Medieval Drama is essentially a course in religious comedy--bawdy, pious, threatening, salvific comedy. The course begins with a brief look at Christian liturgical drama, then traces the origins of vernacular folk drama through the mystery cycles to the humanistic writers and Tudor drama of the 16th century. We will read most of two cycles of the mystery plays (the York cycle and N-Tow), along with excerpts from others (Chester and Towneley, particularly the Wakefield master), three saints and conversion plays, a couple of morality plays, some examples of humanistic drama, and conclude with Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus." We will examine the plays in terms of their craft, their message, their staging and performance, their comic genius, and their cultural significance. Some attention will be devoted to iconography and parallels of representation within the plays and other literary and fine arts. We will make a day trip to Toronto later in the semester to see a couple of productions at the Center for Medieval Studies. Texts: David Bevington, MEDIEVAL DRAMA; King & Beadle, YORK MYSTERY PLAYS; Emmerson, APPROACHES TO TEACHING MEDIEVAL ENGLISH DRAMA; Peck, HEROIC WOMEN FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT IN MIDDLE ENGLISH VERSE; PEARL; Bonaventura, THE MIND'S JOURNEY TO GOD.
We will be reading The Canterbury Tales, with a concentration on the "Marriage Group", as well Troilus. We will read some secondary materials.
A survey of English Renaissance writers, with an emphasis on poetry and fictional prose. The course will focus on major authors of the period (including Bacon, Deloney, Donne, Herbert, Jonson, Lodge, Marlowe, Milton, More, Shakespeare, Sidney and Spenser) with some attention to other authors, both male and female, who influenced their writing. Renaissance writers and their audiences were trained to recognize a number of literary conventions that are not always familiar to modern readers. We become familiar with those conventions and spend quite a bit of time in careful analysis of style and form in order to appreciate why Renaissance audiences found these authors so compelling and to understand how their writing responded to readers' cultural, literary, political and religious concerns. Please note that the English Department has defined this as a course in nondramatic Renaissance literature. The department also offers a number of regular courses (Renaissance Drama, Introduction to Shakespeare, Shakespeare) and elective courses for students interested in Renaissance drama. Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for the major.
In 1660, after an eighteen-year ban on theatre, the English playhouses reopened, and quickly proved their vitality. Women acted on stage for the first time, radically changing the dynamics of performance, as well as the way that plays were written. The period also saw the rise of the professional female playwright, as well as the emergence of the Celebrity Actor. Comedy flourished in particular, relishing in bawdy repartee and the figure of the Rake, while exploring gender roles, the institutions of courtship and marriage, relations between children and parents, and the value of Wit. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the object of humor was often the theatre itself: playwrights pushed the limits of traditional genres such as the Heroic Tragedy, and introduced elements of farce, opera, and political satire, as well as reflections of middle-class life. This course will examine a variety of plays, while also considering issues of social context, genre and performance. Playwrights will include Behn, Centilivre, Congreve, Dryden, Etherege, Farquhar, Fielding, Gay, Goldsmith, Steele, and Sheridan.
We will focus on American literature and culture from 1865 to 1914 with emphasis on the novel. We will consider the developments and tensions in U.S. culture and society at this time. Realigning relationships of class, race, and gender as well as the influence and implications of nationalism and imperialism will be of particular interest. Readings will include works by Dreiser, Norris, Wharton, James, Adams, DuBois, Chopin, Alger, Chesnutt, and others.
In recent decades some of the most powerful and innovative American literature has emerged from black women. We will study the social and political contexts of Civil Rights, the Black Power movement and debates about feminism to ground our readings of such authors as Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis and Ntozake Shange. Special attention will be paid to the dynamics between black men and women, the balance between self fulfillment and family responsibilities, modes of resistance and the emotional legacies of slavery. Students are expected to be active participants in this discussion based seminar.
Looking back over the twentieth-century, this course will concentrate on the innovative, often wildly experimental writing produced in the period we still call "modernist". We will concentrate on five writers, two of them American (T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound), two of them Irish (W.B. Yeats and James Joyce), and one of English (Virginia Woolf). We will read some of the most beautiful and ambitious works of the century (Eliot's "Waste Land", Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway"), but the centerpiece of the course will inevitably be our extended reading of Joyce's novel "Ulysses" - one of the most difficult, most rewarding books in our language. And while we will consider the individual achievements of all the writers, we will also consider their work in the context of the avant-garde aesthetic and social movements in which these writers participated.
