Winter 2015 Seminar Descriptions

Undergraduate Seminars

ENGL 492 Seminar in Literature and Language

The Country and the City in Nineteenth Century Britain with Prof. Jim Garrett

This course focuses on the historical foundations of Britain’s rapid and for some nearly catastrophic industrialization and urbanization as seen through poetry, novels, and contemporary reportage and criticism. We will look at the seemingly pastoral moment “prior to” the industrial revolution through British Romantic poetry of the late 18th and early 19th century and then move to a self-consciously literary staging of the "prior to" moment in George Eliot's Silas Marner, The Weaver of Raveloe. The transition from handcraft to machines and from rural to urban hinted at in Eliot's novel are at the center of contemporary debate over the explosive growth of northern industrial cities such as Manchester, which serves as the setting for Elizabeth Gaskell's first novel, Mary Barton. Finally, we will turn to London, one of the world's acknowledged great cities as seen in one of the greatest novels of an era of great novels, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.

The Tale: From Parable to Post-Apocalyptic Novel with Prof. Mary Bush

This seminar will explore the evolution of the tale, from oral telling to modern and contemporary fictions that contain oral or tale-like elements. Using Kermode, Booth, and Crossan as we move through parable and cautionary tales to apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories and novels, we will look at the ways that fiction (like life) exists within a parabolic tension in which the end is, in Kermode’s words, “always both imminent and immanent.”

Graduate Seminars

ENGL 510 Proseminar in Literature

The Medieval Amatory Tradition Prof. Michael Calabrese

The class traces the profound tradition of medieval amatory literature, focusing on texts in various genres (lyric, epic, romance, prose tract) from various nations, languages, and cultures in the Middle Ages. It begins with the work the Roman poet Ovid who exerts a comprehensive influence  throughout the Middle Ages on writers of amatory fiction. The course traces at once the history of religious doctrines and political and cultural histories that shape the various literatures and the authors and cultures that produced them. This study involves but is not limited to the following issues and themes: femininity and masculinity, power and beauty in personal and social relations, the relationship between biology and cultural practice; psychology, social status and the role of the writer in feudal and courtly society;  the various roles of art and music in relation to literature; the function and uses of amatory literature in society.

ENGL 541 Seminar: Contemporary Critical Approaches

Animal Thinking in Modern and Contemporary Anglophone Fiction with Prof. Benjamin Bateman


ENGL 560 Seminar: British Literature

Scriblerian Satire of Swift, Pope, and Gay with Prof. Ruben Quintero

This graduate seminar explores the formation of the (Martinus) Scriblerus Club in London of 1714 and examines satirical works coming from this historical collaboration of club members—Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, Thomas Parnell, and Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford. The initial aim of the Club was to produce satire under the name of Martinus Scriblerus that would ridicule contemporary forms of false learning, but what these authors accomplished was no less than a major transformation of satire in both prose and poetry.

ENGL 580 Seminar: World Literature

Celt, Viking, and Scyth; Literature and Myth in Northern Europe with Prof. Martin Huld