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Graduate Courses

Spring 2023 Graduate Courses 

To see these options on SPIRE, see our Class Listings page.

English 591N Topics in Indigenous Literature | Mondays 6:30-9pm | Abigail Chabitnoy

What is it to be a writer of indigenous literature? What does such categorization suggest about a work—and what does it fail to mention? Is “indigenous literature” an indicator of genre? Or simply an ascribed attribute of the writer? If the former, what devices, tropes, or themes does it share? If the latter, what prejudices do we bring to the work?

This course examines contemporary Native American poetry, fiction, essays, and theories as both expressions and interrogations of indigenous identity and culture and as strategies for survivance within the larger American context. While we will focus on a broad diversity of contemporary writers and the literature they produce, we will also look at the historic, cultural, social, religious, aesthetic, and political contexts out of which contemporary Native Americans write. Additionally, we will discuss the significant issues facing indigenous people across the nation from colonization, stereotypes, and discrimination, to intergenerational trauma, to climate change and relocation and more as we learn to identify key differences as well as constellations of connections. Most importantly, we will think about how indigenous literature is defined and understood within broader topics and trends in contemporary literature, including how indigenous writers imagine themselves and how they imagine identity, self, place, nature, and nation. Through our readings, discussions, and assignments, you will develop your own decolonial lens as we examine the impacts of United States policy, land borders, and geographical inheritances on Indigenous cultures and even on the notion of text and categorization itself.

Abigail Chabitnoy is the author of In the Current Where Drowning Is Beautiful (Wesleyan 2022); How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan 2019), shortlisted for the 2020 International Griffin Prize for Poetry and winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award; and the linocut illustrated chapbook Converging Lines of Light (Flower Press 2021). Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak.

698    Gen Ed Practicum            by arrangement    Rachel Mordecai
698B    P-Intro. To Teaching Writing    Tu,  10-11:15       Anne Bello
698B    P-Intro. To Teaching Writing    Tu, 10-11:15        Caroline Yang
698B    P-Intro. To Teaching Writing    Tu, 10-11:15        Elkee Burnside
698B    P-Intro. To Teaching Writing    Tu, 10-11:15        Tara Pauliny
698B   P-Intro. To Teaching Writing    Tu, 10-11:15        Aaron Tillman
698I    P-Teaching Basic Writing       by arrangement    Anne Bello
698J    P-Teaching Mentoring       by arrangement        Tara Pauliny                                
698M    P-Teaching Creative Writing II   M, 5:00-6:00    Jeff Parker
698M  P-Teaching Creative Writing II   M, 5:00-6:00      Jennifer Jacobson
698MA P-Teaching MFA Online Courses  by arrangement    Jennifer Jacobson    
698R     P-Applied Literary Arts     by arrangement       Jennifer Jacobson
698RA  P-Applied Literary Arts: Radius    by arrangement  Edie Meidav
698V-1 P-Spcl Topics/Teaching Writing M, 4:00-5:00   Anne Bello         
699-----Master’s Thesis                            Staff

777---Modern American Poetry | Thursdays 1-3:30 pm | Ruth Jennison

This course will survey American poetry from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. Students will become familiar with the canonical accounts of modernism (Dickinson; Whitman; Pound; Eliot; Stevens; Stein; Moore; Williams).  Readings and discussions will also take up modernism's "others" (Crane; Hughes; H.D; McKay; Zukofsky). We will explore modernism’s textual theatre of interconnected and often antagonistic literary movements, coteries, and avant-gardes, including Imagism, Proletarian Poetics, the Harlem Renaissance, and the poetics of the Popular Front and of Objectivism. We will also attend to the historical and political coordinates which subtend the various ideological orientations and formal strategies of early twentieth-century American poetics. Questions we will address include: To what aspects of capitalist modernity are modern poets responding? How do uneven developments in racial formation, politics, economics and culture provide the conditions of possibility for modernist poetry's contradictory tendencies towards a classical archive of residual or archaic forms and future-oriented emancipatory experiments? How does poetic form register the accelerating frequency of capitalist crises in the 20th Century? What is the relationship between the rise of new forms of political consciousness (Anti-racist; Feminist; early Black nationalist, C/communist, etc.) and the innovative languages of poets seeking transformations in both art and life?

