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Graduate Courses

Spring 2020 Graduate Courses 
(Subject to change)

698    Gen Ed Practicum    By arrangement    Stephen Clingman    
698B    Intro to Teaching Writing    Tu, 10-11:15    Rachel Mordecai    
698B    Intro to Teaching Writing    Tu, 10-11:15    R. Lorimer Leonard
698B    Intro to Teaching Writing    Tu, 10-11:15    Mazen Naous    
698B    Intro to Teaching Writing    Tu, 10-11:15    Arcello, Ann    
698I    Teaching Basic Writing    By arrangement    Bello, Ann    
698J    Teacher Mentoring    By arrangement    Peggy Woods    
698JB    P-Applied Literary Arts: JUBILAT    By arrangement    Dara Wier    
698M    P-Teaching Creative Writing II    M, 5:00-6:00    Jennifer Jacobson    
698MA    P-Teaching MFA Online Courses    By arrangement    Jenifer Jacobson    
698R    P-Applied Literary Arts    By arrangement    Jennifer Jacobson    
698RA    P-Applied Literary Arts: RADIUS    By arrangement    Edie Meidav    
698V-1    Spec. Topics/Teaching Writing    M, 4:00-5:00    LeCourt/Napoleone/Dingo    
698V-2    Spec. Topics/Teaching Writing    M, 4:00-5:00    LeCourt/Napoleone/Dingo    
698V-3    Spec. Topics/Teaching Writing    M, 4:00-5:00    LeCourt/Napoleone/Dingo    
699    Master's Thesis    By arrangement        
780/1    Imaginative Writing: Poetry    M,1:25-3:55    Peter Gizzi    
780/2       Imaginative Writing: Poetry    Tu, 3:30-6:00    Shayla Lawson    
780/3    Imaginative Writing: Poetry    M, 10:00-12:30    CA Conrad    
781/1    Imaginative Writing: Fiction    W, 11:30-2:00    Edie Meidav    
781/2    Imaginative Writing: Fiction    Th, 4:00-6:30    Andre Alexis    
781/3    Imaginative Writing: Fiction    Tu, 11:30-2:00    Mona Awad    
791BL    Intro. To Black Literary History    Th, 4:00-6:30    Sarah Patterson    
791E    Theorizing the Discipline    M, 1:00-3:30    Randall Knoper    
792A    Methods for the Study of Amer. Culture    W, 4:00-6:30    Asha Nadkarni    
796    Independent Study    By arrangement        
796A    Independent Study    By arrangement        
796W    Independent Area    By arrangement        
796X    Independent Area    By arrangement       
891G-2    Form & Theory of Fiction    Th, 1:00-3:30    Edie Meidav    
891M    Form & Theory of Poetry    M, 6:15-8:45    CA Conrad    
891RS    The Renaissance of the Earth    Tu, 1:00-3:30    Marjorie Rubright    
891TM    Toni Morrison    M, 1:25-3:55    Gretchen Gerzina    
891WL    Writing and Language Ideology    Th, 1:00-3:30    Rebecca Lorimer Leonard    
891Z    Intro. To Research on Writing    Tu, 1:00-3:30    Haivan Hoang    
899    Doctoral Dissertation    by arrangement    

699-----Master’s Thesis                    Staff

780-1 Imaginative Writing: Poetry    Mon 1:15–3:55pm        Peter Gizzi        
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/or essays, and required participation and attendance. Permission of instructor required of students not enrolled through the MFA Program for Poets & Writers. 

Peter Gizzi is the author of Sky Burial: New & Selected Poems (Carcanet, UK 2020), 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    Tues 3:30–6:00pm        Shayla Lawson
This advanced poetry course will be an inquiry-based workshop in which poets will be asked questions about their choices in craft, content, and prosody as if presenting their piece for a fine arts defense. Prescriptive feedback will be provided by participants through clearly-written, detailed, notes on each poem and a brief, type-written letter to the poet in which the reader shares their experience engaging the poem. Aside from workshop, we will intermittently engage collections of poetry through close reading. During those weeks, a poetic exercise stemming from the collection will become part of your poetry practice. Your midterm assignment will be the submission of 3-5 poems to five researched literary journals, with receipt. Your final assignment will be a 10-poem manuscript, accompanied by an artists’ statement. Permission of the instructor required for all students not enrolled in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers.

