Announcement of Classes: Spring 2021


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.


Topics in the History of the English Language: A Linguistic Perspective on Variation and Change in a Modern English Metrical Tradition

English 201B

Section: 1
Instructor: Hanson, Kristin
Time: TTh 12:30-2
Location:


Other Readings and Media

For primary texts, all the poems we’ll look at together -- of Petrarch, Marot, Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, Tennyson, Swinburne, Hopkins, Virgil and Cædmon -- will be made available on bCourses.  For students’ individual projects, good editions of the relevant texts will be needed, but we’ll talk about that in class.

For secondary texts, we’ll start with a manuscript of a book of my own, "An Art that Nature Makes":  A Linguistic Perspective on a Meter in English, which will be made available on bCourses.  Other readings will also be made available on bCourses as they come up.

George Saintsbury’s A History of English Prosody from the Twelfth Century to the Present Day (3 vols.) is always a delightful if sometimes opaque accompaniment to metrical study, but it is available online, and at the outset, at least, probably best consulted bit by bit.

Description

This course is not about the history of the English language itself, but rather about meter, conceptualized as a linguistic literary form with an internal history of its own, shaped by language and the mind’s capacity for language.  The focus will be on modern English, with reference to other meters insofar as modern English meters are related to them.  We will begin with the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare's Sonnets, which sits at the core of the modern English metrical tradition, and affords a well-worked out example of how to conceptualize a meter as a linguistic literary form.  We will then turn to where that meter came from, and where it went.  We’ll consider Romance sources in Petrarch and Marot, and English predecessors in Wyatt, Surrey and Sidney; some immediate successors, including different versions of iambic pentameter elsewhere in Shakespeare, and in Marlowe and Donne; and finally, more radical departures in Tennyson and Swinburne, and in Hopkins’ Sprung Rhythm, together with Classical and Old English antecedents of these meters.  None of this is intended to be a history, so much as to suggest how to think about pieces of one; and the main purpose of it is to help students conceptualize and contextualize meter(s) of poet(s) they themselves are studying.  A sequence of assignments designed to support that will be the principal requirement of the course, leading to a final paper.  No prior training in linguistics or in the languages of other meters we’ll discuss is required.  


Graduate Readings: Realism

English 203

Section: 1
Instructor: Duncan, Ian
Time: MW 10:30-12
Location:


Description

Realism achieves critical mass in England in 1856: the year George Eliot turned to writing fiction. Reviewing Ruskin’s Modern Painters, Eliot comments: "The truth of infinite value that he teaches is realism – the doctrine that all truth and beauty are to be attained by a humble and faithful study of nature." A hundred years later, the term acquires massive critical heft in studies in the novel – even as it splinters into an array of different, often vigorously contested uses and meanings. Realism is “a hybrid concept, in which an epistemological claim (for knowledge or truth) masquerades as an aesthetic ideal, with fatal consequences for both of these incommensurable dimensions” (Fredric Jameson); it depicts “the organic, indissoluble connection between man as a private individual and man as a social being” (Georg Lukács); it constitutes the “real” as “an object of desire and… therefore, necessarily, [as] a fantasy” (Audrey Jaffe); it persuades readers to “relinquish a beautiful fantasy and face a discomforting truth about the inadequacy of their own material existence” – by showing them that “the possible [is], after all, desirable” (Grace Lavery); it is “a speculative, abstract, nonmimetic form amenable to formalist address” which “mediates and theorizes the making of worlds” (Anna Kornbluh); by “[wobbling] between the antinomy of fictionality and reference, [it splits] off a seemingly infinite number of worlds” (Elaine Freedgood).  

We will bring these and other claims on, for, and against realism to bear on the nineteenth-century novel, the canonical vehicle of a realist aesthetic. We’ll consider the period's major genres of realist fiction – the Bildungsroman, the historical novel, and the novel of provincial life – within and also beyond the (soi-disant) core Anglo-French tradition. Alongside them, we’ll read some of the classic accounts of realism (Lukács, Eric Auerbach, Ian Watt) as well as more recent accounts, by Jameson, Lauren Goodlad, Freedgood, Kornbluh, et al, and in the recent collections Peripheral Realisms, ed. Jed Esty and Colleen Lye (MLQ, 2012), and Worlding Realisms, ed. Goodlad (Novel, 2016). 

