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Summer and Fall 2018 Graduate Seminars

**Summer 2018**

ENG593: Children’s Literature: Then and Now ONLINE

Professor Fiona Paton, Department of English


Summer Session 4: May 23 – July 19, 2018

Course Description:

Since the field of children’s literature is so historically and geographically diverse, this course will focus on Anglo-American children’s fiction. With one exception, Julius Lester’s non-fiction work To Be a Slave, the primary readings are all novels. Each week, you will read two novels from different time periods, along with a short critical article on children’s literature and/or pedagogy. In this rich array of literature, you will find works familiar and unfamiliar, famous and obscure. Although arranged in specific categories, the novels speak to each other across time and place, allowing to us develop a larger conversation about the construction of gender, race, and class in the imaginative worlds created for children. The course requirements include a short interview assignment, a formal research paper of eight pages, and weekly blogs on the readings.

Required Texts:

MacDonald, The Light Princess; Pullman, “I Was a Rat!”; Nesbit, The Phoenix and the Carpet; Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Sewell, Black Beauty; Morpurgo, War Horse; Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables; Brenda Wilkinson, Ludell; Lester, To Be a Slave; Anderson, Chains; Lee, To Kill a Mocking Bird; Nic Stone, Dear Martin


**Fall 2018**

ENG 515-01: Modern Theories of Writing

Wednesday: 5:00-7:50 

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.


ENG572.01Studies in Middle English Literature

M 5:00-7:50

Daniel Kempton: kemptond@newpaltz.edu

Course Description:

Our topic will be medieval romance. We will read two of the most important examples of the genre in English, the “Knight’s Tale” and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and we will briefly trace the background of the English tradition from troubadour lyrics through Marie de France’s Lais. One of our major concerns will be the way that the chivalric narrative represented and supported the military aristocracy of the period and the way that this narrative was challenged by counter-narratives originating in other social estates. This contest is played out in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. As a spokesman for the aristocracy, the pilgrim Knight appropriately tells the first tale, but the pilgrim Miller, a spokesman for the peasantry, immediately offers a rebuttal to the Knight’s vision of social order, and other pilgrims, such as the Wife of Bath and the Franklin, subsequently join the debate. Chaucer will be read in the original Middle English. We will also study early modern responses to medieval love lyrics and romance narratives in sixteenth-century English sonnets and in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and Midsummer Night’s Dream.


Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Selected and edited by V. A. Kolve and Glending Olson, 2nd ed., Norton, 2005. ISBN 978-0393925876

Marie de France, Lais, translated by Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby, Penguin, 1999. ISBN 978-0140447590

Shakespeare, William. Midsummer Night’s Dream, edited by David Bevington and David Scott Kastan, Bantam, 2005. ISBN 978-0553213003

Shakespeare, William. Troilus and Cressida, edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, RSC Shakespeare, 2010. ISBN 978-0812969313

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, edited and translated by Marie Boroff, Norton, 2009. ISBN 978-0393930252


ENG 574: Studies in Shakespeare: Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Jonson

T 5:00-7:50 

James Schiffer: schiffej@newpaltz.edu

Course Description: 

In the years from 1590 to 1610 when Shakespeare wrote most his poems and plays, he was one of several contemporary English authors, not the transcendent Bard-Without-Peer he has become in the popular imagination over the last two centuries.  This seminar will attempt to contextualize Shakespeare within the literary scene that existed during the years of his career by comparing his work to that of two of his greatest literary rivals, Christopher Marlowe, who died in 1592 (early in Shakespeare’s career), and Ben Jonson, who outlived Shakespeare and was one of the first to eulogize the man and also criticize his work.  Through comparative study of these authors and how their works are related to one another, particularly how both Shakespeare and Jonson responded to Marlowe and to one another, we shall not only get a better understanding of Shakespeare’s artistic development and achievement as a poet and playwright, but we shall also become familiar with two other literary stars of early modern England worthy of careful study in their own right.  We shall examine the following works in the following pairings (subject to change!):

Marlowe’s Hero and Leander and Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis

Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and Jonson’s Volpone

Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great (Part I) and Shakespeare’s Henry V

Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Jonson’s The Alchemist, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night


ENG 577.01 – Studies in British Romanticism: “Frankenstein and the Romantics”

T 5:00-7:50 pm

Prof. Jackie George

Course Description:

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a work whose cultural force shows no sign of waning. From bolt-necked Halloween masks to denunciations of “frankenfoods,” iterations of Frankenstein—no matter how disparate—are commonplace. In this course, however, we will examine the novel in its earliest context by diving deeply into primary texts related to the political, scientific, and cultural milieus of Shelley’s life and work. Authors will include (but are not limited to) Shelley’s parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft; her husband, Percy Shelley; scientists such as Humphry Davy and John Abernethy; key Romantic poets such as Lord Byron (whom Shelley was visiting when she conceived of her story during the infamous 1816 “summer of love”); as well as philosophers such as Rousseau and Volney. 

Once a working knowledge of the novel’s relationship to Romanticism is established, we will consider how, and to what ends, Frankenstein has been appropriated and transformed since 1818. Beginning with the 1823 theatrical hit Presumption: or The Fate of Frankenstein (which Shelley saw—and liked), we will move to more contemporary examples in different media. The seminar will culminate a small symposium, during which students will share their thoughts about some contemporary, Frankenstein-related works of their own choosing. 

Anticipated Texts:

Mary Shelley, Frankensteinor, The Modern Prometheus (Broadview, 3rd edition, 2012)

Betty Bennett, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: An Introduction (Johns Hopkins UP, 1998)

Additional primary texts and critical essays will be made available online. 


ENG 588: Studies in Comparative Literature: The Epic Tradition   

W 5:00-7:40

Professor Thomas Festa: festat@newpaltz.edu

*N.B.:  This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement

Course Description:

Much like the books it is designed to survey, this course will attempt the impossible:  close study of the epic genre from antiquity through the middle ages.  This most ancient and capacious of genres always seems to threaten dissolution into a variety of component parts and set pieces, tropes and topics and formulae—in other words, smaller, more manageable bits.  Yet the grandeur and sweep of the epic derives from its uncompromising nature, its encyclopedic scope, its centripetal / centrifugal synthesis, and its profound and often haunting violence.  The traditional epic has, by almost all accounts, been supplanted by more accommodating forms such as the novel and film.  As attentive study of the genre reveals, however, epic itself haunts other narrative forms, in some ways as their emulated origin, and in others as their repressed alternative.

Texts ordered for the course (most have been reprinted several times; please be sure to purchase these specific translations):

Homer, Iliad, trans. Peter Green (U of California; ISBN: 9780520281431)

Homer, Odyssey, trans. Robert Fitzgerald (FSG; ISBN:  9780374525743)

Virgil, Aeneid, trans. Stanley Lombardo (Hackett; ISBN:  9780872207318)

Dante, The Portable Dante, ed. Mark Musa (Penguin; ISBN:  9780142437544)

Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, tr. Anthony Esolen (Johns Hopkins ISBN 978-0801863233)

Spenser, The Faerie Queene Book 2, ed. Erik Grey (Hacket; ISBN: 9780872208476)

Additional secondary readings will be available via Blackboard.


ENG 593-01 Kafka

R 5-7.15

Professor 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 TrialThe 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


The Trial (1962), Orson Welles

The Castle (1997), Michael Haneke

Intervista (1987), Federico Fellini

Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1993), Peter Capaldi


ENG 593-02 - Approaches to Narrative Film

M 5:00-7:50  (plus film screenings, schedule TBD)

Christopher A. Link: linkc@newpaltz.edu

This first-time special topics course is offered with the aim of piloting and developing a standing film studies course at the graduate level in English. As an advanced, graduate-level introduction to the critical study of film, the course will provide students with a foundational understanding of basic elements of film language and theory, but students will also engage in more sophisticated examinations of filmic discourse and in-depth criticism of specific works, with an emphasis on feature-length narrative films, both classic and contemporary. The anticipated thematic focus for Fall 2018 is “Cinema as Reverie: Dreams, Memory, and Desire” and will feature cinematic works by such celebrated filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Frederico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, and Andrei Tarkovsky. Other works will include selected short films and clips, more recent films from the past two decades, and works by filmmakers traditionally underrepresented in Hollywood. Critical readings will include selections by Freud (from The Interpretation of Dreams), Bachelard (from The Poetics of Reverie), Christian Metz (from Film Language and The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and Cinema), and Laura Mulvey (“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”), among others. Topics for discussion (in addition to the overarching ”oneiric/dream” theme) will likely include such matters as distinguishing story and discourse in narrative cinema; reading mise-en-scène, montage, and sound elements in film; auteur theory; self-reflexivity in film; cinematic constructions of gender and desire (and the problem of the “male gaze”); surrealism and the irrational; and allegorical readings of film narrative (i.e., as spiritual or psychological allegory, social commentary, and/or historical critique).  

*A separate day/time for group film screenings (possibly directly after class on Monday evenings) will be determined according to student schedules, though students will also have the option to view required course films independently.

Anticipated Course Films (Subject to Change/Other Titles TBD):

Un Chien andalou [short film] (1929, dir. Luis Buñuel)

Meshes of the Afternoon [short film] (1943, dir. Maya Deren)

Wild Strawberries (1957, dir. Ingmar Bergman)

Vertigo (1958, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

The Trial (1962, dir. Orson Welles)

8 ½ (1963, dir. Frederico Fellini)

The Mirror (1975, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky) [or an alternate title by Tarkovsky]

Brazil (1985, dir. Terry Gilliam)

Blue Velvet (1986, dir. David Lynch) and/or Mulholland Dr. (2001, dir. David Lynch)

Daughters of the Dust (1991, dir. Julie Dash)

Waking Life (2001, dir. Richard Linklater)

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, dir. Guillermo del Toro)

The Lobster (2015, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)