Spring 2017 Courses - Graduate

 

Course

Day

Start 

End 

Professor

203

W

4:00

6:45

Nick Taylor

224

M

4:00

6:45

Adrienne Eastwood

233

W

7:00

9:45

William Wilson

240

M

7:00

9:45

Alan Soldofsky

241

T

4:00

6:45

Vendela Vida, Lurie Chair 

254

T

7:00

9:45

Noelle Brada-Williams

257

R

4:00

9:45

Skinnell, Ryan

 

English 203: Narrative Craft & Theory: Extremely Contemporary Fiction

(Professor Taylor) W 4-6:45 PM

In this graduate literature seminar, we will read a selection of American fiction published in the last three years. I ask that participants in the seminar come prepared to read these books as critics and as writers. As critics, we will explore whether there is a “school” of contemporary American fiction. As writers, we will dissect each work in terms of form, aesthetics, and material, to determine how these authors—who are our contemporaries, if not our peers—are capturing the attention of early twenty-first-century readers. The reading load is heavy in this course (nearlyfour thousand pages of fiction). Writing requirements include short weekly response papers (500-1000 words) and a seminar paper or creative project (3000-5000 words).

English 224: Seminar in English Early Modern Literature: The Age of Elizabeth (Professor Eastwood) M 4-6:45 PM

Elizabeth I had an enormous impact on early modern English culture. Although she proved herself a capable, efficient, and politically shrewd monarch, Elizabeth’s reign was fraught with struggles and tensions due to her status as unmarried (and therefore heirless), female ruler in an emergently patriarchal culture. This seminar provides students with the opportunity to explore representations of this fascinating and controversial figure in a variety of early modern texts. Students will examine and discuss the deft manner in which the Virgin Queen represented herself to her people in her speeches, portraits, and court entertainments, analyzing the ways in which she turned her culture’s assumptions about gender to her advantage (or was unable to do so as was sometimes the case). We will also explore the more complex ways in which Elizabeth I was represented by the major poets and playwrights of her day including Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare. Secondary texts will include biographical material, some historical essays, and a variety of criticism on the topic of Elizabeth’s representation.

English 233:  Seminar in the Victorian Period (Professor Wilson) W 7:00-9:45PM   

The seminar will focus on selected major works and figures from the 1830s to the end of the nineteenth century. The assigned works are chosen for their literary merit as well as for their socio-cultural significance in an age that gave us Darwin, Marx and Freud. Works include: Thackeray, Vanity Fair; Dickens, Bleak House; Eliot, The Mill on the Floss; Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles; selected poetry of Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Christina Rossetti, the Pre-Raphaelites, and Hardy. When appropriate, we will supplement our readings with samples of Victorian art and music. Requirements: class presentation(s); one short explication (3-4 pp.); and one comparative seminar paper (12-15 pp.).

English 240: Poetry Workshop and Seminar on Environmental Poetry and Eco-Poetics (Professor Soldofsky) M 7:00-9:45PM

Students in this MFA-level poetry writing workshop and seminar will not only produce new work but will also investigate the traditions of environmental poetry, from its roots in the pastoral to modernist poetry of place to postmodern and experimental eco-poetics. MFA students will create a portfolio of new poems plus blog entries and a presentation on the work of an environmentally-engaged poet. MA students may create new poems and/or conduct literary research--write several short papers and blog entries on individual poets or schools/traditions of ecopoetry. All students will give close attention to poetic craft and techniques of composition. (Experienced writers interested in environmental studies, earth and marine science, or in poetry from outside the English Department are encouraged to apply to enroll in this course.). MFA and MA students will participate together in weekly class workshops in which new work by class members (poetry and essays on environmentally-engaged poets and poetics) will be read and discussed with an eye toward revision. MA students and students outside of the English Department should submit three sample poems and/or short critical papers on poetry or environmental literature prior to enrolling in the course. Enrollment is by permission only (MFA students whose primary or secondary genre focus is poetry will have automatic enrollment priority. The course is capped at 16. Email writing samples as an attachment to the instructor at alan.soldofsky@sjsu.edu.

English 241: Fiction Writing Workshop (Lurie Distinguished Author-in-Residence,  Vendela Vida)

This is the most advanced fiction workshop offered at SJSU. The workshop will be lead by Vendela Vida, the 2017 Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-in-Residence, author of four novels and one book of nonfiction. Her latest novel is The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. She also is a founding editor of The Believer. Students will benefit from the careful feedback of a community of writers with varied perspectives and aesthetics, so that they may start to see their work from the outside and begin to revise their original ideas and approaches. By closely reading the work of other students and articulating their responses, students will hone their analytical skills and strengthen their sense of what makes a good story. Workshops will avoid the "diagnosis" of "problems" with a text and instead focus on readers' experiences with a story and their understanding of the writer's goals and strategies.

English 254: Seminar in Genre Studies in American Literature: Short Story Collections, Cycles, Sequences and Novels of Linked Stories (Professor Brada-Williams) T 7:00-9:45PM

Many key works of twentieth-century American literature seem to straddle the border between a short story collection and a novel. Writers such as Jean Toomer, Louise Erdrich, and Sandra Cisneros have used genre-bending styles to represent ethnic American communities and experiences. This course will explore both the impact of ethnic Americans in shaping the genres between short story collections and novels and the impact of these boundary- defying genres on ethnic American literature. It will be a semester-long examination of the interrelationship of form and content. While we will discuss the various definitions of these forms, the emphasis of the class will be on exploring the aesthetic and political uses of a variety of American author’s choices, rather than on determining set genre definitions.

English 257: Seminar in the History of Rhetoric (Professor Skinnell) R 4:00-6:45PM

Rhetoric is one of the longest lasting and furthest ranging subjects in Western culture, dating back more than 2500 years. History, in more ways than one, predates it. It would seem by now that these two so-called “meta-disciplines” would be relatively settled. Fortunately for us, they are not. Additionally, in recent years historians from a variety of fields have reimagined civilization’s western roots and have started to develop broader, “worldly” perspectives on histories, rhetorics, and histories of rhetorics (perspectives, it should be noted, which are not new to many other people from many other places). In this class, therefore, we will study the history of rhetoric by studying the ongoing disagreements about what “rhetoric” is and how best to study its history. Taking our cue from a variety of scholars and sources, we will try to understand what some of the historical and historiographical disagreements are, what is at stake in these disagreements, why they matter, why they continue, why we should care, what we can learn, and perhaps even what we might contribute.