Graduate Course Seminars - Fall 2019
Seminar in Creative Writing
This course is a workshop on the craft of fiction writing. Students will write at least three new, complete stories or novel chapters. They will submit these to the class to be critiqued during workshop. Students will also carefully critique, both in writing and in class discussion, all other student stories submitted to the workshop. Students will substantially revise their stories for submission in a final portfolio. While the focus will be your writing, we will also discuss the work of published writers, look at publishing trends and consider the intricacies of life as a writer. A fiction workshop depends on the active participation of all its members; students will therefore be expected not only to attend class, but also to provide regular, thoughtful, constructive comments.
Poets in Prose
In this seminar, we'll investigate how and whether the techniques of poetry shape the creation of fiction and nonfiction. In recent years, the so-called "Poet's Novel" has appeared as a small but sustained and interesting genre. This followed on a period in which some poets insisted that what they did was "writing" and could not be readily pinned down as either poetry or fiction or nonfiction, with all the attendant questions about "the real" and the "imagined" that each genre proposes. At the same time, many writers have been attracted to the idea of lyric essay as a means of blending and twisting the forms of poetry into narrative fiction and nonfiction. We will read and write fiction and nonfiction which straddles the line between prose and poetry, focusing on readings and exercises which highlight the ways writers move across genres, adapting technique to suit their material and subject matter. The course is open to poets, fiction writers, MA and Ph.D students alike.
We'll read writers such as Eileen Myles, Nathaniel Mackey, Simone White, Denis Johnston, David Malouf, Julie Otsuka to name a few.
Poetry Writing Workshop
Introduction to Graduate Study
Few people realize how old the English language is or how fascinating the earliest literature can be. Our earliest texts date from the seventh century, so we have over 1300 years of literary texts in English. This course is an introduction to the oldest stage of our language, known as Old English (from c. 600 to 1150), along with some aspects of the history and culture of the Anglo-Saxons, as the early English were known. The central focus of the class will be on learning to read the language, and the emphasis of the first eight weeks will be on Old English grammar and the translation of short prose passages. We will devote the second half of the semester primarily to translation of Old English poems, all of which are among the most remarkable works in English literature. Over the course of the semester we will translate selections from both poetry and prose, including passages from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, The Wanderer, and some passages from the Battle of Maldon and Beowulf.
This course satisfies two MA Literature distribution requirements: Linguistics; and British Literature, pre-1800.
Text: Bruce Mitchell and Fred. C. Robinson. A Guide to Old English. Eighth edition (although the sixth and seventh editions will do fine).
Introduction to Graduate Study in Rhetoric and Composition
This course is meant to introduce graduate students to the field(s) of rhetoric, writing studies, and public engagement. The work in the course will help develop student interests within these areas, and we will survey central conversations in these fields and identify potential lines of inquiry within these conversations.
Overall, the course will focus on three questions that will set the stage for future participation in the profession:
• What kinds of work happens in rhetoric and writing studies?
• What concerns characterize this work?
• How can I situate my interests within the concerns of the discipline?
In exploring these questions, students will produce documents typical to work in the field, such as conference proposals and presentations, reviews, and (portions of) scholarly journal articles.
Seminar in Rhetoric and Composition
Diversity and Inclusion: Promises and Pitfalls
Diversity, inclusivity, and their synonyms describe and orient efforts to combat racism and inequality in the public sphere, in higher education, and in our classrooms. In this course, we will critically examine these terms, the work they do, and the work that is done in their name. Specifically, we will grapple with two paradoxes identified by scholars in critical race and feminist studies: 1) that "diversity talk" may often function to block rather than facilitate ameliorative action; 2) that efforts to include may in some cases work to conceal hierarchies and exclusions. This is to say, we'll attend to how "diversity" and "inclusion" may serve to reproduce the status quo and institutions rather than transform them. Most importantly, we'll search for more critical terms and frameworks, asking how we might transform the spaces in which we work.
Joining this theoretical exploration, we'll interrogate on-the-ground diversity work in a range of contexts and scales: from issues of national belonging, to higher ed diversity initiatives, to writing program policies down to classroom practices. In doing so, we'll engage contemporary debates over citizenship, identity politics, classroom access, racial privilege, and more.
