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Graduate Course Descriptions and Rotation

This rotation is subject to change depending on faculty and program needs. We generally offer one British, American, and Creative Writing course per semester. English 5000 is offered each fall to incoming students, and we aim to offer ENGL 508B each spring, with differing topics.


Classes meet 4:40-7:40 PM unless otherwise specified.

ENGL 5000: Bibliography and Methods of Research with Dr. Marisa Sikes (Monday)

ENGL 541A: Seminar in Creative Writing—Nonfiction with Dr. Amy Wright (Thursday)
“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote in a novel. But when a girl who just lost her best friend reads that line, it hurts. When a man who has just won the lottery reads it, everything is beautiful. Nonfiction opens that vast territory between varying experiences to get at something shared, transferable, applicable. It is one of the ways we make sense of the human condition, or spider monkeys. In this seminar, we’ll read true stories, humor essays, graphic essays, memoirs, travel pieces, and listicles with the goal in mind of taking your writing to the next level. Assignments include one traditional length true story and several “flash” (or 2-3 page) pieces. You will leave the class with constructive feedback, publishing advice, and a publishable final portfolio, if inclined. If you have questions, please email Professor Wright at wrighta@apsu.edu.

ENGL 5450: Special Topics—Professional Writing Internship with Dr. David Major
Instructor permission only. 

ENGL 552D: Victorian Novel—Victorians in Motion with Dr. Dan Shea (Wednesday)
In her study of 19th-century London, Victorian Babylon, Lynda Nead writes that “[i]f the process of modernization can be said to have had a primary goal, it was movement.” Evidence of Victorian Britain’s nervous fascination with the motion and speed of the industrial age appears throughout the literature of era. In this course we will attempt to understand the restless drive for continuous motion in this literature by focusing on the impact of industrialization and  mechanization, global transportation networks and imperialism, urban migration and metropolitan life, and increased social mobility on the Victorian understanding of time, place, space, and self. We’ll read travelogues, science fiction, Gothic stories, railway novels, sensation fiction, and utopian and dystopian fantasies. We will conclude with a look the Modernists, whose fetishization—and also fear—of the speed and
mechanization of modernity inspired the formal radicalism of the literature of the early 20th century. Readings are likely to include works by Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Richard Jefferies, H.G. Wells, William Morris, Grant Allen, Harriet Martineau, Lewis Carroll, and others.

ENGL 5710: Special Topics—Harlem Renaissance with Dr. Paula White (Tuesday)
This course will examine texts published by African American writers during the Harlem Renaissance era. Across genres, we will study the socio-politics of the late-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries that inform the literature. Moreover, we will explore themes of mobility and identity, particularly in relationship to passing, racial uplift and the Black bourgeoise. Furthermore, we will evaluate the ways in which African American literature addresses and responds to critical conversations about race, class, gender, and sexuality. Lastly, we will connect our investigations to Africana Studies and Popular Culture discourses.

LING 506A: History of the English Language with Dr. Andrew Kostakis
Classes are held TR 12:45-2:10 pm.

ENGL 508B: Special Topics in Criticism and Theory: Playing with Theory with Dr. Eichhorn
Come and play in the social justice theory sandbox by examining the impact of plays that raise our consciousness about the issues that frame our lives:  Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” Moises Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project,” Anna Deveare Smith’s “Twilight,” Claudia Rankine’s “The White Card,” and Charles Fuller’s “A Soldier’s Play.”  Theorists include:  Adrienne Rich, “Notes Towards a Politics of Location,”  Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Sex, and Class:  Women Re-defining Difference,” Estelle Freedman, “The Historical Construction of Homosexuality,” and Jack Halberstam’s “TRANS*: A Quirky Guide to Gender Variability.” Explore how these theorists expand our experience with these plays and design projects in the form of traditional essays or presentations of staged dramatic readings. Discover the value of research and dramatic representations with seeking social justice. 

ENGL 550A: Seminar in Shakespeare with Dr. Wadia
ENGL 558D:  African American Literature with Dr. Williams
ENGL 541C: Seminar in Creative Writing, Poetry with Dr. Spofford
LING 506D: Survey of Early Germanic Dialects with Dr. Kostakis (crosslisted)

ENGL 5000: Bibliography and Methods of Research with Dr. Shea
ENGL 541B: Seminar in Creative Writing: Fiction with Prof. Kitterman
ENGL 558B: 20th-Century American Fiction with Dr. Crenshaw
ENGL 551C: Special Topics in 18th Century British Literature with Dr. Cannon
LING 506A: History of English Language with Dr. Kostakis (crosslisted with LING 4010)

ENGL 541A Writing Workshop, Prose Nonfiction with Dr. Amy Wright
MW 2:30-3:55PM. Cheryl Strayed, who wrote Wild, selected some of the essays we will read in this course because they end “as if nothing would ever be the same again.”  Nor will you be the same after spending this term reading and writing wise and intense true stories. Assignments will include writing one traditional length essay and several “flash” (or 1200 words or less) pieces. We will also discuss these essays as a class with the goal of revising toward a publishable final portfolio, paying particular attention to how characters, humor, emotional revelation, and anecdotal evidence can connect readers to personal and universal events.

