Graduate Seminars - Spring 2008
5303.001 Studies in Medieval LiteratureJulie Nelson-Couch
Magic and Miracle: The Heroes and Saints of Medieval Romance
The thematic overlap between the lives of the chivalrous and the religious has drawn readers to acknowledge the “limited meaningfulness” of genre distinctions that do not take into account the structures, ideologies, and readers shared by romances and saints' lives. An awareness of blurred boundaries between medieval heroes and saints will direct our reading in this course. We will trace the medieval genre of romance and its relationship to medieval saints lives (hagiography). We will begin with early medieval romances and the role they played in constructing aristocratic self-conceptions. We will then trace the romance through its English manifestations with their less elite concerns about family and institutional religion and their closer correspondences to saints lives. Reading assignments will enable comparisons of romance and hagiographic versions of similar narratives. We will explore the cultural, ideological concerns which underlie generic similarities and variances. In addition to writing a conference-length paper on a romance or saint's life, each student will produce a final project which articulates a relation between a text not covered in the reading assignments and the genres of medieval romance and hagiography.
*This course satisfies the requirements for British literature pre-1700 and Genre: Poetry.
5304.001 Studies in Renaissance LiteratureConstance Kuriyama
Authorship in Renaissance Drama
This course will focus on the intertextuality of major works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, particularly Marlowe, and on the implications of these texts for the issue of authorship in general. The course will require study of closely related plays of these authors. Topics covered will include artistic movements; literary influence and the anxieties and strategies it generates; humanist education and the classical tradition in Renaissance literature; authorial collaboration; commercial considerations, including the ownership, revival, and revision of popular plays; state censorship; and the role society and culture play in literary production, particularly in the production of drama. Finally, since Marlowe is sometimes suggested as the author of Shakespeare's plays, the course will attempt to answer the question of whether authorial individualism exists in these or any circumstances, and whether it is a proper concern of literary criticism.
Plays assigned will include Tamburlaine, Parts 1 and 2, Dr. Faustus, The Jew of Malta, and Edward II by Marlowe, and Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, and The Tempest by Shakespeare. Students will be required and encouraged to read relevant criticism, including influential discussions of authorship by Foucault and Barthes. Written work will include a short critical essay, a research paper, and a final examination.
*This course satisfies the requirements for British literature pre-1700 and Genre: Drama.
5307.001 Studies in 18th-Century British LiteratureJennifer Snead
Enlightenment and Christianity
This course will serve as an introduction to the main figures associated with the British and Continental Enlightenment of the late seventeenth and the eighteenth century, with a specific focus on how these figures conceptualized the role of Christian belief in society, education, epistemology, and individual identity. Through a wide range of philosophical writings, we'll explore the work of thinkers like Locke, Condorcet, Hobbes, Rousseau, Diderot, Bayle, Astell, and Hume on this issue -- and then examine the ways in which their ideas were disseminated and critiqued through the poetry and prose of the period. A crucial part of the course, however, will involve twentieth- and twenty-first century investigations of the enlightenment, and negotiations of its relationship to concepts of secularity, religion, modernity, and postmodernity. Eighteenth-century writers we may explore include: Toland, Pope, Addison, Thomson, Carter, Barbauld, Wollstonecraft. Contemporary writers might include Habermas, Horkheimer and Adorno, Gay, Taylor, Pecora, Schmidt.
*This course satisfies the requirement for British literature after 1700.
5313.001Studies in 20th-Century British LiteratureWilliam Wenthe
Twentieth Century British Poetry: Hardy and Others
By the 1920s W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot were the major figures in British Poetry; one might say “dominant” figures, in the sense that to younger poets, they and their Modernist modes represented a kind of defining presence in contemporary poetry, a presence not lessened by their recognition in the academy. Partly in reaction to Yeats and Eliot, some poets turned to a different, older model—Thomas Hardy, who, while self-proclaimed modernism was establishing itself in London in the ‘teens and ‘twenties, continued to write poems in the late-Romantic mode he inherited in the 1860's, and modulated with his singularly ironic sensibility. This course will look at Hardy, some poets influenced by Hardy, and others outside of the High Modernist mode. Among our heroes and heroines are Charlotte Mew, W. H. Auden, Stevie Smith, Philip Larkin, Eavan Boland, Thom Gunn. Requirements will be, in addition to careful reading and discussion, one short paper, one longer research paper, a class presentation.
