Department of English Graduate Courses

updated 1.9.18





502         WRITING FICTION                                                GUESS                      TR 12-2
The Art of Failure: “The art of losing isn’t hard to master” Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”.
This is a fiction writing workshop on the art of failure. Questions for exploration include: How do books fail readers? How do readers fail books? How does the creative writing workshop invite or ward off failure? How can artists incorporate failure into the creative process? How can art crafted from failure be successful? We’ll examine several texts by contemporary writers that use failure as the starting point for an experimental aesthetic. The final assignment will be a short story project that risks failure in both content and form. 

505         WRITING CREATIVE NONFICTION                 MILLER                   TR 4-6                  
In this hands-on seminar, we will generate new writing, returning to the basics of creative nonfiction. We will practice essential craft techniques, as well as experiment with form. Students will be responsible for bringing in models for our writing practice and will create at least three new pieces of creative nonfiction by the end of the quarter. Texts: Tell it Slant, 2nd Edition, Miller and Paola; Dear Mr. Essay Writer Guy, Dinty Moore; several handouts on Canvas and Models brought in by students.

510         RHETORIC:                                                              QUALLEY                TR 12-2                
Curating Literacy & Inventing Electracy
Plato claimed that writing would be the death of thought. Today, it is alphabetic print-based practices that are thought to be imperiled by digital media. Neither is true. The same conditions that spur a flurry and flowering of invention and production in some quarters can also engender a precipitous fear and anxiety of a literacy in crises in others.  When we hear statements like “students can’t write” or “people don’t read any more” or when we see statistics about the percentage of Americans who don’t know X or have never heard of Y, we are hearing echoes of Plato.  In the first part of this seminar, we’ll read and view an eclectic mix of critical, historical, and personal perspectives about literacy. According to literacy researcher Deborah Brandt, literacy today is measured not by our ability to read and write, but rather by our capacities “to navigate and amalgamate new reading and writing practices,” new ways of saying and doing, in response to rapid cultural, social, and technological change.  And yet, are the new ways of saying and doing that digital media invite—indeed, the new ways of being with ourselves and with others—just another kind of literacy? Or are they something else entirely? This is a question we will explore in the last third of the course as we poke around in the technological, institutional, and ideological apparatus called “Electracy.” Could we be in the midst of a tectonic shift that may be as significant as the one from orality to literacy 2000 years ago? Projects include (1) a quarter-long curation project using Prezi—not as a presentation tool, but an invention platform for connection making. A curator is a “content specialist,” a person who gathers (or “aggregates”), distills, organizes, and interprets and re-presents information on a specific subject, which in our case, is literacy. (2) A short, print-based transition narrative that you will eventually upload and publish on DALN (The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives) that operates out of Ohio State University. (3) A small culminating project final “re-composition” project.

Creativity is no longer the production of original texts, but the ability to gather, filter, rearrange, and construct new texts. (Johandon Johnson-Eiloa 2005)


515         CRIT THRY:                                                        TWENTER                     TR 4-6  
STUDIES IN LITERARY & CRITICAL THEORY: POSTCOLONIAL THEORY                                          
In this course we will investigate Indigenous Literary Criticism. We will explore early Indigenous cultural critics including Dakota critic Vine Deloria Jr. and Acoma Pueblo writer Simon Ortiz, who first posed the idea of a “National Indian Literature,” arguing that postcolonial, poststructuralist, and notions of hybridity imposed on Indigenous texts by ameropean scholars continue the colonization and decimation of Indigenous populations. Contrarily, we will examine the critical hybrid paradigm advocated by the late Choctaw/Cherokee/Irish scholar Louis Owens who foregrounded the dialogical school of criticism which thwarts the ameropean effort to capture complex Indigenous Literatures within the simplistic fiction of ethnostalgic “Indian.” Similarly, Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor forefronts a multi-national critical reading of Native texts which confront and unsettle colonizing narratives. Vizenor sees the ultimate goal of a multi-Native discourse as one of “survivance,” a term that combines “survival” and “endurance.” In contrast, Dakota writer and critic Elizabeth Cook-Lynn calls for the revival of Indigenous nationalistic paradigms, a return to a nation-centered critical analysis in the vein of Deloria and at least partially in response to Owens and Vizenor. Cook-Lynn staunchly argues that Indigenous literary representations shape and influence tribes and tribal nationhood. Jace Weaver, Craig Womack, and Robert Warrior, in their 2006 work American Indian Literary Nationalism (AILN), imagine a new conversation, grounded in tribal communities and the cultural ideas of language, heritage, history, and traditions, introduced and formatted within the Native nation. AILN, as a methodology, firmly maintains that nationalism is a legitimate perspective from which to approach Indigenous Literatures and criticism crucial to supporting Native national sovereignty and self-determination. Furthering the argument, Chadwick Allen, in his book Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies, implores scholars to think beyond the national borders of contemporary settler nation-states and to focus instead on Indigenous-to-Indigenous relationships. Joseph Bauerkemper argues in “Indigenous Trans/Nationalism and the Ethics of Theory in Native Literary Studies” for a “convergence” of nation-centered literatures and transnationalism. In addition to the foundational arguments, we will examine the growing catalog of Indigenous literary criticism which includes Native feminism, landscape and activism, engaged resistance, cultural appropriation, queer and two spirit theory, popular culture, television, film, and the criticism of relocation. These critical paradigms, though broad in base, can all be classified as Trans/National, using specific formal patterns and cultural details of each Nation to inform a Tribally-centered reading across Indigenous Populations.

