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Summer and Fall 2017 Graduate Seminars


ENG574.10: Studies in Shakespeare

MWR 5:00P-7:50P

Daniel Kempton



Course Description:

The course will study the representation of “Otherness” (e.g., the woman, Moor, Jew, Oriental, American) in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Anthony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest. Our study will set the plays in their historical context and make use of contemporary critical theory. As we read the plays themselves, we will also consider important cinematic productions and adaptations.



Norton Shakespeare. Stephen Greenblatt, general editor, 3rd ed., W. W. Norton, 2015.

ISBN 978-0393934991


Note: Any edition of Shakespeare is acceptable (single volume or individual volumes for each play), though the Norton Shakespeare has especially useful editorial apparatus.





ENG 505-01: Shakespeare

T 5:00-7:50 p.m.
Professor Thomas Olsen: olsent@newpaltz.edu


Course Description:

This course is a graduate-level introduction to Shakespeare. In addition to a selection of plays and poems, the course will also focus on the cultural atmosphere of Shakespeare’s age, including topics such as basic theater history, the social relationships between men and women, the organization of early modern economic and political life, the early publication of Shakespeare’s works, and other subjects that bear on the works. The course will also help students understand issues related to early modern ideas concerning authorship and creativity, as well the ways Shakespeare used earlier sources to write his “original” works, and the ways he in turn became a “source” for later authors and artists. Thus, one emphasis of the course will be on cinematic and literary adaptations of Shakespeare, as well as some attention to the sources Shakespeare used in writing his own works.


Possible plays and poems may include Venus and Adonis, Richard II, 1 Henry IV, Henry V, Titus Andronicus, Coriolanus, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Tempest (this list may well change, especially if there is an area performance of a Shakespeare play; the final list will be ready toward the end of the summer).


Requirements will probably include two papers of medium length (8-10 pp.), a midterm and/or final examination, a presentation with a partner, and other smaller assignments (these expectations are also subject to minor change but will be finalized on the course syllabus).


The English Department also offers Studies in Shakespeare (ENG 584), a course typically focused on a specific topic or theme within Shakespeare studies. See Professor Olsen if you have any questions concerning which course is the best choice for you personally.



Required Texts (ordered @ College Bookstore, but available elsewhere, new and used):

A high-quality edition of the works of Shakespeare. I have ordered the 3rd edition 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 in any format of The Norton Shakespeare is acceptable. So are any high-quality 1-volume or single-play critical editions (Arden, Cambridge, Norton, Oxford, Riverside, etc.). Please contact me before making a major purchase; some budget editions will not serve you well and are really false economies.

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

Russ McDonald, The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare, 2nd ed. (978-0312248802)

Other readings and materials will be available on Blackboard, YouTube, and Vimeo.



ENG 515-01: Modern Theories of Writing

Monday: 5:00-7:50 p.m.

Matthew Newcomb: newcombm@newpaltz.edu


Course Description: 

This course will both prepare you to teach writing in a theoretically-informed way and involve you in contemporary research and conversations about writing, composition, and rhetoric.  While the course will cover some key historical figures for composition studies (Aristotle, Plato, Quintilian), the majority of the time will be spent on key debates and issues in the field of composition studies as it has existed since the first Conference on College Composition and Communication in the middle of the twentieth century.  Those topics will likely include (but are not limited to) the rhetorical situation, theories of argument, the role of composition courses, assessment concerns, new technologies and writing, the role of the author, approaches to grammar and style, public and cultural aspects of writing, and writing across the curriculum.  Many readings will be key journal articles and academic books from the last several decades.  Students will also gain a larger historical understanding of the movements within composition studies and will be encouraged to develop and try alternative theories and strategies in their writing and in their teaching of writing.  Students will enact their own research into the field of composition and will prepare materials for teaching writing as well (such as lesson plans, syllabi, textbook reviews, and/or assignment sheets). We will also spend time talking about our current composition courses and sharing ideas for immediate teaching.


Tentative Required Texts:

Berlin, James A. Rhetoric and Reality: Writing Studies in American Colleges 1900-1985.

Southern Illinois UP, 1987.

Miller, Susan. Ed. The Norton Book of Composition Studies. W.W. Norton, 2009.



ENG 508-01:  Milton                       

W 5:00-7:30 p.m.