Ruth Jennison publishes on modern and contemporary American poetry, with special attention to the intersections of literary form, capitalist development and crisis, and revolutionary politics.

780-01 Imaginative Writing: Poetry | Monday 1:25–3:55pm | Nathan McClain On Personal History and the Lyric

According to Louise Gluck, “Poems are autobiography, but divested of the trappings of chronology and comment, the metronomic alternation of anecdote and response” (Proofs and Theories). To be put another way, Ellen Bryant Voigt concludes that “the ‘life’ is inextricable from the work; for a writer, they are the same thing” (The Flexible Lyric). In this workshop, we will explore the intersections between the life and the work and discuss how one invariably informs the other. We will discuss Gluck’s suggestion that all writing, in some manner, is autobiographical, though biography is not necessarily narrative. We will discuss character. We will discuss the lyric form. We will also discuss image and its important function in a poem to add greater nuance and import. These are just a few aspects of writing and thought that have proven immensely important to my own work. Participants will generate new poem drafts as well as, with our allotted time, workshop and discuss those drafts. We will closely read and discuss poems by Gregory Pardlo, Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Strand, Carl Phillips, Jack Gilbert, and Diane Seuss, among possible others. Participants will build and arrange a mini-chapbook as a final project.

Nathan McClain is a poet, editor, and educator living in Amherst, Massachusetts. He is the author of Scale (Four Way Books, 2017) and Previously Owned (Four Way Books, 2022), and his poems and prose have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in Poetry Northwest, Green Mountains Review, Poem-a-Day, The Common, The Critical Flame, and upstreet, among others.  He is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and African American Literary Arts at Hampshire College, and serves as Poetry Editor of The Massachusetts Review.

780-02 Imaginative Writing: Poetry | Thursday 12:20–2:50pm | Hoa Nguyen

Poetry is a practice of attention, an enhancement or recovery of views that contribute to personal and collective understandings. In this course, we will read poems that help us make sense of the conditions we live in now, even as we discover new modes of pleasure. We will investigate how artistic tensions, traditions, and formal challenges are posed by writers who continually attempt to enhance the art's potential by examining a range of poetic strategies selected from different historical periods, cultural locations, and literary movements. This is a generative, reading-focused workshop.

Since earning an MFA from New College of California, Hoa Nguyen has written five full-length books including As Long as Trees Last, Red Juice: Poems 1998-2008, and Violet Energy Ingots which received a 2017 Griffin Prize nomination. Hoa’s most recent book, A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Award; the winner of the Canada Book Award; and named “Best Poetry of 2021” by CBC Books, The Globe and Mail, NPR Books, Library Journal, and Entropy Magazine. Her work has received notice from Publishers Weekly, The Poetry Foundation, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and has been promoted by literary outlets such as Granta, PEN American Center, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Magazine, The Walrus, PBS News Hour, Pleiades, Boston Review, and Poetry Northwest. Hoa has been invited to present, perform, and speak at festivals, literary establishments, and institutions of higher education such as Princeton University, Columbia University, University of Adelaide, the Association for Asian American Studies, Singapore Writers Festival, California College of the Arts, Toronto International Festival of Authors, and the Chautauqua Institution. A forum of critical writing dedicated to Hoa’s work appeared in Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review in 2021, and in 2019, her writing was nominated for a Neustadt Prize for Literature, a prestigious international literary award often compared with the Nobel Prize in Literature. She is member of She Who Has No Masters, a Vietnamese and South East Asian diasporic transnational collective of cis, trans, and non-binary women/womyn, and founding mentor of the SWHNM mentorship. Her website is

780-03 Imaginative Writing: Poetry | Tuesday 1–3:30pm | CAConrad REGENERATION Crystal Grid

We will build (Soma)tic poetry rituals with CA's crystal grid. Most of the 300 crystals have been gifts from friends over the past 3 decades. The grid will contain a pot of working crystals to take with us onto the beautiful Amherst campus while we write our poems. We will learn to write by using crystals as translation devices for plant communication, and for creating and maintaining a Dream Library. We will also use digital microscopes and other tools for investigating plants and other organisms thriving on campus. Join us for a semester of building rituals to create lifelong relationships with our imaginations.