550         AMER LITS:                                                         LAFFARDO                     TR 10-12              
AMERICAN AUTO/BIOGRAPHICS                                     
Using a variety of theoretical perspectives, we will examine American autobiographical texts from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century. We will look at various stories of selfhood and think about self-representation, subject formation, and other autobiographical practices. On our way, we will consider early American Puritanism, domestic violence, gender, genre, race, and capitalism, among other issues. While this is not a seminar in pedagogies, the texts and contexts of this seminar will provide solid preparation for those who might go on to teach an American literature survey.
ASSIGNMENTS: Expect fairly heavy reading, oral presentations, and a 15-20 page seminar paper.
EVALUATION: Evaluation will be based on seminar participation, oral presentations, and the seminar paper.
TEXTS: K. Z. Derounian Stodola (ed.), Women's Indian Captivity Narratives; Abigail Abbot Bailey, The Memoir of Abigail Abbott Bailey; Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano; Sojourner Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth; Frederick Douglass, Autobiographies: Narrative of the Life; My Bondage and My Freedom; Life and Times of Frederick Douglass; James Weldon Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; Ella Higginson, Selected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature.

575         WOMENS LIT:                                                    GIFFEN                             TR 8-10                                
US WOMEN WRITERS                                                     
Nineteenth-Century US Women’s Literature: This seminar will explore the work of U.S. women writers of the nineteenth century. Focusing on novels and poetry, we will explore the philosophical roots and cultural context of sentimentalism and investigate the ways that these writers deploy the sentimental as they participate in the public realm of contemporary political debates about race, class, and gender. Our approach will be largely cultural and historical as we examine women writers’ complicated and varied relationship to cultural constructions of womanhood and the notion of separate spheres. We will also attend such issues as the problem of authenticity and sincerity, in part by considering dress and ritual, domesticity and home reform, as they pertain to assertions of middle-class identity.

580         FILM:                                                                   YOUMANS                         TR 10-12
+FILM VIEWING W 5-8 HU304                                                                                                   
Film and Media Theory                                                                    

This foundational seminar centers on canonical (and a few outlier) writings in film and media theory, from the silent era to our digital present. Among the writers whose ideas we will explore are Andre Bazin, Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Maya Deren, Sergei Eisenstein, Lev Manovich, Christian Metz, Laura Mulvey, Trinh Minh-ha, and Linda Williams. A screening session each week will enrich our understanding of the theories. The course is designed to prepare students for film and media scholarship at the graduate level. As such, our first goal is to build everyone’s knowledge and comprehension of the core theories that have defined the field over the past half century. Our second goal is to develop and hone skills in the application of these theories to both film criticism and media production. Students will write an essay in which they apply one or more of the theories we explore in class to an original analysis of a particular film (or other media text) of their choosing. Each student will also design and create a media project that elucidates, complicates, or challenges one of the works of theory we read together.


504       WRITING POETRY                                              WONG                               TR 10-12                             
The Poetics of Engagement and Dissent
As Audre Lorde writes: “Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.” This seminar will explore the role of poetry as deeply engaging, resisting, and changing our current society. Who are we as poets in today’s world? How can we wrestle with the complexities and intersections of our personal and collective lives through language? With rigorous attention to the relationship between form and content, we will write poems in dialogue with prominent contemporary poets. As an active poetry community, we will revisit the stakes of poetry via seminar discussions, constructive feedback, and radical revision strategies.