We'll explore the medium of theater by focusing on this central question: what distinguishes a script on the page from a play on the stage? Do you know about the phonograph effect? Thats how technologies of sound recording have altered the way music is performed live (and changed the way audiences want their music and even changed the way they hear it). That is, changing the form of the medium has changed its content. Theater may have been subject to something similar, first the book effect and, more recently, the movie effect. Perhaps it was the book effect that caused Charles Lamb to claim, 200 years ago, that he preferred reading Shakespeare's tragedies to seeing them acted live. Our course will investigate issues like these. To make them concrete rather than abstract, well draw heavily on live performances—especially the inventive production of Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear that will be directed by Nigel Maister for the UR International Theatre Program in spring 2007. Maister, his actors, and his visiting designers will be guests in our class.
In this 2.0 credit course we will examine 4 major novels and 4 major short stories by Joseph Conrad, and, hopefully, draw some general conclusions about Conrads entire literary output: his place in the history of English and world literature; artistic, ideological, philosophical and psychological mastery of his works; international contexts of his works, including Polish and East-Central European contexts; and the importance of Joseph Conrads literary output to American culture and literature. Some film screenings outside of class time.of Victorian debates about such questions as the place of tradition in an age of innovation; the definition of culture; and the relation betwen gender and genre. We will focus on what Eliot's models of community, ethics, and representation have to tell us about 19th-century definitions of psychology, identity, gender, ethnicity, and Englishness. And we will read 19th- and 20th-century criticism of her works both in order to engage with a variety of ways of understanding those works, and in order to discuss the politics of the literary canon and of the practices of literary criticism.
An isolated country parsonage. A half mad father. A wastrel brother addicted to drugs. Three uniquely gifted sisters who burned their hearts and brains out on the moors — but not before leaving us some of the most passionate and revolutionary literature of the 19th century. This is the stuff of the Brontë legend. This course will explore the continuing appeal of the Brontës and the peculiar fascination that they have exercised on the literary imagination. Through intensive study of some of the best-loved novels our culture has produced — the literary works of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë — we will explore the roots and reaches of the Brontë myth. We will also consider the Brontës legacy in todays popular romantic fiction and in some of the many adaptations (and continuations) of their work in print and on the screen. And we will look at our seemingly insatiable appetite for new tellings of the Brontës life stories. The course, then, will consider not the only the Brontës literary productions, but also our cultures production and reproduction of the Brontës over the years.
The eighteenth century saw the rise of the modern tourist (the word itself dates to 1780). At the same time, mercantile capitalism and national interest spurred unprecedented rates of colonial expansion. Explorers, diplomats and scientists engaged with many peoples and places for the first time. The period also witnessed the height of that mass involuntary travel slavery that gave shape to the Atlantic World. In all of the resulting narratives, an instructive juxtaposition emerges sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit in which the foreign is discursively domesticated, while home comes to seem strange. Indeed, travel-writings potential for societal critique was one that satirists quickly grasped, and deployed in myriad variations from descriptions of invented lands (Gullivers Travels), to accounts of London by Peruvian Princesses or Chinese Philosophers. In this course we will examine all of these kinds of travel-writing, while also considering the shape and dimensions of this ill-defined genre, which often branches into historical meditation, autobiography, biography, philosophy, and aesthetics. Authors will include Addison, Boswell, Cook, Equiano, Goethe, Goldsmith, Graffigny, Johnson, Montagu, Montesquieu, Radcliffe, Sterne, Swift, Walpole, Wollstonecraft, and Wordsworth (both William and Dorothy).
This course uses literature to analyze social behavior, specifically processes of inclusion and exclusion. How communities are constructed, around what signs and sets of practices, and the role that exclusion plays in defining a community are topics we will explore. What does it mean to belong? To be excluded? And just how stable are these categories? Literature from a variety of traditions, historical periods, and genres will provide examples, case histories, and a vocabulary with which such social phenomena can be discussed. Texts include Beowulf, John Gardners Grendel, Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter, Seamus Heaneys The Cure at Troy, Amin Maaloufs In the Name of Identity, Toni Morrisons The Bluest Eye, Peter Shaffers Equus, Virginia Woolfs A Room of Ones Own, Richard Wrights Black Boy, and more.
