Spring 2019 Graduate Courses
(Subject to Change)
698 Gen Ed Practicum by arrangement Asha Nadkarni
698B P-Intro. To Teaching Writing Tu,Th, 10:00-11:15 Haivan Hoang
698I P-Teaching Basic Writing by arrangement Anne Bello
698J P-Teaching Mentoring by arrangement Peggy Woods
698JB Applied Literary Ars: Jubilat by arrangement Dara Wier
698M P-Teaching Creative Writing II M, 5:00-6:00 J. Jacobson/J. Parker
698MA P-Teaching MFA Online Courses by arrangement Jennifer Jacobson
698R Applied Literary Arts by arrangement Jennifer Jacobson
698RA Applied Literary Arts: Radius by arrangement Edie Meidav
698V-1 P-Spcl Topics/Teaching of Writing M, 4:00-5:00 Woods/Bello/Dingo/LeCourt
698V-2 P-Spcl Topics/Teaching of Writing M, 4:00-5:00 Woods/Bello/Dingo/LeCourt
698V-3 P-Spcl Topics/Teaching of Writing M, 4:00-5:00 Woods/Bello/Dingo/LeCourt
699-----Master’s Thesis Staff
780/1 – Imaginative Writing: Poetry
Peter Gizzi Mon, 1:25-3:55 W365
The workshop is a demanding class. It consists of work-shopping several batches of poems, providing in-depth written comments, handing in revisions, reading several books of poetry and essays, and required participation and attendance. Permission of instructor requires of students not enrolled through the MFA Program for Poets & Writes. All course books available at Amherst Books.
Peter Gizzi is the author of Archeophonics (Wesleyan 2016), In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems 1987-2011 (Wesleyan 2014), Threshold Songs (Wesleyan 2011),The Outernationale (Wesleyan 2007), Some Values of Landscape and Weather (Wesleyan 2003), Artificial Heart (Burning Deck 1998), and a reprint of his first book, Periplum and other poems 1987-1992 (Salt Publishing UK 2004). His honors include the Lavan Younger Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets and fellowships in poetry from The Fund for Poetry, The Rex Foundation, Howard Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and The Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellowship in Poetry at Cambridge University.
780/2 – Imaginative Writing: Poetry
Dara Wier Tues., 1-3:30 W365
My whole originality consists in having made/ improbable beings/
live humanly/according to the laws of the probable by as far as possible putting the logic of the visible/at the service of the invisible.
Poetry is so forgiving. One can love it or ignore it, have no use for it, misuse it, casually damage it, treat it poorly, or treat it carefully, treat it as if it were a small thing of little use, make fun of it, sentimentalize it, falsely inflate it, ridicule it, despise it, valorize it, forget it…….and then, when you find you need it, in fact when it is the only thing there is you understand yourself to need, it will not have turned away from you, it will do what it can to save you, or to assist you, it lets you in, it doesn’t shut you out, it forgives everything, it doesn’t evaporate or otherwise dematerialize as humans can and have been known to do…….. We meet in an artificially assembled forum in which there will bound to be occasions to-----because we’re doing this in public, in school, in an institution------to generalize and speculate beyond one’s own private necessities and preferences………and because the occasion of being assembled in this thoughtfully artificial way will be bound to be sometimes unnecessary for your presumed purposes, your patience and good will, your thoughtfulness (of the kind you look to find in some of the reasons you have found: to write) and once again, your patience (which indicates thoughtful use of time) are welcome and pre-emptively appreciated…..for various purposes as these few months unfold:
- bring a new page of your writing each week, a poem, some prose, a picture, words & pictures, and/or a new poem each week, copied for distribution
- bring each week a page or part of a page of someone else’s writing, to read to us, or to distribute to us, to add to what we’re doing
- sign up at our first meeting for a date for your bringing to us and showing to us and distributing to us a collection of materials you find instigating, involving, intriguing, of use (print, audio, video, variable), a virtual or actual portfolio of materials
- bring each week suggestions regarding books to read, readings to attend, places to go, movies to see, music to hear, lectures to regard, journals to notice, means of transportation
- bring each week a spirit of experiment, (experiment as a reader as well as a writer) observation (your own inclinations regarding the combinations of words & thoughts you see in your work and those you believe you find in the pages of others), consideration, thoughtfulness and concern
