Spring 2021 Graduate Seminars

Graduate Course Descriptions Spring 2021

ENG505-01: Shakespeare 2020 Online Synchronous: W 5:00-7:50

Cyrus Mulready: mulreadc@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

Political upheaval, environmental catastrophe, racial unrest, and plague. These are not only the topics of our headlines, “the abstract and brief chronicles of the time,” to quote Polonius, but the very stuff of Shakespearean drama. Even after more than 400 years, Shakespeare’s works continue to inspire artists, scholars, and students to reflect on their resonance with our world today. In this course, we will explore how we interpret his plays and poems today in light of up to the minute concerns such as climate change, pandemic, autocracy, social justice, racial inequality, and gender bias. Do such interpretive engagements inaptly apply our modern concerns on this literature of the past? In our efforts to make Shakespeare “relevant,” do we lose sight of the work’s original vitality? Or can we find something revelatory, even redeeming, about reading and performing these plays that still seem to hold the mirror up to our world? Work for this synchronous online course will include a series of short essays as well as brief presentations and online discussion.

Text: The Norton Shakespeare, Third Edition (or any well-prepared edition of the works, like the Riverside Shakespeare)


ENG 524-01 Virginia Woolf Hybrid: M 5:00-7:50

Stella Deen: deenm@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

This course will engage us in intensive study and enjoyment of Virginia Woolf’s fiction and nonfiction. We will supplement our study of Virginia Woolf's major novels and essays with her memoirs, with selected criticism of her oeuvre, and with excursions into her reading of works by her contemporaries. Our study will concentrate on Woolf's engagement with contemporary reality: we will consider her ongoing commitment to capture the subjective experience of reality in her fiction as well as her engagement with contemporary social and political questions.


ENG 544-01: Teaching Writing Online Synchronous: R 5:00-7:50

Kristopher Jansma: jansmak@newpaltz.edu Course Description:


A seminar on various pedagogical approaches to instruction in creative writing. We’ll discuss issues related to teaching, how to effectively edit and critique the work of students, and ways to lead an effective workshop.

It is sometimes said that one might learn to be a great writer, but that great writing cannot be taught. But how did we learn? And can we, as writers, learn how to impart our skills and knowledge of craft to the next generation? In this course we will discuss pedagogical approaches to instruction in creative writing. We’ll discuss how to effectively edit the work of students, and how to model good critiquing as the head of your own creative writing workshop. We’ll practice handling real-world classroom situations as well as approaches to one-on-one conferences. We’ll discuss the differences between teaching at the primary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels. We’ll look at the ways that great writers talk about how they write, and how this material can be best presented to new writers at all stages of development. We will plan sample lessons and discuss the process of getting a job teaching writing. We will explore how learning to teach creative writing well can improve our own creative writing in turn.

Invited guest speakers will include experienced writer/teachers, ready to discuss their approaches to get the best out of their students. We will respond to various pedagogical ideas through short written assignments as well as active class practice and training, with the goal of preparing graduate students to become effective instructors of creative writing.


Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird
Charles Baxter – Burning Down the House Betsy Lerner – The Forest for the Trees The Art of Fiction – John Gardner
Matthew Salesses – Craft in the Real World


ENG553-01: Career Seminar Online Asynchronous

Cyrus Mulready mulreadc@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

What career opportunities are available for students with an advanced degree in the humanities? How do I describe the skills I have acquired in graduate school? How can I best present myself as a candidate for jobs in a range of fields? Do I need to continue to a Ph.D. or other graduate program in order to accomplish my goals? This practicum is designed to help MA students answer these fundamental questions as it provides crucial professional development and career discernment. The practicum will provide hands-on activities, collaborative exercises, and close mentorship from the instructor and others at the college to assist students not only in finding a job once they graduate, but also in identifying meaningful career paths.


Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. (Knopf, 2016. ISBN: 1101875321)

Additional reading materials to be provided in class or linked through the schedule of readings.


