Chaucer is one of the wittiest, most insightful, and intellectually alert of all English poets. A marvelous craftsman and social commentator, he quite rightly deserves the accolade of "first" among modern writers. A master in the subtleties of cognition and philosophical voicing, he has amazed readers for six hundred years with his range of empirical, speculative, and observational psychology. We will study the basic works of Chaucer—his dream visions, Troilus and Criseyde, and The Canterbury Tales, with some background reading in Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy and Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun's Romance of the Rose. Emphasis will be put on the performative components of his writing and reading theory. Students will write two papers, do occasional in-class writing, and take a final examination. All Chaucer readings will be in Middle English. Class attendance is required.
The literature for this course, written mostly in Middle Welsh and Old Irish of the ninth to fifteenth centuries, will be taught in translation. We shall focus on two powerful myths—that of the euhemerized "goddess" (Aranrhod, Cerridwen, Morgana, Medb, the Morrigan, Rigantona) and her encounters with the knight, the male magician/poet, and the "warrior" (Arthur, Cuchulain, Finn, Gwydion, Pwyll). We will be looking at the Welsh "Mabinogion" for its insights into male and female relationships; at "The Tain" and the legend of Cuchulain, whose martial "warp-spasm" could only be cooled by vats of water and the sight of naked women; at the "Fianna," which tells of Finn and his mannerbund of misbehaving warrior-boys; at selected poems in Old Irish and Middle Welsh.
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.
Instructor: Guenther, G.
TR 1105 1220
This course will examine representations of "dissimulations" over a wide range of historical periods and literary genres. We will ask: how does role-playing (or secrecy, or tale-telling, or outright lying) inform personal identity? how do group delusions constitute or maintain social hierarchies? what are the connections between illusions, delusions, and literature? between literature and lies? Authors will include Orwell, Plato, Montaigne, Bacon, Wilde, Nabokov, and Shakespeare. (We will read at least four early modern texts so that you can use this course to satisfy your pre-1800 requirement.) Course requirements: attendance, exams, and two five-page papers.
What does it mean for fiction to offer a realistic portrayal of the world? This course will consider American literature from 1865 to 1914 with a special emphasis on the concept of literary realism. Focusing on prose fiction (novels and short stories), we will explore how American writers understood and represented "reality" during a time of social and cultural upheaval at home and abroad. The class will touch on formal concerns, including literary techniques for depicting interiority and urban environments, and will also examine realism in the context of changing ideas of labor, race, gender, and democracy. Several questions will motivate us: is it possible to portray reality objectively in fiction? Why did nineteenth-century American writers value objectivity over other literary possibilities? What makes realist novels such compelling reading? Our texts will include novels by Howells, James, Chopin, Wharton, Twain, Chesnutt, Crane, Dreiser, and Du Bois.
The course covers, in roughly chronological order, the history of the English novel in the twentieth century; we will read and discuss the works of such major figures as Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Lawrence, Greene, Huxley, etc. We will also examine some of the history of the novel, its protean and elastic shape, its reaction to the artistic experimentation of the time, the ways in which the modern novel reflects developments and innovation in the form, as well its traditional relationship to the social contexts from which it springs. Assignments: Two papers, occasional quizzes, a final examination.
Blending clear-eyed social commentary with a faith in romantic love, festooning mordant satire with enchantedly happy endings, Jane Austen's novels subsist on contradiction and enjoy more popularity than ever. This course will place Austen in the context of her times while also analyzing her continued appeal. Readings will include Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion, as well as works by Alexander Pope, Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, and Mary Shelley.
Toni Morrison has emerged as one of the most influential writers and critics in contemporary American culture. This course will approach her work from a broad range of critical perspectives including black feminist thought, psychoanalysis, trauma theory, biblical exegesis, postcolonial analysis, and critical race theory. Although this class will emphasize rigorous study of her literary work, we will also pay close attention to her contributions to literary criticism, her role in public life, as well as her forays into political and national debates. In our study of her novels, we will explore such issues as the importance of history and myth in the creation of personal identity, constructions of race and gender, the dynamic nature of love, the role of the community in social life, and the pressures related to the development of adolescent girls.
This course explores ways in which myth functions to create psychological and social identities within cultural frameworks. We will explore tales, graphics, musicals, opera, poetry, and cinema. The texts concentrate primarily on a constellation of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast adaptations, along with Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel, and some of the Jack stories. Our concern will be with the action/adventure plots, paradigms of exile and return, and the ideologies underlying the dynamics of oppression, pain fetishes, aspiration, and recovery. We will examine didactic issues of childhood, adolescence, midolescence, and the aged as people use myth to address the requirements of life. We will be particularly interested in historical implication of perspectives as societies revise and perpetually revitalize their visions of themselves through the rewriting of their own mythologies.
