered t novices from one of the better introductions to theory: “it is much better to read intensely in theory than to read widely.” Therefore we will read selectively from the most useful, rather than well-known, essays. Our syllabus will be arranged in rough chronological order so that we can get a sense of how these thinkers are responding to and reacting against a previous generation. Starting with Saussure, we will move through each of the critical schools, concluding with some examples of more recently published work.


ENG. 150: Critical Race Theory (15696)

When Critical Race Theory Met Higher Education:  Critical University Studies

  1. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. Robert Fanuzzi

Critical race theory, the interdisciplinary study of racial formations from an institutional and legal perspective, now has a new subject:  universities.  How has higher education historically excluded, included, and created racially designated subjects?  To investigate this question, scholars of American literature and culture have forged a new interdisciplinary field–critical university studies–that joins together lines of inquiry from creative writing, composition studies, ethnic studies, legal studies, and higher education reform.   As campuses become sites of national discussion over diversity, inclusion, and exclusion, critical university studies are consistently providing perspectives that are rooted in literary study and the pioneering literary activism of such 1960s era writers as June Jordan, Paule Marshall, Toni Cade Bambara, and Nikki Giovanni.  This course introduces students to this archive, to the  theoretical works of critical university studies by Roderick Ferguson, Jodi Melamed, and Sara Ahmed, and to contemporary institutional issues in diversity and exclusion through “case studies” in 20th and 21st century literary activism at CUNY and the University of California. 


ENG. 185: African American Literature 20th & 21th Century (15145)
We Been Lit: African American Literacies
R. 2:50 – 4:50 PM
Dr. LaToya Sawyer

“Oh no, honey, I can’t read little things like letters. I read big things like men.”


The above quote has been attributed to Sojourner Truth and is a testament to the fact that for African Americans, literacy has never only encompassed one’s ability to read and write. African American literacies are shaped within the context of economic and political exclusion and have relied upon cultural values including self-determination and freedom (Brandt 2001). African Americans, literacies are “ways of knowing and acting in the development of skills and vernacular expressive arts and crafts” (Richardson 2003). These ways of knowing and being have aided in the survival of Black people in U.S. society through forms of resistance and celebration. This seminar will explore the history of African American literacies and how they are expressed discursively, rhetorically, and linguistically in our contemporary moment in popular culture, social media, politics, and education. We will take up James Baldwin’s enduring question from his landmark essay: “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? We will also address the following questions: How do intersections of gender, sexuality, and class impact African American Literacies? What African American literacies are at play in digital practices such as Black Twitter hashtag and meme creation? What literacies are necessary for people of African descent in the U.S. in a post-Obama and post-post-racial America? Students will also consider social, political, and educational implications of African American literacies in the U.S. and larger African Diaspora. Readings will include: African American Literacies by Elaine Richardson, Hiphop Literacies by Elaine Richardson, and Talkin that Talk: Language, Culture, and Education in African America.


ENG. 280: Topics in Medieval Literature (15221)
Medieval Travel Writing

  1. 2:50 – 4:50 PM
    Dr. Nicole Rice

This course considers a range of representations produced by medieval travelers—pilgrims, crusaders, missionaries, and merchants, among others—from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. In reading narratives and images of cross-cultural encounter, largely produced by Europeans, we will explore questions of ethnic and religious difference, displacement, and self-creation. We will analyze how medieval travelers used their writings to negotiate between authoritative religious and ethnographic traditions and their own individual experiences. Combining a range of medieval sources with recent historical and literary-critical writings, we will ask how ethnographic and geographic thought evolved over centuries of contact between Europe and its “others.” Primary readings will include selections from Augustine and Pliny, The Song of Roland, Joinville’s Life of Saint Louis, William Rubruck’s Journey and missionary letters, Marco Polo’s Travels, The Travels of Ibn Battuta, and The Travels of Sir John Mandeville.


ENG. 350: Milton and the Literature of Revolution (15144)
R. 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Dr. Melissa Mowry

This course takes up a challenge laid down by a variety of literary and cultural theorists to think both in broader terms and finer detail about the various ways imaginative writings function to create and sustain communities, and how those functions might alter the way we understand and use textual evidence.  Our focus here will be the works of English poet and essayist John Milton, whose career followed the arc of the most tumultuous period in British political life from the onset of civil war in the 1640s to the monarchy’s restoration in 1660 to the Exclusion Crisis in the 1670s.  We will read Milton’s major prose and poetry, including Paradise Lost in conjunction with other dissenting voices who sought to reimagine not only Britain’s political system, but the very values that sustained it including: justice, trust, love, knowledge, and, of course dissent.  As we move through this rich tradition, our primary texts will include writers such as Margaret Fell, John Lilburne, Elizabeth Lilburne, Richard Overton, Katherine Chidely, Ann Trapnell, Robert Filmer, and others.  Our theoretical texts will include: Jean-Luc Nancy, Leila Gandhi, Chela Sandoval and others.   Students who have questions should feel free to contact me: mowrym@stjohns.edu.


