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Graduate Courses

Spring 2024 Graduate Courses 

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

Engl    698      Gen Ed Practicum                       Tu, 5-6:00    R. Mordecai
Engl    698B   Intro. To Teaching Writing            Tu, 10:0-11:15        A. Tillman
Engl    698B   Intro. To Teaching Writing            Tu, 10:00-11:15      A. Bello                                                                
Engl   698B  Intro. To Teaching Writing             Tu, 10:00-11:15     C. Yang
Engl    698B   Intro. To Teaching Writing            Tu, 10:00-11:15      R. Dingo
Engl    698B   Intro. To Teaching Writing            Tu, 10:00-11:15      T. Pauliny
Engl    698I    Teaching Basic Writing            By arrangement       A. Bello
Engl    698J    Teaching Mentoring                By arrangement       T. Pauliny
Engl    698M    P-Teaching Creative Writing II        M, 5:00-6:00              J. Jacobson
Engl    698MA P-Teaching MFA Online Courses        By arrangement    J. Jacobson
Engl    698R    P-Applied Literary Arts            By arrangement        J. Jacobson
Engl    698RA  P-Applied Literary Arts – RADIUS       By arrangement    E. Meidav     
Engl    698V   Special Topics: Teaching Writing                      M, 4-5:15         A. Bello        
Engl    698V   Special Topics: Teaching Writing                      M, 4-5:15                D. Day
Engl    698V   Special Topics: Teaching  Writing                     M, 4-5:15               H. Hoang
Engl    698V   Special Topics: Teaching Writing              M, 4-5:15               S. Ray

699-----Master’s Thesis                     Staff

712---Writing & Teaching Writing                     

Wed, 4:30-7:00  Instructor: Anna Rita Napoleon
In this course, we will examine writing theory and pedagogy to better understand what informs how and why we teach writing. We will interrogate a variety of perspectives on teaching writing in order to develop ways of connecting theory to practice. Our general objective is to better understand the scholarship on effective teaching practices and the debates that drive curricular decisions. Our specific goals are: to reflect on our own experiences as writers and teachers, to investigate influential theories in writing studies, and to situate our practice within those theories and research on effective pedagogy. We will consider, in particular, expressivist, rhetorical, critical, feminist, and cultural theories that inform curriculum design and pedagogy, as well as work into response, assessment, and writing processes. This is an introductory course to writing studies for MA/PhD students and K-12 teachers.

Texts: Tate, Gary, et al. A Guide to Composition Pedagogies. 2nd ed.

Anna Rita Napoleone is the Director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Writing Center. She has a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Her research focuses on classed literacy practices in higher education, how social class and affect impact teachers' pedagogy and how class intersects with global, racial, and gendered literacies. She has published in Pedagogy journal, and has contributed to edited collections such as Examining Education, Media, and Dialogue under Occupation (book), and Out in the Center (book). She has served on the Northeast Writing Centers Association and as a course director in the UMass Amherst Writing Program. She has presented at national and international conferences. She is a first-generation college student.

780/1 Imaginative Writing: Poetry

Monday 1:25–3:55pm    Instructor: Peter Gizzi
We will question the relationship between world and word and ask who is speaking in a poem. Do we speak or are we spoken? We will consider the role of mystery, presence, and intimacy in our writing. The workshop is a writing intensive class. It consists of work-shopping poems each week, providing comments and edits on others’ work, handing in revisions, reading several books of poetry and/or essays, participation and attendance are required.

Peter Gizzi is the author of Fierce Elegy (Wesleyan, 2023), Now It's Dark (Wesleyan, 2020), Sky Burial: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, UK 2020), Archeophonics (Finalist for the National Book Award, Wesleyan, 2016); In Defense of Nothing (Finalist for the LA Times Book Award, 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 1987-92 (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, and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He has twice been the recipient of the Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellow in Poetry at Cambridge University. In 2018, Wesleyan published In the Air: Essays on the Poetry of Peter Gizzi. A PDF of his out-of-print selected interviews, A Users Guide to the Invisible World (2022) is here.

780/2 Imaginative Writing Poetry    

Tuesdays, 1-3:30    Instructor: Abigail Chabitnoy  
What is it to live one’s life in the service of the poetic act? By seasons work and play, what do we seek from the poem and how do our needs and expectations shape the resulting body of work? In this class, we will learn how to recognize a poem’s unique goals and ambitions, and then cater our critique and reading according to those objectives. Students will be encouraged to reflect on the particular qualities of their own aesthetic influences and the gesture(s) of their craft and challenge their own habituation through risk-taking and creative play to develop a sustainable and generative practice beyond the classroom. Over the semester, we will workshop several batches of poems, provide in-depth written comments, hand in revisions, and read several books of poetry and/or essays. Consistent participation and attendance are required. The ultimate goal is to build a personalized method of creating that sustains and endures far beyond the workshop and the MFA.

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.

780/3 Imaginative Writing: Poetry: Ars Poeticas

Wednesday, 4:30-7pm    Instructor: Hannah Brooks-Motl
The ars poetica is first associated with Horace, who wrote an ars or technique or “art of” poetic composition somewhere around 20 BCE. Typically, an ars poetica addresses poetry—the how and why of writing poems; their “true” purpose or ontology; poetry’s “ultimate” meaning; perhaps even the problems of poets themselves. But such works also concern life and living, the vicissitudes of friendship and criticism; they might touch on topics inclusive of ethics, aesthetics, family, education, identity, hybridity, belonging, belief. Like Horace’s, such works may be “baffling outliers”, “full of mysteries.” This workshop will consider traditions of the ars poetica, understanding it less as a genre than a kind of attitude or orientation toward the various acts of thinking-writing-feeling that comprise poetry itself. We’ll workshop 5-8 pages of poems from each person a couple times throughout the semester and these works will form the basis of our discussions together as will readings, viewings, and the drafting of a poetics—whether an ars or not, we won’t be prescriptive. By the end of the workshop, folks should have many new starts, some revised poems, and a working draft of a poetics statement for thesis inclusion or other purposes.

Hannah Brooks-Motl was born and raised in Wisconsin. She is the author of the poetry collections The New Years (2014), M (2015), and Earth (2019). Her poetry, essays, and criticism have appeared in the Best American Experimental Writing, the Cambridge Literary Review, the Chicago Review, Modernism/modernity, and in edited collections from Cambridge University Press and Wesleyan University Press. With Stephanie Burt she helped edit Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden (2005). She earned an MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and PhD from the University of Chicago. She lives in western Massachusetts.

781/1 Imaginative Writing: Fiction

Thursday 10-12:30pm    Instructor: Monica Brashears
This workshop will be a generative course focusing on short story, flash fiction, and longer forms. The class will be in traditional workshop format with response letters and marked manuscripts, discussions, and supplemental readings. We will explore the subconscious and revision, ways to toy with genre, and many other delights! 

 Monica Brashears is an Affrilachian writer from Tennessee. She is a graduate of Syracuse University's MFA program. Her work has appeared in Nashville Review, Split Lip Magazine, Appalachian Review, The Masters Review, and more. House of Cotton is her first novel. Her short story, "The Skittering Thing," will be featured in The Black Girl Survives in This One: Horror Stories (Flatiron, 2024). 

781/2  Imaginative Writing: Fiction

Tuesday 4-6:30pm    Instructor: Sabina Murray
This workshop is designed to discuss work with a focus on structure and handling of time.  Through a combination of craft talks, exercises, and selected reading, we will study how to pass time in an organic manner, how to better explore character through perspective and contrast, and other stylistic elements that we so often construct instinctively but should be able to edit with cold intellect.  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. Time is fun!

Sabina Murray is the author of five novels and three short story collections, including The Caprices, which won the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award. She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University, and Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. Her stories are anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and Charlie Chan is Dead II. 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. Her novel Valiant Gentlemen was included in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2016 and included in the Washington Post Best Books list of the same year. Her most recent book Muckross Abbey, a collection of literary horror fiction, was published March 2023.

781/3  Imaginative Writing: Fiction

Wednesday, 1:25-3:55pm    Instructor: Edie Meidav
In our odd era, how do we remember and to what end?  In what new ways can we understand hybridity? In this generative workshop for writers, each week we will quilt work to explore these questions. Taking the idea of the hybrid memoir in its broadest sense, we will explore what happens when we imagine new communities of readers and forms. Writers such as Carson, Akhtar, Amichai, Antunes, Baldwin, Borges, Braithwaite, Cabrera Infante, Carpentier, Celan, Coetzee, Evaristo, Galeano, Ishiguro, Kafka, Kapil, Levy, Luiselli, Machado, Nguyen, Nunez, Paley, Rankine, Salvayre, Shafak, Shange, Winterson, and Yapa are examples of those we will consider for inspiration, as well as exponents of hybrid memoir across the disciplines. Classwork involves writing, reading, inquiry, presentations, and includes the possibility of field trips and a final reading. Permission from the instructor required for those outside the MFA. 

Edie Meidav is the author of the hybrid lyric novel Another Love Discourse (MIT/Penguin, 2022), as well as Kingdom of the Young (Sarabande, 2017), a collection of short fiction with a nonfiction coda, and award-winning novels called editorial picks by the New York Times and elsewhere: Lola, California (FSG/Picador, 2012), Crawl Space (FSG/Picador, 2005), and The Far Field: A Novel of Ceylon (Houghton/Mariner, 2001) as well as a coedited anthology collecting women and nonbinary writers, Strange Attractors (UMass Press, 2019). A 2023-24 Rockefeller Fellow, she has received support for her work from granting bodies including the 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, and elsewhere. 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 serves as a senior editor at Conjunctions.

791AP---The Age of Pictures: American Visual Culture 1825-1925        

Thursdays 1:00-3:30    Instructor: Brenna Casey
This course will offer an introduction to key concepts in visual culture through the study of images and concomitant literary texts circulating in the United States from the nineteenth century into the twentieth. “The picture making faculty,” wrote the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass amidst the violent political, social, and territorial restructuring of the mid-nineteenth-century U.S., “is a mighty power.” Moving from early national artistic movements through the emergence of photography, we will work with special attention to quickly consolidating and interlocking markers of race, gender, class, sexuality, and citizenship to track more precisely how this “mighty power” was cultivated by early illustrative makers. 

Members of this course should expect to sample a range of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writing as well as illustrations, paintings, and photographs from the American Romantic to the Modernist period. We will also engage a host of critical theoretical texts that may be applied to and beyond this periodization. Course participants will have the opportunity to supply archives from their own area of study for course assignments.  

Brenna M. Casey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English where she specializes in American literature and visual culture. Her academic work has appeared in ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth Century American Studies, Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and African American Review. Her public-facing work has appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, The Assembly, and The New York Times.

791BA---Why Compare? Black and Asian Pairings in U.S. Culture and Criticism    

  Thurs, 1:00-3:30    Instructor: Caroline Yang
In 1867, speaking on the topic of Chinese labor in the United States, Frederick Douglass predicted, “The old question as to what shall be done with [enslaved Black people] will have to give place to the greater question, ‘what shall be done with the Mongolian.’” Thus rooted in the questions of slavery and who counted as “free” and rightful citizen of U.S. empire, Black and Asian pairings have exceeded any other comparisons of non-white peoples and have taken on different shapes and aims since Douglass’s speech. This seminar takes a critical examination of this history of Black and Asian racializations in U.S. culture and criticism. In addition to representations of the comparison in dominant white culture, it examines historical writings, literary and cultural productions, and critical scholarship by Black and Asian writers to begin to answer the question: why compare? What does the comparison teach us about race and racialization in U.S. empire? Beginning with Reconstruction, we will study key historical flashpoints, ultimately concluding with our present moment in the Supreme Court’s dismantling of affirmative action in college admissions. Possible literary texts may include Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition, Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart, W. E. B. Du Bois’s Dark Princess, A Romance, John Okada’s No-No Boy, Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, Gayl Jones’s The Healing, Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle, Nina Revoyr’s Southland, and Monique Truong’s Bitter in the Mouth.

Caroline Yang teaches courses in Asian American and African American literatures, nineteenth-century to contemporary U.S. literature, and critical ethnic and race studies. She is the author of The Peculiar Afterlife of Slavery: The Chinese Worker and the Minstrel Form (Stanford 2020). Her other writings can be found in Modern Fiction Studies, MELUS, Journal of Asian American Studies, Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, Asian American Literature in Transition (1850-1930), The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (forthcoming), and American Quarterly (forthcoming). She is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled The Korean War in Black America. 

791V---Shakespeare for Everyone?

Mondays, 1:00-3:30    Instructor:  Adam Zucker
This course is designed to offer writers, artists, teachers, and everyone else a guided, wide-ranging survey of the works of William Shakespeare. No single theme or method will shape the course; instead, we will collaboratively explore intricacies of language, narrative, and idea in an effort to better understand and question the lasting influence of Shakespeare’s plays in classrooms, theaters, and global mass media.  

We will read one play and one short supplemental text each week, ranging from brief critical essays, related Elizabethan poetry, fictional or other adaptations, et cetera. In addition to reading, participants will offer one flexible format in-class response, and create one longer final response to course material, in a manner that best suits their own graduate level work (i.e, MFA students might write in or on poetry or fiction; PhD students might write a more traditional researched essay; students in other departments beyond English might work with the ideas and methods of their own fields).

Adam Zucker has been a member of the UMass English Department since 2004. His area of expertise is 16th- and 17th-Century English literature, with a special focus on the plays of William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and their contemporaries. He received his BA from Brown University and his MA, MPhil, and PhD from Columbia University. Professor Zucker is the author of The Places of Wit in Early Modern English Comedy (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and the co-editor of two books: Historical Affects and the Early Modern Theater (Routledge, 2015), with Ronda Arab and Michelle Dowd; and Localizing Caroline Drama: Politics and Economics of the Early Modern English Stage, 1625-1642 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), with Alan B. Farmer. His next book, Shakespeare Unlearned: Pedantry, Nonsense, and the Philology of Stupidity, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press, and he is working on a new edition of Love’s Labor’s Lost for the fourth series of the Arden Shakespeare. He is also a co-editor of the journal English Literary Renaissance.

792C---Graduate Writing Workshop

Thurs, 4-6:30    Instructor: Rebecca Lorimer Leonard
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. 

Rebecca Lorimer Leonard teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on language diversity, literacy studies, 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. Her co-written book, Transfer: An Introduction to History, Theory, Research and Pedagogy, will be published in October 2023. 

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 South College W329.  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

891CG---Critical Geographies of 20th and 21st Century American Poetics

Wed, 1:00-3:30    Instructor: Ruth Jennison
This course will examine 20th and 21st century (mostly) American poetry, with a special focus on ways in which critical theories of space and spatial formation open up our primary texts. We will examine the conceptual history of space in contemporary critical thought: from the signature articulations of Raymond Williams regarding the dominant, residual and emergent cultural mediations of spatial segmentation, to Henri Lefebvre’s generative taxonomies describing the social production of space, to David Harvey’s elaboration of a full-throated critical geography, to Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s pathbreaking account of spatial fix and the carceral state. We will also read recent accounts of spatial turns specific to mechanisms of state and population control: securitized borders, settler colonialism, the current reorganization of US manufacturing zones, and the urban and rural constitution of what capital views as “surplus populations.” We will examine not only how American poetry encodes these spatial intricacies (Muriel Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, Louis Zukofsky, Claude McKay) but also how American poetics itself has developed in shifting regional alliances. We will pay special attention to the ways in which poetry written in the 1970s and after screens the spatial regimes of racism and xenophonia within and beyond the American interior, and the revolutionary, anti-imperialist responses to these regimes (eg. Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Sean Bonney). We will also examine poetics that treat crises and transformations in the geographies of social reproduction. To this end we will engage with texts by Bernadette Mayer, Kay Gabriel, and Juliana Spahr, many of which elaborate alternative spaces hived out of, or in negotiation with, capitalist imperatives gendering social reproductive labor. 

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

891G--- Fiction to Film 

Mon, 10:30 AM - 1 PM    Instructor:  Sabina Murray
This is a course that looks at elements of narrative—time, interiority, voice, summary, backstory, character, et cetera—as they transition from prose into screenplay.  In addition to learning the basics of writing scripts, you will also learn how to better manage time, dialogue, structure, information, and group scenes in your fiction.    Works studied will (most likely) include Twelve Years A Slave (Northrup/McQueen), The Painted Veil (Maugham/Curran), Don’t Look Now (du Maurier/Roeg), and some others.  Class participants will be required to work on a creative adaptation of their own selection.  

Sabina Murray is the author of five novels and three short story collections, including The Caprices, which won the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award. She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University, and Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. Her stories are anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and Charlie Chan is Dead II. 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. Her novel Valiant Gentlemen was included in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2016 and included in the Washington Post Best Books list of the same year. Her most recent book Muckross Abbey, a collection of literary horror fiction, was published March 2023.

891WB   Sex, Bloat, and Zombies: On Writing the Body         

Thurs, 1-3:30pm    Instructor: Monica Brashears
“How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form?” This course asks students to view themselves and the authors studied as Dr. Frankenstein. We will study various approaches to crafting the physical body in fiction and all they can achieve when exploring themes of trauma, agency, illness, and human desire. Books will be selected from an expanding list that includes work written by Gayl Jones, Elena Ferrante, Anthony Veasna So, S.A. Cosby, Garth Greenwell, James Joyce, Colson Whitehead, Johnathan Franzen, Haruki Murakami, Mohsin Hamid, Mariana Enriquez, and others. Requirements will include a presentation on an assigned book and the creation of your own monster (a short story in which the body is written).

Monica Brashears is an Affrilachian writer from Tennessee. She is a graduate of Syracuse University's MFA program. Her work has appeared in Nashville Review, Split Lip Magazine, Appalachian Review, The Masters Review, and more. House of Cotton is her first novel. Her short story, "The Skittering Thing," will be featured in The Black Girl Survives in This One: Horror Stories (Flatiron, 2024). 

891WC---Writing across the Curriculum

Mon, 10:00-12:30    Instructor:  Haivan Hoang
This course explores the development of writing across the curriculum (WAC) in higher education; WAC is often described as an education movement that emphasizes writing to learn as well as writing in the disciplines (WID). Historians of college composition, such as David Russell, have traced the origins of writing across the curriculum to the late 19th century as universities increasingly emphasized disciplinary specialization. By the 1960s and 70s, the WAC movement began to influence academic programs, curricula, and pedagogy in US universities and British K-12 schools. In this seminar, we’ll learn about the history of WAC development in educational contexts, the ideologies underlying these movements, research on WID teaching and learning, and descriptions and analyses of WAC/WID program structures and administration. Beyond broad understanding of the WAC/WID movement, the seminar asks us more specifically to take up critiques that Donna LeCourt and Victor Villanueva raised 20-30 years ago: How might we work against assimilationist and exclusionary tendencies when teaching students to write in the disciplines? More specifically, how might we envision a critical, including anti-racist, approach to WAC/WID commitments and practices? 

Haivan Hoang's scholarly interests center on critical race theory, literacy studies, writing pedagogy, writing in the disciplines, and qualitative research methodologies. She is author of Writing against Racial Injury: The Politics of Asian American Student Rhetoric (U of Pittsburgh, 2015), and her current research explores how race becomes salient for students and teachers in discipline-specific writing courses.

899----Doctoral Dissertation                    Staff

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