Fall 2021 Graduate Course Offerings





ENG. 110: Introduction to the Profession (71651)

T. 5:00 – 7:00 PM (Hybrid Synchronous)

Dr. Jennifer Travis

Email: travisj@stjohns.edu

This course introduces students to graduate work in English. We will explore tools and techniques for scholarly research, practice strategies for successful academic writing, and discuss pedagogical models and methods. MA and PhD students are welcome. The course will alternate between in-person and Zoom meetings. For more information, contact Dr. Jennifer Travis, travisj@stjohns.edu.


Medieval Travel Writing

T. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Nicole Rice

Email: ricen@stjohns.edu

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. 802: Topics in Film Authors (75333)

David Lynch

R. 2:50 – 4:50

PM Dr. Scott Combs

Email: combss@stjohns.edu

This course focuses on films, televisual series, and visual works of David Lynch, starting with his early work (Eraserhead, The Elephant Man) and continuing through three decades of innovative films. We will take as an occasion for reflecting on Lynch’s body of work his most recent sequel of Twin Peaks, and to that end we will discuss both installations of that series in depth. Our discussion will center on issues such as seriality, surrealism, themes of personal liberation, humor, race, and the politics of working against mainstream formula. A select number of critical or theoretical readings will accompany these discussions.


ENG. 820: The Christian Imagination (75332)

Religion and Literature

M. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Stephen Sicari

Email: sicaris@stjohns.edu

“Religion” has become suspect in literary studies, often for good reason, as it has become associated with reactionary politics and outdated codified beliefs. In this course we will see if literature can rescue religion from such a fate. Charles Taylor, in his magisterial A Secular Age, documents in exhaustive detail the changing status of religion in a world increasingly dominated by instrumental reason and empirical science. He does not come to the sloppy conclusion that there is a loss or absence of religion or belief but that they have undergone changes in order to persist and even flourish in a secular world. We will see how certain writers respond to this situation, not by abandoning religious experience and belief but by breaking with old forms in an effort to “make it new.” We will begin with T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Four Quartets, in which he enacts a “modernist reformation” of religion. This will set up our reading of a series of texts, mostly novels, from after World War II. These will include: Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Chimamanda Adiche’s Purple Hibiscus; James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Toni Morrison’s Beloved; Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead; and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. By reading these text texts in this context, we may come to tentative but provocative conclusions about how literature can renew religious experience and render it viable for people living in “a secular age.”


ENG. 875: Feminist Theory (74886)

M. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. LaToya Sawyer

Email: sawyerl@stjohns.edu

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 events led to contention over what a feminist future could and should look like. After recent social, political, and racial upheavals, 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, and 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, expressions, and praxis as well as 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 the following texts: This Bridge Called My Back, Sister Outsider, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, Hood Feminisms, and Glitch Feminism.


ENG. 877: Workshop in Fiction (75335)

T. 7:10 – 9:10 PM

Professor Gabriel Brownstein

Email: brownstg@stjohns.edu

“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. This semester, we’ll explore the intersection of the visual and the literary imagination, both in literary metaphor, and in the creative process. The exercises we work through will come from Lynda Barry’s genre-defying book, Picture This. Simultaneously, we’ll read and study stories by Franz Kafka and novels by Kazuo Ishiguro—two serious fantasists whose central metaphors speak to the position of the isolated, fabricated body within a crushing, dehumanized world. Students will write a series of exercises, culminating in the creation of their own, original short fiction.


ENG. 878: Workshop in Poetry & Poetics (75337)

R. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Professor Lee Ann Brown

Email: brownl@stjohns.edu

In our weekly seminar, we will link readings in contemporary poetry and poetics which will lead to the writing of new poems and individual poetics statements. A special focus for the semester will be new, evolving delivery systems for poetry. Course materials include on-line resources, videos, and anthologies as well as single author volumes. Required texts include The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms, internet resources such as https://poets.org/ and https://www.poetryfoundation.org/ plus other readings TBA. Playing with a range of traditional and experimental poetic forms, students will develop original manuscripts of at least 22 pages by end of semester, as well as a final presentation. Willingness to try out and share new forms and modes of writing in a participatory setting required.


ENG. 975: Doctoral Research (71415)

M. 5:00 – 7:00 PM (Hybrid Synchronous)

Dr. Kathleen Lubey

Email: lubeyk@stjohns.edu

This workshop is a community for beginning your dissertation, one intended to smooth the transition as you become independent writers and scholars. We’ll move through the early stages of project formation, exploring questions like: what texts or subjects do I care most about, and how do I build a dissertation around them? With whom am I in conversation, and what do I want to contribute to my field(s)? How will my dissertation constitute me as an academic professional? Where is my work the most original, the most mine? How will I organize it? Our goals will be concrete: you will leave the course either with a dissertaton prospectus drafted, revised, and approved, or (if you’ve completed that step) a chapter or chapter section drafted and revised. This course does not substitute for but rather complements ongoing communication with your dissertation advisor and/or committee, so we’ll also develop strategies for staying in touch with your readers, soliciting feedback, and conducting revision. By the end of the semester, students will have set clear goals for the independent continuation and completion of their dissertation. We’ll meet weekly for a two-hour workshop that will include peer editing, in-class writing exercises and brainstorming, and discussion of relevant issues in dissertation writing. During our first meeting, we will decide if we want to meet regularly in person, or alternate between in-person and Zoom meetings.


ENG. 105: Comprehensive Portfolio/Masters (72608)

Course designation for MA students in their last semester of coursework if they choose the Portfolio option rather than the M.A. thesis.


ENG. 105: Comprehensive Portfolio/Doctoral (72609)


ENG. 105Q: Doctoral Qualifying Exam (72610)

Preparation for and oral examination in three scholarly fields of the doctoral student’s devising, in consultation with three faculty mentors/examiners.


ENG. 105T: Master’s Thesis Defense (73895)

Placeholder designation for students who have written the M.A. thesis in the previous semester and who are in their last semester of coursework. Please only register for this class if you have already registered for ENG 900 in the previous semester and have completed or are intending to complete the thesis as your capstone project for the MA. Students who are pursuing the Portfolio as their capstone project should register instead for ENG 105.


ENG. 900: Master’s Research (70523)

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 (74058)

Independent readings and research supervised by, and in conversation with, a faculty mentor.


ENG. 906: English Internship (74479)


ENG. 925: Maintaining Matriculation (MA) (70068)

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) (70067)

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 (71416) (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

About Steve Mentz 1258 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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