Current Semester’s Courses (Fall 2021)
Dr. Sally Robinson
Required for PhD students
This course is meant to introduce new Ph.D. students to graduate study in English here at Texas A&M and to facilitate conversations about what we do when we do “English Studies;” how English Studies fits into larger disciplinary, professional, and cultural pictures; and what methodologies are available for English Studies. In addition to reading articles which address these and other questions, we will also have different faculty members from the department come in and lead discussion of their research and, more particularly, their particular methodological approaches. These conversations will constitute the theoretical portion of the course, and will typically occupy us for the first half of a 3-hour class.
Each week, in the second half of the class, we will work on the practical matters of English Studies: writing CVs, grant proposals, professional statements, conference abstracts; planning professional development activities for the course of a 5-year program and starting to think about what a job search might look like; exploring career diversity options through Imagine PhD and other sources; hearing from more experienced students about the various milestones of our program (first-year review, preliminary examinations, dissertation prospectus, dissertation).
Dr. Heidi Craig
Required for MA Students
ENGL 603: Bibliography and Research Methods offers an intensive introduction to the theories, methods and practices of humanities research. Readings and presentations will establish the theoretical underpinnings and practices of bibliography and digital humanities. The completion of several short projects will provide a solid foundation for future work in the MA and PhD.
Key topics include the different strands of bibliography (reference/enumerative, descriptive and analytical); primary resource literacy (especially artifactual literacy and archival intelligence); digital humanities literacy; and the politics of bibliography. Learning outcomes include the development of skills needed to find, interpret, use, understand, and engage with information productively and ethically.
All M.A. students must take ENGL 603. Ph.D. coursework must include ENGL 603 if the student has taken no comparable course at the M.A. level.
All M.A. students must take ENGL 603. Ph.D. coursework must include ENGL 603 if the student has taken no comparable course at the M.A. level. ENGL 603 counts towards the DH Certificate.
Dr. Nancy Warren
Far from being an impermeable boundary, the convent wall in early modern Europe was highly permeable; individual nuns and nunneries as institutions were strongly connected to their local communities and were deeply engaged in both secular and ecclesiastical politics. As Protestant reformations and Catholic reform movements (both monastic reform movements and the larger movement generally known as the counter-reformation) unfolded, nuns and nunneries took on significant symbolic meanings for polemicists of all stripes.
This seminar explores writings by, for, and about early modern women religious in continental Europe and the New World. We will consider such subjects as the ways in which English convents in exile in France, Portugal, and the Low Countries served as loci of English Catholic political activity and textual production; Protestant satirical writings about nuns and nunneries; versions of medieval monastic texts for early modern women; the convent and the literary canon; relationships among and textual exchanges among English, French, and Spanish nunneries; and the roles of nuns in French and Spanish colonization of the New World.
Topics Under Consideration
Introduction to Medieval and Early Modern English Monasticism
Early Modern English Convents in Exile (Benedictines, Carmelites, Franciscans)
The Case of Syon Abbey
-Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza
Medieval Texts and Early Modern Nuns
-Julian of Norwich, Margaret Gascoigne, the Stillingfleet Controversy
-Catherine of Siena
Protestant Satire and Polemic: Making Fun of Nuns
Monasticism and Early Modern Women’s Writing
Nuns and the New World
-Marie of the Incarnation
-Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
-Catalina de Erauso
Dr. Susan Egenolf
W 6 - 9
Wide reading in British literature of the 18th Century; introduction of major figures, genres, and issues in the period; introduction to current critical conversations in 18th Century literary studies, including historical and social contexts.
This course will examine works written by British subjects during the eighteenth century, a time of scientific, political and aesthetic revolutions. The emphasis of the course will be on how these texts relate to each other and to their sociopolitical contexts. Our objective is to understand the historical, cultural and literary contexts in which these authors produced their works. The works we will be reading represent several genres—poetry, drama, novel, travel writing, political treatise—and we’ll be discussing the particular innovations in these genres during the eighteenth century. We will study visual and imperial culture during the period, attending to the ways that these writers and artists represented English and Continental cultures, as well as cultures of the Near East and the New World. We will also attend to developments in contemporary scholarship concerned with the writings of the eighteenth century. Students should be able to analyze primary texts, incorporate secondary texts into research, and produce well-argued analysis with awareness of the historical context for the works.