Novels include (a provisional selection): Jane Austen, Emma; Walter Scott, Redgauntlet; Hannah Crafts, The Bondwoman’s Narrative; Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary; Charles Dickens, Great Expectations; Bankim Chatterjee, Rajmohan’s Wife; María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Who Would Have Thought It?; George Eliot, Middlemarch


Graduate Readings: "A dream of passion": Affects in the Renaissance Theater

English 203

Section: 2
Instructor: Landreth, David
Time: MW 12-1:30
Location:


Book List

Beaumont, F.: The Knight of the Burning Pestle; Beaumont & Fletcher: A King and No King; Dekker, T.: The Shoemaker's Holiday; Heywood, T.: A Woman Killed with Kindness; Jonson, B.: Bartholomew Fair; Kyd, T.: The Spanish Tragedy; Marlowe, C.: Edward II; Middleton & Rowley: The Changeling; Shakespeare, W.: As You Like It; Shakespeare, W.: Coriolanus; Shakespeare, W.: Hamlet; Shakespeare, W.: Macbeth; Shakespeare, W.: The Winter's Tale

Description

This class studies the production of feeling on and around the early modern stage. We'll consider a range of vocabularies for the experience of theatrical feeling, from Aristotle's theory of purgative pleasure, to the medical-ecological model of the humors and passions, to contemporary analyses of cognition and affect in performance environments. A central question will be what it might have meant for early modern theatergoers to share space with a fiction, and how that site of embodied fellow-feeling makes the theater a privileged instance of the relationship between art and its audience. About half our plays will be by Shakespeare and half by his major contemporaries; the booklist here is tentative, so don't buy any of them before the start of the semester (though Hamlet is a pretty safe bet). As the texts date between 1590 and 1620, students may use the class to fulfill either the English department's medieval-to-1600 coverage requirement or its 1600-1800 requirement. 


Graduate Readings: Radical Enlightenment

English 203

Section: 3
Instructor: Goldstein, Amanda Jo
Time: W 2-5
Location: Zoom


Book List

Adorno and Horkheimer: Dialectic of Enlightenment; Büchner, Georg: Danton's Death; Carpentier, Alejo: The Kingdom of this World; Diderot: Supplement to the Voyage of Bouganville and D'Alembert's Dream; Equiano, Olaudah: The Interesting Life; James, CLR: Toussaint Louverture; La Mettrie: Machine Man and Other Writings; Lucretius: De Rerum Natura; Mee and Fallon, eds.: Romanticism and Revolution: A Reader; Spinoza: Ethics; Sterne, Lawrence: A Sentimental Journey; Thelwall, John: The Daughter of Adoption

Other Readings and Media

To be distributed through the course website:

Primary poetry, prose and theory, including: Blake, William, Visions of the Daughters of Albion; John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative of a Five Years' Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam; Immanuel Kant, "An Answer to the Question, What is Enlightenment?"; Jean Le Rond D'Alembert, "Preliminary Discourse" to the Encyclopedia; Erasmus Darwin, The Economy of Vegetation; J.G. Herder, "On the Sensation and Cognition of the Human Soul,"; Eliza Haywood, "Fantomina, or, Love in a Maze"; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract; exerpts from the 1790s pamphlet wars (Price, Burke, Paine, Wolstonecraft) and the ultra-radical press.