CAConrad has worked with the ancient technologies of poetry and ritual since 1975. They are the author of 9 books of poetry, including While Standing in Line for Death, The Book of Frank, ECODEVIANCE, and others. Their latest book is AMANDA PARADISE: Resurrect Extinct Vibration (Wave Books, 2021), which won the 2022 PEN Josephine Miles Award. They also received a 2022 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Creative Capital grant, a Pew Fellowship, as well as a Lambda Literary Award. Their play The Obituary Show was made into a film in 2022 by Augusto Cascales, and they exhibit poems as art objects with recent shows in Santander, Spain in 2022, and Lisbon, Portugal in May of 2023. Visit them online at

781-01 Imaginative Writing: Fiction | Wednesday 1:25pm–3:55pm | Jeff Parker Exhaustion v. 7.0

Consider this workshop interval training. Students will hand in ten pages of work every week for abbreviated, impressionistic critique. Some of this work will hold promise (may even be good) and some of it won’t. But there won’t be much time to dwell on it either way, because we’ll be onto the next week’s stuff. The idea here is: to put the emphasis of the workshop on writing rather than on critique; to improve your speed and cardiovascular fitness; to create generative habits; and to amass a good bit of material, 100+ pages over the course of the term. Come prepared to write a lot and submit almost immediately. Permission of instructor required of students not enrolled in the MFA.

Jeff Parker is the author of several books including Where Bears Roam the Streets: A Russian Journal, the novel Ovenman, and the short story collection The Taste of Penny. His many collaborative books and anthologies include: Clean Rooms, Low Rates; Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion: The Poetry of Sportstalk; A Manner of Being: Writers on their Mentors; Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia; Amerika: Russian Writers View the United States; and The Back of the Line.  His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in American Short Fiction, McSweeney's, Ploughshares, Tin House, and others.

781-02 Imaginative Writing: Fiction | Wednesday 5:30–8pm | Sabina Murray

This workshop aims to celebrate the individual. Let’s think about refining and strengthening our unique voices.  Sometimes, in the process of writing, the bizarreness of creating fiction can trip us up—can make us wonder what the value of our fiction is and how it connects to the world—making us distrust our voices and undermining the confidence so necessary to creating fiction.  “Why me?” in writing need not be a prelude to an existential, downward spiral, but can be an important tool to sharpen and expand one’s voice.  Understanding one’s specific writing strengths and viewpoint when examining one’s own fiction is important knowledge in generating original, engaging work, and this—when seen with clarity—works as an essential tool in editing and polishing fiction.  Understanding the value of one’s specific, individual viewpoint is also an exciting way to approach the work of others. Ultimately, this class aims to encourage unique voices, to present ways of structuring sensitive to specific creative works, and to allow writers to edit and expand work to the fullness of their imaginations.      
This workshop will be able to accommodate longer works--novels in progress, collected short stories, novellas--but will also be helpful to those working on individual stories and in the early stages of novels.
Sabina Murray grew up in Australia and the Philippines. She is the author of eight books of fiction, most recently The Human Zoo. She is also the author of the novel Valiant Gentlemen, a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book, and the short story collection The Caprices, which won the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award. Other published books are Slow Burn, A Carnivore's Inquiry, Forgery, and Tales of the New World. A collection of ghostly fiction, Muckross Abbey, is forthcoming from Grove March 2023. Her stories are anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and Charlie Chan is Dead II: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian Fiction. She is the writer of the screenplay for the film Beautiful Country, for which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. She has written on Sebald for the Writers Chronicle, Wordsworth for the Paris Review blog, time theory and historical fiction for LitHub, Duterte and the Philippines for VICE, Spam (the meat) for The New York Times, and published gothic fiction in Medium. She is a former Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, Bunting Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, N.E.A. Grant recipient, Magdalen College of the University of Oxford Research Fellow, and Guggenheim Fellow. She has received the Samuel Conti Award from the University of Massachusetts and the Fred Brown Award from the University of Pittsburgh. Murray teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

