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Graduate Course Descriptions - Spring 2020

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Grad Students at work in archive

​Image: "19th C Ocean Cultures" seminar at work in the archive in Spring 2019

ENGL688: "Introduction to Composition Theory & Pedagogy"

With Prof. Christine Cucciarre, *Required for first year students.*

Writing and rhetoric classes on the graduate level are often steeped in teaching and pedagogical theory. That follows a long history dating back to the Greeks who thought of rhetoric as one of the main liberal arts of education. In this course, we will begin with a bit of that history to lay the foundation for discussing current composition theory. Dispelling the idea that if one can write well one can teach writing, we will understand the importance of first-year writing as a means to enter the academy. In this seminar, students will be encouraged to think deeply about their teaching ethos and the environment of their classroom. You will naturally do a lot of writing in this class. There will be several short essays and responses, an analysis of a writing program at another university, a brief survey of research on an issue or current theory in writing studies, and a proposal for a talk at a conference on writing instruction. All of this leads up to creating the materials students will need to teach their own section of ENGL110 in Fall 2020. 

ENGL/ARTH/HIST 610: "Intro to Theories of Material Culture Studies," Thursdays 2:00pm – 5:00pm

​​This image from a 2006 seminar taught by Prof. Martin Brueckner shows the kind of hands-on work with rare books and manuscripts provided in our seminars

With Prof. Sarah Wasserman (English) and Prof. Zara Anishanslin (History)

This seminar introduces graduate students to the theories, practices and methodologies of “material culture studies.” As the investigation of anything that is made or modified by humans, material culture studies assumes that every object can reveal complex stories about past and present people and societies. We therefore study "things" broadly defined, such as household goods, machinery, built structures, art, landscapes, clothing, food and living bodies, as well as processes of production and consumption across space and time. These objects may be actual artifacts or representations—linguistic and visual, as well as material. At the same time, we examine things as material expressions of values, social relationships, political ideologies, economic conditions and cultural change over time. This seminar explores the fundamental principles and theories that have come to inform such investigations; they include (but are not limited to): material concepts; theories of production and consumption; modes of object analysis; methodologies and their application; objects in word and image; gendered objects; technology and manufactured things; lived and built environments.

ENGL639: "Gender and Sexuality in the Global South," Mondays 9:05am – 12:05pm

With Prof. Brooke Stanley

Women. Feminism. Gender. Capitalism. Work. Nature. Homophobia. Health. Gay. Queer. Trans. These are keywords: terms that permeate public discourse, but that carry unstable and dynamic meanings, dependent on context, speaker, and intent. These words evoke multiple resonances and frictions in how we understand gender and sexuality. Organized by keyword, this class asks how these eleven terms accrue meaning when they move transnationally, and how their meanings shift when we center texts and voices from the global South. Primary texts will include novels by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Shani Mootoo, K. Sello Duiker, and Viet Dinh; short stories by Zoë Wicomb and Jamaica Kincaid; drama by Manjula Padmanabhan; film by Lucía Puenzo; photographs by Zanele Muholi; poems by Romeo Oriogun; an autobiographical essay by Simon Nkoli; and a music video by the Kenyan rap collective Art Attack. Scholarly texts will include interdisciplinary selections from postcolonial and black feminisms, ecofeminism, trans studies, queer theory, and gender and sexuality studies more broadly. While we will read several U.S. intertexts, our emphasis will be on the global South, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, and Argentina. 

Assignments in this course will include a presentation, in which students will introduce a secondary text and lead discussion for part of the seminar, and a final project that could take a range of forms. Options for the final project include writing a literature review; delivering a conference-style presentation; or creating a public humanities product, which might be a podcast, a WordPress site, a brief video, a written piece intended for the general public, or something else of the student’s devising. All students will receive consultation and support on their final projects from the professor.

UNIV667-012: "Designing Inclusive Futures," Wednesdays 12:20pm – 3:20pm

With Prof. Sean Zdenek

Who is part of our imagined futures? How do designers, entrepreneurs, researchers, leaders, and creators of all kinds generate possibilities for moving, interacting, sustaining, and connecting in the future? This graduate course will introduce students to disability studies and inclusive design. Throughout the semester, we’ll return to the twin themes of Access and Design from multiple disciplinary perspectives. 2020—as both metaphor and reality—will be our touchstone as we reconsider the future of access: a new decade and the end of our “teen” years; a presidential election year that will offer reflections on our nation’s pasts and enable choices among competing visions of the future; a census year, in which Americans will be counted and we will determine who and what counts; a medical term (20/20 vision) that crystallizes deep-seated ideas and assumptions about normalcy, perception, perfection, correction, aging, and accommodation; and a way to announce, in product development and other contexts, the new and improved model, the end of the beginning, or simply “version 2.0” (see Tara Wood et al. on “moving beyond disability 2.0”). 