Samuel Beckett is one of the most profound and influential voices in twentieth-century literature. He created worlds of immense fullness and desolation, extending the possibilities of drama and fiction while simultaneously stripping away the traditional narrative forms. This course will study Beckett's major works and then explore his influence, both thematically and stylistically, on such contemporary writers as J. M. Coetzee, Paul Auster, Harold Pinter, Donald Barthelme, John Banville, Lydia Davis, and others.
Taking place for roughly two weeks in between semesters during the latter part of Christmas break, "Theatre in England" is an English class open to undergraduates in all disciplines and graduate students in English. This year's seminar meets between December 28, 2010, and January 9, 2011. Past students describe this course as "an incredible experience, unlike any other," "one of the best of my life," and "the richest exposure to contemporary theater imaginable in a two-week time frame." English 252/452 is conducted in London and Stratford-upon-Avon ("Shakespeare Country") in late December and early January, varying in dates slightly each year. Web site: http://www.rochester.edu/College/ENG/england/.
We will study the career of a highly regarded contemporary American director whose work, most of it of the more or less violent genres of horror, crime, and suspense, displays both a highly self-conscious experimentalism and an acknowledgement of film tradition. In the course we will attempt to discover those particular attributes that define a De Palma film. We will also discuss those directors who most influence his work, especially Alfred Hitchcock, and touch on some of the individual motion pictures that lie behind certain De Palma films. In this course we will screen a large selection of the director's films, in roughly chronological order, concentrating especially on the best known and most successful titles, including Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, and Body Double. The syllabus will include some of the literary texts that provide the sources for some of his films and at least one critical study of the De Palma canon. Assignments will include critical papers and a final examination.
This course examines diasporic Chinese media—including film, video games, and television—to better understand how these works participate in the dissemination, or globalization, of Chinese culture. Most of the class focuses on Chinese language films from the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC), Hong Kong (HK), and films from the U.S. that are set in China. We pay special attention to the migrations of individuals—actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers, and others—and of the films themselves. We cover a wide variety of cinematic genres, including epic, martial arts, action, thriller, comedy, and romantic drama. We will also play and analyze video games that use China as a setting. The broadcast of the Beijing Olympics will be one element of our television unit. Applicable English cluster: Media, Culture, and Communication.
Course examines the histories, presents, and futures of digital media, particularly video games, computer generated images (CGI), and the Internet (including convergences with the media of sound recording, radio, television, and film). One of the underlying concepts we will explore is the relationship between digital media and globalization. We will also investigate how communities are constructed and transformed by their participation in digital media. Some experience with media studies is helpful but not required. Students will write blogs, academic essays, and have the option of producing an audiovisual mashup or other digital creation in lieu of one written assignment.
The course aims to understand the social psychology of modern and contemporary Western/American family experience, and especially its means of abetting the concealment, repression, and suppression of people's emotional lives. Study of the films combines with the readings to develop critical understanding of the nuclear family (and versions of it) and the conditions it may create for child-rape, racism, homophobia, murder, and self-destructive behavior such as substance abuse, self-mutilation, and suicide. Sometimes the violence is arbitrary, sometimes it is inevitable, sometimes it is incomprehensible. In each case the course's attention is on the personal and collective machineries of repression, the resulting rage in many individuals, and the frequent (and now often familiar) violent results. Readings in the course include those by Nancy Chodorow, Alice Miller, Kristin Kelly, and Stephanie Coontz. Films are to be taken from the following list: A Price Above Rubies (1998), A Thousand Acres (1994), All My Sons (1948), American Beauty (1999), American History X (1999), Bastard out of Carolina (1996), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Dolores Claiborne (1995), Falling Down (1993), Fargo (1996), Fried Green Tomatoes (1992), Heavenly Creatures (1994), In the Bedroom (2001), Ju Dou (1991), Mildred Pierce (1945), Monster (2002), Monster's Ball (2001), Ordinary People (1980), Piano Teacher (2003), Mother and Child (2009), I Am Love (2010).
Restricted to Selznick Students.
Restricted to Selznick Students.
Restricted to Selznick Students.
In this seminar, we’ll do two things at once: read the works associated with the nineteenth-century “American Renaissance,” and also read the great books of twentieth-century criticism that produce and defend this tradition. We alternate weeks between works of literature and criticism, in order to establish an interesting reciprocal dialogue between the two kinds of writing. Of criticism, we’ll ask: Which authors or works did critics value or devalue in order to make a “tradition”? What happens when we focus on the “literary” elements of critical prose? Of the literature: What features of form or content made certain works the harbingers of a cultural “rebirth”? Is there any sense in which these literary works do something like “criticism”—e.g., in thinking about their own value as fulfilling the call for a national aesthetic? Readings include literary works by Melville, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, and critical works by D.H. Lawrence, F.O. Matthiessen, Leslie Fiedler, and Richard Poirier.
