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Graduate Course Descriptions - Fall 2018

American Literature to 1900

ENAM 8559 - U.S. Fiction and the Politics of Justice

Section 001
R 330-600 (New Cabell Hall 038)
Instructor: Victoria Olwell

This course has two guiding aims:  to examine U.S. fiction published during the historical span from the antebellum period through the progressive era, and to weigh that literature's engagement with struggles for justice. The first aim embraces historical U.S. literary studies, while the second is designed to provide methodological training in analyzing literature's conceivable means addressing social justice in a variety of historical and literary contexts. The course takes as its starting point the observation that scholarship often positions literary texts in relation to the politics of social justice. In such scholarship, literature takes on a dizzying variety of roles -- as a rich resource for conceptualizing social justice in inventive ways, as a mode of discourse complicit with toxic hegemonies, as a participant in the more general cultural labor of forming political community, and as resistant force in the face of oppression, to name some of the most frequent. In this course, we will seek to specify and interrogate the ways that the literature on the syllabus, as well as literature more generally, might intelligibly be said to respond to, intervene in, conceptualize, or register the politics of social justice. Literary texts will include work by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Chesnutt, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Stephen Crane, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Jacob Riis, Sui Sin Far, Upton Sinclair, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Nella Larsen, among others. We'll also read theoretical and scholarly works that have produced critical vocabularies for understanding rights, personhood, governance, and justice. Course requirements include several short papers, a seminar paper of about 20 pages, and vigorous participation.

ENAM 9500 - Seminar in American Literature

Section 001 - Special Studies in Nineteenth-Century American Poetry
TR 1230-145 (Bryan 310)
Instructor: Jerome McGann

Emerson, Poe, Whitman, Dickinson, and Melville: these are the writers we will be studying.  The investigations will necessarily also involve works that, while formally prose works, operate at a linguistic intensity that breaks down the traditional distinction between prose and verse.  The issue of “prose poetry” will therefore be a recurrent concern.  Final papers will not be written about one or another of the writers taken up in the course, but about a twentieth-century American poet -- to be chosen by each student in consultation with Mr. McGann --  who cultivates poetical expression in prose forms.


ENCR 5650 - Books as Physical Objects

Section 001
MW 1100-1215 (Bryan 233)
Instructor: David Vander Meulen

We know the past chiefly through artifacts that survive, and books are among the most common of these objects. Besides conveying a text, each book also contains evidence of the circumstances of its manufacture, how its producers viewed it, and how its readers might have received it.  In considering what questions to ask of these mute objects, this course might be considered the "archaeology of printing"—that is, the identification, description, and interpretation of printed artifacts surviving from the past five centuries, as well as exploration of the critical theory that lies behind such an approach to texts. With attention to production processes, including the operation of the hand press, it will investigate ways of analyzing elements such as paper, typography, illustrations, binding, and organization of the constituent sections of a book.  The course will explore how a text is inevitably affected by the material conditions of its production and how an understanding of the physical processes by which it was formed can aid historical research in a variety of disciplines, not only those that treat verbal texts but also those that deal with printed music and works of visual art.  The class will draw extensively on the holdings of the University Library's Special Collections Department, as well as on its Hinman Collator (an early version of the one at the CIA).  Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

Instructor permission is required to enroll.

ENCR 8100 - Introduction to Literary Research

Section 001
F 1000-1230 (Contact Department)
Instructor: Andrew Stauffer

Section 002
W 1000-1230 (Contact Department)
Instructor: Andrew Stauffer

Introduces UVa's research resources and the needs and opportunities for their use. The library and its holdings are explored through a series of practical problems drawn from a wide range of literary subjects and periods. Required of all degree candidates in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs.

ENCR 8559 - New Course in Criticism

Section 001 - Philosophy and Literature: Wittgenstein, Cavell, and the New Romanticism
TR 200-315 (Bryan Hall 312)
Instructor: Walter Jost

Of late the two philosophers in question here have begun to exert considerable influence at the crossroads of philosophy, literature, and criticism, providing an alternative to theoretical approaches to all three, an alternative grounded in so-called ordinary language philosophy. This course is designed for those with limited exposure to philosophy who are motivated to seek out new possibilities for advanced study of ideas and methods in literary criticism.  We will undertake select readings from the works of these authors and others, placing them in traditions of British and American romanticism, transcendentalism, and pragmatism.

