Graduate Course Descriptions
Spring 2014 Course Descriptions
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ENGL 504: THEORIES OF RACE, CLASS AND GENDER: Case Study: The Harlem Renaissance
Michelle Gordon, Thursday, 4:30-6:50 p.m. Number 32773D
This seminar takes up the Harlem/New Negro Renaissance as a particularly fertile site for the study and application of various theories of race, class, gender, and sexuality developed over the last 80 years. The Harlem Renaissance itself was period in which black artists from around the nation and world widely theorized and experimented with the complex plays of race, class, gender, and sexuality in art and society. The renaissance helped produce an array of critics and artists concerned with questions of racial, sexual, and gendered identities, with class divisions, imperialism, labor, and capitalism. The renaissance also involved a range of white patrons and artists who engaged in these debates, and who particularly impacted the art and criticism of the period’s primitivism, music scene, and public reception of black arts. Our approach to this case study is designed to familiarize students with the range of cultural production during the period, as well as open new avenues of inquiry into Harlem Renaissance scholarship, the problems and politics of literary and cultural history, and into students’ own developing research agendas and areas of study.
Course requirements for each student will include: regular participation in seminar sessions, a final seminar paper, and several smaller writing assignments (a book review, literature review, and primary source analysis); each student also will deliver two presentations during the semester, including a “conference” presentation delivered at the end of the semester based on the final seminar paper. Additionally, each student will be responsible for leading part of one seminar meeting.
Each week, we will read literary texts and criticism alongside each other. We will focus heavily on the prose of the period, but also will consider poetry, music, drama, and visual culture. Major literary texts and authors likely will include: The New Negro (ed. Alain Locke); Claude McKay, Home to Harlem; Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing; Jean Toomer’s Cane; The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes; one little magazine, Fire!!, and one collecteanea, Ebony and Topaz. We also will screen the film Looking for Langston. Our critical readings will include Shane Vogel’s The Scene of Harlem Cabaret, and works by Cheryl wall, Anthony Dawahare, Carla Kaplan, Hazel Carby, Barbara Foley, Brent Hayes Edwards, Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, and Gloria Hull.
ENGL 507: RHETORIC AND LANGUAGES
Joseph Dane (email@example.com), Thursday, 2:00-4:20 p.m. Number 32776D
The course will have two components, both dealing with the use or primary source material: (1) history of books and bibliography (2) reading Latin for research. Students who take the course may concentrate on either of these areas.
The bibliographical portion will deal with material books and the use of these resources in major collections in the Los Angeles area. The Latin portion will be a reading course, designed for those with no Latin, little Latin, or enough to make the entire course superfluous. We will likely end by combining these two areas with a section on paleography. Students will have the opportunity to give reports and develop research projects. But these are not required, and participants in the class may come and go as they please. We will meet at Doheny Special Collections and the Clark Library (a mile from campus). I can provide transportation.
ENGL 520: RENAISSANCE ENGLISH LITERATURES AND CULTURES: Spirits in Early Modern England
Rebecca Lemon, Monday, 2:00-4:20 p.m. Number 32780D
This course explores the wide variety of spirits in England during the early modern period. Specifically, we will explore three forms of the spirit: as God, as the devil and or/witches, and as drink. In the first unit, we will trace various engagements with the divine spirit, through Bible translations (Tyndale, Cranmer, Coverdale), prose (Anne Askew, John Foxe) and poetic expression (Donne, Herbert). The second unit explores writers, readers, and characters overcome with the spirit of the devil, in playtexts (Marlowe, Shakespeare, Middleton) and in contemporary polemics (Reginald Scot, King James). Finally, in unit three we turn to alcohol as spirit, examining the wide variety of depictions of drinking in the period (Shakespeare, Jonson, Puritan pamphleteers, and Cavalier poets including Lovelace, Herrick, and Marvell). In each of these units, we will explore the relationship between character, agency, and the spirit, asking what happens to the notion of human will and the material body once the spirit has taken over? Here, the writings of various theorists on the notion of the will can guide us (Luther, Calvin, Sedgwick).