Shayla Lawson is the author of three books of poetry—A Speed Education in Human Being, the chapbook PANTONE and I Think I'm Ready to See Frank Ocean—and the forthcoming essay collection MAJOR: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, & Being Dope {AF} (Harper Perennial, 2020).  Her work has appeared in print & online at Tin House, GRAMMA, ESPN, Salon, The Offing, Guernica, Colorado Review. She also co-curates on The Tenderness Project with poet Ross Gay and is a member of the Affrilachian Poets. Her work has been supported by the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo Artist Colony, The Cini Foundation and her Havanese, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.

780-3 Imaginative Writing: Poetry    Mon 10am–12:30pm        CA Conrad
(Soma)tic Poetry Rituals
CAConrad has successfully used (Soma)tic poetry rituals to overcome depression after the murder of their boyfriend Earth. They have also created writing rituals using the night sky to design homemade star constellations, another ritual to experience what the impact of hearing the word "drone" has on the human body, and many others from talking with trees, ghosts, translating Shakespeare's sonnets with crystals, and coping with the destroyed wilderness of our planet.

We will build a "progressive fixed time" ritual together, meaning create it progressively through the semester, each week adding a new ingredient while fixing the duration from the start. We will also discuss the importance of keeping our creative skills sharpened and how to collaborate with artists from other disciplines beyond the idea and practice of ekphrastic poetry.

We will also collectively create personalized (Soma)tic poetry rituals for each participant.  We will focus on writing in our lives just as they are, not so much making space for art but seeing how poetry is waiting inside what we already do to be able to live in this world.  Seeing the creative viability in everything around us in the every day, wherever we are, that is where the real magic lives!

CAConrad received a 2019 Creative Capital grant and has also received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, as well as The Believer Magazine Book Award and The Gil Ott Book Award. The author of 9 books of poetry and essays, While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books) won the 2018 Lambda Book Award. They teach at Columbia University in NYC, and Sandberg Art Institute in Amsterdam and is online at

781-1 Imaginative Writing: Fiction    Weds 11:30am–2pm        Edie Meidav
In this generative workshop we explore the potency of short work. Each week asks you to write and share your own micronarrative. How deeply can you affect your readers? What happens within a sentence or between lines? What can brevity do that so speaks to our age? We will interrogate the taxonomy of rhetorical strategy and brevity, amassing questions useful to our own practice as writers and readers.  Classwork consists of close reading, workshop, presentation, and a final project which will compose a sequence or expand upon your pieces. Permission to take the course required for those outside the MFA.  

Edie Meidav is the author of KINGDOM OF THE YOUNG, a collection of short fiction with a nonfiction coda (2017), as well as 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) as well as a coedited anthology STRANGE ATTRACTORS (2019, UMass Press).  Honors have come from sites including the Lannan, Howard, Whiting, and Fulbright programs (Sri Lanka and Cyprus), the Kafka Prize, the Village Voice, the Bard Fiction Prize, Yaddo, Macdowell, VCCA, Fundacion Valparaiso and elsewhere. Former director of the MFA at the New College of California in San Francisco, a past judge for Yaddo, the NEA, Mass Cultural Council, Juniper Prize, and the PEN/Bingham first novel prize, she serves as senior editor at Conjunctions and other journals. 

781-2 Imaginative Writing: Fiction    Thurs 4–6:30pm        André Alexis
On Voice
This is a workshop whose focus is voice. As with characterization, voice is a signal element of fiction, but what is voice, exactly? Well, where to start? It is diction: how a thing is said. It’s the revelation of a psychological state, a revelation that comes through discretion, silence and quality of attention as much as it does through words. Of course, voice has serious implications for other aspects of fiction: tone, story, rhythm, narrative drive. So, although we begin with the idea of voice, our tentacles reach the farthest
corners of fiction-writing.

André Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His most recent novel, Fifteen Dogs, won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His debut novel, Childhood, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His other books include Pastoral (nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize), Asylum, Beauty and Sadness, Ingrid & the Wolf, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa and Lambton, Kent and Other Vistas: A Play.