More than any other legends, apart from those of the Bible, the stories of King Arthur have provided Western Europe and North America with a vehicle for cultural propaganda, reassessment, and pleasure. From the 12th to the 21st centuries, artists in all genres and modes have recast Arthurian narratives and images to explore and redefine the moral and social concerns of their day. After a brief introduction to Arthurian backgrounds, the course focuses on Geoffrey of Monmouth and Arthurian literature of the High Middle Ages (Chretien de Troyes and Marie de France) and England in the 14th century, then examines the culmination and decline of that ideology toward the end of the 15th century (Malory), the reinvigoration of the myth in new directions in the Renaissance (Spenser), and then concludes with readings and art of the nineteenth century (Tennyson, the PreRaphaelites, Twain) and the twentieth century (T.S. Eliot, E.A. Robinson, T.H. White, and Marion Zimmer Bradley). We will study six movies: Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot," Disney's "Sword in the Stone," "The Fisher King," "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," and Borman's "Excalibur." The readings for the course are extensive and richly rewarding, as are the viewings. Texts from the medieval English period will be studied in the original Middle English dialects. Readings from Latin and French will be in modern English translation.
This course will explore the developments in world cinema—industrial, technological, social and political—in the second half of the sound period (1959 to the present). What brought about the collapse of the Hollywood studio system? What's new about the French New Wave? What do we mean by "Third Cinema"? How do different national cinemas influence each other? Requirements: mandatory weekly screenings, participation in class discussions, weekly film journals, and three take-home exams.
See course description for FR 287.
Major museums around the world are now collecting motion pictures and other types of moving image and audio-visual art with a level of commitment equal to their traditional interests in paintings, sculptures and other established art forms. These creative works exist in unique formats that bring special challenges to curators and archivists responsible for their conservation and proper exhibition. Taking full advantage of the George Eastman House's rich archival film collection and screening facilities, this course offers instruction in curatorial and preservation standards for motion picture, video, digital and audio materials with a contextual focus on museum, library and archive institutions. Class instruction emphasizes basic concepts of preservation research, programming, cataloging, digital technologies and preservation; management and interpretation of collections; museum and institutional collections development policies; museum architecture relating to audio-visual media; fund raising and education. Students will be assisted in selecting a topical area of interest in film and media studies, relating to their broader academic pursuits, from which they will develop a special research project. 35mm archival film and other media screenings will be presented on a weekly basis at the end of each class. Bus transportation to the George Eastman House will be provided.
This is a workshop for students who have completed ENG 117 or have some experience writing fiction on their own and are ready to concentrate on more ambitious projects. We'll read short stories by contemporary writers along with fiction by the students in the workshop, and we'll discuss ways writers can sharpen the conversation between text and reader. We'll also consider editing and reviewing techniques. Students will be expected to write and revise at least three original stories (or three chapters of a novel-in-progress).
In this course we will, starting with the nineteenth-century in the U.S., consider the special contributions of black intellectuals to the culture and controversies of America and the Atlantic world. Analyses and criticisms of racial identity, national belonging, artistic expression, and gender politics will focus our discussions. Works by Wheatley, Douglass, Jacobs, DuBois, Washington, Harper, Cooper, Schuyler, James, West, Appiah, Gilroy, and Williams will figure prominently in our discussions.
This seminar studies the developments in literary theory over the past eighty years. Early in the twentieth century criticism and theory followed the success of science, trying to bring order and method to the subject. Different styles of rigor were sought in Europe and America by such figures as I. A. Richards, Roman Ingarden, the Russian Formalists, Northrop Frye, and the New Criticism. In this phase written texts were treated as holy texts had been treated for centuries, as having a higher, “holier” status than other, “vernacular” language genres. Criticism and theory followed the standard set by both scientific and religious ideology. In so doing, it followed the androcentric tradition of the academy.
In the middle of the twentieth century, figures such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Mikhail Bakhtin presented a point of view that held no language genres to be holy or otherwise elevated from others. They described a language philosophy that viewed symbolic genres as “texts” to be understood in relation to their roles in society and not as “holy writ.” The work of these figures, as well as successors such as J. L. Austin (speech act theory), Jacques Derrida and Barbara Johnson (deconstruction), Julia Kristeva (language materialism), Tzvetan Todorov, feminist critics, and genre critics, added up to a movement of desacralization. Canons were deauthorized. Authors’ authority was diminished. Texts could be “played with.” The bible was re-understood as a human text. Writers and genres of many stripes were admitted to academic study. Popular culture became important. Criticism and theory tried and sometimes helped to open the study of language and literature to all people. People tried to give “globalization” a humanist feel. The academy began to be populated by women and members of non-dominant groups.
The seminar tries to outline the foregoing lines of development, aiming, perhaps, to consider how criticism and theory, like literature, have always been practiced as academic and social enterprises, and how they are now enlarging their purview on a significant scale.