Media ABC is an introduction to the very idea of medium
and media—as in "the medium of print." The goal is to come to a
basic understanding of that concept. The perspective of the course is
historical and critical. The key assumption is that media—the human
voice, film, electronic files—shape their "content"
—words, pictures, sounds—and their authors and their audiences.
There have always been media because life cannot be lived without them.
This year's topic is print—the dominant medium of communication for five centuries, its power and influence only now waning as we experience a digital revolution. This remarkable media shift puts us among the first explorers to arrive on the scene of epoch-making changes. We should take advantage of our own unique intellectual opportunity to look back on the history of print from the powerful new perspective of digital media.
This course considers the issues raised in Walter Ong's 1982 study, "Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word." His account related the growth of writing and print to the development of science and modern rational thought, exploring possible changes in collective consciousness as a result of the shift of media emphasis. We will examine some classical sources, including Plato's suspicion of the power of oral poetry, and consider the levels of literacy achieved in ancient society; we will also look at European medieval traditions. Central to these discussions will be the roles language and literature played in the lives of non-literate people as contrasted with literate. Study of the modern and contemporary periods focuses on such practices as conversation, becoming literate, collection of oral accounts and their uses, the uses of ethnographic writing, and the different approaches to speech, writing, and language in African American and white communities. A key aim of the course is to show the politics, mutual dependency, and reciprocity of oral and literate uses of language in literary and nonliterary contexts.
Instructor: Guenther, G.
R 1400 1640
This seminar will examine the literary and political stakes of early modern claims for the instrumental efficacy of literary texts, such as Spenser’s claim that “the general end” of The Faerie Queene was to "fashion a gentleman or a noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline." We will begin with Kant and the New Critics in order to locate discourses that set out the terms for twentieth-century discussions about literary aesthetics, and we will look at Marxist and New Historicist critiques of those terms in order to articulate and question some of our present assumptions about Renaissance aesthetics in particular. We will then turn back to Plato and work our way forward into the early modern period, where we will read Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Jonson. Our ultimate aim will be to develop a method of studying the literary aesthetic as an historical object of knowledge. Course requirements: one in-class presentation and a 25-30 page seminar paper.
With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the Puritan ban on dramatic representation was lifted, and British theater returned with a vengeance: women appeared on stage for the first time; dramatic dialogue reached new heights of shocking innuendo; comedy crowned the libertine rake as its new hero. But this sexual liberation was paired with an equally bold movement toward generic and social experimentation: dramatists pushed the limits of traditional forms; they examined the relationship between verbal wit and social power; they took up issues surrounding gender, marriage, and the new "middle class." Authors include: Wycherley, Etherege, Behn, Congreve, Steele, Fielding, Gay, Goldsmith, and Sheridan. Critical texts will explore (in addition to the above-cited topics) questions of performance and spectacle, the rise of celebrity culture, and the alleged "shift" at mid-century from drama to novel.
This course will examine the interconnections between the literary, anthropological, and political economic discourses during the nineteenth century and their role in the concept of "culture." The aim of this course is to situate canonical Victorian novelists like George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope in relation to the gradual emergence of various "sciences" during the nineteenth century. How did Victorian novelists integrate these new forms of knowledge into their narratives as they addressed such questions as human motives, social interdependence, shifting forms of property and finance, race, kinship, marriage, and sexuality? While the primary focus will be Victorian novels, the course will supplement readings of novels with selections from canonical figures in political economy, anthropology, and sociology such as Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and E.B. Tylor.
The goal of Text and Medium is an understanding of the
relationship between the "text" that we generally assume is some kind
of "content" and the "medium" that communicates it. The
perspective of the seminar is historical and critical. The key assumption is
that media—the human voice, film, electronic files—shape their
"content"—words, pictures, sounds—and their authors and
their audiences. There have always been media because life cannot be lived
This year's topic is print—the dominant medium of communication for five centuries, its power and influence only now waning in the face of a digital revolution. This remarkable media shift puts us among the first explorers to arrive on the scene of epoch-making changes. We should take advantage of our own unique intellectual opportunity to look back on the history of print from the powerful new perspective of digital media.
We shall enlist the traditional tools that critics have developed to analyze and understand literary works.
ENG 491 Master’s Reading Course
ENG 495 Master’s Research
ENG 591 PhD Readings
ENG 595 PhD Research
ENG 595A PhD Research in Absentia
ENG 895 Continuation of Master’s Enrollment
ENG 897 Master’s Dissertation
ENG 899 Master’s Dissertation
ENG 985 Leave of Absence
ENG 995 Continuation of Doctoral Enrollment
ENG 997 Doctoral Dissertation
ENG 997A Doctoral Dissertation in Absentia
ENG 999 Doctoral Dissertation
ENG 999A Doctoral Dissertation in Absentia