ENCR 8670 - Feminist Theory

TR 1100-1215 (Bryan 332)
Instructor: Susan Fraiman

An introduction to US feminist theory and criticism, considered in relation to literary/cultural texts from nineteenth-century narratives to contemporary memoirs and movies. Subfields touched on include feminist media studies and transnational feminism. In dialogue with African-American, postcolonial, and disability studies, the syllabus is, in particular, closely engaged with queer theory. Most units juxtapose older, foundational texts with more recent scholarship building on and revising these; others assemble pieces suggesting divergent feminist methodologies or positions. The idea is to trace the development of thinking about gender, sexuality, race, and culture over the last four decades, identifying major concerns and delving into key debates. Primary texts will be considered in their own right but will largely serve to launch our exploration of such theoretical topics as canon formation and questions of literary value, feminist vs. queer vs. trans perspectives, the cinematic gaze, epistemologies of the closet, intersectional notions of identity, and the relevance of feminist scholarship to oppositional politics and everyday life. Figures likely to appear on our syllabus include Audre Lorde, Eve Sedgwick, Susan Gubar, Judith Halberstam, Robyn Warhol, Chandra Mohanty, Janice Radway, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Laura Mulvey, Donna Haraway, and Sara Ahmed.  Requirements: two papers and a final exam.

Creative Writing

ENCW 5310 - Advanced Poetry Writing II

Section 001
T 200-430 (Bryan Hall 330)
Instructor: Paul Guest

Instructor Permission Required, contact Paul Guest at pmg4w@virginia.edu.

ENCW 7310 - MFA Poetry Workshop

Section 001
M 200-430 (Bryan 203)
Instructor: Lisa Spaar

This is the advanced poetry writing workshop for the ten students matriculating in the first two years of the Master of Fine Arts in Poetry program. With an emphasis on generating new, original work by workshop participants, the class will also involve rigorous, intrepid, writerly engagement with a range of "texts" by poets and others outside the workshop. The course is designed to challenge advanced writers to push beyond their comfort zones (thematically and in praxis) while at the same time tapping and pressing more deeply into their own “flood subjects.”


ENCW 7610 - MFA Fiction Workshop

Section 001
M 200-430 (Dawson's Row 1)
Instructor: Jeffery Allen

Restoration and 18th-Century Literature

ENEC 8600 - Eighteenth-Century Prose Fiction: "Political Fictions"

MW 200-315 (New Cabell 038)
Instructor: Brad Pasanek

This course complicates the rise-of-the-novel narrative by eschewing a traditional survey (Defoe-Richardson-Fielding). We read instead those contemporary political-philosophical accounts of consent that, arguably, give eighteenth-century prose fiction its shape and main import while also reading for those modern fictions of rights and citizenship that come to define liberalism. The syllabus begins with Samuel Richardson's Pamela, but its center of mass is closer to the Jacobin 1790s. Readings match political theory and novels, moving through John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, and Mary Wollstonecraft and juxtaposing fictions by Sarah Scott, Laurence Sterne, Charlotte Smith, William Godwin, and George Walker. The course concludes with a gimlet-eyed eighteenth-centuryist reconsideration of Amanda Anderson's Bleak Liberalism. Assignments include an in-class presentation, a close-reading interpretive paper (due after midterm), and a "take-home" essay exam (the prompt to be distributed on the second-to-last day of class).

Genre Studies

ENGN 8510 - Form and Theory of Fiction

Section 001 - Literary Genealogies: Inside the Labyrinth of Jorge Luis Borges
W 200-430 (Bryan Hall 203)
Instructor: Micheline Marcom

In this seminar class we will look at the work of Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, and what I am calling his “literary genealogy”—reading what was in his library and were major influences on his work, some of the work he created, and writers who were in turn influenced by him and who then entered into his genealogical line. We will be thinking about influence, form, style and the craft elements of literary fiction. Texts will include works by Dante, the Kabballah, The 1001 Nights, Cervantes, Gogol, Emerson, ETA Hoffmann, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kafka, Danilo Kis, Clarice Lispector, Roberto Bolaño, Nicholson Baker, and PK Dick. We will read Borges’ Ficciones and some of his Non-Fiction pieces. Students will be asked to write weekly creative responses to the texts in addition to weekly craft responses/observations. Students will also begin to think about their own literary genealogy.

