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Indiana University Bloomington

Graduate Courses


Current Courses (Spring 2014)

G602 Readings in Language, History, & Culture
Michael Adams

29853 9:30a-10:45A TR

People often talk about looking something up in THE dictionary, but there are actually many different types of dictionary and many different iterations of each type. Some dictionaries aren’t mainly for reading — dictionaries for foreign learners of English, for instance — but some dictionaries were conceived and designed to be read. The Oxford English Dictionary is the most obvious of the last group, but there are many other readable quotations dictionaries and historical dictionaries besides that one, and once one understands how they are made, general dictionaries, like the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, are readable, too. This course explores dictionaries as a literary genre. We will consider the terms on which dictionaries are made, who writes them and why — that is, according to what linguistic and cultural assumptions — how to read dictionaries, and the effects of dictionaries on reading, writing, and many other modes of cultural interpretation and production. Of course, we’ll spend some time talking about how reading dictionaries has changed in the digital age, not to mention the future of dictionaries, as far as we can imagine it.

The course is numbered as a “reading” course (in contrast with a practicum or a seminar), and there will be plenty of it. Books will include K. M. Elisabeth Murray’s Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary (2001), Lynda Mugglestone’s Lost for Words: the Hidden History of the Oxford English Dictionary (2005), Charlotte Brewer’s Treasure-House of the Language: The Living OED (2008), Ammon Shea’s Reading the O.E.D.: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages (2009) (all focusing on the OED); and Herbert C. Morton’s The Story of Webster’s Third: Philip Gove’s Controversial Dictionary and Its Critics (1995) and David Skinner’s The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published (2013) (both focusing on Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language). In addition, we’ll read several articles on the history, theory, and practice of lexicography, some of them focusing on dictionaries other than the OED and Webster’s Third (all available free to us, through library databases). And, of course, we’ll be reading in many dictionaries, though not always reading them from cover to cover.

Coursework includes lively participation in our ongoing discussion, a group presentation early in the term, and a paper of middling length (~12-20 pages) due at the end. Creative writers may submit creative work for this last, on one condition — the work could not have been conceived or executed outside the context of the course. A work of practical lexicography would also serve as the required paper. The full range of interpretive theory and practice is welcome; there are wonderful relevant resources — dictionaries and archives — available at the Lilly Library.

L509 Practicum on Critical Writing
Scott Herring

30075 4:00p-5:15p TR

Following Sharon Marcus, this workshop maintains that a published article “is the most important thing a graduate student can do to prepare for the job market.” Over several months we’ll heed her advice and cover a series of topics:

  • The ins-and-outs of journal publication
  • The proverbial writing desk
  • How to combat perfectionism and unnecessary procrastination
  • How to avoid Bad Academic Writing
  • How to transform a dissertation chapter or a seminar paper into an article submission
  • Writing strong conclusions, introductions, footnotes, and titles
  • Revision and layering
  • Composing submission cover letters
  • Analyzing a reader's report and responding to comments

By the end of the semester you will have a revised draft of an article that you may choose to send out to a journal following further revision. Register for this course only if you have a 20-30 page seminar paper or a dissertation chapter with a “new-enough” idea that you are willing to substantially revise and share with other workshop members. If you are uncertain about the status of this piece of writing, check with the professor who led the seminar or your dissertation director and ask if they feel it is a viable document worthy of revision for potential publication. Also please have read The Craft of Research by Booth, Colomb, and Williams (3rd edition) for discussion during our first meeting.