A list of possible primary readings follows. This is a sampling of potential readings for the class; in some cases we will read excerpts. Realistically, we might cover about half of these readings and relevant scholarly articles. If you plan to take the class, feel free to contact me about any readings that you would particularly like to see on the syllabus.
Possible Primary Readings:
William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789).
Fanny (Frances) Burney, Evelina (1778)
James R. Cook, The Journals of Captain Cook (1768-79; selected excerpts)
Hannah Cowley, A Day in Turkey; or, The Russian Slaves (1791)
Maria Edgeworth, The Parent’s Assistant; or, Stories for Children (1796—selected stories)
Henry Fielding, Shamela (1741)
John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera (1728)
William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye, and several parts of South Wales, etc. relative chiefly to picturesque beauty; made in the summer of the year 1770 (1782)
Eliza Haywood, Anti-Pamela (1741)
David Hume, Treatise of Human Nature (1740)
Elizabeth Inchbald, A Mogul Tale (1784)
Samuel Johnson, Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (1759)
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)
Mary Whortley Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters (pub. 1763)
Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1714) and Essay on Criticism (1711)
Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or virtue Rewarded (1740)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)
Charlotte Smith, Conversations Introducing Poetry: Chiefly on Subjects of Natural History for Use of Children and Young Persons (1804—selected conversations)
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726) and A Modest Proposal (1729)
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (1798 and 1800)
Selected poems from Robert Burns, William Cowper, Thomas Gray, James Thomson, Charlotte Smith, Anna Seward, Oliver Goldsmith, and Anna Laeticia Barbauld.
Selected writings on the French Revolution: Helen Maria Williams, Letters Written in France (1790-1796), pp. 61-190; Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790); Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790); Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1791).
Selected Writings on Slavery and Abolition: Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; or, Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (1789); Thomas Clarkson, An Essay on the Impolicy of the African Slave Trade (1788); George Colman the Younger, Inkle and Yarico (1787); Anne Yearsley, A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade (1788); Hannah More and Eaglesfield Smith, The Sorrows of Yamba; or, The Negro Woman’s Lamentation (1797).
Selected Writings on Women’s Rights: Mary Astell, Some Reflections upon Marriage (1700); Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria, or, the Wrongs of Woman and Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).
Selected writings on the Industrial Revolution.
Selected Irish Rebellion Narratives (1798).
Dr. Susan Stabile
As Rita Charon asserts, physicians must be prepared to offer themselves as “a therapeutic instrument” to their patients by gaining interpretative skills through the close reading and composition of literary texts in the interdisciplinary field of narrative medicine. Literary hermeneutics, applied in a medical setting, can transform the physician and patient interaction into stories. What are symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment protocols after all, but narratives? And those narratives require empathy: compassionately listening and responding to a patient.
Inverting Charon’s clinical framework in our interdisciplinary creative nonfiction workshop, we read nonfiction illness essays (many in experimental lyric forms of flash, collage, braided, and hermit-crab essays) by patients and physicians alike. The essays raise questions about how medical practices too often determine the experiential nature of illness, suffering, healing, caregiving, death, and grief. We’ll also take into account the cultural constructions of and prejudices against (particular) sick bodies based on sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, and class. And you will practice and challenge the limits of your own empathy by questioning and shifting your role as readers (bearing witness to the personal illness narratives of others) as writers of your own personal illness narratives.
Dr. Shawna Ross
Literature post-1800; Concepts/themes
Virginia Woolf’s participation in the Bloomsbury Group has been exhaustively researched, both in biographical accounts of her personal life and in influence studies that examine her aesthetic impact on other modernist artists. Yet sustained arguments about group members’ particular intellectual influences on Woolf’s own output are strangely thin on the ground. As a result, the specific, informed philosophical and political interventions Woolf makes through her fiction are often simplistically conceived of as purely stylistic choices. This course will attempt to recover these intellectual networks and conversations by juxtaposing her works with the philosophical, economic, political, and aesthetic theory texts produced by her Bloomsbury peers. In addition to Woolf’s novels and non-fiction (such as A Room of One’s Own, Three Guineas, Night and Day, To the Lighthouse, Between the Acts, and Mrs. Dalloway), readings will include G. E. Moore’s Principia Ethica, Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians, E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel, John Maynard Keynes’s Economic Consequences of the Peace, Leonard Woolf’s Empire and Commerce in Africa, Roger Fry’s Essay on Aesthetics, and Clive Bell’s Art. Students will complete a 15-minute class presentation, weekly response papers, and an article-length final research paper.