*This course satisfies the requirements for British literature after 1700 and Genre: Poetry.
5317.001 Studies in Postcolonial LiteratureKanika Batra
Shadows, Ghosts, and Nervous Conditions: Nationalist and Post-Nationalist Hauntings
in Postcolonial Studies
Postcolonial studies as a body of critical and creative work implicitly or explicitly refers to European colonialism and/or forms of neo-colonialism practiced by postcolonial states in league with Western capitalist interests. Some of these writings are, in a sense, ‘possessed' by the memory of the nationalist ideals that provided the impetus for anti-colonial resistance; all are aware that there are new variants of imperialism that demand new forms of exorcism. We will read a selection of literature and theory from India, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe, originating in the now discredited but still used descriptor, ‘Commonwealth Literature', its transformation into ‘New Literatures in English' and, since 1989, with the publication of The Empire Writes Back, ‘Post-colonial Literatures'.
As an interdisciplinary mode of analysis that derives equally from the history of Western colonization in various parts of the world, a political response to it in the form of anti-colonial nationalist movements, cultural assertion of indigenous languages and traditions, an examination of the social consequences of colonialism and neocolonialism, and movements in response to these, postcolonial studies can be seen as an ‘overdetermined' discourse. And within its ambit is included an ever-widening array of literature and theory that does not follow traditionally accepted genre and period based characterizations of literary studies. However, despite this lack of definitional co-relates, it is possible to see two main currents shadowing each other in this literature: the articulation of an upper class diasporic and distinctly post-nationalist sensibility evinced in much post-colonial writing and a grassroots oriented consciousness that takes the nation and national development as the basis of its discourse. We will examine the possibility and desirability of dialogues between these currents through a set of readings comprising theoretical essays, fiction, short stories, and life-narratives. We will also be viewing some documentaries related to the central ideas in the course.
Course Requirements include 2 ten-minute class presentations during the semester; 4 two-page responses to the readings (2 on the literature and 2 on the theoretical readings) to be submitted in Weeks 2, 5, 8, 11; 1 short paper (5-6 pages) relating the history or politics of a nation to its literature; 1 research paper (15 pages). The paper can build on the research undertaken for the short paper but must use additional sources. Required reading includes The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures, by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin; Contemporary Postcolonial Theory: A Reader by Padmini Mongia (ed.); Brother Man by Roger Mais, Kwame Dawes; Lionheart Gal: Life Stories of Jamaican Women by Sistren, Honor Ford-Smith; Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga; Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh; Imaginary Maps by Mahasweta Devi, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; and Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje.
*This course satisfies the requirement for Genre: Nonfiction.
5323.001 Studies in 19th-Century American LiteratureJohn Samson
Survey of Poetry
The course will begin with a short look at the traditional poets—Bryant, Longfellow, and Poe—of the early part of the century, then examine Emerson's call for a new American poetry. Most of the course will concern the great poets of the American Renaissance: Whitman, Dickinson, and Melville. Finally, we will read and discuss the diverse poets of the last third of the century, including Lanier, Lazarus, Dunbar, and Robinson. Students will write three short (4 pp.) interpretive essays and a longer (15 pp.) research paper.
*This course satisfies the requirements for American literature pre-1900 and Genre: Poetry.
5324.001 Studies in 20th-Century American LiteratureYuan Shu
Representing Postmodern America
This course investigates postmodern American fiction as literary responses to the radical social, political, cultural, and technological changes in America since the 1960s. We begin by examining how the meta-fiction of Thomas Pynchon, William Burroughs, and Donald Barthelme breaks the narrative frame and creates new forms of reality. Moreover, we also reconsider how the work of Gloria Anzaldua, Jessica Hagedorn, Ishmael Reed, Gerald Vizenor, and Karen Tei Yamashita engages the issues of history, tradition, and culture from the perspectives of racial minorities and women in America. Finally, we read the cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, and the work of Don DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy in the context of the changing technological reality in America. During our discussion of these primary texts, we invoke and contest various notions of postmodernism as articulated by Ihab Hassan, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Fredric Jameson, David Harvey, Jean Baudrillard, Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, bell hooks, and Trinh Minh-ha.
Possible Texts: Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera; Don DeLillo, Mao II; Paula Geyh, ed. Postmodern American Fiction; William Gibson, Neuromancer; Jessica Hagedorn, The Dog-eaters; Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Ishmael Reed, Flight to Canada; Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash; Gerald Vizenor, The Heirs of Columbus; Karen Tei Yamashita, The Tropic of Orange. Requirements: two class presentations, one mid-term paper (5-6 pages), and one final paper (18-20 pages).