535         NONFICTION:                                                      PAOLA                             TR 2-4                  

570         CULTRL STDS:                                                    SHIPLEY                          TR 4-6  
The Body of the Poem: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics
“…a poem and its form have something to do with the poet’s body, and also…poetry can provide imagined alternatives to that literal body…. By writing poetry, by working in disembodied language, I can get out of the physical body I happen to have, can depict and counter the insufficiencies of the merely physical world; I can create other bodies for myself in words…” – Stephanie Burt, “The Body of the Poem: On Transgender Poetry”. This course explores the wave of poetry by trans and genderqueer poets published primarily within the past decade. We will read trans and genderqueer poets whose work spans diverse embodiments of sexual, racial, national, class-based, and familial experience. Some questions we’ll consider include: What is trans and/or genderqueer about these poems? What is the trans and genderqueer poet’s relationship to content and to form, whether “traditional” or “innovative”? How and what poetic techniques do trans and genderqueer poets use and to what end? Ultimately, what is form’s relationship to the body? Poets we’ll read include: Samuel Ace, Ryka Aoki, Cam Awkward-Rich, Oliver Bendorf Baez, Ari Banias, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Julian Talamentez Brolaski, Stephanie Burt, Jos Charles, Ching-In Chen, CA Conrad, Maxe Crandall, Meg Day, D’Lo, kari edwards, Jennifer Joshua Espinoza, Duriel E. Harris, Joy Ladin, Dawn Martin Lundy, Eileen Myles, Trace Peterson, Amir Rabiyah, Trish Salah, TC Tolbert, Max Wolf Valerio, Stacey Waite, Kit Yan, and others. We'll also read critical works by Sarah Ahmed, Kate Bornstein, Judith Butler, Alison Kafer, Gayle Salamon, Susan Stryker, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Matt/Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Riki Wilchins, and others.

575         WOMENS LIT:                                                     METZGER                       TR 8-10                
Feminist/Queer Theory as Literature

In this course we will turn a common methodology on its head. We will read literature as the means of establishing the basis and practice of theories often studied in their abstraction and then applied as frameworks for analyzing literature and the human experience it represents. Such theories include Queer/Trans Theory, Settler-Colonial Theory, Critical Race Theory and, of course, feminist theory. Our texts will include fiction, poetry, memoir and the literary essay, and we'll attend to the ways in which narrative and poetic language can help illuminate the nature and effects of new and old forms of historical events and experiences and their significance for us today as social agents and writers of many kinds. Texts May Include: The Argonauts, Nelson;  Islands of Decolonial Love, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson; The Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward; Citizen &/or Don't Let Me Be Lonely, Claudia Rankine; Arundahti Roy, The God of Small Things; Dorothy Allison, Trash. 

598        TEACHING LITERATURE:                               GOEBEL                          TR 12-2               
This course will explore methods of teaching of literature.  Because it is difficult to predict the context in which each of you might teach, and because each of you possess different interests in the teaching of literature, most of our in-class time will be spent on general concerns, while most of your out-of-class work will focus on your own particular teaching interests. Ideally, the readings, discussions, and assignments in this course will develop some of the basic skills involved in teaching any general literature course as well as give you the opportunity to prepare to teach a specific course and respond in a thoughtful, informed way to a series of typical English department interview questions: What is your teaching philosophy in relation to literature?  What would you want to teach? How would you teach it? And why? The major assignments for this course include the creation of a detailed course syllabus, a corresponding paper with an explanation and justification of the choices made in that syllabus, and a teaching philosophy statement that addresses the teaching of literature.

These courses are available F, W and S each year:

509 INTERNSHIP IN WRITING, EDITING, AND PRODUCTION (1-5 Cr)                          
Under advisement, students may receive credit while working as interns in both on-campus and off-campus assignments appropriate to their career plans. EX. Bellingham Review. Repeatable for up to 5 credits.

594 PRACTICUM IN TEACHING (2-5 Cr) Prerequisite: Eng 501
By Arrangement. Permission/contract with instructor and approval of Grad Director. Override granted by Grad Coordinator. Repeatable with different topics. Each topic repeatable to a maximum of 5 credits.

690 THESIS WRITING (1-10 Cr) Prerequisite: Plan of Study and Thesis Topic forms. 
By Arrangement. Override granted by both Grad Coordinator and Grad School. Credits are given after thesis defense in last quarter of study. Repeatable up to a maximum of 10 credits. Credits apply towards degree. 

With the permission of the Graduate Advisor, a student may take up to 10 credits of SOME combination of 400-level courses and ENG 500, ENG 509, and ENG 594. NOT all 400-level course are repeatable. Always check the current Course Catalog. No more than 5 credits of ENG 500 may be applied toward the degree.

All Studies courses in literary genres (i.e. 520, 525, 530, 535) qualify for credits toward the Creative Writing concentration or the English Studies concentration. Creative Writing students will have the option to workshop and produce a creative project.

ALL COURSES are five credits unless noted.
ALL COURSES ARE text + 1 hr/wk arr PLUS a $1.85 FEE unless otherwise noted.

Always check the Department of English website for current course offerings each quarter.