Dara Wier’s newest book in the still of the night (Wave) came out in fall of 2017; forthcoming is a chapbook THRU. Books in progress include Extremely Expensive Mystical Experiences for Astronauts (poems), The Pieces (poems in pieces), The Camouflage of Marriage (stories) and INSIDE UNDIVIDED (prose); she is the author of HAT ON A POND and REVERSE RAPTURE, a book length poem of 81 line poems in 9 stanzas of 9 lines, SELECTED POEMS, and YOU GOOD THING, all from Wave Books. Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowships have supported her work which can be found in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Golden Shovel, Black Ocean's Anthology of Surveillance Poetics; the Norton Anthology of American Hybrid Poetry, Granta, Fence, Verse, Divine Magnet, American Poetry Review, The Nation, Conduit, Volt, Bat City Review, Tin House, Massachusetts Review, Boston Review, The Fairytale Review, The Academy of American Poets and The Poetry Foundation's websites, in the Wave Newsletter, LITERATURA, HYPERALLERGIC, on CA Conrad's blog and in the lecture series PLATFORM, and in chapbooks from Rain Taxi, The Song Cave, Small Anchor Books, Oat City Press, and as a big broadside in Rain Taxi's brainstorm series. REVERSE RAPTURE was awarded The Poetry Center’s book of the year award; her work was awarded American Poetry Review's Jerome Shestack Prize. She is a founding editor of Factory Hollow Press, and founding director of the Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action and the Juniper Institute Summer Writing Workshops. She is now serving as jubilat's executive editor and publisher.
780/3 – Imaginative Writing: Poetry
Ocean Vuong Mon., 6:10-8:40 W365
This class is built around developing the art and act of recognition in relation to the reading and writing of poetry. We will expand and nurture a lexicon for examining, exploring, and thinking about how poems work, not only as crafted objects, but also in relation to the contexts they seek to explore and the questions and issues they raise. Our main task is to learn how to recognize a poem’s unique goals and ambitions, and then cater our critique according to those objectives. In this way, there are no overarching rules that can apply to any specific poem, but rather, each piece will receive idiosyncratic responses in relation to what it aims to achieve."
Poet and essayist Ocean Vuong is the author of the best-selling, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award and the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collections, finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize. Vuong's writings have been featured in The Atlantic, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker, alongside Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon and Warsan Shire, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, VICE, The Fantastic Man, and The New Yorker. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he immigrated to the US at the age of two as a child refugee.
781/1 – Imaginative Writing: Fiction
Noy Holland Wed., 6:45-9:15 W365
This is a course about learning to be better at being, as Mr. Joyce says, "above the text, paring one's fingernails." My hope is that the class inspires fanaticism, perversions of the given, a new sense of the plasticity of the language, its instability, a fresh devotedness to the task of exploring lingual effects, the texture and coloration of words, the deep structure of sentences. The course seeks to encourage work that produces not sensationalism but sensation or what Nabokov called "aesthetic bliss; that is, a sense of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm." Please note that we will be reading at least 3 collections of short fiction for this course, and I will expect submissions to the workshop to be, in the main, short fiction. If you are working on a novel, please check with me first to determine whether or not this is the best workshop for you. Books ordered at Amherst Books.
Noy Holland is the 2018 recipient of the Katherine Anne Porter prize from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. She is the author of the novel Bird, and four collections of short fiction, The Spectacle of the Body, What Begins with Bird, Swim for the Little One First, and I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like: New and Selected Stories.
781/2 – Imaginative Writing
Jordy Rosenberg Tues., 1-3:30 SCE370
This course will focus on questions of autofiction, metafiction, and structures of novelistic self-reflexivity. Students will be prepared to focus on questions of form and genre in their own writing and in those of others, as well as the process of conceptualizing narrative.
Jordy Rosenberg is the author of Confessions of the Fox (Random House, 2018). Confessions is a New York Times Editor's Choice Selection, and a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. His fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Fence, Salvage Quarterly, The Rumpus, LitHub, PMLA, Theory & Event, and The Boston Review, among other places.