*This course satisfies the requirements for American literature after 1900 and Genre: Fiction.
5325.001 Studies in American FictionSara Spurgeon
Literature of the American Southwest
This course introduces students to a variety of texts from the region currently referred to as the American Southwest. We will explore traditional and contemporary Native American poetry, early Anglo adventure writing, postmodern Chicano fiction, and classic Southwestern nature writing, as well as review current theoretical and critical debates in the field. Some questions that will guide our discussions: What common threads run through these works? Where do the visions and voices of authors collide or overlap? How is the sense of this region imagined across cultures, histories, and into a globalized future?
Class Webpage: http://www.faculty.english.ttu.edu/spurgeon.
*This course satisfies the requirements for American literature after 1900 and Genre: Fiction.
5327.001 Studies in Multicultural American LiteratureMichael Borshuk
"Visualizing Swing": Jazz and 20th-Century Film
Two of the most influential American cultural products of the twentieth century, jazz and film have a long history together. (Recall, that the first Hollywood film to feature sound—The Jazz Singer—is, at least nominally, if not musically, a “jazz film.”) The two forms invite simultaneous consideration because of their historical relationship in the ongoing racial spectacles at the heart of American popular culture—spectacles that begin with early black-white contact in colonial America, and continue long after, in examples ranging from blackface minstrelsy to the voracious consumption of black vernacular music by white audiences. In twentieth-century film, jazz often functions as a representation of itself (that is, as a dramatization of the creative process that thrives on improvisation and was inaugurated by African American innovators), but also as a metonymic sign of various untested racial and sexual assumptions lingering at the heart of American popular culture.
This course will consider how jazz functions in twentieth-century film, and begins with critic Krin Gabbard's argument that “[a]s jazz and narrative film—two areas in which Americans can claim some unique achievements—grew up together during the twentieth century, a jazz mythology developed to meet the needs of the paying audience.” We will try to limn the contours of that mythology with specificity, in detail, as we consider film appearances by famous jazz musicians; films that dramatize the jazz creative process and jazz musician's “lifestyle;” films that offer romanticized biographies of key artists in the idiom; and jazz as a resonant background context in films that otherwise aren't “about” the music itself. Students will be expected to make an in-class seminar presentation, keep an ongoing online reading journal/blog, and compose an article-style research paper. Films will be screened in their entirety outside of class each week before we discuss them as a group, but students also have the option of finding these films on their own and watching them to suit their own schedule.
Tentative Film List: The Jazz Singer (1927); King of Jazz (1930); Check and Double-Check (1931); Cabin in the Sky (1943); DOA (1950); The Sweet Smell of Success (1957); Sweet Love, Bitter (1968); Lady Sings the Blues (1972); Space is the Place (1974); Round Midnight (1986); Bird (1988); Mo' Better Blues (1990); Kansas City (1996). Plus various live-action and animated shorts.
Tentative Reading List: Margo A. Kasdan, et al, The Critical Eye: An Introduction to Looking at Movies; Krin Gabbard, Jammin' at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema; Krin Gabbard, ed., Representing Jazz (selected essays); Michael Rogin, Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot (excerpts); Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (excerpts); John Strausbaugh, Black Like You: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture (excerpts); Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (excerpts).
*This course satisfies the requirements for American literature after 1900 and Genre: Film/Drama.
5334.001 History of the English LanguageBrian McFadden
We will be examining the history and development of the English language from its
origins in Anglo-Saxon England to debates of the present day; this entails studying
the internal history, external history, and the development of its morphology, phonology,
semantics, and syntax. As an Old English scholar, I will approach this class in a
more literary and philological way than a linguistics scholar would; however, we will
touch on linguistic matters when appropriate. The requirements will be a seminar paper
on a topic of interest to the study of English as a language, a prospectus at midterm
in order to give me an idea of what you wish to discuss in the essay, and an oral
presentation on your topic in the last third of the semester.
*This course comprises 1/3 of the sequence toward high proficiency in English philology and, for the Linguistics concentration, satisfies the requirement for British literature pre-1700.
5338.001 SyntaxMinjoo Kim
Syntax is a subfield of linguistics that is concerned with the make-up of a sentence,
that is, how words and phrases are put together to produce grammatical sentences.