781-3 Imaginative Writing: Fiction    Tues 11:30am–2pm        Mona Awad
This goal of this class is to generate fiction and to inspire and prompt you toward fearless creative exploration. The writing you do here may be strictly exploratory or you can focus on an ongoing project. All forms of fiction (novels, stories, hybrids, etc.) are welcome. We’ll read each other’s work generously and closely, focusing on language, narrative structure and potential revision. Though we’ll focus largely on workshop, there may also be short selected readings.

Mona Awad's debut novel, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (Penguin), won the Amazon Best First Novel Award, the Colorado Book Award and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Arab American Book Award. It was also long-listed for the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour and the International Dublin Award. Her new novel, Bunny, was released June 11, 2019 with Viking Press, Penguin Canada, and Head of Zeus in the UK. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, TIME magazine, Electric Literature, VICE, The Walrus, LARB and elsewhere. She was an instructor in the Literary Arts department at Brown University and in the English Department at the University of Denver. She has also worked as a freelance journalist and a food columnist for the Montreal-based magazine, Maisonneuve. She earned an MFA in fiction from Brown University and an MScR in English from the University of Edinburgh where her dissertation was on fear in the fairy tale. She recently completed a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English literature at the University of Denver.

791BL---19th Century-Books, Lectures and Conventions: Introduction to Black Literary History
Thursdays, 4:00-6:30                        Sarah Patterson
This semester will feature a variety of literary and visual representations of Black authorship and activism from the nineteenth century to present-day digital responses. We will pay particular attention to the interconnectivity of literary production, lecture circuits and political conventions as tradition-forming responses to issues of race, slavery and inequality and as an intersection of professionalization where the Black intellectual emerges. Readings drawn from collaboratively-sponsored Colored Conventions, Frank Webb’s The Garies and Their Friends, Ida B. Well’s Southern Horrors and sentimental fiction in the A.M.E. print-organ The Christian Recorder will be complemented by discussions among scholars such as John Ernest, Eric Gardner, Elizabeth McHenry, Ana Lucia Araujo and Derrick Spires to centralize social histories and debates that inform core readings. Engagement with material and digital culture surrounding expressions of Black ideologies, identities, resistance and social networks will also highlight the significance of archives to future scholarly and public humanities projects. Assignments include a presentation, a bibliography and a conference paper.
Readings include:
Frank Webb, The Garies and Their Friends
Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law In All Its Phases
Frances E. W. Harper, Minnie’s Sacrifice
1865 California State Colored Convention 

791E---Theorizing the Discipline                        Randall Knoper 
Mondays, 1:00-3:30
The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the theories and methods that inform and shape English studies—particularly the study of literature and culture, performance, and writing and rhetoric.  In a departure from past practice, faculty members from the department will be invited to the seminar to discuss how theory informs their work and to identify what they see as the new questions and directions emerging in their areas of specialization.  So students will not only learn about theoretical approaches from specialists but also have the chance to meet and talk with them.  Not all the visiting professors have yet been enlisted.  And most faculty members would not reduce their interests to any category in the following list.  But I hope to have a roster of colleagues who will discuss the history, methods, and theories of a wide range of approaches, e.g., feminism and queer/trans theory; ethnic literary theory and critical race studies; theories of postcoloniality and decolonization; Marxist literary and cultural criticism; historicist (and antihistoricist) theory; theories of climate and climate change; affect theory; performance theory; rhetorical studies and critical pedagogy; transnational, global, transatlantic, hemispheric, and world-systems theory; digital humanities and new media; and science studies.  I hope to have our guests specify readings for their specialties, so the list of texts for the course has not been settled.  I also hope that we will have enough time in the semester to evaluate the ways in which the theoretical approaches we study conflict, diverge, and overlap—and to reconsider and evaluate how we want to situate ourselves in this intellectual terrain.

Randall Knoper’s current research focuses on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature and the developing sciences of neurophysiology.  A selection of his writings is available at UMass Scholarworks.  When he returns from his fall 2019 sabbatical, he will resume his job as chair of the Department of English.

792A---Methods for the Study of American Culture                Asha Nadkarni
Wednesdays, 4:00-6:30
This course surveys major methods, topics, and debates within American cultural studies. As one of the core courses in the American Studies graduate concentration, it is intended for graduate students beginning work in American Studies. The course will range widely through different approaches to American studies, including, but not limited to; transnational and postcolonial studies; critical ethnic studies; and gender and sexuality studies. Throughout we will focus on students acquiring a familiarity with key methods and the relevant concepts and vocabulary required to do work in American Studies. 

