Announcement of Classes: Spring 2020


Graduate Courses

Graduate students from other departments and exceptionally well-prepared undergraduates are welcome in English graduate courses (except for English 200 and 375) insofar as limitations of class size allow. Graduate courses are usually limited to 15 students; courses numbered 250 are usually limited to 10.

When demand for a graduate course exceeds the maximum enrollment limit, the instructor will determine priorities for enrollment and inform students of his/her decisions at the second class meeting. Prior enrollment does not guarantee a place in a graduate course that turns out to be oversubscribed on the first day of class; fortunately, this situation does not arise very often.


Graduate Readings: Contemporary Fiction

English 203

Section: 1
Instructor: Snyder, Katherine
Time: MW 12-1:30
Location: 301 Wheeler


Book List

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi: Americanah; Atwood, Margaret: Oryx and Crake; Egan, Jennifer: A Visit From the Goon Squad; Hamid, Mohsin: The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Lerner, Ben: 10:04; McCarthy, Cormac: The Road; Nguyen, Viet Thanh: The Sympathizer; Watkins, Claire Vaye: Gold Fame Citrus; Whitehead, Colson: The Underground Railroad

Other Readings and Media

A packet of additional theoretical and critical readings by Amy Hungerford, Gordon Hutner, Mark McGurl, Pedro Erber, Giorgio Agamben, Fredric Jameson, Imre Szeman, Bruce Robbins, Andrew Hoberek, Kate Marshall, Ramón Saldívar, Marianne Hirsch, and Caren Irr, among others.

Description

In reading contemporary fiction, we might do worse than to begin by asking "what is the contemporary?" This is partly a question about time: what is the scale, duration, and position in history of the contemporary? Is the contemporary best understood as a discrete historical moment, an ever-receding temporal horizon, or a cultural worldview, condition, or style? The "when" of the contemporary is inextricably bound up with the "where" of it: how do space and place (private and public, regional and national, global and planetary) determine what counts, or doesn't count, as contemporary?

In addition to considering how questions of the contemporary inform our seminar's slate of 21st-century U.S. novels, we will also consider some of the generic subtypes—climate change fiction; post-apocalyptic fiction, autofiction, post-9/11 fiction, the campus novel, the neo-historical novel, the "post-theory theory novel," etc.—that critics (and booksellers!) have used to impose order on the inchoate field of contemporary fiction. Do these categories confirm or collapse the long-standing hierarchical distinction between literary fiction and genre fiction? What do these critical lenses offer us? What do they obscure?

While taking on these open questions of periodization and genre, we will read broadly in criticism and theory to provide additional contexts for our fictional texts, addressing such issues as digital technologies and information networks; postmodernism, post-postmodernism, and meta-modernism; and lyrical realism and national allegory. Rather than attempting to develop a unified field theory of the contemporary, we will draw from many critical frameworks to see what they can do for us as contemporary readers of contemporary fiction.


Graduate Readings: Modernist Fiction and Affect

English 203

Section: 2
Instructor: Zhang, Dora
Time: TTh 11-12:30
Location: 180 Barrows


Description

This course is designed to function as an introduction to two fields, one literary-historical, and one critical: Anglo-American modernist fiction, and affect theory. We’ll read a selection of both “high modernist” and lesser-known novels of the early twentieth century (possible authors include James, Joyce, Woolf, Hurston, Larsen, Barnes, Sylvia Townsend Warner) alongside a selection of recent affect theory (possible authors include Sedgwick, Tomkins, Berlant, Ahmed, Ngai, Cvetokovich, Muñoz, Cheng). Questions we’ll consider include: what does it mean to read for affect and how do we do it? Are there affects that are particular to modernism? What is the relationship between affect and aesthetic form? Can we historicize particular affects, and if so, how? What is the relationship between affect and race, gender, sexuality, and class? What sorts of attachments (e.g. to individuals, fantasies, nations, empires) can we discern in modernist novels, and what are their effects?


Graduate Readings: Comedy and Violence

English 203

Section: 3
Instructor: Flynn, Catherine
Time: TTh 12:30-2
Location: 180 Barrows


Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Complete Dramatic Works; Breton, André: Anthology of Black Humor ; Jarry, Alfred: The Ubu Plays; Lewis, Wyndham, et al.: BLAST; O'Brien, Flann: The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life; Rabelais, Francois: Gargantua and Pantagruel; Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver's Travels; Synge, J. M.: The Playboy of the Western World; Voltaire: Candide

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be available on bCourses.

Description

What relation does comedy have to violence? Can humor be a gauge of political freedom? This transhistorical seminar will examine the relation between comedy and violence in Irish, English and French texts from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. As we read novels, plays, poems, and theoretical works, we will consider comedy as both a literary category and an aesthetic mode. Reflecting on these works with, and against, theories of humor from Aristotle through Freud to Deleuze, we will also situate them in their political and historical contexts. Over the course of the semester, we will also reflect on various styles of humor—wit, buffoonery, satire, parody, nonsense, absurdity, and humour noir—and consider their connection to force.


Graduate Readings

English 203

Section: 4
Instructor: Miller, Jennifer
Time: Thurs. 3:30-6:30
Location: 186 Barrows


Other Readings and Media

A course reader

Description

For more details about this course, please contact Professor Miller at j_miller@berkeley.edu.


Shakespeare: Tragedy, etc.

English 217

Section: 1
Instructor: Arnold, Oliver
Time: TTh 9:30-11
Location: 180 Barrows


Description

We will focus on Shakespeare's peculiar approach to tragedy (he broke every rule in the book), but we won't focus obsessively: we will also give sustained attention to Shakespere's representation of citizenship, compassion, artificial persons, poverty, the Roman Republic, false consciousness, and slavery; and I expect that other participants will bring many other interests and concerns to the table.  Secondary readings will include a healthy dose of writings about tragedy (from Aristotle to the present), but we will also take advantage of Shakespeare's unique importance to the evolution of literary criticism and to the philosophy of art. If Shakespeare studies have in recent decades been most closely associated with the new historicism, the plays and sonnets have been a touchstone for almost every kind of literary criticism (Marxist, psychoanalytic, deconstructionist, postcolonial, feminist, and on and on). We will read seminal articles by Cixous, Derrida, Lacan, Greenblatt, C.L.R. James, Pat Parker, and others. 

Book List:  Shakespeare, W.: Titus Andronicus, Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Macbeth, Othello, Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest


Fiction Writing Workshop

English 243A

Section: 1
Instructor: Serpell, C. Namwali
Time: MW 1:30-3
Location: 301 Wheeler


Book List

Alison: Meander, Spiral, Explode ; Forster: Aspects of the Novel ; Gioa & Gwynn, Eds.: The Art of the Short Story

Description

The purpose of this workshop is to begin to write a novel or a story collection. It is unlikely that you will finish writing either in the three months we spend together. Fiction takes time. There are some reported exceptions to this, but given that the work is in the revision, we will keep our goal this semester to: “a start.” We’ll read some short stories, one novel, and one story collection in order to explore the shapes and sizes fiction can take. We will determine these together based on the interests and needs of the participants in the course. We’ll also read E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel (1927) and some essays on the short story form.

Only continuing UC Berkeley graduate students (and upper-division students with considerable writing experience) are eligible to apply for this course. To be considered for admission, please electronically submit a five-page, double-spaced excerpt of your fiction, by clicking on the link below; fill out the application you'll find there and attach the writing sample as a Word document or .rtf file. The deadline for completing this application process is 11 PM, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31.

(To read about when and where the results of the applications will be posted, click here.)

(To read about when and where the results of the applications will be posted, click here.)


Poetry Writing Workshop

English 243B

Section: 1
Instructor: O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
Time: W 3-6
Location: 106 Mulford


Description

Studies in contemporary poetic cases will focus our discussions of each other's poems.

Only continuing UC Berkeley graduate students (and upper-division students with considerable writing experience) are eligible to apply for this course. To be considered for admission, please electronically submit 5 pages of your poems (any combination of long or short poems or fragments of poems, the total length not exceeding five pages), by clicking on the link below; fill out the application you'll find there and attach the writing sample as a Word document or .rtf file. The deadline for completing this application process is 11 PM, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31.

(To read about when and where the results of the applications will be posted, click here.)


Romantic Period

English 246G

Section: 1
Instructor: Langan, Celeste
Time: TTh 2-3:30
Location: 186 Barrows


Description

This course on the Romantic “period” will consider periods of time as they are imagined, experienced, or enacted in some characteristic genres: song, prophecy, lyrical ballad, romance, letter, fragment, travel journal, periodical review, historical novel, science fiction. At once naming an interval and its end, the concept of the period seems broad enough to allow attention to any number of issues that may be of interest, from verbal forms of repetition (rhyme, refrain, parody, citation) to the “period” of the working day or of fossil capitalism.  How do Romantic writers understand time’s periodicity—crisis, recurrence, afterwardsness, ephemerality, revolution, wartime, deep time?  Reading origin stories and accounts of last minstrels and last men, we’ll also consider the temporality of reading.  Depending on time and interest, we may also take the many references of Romantic writers to time as judge as a remit to consider the temporality of the trial in its relation to action and decision.  (Since April 7 will be the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth, we’ll pay some attention to The Prelude as well.)

Students will be responsible for one short paper (3-4 pages) to be circulated for discussion and a final paper (15 pages).

Book List:  Austen, J., Persuasion or Emma; Blake, W. Complete Poetry and Prose; Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France;  Byron, Lord Byron: The Major Works; Coleridge, S.T., Major Works; Godwin, W., Caleb Williams; Enquiry Concerning Political Justice;  Keats, J. Major Works; Scott, W., Waverley; Shelley, M., The Last Man; Shelley, P.B., Shelley's Poetry and Prose; Williams, H.M., Letters from France; Wordsworth, D., Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals; Wordsworth, W., The Prelude.

Other Readings and Media:  H. v. Kleist, “On the Gradual Production of Thoughts While Speaking”; J.J. Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Languages; W. Hone [?] Don Juan  Canto the Third;  possibly essays by H. Arendt, W. Benjamin, P. de Man, F. Kittler, J. Lacan, P. Lacoue-Labarthe, J.-L. Nancy, M. Postone, and others. 


Victorian Period

English 246H

Section: 1
Instructor: Puckett, Kent
Time: F 9-12
Location: 301 Wheeler


Description

In this course we will approach the literature and culture of the Victorian period through its poetry and poetics. We'll read a lot of both in order to do three related things. First, we'll consider the idea of the literary as it was embodied in the figure of the poem in nineteenth-century British culture and society. What, we'll ask alongside Victorian poets and critics, is poetry? Who and what is it for? Why bother writing it instead of something else (a novel, a speech, an essay, a song)? Second, we'll work to understand how a self-consciousness about history, subjectivity, and the relation between the two that characterizes much of this poetry finds various forms in lyrics, ballads, dramatic monologues, verse novels, etc. Third, we'll take our reading of specifically Victorian poetry and poetics as an opportunity to think about more recent developments in poetics; how has thinking about poetry changed because of, in spite of, or very decidedly against the Victorians and their poetry? To what degree has an idea (whether right or wrong) about the Victorians shaped how we read and value poetry today?


Research Seminar: Ways of Knowing, Ways of Representing in Eighteenth-Century English Fiction

English 250

Section: 1
Instructor: Sorensen, Janet
Time: M 3-6
Location: 186 Barrows


Description

In this course we will read the early English fiction once associated with "the rise of the novel" with a view to the strategies this writing deployed to address new epistemological challenges. An expanding empire, an urbanizing nation (recently transformed by the Union of Scotland and England), the abstractions of a credit economy and financial markets, new optical technologies, and an exploding print market—all posed and demanded new ways of knowing. How did the generic experiments of early fiction and its rhetorical figures (including ramblers, letter writers, talking things, omniscient narrators) explore and represent these new ways of knowing? How did they render visible some sense of social organization and cohesion? How did early fiction deploy and develop empiricism and moral philosophy as ways of knowing? How did radical empiricism and gothic writing extend and revise the understanding of those ways of knowing? We shall be especially interested in questioning why it was that in a society imagined to be increasingly more complex, its members (and economic relations) spread more remotely, representation, nonetheless, often focused on local and everyday, usually domestic, objects and practices, on familiar elements that had heretofore gone unregarded. How did the objects and strategies involved in representing the particular (a specifc character, a quality of light) invoke something more general, and the local, something more distant? What bearing might Britain's status as a maritime empire have had on its technologies and dynamics of fictional representation? While our focus will be on emerging forms of prose fiction, we will supplement this reading with some poetry and new popular genres such as the periodical essay, voyage writing, and the vernacular dictionary, and even some painting (Golden Age still life painting of the Netherlands, works of William Hogarth). NB: those new to eighteenth-century writing are welcome.

We will likely read works by John Locke, Aphra Behn, Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, David Hume, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Horace Walpole, Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, Jane Austen.


Research Seminar: Black Cultures of Gender and Sexuality

English 250

Section: 2
Instructor: Ellis, Nadia
Time: Tues. 3:30-6:30
Location: 650 Barrows


Book List

Emezi, Akwaeke: Freshwater; Fanon, Frantz: Black Skin, White Masks; Hemphill, Essex: Ceremonies; Kay, Jackie: Trumpet; Larsen, Nella: Passing; Miller, Kei: The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion; Salkey, Andrew: Escape to an Autumn Pavement; Selvon, Sam: The Lonely Londoners

Other Readings and Media

Films & Television: Julie Dash, Daughters of the Dust; Shirley Jackson, Portrait of Jason; Barry Jenkins, Moonlight; Isaac Julien, The Attendant; Jennie Livingston, Paris is Burning; Janet Mock, Steve Canals, et al, prod., Pose.

Course Reader will include essays and excerpts of critical work from writers including M. Jacqui Alexander, Judith Butler, Cathy Cohen, Rey Chow, Roderick Ferguson, Stuart Hall, Saidiya Hartman, Audre Lorde, José Esteban Muñoz, Robert Reid-Pharr, Christina Sharpe, C. Riley Snorton, Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley, and Gloria Wekker.

*Please consult course instructors before purchasing texts.

Description

This seminar, offered in collaboration with the Department of African American Studies and co-taught with Professor Darieck Scott, explores theories and cultures of gender and sexuality from the perspective of black diasporic people. We will focus on the modern and contemporary eras, moving from the 1920s to the present day, but inevitably our texts will ask us to think critically about history and about time—about how the specific fragmentation and lineages of black cultures inform ideas about modernity. The course emphasizes articulations of sexuality and ideas of gender that move beyond those presented as normative. And we will think with critics who have learned from the experiences and practices of black diasporic people about how to articulate subjectivities within and between historical and theoretical traditions—critics such as Hortense Spillers, Cathy Cohen, Roderick Ferguson, Omise'eke Tinsley, Tavia Nyong'o, C. Riley Snorton, and Gloria Wekker, among many others. We'll traverse genres—fiction, poetry, film, television—and we'll think along with the artists and scholars we study about how questions of blackness, sexuality, and gender inform other epistemological categories drawn from such fields as religion, psychology, and geography. Students will write regular short pieces, make in-class presentations, engage with class visitors, and write a final research paper.

This section of English 250 is cross-listed with African American Studies 240 section 1.


Research Seminar: Critique of Capitalism, or Reading Marx Now

English 250

Section: 3
Instructor: Lye, Colleen
Time: W 3-6
Location: 107 Mulford


Book List

Banaji, Jairus: Theory as History; Boggs, James: The American Revolution; Cooper, Melinda: Family Values; Dubois, W.E.B.: Black Reconstruction; Federici, Sylvia: Caliban and the Witch; Marx, Karl: Capital Vol i; Postone, Moishe: Time, Labor and Social Domination;

Recommended: Heinrich, Michael: An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Capital

Other Readings and Media

In addition to the books listed there will also be readings made available on bCourses by Alfred Sohn-Rethel, Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James, Nancy Fraser, Roswitha Scholz, Kevin Floyd, the Endnotes Collective, Lise Vogel, Stuart Hall, Robin D.G. Kelley, Angela Davis, Noel Ignatiev and Theodore Allen, Kevin Anderson, Gavin Walker, Kozo Uno, Au Loong Yu, and others.

Description

Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been a marked revival of interest in Marx and his thought, one that compares to the late 60s and early 70s return to Marx. How is the present day return to Marx a different one from that of global 1968? Today’s rereading of Capital by theorists and critics retrieves the political-economic and dialectical-historical Marx. But for so long now has Marxist cultural criticism defended itself by insisting on the relative autonomy of culture from economy—leaving us with an antinomy between liberation and transformation, art and society—that the payoff of the attention to value production is by no means self-evident. If it is telling that we should be seeing a renewed interest in Marxism among constituencies seeking feminist, antiracist, anticolonial and environmental critiques of capitalism, it’s because a value-theoretical Marxism allows us to ask fundamental questions as to how capital reproduces itself both through and beyond the wage relation—thus, how capital both makes and unmakes classes across modes of production, creates surplus and disposable populations that are racialized and gendered, and requires both unexploited and waste spaces, in its quest to produce value. The first six weeks of this course will be spent reading Capital Vol 1. Then we will acquaint ourselves with some key readings in value form theory (e.g. Michael Heinrich, Moishe Postone, the essays in the collection edited by Neil Larsen et. al., Marxism and the Critique of Value), as a way of transitioning to three points of contemporary focus: social reproduction feminism, racial capitalism, and primitive accumulation and formal subsumption/combined and uneven development as they pertain to theories of imperialism and colonialism. This course is open to beginning and advanced readers of Marx alike. If you’ve wanted a chance to read Capital in a group setting, this is your opportunity, though note that we will be moving fairly quickly through it in order to accommodate its more recent reverberations. (If you would like to spend most of the semester slow-reading Capital, you may want to consider taking my English 177 instead or as a complement). The last three sets of readings (on gender/sexuality, race, imperialism/colonialism) will select for a mix of 20th century thinkers who have demonstrated staying power or more recent thinkers who are opening up new pathways of approach to longstanding concerns.

Note: Please be sure to buy the Penguin edition of Marx’s Capital. 

This course is cross-listed as Critical Theory 240.