This course aims to introduce the fundamental principles of theoretical syntax, and
to prepare students to pursue and conduct more advanced study and research in syntax.
Students will learn the analytical methods used in syntactic research: how to analyze
syntactic data drawn from various languages, how to formulate plausible hypotheses
based on them, and how to compare and evaluate different theories and/or hypotheses.
Topics will include phrase structure rules, binding, and locality conditions (e.g.,
constraints on movement as in wh-questions).
*This course is a requirement for the concentration in Linguistics.
5342.001 Critical MethodsBruce Clarke
Students in this seminar will be initiated into the mysteries of literary theory by walking barefoot upon the hot coals of primary theoretical texts. We will consult the Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory for broad bearings on key thinkers and schools, and we will read Jonathan Culler's The Literary in Theory to familiarize ourselves with current issues and debates in the field. Beyond that, rather than read a slew of snippets or isolated articles in a dreary anthology, we will approach a number of master theorists in their own seminal volumes. Readings are likely to include large portions of Roland Barthes, Image-Music-Text (1977); Paul de Man, Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust (1979); Jacques Derrida, Dissemination (1981); J. Hillis Miller, Fiction and Repetition: Seven English Novels (1982); Homi Bhabha, “DissemiNation” in Nation and Narration (1990); Slavoj Zizek, Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (1992); Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (1993); and Cary Wolfe, Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003). Classes will be in seminar discussion format. Students will give several formal class reports and write two critical essays.
*This course satisfies the requirement for Foundations.
5343.001 Studies in Literary CriticismAnn Hawkins
Histories and Theories of the Book
This course will examine the relationships between books and the texts they embody – not only because that embodiment is important in its own right, but because (as many theorists argue) understanding the social and material construction of texts is essential to understanding literary works at all. The first unit of the course will provide on an overview of the history of the book across cultures, examining early writing technologies, like stone, clay, bark, papyrus, hide, and paper. After that we'll progress historically, moving to manuscript production, to the transition to print, then to industrial production practices beginning in the nineteenth-century, and end with the rise of digital texts with the Internet.
For each moment of historical progression we'll examine texts in their original forms—Gilgamesh on stone tablet; Sappho on papyrus fragments; Chaucer in thirteen manuscripts, each one presenting a different “Chaucer”; Anne Bradstreet in manuscript and in print; Cervantes in two books; Balzac in the print shop; born-digital texts; etc—and consider how those original forms shaped reception. This experience with books as material objects will lead us to theoretical questions: what is the nature of the book? What is the nature of the author? How did the idea of authorship (and the resulting issue of copyright) develop? What is the role of the author, the publisher, and the reader in the production of textual meaning? What is the nature of the reader? How do we understand the place of the reader, given that evidence of reading (as opposed to sales) is hard to determine? What can we learn from marginalia? What cultural forces lead to censorship or banning of books? What is the nature of materiality? Are internet books material?
*This course satisfies the requirement for a comparative literature elective for students pursuing the MA concentration in comparative literature.
5351.001 Studies in FilmMichael Schoenecke
Everyone who sees films based on written texts feels able to comment, at levels ranging
from the gossipy to the erudite, on the nature and success of the adaptation involved.
Interest in adaptation, unlike many other aspects of film, permeates our world. And
it ranges backwards and forwards from those who talk of novels as being “betrayed”
by boorish filmmakers to those who regard the practice of comparing film and written
texts as a waste of time. Filmmakers have been drawing on literary sources, particularly
novels of varying degrees of cultural prestige, since film first established itself
as pre-eminently a narrative medium. In view of this fact, and given that there has
been a long-running discourse on the nature of the connections between literature
and cinema, it is surprising how little systematic, sustained attention has been given
to the process of adaptation. This is most surprising since the issue of adaptation
has attracted critical attention for more than sixty years in a way that few other
film-related issues have. English 5351 will address the major approaches to the study
of adaptation. Most discussions of adaptation are narrow. In fact, most discussions
of adaptation in film can be summarized by a New Yorker cartoon that Alfred Hitchcock
once described to Francois Truffaut: two goats are eating a pile of film cans and
one goat says to the other, “Personally, I liked the book better.”
*This course satisfies the requirements for American literature after 1900 and Genre: Film/Drama.
