A Sample of Past Courses in Writing, Literature, and Film for the MA in English


ENG 582: Studies in American Literature, Culture, and Environment: Climate Change and Literary Form (Spring 2024, MA Experience)

Anthropogenic climate change constitutes a grave threat to the lives and well beings of human and nonhuman populations, requiring swift and decisive changes in myriad national, state, and community policies and behaviors.  Within democratic countries, such changes require immense political will, which can only be achieved through increased “climate literacy”—a phrase that designates not only familiarity with the science of climate change but also its real and potential economic, political, and cultural consequences.  To help promote such literacy, several US states have begun to implement large-scale changes to the entirety of their K-12 curricula. Such changes have placed immense pressure upon K-12 ELA teachers, who must rapidly reinvent their curricula to align with new standards. To address this problem, graduate students in this class will first investigate how climate-change has been addressed as a formal problem in literary narratives, drawing upon a rich collection of creative, critical, and pedagogy-centered works from within and beyond the United States.  We will then work together to develop and publish a set of open-educational resources designed to address how literature classrooms might engage with this most dangerous planetary problem.


WR 593: The Rhetorical Tradition and the Teaching of Writing (Winter 2024, MA Experience)

WR 593 covers major past and contemporary theories of written communication, their historical context, and their impact on writing and the teaching of writing. We will approach this from two sides. First, together we will read about and read texts from the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition that is the dominant force shaping the teaching of writing in the USA today. Second, we also will explore other rhetorical traditions, including but not limited to African American, Chinese, Indigenous, and Latinx rhetorical traditions. Individuals or groups will choose a tradition to focus on and will teach the rest of the class about that tradition and lead discussions about how we might draw on the tradition to enrich and improve our own writing pedagogies. Overall, we will use the Greco-Roman tradition to provide a common vocabulary and knowledge base, but our collective goal will be to use historical exploration to learn about the pedagogical affordances of a range of
rhetorical tradition


FILM 552: The Pleasure of Terror/The Terror of Pleasure: Horror Films, 1919-2023 (Winter 2023, MA Experience)

The roots of the word “horror” derive from words that meant “to shiver” and to “stand on end”. And the enduring film genre follows suit, defined not by constituent elements but instead by a desired effect. This class will offer a look at a selection of horror films dating back to the early 20th century German expressionist classics The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu on to more modern iterations of the genre like The Babadook and Get Out, taking throughout an interdisciplinary approach, evincing philosophy, history, and theory. Weekly screenings to include The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, Frankenstein, Dracula, Rosemary’s Baby, Don’t Look Now, Carrie, Halloween, The Fly, The Blair Witch Project, The Descent, The Babadook, and Get Out. Readings selected from works by Carol Clover, Tania Modleski, Noel Carroll, Linda Williams, and Stephen King.


FILM 552: Road Trip to Nowhere: Counterculture (Spring 2020, MA Experience)

The business of making movies in the sixties and seventies was characterized and complicated by an intellectual, spiritual, and political gap evinced not only between moviemakers and the moviegoing audience but as well between artists caught up in the times and a corporate establishment rather clinging to a studio system (its business model and mode of production) despite the clear markers of its collapse. Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture will focus on Hollywood moviemaking and (inevitably, as well) the larger American popular culture between 1967 and 1976. At stake will be an interdisciplinary cultural history encompassing film, TV, and other visual arts; music, and literature. Weekly screenings to include: Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967), Monterey Pop (Pennebaker, 1968), Wild in the Streets (Shear, 1968), Easy Rider (Hopper, 1969), Zabriskie Point (Antonioni, 1970),  Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (van Peebles, 1971), Wanda (Loden, 1971), The Parallax View (Pakula, 1974), The Conversation (Coppola, 1974) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Tarantino, 2019).


WR 562: Environmental Writing (Spring 2020)

From early conservationism to monkey-wrenching to deep ecology to climate science to indigenous rhetorics—this class will journey through a forest of diverse voices, while also journeying through actual forests (with waterproof notebooks in tow). We’ll explore how environmental issues get communicated—and why that matters—by reading works from leading-edge environmental writers, tracing histories of environmental writing in America, and by composing our own works along the way. We’ll learn how conceptions of nature, earth, and sustainability get shaped through communication and practice techniques for reshaping them through creative and critical compositions. 