ENG. 450: Topics in Restoration & 18th Century Literature (13555)
Eighteenth-Century Black Lives
M. 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Dr. Kathleen Lubey

This course will explore writing about black lives from the rise to the decline of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Covering the 1680s through 1808, the year British Parliament abolished the trade, our readings will explore the variety of genres and subject positions deployed in writing about the movement, experiences, and social positions of black people in Britain and its colonies. We’ll encounter a range of purposes and attitudes in these texts: clinical descriptions of slave labor, theological humanitarianism, sentimental exoticism, anti-imperial critique, autobiogaphical appeals for freedom. We will think about the modes of argument available to writers representing blackness in an era when the concept of rights extended only to property-owning Christian European men. How was black freedom imagined? To what degree did black writers absorb or reject white English abolitionist rhetoric? Along the way, we’ll jump forward to our present moment to examine parallels to contemporary exertions of state power such as mass incarceration and police brutality (Michele Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates). Can these be understood as an inheritance of the imperial commerce of this historical period? Texts will include fictional narratives like Aphra Behn’s Oronooko and The Woman of Colour (anonymous); travel narratives and colonial accounts by Richard Ligon, Daniel Defoe, and Jonathan Swift; autobiographical writing such as Ottobah Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery and Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative; poetry by Hannah More, James Grainger, Anna Barbauld, Phyllis Wheatley, William Cowper, and William Blake; letters and essays by Joseph Addison, Ignatius Sancho, and Samuel Johnson. We’ll read weekly in literary and historical criticism of the period as well. Requirements: regular attendance; a short archival project; a seminar paper.


ENG. 716: Modern Poetry (15141)
The Poetry of Late Modernism

  1. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Stephen Sicari

This course will focus on the poetry of three eminent “high modernist” poets: T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Wallace Stevens.  Each of them begins work on what turns out to be a life-long poetic project during World War I, and each writes what is usually regarded as his greatest poetry during the Second World War and beyond. It’s that “late poetry” I want to focus on, to see where” the modernist project” takes these poets as they live through the calamitous times of a world-wide depression and the rise of totalitarian states in the 1930s, a second Great War, and then the aftermath of that war –  death camps and atomic bombs – in the Cold War.  It’s also the poetry of old age.


To get there, we’ll have to read some of their early work to set up what I have been calling their “poetic projects,” but we will get to the later poetry early enough for that to be our main focus.  Each student will write two ten-page papers for the course.  We’ll also read some of their prose.  


ENG. 763: Vernacular Literature and Education (15143)
M. 2:50 – 4:50 PM
Dr. Dohra Ahmad
This course will function both as an introduction to the themes and techniques of Anglophone vernacular literature, and also as a more specific investigation into how standard language ideologies have permeated colonial education systems throughout the world. The course will take the premise of language as resource, drawing on that resource in the form of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by Louise Bennett, Patricia Grace, Sapphire, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Sam Selvon, Lee Tonouchi, and others. Throughout the semester we will explore the ways in which students and teachers can challenge standard language ideologies by bringing personal experience and vernacular texts into their classes. Note: there will be some overlap with English 3580 (Postcolonial Literature) and English 3640 (Vernacular Literature) so please don’t sign up for this class if you have already taken either of those courses.


Eng. 105: Comprehensive Examination/Masters (14024)
Eng. 105: Comprehensive Examination/Doctoral (14104)
Eng. 105Q: Doctoral Qualifying Exam (14025)

Eng. 900: Master’s Research (12108)

Eng. 901: Readings and Research (10864)

Eng. 906: English Internship (14030)

Eng. 925: Maintaining Matriculation (MA) (10073)

Eng. 930: Maintaining Matriculation (DA) (10072)


Eng. 975: Doctoral Research Essay (DA) Workshop (11665) (1 credit)

This is the one-credit version of Eng. 975, only to be taken after the student has completed one semester of the three-credit version of Eng. 975.