History, cricism and theory, including: Louis Althusser, Giles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, Sylvia Wynter, Hortense Spillers, Jürgen Habermas, Donna Haraway, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Michael Warner, Saidiya Hartman, Warren Montag, Margaret Jacob, Jonathan Israel, Sunil Agnani, Doris Garraway, Natania Meeker, Monique Allewaert, Marcus Wood, Dana Simmons, Srinivas Aravamudan, Susan Buck-Morss, Jan Golinski, Adom Getachew,

 

 

 

Description

Channeling the voice of his own Enlightened despot, Kant’s famous answer to the question “What is Enlightenment?” included the chilling injunction to “argue as much as you want and about whatever you want, only obey!” In Foucault’s hands, the limit-setting project of Kantian critique yields a positively transgressive “limit-attitude,” yet Foucault is also quite clear that this ethos must turn away from “all projects that claim to be global or radical.” This seminar, on the contrary, turns toward the “radical” pretenses and partisans of Enlightenment – the heretical ontologies, clandestine associations, violent enthusiasms, trans-Atlantic crosscurrents, and hubristic linkages between philosophy and material freedom – against which the canonical statements of Enlightenment liberalism were wrought. What do radical and minoritarian versions of Enlightenment have to teach us about the stakes and limits of the renewed yearning, in contemporary political life, for something like civil, public discourse? What less familiar relationships between reason and emancipation, personal and collective freedom, revolutionary and colonizing violence, revisionary historiography and radical pedagogy, do they imagine? 

With an eye toward the fictional forms (dreams, dialogues, voyages) that often convey extreme ideas and illicit desires, and keeping in mind the partiality of the textual archive as a record of mass aspirations and casualties, this course will survey some English, German, French and Carribbean expressions of the radical strains in Enlightenment, as scholars from CLR James to Louis Althusser and Srinivas Aravamudan have sought to theorize their ideas and effects. We will study Lucretius and Spinoza in their clandestine Enlightenment circulation and “new materialist” popularity; examine the spread of “Jacobin” science through dissenting societies and public entertainments; trace, with anti-colonial historiographers, the non-European agents and places that shaped Enlightenment from the inside and put its propositions to unauthorized use; and evaluate Enlightenment in Romantic radicalizations and retrospects, asking, with nineteenth-century people, to what extent ideas and their print media authored the American, French and Haitian Revolutions.

Readings will be assigned in English translation, but students are encouraged to obtain and read original language editions if they wish.


Graduate Readings: Philosophical Contexts for Modernist Poetry

English 203

Section: 4
Instructor: Altieri, Charles F.
Time: TTh 2-3:30
Location:


Book List

Clark, Andy: Supersizing the Mind; Heidegger, Martin: Introduction to Metaphysics; Heidegger, Martin: Poetry Language Thought; James, William: Radical Empiricism; Noe, Alva: Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature; Wittgenstein, Ludwig: Philosophical Investigations;

Recommended: Barthes, Roland: Critical Essays; Elliot, T.S: Knowledge and Experience in the Thought of F.H. Bradlley

Other Readings and Media

There will be elaborate readings in bcourses at least for Hegel, Bradley, various theorists, the poets and painters, and one book not yet chosen on how most philosophers now think about consciousness (which I think art and poetry allow us to contest, or demand us to contest).

Description

This course will concentrate on supplementary readings that help give context and significance to Modernist writing.  It will begin with William James and F.H. Bradley on the concept of experience as an alternative to Romantic ideals of subjective expression.  There will be an interlude where we discuss Picasso's recastings of Cezanne in terms foregrounding tensions between construction and fidelity to nature or "realization."  Then we will spend some time with Hegel's Lectures in Aesthetics in order to get clear on his ideal of inner sensuousness and the appeal of abstraction as exploring new kinds of concreteness in the arts.  Then Heidegger and Wittgenstein will provide exciting frameworks for talking about the kinds of languages that can be foregrounded in imaginative work.  We may have a class devoted to Roland Barthes in order to dramatize how fascination can be a plausible ideal for art that avoids moralism.  And I want to study Alva Noe, Andy Clark, and David Chalmers in order to develop an ability to elaborate the consequences of contemporary anti-Cartesian approaches to the study of consciousness.  And there will be at least one section reading Lyn Hejinian as theorist along with essays on Karen Barard.  There will be some classes on Marianne Moore, Myna Loy, and Wallace Stevens highlighting specific works.  And we may have each student report on what the student thinks is an important context for the study of this material.  I realize now all teaching seems to me involved in making clear the stakes involved in human actions or powers of observation and analysis.  This course addresses the stakes in reading Modernism now.


