USEM171-5: When is Poetry Difficult and Why?

This is a course about reader uncertainties - more specifically, about the uncertainties and puzzlements that students taking the course register and bring forward. We will be reading a fair number of poems in order to read the readings - to study and reflect upon what students in their readings are finding easy or difficult, clear or opaque, understandable or obscure.

The ultimate aim of the course is to improve reading skills through a disciplined examination of reading habits. Poetry, we shall find, is especially useful for that kind of purpose. We will be reading works from the hinge historical moments in Modernity, when a crisis in reading was registered by readers and addressed by writers: the Romantic movement, the Pre-Raphaelite movement (D. G. Rossetti and A. C. Swinburne), Modernism, and Postmodernism.

Class Procedure: First class hour, we look at poems students put on the table; second class hour we look at poems the instructor puts on the table. The second group of poems will always be anticipating the readings and reading problems that students will be confronting in the ensuing week -- and hence for the work that students put on the table at the next week's meeting.

USEM171: The Literature of Excess

ENLT201: Introduction to Literature

The course is designed to develop basic critical skills for reading and studying literary works. This goal will involve some thoughtful engagement with language as such, and in particular with literary language (which takes a number of special forms); with the status of documents, texts, and their transmission; with the cultural and historical contexts that intersect the primary works, not least of all our immediate (ca. 1998) cultural/historical context(s); and with the ongoing discussions, public and often professional, that these primary works have generated in the way of general literary theory, or commentaries and interpretations that are more specifically directed. In short, you will be reading and writing about both primary and secondary works of literature.

ENLT226M: Reading Fiction

ENLT226M: Reading Fiction

ENNC311: The Romantic Period

ENTC380: Concepts of the Modern

ENNC382 Romanticism

ENNC382-1 Fiction and Poetry 1790-Present

This course focuses on a series of imaginative writings in English that force a distinct shift of aesthetic perception. The selection does not aim to take up a set of "the greatest works" - as if such a list were determinable - but a set of writings that redefine or alter the shape of the cultural landscape. Ranging through works published between 1790 and the present, the course is organized around three distinct "phases". Emphasis in the first two "phases" is placed upon works whose impact and significance was global and international rather than local. In the third "phase" we look at works that have special contemporary relevance; here the clear emphasis falls on the instructor's subjective view of a contested cultural scene.

1. THE EPOCHAL WORKS: Byron, Scott, Poe, Whitman, James, Pound and Eliot, Joyce, Stein (15 classes)

2. LATE ARRIVALS: WW and STC, E. Bronte, Blake (5 classes)

3. WORKS THAT MATTER NOW: Swinburne, Rossetti, Riding, O'Brien, West, Acker, Bernstein (8 classes)

ENTC440: Contemporary American Writing

ENCR481: The Critic as Artist, the Artist as Critic

Beginning from Plato's dismissal of the poets from the Republic, the course will center in a series of literary works that are cast in an imaginative genre but that aspire to develop or investigate intellectual or philosophical issues and problems. We will be especially concerned with works of imagination that reflect self-consciously on themselves and the way they work. We will also study certain intellectual works of (so called) expository prose whose internal textual pressures are so great that their surfaces mutate into highly imaginative forms of expression. Authors to be studied include Dante Alighieri, Alexander Pope, William Blake, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, Alfred Jarry, Laura Riding, Susan Howe, Steve McCaffery, Charles Bernstein.

ENSP481: Ecstasy

The course is an exploration of "writing at the limit", i.e., different types of writing that seek to express transrational or irrational ideas or experiences. The paradigm for such work would be mystical texts, whether explicitly religious (like the poetry of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa, Blake) or secular/pagan (Shelley, Swinburne, etc.). We will read both prose and poetry exemplifing such work -- the materials range from the middle ages to the present, and they come from different cultures. We will also read one important cultural reflection on this kind of work -- by Michel de Certeau.

ENNC491: Incarnate Textualities: Blake, Dickinson, D. G. Rossetti

This course studies three different ways of elaborating a material and embodied corpus of writing. In all three cases, issues of immediacy and embodiment dictate the writers' attitude toward their work, and stimulate them to radical acts of poetic invention.