ENG 577.01 – Studies in English Romanticism: The Persistence of Frankenstein (3 credits) Online synchronous: T 5:00-7:50

Prof. Jackie George georgej@newpaltz.edu

Although written over 200 years ago, the cultural force of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein shows no signs of waning. From bolt-necked Halloween masks to denunciations of “frankenfoods,” iterations of Frankenstein—no matter how disparate—are commonplace. In this course, we will examine the persistence of Frankenstein by diving deeply into texts related to the political, scientific, and cultural milieus of Shelley’s life and work. Then, we will consider how, and to what ends, Frankenstein has been appropriated and transformed in contemporary literature and film.


Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary and The Wrongs of Woman
William Godwin, Caleb Williams
Mary Shelley, Matilda
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818 edition) Ahmed Saadawi, Frankenstein in Baghdad
Victor LaValle, Destroyer
Jeannette Winterson, Frankissstein


ENG578-01: Studies in Victorian Literature – The Victorian Gothic Online synchronous: R: 0500P-0750P

Credit Hours: 3

Professor Jed Mayer: mayere@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:
From its beginnings in the eighteenth century, the gothic novel explored, stimulated, and assuaged a variety of fears and anxieties. While these early gothic texts were frequently located in distant locations and times, and tended to promote readerly escapism, in the Victorian period new forms of the gothic emerged, which frequently set their action in the present, near past, or near future, and addressed a range of contemporary issues, including gender, sexuality, class, race, globalization, and industrialization. The Victorian gothic also came to serve as a means of exploring the psychology and the physiology of the emotions, both in its portrayal of characters in extreme, harrowing situations, and in its effects on the reader. In this course, we will explore the various manifestations taken by the gothic in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, considering


these works in relation to their historical context, and through the lens of contemporary cultural theory.

Required Texts (subject to change):

Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
H. Rider Haggard, She
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Bram Stoker, Dracula
H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray


ENG 579.01 Nineteenth Century American Fiction Online synchronous: M 5:00 pm – 7:50pm

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 debates of the century: race and sexuality: Race was at the center of literary inquiry for African American writers who took 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. Often, discourses of race and citizenship were inextricably bound from discourses of sexuality. This course will focus on how Black women writers of the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries engaged the intersections of race, sexuality, and citizenship. We will focus particularly on Black women writers and literary subjects at the turn of the century, because it was Black women who were particularly imbued with damaging narratives surrounding their womanhood, sexuality, and gender. And yet, Black women were among the most prolific literary producers at this time, consistently writing fiction which directly confronted the assault on their personhood. In this course, we will study the ways in which Black women challenged, encoded, and disrupted dominant cultural narratives. We will examine how a generation of Black women writers at the turn of the twentieth century, resurrected their literary foremothers, and augmented their texts’ resistant power through the critical approaches of Black feminist theory, queer theory, and literary theory.


ENG 585: Studies in Contemporary Criticism Online synchronous: 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, 2nd ed. (W. W. Norton) Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus. Penguin, 1984.


ENG 588-01 Studies in Comparative Literature: Franz Kafka Seated (hybrid): W 5-7.50

Michelle Woods woodsm@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

“I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow on the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? […] A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.” Franz Kafka’s writings have been among the most influential in the post-WWII era, influencing Latin American magic realism, modernist, postmodern and contemporary literature. Famous for his short stories, including “The Metamorphosis” (he changes into a bug!) and his three great novels: The Trial, The Castle and Amerika, Kafka brought a fantastical, absurdist, slapstick and nightmarish twist to modernism that generated the adjective “kafkaesque” (for those of you who’ve ever been stuck in a DMV line!). In this course, we will focus on the three novels, his short stories, and a selection of his letters and diaries. We will also study excerpts of films, graphic novel versions of Kafka’s work, Kafka rap videos and the Kafka video game. The course will question how books bite and sting us, and why Kafka’s writing shakes us awake like a blow on the skull.