ENGN 8520 - Form and Theory of Poetry

Section 001 - The Poetry of Surrealism: France, Spain, Latin America, U.S.A.
W 200-430 (New Cabell Hall 042)
Instructor: Lisa Spaar

Surrealism began in France as a philosophical and aesthetic movement dedicated to smashing boundaries between dream and waking, conscious and subconscious, reality and hallucination. Its poets and theorists (Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, Rene Char,  and later, Jean Cocteau) defined the movement as an intellectual discipline, but in Spain it found emotional depth and rooted itself in a socially conscious stance in the work of Federico Garcia-Lorca, Vicente Aleixandre, Rafael Alberti and Luis Cernuda. In Latin America, Pablo Neruda, Cesar Vallejo, and Gabriela Mistral drank in the influences of Spanish surrealism and made of it distinctly Latin American poems.

American poets began to take the work of Spanish language surrealists seriously in the 1960’s, as striking translations by W. S. Merwin, Robert Bly, James Wright and others held out alternative possibilities to the New Critical mode that had dominated American poetics from the 30’s through the end of the 50’s. The breadth and energy of this new influence reached very diverse American poets, from the San Francisco avant garde poet Jack Spicer to central figures of the New York School like Frank O’Hara. Neo-surrealism was the fashionable mode of the 1970s, and since that time surrealism has never really left the stage, as poets turn to startling images based in dream or vision to heighten a poem’s sense of interiority.

We’ll read and talk about some of the foundational texts of Surrealism, including great poems in the French and Spanish traditions, and examine the asesthetic differences between the two. We’ll devote extra time to Garcia-Lorca, one of the century’s central figures, watch some extraordinary films, and look at lots of 20th and 21st century American poems that make use of surrealist modes.

Modern and Contemporary Literature

ENMC 8500-001 - Modern and Contemporary Literature: The Refugee

T 630-900 (Bryan 330)
Instructor: Mrinalini Chakravorty

Instructor Consent Required.

This seminar will explore how refugees have portrayed themselves and have been portrayed in literature, memoir, testimony, film, and art.  Mindful of the current political crisis over refugees, we will focus mainly on the post-45 years and contextualize our study of refugee art by reading widely from law, political and globalization theory, border studies, anthropology, history, and policy.  The 1951 Refugee convention adopts a human-rights framework for extending rights to those forced to migrate from the country of their nationality for fear of persecution.  Tensions arise when the right of refugees ‘to seek and enjoy asylum’ conferred by the UN is confronted by the lack of obligation felt by particular nation-states to receive them.  As a consequence, the political discourse over refugees is often framed in terms citizenship, host state policies, legal bans, rights, humanitarianism, aid, lack of agency, border disputes, disasters, war, and strife.  Further, a whole new lexicon distinguishing refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, and aliens describe displaced persons with varied legal and political nuance.  In our study we will attempt to parse these differences to gauge their significance within contemporary refugee regimes.

Becoming stateless, however, entails seeking refuge elsewhere and this is more than a legal and political problem.  In so doing, the refugee often becomes a limit case for ideas about hospitality, sympathy, sharing, compassion, estrangement, and notions of cultural bearing.  How, we will ask, do artistic representations of refugees mediate the personal, social, psychological and material terrain of forced migration given the rights-based legal framing that exists?  Our study will take certain mass displacements as flashpoints—Jewish and Palestinian displacements, the Partition of India, decolonial wars in Africa (Algeria, Biafra, Mozambique), Vietnam, and Syria—to see how the refugee experience is given depth through artistic engagements.  We will consider how the experience of being in camps, journeying across borders, homelessness, dispossession, familial loss, and trauma shapes the precarious condition of refugees.  Our goal will be to appraise whether and how aesthetic attempts to capture the condition of refugees respond to and at times revise political discourses about those in exile.