ENGL 5710: Selected Topics—Native American Literature with Dr. Wes Atkinson
M 4:40-7:40. In this class, we will read Native American literature and orature through the lens of Native American literary theory and criticism.  Ongoing Indigenous struggle, perseverance, and expression will be our main focus, including anti-colonialism and Indigenous feminism.  Contemporary and historical authors will be examined, including Louise Erdrich, N. Scott Momaday, Tommy Orange, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, James Welch, William Apess, John Rollin Ridge, Black Elk, Zitkala-Ša, Elias Boudinot, and others.  These texts will be read alongside other Indigenous cultural productions, including visual art, music, and dance.  Native American theorists and critics, including Vine Deloria, Jr., Craig Womack, Daniel Heath Justice, Robert Warrior, Paula Gunn Allen, and Dale Turner, will frame our analysis and discussion.  This will be a seminar-style class, consisting mainly of in-depth, guided discussions, culminating in a term paper.

ENGL 552D: Victorian Novel with Dr. Dan Shea
T 4:40-7:40.

ENGL 508C: Composition Theory and Pedagogy with Dr. Cynthia McWilliams
R 4:40-7:40.

ENGL 508B: Special Topics in Theory and Criticism with Dr. David Guest
W 4:40-7:40. Topics covered: Cultural criticism and New Historicism.

ENGL 549A: Medieval English Literature with Dr. Marisa Sikes
This course serves as an introductory examination of early English literatures, including Old and Middle English texts. No prior familiarity with Old or Middle English is required and all Old English texts are in translation. This course is meant to familiarize you with some of the texts on the MA comprehensive reading list from the medieval period, but more broadly to provide you with a sense of the thematic and literary concepts as well as variety of texts present in medieval English. We will read: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Book of Margery Kempe, and excerpts from other works.

ENGL 558A: Twentieth Century American Poetry with Dr. Florian Gargaillo
American poetry in the twentieth century was marked by a wide range of competing groups, schools, and movements. It was also a century in which numerous poets wrote essays, letters, and manifestos arguing for what poetry should be and what it should do in the world. Through their creative and critical writing, poets sought to answer fundamental questions about their art form: What is the poet’s relationship to society? What role should politics play in poetry? What formal qualities can best express the sensibility of an era? This course offers a survey of the major groups that defined American poetry in the twentieth century, such as Imagism, the New York School, and Confessional Poetry. This class will also serve as an introduction to the critical debates that shaped the field in the twentieth century and continue to define it today.

ENGL 541B Writing Workshop, fiction with Prof. Barry Kitterman
This course is designed to benefit and challenge writers who are working on short stories. Students in this course will aspire to writing literary fiction, rather than stories that come out of the popular genres (romance, sci fi, computer games.) Although it’s helpful for students to have taken at least one writing course at the undergraduate level, it’s more important for the student to bring an open mind, a willingness to listen to others, and an interest in the revision process. The is the author of The Baker’s Boy and From the San Joaquin, and is the fiction editor for Zone 3 Magazine.

ENGL 551C: Special Topics in 18th-Century Literature: Jane Austen's Bookshelf with Dr. Mercy Cannon
Virginia Woolf famously wrote: "All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds." Yet Jane Austen’s tight grip on the popular imagination has left many earlier women writers in the shadows. Focusing on fiction, this course traces a long tradition of women writers from Aphra Behn to Jane Austen, and will also include novels by Eliza Haywood, Charlotte Lennox, Francis Burney, and Ann Radcliffe. By the end of the semester, you should have a richer understanding of eighteenth-century fiction by women and the various critical approaches that inform current readings. You will also sharpen your ability to analyze literary texts, to engage in critical discussions, to perform advanced research, and to produce strong writing.