Asha Nadkarni’s research and teaching interests include postcolonial literature and theory, transnational feminist theory, US empire studies, and Asian American studies, with an emphasis on the literatures and cultures of the South Asian diaspora. Her book, Eugenic Feminism: Reproductive Nationalism in the United States and India (Minnesota, 2014), traces connections between U.S. and Indian nationalist feminisms to suggest that both launch their claims to feminist citizenship based on modernist constructions of the reproductive body as the origin of the nation. She is working on a second book project, tentatively titled From Opium to Outsourcing, that focuses on representations of South Asian labor in a global context. She is also the co-editor, with Cathy Schlund-Vials, of Asian American Literature in Transition: Volume 3 (1965-1996) (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021).

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 Bartlett 452.  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-2 Form & Theory of Fiction    Thurs 1–3pm                Edie Meidav
How does confessional literature so lure us, from Augustine on? How does the antihero draw us in especially now? What do open letters say about audience, implied or intended? In this seminar oriented toward writers, we will closely consider nine works from writers such as the following: Adiga, Alvar, Augustine, Babel, Baldwin, Bulgakov, Camus, Carey, Coates, Coetzee, Crane, Dostoyevsky, Ellison, Flaubert, Freed, Gardam, Gay, Green, Hamid, Ishiguro, Johnson, Kafka, Knauusgaard, Lanchester, Lawlor, Lorde, Miaojin, Messud, Mosfegh, Nabokov, Nelson, Rankine, Rousseau, Salvayre, Shonagon, Winterson, and Yuknavitch. One of our conversational goals will be to emerge with a deep heuristic understanding of confession, its motivation, outcome, and audience. Classwork will consist of presentations pairing outside sources with our assigned texts, weekly assignments, and a final project. Permission to take the course required for those outside the MFA.  

891M Form & Theory of Poetry    Mon 6:15–8:45pm        CA Conrad
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 Notely, 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.

891RS--- The Renaissance of the Earth                     Marjorie Rubright
Tuesdays, 1:00-3:30

This seminar stages a “collision laboratory” between literatures of the earth produced by Renaissance writers (1450 – 1750) and current popular, artistic, literary and scientific writings about the Anthropocene. It has two aims: first, to explore how seemingly current conversations regarding environmental disaster, sustainability, and resilience traffic in ideas, metaphors, and modes of thinking whose roots extend into the Renaissance; and, second, to consider how early modern habits of thought and practice might aid in our challenge of imagining alternative forms of habitation and cultivation of the earth.

The seminar surveys a decade of Renaissance eco-criticism that positioned Shakespeare’s world-view at its center, and then expands to explore the stakes of recent eco-feminist, eco-philological, and eco-cosmopolitan methodologies, as well as medieval ecocriticisms, premodern and ‘prismatic’ ecologies. We’ll read canonical drama alongside less well-known plays (The Sparagus Garden), fairy tales (Jack and the Beanstalk), georgic poetry, agricultural treatises on composting and soil amendment, a dictionary of the terraqueous globe, as well as prose works on: Europe’s ‘little ice age,’ earthquakes, fossils, and the rise of air pollution. Toggling geographically between Europe and the Americas throughout, we’ll conclude the seminar by focusing on the Connecticut River Valley, exploring recent work in trans-Atlantic colonial ecology.

The following scholars are scheduled to participate in our seminar to share their work with us: Vin Nardizzi, Jean Feerick, and Heide Estes. Weekly discussions are organized around key concepts ranging from the elemental and environmental (stone, tree, sea, hive) to the verbal and active (green desire, vegetable love, botanical grafting, composting, shipwreck, & drift). Seminar work includes: a short methodological reflection, a critical presentation of a scholarly work, a draft of a blog post you imagine sending to the UMass literary magazine Paperbark, and a seminar paper. Books will be available locally, at Amherst Books.

