Intro to Graduate Studies


Anna Kornbluh recently asked how we’re approaching the question of our discipline in our teaching and it reminded me I meant to post my syllabus for our intro to grad studies course . Many thanks to everyone who helped me pull together “crisis of the humanities” articles over the summer. The title of the course is officially “History and Literary and Cultural Theory.”

Some background: In our program, roughly 1/2 to 2/3 of incoming grad students are creative writers (on the fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction track). We had a conversation about the class last year, and have sort of agreed that it doesn’t make sense to make a theory survey the foundation course for our program any more. (There are lots of reasons for this, but one I would suggest is the proliferation of mixed theoretical approaches today and the growing range of approaches we might class as “theory.” The post-critical moment is obviously not post-theory but reflects a less catholic, less orthodox approach to working with theory.)

I’m teaching the course as a mixture of about 1/3 history of the discipline (English departments, the Ph.D. program, and the creative M.F.A., now Ph.D.); 1/3 survey of a few selected topics in current theory (with background readings that fill in the critical genealogy optional); 1/3 future of the discipline, including alternative-academic and public humanities publication. Because of the nature of our program, we’re taking a writing-centered approach, with periodic writing workshops focused on genres of academic writing (exclusive of the seminar paper).

Link to syllabus: here.

Other syllabi: here.