Our reading list may include work by Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, Giorgio Agamben, Edward Said, Gloria Anzaldua, Liisa Malki, Joseph Massaad, W.G. Sebald, Mahmoud Darwish, Elias Khoury, Caryl Phillips, Sadaat Manto, Ghassan Kanafani, Chimamanda Adichie, Viet Nguyen, Assia Djebar, among others.

This seminar is open to all students interested in thinking more about the refugee crisis.  Please be ready to read widely and across disciplines, and to engage experts in other fields such as the law, social work, and politics.  The course will also involve some outreach work.

ENMC 8500-002 - Modern and Contemporary Literature: Contemporary World Novel

T 330-600 (Location TBA)
Instructor: Debjani Ganguly

The ubiquity of the novel in global literary studies is unmistakable. More than any other genre, the novel is perceived as future-oriented and open-ended, ready to absorb within its polymorphous ambit the indeterminacy of the present, a genre that, in Bakhtin’s words, ‘has a living contact with the unfinished, still evolving contemporary reality.’ It not only travels well but is also arguably the genre par excellence of the mutating lifeworlds of global capitalism. The contemporary novel makes for an exemplary case study to examine the idea of world making in our time and the specific literary provenance of the ‘global’ in its make-up.

What do we understand by the term ‘world novel’? What is its relation to contemporary globalization and the age of information capitalism on the one hand, and the modern European novel on the other, as this latter evolved in the age of commerce and early industrial capitalism? What forms does it take? What are its dominant tropes and themes? This seminar will offer some in-depth insights. We will also study the novel’s historical links to distant suffering, technologies of mediation and the rise of the humanitarian imagination - the staple of eighteenth century debates in moral philosophy and the rise of the sentimental novel - in the context of the emergence of a critical mass of novels written against the backdrop of contemporary global conflicts in Palestine, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and post-9/11 advanced capitalist countries. New media technologies have been critical in mediating these zones of war and violence for diverse publics around the world. Novels by Ian McEwan, Joe Sacco, Don De Lillo, Michael Ondaatje, David Mitchell, Nadeem Aslam, and Janet Turner Hospital will feature as case studies as will significant scholarly voices in the field of novel studies.

Key novels:

Ian McEwan Saturday
David Mitchell Ghostwritten
Michael Ondaatje Anil’s Ghost
Nadeem Aslam, The Wasted Vigil
Janet Turner Hospital Orpheus Lost
Don De Lillo Falling Man
Joe Sacco, Footnotes from Gaza (excerpts)

Medieval Literature

ENMD 8559 - Early Medieval Texts and Contexts

Section 001
TR 330-445 (New Cabell 042)
Instructor: Peter Baker

In this graduate-level introduction to early medieval literature and the material culture of the early Middle Ages, we will read a selection of texts from pre-Conquest England and, for each text, examine a selection of related materials: sources, analogues, contemporaneous texts, art, archaeological finds, historical settings and more. Texts to be examined may include such Old English poems and fragments as The Dream of the Rood, Judith, The Wanderer, Deor, and Waldere, and such Old English and Anglo-Latin texts as saints’ lives, homilies, and histories. Readings will be in translation, but we will run an optional reading group for those who wish to confront these texts in their original languages. Work for the course will include in-class presentations and a substantial final paper.

19th-Century British Literature

ENNC 8500 - Women Writers

Section 001
MW 330-445 (Bryan Hall 310)
Instructor: Alison Booth

This course will be unusual for a literature seminar: there is a shadow course, “the” Female Literary Tradition, as defined by Maria DiBattista and Deborah Epstein Nord’s recent At Home in the World, that is, some 80 women who wrote in many genres, in English, since the nineteenth century, and throughout the contemporary world (a copy of this book will be on reserve).  But we will not as a group read six or seven novels and discuss them during each class period. Our focus in class preparation and sessions will be research methods, including digital humanities, narrative and feminist/gender theories, as well as the broad matter of reception and publishing history. Reading, close or scholarly, is certainly key, and we will emphasize awareness of many genres in addition to the novel.  All of us will carefully (re)read George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Each student will choose one woman writer to study in some depth, and can propose a shorter text, including a work of criticism, to the group for common reading.  The course serves as an elective for the graduate DH certificate for those who wish, and all students will have some introduction to this field’s research methods, but it is not a full introduction to DH and students may choose a different research focus such as intersectional feminism, postcolonial theory, queer theory, narrative theory, book history, reception history.  

