Fall 2021 Graduate - Courses
English 201: Materials and Methods
Monday 1600, Professor Eastwood
This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the basic elements of work in the field. The goals for our seminar are as follows:
- Introduce students to critical literary theory and various analytical methodologies
- Help students to discover how to work in or apply particular modes to different literary texts
- Hone close-reading/textual analytical skills for poetry and prose
- Learn basic research techniques including bibliography, footnoting, on-line research, and problems/complications in literary study
- Gain experience writing and revising your work for various audiences and purposes
English 216: Medieval Literature
Thursday 1600, Professor Stork
This course aims to introduce those less familiar with medieval liter- ature to some of the foundational medieval texts covered in the Part Two MA Exam: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, selections from Chaucer, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. In addition, we will explore two remarkable prose works from the Old Norse and Latin traditions: Njal’s Saga and The Letters of Heloise and Abelard.
English 233: Literature of the Victorian Empire
Wednesday 1600, Professor Krishnaswamy
This seminar on “Literature of the Victorian Empire” expands the scope of Victorian literature to include all of Queen Victoria’s empire. The course has three main goals:
- extend “Victorian” beyond the national boundaries of En- gland/Great Britain and Queen Victoria’s death/WWI
- scrutinize the constitution of “Victorian literature” as a dis- tinct, coherent, hallmark of English high culture, and
- examine the emergence of realism as the privileged aes- thetic of the great tradition of the Victorian novel.
We will undertake this project through close readings of major works of literature as well as criticism. Throughout the course we will explore the connections between literature, culture, history and politics.
English 240: Poetry Writing Workshop
Thursday 1900, Professor Martinez
Poetics and poetry writing as preparation for thesis. Includes theo-
ry and practice of major trends in contemporary poetry. Intensive workshop experience. May be repeatable for credit for up to 12 units. In his “Materia Poetica,” the poet Wallace Stevens wrote, “The relation of art to life is of the first importance especially in a skeptical age since, in the absence of a belief in God, the mind turns to its own creations and examines them, not alone from the aesthetic point of view, but for what they reveal, for what they validate and invalidate, for what they support and give.” In this course, we will examine how modern poetics and aesthetics advances an investigation into post- foundational thought. Moreover, we’ll look at non-dualistic metaphys- ics as they occur in indigenous spaces and writing—most importantly, we will write. We’ll use class workshops, peer-review, and multiple drafts and revisions to achieve that goal. The course is demanding, and based on a certain kind of intense, exigent reading, requiring prolonged— in fact, repeated— attention to specific poems. We will see poetry as an artistic practice: as the great Paul Celan writes, “At- tentiveness is the prayer of the soul.” We will be attentive and practice the process of poetry.
English 241: Advanced Fiction Workshop
Tuesday 1600, Professor Norris
This is the most advanced fiction workshop offered at SJSU. It is de- signed for students pursuing writing as a vocation. Students enrolled in the MFA Program in Creative Writing have registration priority. If there is extra space, graduate students in other disciplines and Open University students may enroll with instructor permission. The major- ity of our class time will be spent discussing student work. We will also read from Best American Short Stories 2019, the SJSU Campus Reading Program’s book of the year, Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami.
The class is divided into four loosely thematized parts, based around the concepts of voice, character-building, story structure and reflec- tion/revision. We will take a tour of different styles of creative writing, learning what’s been invented, and we’ll do a lot of our own new writing as well. Additionally, we will discuss aspects of the writing pro- fession. Topics include finding time to write, managing time, revision, genre, using material, finding an agent or publisher, and networking.
Students will workshop their own work on at least three instances during the term (2,000-5,000 words) and will also be required to provide written feedback to their classmates when their classmates are the focus of the workshop. The objectives of this course are to study and work toward establishing our voice(s) as writers, to learn in nuanced fashion the deep lives of our characters, and to competently structure our stories.
English 242: Creative Non-Fiction Writing Workshop
Wednesday 1900, Professor Arnold
From reportage to memoir, from travel writing to rock n’ roll criticism, the field of creative nonfiction is rich with examples of literary excel- lence. In this course, students will practice writing nonfiction essays in various modes of the genre, improvising their grasp of exposition and storytelling. In addition to practicing with short exercises and turning in one long project, we will be reading and analyzing key nonfiction texts in order to hone our understanding of nonfiction tropes, structures, and stylistic possibilities.