L611/R502 Readings in Early Modern English Literature & Culture (Pre-1800)
Topics in Renaissance Civilization
Joan Linton

33500/26643 1:00p-2:15p TR

The goal of this course is to examine the place of the figure and figuration in the Renaissance imagination. We will approach the figure as image (which is visible or visualizable), as form (or the play of motivated energies shaping texts from within), and as institutions of practice, with attention to the interrelation between image and word, figure and discourse. The first half of the course will emphasize traditional roots of the figure and the arts of figuration; the latter half will venture further afield to address specific figures in its mobility across fields of practice and inquiry. While focusing to the period’s uses of the figure, we will sample theories of figure and figuration from classical to recent, for example, the figure’s qualities of "enargeia" and "energeia," the scholarly debate between the iconographic and history of visual culture approaches to symbolic images, and so on. Tentatively, our inquiry will include:

(1) the figure in classical rhetorical tradition and its developments in Renaissance and early modern rhetoric and the poetic, pictorial, and performance arts

(2) typological (figural) and allegorical interpretations of the bible and their uses in religious and other kinds of texts

(3) visual allegory (e.g., in painting and emblems), with attention to allegory’s reliance on the figural, problems of affect and embodiment, and the role of the image in worship

(4) the human figure and definitions of the human in literary, political, medical, and anatomical representations

(5) the role of rhetorical figures in the shaping scientific discourses and discourses of discovery

(6) the mathematical figure of zero as grounding for linear perspective, and geometric projection, with applications for cartography, theater design, and the production of social space

Through these units, an underlying question informing our inquiry is the mediation of the figure (oral, written, visual, print) and its implications for the production of selves, in Philip Sidney’s words, as subjects of gnosis and agents of praxis. Readings may include writings by: Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Horace, Longinus, Origen, Augustine, Dante, Rabelais, Montainge, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Spenser, Auerbach, Ricoeur, Lyotard, Gombrich, Mitchell, Bal, Rotman, Lefebvre, and scholars in early modern studies.

L613 Readings in Poetry & Poetics from 1790 to the Present (Pre-1800)
Karma Lochrie

30084 11:15a-12:30p TR

Not to be confused with Stephen Colbert’s, “truthiness,” “thinginess” is a coinage of Bill Brown, who is one of the current theorists of object-oriented ontologies (or OOO). The turn to the study of objects in critical theory by Jane Bennett, Bruna Latour, and Graham Harman, among others, challenges literary studies to place things, rather than human cognition at the center of study. Instead of understanding things in terms of a human-centered ontology which renders them nonhuman, thing theory examines things and objects as actants independent of human perception as they interact with one another. Thing theory poses a range of questions concerning whether things have agency or animacy and how they mediate social worlds. In this course we will delve into this new concern with materiality as it relates to medieval objects, including sacred objects of devotion, magical objects, common objects and instruments, ornaments, and aesthetic objects. Our goal will not simply be to apply modern object theory to medieval things, but to consider whether contemporary object theory might have something to learn from medieval theories of things and literary objects. The course will begin with readings from some of the foremost OOO theorists, including Bennett, Brown, Graham and Latour. Among the medieval texts studied in the course are selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Pearl, Julian of Norwich’s Showings, Mandeville’s Travels, and Piers Plowman. Readings will be in Middle English. Requirements include one short paper (4-5 pages) and a conference paper at the end of the semester, as well as short responses to weekly readings.

L617 Readings in Poetry & Poetics from 1790 to the Present (Post-1800)
Nikki Skillman

27537 1:00p-2:15p TR

This course will trace defining instances of aesthetic reinvention in major American, British, and Irish oeuvres from W.B. Yeats to Elizabeth Bishop, exploring the complex and often contradictory framing of poetic innovation against emotion in the first half of the twentieth century. Strenuous resistance to sentiment—to the expressive legacy of Romanticism, to the evocation of personality, to the consolatory function of art—distinguishes the ethos of much modernist poetry, and yet even as the signature values of objectivity, impersonality, restraint, and difficulty emerge in close dialogue with scientific discourses, the poetry of this period exemplifies the heights of aestheticized emotion against which Frederic Jameson charts postmodernity’s “waning of affect.” As we survey the impact of urbanization, commodification, industrialized warfare, transformed gender relations, and other epistemic ruptures upon poetry in English, we will look beyond the array of emotions widely ascribed to modern art (alienation, shock, disenchantment, shame, melancholy, mania, trauma) to explore how the machines modern poets make out of language are expressly engineered for the transmission of vehement passions and recessive, ordinary affects alike. Sharpening our description of major poets’ stylistic innovations, we will clarify the lineaments of feeling—including the mistrust of feeling—that underwrite many of the period’s most dazzlingly iconoclastic adventures in form. The course will balance nostalgic and avant-garde, expressive and conceptual varieties of early twentieth-century verse, concluding with the rise of confessional poetry at mid-century. Major poets will include Hardy, Yeats, Stein, Frost, Eliot, Pound, Williams, Stevens, Hughes, Auden, Moore, Bishop, and Lowell.