Authors and texts will include (we'll read some full texts and excerpt from others): Sara Ahmed, On Being Included; Asao Inoue, Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies; Amy Brandzel, Against Citizenship; Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion; Karma Chavez, Queer Migration Politics; Stephanie Kerschbaum, Toward a New Rhetoric of Difference; Chandra Mohanty, Feminism without Borders; Cathy Prendergast, Buying Into English; Nirmal Puwar, Space Invaders.
College Teaching in Language and Literature
This course is designed to help new and experienced instructors professionalize as teachers of composition whether their backgrounds are in rhetoric and writing studies, literature, creative writing, or linguistics. The course will introduce the Core Writing curriculum, the contemporary scholarship that grounds this curriculum, and the pedagogical practices suited to the Core Writing curriculum as well as those of other first-year writing programs.
The late Edward Said used his BBC Reith Lectures not to challenge Orientalism, but to inquire into the role and responsibility of the intellectual. By asking this question over the airwaves, Said both examined and exemplified the role of the public intellectual. Public intellectuals like Said direct their work toward public life and write for wide audiences, paradoxically opening themselves to the critique that their work is neither public (popular), nor intellectual (sufficiently rigorous). In fact, the category is subject to much disagreement: what "counts" as public intellectualism? What makes intellectualism "public"-who, what, and where is this public that scholars are to engage? And what exactly does public intellectualism, however defined, look like in practice? To aid our exploration of these questions, this course is organized in three parts. We begin by studying theories of the public sphere and of democracy. We then examine a few varieties of intellectualism that engage the world: cultural studies, postcolonial theory, and pacifism. Lastly, we study public intellectualism in action. In total, the course offers lenses and methods for embodying public engagement through our research, teaching, and other professional activities.
**Fulfills MA distribution requirements in nonfiction/intellectual prose.**
Prob in Age Reason
Disaffection, Revolution, Treason?:
The Literature of Crisis in the Long Eighteenth Century
The long eighteenth century (1660-1800) has often been regarded as the tranquil Age of Reason-wrongly. In fact it was a time of fiery political debate, religious controversy, and rapid social change; the period saw succession crises and attempted coups, a revolution and an exiled monarch, wars, the birth of political parties, almost constant invasion fears. Writers like Aphra Behn, John Dryden, Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), Daniel Defoe (whose twelve-book epic poem Jure Divino is devoted to radical political theorizing) and-at the end of the period, William Blake, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft-are actively engaged in the culture of controversy.
This course is meant to serve as an introduction to a contentious period, as well as a study in the historical precedents for debates about power, about loyalty, and about the legitimacy of popular protest and popular politics more broadly. Our reading will include both conservative and more "progressive" or radical voices. We will look at responses to moments of riots and outright rebellion, as well as more ideological forms of resistance (e.g., using journalism to encourage subjects toward increased political engagement, or to advance conspiracies). We will analyze techniques authors used to register their disaffection, or to denounce the disaffected; we will also study conservative and progressive writers' rhetorical constructions of the public, and their competing efforts either to neutralize or to engage the electorate.
Most broadly, the purpose of this class is to survey some of the ways in which authors responded to political change, and tried to intervene in that change. Students in this seminar will be invited to write on related concepts, but not required to write on 18th-century topics. Instead, you'll be encouraged to explore the culture of politics in your period of interest (the understudied and perhaps underestimated exemplars of conservative satire? very contemporary American rhetorics of resistance? nonviolent coercion around the American Revolution? Yeats and the Easter Rising in Ireland? resistance as expressed in dystopian fiction? underground networks in WWII? the anti-war poetry of soldier poets, from WWI to Vietnam? Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad? Spike Lee on political power? guerilla theater?).
NB: I have no present-centered axe to grind; this course will not be a battle cry for modern #resistance, but a historical study of instances of resistance and dissidence and of the language of politics during a time of enormous and rapid political change. One thing we'll learn is that the conflicts we see as unique to our moment often have, in many important respects, rich antecedents in this age of revolutions.