Special features of the course include:

  • public lectures by three leading scholars in disability studies;• guest lectures by up to six UD faculty across the university;
  • one major field trip (being planned);
  • opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations with several units on campus; and
  •  two ways for students to participate through 1-credit and 3-credit options.

Course assignments will be interdisciplinary and collaborative. Course projects will be responsive to participants’ own disciplinary locations and research interests, from the creation of new designs to the reporting of new research.

ENGL 872: "The Black Fantastic: Afro-Futurism and Afro-Surrealism in African American Culture;" Tuesdays 9:30am – 12:15pm

​This image from a 2006 seminar shows the kind of hands-on work with rare books and manuscripts provided in our seminars

With Prof. Tim Spaulding 

Since the turn of the 21st century, the explosion of literary texts, visual art, musical compositions and performances by African American and African diaspora artists that center around the concepts of Afro-futurism and Afro-surrealism suggests the age of a New Black Aesthetic, a New Renaissance, a New Movement. Politically-engaged, deeply intellectual, and powerfully evocative, texts by wide ranging writers such as N. K. Jemison and Colson Whitehead, visual artists Krista Franklin and Kara Walker, musicians Janelle Monaé and Nicole Mitchell reflect an aesthetic built on contemporary race and gender politics, popular culture and science fiction, and the history of black creative expression. Although, according to D. Scott Miller in his “Afro-Surreal Manifesto” argues that Afro-surrealism orients itself to the present and Afro-Futurism orients itself to the future, both have their foundations in the past. Both movements engage with the history and legacy of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade through a rejection of “realism.” In addition, the roots of Afro-Surrealism and Afrofuturism can be found in earlier foundational texts. In this seminar we will spend the first half of the semester examining these foundational texts—Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Sun Ra’s collective Arkestra, artists, writers, and musicians associated with the Black Arts Movement—as precursors to the current wave of Afro-Surrealists and Afro-Futurists. We will also explore the early touchstones of Afro-Futurism—Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, George Clinton (Parliament/Funkadelic)—whose work have inspired most contemporary practitioners of the Black Fantastic. In the second half of the course we will focus our attention on the artists and the works produced in the 21st century as contemporary examples of the Black Fantastic.

Assignments of the course will include student-driven weekly presentations on primary and secondary texts, three interpretive essays (1000-1500 words), and an open final project driven by the individual student’s interest. Options for the final project can be (but are not limited to): a seminar-length academic essay, a conference-length essay delivered in class, the development of a course expanding and developing some aspect of Afro-Surrealism/Afro-Futurism, a creative project exploring some aspect of the Black Fantastic for public presentation. Final projects will include a written proposal and a written reflection on the work students produce.

ENGL 875: "Transatlantic Conversations: The British Press and the American Civil War;" Thursdays 9:30am – 12:15pm

With Prof. Iain Crawford

Or, what do we mean when we talk about transatlanticism? And what do we learn about transatlanticism when we examine Anglo-American literary and cultural interactions during the first half of the nineteenth century? This course will address these questions by focusing on British representations of the American Civil War and will fall into four parts:

First, we will explore transatlantic interactions in the Antebellum period. We’ll read Dickens’s American Notes and other early Victorian texts against American appropriations of British cultural models, most notably Sir Walter Scott’s representation of chivalric history and national identity.

Second, we’ll examine theories and methodologies in periodical studies, the subfield that focuses upon the enormous universe of nineteenth-century journalism and the burgeoning critical attention that universe is receiving.

Third, through a range of readings in British newspapers, reviews, and magazines from the years immediately before the Civil War on through to the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 we will examine how both the elite and the mass-market press represented America and the issues around the conflict. We will focus in particular on Harriet Martineau’s role in the press as the primary advocate of the Union cause against pro-Southern majority British opinion, comparing her work with Dickens’s treatment of race and slavery and the South in his magazines Household Words and All the Year Round. In addition to looking at various types of journalistic writing, we’ll also consider visual accounts of events in the United States, examining the images generated in Punch and the Illustrated London News.

Finally, we’ll end with Dickens’s Great Expectations, considering it as a serial publication that appeared simultaneously in Britain in All the Year Round and in the US in Harper’s Weekly between November 1860 and August 1861. Reading the novel in its two serial forms, we’ll consider it as a transatlantic text that engages with the historical moment in both Britain and America and ask how the two versions inform one another and shape audience response in both nations.

The major work product for the semester may include either the traditional seminar paper (preceded by an annotated bibliography) or a pedagogical project designing a teaching module built around student use of primary materials from the press.

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Graduate Course Descriptions - Spring 2020
  • Department of English
  • 203 Memorial Hall
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • University of Delaware
  • Phone: 302-831-2361
  • english@udel.edu