781/3 – Imaginative Writing: Fiction
Sabina Murray Thurs., 1-3:30 W365
This workshop is designed to accommodate longer works--novels in progress, collected short stories, novellas--in order to allow the writer to present a larger body of work. The workshop is most helpful for writers who have at least 60pp of manuscript completed. In the past, novel excerpts and cycles of short shorts have been successfully presented, as well as collected stories: the workshop is not concerned with form, but rather with the writer presenting a solid chunk of unified work. Keep in mind, you writers of epic novels, that there will be a strict limit of 25,000 words (103.5 pages double-spaced, 12 pt, Times New Roman, real margins) per submission. Should the class not be full, there might be a possibility of accommodating additional submissions by individual writers.
Sabina Murray is the author of three novels and two story collections, including The Caprices, which won the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award. She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Radcliffe Institute. She teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her stories are anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and Charlie Chan is Dead II. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation, Radcliffe Institute, and Massachusetts Cultural Council. She has written on Sebald for the Writers Chronicle, Wordsworth for the Paris Review blog, and time theory and historical fiction for LitHub. Her most recent book, Valiant Gentlemen, was included in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2016.
791CC – Introduction to Caribbean Cultural Theory
Rachel Mordecai Weds., 4:00-6:30
In this seminar we will examine elaborations and interrogations of Caribbean cultural identities, from négritude and cubanismo through antillanité, creolité, modern blackness and beyond. The problem of locating the Caribbean will inform our discussions, as we consider the region’s position within broader postcolonial, African-diasporic and hemispheric-American trajectories, and reflect on what is gained and lost by privileging these as lenses through which to make sense of Caribbean-ness. We will also explore the utility of, and the major challenges to, concepts such as creolization, hybridity, plantation societies, transnationalism and others. Authors include Benítez-Rojo, Brathwaite, Césaire, Fanon, Glissant, Harris, NourbeSe Philip, Price-Mars, Puri, Scott, Sharpe, Torres-Saillant, Walcott, Wynter, and others. Any required texts will be ordered from Amherst Books
Rachel L. Mordecai's teaching and research interests include Caribbean and African Diaspora literature, hemispheric-American literature, and popular literature and culture of the Caribbean. She teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of West Indian Literature. Mordecai has published articles on Peter Tosh’s iterations of black citizenship, Lawrence Scott’s amnesiac white creole women, and figurations of blackness in Margaret Cezair-Thompson and Robert Antoni; her most recent article, examining Zee Edgell’s novel In Times Like These, appeared in SARGASSO (summer 2018). Her monograph, Citizenship Under Pressure: The 1970s in Jamaican Literature and Culture, appeared from the University of the West Indies Press in 2014; her new book project is a study of the Caribbean family saga.
791EM – Early Modern Revolutions
Joseph Black Tues., 1:00-3:30
The political, religious, literary, media, social, and scientific revolutions of the seventeenth century created a world that was, by the end of this period, recognizably modern. This course surveys the literary and other writings of this century of revolution, reading writers such as John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer, Francis Bacon, Margaret Cavendish, Lucy Hutchinson, Dorothy Osborne, Andrew Marvell, and John Milton alongside radical political and religious writings from the British civil wars; letters and diaries; and writing in such genres as travel, education, medicine, and science. The course pays particular attention to writing by women in this period, and explores such topics as the intersection of the political, the religious, and the literary; the material culture of books and manuscripts and the development of the proto-public sphere; and ideas of the global early modern and the ‘general crisis’ of the seventeenth century. Texts will be ordered through Amherst Books.
Joseph Black's books include Private Libraries of Renaissance England, vol. 10 (2019), vol. 9 (2017), and vol. 8 (2014), John Milton: Samson Agonistes and Shorter Poems (2013), The Library of the Sidney Family (2013), and The Martin Marprelate Tracts (2008); chapters include contributions to Women’s Bookscapes in Early Modern Britain (2019), Ashgate Research Companion to the Sidneys (2015), Oxford Handbook to Renaissance English Prose (2013), and Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser (2010). His current projects include co-editing the Complete Works of Thomas Nashe for Oxford UP.