- Trevor Noah, Born A Crime
- Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
- David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me Carl Wilson, Let’s Talk About Love, a journey to the end of taste
- Joan Didion, The White Album
- Essays on Canvas
English 254: Genres In American Literature—“Can Poetry Save The Planet”: Ecopoetry And Environmental Justice
Monday 1900, Professor Soldofsky
This literary seminar will focus on the topic of Environmental poetry, also known as “ecopoetry.” Ecopoetry is more than poetry about nature or the wilderness; ecopoetics investigates connections between human activity (including poetry) and the environmental impact of human cultures and endeavors. We’ll read poems that include works from earlier periods, beginning with a few select Tang Dynasty Chi- nese poems (in translation) that have influenced American Modernism. Then continue reading a diversity of modern and postmodern poems by poets such as: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Robinson Jeffers, Marianne Moore, Kenneth Rexroth, William Stafford, Elizabeth Bishop, Gary Snyder, W.S. Merwin, Pablo Neruda, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Kay Ryan, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Arthur Sze, Jane Hirshfield, Jorie Graham, Camile Dungy, C.S. Gis- combe, Juliana Spahr, and Craig Santos-Perez, among others.
Because the course will be taught primarily as literary research seminar, students will read a group of poems each week by specified poets for our seminar discussion and student presentations. Each student will write a 5,000 – 6,000 word culminating research paper on the work of one or two (or possibly more) poets whose poetry was assigned during the semester. The paper will also be the source for each class member’s 20-minute in-class presentation. There will be a creative option for the culminating project; writing a group of 5 to 6 original ecopoems poems modeled on poems we read during the course. A student choosing the creative option will also write a 2,000 – 2,500- word paper that “annotates” how their own poems emulates the poems read. And will be the basis of that class members culminating in-class presentation. There will also be a collaborative project with Environmental Studies students to fulfill the additional fourth unit.
Poet/critic John Shoptaw explains that what makes an environmental poem work is that “ecopoetry is nature poetry that has designs on us, that imagines changing the ways we think, feel about, and live and act in the world.” Changing the ways we and our readers think about climate change and environmental justice issues will be the goal of the work we do in the course. The course will be taught in a “Hyflex mode.” We will begin bringing back a small group of locally-based students into the CL 111 (Incubator Classroom). With the digital technology available in CL 111, I will teach the course so that it can be viewed on Zoom by students remotely. And on screens and laptops we which are provided in the classroom. We’ll begin bringing students back in-person into the classroom starting on Week 4 of the semester.
English 259: Seminar in Composition Studies
Tuesday 1900, Professor Skinnell
In ENGL 259, we will study current approaches to research in and the teaching of composition. Specifically, we will examine perspectives about composition that inform its instruction: what writing is, how it is studied, how it is taught, how it should be taught, and whether or not it even can be taught. Our overarching goal will be to understand writ- ing/composition as a complex, situated act in order to chart possibili- ties for developing and improving our work as teachers and scholars. The course will focus on situating issues associated with teaching writing in theoretical frameworks of rhetoric and composition studies, and we will discuss practical teaching issues, as well.
English 291: Literary Practicum
Tuesday 1900, Professor Anderson
This 4-unit CR/NC practicum course prepares Creative Writing graduate students to take the MFA exam and develop and begin writing their theses. In ENGL 291, students will customize their exam reading list, draft the thesis abstract and preface, and participate in vital peer reviews. At the beginning of the course, students will consult with their individual thesis committees (comprised of the thesis director and thesis readers) to create a completion plan and throughout the semester, will work under their guidance to complete a publishable manuscript. MFA candidates will share drafts with others working in the same primary genre on the class’ Canvas page. There they will post texts of their thesis abstracts and introductions, as well as portions of their project. In turn, students will receive comments on their drafts from classmates (working in the same primary genre) and from their respective thesis committees. Beyond preparation for the exam and developing the thesis, ENGL 291 offers crucial professional devel- opment opportunities as students will have the chance to meet with literary agents, visiting writers, and editors. The course also provides a forum for a vibrant writing community through Thursday evening readings presented by the Center for Literary Arts.
English 297: MA Comprehensive Exam Preparation
Tuesday 1600, Professor Norris
Exam preparation for the Master’s Degree In this 2-unit course, we will strategize for taking the Masters Level Comprehensive Examination. With guidance, you will choose your topics for the take-home portion. We will also discuss the literary terms list and practice analyzing poetry. Near the end of the semester, you will take the in-class timed portion of the exam on literary terms and poetic analysis (Part One).