781-03 Imaginative Writing: Fiction | Thursday 3-5:30pm | Jordy Rosenberg History, Theory, Context, Form

This course is an opportunity to think about how theories of narrative form already shape our writing, and how we can use a conscious understanding of narrative form to create better work.  Our emphasis will be on editing and rewriting, which makes the course particularly useful for those wishing to workshop sections of a novel. Theoretical readings may include essays by Sofia Samatar, Samuel Delany, Sianne Ngai, Mark McGurl and others on contemporary literary form and context.

Jordy Rosenberg is the author of the forthcoming hybrid work The Day Unravels What the Night Has Woven, the novel Confessions of the Fox, and a scholarly monograph about 18th-century religious enthusiasts. Confessions of the Fox was a New York Times Editors Choice selection, shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, a Publishing Triangle Award, the UK Historical Writers Association Debut Crown Award, and longlisted for The Dublin Literary Award. Confessions has been recognized by The New Yorker, the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Kirkus Reviews, LitHub, Electric Literature and the Feminist Press, among other places, as one of the Best Books of 2018. Jordy’s work has been supported by fellowships and residencies from The Lannan Foundation, The Ahmanson-Getty Foundation, and the UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies.

791AD Introduction to Caribbean Literature  |   Wednesdays, 1:00-3:30  |   Rachel Mordecai

This course will introduce graduate students to major texts and issues in Caribbean literature. The focus will be on literature since 1900, but some earlier texts may be included. The course will range across the language groups in the region (all texts to be read in English). The relative utility of positioning the Caribbean within postcoloniality, the African diaspora, the Americas and the Atlantic world will be a central conceptual concern; other issues to be addressed include creolization, the afterlives of the plantation, migration and secondary diasporas, orality vs scribality, and ecological crisis. Authors may include Avellaneda, Seacole, Lamming, Naipaul, Wynter, Carpentier, Walcott, Brathwaite, Alexis, Rhys, Condé, Kincaid, Chamoiseau, Brand, Brodber, and others. Extensive secondary reading in relevant theory and criticism will also be required. Books will be available at Amherst Books.

Rachel L. Mordecai holds a BA from Brandeis University, an MA from the University of the West Indies (Mona), and a PhD from the University of Minnesota. Her teaching and research interests include Caribbean and African Diaspora literature, hemispheric American literature, and popular literature and culture of the Caribbean. She has published articles on Jamaican popular fiction, 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 book, Citizenship Under Pressure: The 1970s in Jamaican Literature and Culture, appeared from the University of the West Indies Press in 2014; her current book project is tentatively entitled “No Ancestry Except the Black Water”: A Study of Caribbean Family Sagas. She is the editor of sx salon, a Small Axe literary platform. Professor Mordecai’s website, including her up-to-date CV, can be found at

791E---Theorizing the Discipline   |  Wed, 4:00-6:30   |   Jordy Rosenberg

This course surveys major topics and debates within several fields in literary and cultural studies, including Marxist thought, eco-socialism/eco-criticism, Black Studies, trans and queer theory, postcolonial studies, feminist and social reproduction theory, and theories of the novel.  Our aim is to develop comfort and familiarity with keystone concepts and conversations in these fields.