791SE – Sexuality, Capitalism, Colonialism
Jordy Rosenberg Thurs., 1:00-3:30
This course will bring together a number of genres, fictions, theories and methodologies of waste, excess and surplus. We will read from areas as diverse as radical feminism, postcolonisl theory, Marxism, postmodern and contemporary fiction, and film. Texts and authors may include. Amitav Ghosh, M. NourbeSe Philip, Agnes Varda, Karl Marx, Fred Moten, Christina Sharpe, Georges Bataille, and Philip Roth.
Jordy Rosenberg is the author of Confessions of the Fox (Random House US and Canada 2018, Atlantic Books UK, Allen and Unwin Australia and New Zealand, and forthcoming from Paseka in Czech), a New York Times Editor’s Choice Selection and Finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. He is also the author of Critical Enthusiasm (Oxford UP, 2012).
796 – Independent Study
For students wishing to do special work not covered by courses listed in the curriculum. Each student when registering should submit a brief description of the semester’s work agreed on by the student and the instructor. This must be signed by both the instructor and the student. No instructor should do more than one such course. Form for registering for this course are available in W329 So. College. The Director of Graduate Studies must approve each proposal.
796A – Independent Study
For students who are taking more than one independent study course per semester.
796W – INDEPENDENT AREA-1
796X – INDEPENDENT AREA-2
891G-1– Form & Theory of Fiction: The Russian Short Story
Jeff Parker Weds., 1:25-3:55
In this form and theory of prose class, we will read short stories by Russian authors in English translation. We will read stories that explore religion, philosophy, morality, and love, and we will read stories that employ/deploy absurdism, satire, and the avant-garde (often in service of exploring religion, philosophy, morality, and love). We will read stories that critique oppressive, authoritarian regimes. We will read stories that innovate and stories that are among the most archetypal examples of the traditional short story form. While historical and literary context will be less of an emphasis for us than craft, we will be discussing some matters and concerns unique to Russian literature and Russian history, and by the end of the class you should have a sense of many of this tradition's major themes and an appreciation for the Russian writers who have had such a profound influence on world literature. Part of the class will focus on what some might call the Russian classics (Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Tolstoy, Turgenev), and the other part will examine pre-revolutionary, Soviet, and contemporary Russian stories (such as those of Babel, Berberova, Bulgakov, Dovlatov, Goralik, Kharms, Pelevin, Petrushevskaya, Teffi, Zoshchenko, and others). The core stories will be supplemented with some critical/theoretical texts (such as Berlin, Nabokov, Shklovsky) that broaden/enlighten, and we’ll touch on some poetry, art, and punk rock. Short weekly writing assignments will be required.
891G-2 – Form & Theory of Fiction: Fiction of our Times; Time in Fiction
Noy Holland Thurs., 1:00-3:30
We’ll read several contemporary novels, novellas, and short fictions in this course, with an eye to broad discussions of thematic elements, and very close attention to stylistic elements. We’ll discuss sound and syntax, and the relation of perception and structure. Revelations of a narrative sort, particularly memories of dramatic action, are often delayed and deeply embedded; they precipitate and yet remain concealed. In light of the far-reaching effects of such events, we’ll also pay close attention to time and tense. How does time pass? How is time recorded—by sensation, by season, by clock? How does one slow and quicken the passage of time in fiction? How are our ideas about time shaped by the dominant mode of contemporary cultures?
The reading list will be drawn from, but not limited to, the following titles: LeAnne Howe's Shell Shaker; Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead; M Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn; Debra Magpie Earling's Perma Red; Elena Ferrante's Days of Abandonment; Christine Schutt's All Souls; Brandon Hobson's Where the Dead Sit Talking; Horacio Castellanos Moya's The Dream of my Return; Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things; Marguerite Duras' The Sea Wall; Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide.