Franz Kafka, The Trial, trans. Breon Mitchell
Franz Kafka, Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared, trans. Michael Hofmann Franz Kafka, The Castle, trans. Mark Harman
Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis and Other Stories, trans. Michael Hofmann


ENG593.01 Detective Fiction

Online Synchronous: Monday 5:00-7:50 Daniel Kempton



Course Description:
The topic for this seminar is detective fiction. This genre of popular fiction is of special relevance to literary studies because the detective’s act of “ratiocination,” in Poe’s word, by which he (sometimes she) solves the mystery is analogous to readers’ acts of interpretation, by which they assign meaning to the story. A detective story is inevitably about reading. Texts will include Edgar Allan Poe’s foundational mysteries, the Dupin trilogy, from the 1840s; the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, which popularized the genre at the end of the nineteenth century; modernist developments with the fiction of Agatha Christie, Susan Glaspell, and Raymond Chandler from the first half of the twentieth century; and post-modern parodies of the genre by Jorges Luis Borges and Alain Robbe-Grillet. We will begin with the first great mystery in Western culture, the story of Oedipus.


Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths. Translated by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby, New Directions, 2007. ISBN 978-0811216999
Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep. Vintage, 1988. ISBN 9780394758282
Christie, Agatha. Murder on the Orient Express. Harper, 2011. ISBN 9780062073501 Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Penguin, 2001.
ISBN 9780140437713
Poe, Edgar Allan. Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Edited by G. R. Thompson, W. W. Norton, 2004. ISBN 9780393972856
Robbe-Grillet, Alain. La Maison de Rendez-vous and Djinn. Translated by Richard Howard, Grove, 1994. ISBN 9780802130174
Sophocles. The Three Theban Plays. Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin, 2000.
ISBN 9780140444254


ENG 593: Hamlet Across the Ages Online Synchronous: T 5:00-7:50 p.m.

Professor Thomas Olsen: olsent@newpaltz.edu

This seminar, delivered remotely and synchronously via Webex, will feature a deep study of Hamlet, the most iconic and enigmatic work of English literature and the play T. S. called “the Mona Lisa of literature.” We will begin the semester with pre-Shakespearean versions and close analogues of the “Amleth" story—what Shakespeare himself knew of the story before he re- imagined it—and then we will move on to a deep study of Shakespeare’s play itself.
Approximately the second half of the semester will be devoted to a range of post-Shakespearean adaptations and criticism of the story in works of fiction, young adult literature, film, and (yes) popular culture as we explore the cultural influence Hamlet and the protagonist Hamlet have had in the last 400 years.

Requirements for the course will include a short paper (5-6 pp.) on a pre-Shakespearean or Shakespearean topic, a presentation to the class, and a final research project on a topic of your


choosing. You will need reliable internet service and a reliable webcam to participate in the course.

Major readings and required texts will probably include:


Saxo Grammaticus, the story of Amleth (c. 1200) on Blackboard (Bb) François de Belleforest, The History of Hamblet (1608) on Bb
Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy (1587), (several editions are fine, TBD) William Shakespeare, Hamlet Q1 (1603) on Bb
William Shakespeare, Hamlet modern scholarly text edited by Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor (Arden) ISBN 978-1904271338 [you will want this edition for the course]
T. S. Eliot, “Hamlet and his Problems” (1919) on Bb
Laurence Olivier, director, Hamlet (1948) available as a stream on Amazon and on DVD Peter Donaldson, “Olivier, Hamlet, Freud” (1987) on Bb
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966) ISBN 978-0802126214 Carolyn Heilbrun, “The Character of Hamlet’s Mother” (1990) on Bb
John Updike, Gertrude and Claudius (2001) ISBN 978-0449006979 Lisa Klein, Ophelia (2006) ISBN 978-1582348018

Other primary and secondary works will probably be added as I finalize the syllabus, which will be sent to registered students a week or two before the start of the semester.