SPRING 2017 GRADUATE COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
Postcolonial Masculinities - 18674 - ENG 515B - 01
ENG 515B Postcolonial Masculinities Taking as its starting point the axiom “empire messes with identity,” this course examines the ways in which the processes of colonialism and imperialism shape the landscape of gender, in particular masculinity/ies, in postcolonial and post-imperial spaces. Through the semester, we will examine masculinity as a pluralized gender identity that is inflected by sexuality, class, ethnicity, colonialism, and contemporary geo-politics. Some of the questions that we will consider in this class: how are masculinities constructed? Are masculinities always aspirational? Are there national masculinities? How are local masculinities simultaneously shaped by the history of colonialism and currents of contemporary capitalist globalization? We will also consider whether the term “postcolonial” appropriately captures the complexities of these various masculine configurations. We will look at novels from India, Egypt, South Africa, and the heart of London as we track various kinds of masculinities and the pressures of history and politics that create them.
Philosophy of New Media - 23419 - ENG 516C - 01
Going beyond the question of artificial intelligence (“can computers think?”), this seminar addresses the question whether our contemporary, computer-based environments change the way we think (we think). Does the logic of new media follow from new (perhaps even old) modes of thought, or do we find a discrepancy between the functioning of our minds and our screens? The question is not merely how apps or desktops can be made to work intuitively, but whether our intuitions follow a “database logic.” The seminar challenges its participants to compare and contrast poststructuralist thought as it emerges from philosophies of life and existence (Bergson, Whitehead, Simondon, Heidegger; Derrida, Deleuze, Merleau-Ponty) and discourses adapted from biology and cognitive science (as explored by Hayles, Poster, Stengers, Hansen, De Landa, Beistegui). Against this background we shall analyze contemporary works of digital literature, film, and computer-based art, and discuss the everyday applications and implications of social media and the Internet.
19C British Imperialisms - 21434 - ENG 565A - 01
ENG 565A 19C British Imperialisms In nineteenth-century scholarship, we often hear about “The British Empire.” But it might be more accurate to talk about empires, plural. Over the course of the nineteenth century Britain expanded its global influence in a range of ways, through military force, settlement, and economic pressure. In this course we will sift through some of the continuities and discontinuities of the various discourses that explained, justified, and critiqued British imperialism. We will read historical and political prose from the period ranging from Simon Bolivar to Thomas Macaulay, 20th and 21st century theories of imperialism, as well as novels and poems from the likes of Tennyson, Schreiner, and Conrad.
American Captivity Narratives - 18675 - ENG 565B - 01
ENG 565B American Captivity Narratives This course explores a variety of American texts about captivity from the colonial era to the present (emphasis on 20th and 21st C texts). We will familiarize ourselves with classic texts and scholarship on the colonial period and then place them in dialogue with a range of contemporary publications about captivity, detention, incarceration, and human trafficking. We will ask why “captivity” has been such an enduring genre and trope in the U.S., explore its specific concerns and formal features, and probe what cultural work captivity narratives perform in the colonial period and in the centuries that follow.
Travel & Exploration - 24539 - ENG 572C - 01
This course will compare and contrast perceptions of travel in literature and visual culture from the Middle Ages to the 21st century along with theoretical readings on travel, tourism, and ethnography. We will begin with Ibn Battouta, Leo Africanus, Marco Polo, and John Mandeville and discuss the particularities of pilgrimage journeys as well as the combination of fantastical, trade, and religious interests in medieval travelogues and maps. We will then examine the representation of the New World in Columbus’s Letters, Hans Staden, Montaigne, \ maps, and films such as Herzog’s Aguirre during the time of Discovery, or, the "Invention" of America. The explosion of travel narratives satisfied a growing European curiosity that explored everything that had to do with “The New World" amidst the growing printing trade. After reviewing the interests of naturalists and navigators, we will turn to travelers during the age of Enlightenment including Humboldt’s pursuit of natural history, Goethe’s grand tour, and Georg Forster’s South Sea edition projects that resulted in an interest in the birth of German “Volkskunde.” We will also read accounts of women and (cross)-dressing slaves that subvert and queer the genre of travel literature (Olaudah Equiano, Isabelle Eberhardt, Catalina de Erauso) and finish with 21st century examples from Junot Díaz. This course will draw upon maps, films, travel narratives and chronicles, as well as theoretical texts on ethnography, travel, and colonialism (Mary Louise Pratt, Susanne Zantop, Anne McClintock, Michel Certeau, Clifford Geertz, Neil Whitehead, James Clifford, Stephen Greenblatt, Frank Lestringant, Anthony Pagden).