891KA – Contemporary Poetry & Horizons of Post-Capitalism
Ruth Jennison Tues., 5:30-8:00
Not since the 1930s have the connections between an awakened communist politics on the political front and aesthetic developments in poetics been as extensive and energizing as at the present moment. This course examines the radical poetry that today is overtly foregrounding its communist commitments and elaborating dissident poetics. Whether via Occupy’s revival of the commune form and as well as global-wide movements of the squares, Black Lives Matter and police and prison abolition movements, immigrant protest movements, LGBTQIA+ militancy, a renewed feminist uprising, indigenous resistance to capitalist methods of resource extraction, or the extraordinary rise of a new global Left in the Arab world, Europe, and the Global South for whom insurrection and communization are live debates, international developments in poetry have steeped themselves in a transformed political climate. We will survey the theoretical rehabilitation of communist thinking undertaken by Alain Badiou, Jodi Dean, Bruno Bosteels, Mike Davis, Sylvia Federici, and Alberto Toscano, among others. We will also explore the pre-history of this moment in both the foundational texts of Marx, Lenin, Luxemburg, and Lefebvre and in anti-capitalist poetry from the 1930s (Louis Zukofsky, Langston Hughes, Muriel Rukeyser, Kenneth Fearing, Richard Wright) and 1960s and 70s (Diane DiPrima, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks). After this historical survey, our primary focus will be on contemporary poets who give form to emergent anti-capitalist political ideas and actions. To this end, we will engage with the works of Rob Halpern, Stephen Collis, Anne Boyer, and the collective of poets publishing under the imprint of Commune Editions, among others. We will also read recent poetry from the UK, including works by Keston Sutherland, Sean Bonney and David Herd.
Ruth Jennison is the author of The Zukofsky Era: Modernity, Margins, and the Avant-Garde (Johns Hopkins, 2012) and articles and book chapters on 20th and 21st Century American poetics, Marxism, and the political economies of literary form. Her current book project, Figurative Capital: American Poetry and the World System, explores the relationship between poetry and uneven capitalist development. She is also coediting with Julian Murphet a volume of essays, poetics, and poems entitled “Out of Time: Communism and Poetics Now” (Palgrave, forthcoming 2019).
891LE – Literature, Experiment, Knowledge
Randall Knoper Weds., 1:00-3:30
In answer to a question about Sebastiano Timpanaro’s On Materialism (1980) and its reintroduction of biology and the “natural world” into Marxist thought, Raymond Williams near the end of his life declared that “if I had one single ambition in literary studies it would be to rejoin them with experimental science. . . .That would be the materialist recovery.” What could Williams have meant? This course will return, first, to the question implicit in Williams’s remark about literature as a means to knowledge. In the wake of the literary theory of the past few decades, can we still think of literature as a cognitive tool? If so, could literature and literary study be “rejoined” with experimental science (itself suffering attacks from both left and right)? Are literature and science different ways of knowing? Are they intertwined? In what way could rejoining them be a “materialist recovery”? I don’t mean this to be a philosophy course—the focus will be on literature. And while I aim to accommodate students of any period or genre, the main concern will be with American literature of the 19th century (therefore satisfying a requirement for a course in literature pre-1900). Literature and science in the 19th century became sharply attuned to matters of observation, objectivity, statistical thinking, and experimental psychology. A range of authors (whose work we shall read) were clearly influenced by experimental practices or wrote stories about them, including Hawthorne, Frank Norris, Pauline Hopkins, Du Bois, Mark Twain, W. D. Howells, and Gertrude Stein, and a number referred to their works as “experiments,” including Thoreau, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry James, Stephen Crane, and Whitman. In what senses were these writers “experimenting”? What did “experiment” mean to them? Finally, in what senses has their writing shaped “experimental writing” in the 20th and 21st centuries? We will probably also read criticism and theory by Lukács, Adorno, Foucault, Jameson, Haraway, Jonathan Crary, Rita Felski, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Charles Altieri, and Wai-Chee Dimock. Feel free to contact me if you’d like particular titles—or if you have suggestions.
’s scholarship has focused on 19th-century literature and culture. You can find some of his work here
. He is currently finishing a book project on late nineteenth and early twentieth-century American literature and sciences of the brain and nervous system.