ENG 575 Feminist Textual Analysis (Spring 2020)

This course introduces graduate students to current methods of feminist textual analysis with a focus on application. It explores feminist approaches to key topics and terms within literary and cultural studies (including form, aesthetics, agency, affect, and subjectivity) as it examines methods used or developed by feminist critics, such as ideology critique, historicist analysis, and phenomenological or reader-response approaches to texts. Much of the scholarship we read comes from affect studies, and we will explore how different methods emerge from and function within that field. Since a central goal of class is to prepare students to apply these ideas and methods in their own work, we will practice using them to analyze a range of cultural phenomena in different genres and mediums, including fiction, poetry, photography, and film. 


FILM 580: The New American Cinema (Winter 2020)

The selected readings offer us various models for approaching the genre of memoir, in our own writing lives, and in our discussions of their strategic representations, we will explore what makes for effective writing, issues of audience, and the craft of story-telling. We will articulate and develop for ourselves an effective writing process that includes exploring ideas and conducting research, drafting and sharing one's writing for feedback, and revising and polishing. Students will produce a number of different kinds of written materials: a critical essay offering a literary analysis of a single text, an ethnographic exploration of a woman's life, as well as a series of creative writing pieces designed to explore the genre of memoir and prompt the writing of our own life stories. A final assignment will give students an opportunity to develop further any of these writings in the form of a creative, multi-media project. Development of our writing and our thinking will happen in collaboration with each other through discussion boards and supportive peer writing workshops.


ENG 575: The Anthropocene (Fall 2019, MA Experience)

The vast majority of available scientific evidence confirms that we now live in the Anthropocene: a new geological epoch in which human-caused alterations to our planet’s atmosphere and surface have begun to create large-scale, potentially irreversible environmental damage. Beginning with the insight that the etymology of the word “apocalypse” involves uncovering or revealing what has previously been hidden or unseen, this course will take up select threads of recent and contemporary writing and making regarding the Anthropocene and what it may portend. As we read a variety of theoretical reflections on the past, present, and future of anthropogenic global warming, we’ll pay particular attention to the roles that capitalism, racism, and speciesism play in hastening the impending ecological catastrophe and the attendant end of our current ways of life. We’ll also read some speculative fiction that imagines what make take place after the end of the world as we know it, and consider the work of visual artists and climate activists who are trying to forestall -- or at least prepare us for -- those apocalyptic futures by bringing public attention to the unsustainable conditions of our precarious present.


WR 575 Rhetorics of Race (Fall 2019)

By exploring the interrelated concepts of race, racialization, and racism, Rhetorics of Race problematizes race as a taken-for-granted phenomenon. Through reading, writing, and discussion, we study racial formations as historically specific and analyze contemporary forms of racism in the US. As rhetoricians, we pay close attention to how rhetoric and discourse have the power to reproduce and challenge white supremacy and race-based oppressions. Emphasizing the intersectionality of oppression—that racism necessarily takes place at intersections with other forms of subordination including sexism, homophobia, ablelism, etc.—Rhetorics of Race draws from Queer Black Feminism, Chican@ Feminism, and Critical Race Theory.


ENG 516: Power and Representation (Winter 2019)

Through a series of readings in Postcolonial studies, we would examine ways in which 19th and 20th century colonial rhetoric is challenged, contested, and revised. Methodologically, our aim is to examine shifting modes of power in colonial and postcolonial documents and explore the performativity of power circulating in literary representations from the standpoint of the empire. Theoretical texts in this course may include authors like Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Ngugi wa Thiongo, V.Y. Mudimbe, Benedict Anderson, Mahmood Mamdani, Achilles Mbembe, Kwame Appiah, Leela Ghandi, Olakunle George, Rey Chow, Gayatri Spivak, Chandra Mohanty, Homi Bhabha, and Paul Gilroy. Literary texts may include Wells-Brown, The Escape, Rushdie, Midnight’s Children, Hwang, M. Butterfly, Euba, The Gulf, Kincaid, A Small Place, and Achebe, Arrow of God. No prior knowledge of the field is assumed. Rather, you are encouraged to think about ways in which foundational claims in postcolonial studies may inform your own work in areas such as critical race theory, globalization studies, transnationalism, and rhetoric.