ENG. 100: Modern Critical Theories (12868)
M. 7:10 – 9:10 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. 140: Topics in Theory (15039)
“Creating Nature”: Activism, Theory, and the Environmental Humanities
T. 2:50 – 4:50 PM
Dr. Steven Mentz
How can the humanities respond to environmental catastrophe? We will launch our discussions through two calls to arms, Rachel Carson’s 1962 Silent Spring, which is often credited with kicking off modern American environmentalism, and Pope Francis’s 2015 Laudato Si, which aims to do the same in our own period of global environmental crisis. Students will be encouraged to bring their own ongoing academic research and their own environmental experiences into our seminar. The course will introduce students to the discourse of the Environmental Humanities, theories of the Anthropocene or “Age of Man,” competing strands in sustainability and post-sustainability ecology, questions of environmental and racial justice, and other elements of eco-thought. We will focus on the meeting of theory and activism by traveling to several sites of environmental damage in Queens, including Dead Horse Bay and Newtown Creek. The course will also shadow some ideas and concepts that will be presented in a major Environmental Humanities symposium at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, in late May 2019, which students will be invited to attend.
ENG. 440: Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century (15037)
M. 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Dr. Kathleen Lubey
This course will study the British eighteenth century as a period of sexuality in flux in Western culture. Reading primary texts of various genres written between 1660 and 1750, we will discover a wide variety of sexualities recognized in literature of the period. These include chastity, sodomy, sapphism, transgendering, polyamory, prostitution, marriage, and heterosexuality. Sex acts figure as messy convergences of private experience, social obligation, and public life. We’ll approach these complex encounters with questions like: Was sexual difference taken for granted? What counted as sexual intercourse? Was conventional femininity quietly accepted by women? What was the impact of sexual prosthetics on identity? Could sex work serve a public good? What was the place of sodomy within masculine homosociality? Such questions—and many more—are urgently posed and rearticulated during this era that supposedly saw the coherence of the modern family, but whose literary representations question the ethics and appeal of heterosexuality and monogamy. We’ll encounter works that situate sex both reverently and irreverently. Primary texts will include essays, prose fiction, poetry, pornography, and conduct literature and will be read in conjunction with theoretical and critical work; authors will include many anonymous ones, as well as Behn, Haywood, Defoe, Cleland, Swift, Foucault, Laqueur, Lanser. Requirements include weekly attendance, active participation, one short paper, and a seminar paper. Trigger warning: many of the texts will directly discuss sex acts and sexual violence. Our conversations will aim at inclusivity and safety for all participants and will not assume binary gender or heterosexuality as norms.
ENG. 590: Topics in Nineteenth-Century Literature (15038)
The Novel and the British Empire
W. 2:50 – 4:50 PM
Dr. Rachel Hollander
In this course, we will explore the relationship between the nineteenth-century British novel (focusing especially on the end of the century) and colonialism, surveying some of the extremely rich theoretical and critical work in the field over the past thirty years. Designed in part as a “prequel” to the study of postcolonial literature, this class will examine the many ways in which England’s imperialist interests can be seen to underlie, or even constitute, the themes and forms of nineteenth-century fiction. Going back to the foundations of this field in Foucault’s understanding of discourse and power, we will consider the question of how “nation and narration” function together, and of the relationships between literature, politics, and authority. We will also think about the relationship between post-colonial theory and class, gender, queer theory, and ecocriticism. Theoretical/critical readings may include Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Patrick Brantlinger, Gauri Viswanathan, Elaine Freedgood, Anne McClintock, Leela Gandhi, and Homi Bhabha. Novelists may include Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Joseph Conrad, and Rudyard Kipling.
ENG. 805: Reading the High School Canon (15035)
R. 2:50 – 4:50 PM
Dr. Dohra Ahmad
This course will examine the political and aesthetic underpinnings of contemporary United States high school curricula. Which books are most frequently assigned to U.S. high school students, and why? Which ones could be, but aren’t? And what are the underlying judgments, assumptions, and pedagogical priorities that go into the shaping of these required reading lists? In order to consider those questions thoroughly, we will make use of theoretical and historical writings on canonicity, literary value, and secondary English education. While closely reading some of the most common high school texts, we will also investigate how and when those texts arrived at their present canonical position, and what ideological work they perform. Authors may include Octavia Butler, Maryse Condé, Frederick Douglass, William and Mary Craft, Herman Melville, George Orwell, and Mark Twain.
