Graduate Course Descriptions | Fall 2017

Creative Writing

ENCW 7310 - MFA Poetry Workshop

Section 001
M 200-430 (Bryan 310)
Instructor: Paul Guest

ENCW 7610 - MFA Fiction Workshop

Section 001
M 200-430 (Bryan 312)
Instructor: Jane Alison

Medieval Literature

ENMD 5010 - Introduction to Old English

Section 001
TR 1100-1215 (Bryan 312)
Instructor: Peter Baker

In this course you will learn to read the language of Beowulf—that is, the English language as preserved in sources from around 700 to 1100. After a brief introduction to the language (which is alarming at first glance but much easier to learn than any foreign language), readings will include prose excerpts from historical and religious sources and several verse classics, including The Battle of MaldonThe WandererThe Dream of the Rood, and The Wife’s Lament. Work for the course includes bi-weekly quizzes, a brief final exam, and a short paper.

Renaissance Literature

ENRN 8110 - The New Philosophy and Renaissance Literature

Section 001
M 500-730 (Bryan 310)
Instructor: Dan Kinney

Innovations and ancient revivals in Renaissance culture; reconceiving the self, redefining tradition, redesigning the state. Without slighting the formal agendas of Renaissance poets and prose-writers, the scope of this course largely approximates that of old ENRN 8810, "The Idea of the Renaissance." Authors we will engage include More, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, Bacon, and contemporary continentals Erasmus, Machiavelli, and Montaigne. One short, one longer paper, regular class participation, and a final exam.

ENRN 8500 - Milton

Section 001
T 200-430 (Bryan 233)
Instructor: Rebecca Rush

A survey of Milton’s poetry and a selection his controversial prose. We will read Milton’s work alongside selections from classical epics, Civil War pamphlets, and modern criticism in order to understand how Milton responded to ancient and modern poetic conventions, how he conceived of the relationship between poetry and politics, and how he attempted to craft a poetry that could accommodate his views on religious, political, and domestic liberty. Seasoned Miltonists and rookies are equally welcome.

Restoration and 18th-Century Literature

ENEC 8600 - Eighteenth-Century Prose Fiction

Section 001 - Space, Time, and Prepositions in the Eighteenth-Century Novel
MW 330-445 (Dawson's Row 1)
Instructor: Cynthia Wall

Other than that they are (mostly) long to very long prose fiction narratives, eighteenth-century British novels have little in common, formally speaking. From the dreamlike (or nightmarish) landscape that is Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, through Haywood’s shrewd amatory fiction, Defoe’s circling first-person narratives, the suffocating epistolarity of Richardson (that’s a compliment, btw), the self-reflexive irony of Fielding, the agonies of sensibility in Burney, the psychological labyrinths of gothic, and the innovative interiorities of Austen, each new instance defines and patterns itself anew, and none bears much similarity to the nineteenth-century inheritors. We will look at a variety of historical and cultural contexts, such as changes in architecture, typography, and grammar, and the ways they map onto changes in literary perceptions of space, time, motion, things, narrative, typography, and, yes, even prepositions. Participation, short analytical commentaries, two 10-page papers, presentations, and a final take-home exercise.

19th-Century British Literature

ENNC 8500 - Topics in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Section 001 - Word Magic in the 19th Century
T 500-730 (Bryan 334)
Instructor: Herbert Tucker

This survey of Romantic and Victorian poems, novels, tales, and plays having to do with magic will plot the enchantment represented within the text against the enchantment the text designs to work on its reader.  Changing configurations within this plot are likely to emerge as our syllabus moves from the turn of the 19th century just past the turn of the 20th.   As we go, we’ll compare otherwise disparate writings under such rubrics as charm language, witchcraft and gender, the historical backdating and imperial outsourcing of magic, the weave of glamour, the might of the occult book – all eligible, among other topics, for the papers students will prepare: two shorter essays (7-10 pp) and one longer (12-15 pp).  Students will also report to the class on outside readings in a couple of informal class presentations.  All will transpire, inescapably though contestably, under the baleful aegis of the disenchantment of modernity, and the dialectic of enlightenment it entails.  Poems unimpeachably canonical (e.g., Coleridge, Shelley, Browning, Tennyson, the Rossettis, Yeats), fiction from a mixed bag of tricks (e.g., Lewis, the Shelleys, Ainsworth, Bulwer-Lytton, Stevenson, Twain, Chesnutt, Wilde), plays where we can find them.