The Renaissance: 17th Century Through Milton

English 246D

Section: 1
Instructor: Picciotto, Joanna M
Time: TTh 11-12:30
Location:


Description

A straightforward survey of seventeenth-century literature, emphasizing breadth not depth and reading rather than writing. Poetry will be our focus, but we'll also sample some prophetic and political literature of the civil war period.

Readings will be available on the course site. Authors include John Donne, Robert Herrick, Lucy Hutchinson, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, Anna Trapnell, Gerard Winstanley, and Mary Wroth. You'll have a choice of short assignments.


Research Seminars: Literature, Communism, Fascism

English 250

Section: 1
Instructor: Lee, Steven S.
Time: Tues. 3:30-6:30
Location:


Book List

Boye, K.: Kallocain; Platonov, A.: The Foundation Pit; Seghers, A.: Transit; Weiss, P.: The Aesthetics of Resistance, Volume 1; West, N.: The Day of the Locust; Wright, R.: Native Son

Description

“Humankind, which once, in Homer, was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, has now become one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached the point where it can experience its own annihilation as a supreme aesthetic pleasure. Such is the aestheticizing of politics, as practiced by fascism. Communism replies by politicizing art.”

The starting point for this course is Walter Benjamin's famous distinction from the late 1930s between the aestheticized politics of fascism and the politicized art of communism. The course will begin by exploring how Benjamin, other members of the Frankfurt School and their interlocutors understood this distinction as well as the broader relationship between aesthetics and politics. The course will then turn to a series of keywords--e.g., "Avant-Garde," "Epic," "Machine," "Masses," "Race," "Realism"--that at times will bring into greater focus, and at others will complicate, the opposition of communism and fascism. Throughout the semester we will discuss what lessons the interwar period might have to offer amid the renewed political and aesthetic extremes of the present day.

The course will explore a wide range of texts, most of which will be made available online: for instance, films by Sergei Eisenstein and Leni Riefenstahl, poems by Bertolt Brecht and Ezra Pound, and novels by Karin Boye and Richard Wright. 

Since the reading list may change, please don't purchase texts until after the first meeting.


Research Seminars: Autotheory

English 250

Section: 2
Instructor: Best, Stephen M.
Time: Note new time: M 3-6
Location:


Book List

Berlant and Stewart: The Hundreds; Clark, T.J.: The Sight of Death; Eribon, Didier: Returning to Reims; Hartman, Saidiya: Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments; Keene, John: Counternarratives; Nelson, Maggie: The Argonauts; Preciado, Paul: Testo Junkie; Sharpe, Christina: In the Wake; Stewart, Katie: Ordinary Affects; Wilderson, Frank: Afropessimism

Description

There is very little criticism we could point to today that purposely flies under the banner of “theory.” This course will explore one variant that does—autotheory—the name given to work that, in one form or another, stages the encounter between first person narration and theory as an established body of contemporary thought. In the hands of Kathleen Stewart or Maggie Nelson, autotheory connects affect to everyday life; in that of Christina Sharpe or Frank Wilderson, it attends to the resonant landscape between the personal and the historical. However rigorously or sketchily defined, one may well wonder what is behind this placement of the self at the center of critical theory, considering how thoroughly a previous generation of poststructuralists critiqued the individual as a self-authorizing ground of discourse. We will respond to that concern by exploring autotheory’s various idioms: forms of attention and intimacy; the ordinary (i.e., acceptance of the everyday as a zone of theoretical activity; the critical desire to remain, as the poet Claudia Rankine put it, “in the quotidian of disturbance”); the commitment to avoid theoretical shorthand that telegraph experience into the limited terms of a totalizing system, and to developing modes of address adequate to their objects (i.e., the effort, as Stewart writes, “not to finally ‘know’ [the uncertain objects of ordinary affect] but to fashion some form of address that is adequate to their form”). At another level of generality, autotheoretical works are often experiments in academic form—a style of academic writing intent to bypass the conventions of academic writing. Acknowledging that a basic task of the graduate seminar is to “discipline” students in the forms of academic writing, we will also inquire into whether (and how) this body of writing, characterized by self-reflexivity and late-stage career adjustment, remains pertinent to scholarly lives in the spring of their formation.

