Spring 2023 Graduate Course Offerings



ENG. 100: Modern Critical Theories (14062)

M. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. Steven Mentz

Email: mentzs@stjohns.edu

This course introduces students to current modes in critical theory with two primary goals in mind. First, students will become skilled readers of contemporary theoretical writings, developing tools for interpretation and application of these works. Second, students will come to understand themselves as practical theorists, recognizing moments in critical theory that match their interests and ambitions. Primary readings will include feminist theory, queer theory, disability theory, ecocriticism, Marxism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, post-colonial studies, and critical race theory. Alongside these theoretical works we will read Kim Stanley Robinson’s utopian sci-fi novel New York 2140 and a selection of contemporary poems. Each student will present an oral report, lead an online discussion section, and write a seminar paper on a topic of their choosing.

ENG. 140: Topics in Theory (15165) Gender, Sexuality, Pornography

M. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Kathleen Lubey

Email: lubeyk@stjohns.edu

Pornography is often dismissed in our culture as an embarrassment, a debased genre, a source of violence and misogyny. Through what Eve Sedgwick calls “reparative reading,” we can challenge these automated assumptions, adopting a willingness to be surprised or enriched by what the genre shows us. It will be our working hypothesis that because pornography so brazenly displays bodies, actions, and collisions between people, it foregrounds sex and gender, showing them to be unstable, experimental, and at times radical in their capacity to resist the social status quo. We’ll attempt to read for such critical meaning within and around the genre’s lavish genital descriptions. (We will read explicitly sexual texts that sometimes—but not always—contain violence, racism, homophobia, and sex with minors. We’ll work together to establish a safe environment for discussing this content.) We’ll consider examples of pornography from across historical periods—John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1749), selections from the Marquis de Sade (1795), The Lustful Turk (1827), Sins of the Cities of the Plain (1881), Pauline Réage’s Story of O (1954), scenes from the “golden age” of 1970s cinematic pornography and from the internet era—to come up with a working definition of the genre that acknowledges its history, diversity, and complexity. In conjunction with these texts, we’ll read in the history of sexuality, feminist theory, transgender studies, and porn studies to establish a context for thinking about how pornography generates its own account of pleasure, action, personhood, and (even?) social justice. Theorists will include Stephen Marcus, Michel Foucault, Andrea Dworkin, Audre Lorde, Samuel Delany, Frances Ferguson, Jennifer Nash, Mirielle Miller-Young, Julia Serano, Emi Koyama, Anne Koedt, Anjali Arondekar, Heather Berg, Linda Williams, and Leo Bersani. With and around these critics, we’ll ask, what can pornography tell us that theory cannot? Or, how does pornography function on its own, as theory, in a way other kinds of writing and performance cannot?

ENG. 260: Medieval Romance (15192)

T. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Nicole Rice

Email: ricen@stjohns.edu

In this course we will study the romance, one of the most engaging medieval European literary forms, from twelfth-century France to fifteenth-century England. No previous knowledge of medieval literature is required, and texts will be in translation. Focusing mainly on Arthurian romances, with a few exceptions, we will trace the genre’s complex representations of chivalry, race, religion, sexuality, nationality, and monstrosity. Our primary readings will include Chrétien’s Romance of Lancelot (paired with the wacky Art of Courtly Love); Béroul’s over-the-top Romance of Tristan; Marie de France’s lais (mysterious short romances); the tale of the cross-dressing knight Silence; the racial and religious conversion romance The King of Tars; and the eerie classic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. We will enhance our readings with medieval manuscript images and essays by critics including Matilda Bruckner, J. J. Cohen, Carolyn Dinshaw, Geraldine Heng, Ruth Karras, Eric Weiskott, and Cord Whitaker.