Modernity – the moment in which we live now, the era that began a half millennium ago –often appears as a cataclysmic change, tracable to some watershed event: the invention of print, the “discovery” of America or the East, the Reformation. This seminar will examine the ways in which western modernity has taken shape through narrative and visual depictions of non-Europeans, from the ancient world to 1600 or so, with a strong emphasis on the centuries surrounding 1492. The conquests and discoveries of Alexander of Macedon will form one central thread in the seminar, from his invasion of India (4th century BCE) through Oliver Stone’s film (2004), Umberto Eco’s Baudolino (2002), and recent animé and computer game versions. We will read the Romance of Alexander (written in Greek by a Middle Eastern author in 4th century CE) and a series of medieval Latin and vernacular (including Arabic and Persian) rewritings of this narrative. We will read travel and fantasy writing such as Mandeville’s Travels, perhaps Marco Polo, More’s Utopia, and the letters of Columbus, Vespucci, da Gama, sixteenth-century English publicists. Throughout we will pay particular attention to the ways in which medium frames content and meaning, as this touches on writing and illumination, printing and mass-produced images, narrative and spectacle, in manuscripts, printed editions, broadsheets, computer graphics, and film. Readings and discussions will draw on recent controversies and theory concerning Post- (and Pre-) Colonial Studies, the “New Ethnography,” the history of the book, the role of visual materials for diverse audiences, the function of fantasy and monstrosity in writing the Other, and the meaning of Globalization and transnational identities before the modern era. Seminar members will be expected to present at least one report, to lead part of a discussion, and to produce a substantive research paper at the end of the semester.
This course examines the writing and recorded speaking of western European women from the ninth to the the fifteenth centuries. We start with the abandoned carolingian noblewoman Dhuoda and her letters to her son William and we end with Joan of Arc’s trial in the fifteenth century and the transcripts of other women brought before the Inquisition. The course seeks to mingle secular writings with religious, and romance and protest with vision. Abbess, nun, mother, widow, court poet, heretic and convert come together in these selections from Hildegard of Bingen! , Elisabeth of Schönau, Na Prou s Boneta, Heloise, Margery Kemp, Marie de France, Julian of Norwich, Christine of Pizan and others. One of the foci of the course is an emphasis on wise transgression: under what conditions could women break or not break the rules that kept them from writing, from roaring, from preaching, from objecting, from cross-dressing, from doing battle, from chastizing popes and monarchs, from challenging church doctrine, from speaking out at all. The relationships, that women nurtured is another focus, with their fellow women and the men who were loyal to them. Students will be expected to report on an essay, a book, write a final research paper, and keep a journal.
What can the fiction of the 20th Century tell us about imagination? Who imagines what in the influential novels and stories of the past one hundred years? What can we learn from imaginative literature about the idiosyncratic workings of the mind, the expressive potential of language, the relevance of the unreal? These are some of the questions we’ll ask in this exploration of modern and contemporary international fiction. We’ll read fiction in English, and in translation, by James, Stein, Beckett, Woolf, Faulkner, Garcia Marquez, Calvino, and Saramago. And we’ll discuss the theoretical approaches of Bakhtin, Sartre, Mary Warnock, and others.
Research and publication are the backbone of modern scholarship in English, in the humanities, and in the academy at large. Scholarly communication depends on a well-formed system of seminars, conferences, journals, and books, which are tightly coordinated with a system of peer review, tenure, and promotion—life-and-death matters in our profession. But recently there have been several cries of alarm from noted scholars and university-press editors who claim to have detected a crisis in scholarly publishing. Three years ago, for example, the president of the Modern Language Association (MLA) sent anxious, urgent letters to all MLA members about the crisis as he understood it, and the MLA quickly appointed a high-level Task Force on the Evaluation of Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion to study the issues that had been raised. Its recommendations will soon be published. Meanwhile, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) appointed a stellar commission to study the present and future of scholarly publishing from another angle, our rapidly increasing dependence on digital means of communication. (Controversies over the Google book-digitization project and Wikipedia make it clear enough, if it wasn’t clear already, that the ground is shifting under our feet.) The ACLS has published (on the Web) two drafts of its report, and the final version, “Our Cultural Commonwealth,” will have been published by the time our seminar convenes. We’ll use these two reports, whose recommendations will be controversial and widely discussed in the profession, along with other studies of the crossroads, if not crisis, in scholarly publishing to explore the system and the media of scholarship past, present, and future—including your personal/professional future. And to help bring the central issues home, we’ll draw on a wealth of local resources--including, for instance, the Middle English Text Series, the Camelot Project, Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, the William Blake Archive, the Dalkey Archive Press, the UR Press, etc. And we’ll consult with local experts and the visitors expected on campus for a symposium in March on the Future of the Book.; I would also like to involve members of the seminar in the planning of future events.