The course reading is likely to include the following: Lauren Berlant and Katie Stewart, The Hundreds; T.J. Clark, The Sight of Death; Didier Eribon, Returning to Reims; Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments; John Keene, Counternarratives; Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts; Paul B. Preciado, Testo Junkie; Christina Sharpe, In the Wake; Katie Stewart, Ordinary Affects; Michael Taussig, Walter Benjamin’s Grave; Frank Wilderson, Afropessimism. In addition, we will trace the relevant genealogies in psychoanalysis, feminism, the black radical tradition, and critical theory (Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Frantz Fanon), as well as autotheory’s relation to New Narrative and autofiction.


Research Seminars: Freud and His Followers

English 250

Section: 3
Instructor: Saha, Poulomi
Time: Thurs. 3:30-6:30
Location: Social Sciences 170


Other Readings and Media

 

 

 

Description

 

This course looks at the development of psychoanalysis as a therapeutic practice and critical methodology in the humanities. We will take up some of its foundational questions -- What is a body? What is the social? What do women want? What is the self? What is history? -- through an examination of Freud's key writings and concepts and those of his commentators. More than intellectual geneology, this course will trace the antecendents and future possibilities of psychoanalytic thinking in feminist, queer, trans, and critical race theories. 

Readings may include: Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Civilization and Its Discontents, Papers on Technique, “The Uncanny,” and “Negation”;  by his interlocutors, Lacan, Ferenczi, Klein, and Abraham; critical work by Fanon, Butler, Sedgwick, Salamon, Gherovici, Marriott, and Spillers.

 


Collaborative Research Seminar: Beauty

English 298

Section: 1
Instructor: Hale, Dorothy J.
Time:
Location:


Other Readings and Media

Request syllabus for course readings.  Most readings will be on b-courses.

Description

Townsend Center Collaborative Research Seminar

Tuesdays, 3-6 PM, Geballe Room, Townsend Center (or via Zoom , TBA).  Enrollment by Application

Participating Faculty:

Jacob Dalton, South and Southeast Asian Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Buddhist Studies

James Davies, Music

Dorothy Hale,  English

Victoria Kahn, Comparative Literature and English

Niklaus Largier, Comparative Literature and German

Alan Tansman, East Asian Languages and Cultures

 

Description:

Beauty: a topic both ubiquitous and perplexing. This Townsend Center Collaborative Research Seminar approaches beauty from multiple disciplines and through a wide variety of materials: literature, the visual and performative arts, aesthetic theory, philosophy, and religion.  Our aim is to investigate the value and function that has been assigned to beauty in different humanist contexts, to explore possible bases of commonality and influence, and to consider whether beauty has or should be a key critical term for contemporary scholarship.

In the first half of the term, the faculty seminar members will lead sessions related to their research expertise.  Topics will be drawn from readings in Plato, Kant, Tibetan Buddhism, Bach, Japanese photography, novelistic aesthetics, and others. In the second half of the term, seminar sessions will be split between invited outside speakers, whose work takes up the problem of beauty or of aesthetics more generally, and the graduate student seminar members, who will collaboratively design their own seminar sessions on topics of their choice.  Participating outside speakers include Rob Marks, Richard Moran, Jane Newman, Alex Rehding, and David Shulman.  Hannah Ginsborg will also join us for a session.

Requirements: Regular attendance and reading; the collaborative design and leadership of one seminar session; a final essay.

Application: This seminar is open to graduate students in any year of the Ph.D. program.  To apply, please submit a paragraph that describes why you are interested in joining the seminar and a list of courses that you have taken (at Berkeley or elsewhere) that might relate to the work of the seminar.  If you have other experience that is relevant, feel free to list that as well.  Please email these materials to any one of the participating faculty by December 1, 2020.  A draft syllabus can be requested by emailing a participating faculty member.

Accepted students enroll for the course through the 298 Independent Study option offered through the home departments of participating faculty.