Foucault, Abnormality, Race - 25257 - ENG 572V - 01
n a series of seminars delivered in the mid-1970s, Foucault argues that the “race struggle” is more fundamental to the formation of Western modernity than is the “class struggle,” the foundation of Marx’s analyses of capitalism. Foucault also indicates that the “race struggle” precedes racism, suggesting that, before one can grasp racism, one must address the genealogical formation of race itself. This class will examine these proposals—that is, the difference between the “class struggle” and “race struggle”—through readings of Foucault, the short fiction of Carver, Melville, Cortazar, Camus, and novels by Larsen (Passing), Tournier (Friday), and Faulkner (Light in August).
Neuroaesthetics - 25531 - ENG 572W - 01
ENG 572W Neuroaesthetics In the present cultural moment, focused as it is on consumption and economic utility, what good are literature and other art forms? Are they non-functional and extraneous? This is a question we have needed to answer in the humanities, and recent developments in neuroscience argue for the central importance of literature and art in human development. Work in the field of affective neuroscience about primary process and secondary, self-conscious emotions, along with work on cognition and consciousness, reveals that literature and other aesthetic arts may play an important part in brain function by helping us to develop self-awareness, a kind of mind-reading that makes us aware of other minds. Literary identifications create "affective maps" that make us aware of how we process information from the world around us (cultural learning), and how that learning, in conjunction with the primary, evolutionarily-based emotional processes, contributes to identity and pro-social building blocks like empathy and human systems such as morality. The course will explore how these physiologically-based brain processes intersect with positionality and culture to underlie both the creation, reception, and experience of various art forms. Readings include work from both the sciences and the humanities, and includes literature as well as critical work. No previous knowledge of science is necessary to do well in the course.
Rhet & Comp Theory & Practice - 18673 - ENG 589A - 01
ENG 589A Rhet and Comp Theory and Pract Prepares PhD students to teach first-year writing at Binghamton University and beyond. It examines the contemporary theories that support informed writing pedagogy and provides a specialist overview of the history of rhetoric and writing studies. In sum, the seminar gives you the knowledge necessary to teach a college-level writing course, provides you with a historically grounded understanding of rhetoric and writing studies, and offers a pedagogical scaffolding you may apply to any course in English studies.
Kafka and His Readers - 18671 - ENG 593B - 01
Seminar explores the work and reception of Franz Kafka (1883-1924), arguably the most famous writer of German Modernism and the inspiration for the troublesome idiom “Kafkaesque.” We will examine the Kafkan text with and against some of the cultural productions that have emerged from it, from the illustrations of R. Crumb, to the installation art of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, the musical compositions of Carsten Nicolai, the films of Steven Soderbergh and Michael Haneke, the literary texts of authors like Jonathan Franzen, Haruki Murakami and J.M. Coetzee and the criticism of thinkers like Adorno, Derrida and Blanchot. While considering Kafka’s literary legacy, his academic function, his impact on thinking about representation, and the debates about the translation of his work, we will also reflect on the process of reading and interpretation generally as well as on what literature does and the ways in which literary criticism works.