See Bio under Engl 781/3

791WM---Why Medieval  |  Thursdays, 4:00-6:30   |  Jenny Adams

Medieval Studies is at a crossroads.  In popular spheres, it has been coopted by white supremacist leaders who use archaic symbols to anchor their racism in an unrecognizable historic past.  For academics, the field has been rocked by its own debates about its investments and its methodologies.  (To take just one example, in 2019, most of the board of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists stepped down to protest the organization’s own inability to change its name.)  Meanwhile, in Hollywood, the film industry disregards all debate and placidly produces a new (and often crummy) King Arthur movie each year.

Yet for many medievalists, this is the perfect time to revisit the Middle Ages.  That period, like ours, was a complex time of culture shifts, battles about racial and gender identities, reinventions of political and economic systems (and a banking crash), and debates about the role of literature in shaping public opinion.  Oh yeah.  There was also a pandemic.  At the same time, the word “medieval” for us has been synonymous with “backwards,” as exemplified by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called Trump’s proposed wall along the border of Mexico “medieval.”

We can’t cover all these topics.  But by looking at some key medieval literary texts, we can think about the ways the medieval world uses literature to wrestle with questions of racial and gender identity. And we can also think about the ways we currently use the idea of “the medieval” in our discussions of race, gender, and power.  Whether its Barbara Walter’s doing a special episode on the “Time Behind the Veil,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talking about Donald Trump’s “medieval” wall along the border, or Trump himself talking about the “barbarians” in the Middle East, the medieval has become a shorthand for our own anxieties about our own modern world.

Jenny Adams is working on a monograph provisionally titled “Degrees of Collateral: Books, Borrowing, and the Business of Medieval Oxford.”  She has published on this topic in The Library, New College Notes, and ed. Sharon Rowley, Writers, Editors, and Exemplars in Medieval Texts.  Her work also appears in a short, popular piece, “The History of Student Loans Goes Back to the Middle Ages” which she wrote for The Conversation (March 2016). Her past research has been on chess and political organization in the late Middle Ages.  Her publications on this subject include her book, Power Play: The Literature and Politics of Chess in the Late Middle Ages (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) and her edition of William Caxton’s The Game and Playe of the Chesse (TEAMS Middle English Texts series, 2009).  In all her teaching she takes a keen interest in the intersections between the medieval and the modern.

Unit 1: Race before Race in the Middle Ages (possible readings)
 Marco Polo’s Devisement du Monde (or Travels)
Mandeville’s Travels
Chrétien de Troyes, Cligés
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Man of Law’s Tale, Squire’s Tale)
Geraldine Heng, Invention of Race in the Middle Ages (selections)
Unit 2:  LGBTQ before LGBTQ (possible readings)
 Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot (or The Knight of the Cart)
Marie de France, Lanval
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Wife of Bath’s Tale, Clerk’s Tale, Pardoner’s Tale)
Miri Rubin, Framing Medieval Bodies (selections)
Carolyn Dinshaw, Chaucer’s Sexual Poetics (selections)
Unit 3 Weaponizing the Medieval
No readings yet but will wrap up the course with a look at the way we represent the medieval in the 21st Century
Kathleen Davis, Periodization and Sovereignty (selections)

792C Graduate Writing Workshop | Tuesdays, 1:00-3:30  |  Caroline Yang

This course is open to any student interested in developing a robust writing practice in academia, with a focus on revising an existing seminar paper, conference paper, or unpublished essay into a publishable journal article. While the main goal of the course is revising for publication, we will make space for you to workshop other kinds of writings such as the rationales for the Areas (or the Comprehensive) Exam or the dissertation prospectus. Our focus on the genre of article writing is meant hopefully to demystify the academic publication process and help you develop useful writing habits. As Eric Hayot states, “Writing a good article requires a number of different skills, only one of which is learning to manage a twenty-five-page idea” (The Elements of Academic Style, 13). Using Hayot’s book and Wendy Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks as our guides, we will learn and sharpen those necessary skills to becoming published authors, as we build a writing community that thrives on accountability and a collective and individual commitment to writing as a practice and a process.

