Engl 610: “Theory at the End of the World”
How do we think the end of our world? How might our writing shape the world to come? These questions will be central to our seminar, which will examine major works of ecocriticism, systems thinking, and organic theory to explore how a variety of writers have conceived the world as an integrated ecology, and how such conceptions of the world system inform out attempts to deal with climate change and the dawn of the Anthropocene.
Engl 501: “Into to Graduate Studies”
What is it that we do when we’re working on our doctorate? Where did the program come from, and where is it going? How do we figure out how to write in new genres, how to think with new lenses, how to read with fresh eyes? This course aims to survey the past, present, and future of graduate English study — both creative and critical — as well as some current topics in literary theory. Its goal: to help you think about the different possibilities of your career and the future of the English Ph.D.
Core 103: “Darwin and Darwinism”
This is a course about Darwin and the modes of thinking which he enabled. We will seek to understand his major theories, but also the way his major writings were taken up by later readers, and the profound effect of these ideas not only on the sciences, but on human history, especially questions of race, economics, and sex. It is also a class about the ranginess of the imagination, the interdisciplinary nature of creative thought, and the way that an idea in a poem or book can walk over and shape how we perceive the world around us. If Darwin has had a massive impact not only on the way biologists, but also novelists, poets, and political theorists address the world, this is because he himself was an enormously curious and varied thinker, able to imagine connections between various fields of understanding and walks of life.
Engl 425: “Radical Victorians”
The Victorians were recast by the twentieth century as stifled radical conservatives, afraid of everything from sex to leggy furniture. But the Victorians lived in an age of rapid social and cultural shift – they advanced an earth-shattering theory of evolution, perfected the modern serial, and responded to waves of social revolution with radical reforms. Most importantly, they worked out how to incorporate political radicalism into civic life through an expanded franchise and stable print ecology that coordinated the radical, conservative and moderate press. This class will explore the literary, scientific, and religious radicalism of the Victorian period and consider how it has shaped political and popular culture today. A key component of the course will be to connect readings for the class to digital forums including major print publications and blogs. Coursework will include weekly online blogging assignments and a final critical research project.
GESM 120: “Shocking Knowledge: Gothic and Science Fiction as Literature of Discovery”
What do we really know about the world? When philosophers began to take this problem seriously the surprising answer was: not much. This course will explore how we explore the world and our place in it by examining classic and contemporary works from two genres that address overlapping questions of reality’s instability and our place in it: gothic horror and science fiction. Through a careful exploration of the modes of analysis particular to literary study, we will examine how fiction produces knowledge of the human condition. Examining the works of Anne Radcliffe, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, H. P. Lovecraft, Ridley Scott, Ursula K. Leguin, Edgar Allen Poe, Octavia Butler, Peter Jackson, and Kim Stanley Robinson, we will weigh the most shocking discovery of Sci-fi and Gothic fiction: what it means to be human.