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Spring 2019 Graduate Seminars

ENG 522-01:  British Literature of the Twentieth Century to 1945: Modernism and the Nonhuman

W 5-7:40

Professor Vicki Tromanhauser:  tromanhv@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

The turn of the twentieth century brought changes in the way humans conceived of their own being—changes inspired by new military technology and developments in the evolutionary, psychoanalytic, and life sciences. Figurations of the nonhuman in literature mark the places in which a series of conceptual boundaries, and the hierarchies that attend them, come under threat of erasure, whether of gender, race, class, or species.  British modernism introduces some promising strategies for representing the animal and material aspects of our being.  In this seminar we’ll explore the ways in which British writers of the early twentieth century, and some who follow them, explore what is in the human more than the human, at once unsettling humanist species priorities while recuperating the nonhuman as a potentially rich source of creativity, intuition, and emotional connection with others.  As an imaginative medium that enables readers to inhabit other consciousnesses and modes of being by generating a virtual experience of the nonhuman, modernist literature has a vital role to play in engendering a fuller ethical awareness of humanity’s entanglement with other orders of being.  In our exploration of poetry, drama, and prose fiction, we’ll think about the practices in which the relations between human and nonhuman orders of being come into greatest tension:  surgery, combat, imperialism, eating, terrorism, and animal rescue.

Texts (provisional): 

H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)

Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent(1907)

E. M. Forster, Howards End(1910)

T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land(1922)

Virginia Woolf, Orlando(1929)

Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart (1938)

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot(1953)

J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace(1999)

And a selection of Great War poetry and prose


ENG 533-01 American Fiction in the Nineteenth Century

M 5:00 pm – 7:50 pm

Professor Crystal Donkor: donkorc@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

This course is a study of the dynamic world of nineteenth century American fiction and its engagement with the most preoccupying debate of the century: race. Race was at the center of literary inquiry for black and white writers alike, each taking to the novel, periodical, or magazine to sort out the nation’s fraught racial past, muddied racial present, and to contemplate its still uncertain racial future. This course will study two formulations of the race conversation that dominated in the literature: notions of race and womanhood and questions of race and citizenship. Although these writers explored similar themes in texts like William Dean Howells’s Imperative Duty (1891) and Julia C. Collins’s The Curse of Caste, Or, The Slave Bride (1865), their representations of the most popular racial debates of the day in their fiction varied according to who was telling the story. Together, we will unearth the nuanced styles of these and other black and white nineteenth century fiction writers as they tell seemingly similar tales of racial discovery, intrigue, and fallen womanhood. Our readings of recent and foundational critical scholarship in the field will anchor our discussion of course texts.


ENG 555: Contemporary Literary Theory

W 5-7:50

Professor Mary Holland: hollandm@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

This course provides a survey of movements of theory and criticism from the last century or so through today, from Marxism to posthumanism and pretty much everything in between. Our goal in this course is not to grasp main concepts and terms and move on, but to analyze each theorist’s arguments in depth, place theories in conversation with each other, note shifts and connections, and interrogate the wider cultural and historical contexts in which each intellectual trend emerges. Thus, while many students in this class will have taken a theory survey before, this course will provide an opportunity to deepen and widen their comprehension of theory, and gain a richer understanding of the larger network of intellectual currents surrounding the various theoretical movements. To that end, the course is organized in four sections: subjectivity; language; culture; and nation/world/human. We will focus our attention on the theory itself, while placing it in relation to Angela Carter’s novel Nights at the Circus, and reading criticism of that novel in order to recognize and appreciate what critics—including you—can bring to literary study using theory. 


The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2nded. (W. W. Norton)

Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus. Penguin, 1984.


ENG 574: Shakespeare and the Creative Continuum (Studies in Shakespeare)

R 5:00-7:40 p.m.

Professor Thomas Olsen: olsent@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

This course will explore the continuum of creativity encompassing the literary and historical sources Shakespeare relied upon to write his plays, the plays themselves, and post-Shakespearean adaptations, spin-offs, film versions, novelizations, dramatic works, musicals and other examples of popular culture derived from the plays. In addition, we will read secondary materials intended to help us understand underlying critical problems related to creativity, imitation, fair use, plagiarism, and intertextuality.

Requirements will probably include one short paper (5-6 pp.), one term paper focused upon a Shakespeare play in relation to a pre- or post-Shakespearean work or works (12-15 pages), and one oral report to the class. 

Works by Shakespeare will probably come from this list: The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, and perhapsHamlet. Other readings and assignments will include source stories and post-Shakespearean adaptations and spin-offs in the form of fiction, drama, film, and perhaps other genres. The final list of readings and assignments will be established prior to the semester and sent to students a week or two in advance of the first class.