ENG. 300: Shakespeare & Early Modern Studies (14911) Turks, Moors and Early Modern Christendom

T. 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Dr. Brian Lockey

Email: lockeyb@stjohns.edu

This course will consider a number of works of Renaissance English drama and fiction within the context of what contemporary Europeans perceived as the ongoing conflict between Christendom and the Muslim Ottoman Turks. As we shall see, Protestant England, marginal as it was to the rest of Europe, had a unique perspective on the conflict. Most fictional portrayals of Moors and Turks during the English Renaissance conformed to negative ethnic, religious and racial stereotypes of the infidel that existed throughout Continental Europe, but there were more complex portrayals as well, the most famous of which is William Shakespeare’s character Othello. In this course, we will consider some important works of English fiction as responses to popular perceptions of the conflict between Christendom and Islam, focusing on those works in which Arabs, Moors, and Turks assume a prominent role. We will examine a diverse array of literary constructions of the Moor and the Turk, as well as other dangerous, seductive, and exotic foreigners that English writers of fiction seemed both to fear and to perceive as fascinating. We will consider the vexed relationship between England and continental Europe, portrayals of hybrid identity, the way in which the English nation and Christendom were figured as male and 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 Titus Andronicus, Antony and Cleopatra, and Othello, the Moor of Venice, Philip Massinger’s The Renegado, Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

ENG. 730: Literary Modernism: Joyce’s Ulysses (at) 101. (14910)

T. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. Stephen Sicari

Email: sicaris@stjohns.edu

The title suggests both an introduction and a celebration. Ulysses was published in 1922, so we missed the centennial; but it’s never too late to celebrate the most important and most rewarding (and most enjoyable) novel of the twentieth century. We will read, very quickly, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which develops one of the three main characters of Ulysses and helps sets the stage for Joyce’s effort to write a novel capable of bearing the weight and significance of the epic. There are many ways to approach Ulysses, and we’ll work to understand and apply some of these: as the central text of literary modernism; as the culmination of the history of the novel; as a modernist epic or allegory; as a postcolonial novel. But our first and main goal is to appreciate Joyce’s novel as the comic masterpiece it is.

ENG. 800: Forms & Themes In Film (14908) Queer Horror

W. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Dr. Scott Combs

Email: combss@stjohns.edu

Exploring the term in a theoretical and expanded sense, this course looks at queerness alongside horror. We will study intersections between horror cinema and queer theory/lives. Weekly screenings on your own, and weekly readings, are required. We will look at films that range from early and silent cinema to contemporary examples.

ENG. 878: Workshop in Poetry & Poetics (14907)

R. 2:50 – 4:50 PM

Professor Lee Ann Brown

Email: brownl@stjohns.edu

Graduate exploratory workshop in poetry and poetics using contemporary models as well as a sampling of traditional and experimental poetic forms and procedures. Students will write weekly to compile a poetry chapbook-sized manuscript of at least 22 pages, as well as take part in class discussion and prose response to literary events and readings.

ENG. 885: Topics in Cultural Studies (14913) Black Women’s Rhetoric

R. 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Dr. LaToya Sawyer

Email: sawyerl@stjohns.edu

This seminar will expand and go beyond ethos, logos, pathos and other common understandings of rhetorical theory derived from Greco-Roman rhetorical traditions in order to explore how Black women take up the productive arts of persuasion through various genres of composition, performance, and embodiment. The course will consider the intersections of race, gender, and geography among other social categories in order to understand the specificity of rhetorical production of women of African descent in the U.S. and its socio-political and economic implications for Black women and the larger society. Through foundational and emergent print, digital, and audio-visual texts, we will analyze and theorize Black women’s underrecognized rhetorical resources, labor, and agency as well as the larger political project of Black women’s rhetoric which is to be and be free within the contexts of white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy. This seminar is well-suited for those at any level of knowledge of rhetorical theory. Course texts will include Traces of a Stream, Check it While I Wreck It, Daughter of the Dust, Eloquent Rage, and Redefining Realness.

ENG. 105: Comprehensive Portfolio/Masters (11971)

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 (11996)

ENG. 105P: Doctoral Dissertation Defense (13693)

ENG. 105Q: Doctoral Qualifying Exam (11972)

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 (12255)

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 (11313)

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 (10595)

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

ENG. 906: English Internship (11974)

ENG. 925: Maintaining Matriculation (MA) (10053)

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) (10052)

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 (PhD) Workshop (11084) (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 1264 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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