Spring 2015 Courses - Graduate

 

Course

Seats

Day

Start 

End 

Professor

228

16

W

19:00

21:45

Eastwood, Adrienne

232

16

M

16:00

18:45

Douglass, Paul

240

16

M

19:00

21:45

Soldofsky, Alan

241

16

T

19:00

21:45

Altschul, Andrew

242

16

R

19:00

21:45

Lam - Lurie Chair

255

16

R

16:00

18:45

Cullen, Robert

257

16

W

16:00

18:45

Mitchell, Linda

 

English 228: Seminar in Genre Studies - Comedy, Professor Eastwood 

Until 1660, all theatrical roles were played by men. So, when Romeo and Juliet breathlessly say goodbye on the balcony, the audience accepts the performance of femininity offered by the boy under the dress. But in Shakespeare’s comedies, the performance of gender becomes itself the focus, as the playwright gives us characters like Rosalind, Portia, and Viola who, while playing the role of “women,” assume “male” identities, and try to pass (with varying degrees of conviction) as men. In Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl, the title character was based on a well-known actual 17th century transvestite—Mary Firth—who roamed the streets of London dressed as a man. When women took the stage in 1660, they played male roles as well, acting in “breeches parts,” as well as the traditional female characters. 

This course approaches the dramatic mode of comedy from a critical perspective that takes such issues into account and historicizes them. Some questions that will guide our reading include: Do these performances destabilize gender difference, or reaffirm it? How much of a role does sexual desire play in such performances? How might these performances have responded to social controversies over the role of women in the early modern period? What is the relationship between cross-dressing on the street and cross-dressing on stage? What is the relationship between role- playing on stage, and the development and transformation of sexual identity? Since we will be reading plays by men and women, how might the gender of the author shape the performance of gender by her/his characters on stage?

Beginning with a solid grounding in the genre of comedy, we will read plays from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. 

  

English 232: Seminar in Romanticism, Professor Douglass 

“Romanticism: Re-Making the Self and the World,”

Literary romanticism forms part of a revolutionary epoch that has, in a sense, never ended, for the aspirations to freedom, self-expression, and national identity are still erupting in world news. Many British writers of the Romantic era were imaginatively engaged with countries in the throes of revolutionary movements, like France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Albania. Wordsworth was profoundly affected by the French revolution, and Coleridge had made plans to create a Utopian community in America. This course surveys significant works of Romantic literature and their major themes, including celebration of the individual and of democracy, “mental” realism, nature, childhood, and the sublime. Along with the canonical male poets, substantial attention will be paid to the poetry, drama, and prose of female writers of the period— including the life and works of Lady Caroline Lamb, an area of interest for the instructor—and to elements of literary theory that find origin or place in Romantic literature: feminism, gender, race, and class. 

   

English 240: Graduate Poetry Workshop, Professor Soldofsky

“Narrative and Poetry, “Ultra-talk,” and the Conversation Poem” 

(Non-poetry track students may take this course for literary research credit with permission). In this MFA-level poetry workshop, we will explore varieties of narrative poetry and what Coleridge called “the conversation poem.” We will read and write poems that are based on narrative conventions, from realist traditional narrative to the fragmented discontinuous narratives associated with the Postmodern. Critics Brian McHale and Marjorie Perloff have argued that narrative has made a comeback in postmodernist poetry after its relative eclipse in modernist poetic writing. This come back is what poet Tony Hoagland referrers to in “Fear of Narrative and the Skittery Poem of Our Moment.” In this course we will explore narrative poems that we can read as models for our work from the Romantic era (Coleridge and Shelley) to the modern (A.E. Robinson, Robinson Jeffers, Robert Frost) to the postmodern (John Ashbery, Anne Carson, Mark Halliday, Matthea Harvey, David Kirby, Maggie Nelson, James Tate, Rachael Zucker, and others). Poetry-track students will complete a final manuscript of short narrative and narrative-lyric poems plus one middle-length (3-page plus) narrative poem. Students taking the course as literary research will write two full-length analytical papers (10 – 15 pages). All students will practice close-reading of poetry written in the workshop and also read critical essays on poetry and narrative. All students will give individual presentations on published narrative poems/poets read in the course. Non- Poetry Track students applying to be in the workshop should submit a small sample of their poetry to the instructor prior to enrolling. 3-units. 

  

English 241, Fiction Writing Workshop, Professor Altschul 

This is the most advanced fiction workshop offered at SJSU. 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 analytic skills and strengthen their sense of what makes a good story. Students will submit two original pieces of literary fiction, plus a significant revision of one of these. We will also read James Wood's book How Fiction Works as a way of approaching fundamental questions not only about what and how we write, but also why

 

                                      Perfume Dreams

Andrew Lam, Lurie Chair                          

English 242: Nonfiction Writing Workshop, Andrew Lam, Lurie Chair 

In this non-fiction writing workshop students will learn how to write the personal essay and how to craft a piece of literary journalism. The nuts and bolts of publishing—and its many heartbreaks and possibilities—will be discussed along with work by contemporary essayists. Three substantial essays are required, along with editing and rewriting and group participation in a workshop setting. In addition, there will be a handful of shorter essay assignments with possibilities of getting published with New America Media where Andrew Lam works as an editor. 

 

English 255: Thematic Studies in American Literature, Professor Cullen

“Dangerous Women”

This seminar will examine portrayals of dangerous women in American literature, including witches, farmers’ daughters, shape-shifters, Hollywood starlets, and re-imagined versions of Hedda Gabler, Medea, and Mammy from Gone With the Wind. What do these characters suggest about American history, culture, mores, institutions, and gender roles? At the core of the course will be major novels by Henry James (The Portrait of a Lady); Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon); John Updike (The Witches of Eastwick); and Jane Smiley (A Thousand Acres). We’ll round out the reading with three short and extremely diverse texts: Nathaniel West’s Hollywood novel The Day of the Locust; Thomas Perry’s thriller Vanishing Act; and Jeff Whitty’s mashup drama The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler. Requirements: weekly participation, a seminar paper, and a short presentation. All English M.A. and M.F.A. students are welcome—dangerous women or not! 

  

English 257: The History of Rhetoric, Professor Mitchell

Study of Rhetorical Theory and Practice from Classical to Modern Times 

This course introduces students to the history of rhetoric, concentrating on ancient Greek and Roman rhetorical theory but also including its transmission into the Middle Ages and its legacy in the modern era. Students will read primary works by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, St. Augustine, Vinsauf, Bacon, and others. Classes will be part lecture and part practical application of the assigned reading. Students will turn in weekly response papers (or the equivalent) and will do a semester project/paper applying some aspect of the required reading. Students will leave this course with strategies for analyzing literature, teaching writing, building critical thinking skills, and understanding rhetorical techniques. 

 

English 181: Beowulf, Professor Stork

This course is normally offered as English 292 but will be offered this Spring as English 181 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 10:15 in the morning. This class is the second class in a year- long sequence of Old English. Students will be translating all 3,182 lines of Beowulfand considering its linguistic, historical and cultural context as the first epic poem recorded in the English language.