Topics in Anglophone Lit
Colonialism, Postcolonialism, and Globalization
This course asks: What does the term "postcolonialism" mean? Is it a historical notion or an ideological term? When exactly does the 'postcolonial' era begin? Has it ended? How does it relate to "globalization"? What are the theoretical and political implications of using such umbrella terms to designate the ensemble of writings and artworks by those subjects whose identities and histories have been shaped by the colonial encounter and its aftermath? We will historically, aesthetically, and conceptually situate the colonial, postcolonial, and globalized eras across multiple time periods, geographic regions. We also will also consider the long-lasting legacies of colonialism through the eras of decolonization and into our globalized present. We will read such authors as Rudyard Kipling, Salman Rushdie, Tsitsi Dangaremba, Chinua Achebe, and Jamaica Kincaid and work with such theorists as Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabha, and Gayatri Spivak.
Topics in Writing
The very open ended description of this class from the course catalogue is "Analysis and writing practice in selected genres and themes." Specific to the class, we are talking about the ways writing constructs ecologies and how ecologies inform writing. This class will, for example, examine how the scientific method inscribes ecosystems, how community discourses frame environmental issues, and how narratives structure environmental policies: each of these situations create texts that modify the human-environment relationship. In order to understand how this happens, students will not only engage with a variety of genres and theories, they will also work with scientists who are conducting environmental research and with non-profit organizations working to protect nature. Students will produce writing for publication, for a popular audience and/or public consumption, as well as technical reports. Students will also be expected to use the theories and concepts discussed in class to critique existing discourse communities and habits.
Additionally, this is a service learning course. Service-learning is an educational approach whereby students learn and develop through relevant community experiences. It is planned and conducted in conjunction with community agencies to address local needs. It is most beneficial when the experience is integrated into the curriculum, and includes continuous reflection. The service-learning component of this course is designed to allow students to not only study environmental communication and ecological sciences, but to participating in the production of appropriate discourses. By the end of this course, students will be able to assess environmental discourse, construct arguments appropriate to a given community discourse, and construct environmental communication designed to engage multiple stake-holders. For more information, see the Office of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement's website at http://www.unr.edu/service-learning.
Topics in Writing
In this course, we'll discuss the essence of good storytelling, how and why narratives matter (as personal legacies, as testaments to communal identity, as evidence that we all have rights to our lives), we'll read contemporary literary artists who excel in their craft, and of course, we'll write our own narratives.
Outcomes: Students who complete the course should have a working knowledge of narrative craft and artistic integrity; they will have read, studied, and responded to prominent literary artists; and they will, I hope, develop a sense of their own voices and come to some appreciation of the life of the literary artist.
Advanced Nonfiction Writing
Finding Your Style
This workshop is an intensive exercise in honing individual style in non-fiction prose. By reading stylistics theory, doing grammar work, conducting style analysis, and putting principles into practice, students will develop an awareness of their writing "voices" and expand their style repertoires. They will create new documents for professional contexts and revise previously written documents for style. The final portfolio will include before-and-after versions of these documents as well as a capstone essay defining students' style. Prerequisites: 303 or junior standing.
Advanced Nonfiction Writing
This team-based, project-based course will continue to use nonfiction writing to respond to Reno's affordable/housing/homelessness issues via communication design thinking. Students will deploy a variety of nonfiction genres for a variety of contexts, modes, media, audiences, and purposes.
Advanced Creative Writing: Fiction I/II
This course is an advanced exploration of the craft of fiction writing. Students will write at least two new pieces of fiction (short stories or excerpts from longer works) and will submit these pieces to the class to be critiqued during workshop. They will also substantially revise one of these pieces. Students will also carefully critique, both in writing and in class discussion, all other student stories and excerpts submitted to the workshop. Additionally, students will read classic and contemporary published works of fiction and craft texts, respond to and analyze those readings, and complete a variety of fiction writing exercises. Active participation is vitally important to this course, and all students will be expected to attend class faithfully, arrive at class fully prepared, and enthusiastically participate (including speaking during workshops and discussions).
Note: You must apply for admission to ENG 403A/B & 603A/B. Please complete the application form, select a 7-10 page double-spaced sample of your best fiction, and email the form and sample in .docx or .pdf format to me at email@example.com using the subject line WORKSHOP APPLICATION. For fullest consideration you should submit your application by 5:00pm on April 1.
Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry I/II
This is an advanced course in the craft of poetry writing. The class meets twice a week and will primarily focus on workshopping student writing. The course will give student writers ample opportunity to compose and revise poems, as well as receive comprehensive feedback from both instructor and fellow students. This is an exciting time for poetry as a written and performative art, and I look forward to sharing this energy with student writers. Interested students should complete the application form and submit a five-page writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org. For fullest consideration you should submit your application by 5:00pm on April 1st
[Insert link to application form.]
Tutoring Student Writers
ENG 408B /608B: TUTORING STUDENT WRITERS trains students to work with peers on academic writing projects and prepares students to work in the University's Writing Center.
The primary purpose of this course is to prepare students to effectively work with a wide array of writers and writing. Students who successfully complete this course will acquire a rich understanding of the theories and practices of writing centers, develop a solid foundation for working with student writers (across disciplinary contexts), and specialize in an area of their choosing related to working with student writers and/or writing centers. Research shows that experience gained through tutoring writing provides students with invaluable skills transferable to their own learning and future professional goals across fields. Join English 408B / 608B to hone your own skills as a writer, refine invaluable tools for supporting other writers, and engage in one of the most valuable and unique learning experiences available at UNR!
Contemporary Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
This class is about language and power. We'll attend first to the power of rhetoric: is language a tool of expression, or does it do more, shaping and even constructing reality and our identities? Next, we'll grapple with the relationship between rhetoric and social and political power: who has the power to speak and to be heard? How is power won, reproduced, and/or challenged through rhetoric? With this in mind, we will read a range of contemporary rhetoric theories-including feminist, anti-racist, and poststructuralist-and put those theories to use, studying controversies over free speech, protest, civility, and tolerance.
Our assignments will focus on rhetorical criticism in both academic and public-facing, multi-media formats. That is, these assignments will show how rhetoric is useful in contributing to both academic and public conversations.
Principles of Modern Grammar
This course will provide an introduction to modern syntactic theory, with an emphasis on the Principles and Parameters approach to formal syntax. The course will cover parts of speech, constituency, structural relations, binding, and the X-bar model of representation. Functional categories, theta theory, and movement will also be considered. Data from a wide variety of languages will be considered in addition to English.
This course is an introduction to linguistics, which is the scientific study of language. We will focus on building a foundation in the core areas of linguistics, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, language variation, and language change. Students will be exposed to linguistic structures from English and a diverse set of other languages. These structures will serve as data for linguistic analysis. In addition, we will discuss broader applications of key insights from linguistics.
Introduction to Experimental Phonetics
This course introduces the study of phonetics from both an experimental and a social perspective. Students will learn basic acoustics (how sound waves are generated, and their properties); about the physiology of human speech production (how sounds are articulated, and the relationship between articulation and acoustics); and the use of speech analysis software to investigate the properties of speech sounds. We will also discuss experimental design and data analysis. In addition, students will be introduced to the use of phonetics to investigate dialect variation, as well as the role played by phonetics in sound change. Students will be introduced to the equipment and technology necessary to conduct linguistic fieldwork. The course will emphasize hands-on skills and experience.
Few people realize how old the English language is or how fascinating the earliest literature can be. Our earliest texts date from the seventh century, so we have over 1300 years of literary texts in English. This course is an introduction to the oldest stage of our language, known as Old English (from c. 600 to 1150), along with some aspects of the history and culture of the Anglo-Saxons, as the early English were known. The central focus of the class will be on learning to read the language, and the emphasis of the first eight weeks will be on Old English grammar and the translation of short prose passages. We will devote the second half of the semester primarily to translation of selected Old English poems, all of which are among the most remarkable works in English literature. Over the course of the semester we will translate selections from both poetry and prose, including passages from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, The Wanderer, and some passages from the Battle of Maldon and Beowulf.
This course satisfies both the upper-level linguistics requirement and the one course before 1800 requirement.
Text: Bruce Mitchell and Fred. C. Robinson. A Guide to Old English. Eighth edition (although the sixth and seventh editions will do fine).