Intensive analysis of primary texts will ground our discussions, while secondary readings tailored to student interest will frame modernist emotion as an embodied and transcendental category. Historical readings will contextualize early twentieth-century interpretations of affect, illustrating the rising claims of empirical disciplines upon the description of emotional states; philosophers of emotion will shape our investigation of feeling as a form of knowledge, as a material phenomenon, and as a reservoir of political possibility. As we assess the insights and limits of the “affective turn” in recent humanities scholarship, theoretical readings (e.g., Williams, Sedgwick, Fisher, Massumi, Berlant, Love, Francois, Ngai) will upend inherited definitions of affect and reveal the exertions of power enacted by verbal feats of “touch.” Literary criticism will model stylistically sensitive critical methodologies and situate modernist poetics within a longer literary-historical view. Assignments will include weekly responses, in-class presentations, and a standard-length seminar paper.

L635 Readings in American Ethnic Literature & Culture (Post-1800)
Alberto Varon

30092 2:30p-3:45p TR

This course is designed to offer students an introductory yet intensive readings course on the field of hemispheric American studies and its impact on literary scholarship. The course will constellate around several novels from the 19th and early 20th centuries, but also on the critical framework that emerged in the 21st century to re-contextualize these texts within a broader transnational understanding of culture and to make the “hemisphere” a critical category. The course will offer students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the so-called “transnational turn” in American studies and the affiliated theories of “globalization” that has generated so much critical attention and activity in the last decade.

In the first unit of the course, we will review some of the nation-centered criticism that dominated literary and American Studies for most of the twentieth century. We will also discuss some of the major theories around nationalism and nation building. Unit two will examine the field of critical ethnic studies and its relation to transnational American studies, including border studies, cultural and comparative nationalisms, and cosmopolitanism. Unit three will look to the “global” as a way of imagining social and cultural movements. We will consider approaches that take a macro view of literary history, such as Wai Chee Dimock’s notion of “Deep Time” or Jose David Saldivar’s idea of “Transamericanity.”

Students will have the opportunity to present on recent scholarship in a number of related fields, and writing assignments will be designed both to demonstrate an understanding of the material and with an eye to professionalization– life outside the class. Accordingly, students will develop an essay in the area of their research interests for future submission to a journal and/or for presentation at an academic conference.

Primary texts might include: The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper, Fray Felix Varela, Xicotencatl, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton Who Would Have Thought It?, Lew Wallace The Fair God, or, Last of the Tzins. Ignacio Manuel Altamirano El Zarco the Blue Eyed Bandit, and Martin Delaney, Blake, or Huts of the Americas. Secondary readings may include selections by Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner, Matthew Pratt Guterl, Donald Pease, Amy Kaplan, Jesse Aleman, Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Anna Brickhouse, Doris Sommer, Raul Coronado, Werner Sollors, and Shelley Streeby, for example.

L645 English Fiction 1800-1900 (Post-1800)
Nicholas Williams

30100 2:30p-3:45p TR

In the usual stories of the rise of the novel, as the development of a genre gradually refining its techniques for representing everyday reality and individual subjectivity (Watt) or epistemological and moral distinctions (McKeon), the Romantic novel (with the exception of Austen) plays only a minor role. With their sometimes explicit political and documentary agendas, their indulgence of unrealistic gothic elements, and their penchant for sensibility which overflows the bounds of subjective continence, Romantic novels can themselves seem a mistaken episode in the otherwise orderly unfolding of realism. But, of course, an account which dwells on this episode also has the power to reshape that dominant narrative and cast it in different lights.

