Fall Graduate Courses
NEW GRAD/UNDERGRAD COURSES
Scholarly work doesn't always have to lead to the usual scholarly papers, articles, and books. The range of forms of writing available to us to present our research and the knowledge available in our fields extends well beyond these standard options. In this graduate-undergraduate course, we analyze and try out for ourselves a variety of alternatives presented to us by journalism, the essay, and other traditions: profile, op-ed, explainer piece, personal essay, review essay, in memoriam, anecdote, memoir, humor, and more. Our objective is to expand our repertoire of ways to write about what we learn and to expand the audience we reach. This is primarily a writing workshop, rather than a research-intensive course. In addition to writing and workshopping every week, we will read published examples of each of the genres we study and have class visits from experts who offer their own perspective on the rich variety of forms available to the scholarly writer.
Fulfills the pre-1700 requirement
In sixteenth and early seventeenth century England, people confronted new ideas, new areas of the world, and new peoples that changed their understanding of knowledge itself: what it was, where it came from, how to determine its truth value. In this course we will read primary sources that reveal how humanist education, the Protestant reformation, new science, expanded trade, and the “discovery” and colonization of the new world transformed what counted as knowledge. We will also read literary works from the period that were shaped by these issues, ranging from Thomas More’s Utopia, selections from Spenser’s Faerie Queene, plays by Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Jonson, and poems by Donne and other writers.
Theatre and philosophy have had a longstanding, if vexed, relationship; even Plato, a notorious antitheatricalist, wrote dramatic Dialogues. What use has theatre had for philosophy and vice versa? To what extent can theatre be said to be a philosophical activity? This course will explore how theatre translates philosophical questions and predicaments into the language of the stage. To enter the conversation between these genres of writing, we will read manageable extracts from literary-minded philosophers alongside philosophically-minded plays, as well as some helpful explanatory essays. Rather than trace a chronological history of either activity, we will highlight several key intersections, with an emphasis on Shakespeare and modern/contemporary theatre. Our pairings (or triads) may thus include Plato-as-philosopher and Plato-as-dramatist; Nietzsche and Ibsen; Shakespeare and Ordinary Language Philosophy; Edward Albee and Speech-Act Theory; Beckett, Adorno, and Rancière; Neil LaBute and aesthetic theory (what is Art?); Tom Stoppard and epistemology; Michael Frayn and quantum uncertainty; Caryl Churchill and ethics. In addition to a short, exploratory paper and a final formal paper, students will script their own “imagined theatre,” a short piece of inventive critical writing. Because we are not seeking mastery of particular thinkers or schools, but rather to elucidate various philosophical issues raised by literature in general and drama in particular, this course does not presume any previous background in western philosophy, drama, or “theory.” All are welcome.
In our current global situation the economy and the market dominate the political sphere and direct the intimacies of social life, while fundamentally transforming the planetary environment. We shall approach this situation by a) tracing its genealogy in the industrial revolution through 19th century literature; b) engaging with economic theorists to grasp the contours of economic logics; and c) studying the impact of the global economy on the environment through world literature. The aim of this course is to draw a wide arc that will connect the economy to the environment and to the proliferation of civil conflict and inequality.
Fulfills the Theory Requirement
This course is an in-depth introduction to key figures and movements in Contemporary Theory, with an emphasis on live theorists working today. We will read essays (mainly from The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism) and books by theorists such as Freud, Lacan, Kristeva, and Žižek (psychoanalysis); Derrida (deconstruction); Foucault (cultural theory); Benjamin (Marxist theory); Deleuze; Said (post-colonial theory); Butler (feminism) and Mulvey (feminist film theory); along with Badiou, Nancy, Ranciere, and Agamben. You do not need to have studied Theory prior to taking this course. One required mid-term paper (6 pages) and a final paper (10 pages).
Victorian literature was created for newly literate masses amid an explosion of print. In this course, we will read poetry as it first appeared in magazines, consider the emergence of detective fiction, and practice reading aloud. We will read major Victorian novels serially and “sideways,” by examining articles, advertisements, and illustrations alongside the original published parts of our texts (including Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, Anthony Trollope’s Framley Parsonage, Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, and Charlotte Yonge’s The Clever Woman of the Family). Critical and theoretical frameworks will include reader response and reception theory, literary sociology, and book history.
Mary Robinson, in her inaugural speech in 1990, hoped that her presidency of Ireland would "promote the telling of stories, stories of celebration through the arts and stories of conscience and of social justice." Concentrating on contemporary Irish fiction, this course examines the confluence of "stories" representing Irish society since the late-1980s. We will consider this (re)-emergence in the 1990s of the novel as Ireland’s dominant cultural form and question what that means in terms of cultural aesthetics. We will examine how these texts represent significant cultural shifts in Irish society and attempt answers to ongoing cultural questions. These include the relationship between tradition and innovation in ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland, the role of national identity in an era of globalization, the uses of memory, history, and the past in these novels, the representations of trauma and survival, cultural responses to economic boom, bust and austerity, the emergence of popular genres, and issues related to gender, sexuality and ethnicity in the “new Ireland.” Authors include Patrick McCabe Roddy Doyle, Seamus Deane, Colum McCann, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Emma Donoghue, Sebastian Barry, Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride, Donal Ryan, Sara Baume, Lisa McInerney and Tana French.
Ezra Pound arrived in London in August 1908 determined to absorb the entire tradition of European poetry and to use it to generate something wholly new. In October 1922, T. S. Eliot published in the first issue of The Criterion his masterpiece, The Waste Land, a poem that Pound called “the justification of the ‘movement,’ of our modern experiment….” In this class we will focus on the literature, criticism, and visual art produced as part of the “modern experiment” in which Pound saw himself and Eliot participating between 1908 and 1922. Writers and painters to be studied may include H. D., Eliot, Epstein, Fry, Ford, Gaudier-Brzeska, Hulme, Lewis, Marsden, Pound, Woolf, and others.
The "fourth genre" refers to works of nonfiction that contain literary features more commonly associated with fiction, poetry, and drama. We will examine a few pioneers of the form, including Woolf, Thoreau, and Freud, but our study will focus primarily on subgenres of contemporary American creative nonfiction, including immersion journalism; autobiography; graphic memoir; and literary and lyric essay. Readings will include work by creative nonfiction by writers such as Wolfe, Didion, Talese, Dillard, Kincaid, Bechdel, and Slater. Writing assignments will include both academic and creative essays.
ENGL8887 Introduction to Advanced Research (Fall, Spring:3.0)
This course will acquaint you with the essential resources to carry out the central tasks of literary scholarship. Bibliography (broadly defined as the investigation of the production, dissemination, collection, location, and identification of literary artifacts) is indispensable to scholarship and criticism of all kinds, just as a critical sensibility guides our choice of what books to look for. You will be guided through the reference works and databases available in the Boston College library and others, discuss the goals, purposes, and future of the field of literary studies, and produce an original project based on archival sources.
James Najarian, Robert Stanton
ENGL9001 PhD Seminar: Desire in the Novel (Fall:3.0)
Desire, for this course on the history of the novel, will lead to formal questions: the construction of plot, the creation of character and calibration of sympathy, the genre’s complex modalities of narration and perspective. Does the tradition offer a progressive elaboration of techniques for representing psychology or interiority? What possibilities does its mapping of social relations adumbrate for how such relations might change? Developing a critical vocabulary for the careful reading of fiction, and focusing especially on free indirect style (represented thought), we will move between a series of 18th- through 20th-century novels and theoretical accounts of the genre.