5353.001 Studies in PoetryJohn Poch
Forms and Functions
In W.S. Merwin's essay “On Open Form” he states, “The consideration of the evolution of forms, strict or open, belongs largely to history and to method. The visitation that is going to be a poem finds the form it needs in spite of both.'” In this class we will study a variety of verse forms and formal techniques, especially traditional forms that emphasize regular accentual syllabic structures. We will investigate history, method, and the forms “in spite of” and, as a result of, tradition. We will begin with meter and rhythm in verse, types of rhyme, examine blank verse, and discover the formal qualities and quantities of couplets, villanelles, sonnets, sestinas, nonce forms, prose poems, and odes. Just to wet your whistle, a few of the poets we will consider: Pindar, Stallings, Williamson, Lowell, Meredith, Brock, Wilbur, Cullen, Frost, Schnackenberg, Alvarez, Hacker, Auden, Dickinson, Bishop, Edson, Tate, Walcott, Ashbery, Hejinian. Creative writing students are encouraged to work within the given forms and submit a portfolio of seven poems and a brief introductory statement rather than write the required term paper. There will be a final exam.
*This course satisfies the requirement for Genre: Poetry if the student writes the term paper rather than the portfolio of seven poems.
5355.001 Studies in Comparative LiteratureAnn Daghistany Ransdell
Gendered Chthonic Realities
This course will ask the question, is madness a gendered political label? We will explore the archetypes of Dionysus and Inanna, and their impact on the cthonic dimension of literature, demonstrated in the mystery, madness and magical works. It will examine whether or not the male and female characters experience the "inner darkness" differently. Is the heroic journey within, undertaken for the sake of psychic integration, weighted differently for the male and female characters? Contemporary films of three fictions that we read will be shown in class to provide a novel/film comparison of character and theme.
Required texts: Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth; Euripides, The Bacchae; Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted; Poe, Arthur Gordon Pym and Related Tales; Teresa Goddu, Gothic America: Narrative, History and Nation; Mary Elene Wood, The Writing on the Wall: Women's Autobiography and the Asylum; and a course packet. Requirements include a long comparative paper (minimum 8 pages), an oral presentation of that paper, three short film/text character analysis papers, a final, and class attendance. One absence only is allowed without penalty.
*This course satisfies the requirement for Genre: Fiction.
5370.001 Studies in Creative WritingJill Patterson
In this course, students will study the contemporary memoir. We'll take a look at different methods of nonfiction narration: traditional first-person, lyric or montage, mixed genre, reportage, and meta-narratives. We'll be reading from numerous literary journals, including those which focus specifically upon creative nonfiction—Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, Pilgrimmage, River Teeth, and Memoir(and) as well as those whose essays are garnering the most critical attention—Tin House, Georgia Review, Granta, ThreePenny Review, DoubleTake, Iowa Review, and Ninth Letter. By reading the works of two journals per week, we will establish a working knowledge of what types of manuscripts these journals are hunting. Students will be expected to write at least five essays (early drafts as well as polished revisions) and submit the five individual chapters for publication in literary journals. Submission of manuscripts for publication will comprise a substantial portion of the student's grade. Students will also write reader reports for several literary journals not assigned for class. The final exam will be comprised of manuscript revisions as well as an essay exam tailor-specific for each student. Some of the classes will be taught online. This is a writing intensive course.
5370.002 Studies in Creative WritingWilliam Wenthe
NOTE: Some may notice that the description below is the same as when I taught this class in Spring 07. Not to worry, if you're considering taking it from me again: the class itself will be very different from that semester. Entirely different—for the readings will be different; there will be a different mix of students; and of course the poems you write and workshop will be entirely different.
This seminar, as always when I've taught it, will be a combination of “workshop” and “form and theory” class; in other words, we'll be writing poetry, and thinking about poetry. The class is open to creative writing majors; others should submit a group of poems to Dr. Wenthe, along with your contact information, for permission to enroll. Requirements are devotion beyond mere “attendance,” a final portfolio of ten poems, an eight-to-ten-page introductory prose statement, and submission of a batch of revised poems to at least one literary journal.
As with the last time I taught this class, we will do workshops on a “rolling” basis, meaning that each student will be free to submit poems whenever he or she has a poem ready to be workshopped, instead of adhering to a preset schedule. That is, each class session will likely include some workshopping, some discussion of other writing. Students write poems of their own making—I won't assign exercises or forms, beyond my normal requirement that at least one poem in the final portfolio be written in some aspect of traditional form. (Depending on student interest, we may try something of an experimental nature too). One way or another, each student is responsible for completing a final portfolio of ten finished poems, together with an eight-to-ten-page prose introduction to, and commentary on, the poems.
