Spring 2015 Seminar Descriptions

Undergraduate Seminars

ENGL 492 Seminar in Literature and Language

The Eighteenth-Century Gothic Novel with Prof. Nicole Horejsi

The end of the eighteenth century saw the birth of the literary gothic, a subgenre of romance that registered a backlash against the prescriptive realism favored by critics earlier in the century. In addition to indulging flights of sensationalistic fancy, the gothic was also an outsider’s genre, dramatizing the frightening nature of everyday life, of social institutions too often taken for granted: persecuting villains stand in for tyrannical husbands, and corrupt churches for patriarchal failure; transgressive desires reveal the stifling nature of traditional gender roles and heteronormative expectations. At the same time, the gothic confronts monsters from without, for the popularity of the genre mirrors the rise of the British Empire. This course will explore the origins and development of the gothic (1764-1820), as well as the ways in which eighteenth and early nineteenth-century writers used gothic tropes to reflect on the values of contemporary society. Despite the genre’s frequently supernatural trappings, the gothic appears everywhere, these novels suggest—even in everyday life.

Playlist: Music and Literature with Prof. Lauri Ramey

This course will focus on works where music and literature engage with and influence each other. We will focus primarily on recent examples. Students will share their own research interests with the class. Final projects will consist of students’ own “playlists” with critical justifications. Full details and instructions will be provided in class. Weekly class meetings will consist of shared playlists delivered through common readings, class discussions, long and short writing assignments, training in research methods, group and individual projects, and presentations by visiting writers and musicians.

Graduate Seminars

ENGL 510 Proseminar in Literature

19th-Century American Periodical Literature with Prof. Maria Karafilis

Focusing on several case studies of popular magazines in the 19th-century United States, this class will examine the rise of the periodical and attendent issues such as authorship, realism, aesthetics, print culture, and the literary marketplace.

ENGL 570 Seminar: American Literature

The Academic American Novel with Prof. Marilyn Elkins

This course will trace the development of the academic novel in America since 1945. Texts will include representative novels that foucs on campus life and feature professors, adjuncts, and staff in an effort to analyze the novels' portrayal of the academy. Do these novels provide a record of institutional practices that historical accounts overlook? Can this fiction offer what Elaine Showalter terms "a catharsis for those who have found the system unsatisfactory," offering, as some critics suggest, a glimpse of institutions that are filled with emotional violence, chicanery, and sex? We will explore these and other relevant issues--including gender, sexuality, and race--to better understand and appreciate this important sub-genre of American literature.

ENGL 580 Seminar: World Literature

The Arabian Nights in Global Contexts with Prof. Atef Laouyene

This seminar will introduce students to the fascinating world of The Arabian Nights and its radiating influence on world literatures and cultures.  In the first half of the seminar, we will read a selection of tales from the Nights, paying close attention to their origins and recensions as well as their structure and themes. In the second half, we will examine different literary adaptations and appropriations of the Nights from the 18th-century onward.  Class discussions of early imitations and later re-writings of the Nights will focus on issues of authenticity and literary ownership; translation and cultural appropriation; ethnicity and reception; and storytelling and power.  In addition to the required primary texts, the seminar will cover secondary reading material providing historical and critical frameworks for studying the Nights stories and their continued resonances across cultures, centuries, and genres.