MDST510: Traditional and Electronic Textuality

The course deals with issues in textuality from the perspective of traditional bibliographical studies, literary studies, and visual textuality. The class asks the basic question "What is a text?" in relation to the exigencies of electronic and digital media. The goal is to expand awareness of the ways texts produce meaning through their visual, graphic, typographic, and literary means and what it would mean to mark-up such elements in XML schema. Essays from electronic textuality, literary theory, bibliographical studies, and books that pose particularly interesting problems (e.g. Wilde/Beardsley's Salome, Tom Phillips'ssA Humument, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, and V.S. Pritchard's "Frog" poem) will be used to focus the discussions. Half the class will be taught in lab sessions devoted to learning XML. Students with an interest in working digitally with textual materials for their own research should find this particularly useful as a way into fundamental conceptual issues addressed through practical engagement with mark-up. No previous experience in XML is necessary, though a familiarity with HTML tags will be helpful.

ENEC981: The Novel of Sensibility

This course studies the cultural and aesthetic formations of sensibility and sentimentality in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as expressed through key fictional works of the period. Instructors are Jerome McGann and Patricia Spacks.

ENNC981: Romantic Traditions

A great cultural shift took place in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In England the shift came between approximately 1780 and 1830. The shift involved an argument about the cultural authority of works of imagination, on one hand, and works of philosophy and science on the other. Romanticism is more than anything else both a critique of and alternative to philosophical and scientific enlightenment.

The course material will be almost exclusively "romantic" material. This means that we will be regularly performing two scholarly moves: first, explicating these materials as best we can "in the same spirit that the author writ"; and second, weighing the adequacy of the materials both as art and as argument.

Although the point of departure for our studies is the period 1780-1830, we will be much concerned with the aftermath of the initial Romantic Revolution, when romanticism underwent a series of mutations. We will also be interested in pursuing critical and pedagogical methods that can help to elucidate materials that by their nature tend to resist normative critical procedures.

This year we will confine ourselves to poetry.The authors we will consider include: Blake; Wordsworth and Coleridge; Lord Byron; Felicia Hemans; Letitia Elizabeth Landon; Tennyson; Dante Gabriel Rossetti; A. C. Swinburne; Oscar Wilde.

ENCR982: Literature and Cultural Studies in the 19th Century

This course focuses on several key literary events in 19th century literature: the nexus of Wordsworth/Coleridge/Byron and their successive critical readings of culture; the nexus of the Rossettis/Swinburne/Hopkins and the cultural crisis of Aestheticism; and finally three case studies from Post-Romantic American culture: Edgar Allen Poe, Gertrude Stein, and Wallace Stevens considered in relation to popular culture and High Modernist self-reflection.. The course takes for granted a general awareness of the "the war between poetry and philosophy", first defined by Plato and since then maintained in various ways, not least in the different kinds of "negative hermeneutics" of the past half century. Some questions that will recur: Is it necessary to read "in the same spirit that the author writ"? Does any literary work, critical or aesthetic, lie Ā“outside ideologyĀ”? What differences (and/or similarities) mark aesthetic acts from critical/philosophical acts, particularly in relation to culture and society? Since all social acts locate themselves at what Rossetti called "an inner standing-point", what is the critical status of these inevitable subjectivities, not least of all for the contemporary scholar and critic? RUBRICS: CultStudies as grounded in Reception History (the a priori as memory; the conflict of memories). Reception History as the dialogue of the individual with the a priori other, as the other is perceived in terms of a present tense, a continuing present, a past, and a past perfect. (The future and the future perfect tenses are implicit in the individual writerĀ’s writing; it is the tense that signals continuity.) Heteroglossia. And dialogue always being undertaken Ā“at an inner standing-pointĀ”.

ENNC986: The Pre-Raphaelite Movement

This course studies the pictorial and written works of the chief figures of the pivotal Pre-Raphaelite Movement in England.