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Brooklyn College English Department
MA English and MA English Teacher Programs
Spring Semester Courses

Brooklyn College ImageSpring 2016 Courses

Courses that require registration permission from Graduate Deputy noted with asterisk*

English 7010: Children’s & Adolescents’ Literature* (MA English Education only)
Prof. D. McKay, Thu 4:30-6:10

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English 7011: Literary Texts and Critical Methods* (MA English Education only)
Prof. R. Scott, Mon 6:30-8:10

This class will explore the ways in which the study of critical methodologies and rhetorical devices provide tools for the teaching and textual analysis of literature.  Readings will include samples drawn from major theoretical schools (psychoanalysis, Marxism, formalism, structuralism and post-structuralism, deconstruction, feminism and queer theory, etc.), and theorists (including Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Anne Anlin Cheng, Eve Sedgwick, and others).  The insights and oversights of influential theoretical perspectives will be viewed through select literary texts of 19th- and 20th-century American literature.  Assignments will include two papers and two presentations.

CMLT 7130: Comparative Literature of the Medieval Period (Area 1)
Prof. N. Masciandaro, Tue 6:30-8:10

“Let not the finding of the beloved put an end to the love-inspired search; but as love grows, so let the search for the one already found become more intense” (Augustine, Expositions of the Psalms). Following Augustine’s advice in a scholarly way, this course will go on an intellectual and literary search for the meaning of love in multiple senses. Texts to be read—in full or part—include: Augustine, Confessions; Romance of the Rose; Dante, Vita Nuova; Angela of Foligno, Memorial; Boccaccio, The Decameron; Marie de France, Lais; Ramon Llull, Book of the Lover and the Beloved; Chretien de Troyes, Yvain: the Knight of the Lion, Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love; The Letters of Abelard and Heloise; Richard of St. Victor, Four Degrees of Violent Love; Aelred of Rievaulx, On Spiritual Friendship; Hadewijch, Letters; Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs. Requirements: Commentaries, Paper Proposal, Research Paper, Final Exam.

English 7202: Milton (Area 2)
Prof. A. Acosta, Mon 4:30-6:10

John Milton is arguably one of the two greatest poets in the English language. Moreover, Milton’s influence on other writers cannot be underestimated. His most accomplished work, Paradise Lost, was the poem against which all poets measured their work for the next two hundred years after its publication in 1674. This course will examine Milton’s three major long poems, several of his shorter poems and selected prose. We will also read A Masque known as Comus. Class work will focus on close reading and discussion; we will also address religion, historical context and contemporary critical approaches to Milton.  Required texts are John Milton: Paradise Lost, ed. Hughes (Hackett, 2003), Milton’s Selected Poetry and Prose, ed. Rosenblatt (Norton, 2010), A Companion to Milton, ed. Corns (Blackwell, 2003), and The Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost, ed. Schwartz (Cambridge, 2014). Writing will include discussion questions, an annotated bibliography, a final paper and a final exam.

English 7203: Early Modern Drama Exclusive of Shakespeare (Area 2)
Prof. T. Pollard, Tue 4:30-6:10

What were Shakespeare’s contemporaries, friends, and rivals doing while he was writing the plays that went on to dominate the literary canon? Their plays have much in common with his, but are (among other things) frequently more bloody, racy, and generally extravagant. This course will explore some of the popular conventions that attracted large crowds to the period’s commercial playhouses: the severed body parts (including tongues, skulls, and fingers) of revenge tragedy; the con-men and transvestites, male and female alike, who peopled city comedy; colorful drugs such as poisons, beauty potions, and virginity-testing tonics; and the parodies of other plays that showcase competitive and collaborative relationships between playwrights. Readings will include Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy; Ben Jonson, Volpone; Thomas Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy; Frances Beaumont, Knight of the Burning Pestle; Middleton and Thomas Dekker, The Roaring Girl; Jonson, The Alchemist; and Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling. Regular presentations and short papers will focus on close readings of the plays’ language, and a final paper will develop skills in research, analysis, and writing.

CMLT 7330: Comparative Literature of the 19th Century: Middlemarch & Anna Karenina (Area 3)
Prof. R. Brownstein, Wed 4:30-6:10

In the train on her way back from Moscow to St. Petersburg, Anna Karenina reads an English novel.  From what we know about it—there is a foxhunting scene and a speech in Parliament—it is not Middlemarch.  Nevertheless, Tolstoy’s great novel and George Eliot’s are interesting to consider together. Both are by authors who were read as philosophers; each one develops parallel narratives around a passionate woman and a visionary man; both were published in serial form in the 1870s; and they have inspired novelists and filmmakers.  In this course, we will read and discuss these two important long novels, reading the chapters as they appeared, comparing and contrasting what they say about love and marriage, sex and gender, science and religion, class and politics—and how to live and what to believe in England and in Russia in the nineteenth century.  Students are required to come to class and participate in discussions; to read both novels (Tolstoy’s in the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation) and some criticism; to see at least three film adaptations; and to write one short paper and one longer one.