Professor Thomas Festa:  festat@newpaltz.edu

A revolutionary poet and an outspoken radical, John Milton immersed himself in the leading controversies of his day, including those that surrounded freedom of the press, the right to kill an unjust ruler, and the liberty to divorce.  Since his own time, Milton’s writing has encouraged questions about what it means to be radical, an investigation notoriously associated with the figure of Satan in Paradise Lost.  Through a close study of the major poetry and prose, this course will consider Milton in terms of the literary and historical constructions of such concepts as “liberty” and “evil” that affected his writing and continue to affect his reputation.  In addition to Milton’s major canonical works, we will further consider selected literary, philosophical, and religious writings seeking to address “the problem of evil.”  These will include texts both ancient and modern that situate the yearning for justice in relation to the experience of suffering, and emphasize considerations of gender, genocide, and generation as they reflect on the question of the existence of God.


Required text (a companion volume may be added, and further readings will be available via Blackboard):

John Milton, The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton, ed. William

Kerrigan, John Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon (New York:  Modern Library, 2007) ISBN: 978-0679642534 ($37 acc. to Amazon.com)



ENG 585.01 Studies in Contemporary Criticism             

M 5-7:50

Daniel Kempton



Course Description: The topic of this seminar will be semiotics, or the study of signs (their history, interpretation, and use). Naturally, we will be most concerned with one particular kind of signifying practice: namely, literature. At the center of the seminar will be Umberto Eco’s medieval murder mystery, The Name of the Rose. Eco was one of the foremost contributors to the field of semiotics in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and the novel translates his theoretical work into fiction. A mystery story set in the middle ages was especially appropriate for his purposes because a detective is an interpreter of clues and medieval man inhabited a world of symbols. Such a story would inevitably be a study of signs. We will read a wide range of ancient philosophers and modern theorists, including Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Nietzsche, Saussure, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Bakhtin, Vološinov, and Fish. Many of the readings will be articles posted on Blackboard; book-length texts are listed below.



  1. On Christian Doctrine. Trans. D. W. Robertson, Jr. [Pearson]

ISBN: 978-0024021502

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. On the Line. Trans. John Johnston. New York: Semiotext(e),    1983. ISBN: 978-0936756011

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. Trans. William Weaver. Boston: Mariner, 2014.

            ISBN: 978-0544176560



ENG 588-01 Studies in Comparative Literature
R 5.00-7.50pm
Professor Michelle Woods: woodsm@newpaltz.edu


Course Description:

Increasingly, English Departments, expanding into World Literature and Comparative Literature, are teaching literature in translation. How can we ethically read and teach literature in translation when we do not speak the original language of the text? This course focuses on poems, plays and fiction from a variety of languages and on reading contemporary theory that thinks about how focusing on translation and translated literature opens up how we might read a text. From thinking about the translator as an exegete and interpreter of the text, to thinking about what gets translated and why, to how works are received in the incoming culture, we will try and discover how such approaches might deepen our reading of the text. I have invited some of the translators of the texts we will study to talk to the class. (You do not need a second language for this course.)


Texts will include:

Short Stories in Russian, trans. by Brian Baer

Jáchym Topol, The Devil’s Workshop, trans. by Alex Zucker

Franz Kafka, The Castle, trans. by Mark Harman.

Jaromír 99 and David Zane Mairowitz, The Castle (graphic novel).

Václav Havel, The Vaněk Plays, trans. by Jan Novak and Edward Einhorn


Please note that this course will be connected with the topic of the Spring 2018 Graduate Symposium, which Prof. Woods is directing. Students interested in participating in the Symposium should sign up for this course.


ENG 593-01: Graduate Fiction Workshop 
R 5:00-7:00 
Mr. Kristopher Jansma: 

Course Description: 

In this workshop course, students will share and critique original works of fiction in a constructive environment dedicated to discovering, or rediscovering, the “fun” in our writing process. Through conversation and readings emphasizing the role of “work as play” in fiction, you will, “go deep inside yourself and illuminate precisely the stuff you don’t want to see or let anyone else see […] precisely the stuff all writers and readers everywhere share and respond to, feel.” We will also engage in weekly constructive critiques that will help each writer to create and revise such stories. Our discussions will revolve around close readings of student work, with readings and exercises chosen to suit the particular nature of the class's projects. One-on-one conferences will be held biweekly to give more personal feedback. 

Required Texts:

Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino

Other readings and essays compiled in Course Reader (available at the Campus Bookstore)