Fall 2023 Graduate Course Offerings



T. 5:00 – 7:00 PM


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


R. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. Anne Ellen Geller

Email: gellera@stjohns.edu

Why is everyone inside (and outside) of education suddenly so concerned about AI text generators like ChatGPT? Central to developing an informed critical and theoretical stance on an issue like this one is a deep understanding of authorship and textual ownership. In Authorship, Ownership, Appropriation and the Remix we will consider how the boundaries of authorship are gatekept, maintained, or fluidly expanded as a wide range of texts are created, shared, owned, and exchanged through academic writing, through creative writing and artistic production, through business, and through everyday life. We’ll read and think about mixing and sampling, ghostwriting, co-authorship, plagiarism, human and AI writing support, and our experiences with text creation inside and outside of school. Throughout the semester we’ll consider the responsibility educators at all levels have for learning about the technological, ethical, and sociocultural-historical questions informing the creation and sharing of texts.


M. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. Brian Lockey

Email: lockeyb@stjohns.edu

The Globe Theatre was Londoners’ window on the world, where inhabitants of the city could explore the foreign and the exotic. This course will consider representations of national, racial, and religious identities from around the globe, with a special emphasis on the Mediterranean as a region dominated by the clash of empires. We will explore English fiction from the critical perspective of the “Mediterranean turn” which has transformed the field of early modern studies. We will examine a diverse array of literary constructions of the dangerous, seductive, and sometimes exotic foreign identities that English writers of fiction seemed both to fear and to desire. We will consider the vexed relationship between England and the transnational Christian commonwealth, portrayals of hybrid identity, the way in which the English nation itself and Christendom were compared to female bodies, as well as how foreign lands were often figured as feminine and pliant to the conquering European. Among the works that we will read are Shakespeare’s Othello, the Moor of Venice, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Merchant of Venice, Philip Massinger’s The Renegado, Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.


M. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Dohra Ahmad

Email: ahmadd@stjohns.edu

This class will investigate the multiple origins and manifestations of postcolonial theory. In the second half of the twentieth century, postcolonial theory (or “postcolonialism,” for short) emerged from and in conversation with many other intellectual and political movements, including anti-colonial nationalism, poststructuralism, Marxism, and feminism. After spending some time studying the central debates within each of these movements, we’ll then look at the ways that postcolonialism has absorbed and reshaped newer critical schools like queer theory and ecocriticism. We’ll end the semester with independent research into postcolonialism’s intersections with other areas that interest you, for example children’s literature studies, composition and rhetoric, popular music studies, disability studies, or any others. All semester, we’ll be using literary texts (i.e. novels, poems, short stories, and personal essays) to elucidate the overlaps and tensions among these many incarnations of postcolonialism.

ENG. 761: CARIBBEAN LITERATURE, CULTURE & THEORY (75116) C. L. R. James, Frantz Fanon, & Sylvia Wynter

R. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Raj Chetty

Email: chettyr@stjohns.edu

This course will study three of the most influential Caribbean thinkers, activists, and writers of the 20th century, C. L. R. James, Frantz Fanon, and Sylvia Wynter. Each of these intellectuals has had their work resonate far beyond the physical and temporal scope of their interventions, in terms of both academic/scholarly influence and engagement by a broader activist public. Each of them also has published across a wide variety of genres in their respective body of work, from short and long fiction to plays to the essays or non-fiction prose for which they are better known. In the course we will read selected writings by all three from across the genres in which they made their literary-politico-cultural interventions, and discuss how these interventions’ different forms or genres worked in different ways to combat colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, and anti-blackness. We will also interrogate the way their writings at various times challenged or reproduced normative ideas about gender and sexuality.


W. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Prof. Gabriel Brownstein

Email: brownstg@stjohns.edu

This is a class in which serious students of literature get to play with writing their own fiction. We’ll think about storytelling not so much as invention, but as combination, the process the Russian theorist Victor Shklovsky called “defamiliarization,” of bringing unlike things together, so as to see them in unexpected ways. Students will write a series of exercises and experiments, culminating in original works of art, and they will present their writing to class for discussion and critique. In our readings, we’ll focus on realist representations of love, mostly looking at short fiction, starting with Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie and working backward to Anton Chekhov—we’ll begin with twenty-first century writers and go back through the twentieth century to the nineteenth. We’re going to define love broadly, from eros to filiation, and we’ll think about love in the abstract a little, reading the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Chekhov plus Levinas presents a problem: the problem of how to represent love, a thing we cannot really ever know.



T. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls

Email: smallss@stjohns.edu

This course introduces students to the foundational tenets of performance studies, a transdisciplinary field which studies cultural enactments (politics, festivals, social media, speeches, religion, rituals, art fields, and everyday life) to critically engage how these same enactments impact the local and the global. This course gives the students the ability to use a performance lens to engage texts of all types: literary fiction, graphic novels, plays, films and television, archives, nonfiction, poetry, everyday life, as well as other forms of writing and communication. This class will place particular emphasis on the relationship of performance to the dynamism of social culture, investigating the link between performance and race, gender, class, and sexuality. This class should be of interest to those compelled by performance, performative writing, popular culture, journalism, art, aesthetics, and cultural studies. There will be four main emphases in this course: performance and technology; performance and race; performance, gender, and sexuality; performance as performance. Students are required to attend at least one live performance during this course. Readings/viewings include: Ruha Benjamin, Jose Munoz, Josh Chambers-Letson, Tina Campt, AI/ChatGPT, and more.


M. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. Amy King

Email: kinga@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 will move through the early stages of project formation, exploring questions such as: 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 with a dissertation prospectus drafted, revised, and approved, and/or (if you have 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 will 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 will meet weekly (sometimes in person, and sometimes online synchronous) for a two-hour workshop that will include peer editing, in-class writing exercises and brainstorming, and discussion of relevant issues in dissertation writing.

ENG. 105: Comprehensive Portfolio/Masters (72034)

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 (72035)

ENG. 105Q: Doctoral Qualifying Exam (72036)

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 (73116)

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 (70413)

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 (73200)

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

ENG. 906: English Internship (73451)

ENG. 925: Maintaining Matriculation (MA) (70049)

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 (PhD) (70048)

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 (1 credit) (71140)

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.