Transnational Am Studies - 22693 - ENG 593T - 01
ENG 593T Transnational Am Studies This course is intended to introduce students to some of the more recent theoretical and methodological developments shaping the field of American Studies, in particular, what has come to be known as the “transnational turn” within American Studies. To this end, the first part of the course is dedicated to exploring the transnational analytic generated by recent scholarship, surveying work that explores the connections between nation and empire; the intersection of race, gender, immigration and citizenship; and issues of space, territory and borders. Focusing on modern and contemporary U.S. literature, we use this transnational frame to then address a number of broad and related questions: What are the relationships between culture and imperialism? How do issues of race, gender and sexuality intervene in this relationship? How can we think of various formal and generic developments in the novel within the context of transnationalism and shifting forms of U.S. global politics? How might we think of the cultural politics of the novel in the field of transnational American studies?
Writers and Other Artists - 29689 - ENG 594A - 01
ENG 594A Writers and Other Artists Meet Binghamton Book Award Winners Yusef Komunyakaa and Lindsey Drager, BU alums Letitia Moffitt and R. Flowers Rivera, as well as Nickole Brown and Mermer Blakeslee. This unique mini-course runs in conjunction with the Spring Reader's Series and provides an opportunity to meet informally in a small-group setting with each of the readers to discuss their work, craft and lives as writers/artists. This is an outstanding opportunity for writers and anyone with a serious interest in the creative process. Format: Mini-course graded on the Pass/Fail option at the undergraduate level but on a regular grading option at the graduate level. Students are required to attend the readings on the FIVE Tuesday evenings designated (2/21, 2/28, 3/14, 3/28, & 4/4) and then class meets with the reader the following Wednesday morning from 9:40-11:40 a.m. (The room for these class meetings will be designated well ahead of time on the course Blackboard site.), read a minimum of one book by each reader, write a brief response paper on each book/reader in preparation for the conversation and write one formal paper on a topic that arises from the course material (3-5 pages for undergraduate students; 8-10 for graduate students). Levels: Graduate, Undergraduate
Poetry Workshop - 18668 - ENG 640 - 01
ENG 640 Lyrical Narrative Poetry Workshop In this craft workshop, we will focus on all aspects of a life in poetry, including, but not exclusive to pedagogical approaches, the reading of poems, the different models for workshops, manuscript preparation, submitting of work for publication, different approaches to revision, and the creation of a dynamic poetry community. Poems grounded in place as well as family are important to the lyrical narrative tradition here at Binghamton. We will continue that tradition while adding some frames of reference for trends on the current poetry scene.
Fiction Workshop - 18669 - ENG 641 - 01
ENG 641 Fiction Workshop Fiction Workshop is designed to give graduate students an intensive study and practice in writing fiction. The focus is on student work, sharing in the workshop format; however, we will also read a variety of short story collections and novels, discussing elements of structure and technique in class, along with reading response blogs posted on Blackboard. There will be exercises designed to help the individual student push his/her work forward, practicing craft and potentially generating story ideas. Three complete stories or novel chapters are expected from each student, along with revisions. Please note: This course is open to graduate students admitted into the M.A. or Ph.D. Program in Creative Writing. Other graduate students may enroll if there is sufficient space, with permission of professor, based upon a writing sample of 2-3 stories.
Creative Non-Fiction - 24607 - ENG 643C - 01
ENG 643C Creative Non-Fiction This course focuses on creative non-fiction as an emergent literary form that uses one's life and research as material for transformation into creative writing that is as much a work of art as it is fiction or poetry, and includes the graphic memoir. How does one render the world with both truth and beauty, content and technique? Creative non-fiction comes out of the long literary tradition dedicated to verisimilitude in writing, but a primacy is placed on beauty of form and language as well. This is a writing/workshop course in which we will read other works of creative non-fiction in order to learn the genre. Readings may include work by Nick Flynn, Steven Church, Mark Doty, Alison Bechtel, Jeanette Walls, and others. We will focus on the development of writing voice, use of perspective and point of view, how to do research for creative writing, and how to use the techniques of poetry and fiction to tell your own story, or the story of a particular non-fiction subject, in a crafted, artistic way. The first part of the course will be devoted to reading, and the second to workshopping your own writing.