The reason for the prose introduction is merely professional: as a serious writer of poetry, you will be asked to discuss your poetry—its aims and methods, and honest self-assessments of its strengths and shortcomings—in your career, whether it be for admission to a writing program (or a conference, or independent workshop, or fellowship or grant), or graduation from a program (thesis or disseration in creative writing), for job letters, or, we hope, submitting copy for promotional materials for your book publication. (All this is not to mention the self-knowledge that comes from such writing).
5370.003 Studies in Creative WritingStephen Jones
Workshop, with a few books to discuss too. Between five and eight stories to be written and unwritten over the course of the semester. Likely a large project as well, ranging from 'write a novel' to 'get a story published or write a novel.' Course objective: to romance and finally fall in love with these lines of prose you write, and then to kill them, bury them deep, start over. Write something that matters this time.
Book list: BASS 2007, guest ed. Stephen King; Angeldust Apocalypse, Jeremy Robert Johnson; The Confessions of Max Tivolli, A.S. Greer; The Wavering Knife, Brian Evenson; The Knife Thrower, Stephen Millhauser; Bend Sinister, Vladimir Nabokov; The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum; The Fermata, Nicholson Baker.
5380.001 Advanced Problems in Literary StudiesJames Whitlark
History as Literature
This course will focus on how American authors have tried to treat history (in the sense of what has happened) as a text, analyzable both for its original meaning and its current or even future relevance. In A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, the popular historian Barbara Tuchman, for instance, begins by seeing a medieval French fortress both as an ambiguous sign and as a parallel to problems of twentieth-century America. This looking for America's roots in the distant past has, of course, had a long tradition, with Henry Adams one of its more notable authors. A novelist and historian with two presidents in his family, he felt driven to look for a meaning of America large enough to encompass the changes of it he and his family had witnessed. Similarly, Neil Howe's and William Strauss's Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 uses the changing meaning of symbols as evidence for seeing history as a sequence of repeating psychological patterns. In other words, this course charts the faint (often very blurred) line between writing about historic symbols and composing fiction. We shall look at the shifting significance of American symbols in Retelling U.S. Religious History and then note how one American historian tries to deal with their primary source in Gospel Fictions, a study of the New Testament as literature. Finally, since the course is implicitly a psychological approach to history as literature, we shall examine A History of Psychology in Letters—letters being among the raw materials with which a historian works. This course is designed to fulfill a number of functions: (1) filling in students' backgrounds in American history (for their greater appreciation of American literature), (2) exploring creative nonfiction as a genre, (3) practicing a psychological approach to literature, (4) investigating the relationship of Religion and Literature, and (5) tracing the interconnections between fiction and nonfiction. Consequently, the students' term papers may either be literary studies of historical works or of historical fictions.
Assignments: a midterm, a term paper, and a final exam. Texts: Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams; Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror; William Strauss and Neil Howe, Generations; Randel Helms, Gospel Fictions; Thomas Tweed, ed., Retelling U. S. Religious History; Ludy Benjamin, ed., A History of Psychology in Letters.
*This course satisfies the requirements for American literature after 1900 and Genre: Nonfiction. It also satisfies the requirement for a comparative literature elective for students pursuing the MA concentration in comparative literature.
5392.001 Teaching College LiteratureBryce Conrad
Intended for graduate students in their final semester of course work who are interested
in applying for a 2000-level literature teaching assignment, ENGL 5392 offers an introduction
to the challenges of teaching college literature. We begin with an overview of theoretical
issues associated with the teaching of college literature (What is college literature?
Who gets a say in the answer to this question? To whom/what are college literature
teachers responsible? What are their responsibilities? What kind of writing does/should
occur in college literature classrooms? And so on) but move quickly to actual praxis.
Students in 5392 will prepare reading/writing assignments, engage in grading of those
assignments, and ‘teach' selected texts to the rest of us in class. By the end of
the semester, each student will prepare a sample syllabus and writing assignments
for a 2000-level course at TTU, will be video-taped while doing a practice teaching
session, and will have a start on a teaching philosophy statement and a teaching portfolio.
Readings for the class include a range of theoretical and practical essays, as well as sample works of literature. Assignments include a few personal meditations (“what values have you taken in/on during your education in literary studies?”), reports on classroom observations, responses to readings, and the production of classroom materials (syllabi, assignment descriptions, grading rubrics, power point presentations).