Fall 2015 Seminar Descriptions

Undergraduate Seminars

ENGL 492 Seminar in Literature and Language

Crossover Texts: Adults Reading "Children's" Literature with Dr. Caroline McManus

The recent popularity of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time with older as well as younger audiences highlights the cross-written nature of "children's" literature, which is typically written by adults, purchased by adults, and utilized domestically and professionally by adults (parents, teachers, librarians, therapists, etc.). Exploring the dynamics of this mixed readership in picture books, fiction, poetry, and young adult literature, seminar participants will focus on representations of social class, political agency, genders and sexualities, parenting practices, education, violence, and material culture. Participants will employ comparativist methodologies as they read intertextually and examine the relations between verbal and visual narratives. The service learning component (a student-led workshop on high-quality children's literature at a local public library or elementary school) will advocate greater community awareness and appreciation of "children's" literature and the ways it helps to establish foundational cultural ideologies and foster creatively, interdisciplinarity, and critical thinking.

Food for Thought: Metaphor Theory, Literature, and Culinary Imagination with Dr. Aaron Sonnenschein

This course will investigate the intersection of cognitive and linguistic theories relating to food and eating and literature. Using metaphor theory as developed by Lakoff et al. and then expanded and refined by Mark Turner, students will analyze novels such as The Book of Salt by Monique Truong, Como Agua para Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, collections of short stories such as Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and writing about food by authors like MFK Fisher and Jonathan Gold using Metaphor Theory to analyze the use of food as metaphor and language related to eating in these works. Furthermore, students will analyze food as a semiotic system in both popular cultures and in fine dining.

Graduate Seminars

ENGL 510 Proseminar in Literature

Asian-American Literature, 1960s to Present with Dr. Linda Greenberg


American Modernism with Dr. Jun Liu

Underlying the various styles and paradigms of "modernism" is often an impulse towards reevaluating existing values, decoding/recoding the prevalent socio-symbolic order and creating the "new." We will explore the historical contexts (especially between the two wars) in which new communities, identities, and sensibilities came into being; read the selected texts from perspectives of modern and contemporary theories (Freud, Nietzsche, Lacan, Derrida, and so on); study modernist experimentation with narrative point of view, irony, grotesquery, fragmentation, polyphonic discourses and other stylistic features and find out their raison d'etre; and investigate modern issues, such as pluralism, perspectivism, race and gender, visions and re-visions, reactions to the modern sense of futility (or nihilism), image of the "foreigner," image of the frontier, and others.

ENGL 560 Seminar: British Literature

Regulating Hatred: Irony and Ire in the Novels and Juvenalia of Jane Austen with Dr. Martin Huld

This seminar examines the targets of Jane Austen's social satire through her novels and juvenalia. From her early teen years, Jane Austen was an assured writer with a sharp eye for hypocrisy and a sharper wit for sending it up. Repeatedly, Austen's irony and wit focuses on the disparities of class and gender of her age as they play out in the fields of education, matrimony, and income. Her prose takes aim at a variety of targets including the church, parents, business adventures, and the aristocracy.