ENG. 875: Feminist Theory (15034)
T. 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Dr. LaToya Sawyer
In 2013, The Barnard Center for Research on Women reported that digital spaces were the most prominent platforms for feminist activism and Beyoncé declared herself a feminist. Both revelations led to contention over what a feminist future could and should look like. Five years later, the need to understand feminism’s past, present, and future is even greater. This seminar will focus on texts that provide historical and contemporary contexts and ideas that challenge the notion of a unified feminist theory, expression, or practice. Through a focus on intersectionality and examinations of recent controversies, we will examine the limitations of what has become known as mainstream feminism. This seminar will highlight and represent the plurality of past and present feminist theories and expressions and their significance for popular culture, feminist scholarship, pedagogy, and activism today. Collectively, we will work to uncover possibilities of what the future of feminism can be in theory and practice. Readings will include: This Bridge Called My Back, Sister Outsider, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, The Crunk Feminist Collection, and Eloquent Rage.
ENG. 877: Workshop in Fiction (15036)
R. 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Professor Gabriel Brownstein
“And I said, with rapture: Here is something I can study all my life, and never understand.” That’s from Samuel Beckett, Molloy, talking about bees, but of course it’s a metaphor for language and for storytelling.
This class is a workshop in fiction, in the short story. The class will allow graduate students to approach their ideas about narrative from the point of view of a writer; that is to say, to use their language to think dramatically and ironically.
It will also serve an introduction to the contemporary US short story. We’ll read a wide variety of short fiction, a form in crisis for a world in crisis.
ENG. 880: Topics Interdisciplinary Studies (15040)
Anti/Blackness: Philosophy & Figuration
M. 2:50 PM – 4:50 PM
Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls
This course takes seriously the structure of global antiblack violence, which expresses itself from the quotidian through the horrific. If we understand policing of Black bodies by the State and by private white (or white aspirational) citizenry as structural and inherent to patriarchal capitalism, we aren’t surprised when Black people are arrested for using a bathroom at Starbucks, harassed for having cookouts, sleeping in their dorm’s common room, or asked to prepay for meals at restaurants.
This course explores the philosophical tenets of antiblackness, afropessimism, and afrofuturism through critical theory, literature, visual culture, and social media. Moving away from humanistic and liberal calls for “equality,” or worse, “diversity,” this course examines why The Black, as a figure, must always be rendered dangerous, suspect, and inhuman in order to make whiteness legible and “natural.”
The course is divided into three section: Philosophy, Literature, and Visual Culture. Philosophy readings will include: Hortense Spillers, Sylvia Wynter, Sadiya Hartman, Zakiyah Iman Jackson, Jared Sexton, Calvin Warren, Achille Mbembe, and others. Literature will include Octavia Butler, Tomi Adeyemi, and Nnedi Okorafor. Visual culture will include Arthur Jaffe, Wangechi Mutu, Simone Leigh, Terrance Nance, Kara Walker, and Hank Willis Thomas.
Eng. 105: Comprehensive Portfolio/Masters (13093)
Course designation for for MA students in their last semester of coursework if they choose the Portfolio option rather than the M.A. thesis.
Eng. 105Q: Doctoral Qualifying Exam (13094)
Preparation for and oral examination in three scholarly fields of the doctoral student’s devising, in consultation with three faculty mentors/examiners.
Eng. 900: Master’s Research (11865)
M.A. thesis; capstone project of the M.A. student’s devising, written in consultation with a mentor and several faculty readers.
Eng. 901: Readings and Research (10778)
Independent readings and research supervised by, and in conversation with, a faculty mentor.
Eng. 925: Maintaining Matriculation (MA) (10068)
Designation for M.A. students pausing studies for personal reasons not medical in nature; a zero-credit course, available for no more than two consecutive semesters.
Eng. 930: Maintaining Matriculation (DA) (10067)
Designation for Ph.D. students pausing studies for personal reasons not medical in nature; a zero-credit course, available for no more than two consecutive semesters.
Eng. 975: Doctoral Research Essay (DA) Workshop (11478) (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.
Doctoral research colloquium or independent doctoral research supervised by doctoral committee.