One research assignment is shared: Every student will work on the cohort of women writers who are represented in Collective Biographies of Women; we continue the process of cleaning biographical data and gain an overview of the research in this database and experiment in feminist narrative studies. Every student will also get a gentle introduction to mid-range reading of short biographical narrative using an XML markup that entails a few hours of training.  Those who have no enthusiasm for technology will find this inspires confidence and opens possibilities for future research; past students have said it helps them be better readers and teachers of narrative form.

Another research assignment leads to paper(s): preparing a bibliography of criticism and publishing history for the chosen woman writer.  Students may choose to write a longer essay or two shorter essays, one of which can be a conference paper.

Required (own a copy):

George Eliot, Middlemarch 0-393-96332-2
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own Harcourt 015603041-1

Shared reading:

Robyn Warhol and Susan Lanser, ed. Narrative Theory Unbound (Columbus: Ohio State UP)      recommended Kindle edition     978-0814293850
Matthew Gold and Lauren Klein, ed. Debates in Digital Humanities 2016 978-0-8166-9954-4
    Available online as open access: http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/
“Feminisms in Digital Humanities,” a special issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly 9.2 (Fall     2015) http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/9/2/index.html

Suggested reading in advance for the shadow course:

Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology, rev. ed.  978-0803287761
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre Norton  978-0-393-26487-6
Elizabeth Gaskell, Cousin Phillis. 
Edith Wharton, Summer
Kate Chopin, The Awakening Norton 0-393-96057-9
Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing, ed. McDowell 0813511704
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse Harcourt 978-0-156005555

Renaissance Literature

ENRN 8500 - Staging the Renaissance City: Rome, Venice, London

MW 330-445 (New Cabell Hall 132)
Instructor: Katharine Maus

English Renaissance drama was an urban phenomenon, specifically a London phenomenon, since a repertory theater performing in a fixed location required a large population base to support it. So, unsurprisingly, many plays consider the exigencies of urban life both in London and elsewhere. In this course we will read plays sited in Rome, Venice, and London, three cities with strikingly different traditions of representation in and out of the theater.

ENRN 8510 Studies in Shakespeare

Section 001 - Reinventing Shakespeare
TR 1100-1215 (Bryan Hall 330)
Instructor: Clare Kinney

Shakespeare’s works have been regularly appropriated by both literary critics and creative artists to serve very different cultural agendas at various historical moments. In this course we will take a close look at four plays and their afterlife, in each case exploring the resonance of their reshaping and revision in a variety of media (while also paying some attention to the critical reception of the works and to contemporary scholarship on Shakespearian adaptation). Why is Shakespeare such a malleable cultural icon? What do these creative re-productions suggest about the cultural forces underlying the apparently unceasing need to remake and/or “correct” and/or supplement “Shakespeare’s genius”?

Tentative list of plays whose metamorphoses we will explore: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Hamlet; King Lear; The Tempest

Course requirements: lively participation in discussion, an oral presentation, one short research exercise, one long term paper, a portfolio of e-mail responses.

Program in World Religions, World Literatures

ENGL 5831 - Proseminar in World Religions, World Literature

Time & Location TBA
Instructor: Elizabeth Fowler

A 1-credit forum for MA and doctoral students from any department to share work in literature and religion concerning any historical and geographical area.  The new World Religions, World Literatures master’s degrees (based in English or Religious Studies) are designed to connect students across areas and disciplines; this comparatist proseminar, required for masters candidates in WRWL but open to all, will be a forum for ongoing thought and conversation, some common reading, and sharing of work in progress.  Feel free to contact Prof. Elizabeth Fowler (fowler@virginia.edu) with questions.  We’ll find a time to meet when as many as possible can come.


ENPG 8800 - Pedagogy Seminar

W 500-730 (Location TBA)
Instructor: Jim Seitz

This course prepares first year doctoral students for the teaching they will do here at UVa in both literature classes and the writing program. Covers topics such as classroom management, leading discussion, grading papers. Limited enrollment.