Dr. Josh DiCaglio
Over the course of the twentieth century, language, communication, and persuasion became scaled so that molecules and electromagnetic waves themselves contain the capacity to function as forms of rhetoric. The words that gather around this new mode of thinking about language are familiar to us: data, information, code, and sign (as understood by semiotics) all imply an embedding of communicative and rhetorical possibility within matter itself. But the scalar nature of this shift has not consigned communication to the molecular, mechanical operation--it also extends to the global and ecological modes of in-forming that are already presupposed by propaganda and are developed in theories of communication based in systems theory. When combined with cybernetics, this mode of information also places interpretation front-and-center not as a function of meaning but as a function of effect looped back on itself. Information also makes it possible to consider mechanistic philosophy's standard notion of action/reaction in terms of informatic exchange, semiotic process, or communicative effect. These three phrases are strangely reminiscent of the fundamental concern of rhetoric: how do symbolic systems create effects (i.e. persuasion). What then is rhetoric after information theory renders communication as physical as matter itself? What is the flow of rhetoric conceptualized from this basis of information at multiple scales? Does it provide a new means of articulating the general rhetoricity of the Cosmos?
This course will use these questions as an entry point for contemporary theories of rhetoric, starting with semiotics and information theory and then tracing how these basic informatic frameworks run through related entangled theoretical developments in cybernetics, speech-act theory, systems theory, biosemiotics, cultural studies, feminist theory, and science studies.
Texts may include:
C.S. Peirce on Signs and Language
Benjamin Whorf, Essays on Cryptotypes and Language (in collected essays)
Saussure, Course on General Linguistics (selections)
Claude Shannon and Richard Weaver, Introduction to a Material Theory of Communication
Bateson, Mind and Nature
Norbert Weiner, Cybernetics, or, control and communication in the Animal and Machine
Jakob von Uxekull, A Theory of Meaning (in a Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans)
Kristeva on the semiotic vs symbolic
Derrida, Signature, Event, Context (and others)
Austin, How to do things with Words
David Bohm, Meaning and Information
Howard Pattee, How the molecule becomes a message
Barbieri, The Organic Codes (or other biosemiotics literature)
Doyle, On Beyond Living
Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto
John Durham Peters, Speaking into the Air
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway
Dr. Juan Alonzo
T 6- 9
Latinx Cinema (broadly defined to include film, video, television and streaming production) and the representation of Latinx cultures are everywhere in recent years. From the work of “The Three Amigos”—Iñárritu, Cuarón and del Toro—who together have won five Best Director Oscars, to the popularity of television shows such as Jane the Virgin (2014-2019), One Day at a Time (2017-2020) and even Los Espookys (2019), Latinx film and television production is reaching greater audiences. Yet while Latinx expressive culture (including the visual arts, music and popular culture) is in vogue, Latinx people are not always represented in positive ways in historical texts, the mainstream media and contemporary political discourse. In the U.S. context, the negative representation of Latinos and Latinas, along with the alternating popularity of all things Latinx, is part of a long cycle of avowal and disavowal of Latinx cultures.
This course examines the representation of Latinx peoples in cinema, focusing on post-1960s self-representation, and paying particular attention to developments in the last two decades. We will explore independent film movements, innovations in genre, the participation of Latinx filmmakers in Hollywood, and the promises and challenges of the streaming environment. We will enquire what constitutes “Latinidad” as a media concept and interrogate the influence and inclusion of transnational film culture within an understanding of Latinx identities in the U.S., among other questions.
Dr. Larry Reynolds
R 6 - 9
Literature, post-1800; Concepts, themes