Modern and Contemporary Literature

ENMC 8500 - Topics in Modern and Contemporary Literature

Section 001 - The Refugee
T 630-900 (Bryan 310)
Instructor: Mrinalini Chakravorty

This seminar will explore how refugees have portrayed themselves and have been portrayed in literature, memoir, testimony, film, and art.  Mindful of the current political crisis over refugees, we will focus mainly on the post-45 years and contextualize our study of refugee art by reading widely from law, political and globalization theory, border studies, anthropology, history, and policy.  The 1951 Refugee convention adopts a human-rights framework for extending rights to those forced to migrate from the country of their nationality for fear of persecution.  Tensions arise when the right of refugees ‘to seek and enjoy asylum’ conferred by the UN is confronted by the lack of obligation felt by particular nation-states to receive them.  As a consequence, the political discourse over refugees is often framed in terms citizenship, host state policies, legal bans, rights, humanitarianism, aid, lack of agency, border disputes, disasters, war, and strife.  Further, a whole new lexicon distinguishing refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, and aliens describe displaced persons with varied legal and political nuance.  In our study we will attempt to parse these differences to gauge their significance within contemporary refugee regimes.

Becoming stateless, however, entails seeking refuge elsewhere and this is more than a legal and political problem.  In so doing, the refugee often becomes a limit case for ideas about hospitality, sympathy, sharing, compassion, estrangement, and notions of cultural bearing.  How, we will ask, do artistic representations of refugees mediate the personal, social, psychological and material terrain of forced migration given the rights-based legal framing that exists?  Our study will take certain mass displacements as flashpoints—Jewish and Palestinian displacements, the Partition of India, decolonial wars in Africa (Algeria, Biafra, Mozambique), Vietnam, and Syria—to see how the refugee experience is given depth through artistic engagements.  We will consider how the experience of being in camps, journeying across borders, homelessness, dispossession, familial loss, and trauma shapes the precarious condition of refugees.  Our goal will be to appraise whether and how aesthetic attempts to capture the condition of refugees respond to and at times revise political discourses about those in exile.

Our reading list may include work by Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, Giorgio Agamben, Edward Said, Gloria Anzaldua, Liisa Malki, Joseph Massaad, W.G. Sebald, Mahmoud Darwish, Elias Khoury, Caryl Phillips, Sadaat Manto, Ghassan Kanafani, Chimamanda Adichie, Viet Nguyen, Assia Djebar, among others.

This seminar is open to all students interested in thinking more about the refugee crisis.  Please be ready to read widely and across disciplines, and to engage experts in other fields such as the law, social work, and politics.  The course will also involve some outreach work.

Section 002 - Thinking the Poem: 5 American Poets
TR 200-315 (Ruffner Hall 125)
Instructors: Kevin Hart and Walter Jost

In his book Colors of the Mind the literary theorist and critic Angus Fletcher identifies a relatively untilled field in literature study that he calls “noetics.” “Noetics names the field and the precise activity occurring when the poet introduces thought as a discriminable dimension of the form and meaning of the poem.”  This must be a very large field indeed, so that a graduate course given to it needs some way of delimiting its interests to deal with five American poets: Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, A. R. Ammons, and John Ashbery.  And of course “thinking” has many possibilities—among them opining, believing, conceiving, inferring, imagining, reflecting, musing, meditating, as well as deliberating, speculating, reasoning, and arguing.  In this course we will focus on select philosophical and religious/theological matters to give point to these various aspects of thinking the poem.


