Graduate Courses | Department of English

Graduate Courses

Graduate Courses in Literature and Rhetoric/Composition

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.

Graduate Courses for Spring and Summer 2020

 Spring 2020 Course Descriptions

 English 623: Writing-Advanced: Nonfiction    (tentatively) T 2:00     Craig Nova

Workshop in writing and publishing essays and nonfiction literature (including biography, autobiography, literary and cultural criticism, and extended forms of investigative and analytical reporting).


English 642: Topics in Pre-1800 British Literature         R 6:30      Denise Baker

This course carries the WGS marker. Love, marriage, sexuality, and gender roles are central concerns of medieval literature. We will examine European texts written by both male and female authors from the 12th through the 15th centuries that address the complexities of these relationships. Our readings include The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise, poems by the troubadours and their female counterparts, the trobairitz, the short romances (lais) of Marie de France, Dante’s spiritualization of romance in his Vita Nuova, three of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale,” “The Clerk’s Tale,” and the “Franklin’s Tale”) as well as his Legend of Good Women, and Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies and Treasure of the City of Ladies.

Students will prepare for each class discussion by compiling their questions and comments on the text(s) under consideration in a 400-500 word journal that will be collected but not graded. Each student will begin the discussion for one class during the semester. The final paper will be a 12-18 page research essay; we will discuss a draft in class and students can then revise it before the due date. (All the texts except Chaucer’s Middle English are in Modern English translation.)

Please contact me by e-mail to if you have any questions.


 English 650: Modern Literary & Cultural Theory: Theories of the Contemporary   T 6:30  Christian Moraru

This is a graduate seminar in which we will join the fast-expanding debate on the problem of “contemporaneity.” Thus, we will be reading key texts that, over the past decades, have shaped discussions about the “contemporary” and subsequently about its conceptual neighbors like “modern,” “new,” “postmodern,” and even the “post-postmodern.”

Included in our conversation are critics, theorists, and philosophers such as Alain Badiou, Theodore Martin, Michael North, and Terry Smith, among others. Our literary “target text” will be Ben Lerner’s 2011 novel Leaving the Atocha Station. One of the major goals of this course is helping students develop their own—one might say “contemporary”—approaches and vocabularies in literary-cultural analysis, with an eye to effective performance on PhD examinations and to advanced research. The class is also geared toward graduate reading and writing carrying notable potential for presentation and publication. There will be a midterm and a longer, final paper.


English 659: Digital Literacies and Online Rhetorics           W 6:30     Aaron Beveridge

The early Internet democratized access to information, removed traditional “print” barriers to publication, and enabled digital interaction and online communication on a global scale. However, with the recent development of the surveillance economy (Big Data) and the continued erosion of online privacy rights, the “democratized” status of the Internet should be reconsidered. The Internet continues to expand beyond desktop and mobile computing environments to our refrigerators and automobiles, with the Internet of Things adding digital sensors and “smart” technologies to every type of consumer and commercial machinery. As non-human writing technologies and “bots” now comprise more than half of all Internet traffic, posthuman frameworks for networked writing pose new challenges and possibilities for digital literacy and online rhetoric.


 English 664: Topics in Post-1800 Literature: The Country and the City in Nineteenth-Century British Literature      T 3:30     Anne Wallace

“A contrast between the country and the city, as fundamental ways of life, reaches back into classical times. Yet the real history, throughout, has been astonishingly varied.”

– Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (1973)

Our scope will not be so great as that of Williams’s influential study, but our aims will be similar: to explore the varied representations of “country” and “city” in British literature of the 19th century. Britain’s shift from a primarily rural to a primarily urban population during this period is well-known. But the material experiences of country and city life also shifted dramatically throughout the period: the practices of agriculture, the shapes and perceptions of the land, the everyday lives of city-dwellers, all underwent extensive, accelerating change. How did 19th-century British writers engage and represent this change? How did their diverse, shifting ideas of “country” and “city” intersect with ideas about “nature” and “society”? What intersections might these 19th-century cultural re-framings have with our 21st-century concerns with human/environmental interfaces, and our efforts to imagine ideal communities?

