Graduate Course Descriptions
Theory and Practice of Teaching Composition
The renowned writing teacher and columnist Donald Murray once lamented that he was apprenticed to two crafts he could never master: writing and teaching. In this class we'll consider Murray's words both as they relate to each of his crafts separately and as they ring true in combination, when one takes on the challenge of teaching first year composition (FYC). In addition to mapping out the history of composition studies and identifying its primary thematic approaches, we'll explore what happens at the intersection of theory and practice, familiarize ourselves with resources available for writing teachers, and develop course materials useful for teaching composition at the university or community college level.
Studies in Professional Writing: Professional Science Writing
Students in this course will hone their skills in communicating scientific information in a range of forms for a variety of audiences in professional contexts. Students will develop a writing style that they can use to communicate complex scientific information concisely and clearly in order to advance their ideas and their work. Course projects will enable students to critically analyze and synthesize scientific research, construct convincing presentations, design information for print and electronic publications, and produce other genres of writing, such as proposals and procedures, useful in their professional contexts. Students will investigate persuasive strategies and ethical considerations that inform the development of effective communications for specialist and non-specialist audiences. Students will receive intensive and frequent feedback on all aspects of their writing.
Rhetoric and Culture
This course offers a guided overview of Western rhetoric from antiquity to modernity, with a particular emphasis on the ways rhetoric and culture interact. If language and meaning are the basis for producing culture, then understanding how we make meaning through a rhetorical lens will make us better citizens, thinkers … and ultimately better producers of culture. Instead of taking a "grand narrative" approach to history, we will take a "cluster" approach which highlights important moments where rhetoric changed culture … or culture changed rhetoric. This will allow us to bring in more marginalized and non-western voices into each cluster. We will approach rhetorical history not as static and homogeneous, but as fluid and diverse.
Studies in British Literature
This course explores what it means to be non-normative in Victorian literature and culture. We will look at who tends not to be represented, and how they do surface. We will read texts with an understanding of 19th-century British anxieties of gender, sexuality, class, race, contagion, and empire, among others. In the mid- and late- Victorian periods, ideas about disease, for example, intersect with not only science and medicine, but also socioeconomic class, gender, criminality, morality, race, religion, and sexuality. Prostitution, alcoholism, and working-class status were linked to mental feebleness and moral decay. We will also examine various discourses that attempt to exert power over marginalized figures. Ultimately, we will consider how these various discourses intersect and what these representations tell us about the Victorians, their world, and their use of narrative.
Possible readings include Foucault's Discipline and Punish and History of Sexuality, Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, Goblin Market, 19th-century prostitute poems, New Woman fiction, and assorted scholarship.
*The title of a pamphlet by Frances Power Cobbe, in which she examines the legal and political exclusions of these categories of people.
Studies in Anglophone World Literature: (Im)Proper Belongings
Through a framework informed by critical geography, cultural studies, and postcolonial theories, students will investigate how literary characters and non-literary actors occupy place and move through space. Our goal is to assess how, when, and why certain identities qualify as 'proper' subjects of place, while others are designated/targeted as 'improper.' Further, we will examine how systems neutralize perceived improprieties, allowing for the appearance of resistance while also perpetuating privilege. Together we will analyze the parameters set and the transgressions inspired by the overlap between topographies, discourse, the law, and ideologies. In addition to examining the places and spaces we live in and move through, we will also focus on texts such as Marilynne Robinson'sHousekeeping, Bapsi Sidhwa'sCracking India, Thomas King'sTruth and Bright Water, and Sorayya Y. Khan'sIn the Shadow of the Margalla Hills.