ENMC 9500 - Studies in Modern and Contemporary Literature

Section 001 - Racial Performance
MW 200-315 (Location TBA)
Instructor: Sylvia Chong

What does it mean to perform “race”? The concept of racial performance may imply minstrelsy, inauthenticity, cultural appropriation, and mockery, and certainly the history of American culture abounds with such performances. But, borrowing from gender theory, don’t people who “are” a given race also perform it, to a certain extent? Can we separate the notion of “authentic” racial identity from the assumptions that shape our definitions of “race” at large and of individual races? This course will examine theories of performance and performativity, including readings from queer studies, critical ethnic studies, cultural studies, and performance studies. Our case studies will be drawn from film, theater, performance art, and music. We will examine racial performances by both members of a given race, as well as ostensible “outsiders” to that race. Indirectly, then, we will also be considering the definition of “whiteness” as it appears in contrast to these other, racially marked performers. In particular, we will look at racialized performers who inhabit but also resist the racial roles placed upon them by the culture industry. Overall, this course will try to go beyond a catalog of stereotypes, resisting the division of performances into “authentic vs. inauthentic,” “real vs. fake,” or “positive vs. negative,” to arrive at a more complicated notion of racial performance that can encompass both the extreme forms of minstrelsy as well as the more mundane actions of “normal” racial identity. Readings may include Eric Lott, Louis Chude-Sokei, Michael Rogin, Krystyn Moon, Sean Metzger, Joshua Chambers-Letson, Judith Butler, J. Jack Halberstam, Jose Munoz, Philip Deloria, Ward Churchill, Steven Leuthold, etc. Artists/films examined may include Bert Williams, Al Jolson, Spike Lee, Beyonce, Marlon Brando, C.Y. Lee, Philip Kan Gotanda, Margaret Cho, Franz Boas, Coco Fusco, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Gregg Deal.

American Literature to 1900

ENAM 9500 - Seminar in American Literature

Section 001 - The American Scene: Thomas Jefferson to Ernest Hemingway
TR 330-445 (New Cabell 207)
Instructor: Jerome McGann

The course will study a series of works that help to expose the various kinds of contradiction that get engaged, often inadvertently, through representative American works of the period. The course is particularly focused on forms of literary expression – fiction and poetry – that emerge out of the special character of what James called “The American Scene”.  Works to be studied include Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Brown Edgar Huntly; Lydia Maria Child, Hobomok; Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans; Poe, Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; Melville, Pierre; Dickinson, Letters and Poems; Delany, Blake; Tourgee, A Fool’s Errand; Whitman, Specimen Days; James, The American Scene; Adams, The Education of Henry Adams; Hemingway, In Our Time.

Genre Studies

ENGN 8510 - Form and Theory of Fiction

Section 001 - Shadow Narration
W 200-430 (Bryan 328)
Instructor: Jeffery Allen

In this course we will look at experimentation in prose narrative over the last one hundred years or so, using Marcel Proust's 1913 novel Swann's Way as a frame for this examination. Given that this is a course primarily designed for writers, we will engage in close readings of a number of exemplary texts as way to think through an understanding of certain key narrative concerns and techniques that define modernist and postmodernist prose. Texts include book-length works of fiction and nonfiction by Mavis Gallant, Ishmael Reed, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Clarice Lispector, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Michael Ondaatje, Edouard Leve, John Edgar Wideman, and Marlene van Niekerk. As we will see, shadow narration represents an extensive tradition of experimentation that stretches back to the origins of both spoken and written narrative. At the same time, it represents a range of narrative gestures and strategies that allow for the layering of subtext. Indeed, one might best think of subtext as shadow narration, as the totality of meaning and implication that accompanies the narrative as written on the page.

ENGN 8520 - Form and Theory of Poetry

Section 001 - The Poetics of Ecstasy
T 200-430 (Bryan 330)
Instructor: Lisa Spaar

The Greek word ekstasis signifies displacement, trance—literally, “standing elsewhere.” In this seminar class, serious makers and readers of poems will explore the poetics of fervor—erotic, visionary, psychosomatic, negative, religious, mystical.  When the precincts of poetry and rapture intersect, what transpires? What is possible? What is at stake and why does it matter? We will read widely and deeply across cultures and time, including work by Dickinson, Whitman, Carson, Hopkins, Sappho, Keats, Juan de la Cruz, Rilke, Mirabai, Rumi, Ginsberg, Rimbaud, Teare, Young, and other ancient, modern, and contemporary writers who have explored the experience of being beside one’s self in the transport of ecstasy.  Key critical texts include readings from Anne Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet, Michel de Certeau’s The Mystic Fable, Georges Bataille’s Erotism:  Death and Sensuality, and Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse.