Our readings will likely include: poetry by Mary Robinson, William Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold, and Christina Rossetti; fiction by Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy; and nonfiction by some of these writers and others (perhaps Richard Jeffries) as well. Excerpts from Williams’ The Country and the City, and from Paul Readman’s Storied Ground: Landscape and the Shaping of English National Identity (2018), will provide views of the continuities and changes in literary/historical scholarship over the last few decades. 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.


English 688: Women’s Rhetoric and Feminist Pedagogy     W 3:30     Risa Applegarth

Cross-listed with Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, this course focuses on feminist rhetorical theories, interventions, and challenges. We will investigate the historical development of feminist rhetorical studies, consider contemporary pedagogical approaches including antiracist, crip, and queer pedagogies, and work together to chart emerging directions in the field. No prior knowledge of rhetoric is assumed, and graduate students will be encouraged to pursue their own projects in relation to the theories and practices discussed in the course.


English 725: Studies in Modernism: Woolf, Eliot, and the Modernist Literary Revolution

M 6:30     Tony Cuda

“On or about December 1910,” Virginia Woolf wrote, “human character changed.” T. S. Eliot agreed: “There is no going back from here.” With Woolf and Eliot at the forefront—but with a host of other modernists close behind—this class will examine the radical innovations in literary style and technique that occurred during the first half of the twentieth century, the period which we now call modernism. We will examine how modernists reimagined consciousness and subjectivity; how they exploded and reassembled the genres of prose and poetry; how they shaped the burgeoning discourses of gender and race; and how their work inaugurated a revolution that still defines the contours and future of contemporary poetry and fiction. Authors will include Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Langston Hughes, Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, and others. Requirements will include a mid-term research project and a final seminar paper. Note: This course may be repeated once for credit.


 English 742: Studies in Rhetorical Theory & Practice: Rhetoric of Health and Medicine

M 3:30     Heather Adams

Rhetoric of Health and Medicine is one of the most quickly developing concentrations in contemporary Rhetoric and Writing Studies. It is a trans- and inter-disciplinary field that leverages rhetorical theory (often along with other humanistic or social scientific methods) to pursue inquiry about health, health literacy, illness, medicine, and bodies. Notably, this field includes historical, contemporary, activist, advocacy, and pedagogical emphases as well as a commitment to seeking relevance for a broad range of academic and non-academic audiences.

Given a biennial conference, a newly established RHM journal, and an increasing number of academics specializing in this area, it is a superb time to learn about this field.

This course will provide students with an introduction to RHM and will allow them to identify and develop a specific RHM-related project (e.g., traditional research/publication, digital humanities project, pedagogical innovation). Thematically, the course will have several areas of focus: foundational theories used in the field; rhetorical and visual rhetorical methodologies; historical-cultural approaches to studying race, gender, and medicine; medical humanities pedagogy; and advocacy writing.

I have further designed the course to include some special features, which I hope will enhance our time together:


  • In Conversation Speaker Series—a series of in-class dialogues with special guests (live or via video chat) who will talk to us about their work related to RHM
  • Collaborative work on an in-process RHM digital humanities exhibition about oral contraception history. We’ll learn about rhetorics of metadata/tagging as we work with the exhibit in its production phase. Likely opportunity for publication for students who wish to write about our in-class DH work.
  • Unit on medical humanities pedagogy geared toward literature and R/C students interested in teaching medical memoir/graphic (comics) medicine.


Summer 2020 Course Descriptions

ENG 675: Scholarly and Critical Writing for the Profession: Leading a Writer’s Life 

Heather Adams           Summer Session II

 George Orwell called writing a book “a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness.” This course will engage scholarly perspectives on the process of writing and its published products while at the same time considering how we structure our lives with the professional activity of writing in mind.  Through a combination of workshops, guest lectures, collaborative projects and daily writing, this course will not only analyze scholarly perspectives on writing but engage students in considering how their own writing and the professional life they construct participates in the wider profession.  What practices do we employ to produce scholarly writing?  How do these practices contribute to and challenge current professional norms?  What sorts of practices might we adopt to create a vibrant and supportive professional community?


ENG 744: Seminar in Composition Studies  Jeanie Reynolds       Summer Session II

In this course we will examine the ways we teach writing in the k-16 classroom. We will examine not only the theories that inform our teaching, but also examine the ways writing operates in and outside of the classroom. This course will run from 9-3pm, M-F,  typically the last two weeks of June (specific dates TBD) in order to accommodate k-12 teachers.