Shakespeare: Tragedies and Histories
The Victorian Period
English 445A/645A seeks to make the literature, culture, and ethical concerns of 19th-century Britain accessible to 21st-century readers. Over the course of the semester, we will read poetry, fiction, and non-fiction prose while documenting the different movements and counter-movements, both aesthetic and political, that occurred during Victoria's long reign. Students will write informal and formal critical analyses of texts using a range of critical theories and approaches. This course satisfies CO12 (Ethics) in UNR's Core Curriculum.
Contemp American Literature
This class will consider post-1980 U.S. fiction and poetry that addresses issues central to contemporary culture, with an emphasis on representations by and of diverse Americans. We'll start by looking at pairs of works published between 1980 and the present day that address similar themes, including the American intervention in Vietnam, the legacy of slavery, and the position of Native Americans in U.S. culture. Once we get a sense of the evolution of contemporary literature, we'll turn to more recent works that focus on contemporary capitalism and economics, borders, citizenship, and climate change. Throughout the semester, we'll focus on the relation between literature and contemporary political, cultural, and economic trends and events. We'll also consider the definition and recurrent themes of American literature (is it possible to generalize about the themes and approaches of contemporary American literature, and what is gained by doing so? must American literature be set in the U.S., be written by authors born here, or both?), the usefulness of standard critical ways of distinguishing earlier (postmodern) from later (post-postmodern? neorealist? politically engaged?) literature, and the relation between literary form, tone, and theme. And we'll address the ways in which authors-and readers-advocate for literature's continued relevance in an era characterized by the rise of alternative media, and the criteria by which literature is defined as worth reading (and studying).
Assigned works will include fiction by some of the following: Don DeLillo, Leslie Marmon Silko, Tim O'Brien, Toni Morrison, Mohsin Hamid, Ben Fountain, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Celeste Ng, Tommy Orange, and Emily St. John Mandel; and poems by Tommy Pico, Harryette Mullen, Claudia Rankine, and Javier Zamora; films will likely include Blade Runner, as well as another film chosen by the class. We'll also likely read (short and accessible) essays on course themes, including trauma, memory, and the rhetoric of self-help; contemporary capitalism and the status of the American dream; the evolution of multiethnic literature; and the rise of "cli-fi."
By the end of the semester, you should have a good knowledge of key texts in contemporary American literature; be able to analyze the differences between and commonalities of fiction, poetry, and film; and be able to evaluate the different ways critics have defined contemporary literature, including postmodernism. You should also be able to write clear and well-supported essays on single and multiple texts, use theory and criticism effectively in analyzing literary texts, and improve your argumentation, essay structure, and support. I also hope this course leaves you excited about contemporary American literature and eager to read more.
This course is open to English majors who have completed or are enrolled in English 303 and to juniors and seniors in other departments.
American Poetry 1865-1945
In this course, we'll read and discuss primary voices in American poetry, with special attention paid to what it is that the past can teach us; in other words, to know where we're going as a (literary) culture, it's important that we acknowledge and try to understand where we've come from. The journey we'll take in this course will also include references to and examples of contemporary poetry that reflect the concerns and values of the past and/or challenge those very concerns and values. Student led discussions and inquiries into our readings will comprise most of our sessions.
Topics in Comparative Literature
The Global City
Cities have always maintained a privileged relationship with literature and film, capturing the imagination of writers and image-makers alike throughout the centuries. The last fifty years have seen city life transform at break neck speed, changing to accommodate exponentially growing populations, technological innovations, and churning transportation around the globe. In this course, we will ask: what can literary and filmic representation tell us about the new and shifting forms of human life that arise in the fluctuating cityscapes of the contemporary world? Working with short stories, novels, and film, this course journeys through depictions of urban life in developing cities across the world. Our itinerary takes us to literary and cinematic versions of the Caribbean, South American, Asia and African city. Examining works by authors such as Italo Calvino, Chimamanda Adichie, Vikram Chandra, Teju Cole, Earl Lovelace, and Roberto Bolano, we will touch upon such diverse concepts as urbanization, industrialization, alienation, immigration, and slumification.
Ethics in Literature