Erasmus and Luther, Discourse on Free Will; John Donne, Henry Vaughan, and George Herbert poems; Reginald Scot, Discovery of Witchcraft (1584); King James VI and I, Demonology; Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus (c.1592); Shakespeare, Macbeth (1606); Thomas Middleton, The Witch (c. 1606-14) and Rowley, Dekker, and Ford, The Witch of Edmonton (1621), in Three Jacobean Witchcraft Plays, Revels Student Editions (Manchester UP, 1989); Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (Indiana UP, 1984); Shakespeare, Henry IV, part 1 (1596-7); Ben Jonson and the Cavalier Poets, W. W. Norton & Company; Jonson, Bartholomew Fair (1614).
A weekly written response, less than one page, presenting a problem, question, observation, or brief passage for discussion (10 total for semester). To be posted to Blackboard or class blog by Sunday evening at 9pm.
One presentation, with a partner, of questions/thoughts on the reading material in order to help direct discussion.
A final research paper.
ENGL 591: 20th CENTURY AMERICAN LITERATURES AND CULTURES: Post-Western Representations
William Handley, Tuesday, 4:30-6:50 p.m. Number 32788D
What do Sherman Alexie and Jerry Bruckheimer have in common? Not much -- and a lot. That question and its nonsensical answer speak to the difficulty and challenge of studying the U.S. West and its cultural representations in the past century. Haunted by imperial and settler-colonial history and popular cultural stereotypes and formulas, western U.S. fiction, historiography, and film exhibit a broad range of aesthetic and political responses to the questions of how and why the past and its ongoing legacies are represented.
The burden of writing about the U.S. West in the nineteenth century was to give readers what they wanted: something authentically real. Yet the West in the twentieth century inspired terms such as the “simulacrum” and the “hyperreal” in the work of European postmodernist theorists Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco. We will explore these seeming contradictions about representations of the West after the formula Western, along with such topics as “postindian simulations”, ecocritical literature, Los Angeles and postmodernist theory, noir as invisible history, and the ongoing frontiers of race and sexuality in the post-frontier West.
Writers we’ll read include Raymond Chandler, Karen Yamashita, Cormac McCarthy, Mary Austin, Sherman Alexie, Joan Didion, Wallace Stegner, Percival Everett, James Welch, N. Scott Momaday, and Annie Proulx. Critics include Gerald Vizenor, Kerwin Lee Klein, Eco, Baudrillard, and Neil Campbell. Films include Lone Star, The Lone Ranger, and Chinatown.
ENGL 592: CONTEMPORARY BRITISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURES AND CULTURES: Film, Fiction, and Culture in the 1950s
Leo Braudy, Wednesday, 4:30-6:50 p.m. Number 32789D
This course explores the cultural shape of a crucial period in American life through the mediation of film, popular fiction, and "serious" fiction from the end of World War Two to the election of John F. Kennedy. We will be reading essays, poems, plays, and novels by writers such as James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Burroughs, Albert Camus, John Cheever, Ralph Ellison, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Heinlein, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Robert Lowell, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, John O'Hara, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, J. D. Salinger, Mickey Spillane, Lionel Trilling, and Tennessee Williams. Filmmakers represented will include Robert Aldrich, Walt Disney, John Frankenheimer, Howard Hawks, Elia Kazan, Joseph Mankiewicz, Anthony Mann, Christian Nyby, Nicholas Ray, Douglas Sirk, Frank Tashlin, Billy Wilder, and William Wyler.
We will also consider several of the political and social problems of America in the 1950s, to which many of these works responded and out of which they emerged: the military and political threat of the Soviet Union, the rising political consciousness of African Americans, juvenile delinquency, the changing social and sexual relations between men and women, and the expanding consumer economy that promised so much to so many.
Throughout the course we will raise theoretical issues--the nature of a cultural period (and "culture" as a concept), the various interpretations that have been made of the period, and the varying ideological bases of those interpretations.
Requirements are two medium-length papers (12-15 pages) and an oral presentation on a background topic of general interest.
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain.
---. "The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy" (xerox).
Bentley, Eric, ed.: Thirty Years of Treason (Selections from testimony before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee) (xerox).
Burroughs, William. Naked Lunch.
Camus, Albert. The Stranger.
Cheever, John. Short Stories [Selections to be announced].
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man.
Ginsberg, Allen. Howl.
Heinlein, Robert. The Puppet Masters.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea.
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road.
Mailer, Norman. The Naked and the Dead.