Caroline H. Yang specializes in Asian American and African American literatures and critical race studies. She is the author of The Peculiar Afterlife of Slavery: The Chinese Worker and the Minstrel Form. Her other writings can be found in Modern Fiction Studies, Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), Journal of Asian American Studies, Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, Asian American Literature in Transition (1850-1930), and The Wiley Blackwell Companion to MELUS (forthcoming). She is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled The Korean War in Black America.

796---Independent Study                        By arrangement

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.  Forms for registering for this course are available in W329 So. College. The Director of Graduate Studies must approve each proposal.

796A---Independent Study                        By arrangement
    For students who are taking more than one independent study course per semester.
796W---INDEPENDENT AREA-1                    By arrangement
796X----INDEPENDENT AREA-2                    By arrangement

891G---Form & Theory of Fiction  |  Mondays, 6:30-9:00  |  Sabina Murray The Appeal of Fright: Contemporary Gothic Literature

Why do we read scary stories?  What is the appeal of the gothic?  Since the discovery of fire, people have gathered around sources of warmth and conjured up tales of what filled the darkness around them.  The impulse to freak people out is as old as the need to entertain through narrative, and some of our best works of literature were conceived of and executed in this vein. Henry James wrote ghost stories. So did Edith Wharton.  Frankenstein and Dracula are classics.  Hawthorn and Poe forced the form of the short story to evolve around tales of the macabre. Angela Carter added a feminist edge.  And works of fiction are constantly being added to this illustrious list.  Some of our most innovative film makers—Jordan Peele, Ari Aster—work in this medium.  The gothic is compelling. The gothic is fun.

We will start with exploring some of the classics, The Turn of the Screw, stories by Angela Carter and Daphne du Maurier, and then shift to current offerings, as a class creating a reading list from the work of Valerie Martin, Percival Everett, Andrew Michael Hurley, Sarah Waters, John Boyne, Violet Kuppersmith, C. Pam Zhang, Robin McClean, Carmen Maria Machado, Mariana Enriquez, Patrick McGrath, and others.  Requirements will include a presentation on a work of gothic fiction, as well as a final paper that can be original creative work.

891LL Composition Theory  |  Tuesdays, 1:00-3:30  |  Rebecca Lorimer Leonard

Composition Theory introduces students to modern theories of writing. While many writing theories emerge from studies of teaching writing, the course will focus on conceptions of writing itself—its embodied and sociocultural functions; its effect on people and their world; its activities of ritual, routine, practice, process. Our goal will be to understand the variety of ways writing is theorized as well as the debates that exist among these theories, exploring questions such as: In what ways is writing a social and rhetorical activity and how does writing interact with social change? What is the relationship between writing and learning, both in and beyond school? What is the relationship between writing and identity, and how do everyday readers and writers adopt, negotiate, or reject writerly identities (and why)? By the end of the course, students should understand what is at stake in such theorizing and begin to consider how they position themselves within these debates as teachers and scholars. Readings will be drawn from a range of perspectives, including but not limited to expressivism; socio-cognitive theory; voice and identity; critical race theory; development and transfer; genre and activity theory. While the course is designed to be a survey, it is not meant to be comprehensive. Instead, the course will examine multiple perspectives on composition, and through individual projects, students will pursue a thread of their choosing more deeply.

Rebecca Lorimer Leonard holds a Ph.D. in English from the program in composition and rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She specializes in literacy studies, language ideologies, multilingual writing, and comparative rhetoric. Her research examines how transnational literacy practices are valued according to shifting language ideologies.

891---Form & Theory of Poetry  |  Wednesdays, 10:45-1:15 |  Hoa Nguyen  Visionary Poetics

Students reinforce their practical and theoretical knowledge of world traditions in poetry, philosophy, and philology in relation to the creative process. Class discussion and workshop groups will ask what it means to praise and rejoice, lament and grieve, muse and dream. Student writing is enhanced by encountering strategies of unreason to sidestep logic and by developing language skills and inspiration to create poetry whose meanings appeal to non-rational readings.