English 7420: Seminar: Literary Geography and 20th Century American Literature (Area 4)
Prof. M. Nadell, Thu 4:30-6:10

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English 7501: Introduction to Critical Theory (Area 5)
Prof. J. Davis, Wed. 6:30-8:10

What is literature?  The question has a long, contentious history and subsumes several associated questions: What constitutes literary language and literary value?  What is literature’s social function?  What is the role of the author, reader, and critic?  Although one could begin earlier, this course starts with the liberal humanism of Matthew Arnold, for whom literature was “the best which has been thought and said,” and proceeds to address key movements in twentieth century critical theory: New Criticism, Structuralism and Deconstruction, Psychoanalysis, Feminism and Gender/Sexuality Studies, Marxism, New Historicism and Cultural Studies, Postcolonialism and Ethnic Studies, and Reader Response.  We will treat these approaches not as discrete “isms,” but as part of an ongoing dialogue responsive to cultural and intellectual contexts.  Students will study critical theory as theory but also in practice, reading exemplary works of criticism and developing their skills in writing through multiple critical lenses.  Requirements include response papers, two essays, and an oral presentation.

English 7506: Practicum in Teaching College-Level Composition* (Area 5) (For MA English and MFA only)

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English 7507: Advanced Theories & Practice of Composition* (Area 5) (For MA English Education only)

Prof. J. Siegel, Wed 6:30-8:10

One of the biggest responsibilities of English teachers is the teaching of writing. How can a teacher help his/her students develop their own writing process, enable them to see their own weaknesses and work on them?  How can a teacher both prepare students for the high stakes tests they have to take and at the same time, aim higher, to the level of expertise required in college? How can students learn to use writing to think and learn? How is work on grammar and conventions integrated into work on content and thinking? These are some of the questions that will be dealt with in this class.  Requirements for the class include: a journal, a literacy autobiography, several other writing assignments and a Writing Teacher/Tutor Portfolio, where students will examine their own (or others’) teaching, follow several of their own students throughout the term, and critique their own teaching of writing.

English 7520: Seminar: Eco-Criticism and Environmental Literature (Area 5)
Prof. G. Minter, Mon 6:30-8:10

‪Representations of the natural world have long been of interest to those who study literature, but this interest has intensified in recent decades as concern about the fate of the planet and its different environments has intensified. 1992 saw the creation of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (the ASLE), a group which sought (and still seeks) “to inspire and promote intellectual work in the environmental humanities and arts,” with a goal of “exploring the meanings of the natural environment and the complexities of human relationships with each other, and with the more-than-human world” ( website). This 1992 formation of the ASLE came at a time when a number of literary scholars were writing about literary representations of nature in new ways, with a collective approach that has come to be described as ecocriticism. Whereas earlier criticism of environmental writing tended to focus on aesthetic topics (for example: nature as a cultural symbol, or as the embodiment of philosophical notions of beauty and the sublime, or as a reflection of generic categories like the pastoral and the georgic), ecocriticism is typically more interested in ethical topics (for example: to what extent does a given representation of nature promote an ecological vs. anthropocentric view, or to what extent does it challenge capitalist transformation of nature into commodities and waste, or to what extent does it promote equity between people living within the same ecosystem, or between humans and non-human animals). This course will survey different critical works associated with ecocritical theory and practice, both from its first phase in the 1990s, and from its post-2000 second phase, which has expanded beyond traditional environmental themes and has often affiliated itself with other theoretical interests (for example: ecofeminism; queer ecology; environmental justice; indigeneity; green postcoloniality; urban and material ecocriticisms; edgelands; discard studies; cli-fi). Given the time limitations of the course, there are just a few specific themes which we will develop at greater depth, but there will be occasion for students to develop their own ecocritical research interests beyond those readings included on the syllabus. We will read a number of literary works in connection with these ecocritical themes, including: Go Down Moses, by William Faulkner; Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray; Almanac of the Dead, by Leslie Marmon Silko; Underworld, by Don DeLillo; and The Hungry Tide, by Amitav Ghosh. We will also read selections from works by Susan Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson. Assignments will include: a final research-based paper, which will use recent publications in ecocritical journals as models; a midterm assignment which will mix investigation of an environmental site in New York City with ecocritical “narrative scholarship”; leading of class discussion and participation on the course website; and occasional response papers and a final exam.

English 7620: Seminar: Human Languages – Diversity and Universality (Area 6)
Prof. J. Nissenbaum, Wed. 6:30-8:10

This course examines in depth the great variety as well as the underlying commonalities of human languages. Topics covered will include: 
  - language vs. communication: humans, other animals, and evolution
  - sensory perception: internal representation and the external world
  - linguistic diversity: the manifold ways in which human languages vary
  - hidden structures and mental rules: Chomsky’s theory of Universal Grammar
  - language and thought: the Whorf hypothesis
  - computation, creativity, and dualism

English 7800: Introduction to Literary Research* (For MA English only)

Prof. M. Elsky, Tue 6:30-8:10

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English 7810: Thesis*

MA students must submit approved Thesis Title form to Graduate Deputy to obtain permission to register.