We will also see the campus production of Master of Two Servants, an Italian play which relates to our study of The Comedy of Errors. An option to see an off-campus production of Much Ado About Nothing will also be offered.

Required Texts:

You will need a high-quality edition of the works of Shakespeare. I have ordered the 3rdedition of Stephen Greenblatt et. al, eds. The Norton Shakespeare, in the easier-to-carry 2-volume format (978-0-393-26402-9). However, any prior edition of The Norton Shakespeare, or any high-quality 1-volume, or single-play critical editions (Arden, Cambridge, Norton, Oxford, Riverside, etc.) are acceptable. Please contact me before making a major purchase; many budget editions will not serve you well and are false economies.

The MLA Handbook 8thedition (ISBN 978-1603292627) is recommended. Please do not purchase a previous edition of the Handbook, as many guidelines have changed in the 8thedition.

Supplemental materials will be available on Blackboard, YouTube, and the web.

ENG 577.01: Studies in English Romanticism – Women Writers of the Romantic Era

R 5:00-7:50

Prof. Jackie George

Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for MA students

Course Description:

In this course, we will consider what Romantic literature looks like when the works of women writers are placed in the foreground. Although it has been over 20 years since the first anthologies to challenge the historically all-male Romantic canon of poets emerged, critics are still coming to terms with what the inclusion of women (and other previously marginalized writers) means for Romanticism as a literary movement. In fact, some question whether “the Romantic Era” is still a useful way of categorizing British literature written between 1789-1830 (a contentious set of dates in and of itself). These debates will form part of the context within which we read works from a variety of genres. Selected authors will include (but are not limited to) Fanny Burney, Joanna Baillie, Mary Robinson, Felicia Hemans, and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Anticipated Texts

British Women Poets of the Romantic Era, ed. Paula Feldman

Fanny Burney, Camilla

Additional essays, poems, and short stories will be made available online.


ENG 581 Studies in Twentieth-Century American Fiction to 1945: Seminar in Faulkner and Hemingway

T 6:30-9:20 p.m.

Prof. H.R. Stoneback

Stoneback Course Description


ENG 593-02: Graduate Poetry Workshop

M: 5:00-7:50 PM

Professor Pauline Uchmanowicz uchmanop@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

Free verse or nonce? Elemental symbols or urban archetypes? Ampersand or “and’? In this writing workshop, participants will consider traditions and trends animating contemporary poetry and consider strategies for constructing their own. The primary goal of the course is for each poet to find a distinctive identity in terms of imagery, language, and subject matter. Additionally, class members will assist in creating poetry-writing exercises. They also will share independent work as well as participate in peer reviews, in which the group works collectively to appreciate and analyze poems by writers in our class, offering constructive feedback. Assignments include a midterm and a final portfolio of poems. 

Required Texts:

Hayes, Terrance. American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. Penguin, 2018.

Kooser, Ted. Delights & Shadows. Copper Canyon, 2004.

Flynn, Nick. I Will Destroy You. Graywolf, 2019. (if available)

Xie, Jenny. Eye Level. Graywolf, 2018.

Smith, Tracy K. Wade in the Water. Graywolf, 2018.

Recommended Text:

Greene, Roland, et al. editors. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics4thEdition

Princeton UP, 2012.


ENG 593 Women and the Holocaust

T 5:00-7:50

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Dr. Jan Zlotnik Schmidt:  schmidtj@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

This course will examine women’s experiences during the Holocaust, concentrating on first, second, and third generation Holocaust women writers, both Jewish and non-Jewish.  Particular attention will be paid to women’s roles as victims, rescuers, resisters, and perpetrators.  The course also will examine theoretical and critical issues in Holocaust representation as well as the latest feminist scholarship on women and the Holocaust.  Finally, the course will explore concepts and forms of witnessing—testimony, memoir, fiction, film,  and poetry—as they create a feminist aesthetics of moral imagination, political action, and resistance.

Selected Texts:

Charlotte Delbo, Auschwitz and After

Brana Gurewitsch, Mothers, Sisters, Resisters:  Oral Histories of Women Who Survived the Holocaust

Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life

Nora Krug, Belonging:  A German Reckons with History and Home (A Graphic Memoir)

Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl

Carol Rittner and John K. Roth, Different Voices:   Women and the Holocaust

Note:  There will be selected short stories by Ida Fink and Sara Nomberg-Pryztyk, poetry by Nelly Sachs among others as well as the “2.5 Minute Ride,” a play by Lisa Kron.  In addition, the class will view several films including Witness, Rosenstrasse, and Nasty Girl.