891S---Performance Theory  |  Mondays, 10:00-12:30 |  Daniel Sack  Introduction to Performance Theory: Affect and Efficacy

Over the past fifty years, theories of performance have offered influential means towards articulating questions of enactment, embodiment, representation, and temporality in an increasingly mediated cultural landscape. This seminar offers a partial introduction to the interdisciplinary field of Performance Studies, by surveying a few foundational debates, as well as more recent concerns. We will read selections from influential texts focused on performativity (Austin, Benveniste, Butler, Derrida, etc), which emphasize how a statement or gesture enacts something beyond its denoted meaning.  Then we will turn to matters of liveness, mediation, and documentation (Phelan, Schneider, Auslander, Taylor). In the latter half of the course, we will carry these questions forward to discuss several recent and forthcoming essays and monographs in performance theory and affect theory, texts that redirect critical attention to the felt registers of process and reception, and how such production accomplishes political work.

Students from all subject areas and periods are welcome. We will set these theoretical texts alongside case studies from a range of contemporary media (film, theatre, interdisciplinary art, as well as literary texts), but these methodologies can be applied widely. Throughout the semester, we will approach our own individual research projects through a variety of means (critical, creative, written, and embodied), each aimed at prompting more affective encounters in our readers and audiences.

Daniel Sack is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Commonwealth Honors College whose work focuses on dramatic theory, experimental theatre and performance art from the 20th and 21st century, and alternative modes of criticism. He has published three books: After Live: Possibility, Potentiality, and the Future of Performance (Michigan); Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (Routledge Fourth Wall Series); and Imagined Theatres: Writing for a Theoretical Stage (Routledge). A fourth book, exploring how actors and audiences cry, is under contract with the University of Michigan Press. He is also the founding editor of Imagined Theatres, an open-access online journal of conceptual performances, and serves as a contributing editor for several journals devoted to theatre and performance.

891TR Transnational Rhetorical Studies  Thursdays, 10:00-12:30         Rebecca Dingo Unraveling the Rhetorics of Empire, Political Economy, and Transglobal Relationships    

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to transnational studies in rhetoric. In doing so we look to the critical projects of transnational, feminist, postcolonial, international political economy studies to consider how they have served as a precursor to transnational rhetorical approaches. As a class we will consider how empires, economies, and transglobal relationships thrive through historical grammars and rhetorics. We will address how global capitalism, austerity politics, and the economic, social, and political conditions of contemporary neoliberalism, neocolonialism and neo-imperialism are supported by gendered, raced, and classed rhetorical patterns. Toward that end we will consider: What rhetorical frameworks and narratives of nation, empire, and economy underlie laws, policies, literatures, and media and shape processes of cultural and legal recognition and delimit public responses to violence and injustice? How do various rhetorics activate cultural and transnational narratives and social and political relations? And what might rhetorical methods and intervention—various means of disrupting, challenging, re-shaping these rhetorics and their material and cultural effects—look like in response to current transnational crises? Books will be available via e-campus and Amherst Books.

Rebecca Dingo is the author of Networking Arguments: Rhetoric, Transnational Feminism, and Public Policy Writing (which won the W. Ross Winterowd Award in 2012) and The Megarhetorics of Global Development (with J. Blake Scott). Her work has been well-cited not in rhetoric, composition, communication studies, and across other disciplines and sub-disciplines including feminist international political studies, women’s studies, literacy studies, and disability studies. She was invited by the United Kingdom Parliament of International Development Committee in 2014 to offer a policy memo that comments on their development programs. She is now completing a monograph with Dr. Rachel Riedner titled Beyond Affirmation: Reckoning with Race, Nation, Imperialism, and Exceptionalism in Feminist Rhetorical Theory (under contract with University of Pittsburgh Press).  

899----Doctoral Dissertation                        Staff
All graduate students must have a minimum of 18 credits at the time of their graduation.