LING 506D:  Survey of Early Germanic Languages with Dr. Sims
Don’t let the title of this course stop you in your tracks.  For the graduate-level course, we will focus on the language and literature of the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings—Old English and Old Norse, respectively.  And because language and literature don’t occur in a vacuum, we will also explore cultural similarities and differences between these two early Germanic tribes as illustrated in the literature.  Although the stories of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings began in an oral tradition, surviving manuscripts provide us with versions of these oral tales.  The two main texts we will use are the Longman Anthology of Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures (which provides the stories in both the original language and the Modern English translation) and Beowulf & Other Stories: A New Introduction to Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literature (which, in addition to the stories, fleshes out the cultural and historical background).

ENGL 508B: Special Topics in Criticism and Theory: Reading through the Prism of Feminist theory with Dr. Jill Eichhorn
500 pounds a year and a room. That’s what a woman writer needs to write, according to Virginia Woolf.  We’ll start by listening to a dramatic reading of Woolf’s classic contribution to feminist theory, considering its impact on feminist literary theory and its historical limitations. Our main textbook will be Gilbert and Gubar’s Norton Anthology of Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism.  We’ll read a selection of these essays and get our theoretical feet wet applying these frameworks to short stories from the reading list.

ENGL 541C: Seminar in Creative Writing, Poetry with Dr. Andrea Spofford
Focusing on creating and revising original poems, the aim of this course is to develop the student’s creative writing and editing skills to a professional level. This semester will focus on alternative mediums—from experimental, text-based poetry, the idea of the “book as object,” and poetics that bend genre (like scored poems and motion poems), this class seeks to reevaluate poetry’s confinement to the page.

ENGL 554D: Early American Literature: The Left Hand in Early American Literature with Dr. Atkinson 
When European Christian colonies are carved into New World soil with stolen labor on stolen land, the cultural, corporal, and psychic damage to African and American Indian peoples is usually rationalized by European Christians through violence, racism, and other logical short-circuits that have deep consequences for European Christian settlers, too.  In this course, we will explore the literature and orature that represents and/or expresses the consequences of this violence on these three groups, paying particular attention to the expressions of psychic pain by exploited peoples and anti-rational currents in the gothic and occult trends in American Romanticism.  Threads of sex, gender, and sexuality inevitably weave through politics of race, individualism, and psychic fragmentation in a surprising number of major and minor writers.  If the traditional narrative of the US, which flows from Columbus, Mary Rowlandson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson through Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Abraham Lincoln is the rational right hand, we will examine the psychically fraught left hand, beginning with Bartolomé de las Casas, Tisquantum, and Olaudah Equiano to Edgar Allan Poe, William Apess, and Harriet Jacobs.  In addition to knowledge of the literature, we will develop our theoretical approaches to literary criticism through extensive reading of published scholarship.

ENGL 552B: Special Topics in the British Romantic Period: British Romanticism and the Fruits of Friendship with Dr. Cervelli
At the end of The Prelude, William Wordsworth refers to having “wantoned in wild Poesy” with Samuel Taylor Coleridge between the summers of 1797 and 1798.  One result of this wild wantoning was the joint publication of Lyrical Ballads (1798), perhaps the most important poetry collection to have been published during the British Romantic period.  This course will focus on this friendship and the literary fruit that came from it, beginning – but certainly not ending – with Lyrical Ballads.  This key literary friendship cannot begin to be understood, however, without considering a sometimes neglected figure – Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the poet.  If she was the “hidden bird that sang” in the midst of this flourishing male friendship (to borrow from William’s beautiful description of his sister and her influence on him), Dorothy Wordsworth nevertheless made her own significant contribution to British Romanticism.  This course will concentrate on all three figures, and since poetry will be our primary focus, prosody (the general term that encompasses all aspects of poetic meter and form) will be emphasized.

England, during the Renaissance and 18th century, was not buttoned up. Although they structured their hierarchies, laws, and customs around “traditional” gender binaries, they also had much more fluid ideas about gender and sexuality than we might expect. In this course, we will explore early modern and 18th-century constructions of gender, sexuality, desire, and bodies. We will research the real spaces and institutions that Londoners created to explore their sexualities, from Molly Houses (clubs for homosexual men) to the 18th-century predecessors of online dating sites. By reading drama of cross-dressing from John Lyly’s Gallatea to Thomas Middleton’s The Roaring Girl, we will examine the relationship between sex, gender, and performance. We will study these literary texts alongside real-world cross-dressing women, including Moll Cutpurse and Charlotte Charke. And we will explore the stock character types, including the rake, fop, coquette, and macaroni, that reinforced and challenged audiences’ ideas about gender. As we study these theatrical and historical women and men, we will place them in conversation with early modern theories of gender, including Aristotle’s Masterpiece, and theoretical texts, including Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality.