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Graduate Courses

Fall 2022 Graduate Courses 

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

698 Gen Ed Practicum | by arrangement | Rachel Mordecai
698B P-Intro. To Teaching Writing | Tu,Th, 10:00-11:15 | Woods/Bello/Lorimer Leonard
698I P-Teaching Basic Writing | by arrangement | Anne Bello
698J P-Teaching Mentoring | by arrangement | Peggy Woods                                
698L P-Teaching Creative Writing | 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/Lorimer Leonard
698V-2 P-Spcl Topics/Teaching of Writing | M, 4:00-5:00 | Woods/Bello/Lorimer Leonard
698V-3 P-Spcl Topics/Teaching of Writing | M, 4:00-5:00 | Woods/Bello/Lorimer Leonard
698V-4 P-Spcl Topics/Teaching of Writing | M, 4:00-5:00 | Woods/Bello/Lorimer Leonard
699-----Master’s Thesis | Staff

731---Bible as Literature | Thursday 4-6:30pm | Dave Toomey

The class will explore several of the most studied and influential books of the Old and New Testaments.
As a whole, the class will read (from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) the books Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Isaiah and (from the New Testament) the gospels Luke and John. Most class meetings, following Luther’s doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone) will involve collective efforts to derive coherent close readings of particularly provocative or problematic passages. Following the historical-critical type of exegesis called Higher Criticism, we will also appeal to secondary sources, focusing especially (but not exclusively) on those listed in “required texts” below.

Individually, students will undertake term projects culminating in seminar papers that examine the influence of a particular Biblical passage or figure on a literary text or set of texts. The passage or figure need not be among those discussed in class, and the text or texts may be from any historical period. Nonetheless, the project must be approved by the instructor. Additionally, each student will make an in-class presentation on a subject related to the Bible, providing the class as a whole with cultural and historical context not supplied by course readings.

Required texts:
Aslan, Reza. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Random House, 2014.  
ISBN-10: 0812981480 / ISBN-13: 978-0812981483.

Coogan, Michael D. (Editor) and Marc Zvi Brettler (Editor). The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, Third Edition. Oxford University Press; Third edition (January 25, 2001) ISBN-10: 019528478X; ISBN-13: 978-0195284782. (NB: A fourth edition appeared in 2010. The reason I am not recommending the fourth edition is that although the supplementary material added since the third edition are useful, the bulk of it is unchanged, and many readers (on amazon) complain that the small font and paper stock make it especially difficult to read.)

Eliade, Mircea.  The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion.  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1987).  ISBN-10: ‎9780156792011 / ISBN-13:‎ 978-0156792011.

Miles, Jack.  God: a Biography. Vintage; Reprint edition (March 19, 1996).  ISBN-10: 0679743685; ISBN-13: 978-0679743682

Ruden, Sarah.  The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible.  Vintage; Reprint edition (December 4, 2018).  ISBN-10: ‎ 0525563652 / ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0525563655.

David Toomey holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Virginia.  His most recent book, Weird Life: The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own, was longlisted for the PEN/EO Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.  

780-02 Imaginative Writing: Poetry | Monday 1:25–3:55pm | Abigail Chabitnoy

“Writing poetry never is ‘just’ about writing actual poems. But creating a space for yourself, and others, to exist in a poetic condition. It’s not only reading and writing, but changing the way we think. To learn to listen to the constant lyrical aspects of human consciousness.”
            —Bianca Stone
 What is the work of the poet? What is it to approach art as work? That which is work applies force—if it does not move anything, it is not work. In this workshop, students will be encouraged to reflect on the work and gesture of their craft and challenge their own habituation through risk-taking and creative play to develop a sustainable and generative practice beyond the classroom. In-depth written responses to peers’ work, participation in verbal discussions of peers’ work, and examinations of craft in selected written works and in response to selected essays will be balanced against the generation of new work. In addition, students will be encouraged to share their own influences and aesthetics. The final project is a collection of revised poems and accompanying artist statement.
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.

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

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 been working with the ancient technologies of poetry and ritual since 1975. Their new book is AMANDA PARADISE: Resurrect Extinct Vibration (Wave Books, 2021). They received a Creative Capital grant, a Pew Fellowship, a Lambda Literary Award, and a Believer Magazine Book Award. Their play The Obituary Show was made into a film in 2022 by Augusto Cascales.
They teach at Columbia University in New York City and Sandberg Art Institute in Amsterdam. You can find them online at

781-01 Imaginative Writing: Fiction | Tuesday 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, Vanishing Point, 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.

781-02 Imaginative Writing: Fiction | Wednesday 1:25–3:55pm | Edie Meidav

Structure and Form of Narrative
In our odd era, what forms serve our muse best? In this generative class, every week you will create and read work by your colleagues. Using micronarrative as our base, we will also explore concepts of form and rhetoric, from earliest history to the contemporary. Our goals will include adding to the sweep of your gesture in prose, to create our own collective and individual taxonomy, to wake ourselves and our readers, and to keep inquiry into literature fresh by deep engagement with history. Note that a few weeks of this class may involve the possibility of working toward collaborative work with student writers currently incarcerated. For those outside the MFA, permission from the instructor is required in order to enroll.

Edie Meidav is the author of the lyric novel ANOTHER LOVE DISCOURSE (MIT/Penguin, M2022), as well as KINGDOM OF THE YOUNG (Sarabande), a collection of short fiction with a nonfiction coda (2017), and three award-winning novels called editorial picks by the New York Times and elsewhere: LOLA, CALIFORNIA (FSG/Picador), CRAWL SPACE (FSG/Picador) and THE FAR FIELD: A NOVEL OF CEYLON (Houghton/Mariner) and a coedited anthology STRANGE ATTRACTORS (2019, UMass Press). Her work has been recognized by foundations including Lannan, Howard, Whiting, Fulbright(Sri Lanka and Cyprus), the Kafka Prize, the Village Voice, the Bard Fiction Prize, Yaddo, Macdowell, VCCA, Art OMI, Fundacion Valparaiso. Former director of the MFA at the New College of California in San Francisco, she has served as judge for Yaddo, the NEA, Mass Cultural Council, Juniper Prize, the PEN/Bingham first novel prize, and as senior editor at Conjunctions.

781-03 Imaginative Writing: Fiction | Thursday 3–5:30pm | Noy Holland

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. 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.

791D---Major Texts for the Study of American Culture | Wednesday 1-3:30pm | Laura Furlan

In this course, we will take on the impossible task of surveying some of the most critical and innovative work in American Studies, particularly those that participate in key discussions and debates in feminism, transnationalism, regional studies, Indigenous studies, ethnic studies, as well as material, visual, and popular cultural studies. The texts will represent a broad range of subjects and methodologies, written by established scholars and newer voices. We will read (mostly) recent multi-disciplinary Americanist scholarship as a way to survey many models for doing compelling work in American Studies, to gain a working competence in its debates and approaches, and to establish a vision of where the field is today. Authors may include Phil Deloria, Shari Huhndorf, George Lipsitz, José David Saldívar, Saidiya Hartman, Christina Sharpe, Tiffany Lethabo King, and Shawn Michelle Smith, among others.

Laura M. Furlan specializes in Native American literatures. She is the author of Indigenous Cities: Urban Indian Fiction and the Histories of Relocation (University of Nebraska Press, 2017) and is working on a new book project entitled The Archival Turn in Native American Literature, a study of the function of archives in contemporary Native literature. She recently co-edited a special issue of Massachusetts Review of new Native writing and a special issue of Studies in American Indian Literatures (where she also serves on the Editorial Board) on Deborah Miranda’s Bad Indians. She has published articles on Louise Erdrich and Janet Campbell Hale and Deborah Miranda.

791J---History of the Book | Monday 1-3:30pm | Joseph Black

Will books as material objects disappear in your lifetime?  Or will the book, a remarkably long-lived piece of communication technology, continue to flourish and develop alongside its electronic counterparts?  This course surveys the art, craft, and history of books from early manuscript culture through hand press books and machine press books to the increasingly digital present.  We will discuss how books were written, manufactured, circulated, marketed, and read in different eras (and in the American as well as British, and occasionally global, cultural contexts), and explore the role they have played over time in social, political, scientific, and cultural change.  The course involves extensive hands-on work with books and manuscripts from across the centuries, and sustained engagement with current debates about book, print, material, and media culture. Critical readings include work by (e.g.) D.F. McKenzie, Roger Chartier, Robert Darnton, Jill Lepore, Jane Tomkins, Jennifer Monaghan, Kate Flint, Jonathan Rose, Janice Radway, Margaret Ezell, and Anthony Grafton. The course will be held in the seminar room of UMass Special Collections in Du Bois.

Joseph Black has published widely on early modern prose and poetry and on the history of books and reading. His current projects include co-editing the Complete Works of Thomas Nashe in six volumes for Oxford University Press and conducting research on early modern women’s book ownership and reading practices.

791M---Postcolonial Literary Studies | Tuesday 1:00-3:30pm | Mazen Naous

This course surveys major topics, approaches, and debates within postcolonial cultural studies; it is intended for graduate students beginning work in postcolonial and related fields. Our topics will range widely through the postcolonial period and its movements, including the following: the (inter)disciplinarity of postcolonial studies; anti-colonial nationalisms; the analysis of Orientalism and cultural imperialism; subaltern studies; postcolonial feminisms; postcolonial ecocriticisms; and recent developments “beyond” the postcolonial. Throughout, we will focus on students acquiring a familiarity with key texts as well as the relevant concepts and vocabulary required to work with postcolonial theory and literature.

Mazen Naous specializes in Arab American literature, Arabic literature, postcolonial studies, translation theory, and music and literature. He is currently writing a book provisionally titled The Musiqa of Arab American Fiction. Naous is the translator of Memoirs of Juliette Elmir Sa’adeh: Syrian Social Nationalist, Reformer, Political Prisoner (2022), the author of a monograph titled Poetics of Visibility in the Contemporary Arab American Novel (2020), and the editor of an interdisciplinary collection of essays titled Identity and Conflict in the Middle East and its Diasporic Cultures (2016).

792C---Graduate Writing Workshop | Tuesday 4-6:30 pm | TBA                

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.  Form 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

891B---Poetry of the Political Imagination | Monday 1-3:30pm | Martin Espada

Poetry of the political imagination is a matter of both vision and language. Any progressive social change must be imagined first; any oppressive social condition, before it can change, must be named in words that persuade. Poets of the political imagination go beyond protest to define an artistry of resistance. This course explores how best to combine poetry and politics, craft and commitment. Students will read classic works ranging from the epigrams of Ernesto Cardenal, written against the dictator of Nicaragua, to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, the book that sparked an obscenity trial. They will also read the farmworker poems of Diana García, born in a migrant labor camp; the emergency room sonnets of Dr. Rafael Campo; the prison poetry of political dissident Nazim Hikmet; and the feminist satire of Marge Piercy, among others. Course texts will be available at Amherst Books.

Martín Espada has published more than twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest book of poems is called Floaters (2021), winner of the National Book Award and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Other collections of poems include Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016), The Trouble Ball (2011), and Alabanza (2003). He is the editor of What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (2019). He has received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a Letras Boricuas Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

891BR---Blackness and Race in the Afterlife of Slavery | Wednesdays, 1-3:30   | Caroline Yang

This seminar is organized around the question of how Blackness figures into (or should figure into) our study of race in the United States in what Saidiya Hartman calls the “afterlife” of slavery: the devaluation of Black lives “by a racial calculus and a political arithmetic a racial calculus and a political arithmetic that were entrenched centuries ago,” resulting in “skewed life chances, limited access to health and education, premature death, incarceration, and impoverishment” (Lose Your Mother 6). We will begin with a historical formulation of that question, and move on to interventions in and re-theorizations of it, particularly in the context of the institutionalization of multiculturalism in the latter twentieth century and contemporary scholarships that make connections between Black studies and questions of Indigeneity and Asianness. In addition to key texts by W. E. B. Du Bois, Kimberle Crenshaw, Cathy Cohen, Fred Moten, Hortense Spillers, Frank Wilderson, and Sylvia Wynter, the texts for the class may include:    

    Anne Cheng, Second Skin: Josephine Baker & the Modern Surface AND/OR Ornamentalism   
    Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America AND Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route  
    Gayl Jones, The Healing  
    Moon-Kie Jung & João H. Costa Vargas, Antiblackness  
    Tiffany Lethabo King, The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies  
    Lisa Lowe, Intimacies of Four Continents  
    Toni Morrison, Home  
    Nina Revoyr, Southland  
    Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being  
    C. Riley Snorton, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity  
    Alexander G. Weheliye, Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human 

Caroline Yang is the author of The Peculiar Afterlife of Slavery: The Chinese Worker and the Minstrel Form, which explores how antiblack racism lived on through the figure of the Chinese worker in US literature after emancipation. She is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled The Korean War in Black America.

891G Form and Theory of Fiction | Thursday 12:20–2:50pm | Edie Meidav

How does freedom speak? In this hybrid seminar meant for writers, we explore the question of what it means to write in relation to the concept of agency, autonomy, and self-articulation. Taking the idea of freedom in its broader sense, we explore what happens when a writer is constricted or otherwise alienated from full expression by self, family, community, nation, era, or history itself. We look at writers who articulate attentive despair and weighted hope  in startling new ways, creating new imagined communities of readers and forms, by exploring writers such as Adichie, Akhtar, Amichai, Antunes, Baldwin, Barry, Borges, Braithwaite, Cabrera Infante, Carpentier, Coetzee, Evaristo, Galeano, Green, Greer, Illich, Ishiguro, Kafka, Kapil, Levy, Luiselli, Machado, Nguyen, Nunez, Obioma, Paley, Rankine, Salvayre, Shafak, Shange, So, Soltzhenitsyn, Winterson, and Yapa. With fiction our primary focus, we will create a taxonomy of strategies used by writers exploring freedom. Classwork involves reading, presentations, theoretical and creative inquiry, including the possibility of field trips and a final reading. Note that a few weeks of this class may involve the possibility of working toward collaborative work with student writers currently incarcerated. For those outside the MFA, permission from the instructor is required in order to enroll.

891LC---Climate Wars in the Athropocene | Thursday 1-3:30pm | Malcolm Sen

Climate change predicts the grim emergence of a new era of geopolitical violence arising from environmental breakdown. Is climate change an international relations problem? Soaked with the rhetoric of conflict, climate chaos appears to be occurring most visibly at the frontlines, to address it, international actors are waging a war on climate change, scientists are performing threat assessments of local ecologies, and environmental activists are confronting Big Oil, for waging a war against mitigation efforts. Such rhetoric brings to fruition what the military-industrial complex predicted in relation to climate change, that it is a threat multiplier. Weather, the lived experience of climate, may appear to have only tangential connections with warfare. At the same time both historiography (in the context of ancient Rome, for example) and contemporary journalism (in the context of recent conflicts) point towards ecology’s agential capacity to radically upend political realities. The securitization of climate change discourse not only arrests the mobilities of peoples under threat from rising seas and parched agricultural landscapes but equally jeopardizes the territorial fetish of sovereignty. Since the landscape in which the Westphalian logic of statehood emerged is no more, communities that were already at the margins of the postcolonial nation are now doubly sidelined; wrecked equally by coastal erosion and the hostile grammar of borders, walls, and security checkpoints. The border is where war begins. It is also a place where war-talk can come to an end.

This course allows us to analyze the war-torn present and theorize habitable futures built on a politics of life. We will read literary and critical texts from around the world. Major authors and scholars may include Omar El Akkad, Kim Stanley Robinson, Arundhati Roy, Tommy Orange, Abdulrahman Munif, Amitav Ghosh, Rebecca Solnit, Anne McClintock, Rawi Hage, Tayeb Salih, Dina Nayeri, Tiffany Lethabo King, Christy Lefteri, and Behrouz Bouchani.

Malcolm Sen’s research areas include the Environmental Humanities, Postcolonial Studies, Irish Studies, and South Asian Studies. His research is focused on the transformation of sovereignty as a result of the cascading effects of climate chaos, which include securitized climate change discourse, militarized statehood, strongman politics, coastal erosion, unbearable heat, and suffocating floods. Recent publications include his edited collection, A History of Irish Literature and the Environment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022), his monograph, An Unnatural Disasters: Climate Change, Sovereignty, and Irish Literature which will be published by Syracuse University Press, and several essays that analyze questions of sovereignty, environmental racism, the Covid-19 pandemic, the emergence of climate wars, and the question of race in James Joyce’s Ulysses, an environmental narrative parading as a modernist one.

891M Form & Theory of Poetry | Tuesday 6:15–8:45pm | CAConrad

Occult Poetics
We will discuss how occult and paranormal experiences and practices of poets in the past show us the way to trusting these same forces are also alive and at work for us today. Rumi, Hannah Weiner, Will Alexander, Hoa Nguyen, Alice Notley, and Ariana Reines are some of the poets whose work and practices we will investigate. We will examine how fusions of poetry and the occult are reestablishing themselves with new outcomes, like the Emily Dickinson tarot deck produced by Amherst publisher Factory Hollow Press.

The study of poetry through the occult blueprint is looking closely at the broader understanding behind the mechanics of life. Soon enough, we encounter our bodies as these magical tools, every one of our cells and its chemical conversation lit into a much larger conversation with the world around us. From traditional forms of conjuring and divination to spirited inventions for new paths, we will also discuss how advances in science can help us to take the ancient technologies of poetry and ritual and tip them toward the future.

891PB Editing Ecological Literature: Paperbark Magazine | Wednesday 10:45–1:15pm | Noy Holland

This is a course in and about literary editing as a practical, visionary, and collaborative endeavor. Students become essential members of Paperbark’s diverse community of thinker-makers, drawing on expertise in the sciences, visual art, poetry, and literary prose.  The aim here is confluence; Paperbark’s mission—and the purpose of this seminar—is to bring the arts and sciences into legible, lively dialogue, “to build new bridges across traditional divides.”  We’ll study other publications whose mission is consonant with ours, as a way to refine, orient, and enliven iterations of Paperbark to come.  Participants will undertake the editorial, production, and outreach work essential to the life of the magazine. Exploring questions of editorial mission and curation, as well as the role of ecological literature in contemporary American letters, class members will develop their own editorial ethics and aesthetics as they collaborate on the creation of Paperbark’s next issue. Students will build valuable critical and professional skills and gain insight into how their work may be received when sent out for publication. At the same time, they’ll be an integral part of Paperbark’s welcoming community of scientists, artists, activists, and writers and, through the magazine, join the global conversation about the interdependence of science and art.

This course is open to all interested graduate students with priority given to MFA and PhD candidates in English, and the School of Earth and Sustainability.  All class members serve as Associate Editors and receive masthead recognition in the magazine.

Founded in 2018 by a dedicated group of faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni, Paperbark grows from an interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Earth and Sustainability, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and the UMass Libraries.  The third issue is under way, and we’ll begin to consider fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art for the fourth issue as well.

891TT---Rhetorical Theory | Wednesday 1-3:30 | Rebecca Dingo

The study of rhetoric is generally concerned with how messages are crafted by authors to achieve desired effects in audiences.  While, in some circles rhetoric is probably best known as a term of political abuse (as in “that’s just empty rhetoric”), in academic studies, rhetorical theory signals a variety of approaches and methods for looking at the persuasive and circulatory functions of discourses and how contexts mediate the relationship among authors, texts, and audiences.  As contexts (e.g. historical, cultural, economic, political, geo-political) and time change so do rhetorical arguments and textual production and, as a result, scholars’ lenses and approaches to the study of rhetoric.  

This class serves as a graduate introduction to the study of rhetorical theory.  We will approach our study of rhetorical theory thematically tracing how key conversations persist yet change within particular historical and cultural moments and political, economic, and geopolitical contexts. Students will look across scholarship from the beginning formation of the field rhetorical studies into the present.  They will gather core conversations in the field and trace the development of a variety of rhetorical theories.  While we will read book-length studies of rhetoric, much of our reading will come from key journals in the field of rhetorical studies and students will be responsible for choosing a conversation to follow within a set of journals and then taking formal notes on how theories and methods develop as a result of that conversation.  The goal of the course is for students to have a deeper understanding of rhetorical studies as a diverse field and to understand rhetorical study as a distinct approach and method of analysis.  Books will be available through both e-campus and Amherst Books.

Possible books for Intro to Rhetorical Theory

The Rhetorical Tradition
Reclaiming Rhetorica
Feminist Rhetorical Practices
Lynching: Violence, Rhetoric, and American Identity
Rhetorica in Motion: Feminist Methods and Methodologies
Counterstory: The Rhetoric and Writing of Critical Race Theory
Unruly Rhetorics: Protest, Persuasion, and Publics
Shades of Sulh: The Rhetorics of Arab-Islamic Reconciliation
Networking Arguments: Rhetoric, Transnational Feminism, and Public Policy Writing
Digital Groits: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age
Toward a New Rhetoric of Difference
Disabled Upon Arrival
Rhetoric and Guns
Lynching: Violence, Rhetoric, and American Identity

Rebecca Dingo’s research has addressed transnational rhetorical and composition studies and in doing so she forwards a transnational feminist lens attuned to global political economy.  She is the author of Networking Arguments: Rhetoric, Transnational Feminism, and Public Policy Writing, which received the W. Ross Winterowd Award in 2012.  She has published widely in both the field of Women’s Studies and Rhetorical Studies.  Dingo has also offered workshops and trainings across the globe on her research, writing pedagogies, and writing development.  She is currently working on two book projects, both which take up the place of political economy in feminist rhetorical studies.  The first book, Beyond Recovery: Reckoning with Race, Nation, Imperialism, and Exceptionalism in Feminist Rhetorical Theory (under contract with University of Pittsburgh Press) is a co-authored book with Dr. Rachel Riedner which examines how feminist rhetorical recovery projects aligned themselves with Cold War, liberal capitalist projects that seek to include and incorporate previously excluded others without attending to how these projects support imperialism and racial and gendered power.  The second book examines the rhetorical production of global girl’s empowerment rhetorics—tentatively called The Girl Affect. Her pedagogy seeks to connect theory with practice and all of her classes tend to offer on-the-ground case studies paired with theoretical lenses.    

891EN---Sounded Encounters | Wednesday 4-6:30pm | Adam Zucker

This course explores increasing amount of research into and critical approaches to the sounds and soundedness of local and global forms of exchange as they are represented and enacted by early modern English literature. Central texts will include plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Jonson; poetry by Spenser, Donne, and Virgil (via Elizabethan translator Richard Stanihurst); and prose in translation by Rabelais, John Leo Africanus, and other continental authors. Special attention paid to points of contact between English audiences/readers with more distant sounds and indigenous languages, including Irish and Nahuatl, and later adaptations of early modern sounds by poets such as Kamau Braithwaite. Other topics will include the role of music and lyrics in drama in the performance of racial and national difference; the soundedness of nonsense and inscrutable language in comic and satirical texts; and the role of linguistic innovation and hybridity in the formation of English language traditions. A course for anyone who loves thinking through the aural effects of language and music, and wishes to learn more about the trans-linguistic, protocolonial engagements of English literature.

Participants will be expected to write one 1000-word book review and one 20-25-page research paper, in addition to organizing an in-class presentation accompanied by an annotated bibliography.

Adam Zucker has been teaching in the UMass English Department since 2004. Recent and forthcoming publications include essays and book chapters on the sounds of nonsense and the culture of pedantry in the plays of Shakespeare and Jonson; the ‘unfeelable feelings’ staged and evoked by dramatized marketplaces and commerce in Tudor and Stuart drama; the role of laughter in lyric poetry; and informal street performances documented by the printed jest books of early modern London. He is finishing a monograph that brings disability studies, textual studies, lexicography, and theater history into conversation with one another, tentatively entitled Shakespeare Unlearned: Nonsense, Pedantry, and the Philology of Stupidity in Early Modern English Drama, and he is working on a new edition of Love’s Labour’s Lost for the 4th Arden Shakespeare series.

891AT:  The Short Novel | Jeff Parker | Wednesday 5:30–8pm

This seminar will study the form in between the novel and the short story. Longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, the novella/the long short story/the short novel is a form whose precise nature lies in the grey area between two more notorious and infamous cousins. If a short story burns with a momentary, gem-like flame and a novel indulges its digressions, what characteristics define the in-between form? It is precisely the answers to this question that this seminar will seek as we look deeply at around twenty novellas, classic and contemporary, including Mikhail Bulgakov (The Heart of a Dog), Gayl Jones (Corregidora), Denis Johnson (Triumph Over the Grave), Clarice Lispector (The Hour of the Star), Graham Greene (The End of the Affair), Annie Proulx (Brokeback Mountain), Juan Pablo Villalobos (Down the Rabbit Hole) and others. 

899----Doctoral Dissertation | Staff

All graduate students must have a minimum of 18 credits at the time of their graduation.