---. "The Man Who Studied Yoga" in Advertisements for Myself (xerox).
---. "The White Negro" in Advertisements for Myself (xerox).
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman.
O'Hara, John. Ten North Frederick.
Plath, Sylvia. The Bell-Jar.
Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye.
Spillane, Mickey. I, the Jury.
Trilling, Lionel. The Liberal Imagination.
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire.
Atomic Cafe (1982).
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).
Kiss Me, Deadly (1955).
The Thing (1951).
On the Waterfront (1954).
Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
No Way Out (1950).
The Girl Can't Help It (1957).
Bend of the River (1952),
Some Like It Hot (1959).
Written on the Wind (1956).
Viva Zapata! (1952).
Beaver Valley (1954).
The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
ENGL 620: LITERATURE AND INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES: Writer & Composer
David St. John, Tuesday, 2:00 – 4:20 p.m. Course Number 32796D
This course will be team taught by David St.John and composer Frank Ticheli of the Thorton School of Music. It is a structured collaboration between composers and poets/writers. Activities include fundamentals of poetry, comparative analysis of poem/song settings, and creative projects. We hope that this course can foster long-term collaborative relationships between composers and writers. The course is designed for graduate students in Music Composition and English/Creative Writing (Poetry). However, other graduate students may enroll with the permission of the instructor. Be warned: this is all about collaboration in the arts. If you think of yourself as a lone wolf artist, this course may not be for you.
ENGL 695: GRADUATE FICTION FORM AND THEORY
Percival Everett, Thursday, 2:00-4:20 p.m. Course Number 32802D
Though we proceed with the understanding that we can identify the forms of the novel and short story, we cannot actually offer necessary and sufficient conditions for a work being either. We will address the question of whether there is an archetypal model of any form of fiction and ask where the boundaries of the model exist. We will also explore what happens when boundaries (if they are real) are crossed.
ENGL 698: GRADUATE POETRY FORM AND THEORY: "The Aesthetics of Translation"
Carol Muske-Dukes, Tuesday, 4:30-6:50 p.m. Course Number 32805D
The great Russian modernist poet, Maria Tsvetaeyeva famously said, "All poetry is translation". With her words in mind, we will focus on the aesthetic properties of the translation process: meaning how a poem in one language is "brought across" or re-created in another. (A "workshop" focus.) We will be less concerned with technicalities of word-for-word rendering than concentration on what might be described as the "impossibilities" in translation: how the translator must determine aesthetic equivalencies - and how linguistic/poetic diction/imagery/tone in the original language can be transformed to create the possibility of a beautiful poem in the "second" language. We will rely on Rainer Schulte's Comparative Perspectives: an Anthology of Multiple Translations as a "text" - but will focus on our own translations, either of original works-in-progress and/or translations of "new" work. (Poetry manuscripts, ongoing, may be considered as sources.) Other guides will include Sappho (from Mary Barnard to Anne Carson), Robert Pinsky's Inferno, Bly's The Eight Stages of Translation, Heather McHugh's translations of Paul Celan, (Glottal Stop), Hass on Transtromer, Simic on Brodsky, Seamus Heaney's essays in The Government of the Tongue, Muldoon, Hirschfield, etc.
A meditation: the paradox of translation, Derrida said, is that the translator must strive to be as faithful as possible to the original author's style and intent, while at the same time recognizing that it's impossible to reconstitute the unique meaning of the original words. The alchemy of translation, he said, occurs precisely at that point where an essentially new work is created. "A translator is a creative writer", Derrida said. "You have to find the best way to be untrue to the original, to perjure in the best way. This is the double bind."
The arbitary but exciting word "best" is key here. The "living poem" in English will remain a goal - as well as productive analysis of the successful and not-so-successful theories and practices of translation ("literal" or "true" vs. "versions") We will be working primarily with "glosses", but also original text. it is helpful to know the language from which one is translating, but "literals" or "ponies" will always be available as a starting point for those not fluent in another tongue. Each student will offer a presentation, based on her semester-long project - along with the regular translating in workshop. The semester's project will be turned in at the end as "in progress" or close to completion.
ENGL 700: THEORIES AND PRACTICES OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT I
Bruce Smtih, Days: TBD, TIME: TBD Course Number 32806D
Faculty declined to submit a course description.
- USC Dornsife Department of English
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