Marjorie Rubright is at work on her second book project, A World of Words: Language, Earth, and Embodiment in the Renaissance, which examines period-specific ways of thinking about human sameness and difference that emerge when we attend to how language and linguistic identity are imaginatively linked not only to ethnicized and racialized human bodies, but also to a diversity of earthly matter. Her areas of research orbit around the new philologies, ecology, gender and embodiment. She is author of Doppelgänger Dilemmas (UPenn 2014), co-author of So Long Lives This: A Celebration of Shakespeare’s Life and Works (Toronto 2016), and co-editor of the forthcoming Logomotives: Words the Changed the Premodern World. She has forthcoming work in the JEMCS special edition of Early Modern Trans Studies. As Director of the Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, she orchestrates arts and academic programming drawing on the rare book library, Five-College research community, outdoor theater, and historical orchards and Renaissance kitchen garden. 

891TM---Toni Morrison                        Gretchen Gerzina
Mondays, 1:25-3:55

“Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind.”

The late Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison is widely regarded as perhaps the best American writer of the past hundred years. In this seminar we will read widely in her ground-breaking fiction and nonfiction works. The novels will include The Bluest Eye, Sula, Jazz, Song of Solomon, Beloved, A Mercy, and God Help the Child. We will also read essays from Playing in the Dark and from her last book The Source of Self-Regard. Students will present critical scholarly analyses of her work to share with the class in formal presentations. We will also view interviews and documentaries, including the final documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. There will be a midterm essay of eight pages, and a final essay of twenty pages.

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina is the Dean of Commonwealth Honors College at UMass, Professor of English, and the Paul Murray Kendall Professor of Biography. She has published nine books, and has won grants from the National Endowment for Humanities, Fulbright, and was selected by Oxford University and the Rhodes Trust to be their Eastman Professor. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017. Her book Mr. and Mrs. Prince, about two former slaves, was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Award, and she twice served on the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Before arriving at UMass, she was a professor of English at Dartmouth College, a radio host, and a colleague of Morrison’s. She teaches courses on Black Britain, Victorian Children’s Literature, Modern British Literature, African American literature, and biography.

891WL---Writing and Language Ideology                Rebecca Lorimer Leonard
Thursdays, 1:00-3:30
This course explores writing through the lens of language: How do writers move among their languages? How do "soft boundaries" between languages impact writing in English around the world? How are language boundaries used to control writing and whose interests do they serve? The course will address these questions by considering theoretical work and empirical studies on transnational literacy, world Englishes, language politics, and linguistic diversity. Seminar participants will write a review of research on a current problem in language diversity, a conference paper proposal, and a conference-length paper on a language diversity-related topic. Reading will include Alvarez, Blommaert, Canagarajah, Garcia, Gonzalez, Kachru, Kalmar, Makoni & Pennycook, Norton, Prendergast, Pratt, You, and others.

Rebecca Lorimer Leonard teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on language diversity, writing pedagogy, and research methods. Her book Writing on the Move: Migrant Women and the Value of Literacy (University of Pittsburgh Press) won the 2019 Outstanding Book Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication. She has published in Written Communication, College English, WPA: Writing Program Administration, and Research in the Teaching of English. In 2017 Professor Lorimer Leonard received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at UMass Amherst.
891Z---Intro. To Research on Writing                    Haivan Hoang
Tuesdays, 1:00-3:30
This course provides an introduction to qualitative research methodologies in composition and literacy studies.  Researchers in these fields seek to understand writing as deeply situated, and for this reason, we’ll focus on methodologies that encourage context-based understandings of writing, including ethnography, case study research, teacher-research, and historiography.  With this framework, we’ll read and evaluate the methodologies employed in select research studies in order to examine aims, assumptions, methods, and conclusions.  We will also practice qualitative inquiry by trying out specific methods—e.g., interviews, critical discourse analysis.  More broadly, we’ll critically reflect on the range of research as a way to understand the fields of composition and literacy studies.
Course assignments will include brief practice with specific research methods, brief reviews of specific studies, a review of research on a given question or review of a research methodology, and a pilot research project (including a proposal for this project).

Haivan Hoang’s research and teaching interests like in literacy studies, critical race theory, writing in the disciplines (WID), and qualitative research methodologies. She is author of Writing against Racial Injury: The Politics of Asian American Student Rhetoric, and she is currently exploring how race affects teaching and learning in WID courses.

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