Graduate Courses in Literature and Rhetoric/Composition | Department of English

Graduate Courses in Literature and Rhetoric/Composition

Spring 2023 Graduate Course Descriptions

For the complete listing of graduate courses offered in the English Department, please see The Graduate Bulletin.

For course times and places, please see the University online schedule.


ENG 608: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Prof. Amy Vines

R 6:30-9:20

This course is devoted to Chaucer’s best known work: The Canterbury Tales.  Special attention will be paid to the tensions between the various cultural practices represented in the pilgrims’ Tales and their interactions with one another in the context of late fourteenth-century England.  In addition, we will also examine The Canterbury Tales as an innovative anthology of medieval literary genres and consider how our modern ways of dealing with these cultural and social struggles and modern textual praxis can help us to read and understand this medieval masterpiece.  We will read this text in the original Middle English, carefully working our way through the tales.  We will also engage with both the recent and more traditional critical perspectives brought to bear on the Tales, such as Marxist criticism, cultural studies, post-coloniality, gender and queer studies, and manuscript studies.  No prior knowledge of Middle English is required for this course; however, by the end of the semester, you will be able to read Chaucer’s language with fluency.


ENG 626: MFA Fiction Workshop

Prof. Derek Palacio

R 2-4:50

English 626 is a graduate-level writing workshop. The role of the workshop is to support your writing process and to push you to complicate your work through generous, well-considered, and expansive critique. Critique in this workshop has two aims: to dissect the foundational obsessions and craft proclivities of each writer & to center the writer’s innate modes of discovery and revision. Though producing engaging and complex fiction is one of our major goals this term, we are primarily concerned with helping one another identify and define voice, illuminate personal content, and discover areas for expansion in our in-progress manuscripts. Consequently, this workshop will be geared toward illumination and self-discovery rather than “correcting flawed texts.” Various modes of critique will be used, and students will also be asked to reflect regularly on their material in preparation for thesis year project planning.

MFA Requirements Fulfilled: 18-24 hours required in writing courses


ENG 628: MFA Poetry Workshop

Prof. Emilia Phillips

R 2-4:50


ENG 642 Reading and Teaching Poetry

Prof. Jennifer Keith

R 3:30-6:20

Fulfills: pre-1800 requirement

[could also fulfill theory requirement]

This course is designed for those who wish to enrich their approaches to reading and teaching poetry, whether they love or fear (or something in between) the genre. We will focus on several methods of reading poetry, including recent developments in feminist formalism and material textuality—the socio-material conditions of producing, circulating, and reading (including reading as performing) poetry—and recent scholarship on reading and teaching poetry. These approaches to reading and teaching poetry will be integrated with the study of earlier theories from the Renaissance to the Romantic eras, especially those theories concerned with poetry’s pleasures and purposes, as writers continued to transform Horace’s view that a poem must be “sweet” (dulce) and “useful” (utile). The course takes as its premise that we deepen our—and our students’—understanding of poetry by exploring the pleasures we take in it. Mindful of the historical, ideological, and cultural contexts informing these pleasures, we will consider our individual and collective reading experiences, especially as acts of hearing, seeing, and lingering and the passions associated with them.

Readings include sonnets from the Renaissance to the Romantic eras; selected works by Anne Finch, especially as experienced within manuscript culture; and selected illuminated books by William Blake, through which he sought to teach us to enlarge our senses. Assignments include developing practical approaches to teaching poetry at the undergraduate level, specifically by formulating critical and creative assignments; writing a 10- to 12-page research paper on some aspect of the poems studied in our course; and constructing a syllabus for an undergraduate course on poetry connected to your area/s of interest.


ENG 664, Topics in Post-1800 Literature:

Revolutionary Women of 19th-Century British Literature

Anne Wallace, Spring 2023

Tuesday 3:30 – 6:20 pm


The title of this course is deliberately ambiguous: women writers who explicitly advocate for political revolution or radical cultural change is the obvious referent, but we will also read texts that less directly challenge the political order by implicitly proposing reforms or celebrating divergent individuals. We’ll spend some time on the cluster of women writers who witnessed and wrote about the French Revolution: Helen Maria Williams, Charlotte Smith, Mary Robinson, and Mary Wollstonecraft, all but one of whom was “on the ground” during the Revolution and the Terror (1789-94). Two novels from the next generation, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Jane Austen’s Persuasion, both published in 1818, will provide differently distanced engagements with the ideals of the Revolution. Readings from later in the century will likely include poetry by Felicia Hemans, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and the composite poet “Michael Field,” and briefer prose works by a variety of authors (TBD!). While our work will doubtless take many directions, a primary goal of the course is to think collectively about whether we can describe a “tradition of revolution” among British women writers of the 19th century—and if so, what attributes define that tradition. Our seminar discussions will be fueled by your presentations of “problem papers,” and the rest of the course work will consist of a graduated series of assignments leading to the research essay and a conference-length revision of that essay.


ENG 682: Structure of Verse

Prof. Stuart Dischell

W 2-4:50


ENG 731: Periodicals and American Literature Prior to the Civil War

Prof. Karen Weyler

W 3:30-6:20

From the Revolutionary era onward, American periodicals and their editors have had a formative influence on American letters and publishing, championing particular literary and cultural movements and authors while suppressing others. This class will begin by locating the origins of American literary magazines in the eighteenth century, drawing upon Jared Gardner’s The Rise and Fall of Early American Magazine Culture and exploring the hopes of writers such as Charles Brockden Brown to create an original American literature. What was the readership like for these periodicals? When did truly national periodicals first arise, and how do the national and the sectional intersect? Who were the most influential editors, what were their editorial agendas, and what projects did they champion? In the nineteenth century, we’ll also consider important texts that were first published in the periodical press, seeking a broader understanding of context and reading practices, not just with respect to literary magazines, but also weekly papers, albums, and gift books. How do texts that have come to be canonical, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Herman Melville’s short stories, read differently in their original periodical context? Other writers whose works we may read include Susanna Rowson, Catherine Maria Sedgwick, Fanny Fern, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Critical readings will include such titles as Leon Jackson’s The Business of Letters, Patricia Okker’s Our Sister Editors, Derek Spires’s The Practice of Citizenship, and others.



ENG 746: (Studies in Contemporary Rhetorical Theory) Narrative and Health Humanities: Rhetorical and Cultural Critique in Practice

Prof. Heather Adams

M 6:30-9:20

This graduate course will provide students with a foundational overview of three broad and overlapping areas–narrative medicine, graphic medicine (e.g., comics medicine), and rhetorics of health and medicine–in an exploration of critical and pedagogical applications. The course welcomes any student interested in the course topic and approach, and it will be of special use to students who have taught, are teaching, or would like to consider teaching health humanities courses (e.g., UNCG’s ENG 140: Health and Literature and ENG 240: Health and Wellness in Cultural Context). In addition to health-, wellness-, and medicine- oriented topics, the course will include pedagogy theory texts that will round out our thinking about the complexities of teaching sensitive topics and facilitating learning among students with diverse embodied and life experiences. These perspectives are meant to exceed the topical scope of the class and may be of interest to any students interested in teaching at the post-secondary level.

A course project will allow students to leverage their questions and interests into a researched artifact that has potential to usefully live on beyond the course. Examples of such an artifact include a research essay (analytical or pedagogical) appropriate for continued development into a publishable article; a teaching portfolio; a comics text that might be developed for submission to Rhetoric of Health and Medicine journal’s newly developed “digital column” for graphic works; a developed proposal for archival or other research.

Fulfils Rhetoric/Writing Studies requirement

*Will hold WGSS marker