We’ll look at examples of the leading types of fiction in the period: the Jacobin novel (Godwin’s Caleb Williams, Wollstonecraft’s The Wrongs of Woman), the Anti-Jacobin novel (Amelia Opie’s Adeline Mowbray), the gothic (Matthew Lewis’s The Monk), the novel of sensibility (Mary Hays’ The Memoirs of Emma Courtney), the national tale (Lady Morgan’s The Wild Irish Girl), and even some Austenian realism. My goal here is to survey the variety of the period, rather than to forward a thesis, but we’ll also look at some of the important criticism (Katie Trumpener, Tilottama Rajan, Claudia Johnson, etc.) that has turned to this material to recast the novel genre. Writing assignments will be one short piece connected to a class presentation and a conference length essay (around 12 pp.) at the end.

L740 Research in Aesthetics, Genre, & Form
Ivan Kreilkamp

26690 1:25p-4:25p M


Within our standard periodization of the Victorian and Modernist eras in British literature and culture, the era from the last two or three decades of the nineteenth century through the first decade or so of the twentieth occupies an ambiguous position. Does "late Victorian" adequately explain the 1880s and 1890s? Is the beginning of the twentieth century, prior to the outbreak of World War One, Modernist? How do such related and overlapping categories and concepts as fin de siecle, Decadence, Aestheticism, and the Edwardian relate to the Victorian and the Modernist? This course will explore these and a range of other, related questions via intensive analysis of some of the most important and distinctive literary texts, in a range of genres, from this era, guided by the following key concepts and rubrics: Subjectivism; Impressionism; Decadence; Degeneration; Aestheticism; Homoeroticism; and Modernism. (We’ll doubtless add new central categories, depending on the directions our conversations take.) While avoiding a teleological approach that would always look for signs of the dawning or imminent Modernist in literature of the 1880s, 90s, and ‘Oughts, we will grapple with the meanings of literary works from this period that are, in various ways, moving away from the familiar and towards new modes, values, and forms.

I haven’t made final decisions, but authors will include many (though probably not all) of the following: Henry James, Walter Pater, Olive Schreiner, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Vernon Lee, John Addington Symonds, Michael Field, Algernon Swinburne, W.T. Stead, Havelock Ellis, George Moore, Charlotte Mew, Joseph Conrad, Samuel Butler. We’ll also read a range of criticism and scholarship by the likes of Sally Ledger, Linda Dowling, Elaine Showalter, Jenny Bourne Taylor, Jesse Matz, Mark Edmundson, Angelique Richardson, Regenia Gagnier, Stephen Kern, and Stephen Arata.

As befits a graduate seminar, students should be prepared to take on much of the responsibility of contributing to and maintaining a lively, rigorous class discussion. Assignments and expectations will include regular, vocal participation in discussion; three or four 2-3 page response papers, to be distributed before class in preparation for discussion; two days co-leading class discussion; and a final seminar paper of approximately 18-24 pages, in preparation for which a proposal will be submitted and an early partial draft written in time for a class writing workshop.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at: ikreilka at indiana dot edu.

L746 Research in Textual & Media Studies (Post-1800)
Jonathan Elmer/Scot Barnett

30116 9:05a-12:05p M


This class will bring together reflection on media theory (historical and contemporary) with problems specific to the study of literature and rhetoric today. We start from the conviction that literature—in its various formats, print and otherwise, and in its generic variety—is a fundamental stratum of the expanded media culture we live in today. That is, we will stress continuities rather than divergences between literary production and other, later media. For this purpose, we will use the works of Edgar Allan Poe as a frequent touchstone and case study. Poe was both an innovator of new generic forms (detective fiction, science fiction, etc.), and an analyst or theorist of the relations between sensation and mediation. It is arguably for this reason that he is one of the most widely remediated writers of the 19th-Century. Other figures and ideas will be brought forward as exemplary in our tour of problems in media theory, as well.

The class will also survey the current horizon of media for the dissemination of scholarly work. In this sense, it takes a pragmatic approach to its topic, and can serve, for those students who wish to follow this track, as a practicum focused on contemporary modes of scholarly communication in a multimedia world. Readings will be the same for those taking the course as a seminar, and those taking it as a practicum. The difference will lie in the nature of the final project. Students eager to explore and experiment with their own critical and scholarly production are welcomed.

Readings will be from some of the following writers: Aristotle, Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, Marshall McLuhan, Richard Grusin and Jay David Bolter, Bernard Stiegler, Lev Manovich, Ian Bogost, Alexander Galloway, Roland Barthes, Tom Gunning, Gilles Deleuze, Steven Shaviro, Meredith McGill, Don Ihde, Mackenzie Wark, Brian Massumi, Antonio Damasio, and Theodor Adorno. Topics will include the relation between sense, sensation, form, and media; technology and the classical rhetorical pisteis, especially the pathe; and intermediality and transmediality.

Contemporary formats and platforms to be considered and/or explored include Twitter, blogs, digital/web-based scholarly journals and presses, TED talks, Tumblr pages, Pecha Kucha presentations, Digital Syllabi, Scalar, Omeka, and others.

L750 Research in Race & Ethnicities
Shane Vogel

section TBA 2:30p-5:30p T


This seminar offers a selective survey of twentieth and twenty-first century African American literature and literary theory. We will examine the formal transformations of this literature in relationship to the uses and abuses of dialect; racial uplift and the politics of the exemplary; Jim Crow and racial terror; migration and immigration; the civil rights movement, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism; performance, musicality, and literature; gender and sexuality; black feminist criticism; historiography and the neo-slave narrative; the politics of race and publication; and the “post-racial.”

Given the historical expectation that African American literature reflects a truth about “black experience” in the US—a hermeneutic that approaches literature as a sociological document and only secondarily as an aesthetic practice—we will carefully consider throughout the course the challenges of developing a research project that does not reproduce this expectation to document or represent an authentic or authoritative racial experience. In doing so, we will look to how the production and reception of African American literature have been governed by this will-to-knowledge and how authors evade, confront, or refuse this demand.

Primary texts will include works by Zora Neale Hurston, Ann Petry, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ishmael Reed, Paul Beatty, Percival Everett, and Edward P. Jones. Students will complete a 20-25 page research paper at the end of the semester on a text of their choosing by one of the assigned authors (but not the text assigned for the class). Students should purchase, read, and come prepared to discuss W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk for the first class meeting.

L764 Research in Literature & Critical Theory (Post-1800)
Jennifer Fleissner

30124 12:20p-3:20p F


When scholars first began to make a sustained case for the importance of studying the American literary tradition, the distinctness of that tradition was, surprisingly enough, often linked to psychological pathology. Richard Chase, in The American Novel and Its Tradition, thus distinguished American novelists' "poetry of disorder," their bent toward the "obsessive," from the "great practical sanity" or "normativ[ity]" that he saw at work in their English counterparts. For Chase, this distinction was inseparable from the tendency, which others noted as well, for American fiction to take the form not of realism but of romance.

What would it mean to take the psychic waywardness of the American novel seriously again, in a contemporary critical era that professes its turn away from psychology, favoring objects over subjects, surfaces over depths, system over individual, and so on? This course aims to restore some lost uncanniness to notions like interiority, selfhood, the will, the literary, and the Romantic—refusing our frequent association of these simply with an idealized solidity and abundance, in favor of reconceiving them as the problems that they appeared in the nineteenth century to be. Making space for this possibility will require us to read American fiction, both canonical and less so, together with a wide range of materials not so commonly seen in the contemporary Americanist arsenal: writings on literature, psychology, and philosophy from the nineteenth century; theoretical work by critics who aren't strictly "Americanists" (such as Gilles Deleuze, Josef Früchtl, Leo Bersani, Stanley Cavell, Sianne Ngai, Anne-Lise Francois, and others) for which American texts have sometimes served as exemplary cases; and some very recent work by younger Americanist critics with a refreshingly oblique relation to their field (such as Paul Hurh and Dorri Beam). We'll explore such notions as monomania, moral insanity, radical evil, derangement of the will, nostalgia, and neurasthenia, in relation to literary forms such as Romanticism, sentimentalism, the "psychological novel," regionalism, naturalism, aestheticism, and early modernism. In addition to the archives mentioned above, we'll also make use of the work of historians of psychology and contemporary philosophers who can further help us to unsettle our chosen terms.

Primary literary texts will likely include Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland; short works by Poe and Melville; The Scarlet Letter; Oliver Wendell Holmes, Elsie Venner; Elizabeth Stoddard, The Morgesons; short works by Mary Wilkins Freeman, Charles Chesnutt, Henry James, and Harriet Prescott Spofford; Pauline E. Hopkins, Of One Blood; Frank Norris, Vandover and the Brute; and Gertrude Stein, Three Lives. A seminar paper of 20-25 pp. will be expected at the end of the term.

L769 Research in Literature & Science (Pre-1800)
Richard Nash

section TBA 12:20p-3:20p W


I imagine this course as a sustained conversation in five phases. With any luck at all, our collective work will resemble an aspen grove, with what appear to be discreet projects growing out of what is, in fact, one common project buried below the ground. The first phase of our conversation will be on posthumanist theory, with special attention directed to the institutional consequences of such a theoretical project. If one is going to be serious about the possibilities of posthumanism, then one needs to think seriously what such a theoretical project has to say about the institutional status of the humanities and the extremely long and important history humanism has enjoyed within the history of the academy. The questions at stake in this discussion are both serious intellectual questions and also important professional ones; and we will seek to map their inter-articulations. The second phase of our conversation will turn to the relatively new field of “animality studies,” attending to how questions in that field both engage posthumanist theory and also how they challenge the formulations that we have inherited from humanism about disciplinarity. In the third phase of our conversation, I want us to consider how the questions we have been raising might be most effectively posed within a context of ecological, rather than humanist, thought; and generating from that consideration a tentative and provisional articulation of what a posthumanities might be, operating under a new ecological paradigm for knowledge construction. Coming out of that “ecological turn,” the fourth phase of our conversation will be directed to imagining a revisionist historicist criticism: how might we do historicist criticism differently, if we do that criticism under the aegis of an ecological posthumanism? What specifically historical work remains to be done? What work demands to be un-done? And what tools would be most necessary in performing such work? What tools are not yet available? This phase of the conversation will be grounded in our consideration of a set of poems “about nature” in one way or another from the eighteenth century. But as the cascade of questions listed above suggests, our interest will look beyond the specifics of those particular poems, and the fifth phase of our conversation will be on how each of us articulates his or her participation in the seminar as a contribution to a re-theorizing of the kinds of critical work we would like to see energizing our discipline in the new academy that has become our home. We will be reading Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Cary Wolfe, and Jakob von Uexkull, as well as Alexander Pope, William Somerville, John Dyer, and James Thomson. Students will be responsible for at least one oral presentation and for one research paper, which need not be directed to the literary texts discussed in that fourth phase of our conversation. I am happy to meet with interested students to discuss the goals and format of the course.

W513 Writing Poetry
Catherine Bowman

32904 11:15a-12:30p TR


W513: Writing Poetry is a graduate workshop for Creative Writing MFA fiction students interested in writing poetry, English graduate students working toward an M.A. or the Ph.D. Individuals outside the English department interested in writing poems are eligible to enroll in the course. (See instructions for admission below).

The word “poet” comes from the word “maker.” What does it mean to “make” a poem as opposed to simply “writing” a poem? In this class we will practice the art of making poems and workshop these poems in class together. To this end, some of our tools will be the line, the line break, repetitions and rhythm, images, form, exactitude, speed, compression, displacement, music, image, surprise, discovery. We will practice the ways in which the eye, the ear, the imagination, emotion and intellect converge and intermingle with exacting language and formal attention. This course will experiment with the forms of poetry. We’ll start the semester looking at the music-making, bodily aspects of the poem, exploring its roots in dance and song. We will explore the musical charge of language, the textures of language and the line. We will fine-tune and slow down, giving our attention to the meaning of words beyond the straight ahead dictionary meaning, reveling in the layered connotations of words, the exacting image. We’ll scan some poems and learn about rhythm, meter and rhyme. Next we’ll experiment with traditional verse structures and stanza forms. We will attend to prosody, or “the meaning of form.” After trying out traditional verse forms such as the sonnet, the sestina, the blues poem, and the villanelle, we will venture into the worlds of “the free-verse line”—the long gestural line and the shorter, tighter sequence of enjambments. We will also write poems that make use of contemporary non-literary forms and some experimental styles such as Ouilipo. Some memorization will be required. Rather than write papers, we’ll write poems and there will be lots of in-class generative writing. We will read several essays on poetics by poets. I’ll assign a few collections, an anthology, and you will be able to check out books from my traveling poetry library.

*Students currently enrolled in the graduate program in fiction have automatic acceptance into the course; however, they should notify the instructor well in advance of registration to insure that they'll have a seat in the class. For those not in the MFA program, admission into this course is by permission of the instructor. Interested students should be prepared to submit a sample of their poetry (minimum of five pages) along with name, email address, and a brief description of their current interests and previous creative writing experience. Please send requests for permisssion to

W612 Writing Fiction 2
Alyce Miller

17971 2:30p-5:30p T

Request permission through

PLEASE NOTE: We will meet for a full class on the first day, and there will be both a reading and a writing assignment posted for you on Oncourse by the middle of December. Please be sure to arrive fully prepared and ready to go!

Prerequisite:Enrollment is restricted to graduate fiction students enrolled in our MFA program.

You will be encouraged to avoid the real or imagined constraints of workshop (and workshop jargon) and take chances this semester, and write the fiction you really want to. If you find yourself typically more comfortable writing in third person, maybe this is the semester to try first person (we will talk a lot about point of view). If your fiction usually winds up at a certain page length, you may want to experiment with “length” and “space,” going either shorter or longer to play with expansion and compression. We will also focus on revision, and what it means to “see again.”

Expect to draft and revise 50-60 pages of new work this semester, the bulk of which should be submitted to the workshop. Reasonably self-contained novel or novella chapters that don’t require “epic setup” are always welcome as the short story is not privileged. We will also read the works of other fiction writers who have something to teach us (usually something along the lines of a novel or novella, a single-authored collection of stories, and a dozen or so individual pieces).

Course Philosophy: Since craft is inextricably connected to world view, which is directly connected to point of view, we will consider not only how fiction made through a writer’s choices, but “how and what” fiction “means.”

Course Expectations(probably just what you already expect): regular and active attendance, good preparation for substantive participation, properly formatted and carefully proofread manuscripts, meaningful investment in the writing of your peers as evidenced in thoughtfully written critiques of peer work.

I look forward to working with all of you.

W614 Writing Poetry 2
Debra Kang Dean

22085 2:30p-5:30p T

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W614 is a poetry-writing workshop for students enrolled in the MFA Program in Creative Writing. During the beginning of the semester, students will write poems based on assignments designed to examine the relationship between form and content, and they will offer constructive critiques of their peers’ poems. During the middle part of the semester, students will be paired up in the class, and each will lead discussion on his or her “buddy’s” work. They will also give a presentation on a volume of poems by a writer whose work is a model of the aesthetic they seek to embody in their own work; in conjunction with this presentation, students will provide the class with a writing assignment and submit a required five- to seven-page essay. The last few weeks of the course will be devoted entirely to workshop. At the end of the semester, students will submit a portfolio of poems and a seven- to ten-page essay that is an in-depth review of two of the books presented by their peers.

W795 Dissertation Prospectus Workshop
Ellen MacKay

22060 1:00p-2:15p TR


This class is designed to serve as a workshop for students in their exam year, in which they can get regular guidance from faculty (the DGS), and feedback from peers, on the shaping of the dissertation prospectus. The course aims toward the successful defense of the prospectus in late spring. We will begin by setting up some guidelines for advance preparation, reading models of the prospectus document, and discussing the intellectual challenges involved in constructing a large project. We will then proceed in groups to the drafting, revision, and submission of the prospectus. We will also discuss and plan for the defense itself.