ENCR 5650 - Books as Physical Objects

Section 001
MW 1100-1215 (Location TBA)
Instructor: David Vander Meulen

We know the past chiefly through artifacts that survive, and books are among the most common of these objects. Besides conveying a text, each book also contains evidence of the circumstances of its manufacture, how its producers viewed it, and how its readers might have received it.  In considering what questions to ask of these mute objects, this course might be considered the "archaeology of printing"—that is, the identification, description, and interpretation of printed artifacts surviving from the past five centuries, as well as exploration of the critical theory that lies behind such an approach to texts. With attention to production processes, including the operation of the hand press, it will investigate ways of analyzing elements such as paper, typography, illustrations, binding, and organization of the constituent sections of a book.  The course will explore how a text is inevitably affected by the material conditions of its production and how an understanding of the physical processes by which it was formed can aid historical research in a variety of disciplines, not only those that treat verbal texts but also those that deal with printed music and works of visual art.  The class will draw extensively on the holdings of the University Library's Special Collections Department, as well as on its Hinman Collator (an early version of the one at the CIA).  Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

ENCR 8100 - Introduction to Literary Research

Section 001
F 1000-1230 (Location TBA)
Instructor: Andrew Stauffer

Introduces UVa's research resources and the needs and opportunities for their use. The library and its holdings are explored through a series of practical problems drawn from a wide range of literary subjects and periods. Required of all degree candidates in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs.

ENCR 8559 - The Bible

Section 001
W 1000-1230 (Bryan 233)
Instructor: Stephen Cushman

The stories, rhythms, and rhetoric of the Bible have been imprinting readers and writers of English since the seventh century. Graduate students in English, whether specializing in creative writing or criticism, often use methods that descend from biblical scholarship of the Enlightenment.  The goal of this course is to sample stories and poems from Genesis to Revelation in order to deepen biblical literacy and sharpen awareness of biblical connections to whatever the members of the course are reading in other contexts.  Along the way we will discuss English translations of the Bible; the process of canonization; textual history; and the long trail of interpretive approaches, ancient to contemporary.  This is not primarily a course in the Bible as literature, although when appropriate, we may adopt literary approaches to it.  It is a course in the Bible as source of much that we hear and read.  Our text will be the New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th ed.  All are welcome, critical and creative.  No previous knowledge of the Bible needed or assumed.

ENCR 8670 - Feminist Theory

Section 001
TR 1100-1215 (Bryan 330)
Instructor: Susan Fraiman

An introduction to American feminist theory and criticism, considered in relation to cultural texts from nineteenth-century narratives to contemporary memoirs and movies.  Subfields touched on include feminist media studies and transnational feminism. In dialogue with African-American, postcolonial, and disability studies, the syllabus is, in particular, closely engaged with queer theory.  Most units juxtapose older, foundational texts with more recent scholarship building on and revising these; others assemble pieces suggesting divergent feminist methodologies or positions.  The idea is to trace the development of thinking about gender, sexuality, race, and culture over the last three decades, identifying major concerns and delving into key debates.  Primary texts will be considered in their own right but will largely serve to launch our exploration of such theoretical topics as canon formation and questions of literary value, feminist theory versus queer theory, the cinematic gaze, epistemologies of the closet, hybrid identities, the gendering of race, and more. Figures likely to appear on our syllabus include Susan Stanford Friedman, Eve Sedgwick, Judith Halberstam, Valerie Smith, Chandra Mohanty, Janice Radway, Sharon Marcus, Laura Mulvey, Donna Haraway, and Sara Ahmed.  Requirements: two papers and a final exam.

Special Topics in Literature



ENPG 8800 - Pedagogy Seminar

Section 001
W 500-730 (Bryan 235)
Instructor: James Seitz

English Literature

Research topics only.

Comparative Literature and Related Fields

Graduate Courses


5:00pm | Solarium Room. April 7 & 8, 9:00 am. New Cabell Hall 236
11:00am | Shea House