891M – Form & Theory of Poetry: A Myriad Consciousness: the hybrid, its tradition, innovations and radical possibilities
Ocean Vuong Weds., 4:00-6:30
In this class, we will examine possibilities in textual and formal hybridity, paying close attention to how this nascent yet rich lineage of writing blurs, disrupts, and alters the boundaries of genres. What happens when a piece of writing challenges the preconceived parameters of its genre, rendering itself elusive, amorphous, and yet still insisting on its value as a means of intellectual and emotional discovery? What use are genre labels, and can these terms be modified alongside the development of inter-genre writing? How does a poet's own "hybridity" in identity relate to her intersection in formal enactments? We will read both the trailblazers and newcomers to the form, as well as try our own hand at creating a hybrid text that surprises, challenges, and confronts our own notions of what a "poem" should or should not be, and how those notions can change. The goal, in the end, is to expand and enlarge our sense of self and the potentialities within our craft through careful reading, compositional imitation, and rigorous discussion. Authors discussed will include Maggie Nelson, Roland Barthes, Claudia Rankine, Arthur Rimbaud, Etheridge Knight and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, among others.
891PC – Writing in Colleges and Universities: Histories of Comp/Rhet in the U.S.
David Fleming Tues., 1:00-3:30
Given that it is so focused on understanding writing in the present and helping prepare student writers for the future, it may seem surprising that composition-rhetoric is so self-conscious about its own past. But the evidence is unmistakable: scholarly articles and monographs on historical topics proliferate in our journals and book series, and historial methodologies are increasingly deployed by scholars in the field. “Without quite setting out to do so,” John Brereton once wrote, “historians of composition have created the single most impressive body of knowledge about any discipline in higher education.” This course is a graduate-level introduction to that body of knowledge: a broad survey of histories of writing instruction with a focus on postsecondary writing instruction in U.S. colleges and universities since the mid nineteenth century. We’ll examine received narratives about the field’s past but also more recent work expanding and critiquing those narratives, including research that looks at writing instruction outside colleges and universities and beyond the United States. The course is also meant to be an introduction to historical research methodologies as deployed by compositionists. Students will not only study a broad range of others’ historical research, they’ll design and conduct a substantial historical project of their own. Readings will include Frederick Rudolph’s The American College & University: A History; David Gold’s Rhetoric at the Margins: Revising the History of Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1873-1947; Patricia Donahue & Gretchen Flesher Moon’s Local Histories: Reading the Archives of Composition; and other works.
David Fleming is Professor of English and former Director of the Writing Program at UMass Amherst. He has published widely on histories and theories of rhetoric and pedagogies of writing, including City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America (SUNY Press, 2008) and From Form to Meaning: Freshman Composition and the Long Sixties, 1957-1974 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011).
891WD – Writing and Digital Public Spheres
Donna LeCourt Weds., 4:00-6:30
Once the great hope of the internet, aspirations for and attempts at creating digital public spheres have largely been abandoned in response to the dominance of social media, commerce, and “fake news.” In this course, we’ll examine the opportunities and the challenges the web poses to creating public spheres as a critical question that has yet to be answered by examining many sides of this debate in communication and rhetorical studies—those who declare the death of the public, those who attempt to maintain it within traditional terms, and those who radically revise it for digital spaces. As such, the course will examine rhetorical theories focused on the nature of the public itself (Habermas, Fraser, Benhabib, Warner, Hauser), and approaches meant to better explain textual movement and publics in digital environments (DeVoss and Porter, Gries, Ward, Barton, Rice, Hawk, Papachrissi). We will also consider the role of writers in helping create such spheres and the kinds of writing necessary for such work, paying particular attention to social media spaces. Our investigation will be supplemented by work in economics and cultural studies on communicative and information capital to help situate the civic within the economic, a connection essential in neoliberal realms of information and hypercapital.
Donna LeCourt is currently working on a book tentatively titled Social Mediations: Writing for Digital Public Spheres where she takes up the very topics covered in the course. She has published parts of this argument in edited collections. Her concern with public spheres is an extension of her earlier work on difference in academic spaces, particularly questions of how writing can foment social change and provide voice to those not given public forums.
899 – Doctoral Dissertation
All graduate students must have a minimum of 18 credits at the time of their graduation.