Program Courses

Below you'll find descriptions for the courses offered in the MA in Literary & Textual Studies. For more specific course descriptions, see the recent offerings.

ENG 5800 Seminar in British or American Literature: Intensive study of major authors, literary schools, genres, or themes.

ENG 6010 Research Methods: Comprehensive introduction to the field of English and the professional study of literature, rhetoric, and language, with special attention to and practice in using the reference and research tools available to the contemporary teacher, researcher, and theorist.

ENG 6070 Theory and Methods of Literary Criticism: Introduction to some of the major modern theories of literary criticism: historicism, formalism, reader-response, structuralism, poststructuralist, etc. Application of theory to selected works.

ENG 6090 Teaching of Literature: Survey of the ways contemporary literary theory informs and can be applied to the teaching of literature. Relevant to the concerns of junior-high, secondary, and college teachers of literature.

ENG 6750 Seminar in American Culture Studies: Interdisciplinary seminar coordinated in rotation by members of departments of History, English, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and School of Art, using lectures, discussion, and papers to study problem, theme, or era.

ENG 6800 Seminar in English Studies: Systematic study of literary genres or topics (poetry, fiction, drama, comparative literature), modes of literary or rhetorical inquiry, or intensive study of special literary, rhetorical, or creative writing topics.

ENG 6820 Topics in English Studies: Individual or group study of some phase of literature, criticism, rhetoric and writing, or creative writing not ordinarily offered in curriculum.

ENG 6900/6910 Directed Research in English Studies: Individual or group research project in specialized topic in literature, rhetoric and writing, or creative writing supervised by instructor.

ENG 6990 Thesis Research: Credit for thesis study. Enrollment in excess of 6 hours acceptable for Plan I master’s degree, but no more than 6 hours creditable toward degree.

Recent Offerings

Below you'll find course descriptions from some of our department's recent offerings. Please keep in mind that specific seminars will vary each semester, depending on the availability of professors and their specific teaching goals.

ACS 6750/ENG 6750 The 1960s in Contemporary American Culture
Dr. Jolie Sheffer

In contemporary television shows, films, novels, and theater, the Civil Rights era functions in one of two ways: as a golden age, when under-represented groups created powerful coalitions to initiate political change and usher in a new era of equality, or as the moment consensus culture in the U.S. fell apart. Using a variety of sources—fiction by authors such as Sherman Alexie, Frank Chin, Susan Choi, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Maxine Hong Kingston, Philip Roth, Dana Spiotta, Katherine Stockett, and Karen Tei Yamashita; plays by Suzan-Lori Parks and Tony Kushner; the television show Mad Men; films by directors such as Mary Herron, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Kasi Lemmons, and Robert Zemeckis; and other material culture—this course will investigate contemporary fascination with the Civil Rights era as the foundational moment for identity politics. We will investigate how the iconography and activist methods of an earlier era are mobilized to express the desires and disappointments of the late-twentieth and early twenty-first-centuries. Such contemporary popular fictions reveal at least as much about the needs and wishes of the current moment than they provide insights about the decades in which they are set.

The final assignment for the course will include an Omeka-based Digital Curation project using archival materials from Jerome library’s special collections. These primary texts will be contextualized with secondary research to capture the complexity of 1960s culture, with regard to issues such as Vietnam and anti-war movement, feminism, counterculture, civil rights and third world movements, and environmentalism. The class will create a Digital Exhibit that will be published on the Library’s website, in its Digital Galleries. This course provides real-world Digital Humanities experience, which is especially useful for students of English, American Culture Studies, and Popular Culture.

ENG 6800 Undercurrents of the 1950s
Dr. Bill Albertini

One popular image of the US in the years following WWII is of national contentment in brilliant technicolor: baby-booming nuclear families thriving in white picket fence suburbs, the triumph of American industries, fervent patriotism, and a social fabric knitted together by safe television programming, normative gender roles, and the wholesome pleasures of early rock n’ roll. In such a narrative, the post-war years between 1945 and the early 1960s were the happy, orderly years before the rise of the counterculture and the (welcome or regretted) turmoil of the later 1960s and 1970s.

In fact, the two decades following the end of WWII were already roiling with contradictions, desperation, resentment, rebellion, and forbidden desires. We’ll look closely at those two decades--what we might call the "long 1950s"-- examining the ways that writers and artists responded to the pleasures, demands, restrictions, injustices, and anxieties of the era in sometimes overt--and often covert--ways. We will explore a range of works include fiction, poetry, film (both Hollywood and avant-garde), television, and visual art.  

We will learn about the history of the time period, and we’ll explore different theoretical approaches that help us to illuminate that past. Our goal will be to help ourselves ask interesting questions of, and propose interesting ideas about, the works that we examine in the course.

ENG 6800 Palestinian Conflict in Film
Dr. Khani Begum

Employing Edward Said’s, The Question of Palestine to foreground the Palestinian conflict, this course explores how both documentary and feature films by Palestinian and Israeli directors present the impact of the ongoing Palestinian conflict on the lives of ordinary Palestinian and Israeli citizens. Questions explored include: what are the long-term effects of national/cultural trauma, particularly trauma extending across several generations, how does film voice contentious positions on the conflict, what role does art/film play in healing trauma, what global ramifications does the Palestinian conflict pose for the future of geopolitical relationships? Readings include essays in postcolonial, film, and trauma theories as well as Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma, and Memory by Nurith Gertz and George Khleifi and Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema edited by Hamid Dabashi, and select graphic novels. Assignments include position papers, discussion leading, and a final research creative project or a Community Engagement Service Learning Project with US Together Syrian Refugee Assistance Organization in Toledo.

ENG 6800/WS 6800 Raging Women: Then and Now
Dr. Kim Coates

This graduate level seminar will examine aesthetic, social, historical, and political representations of female aggression, rage, volatility, anger, “hysteria,” and/or “madness” both past and present. Texts to be examined will include Sophocles’ Antigone, the activism and writings of the militant suffragettes, literary fiction such as Emily Holmes Coleman’s The Shutter of Snow and Vanessa Veselka’s Zazen, female performance artists like Annie Sprinkle, second wave feminist texts like Valerie Solanas’ Scum Manifesto, more recent novels/films like The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, The Babadook as well as musical artists/activists/performers such as Pussy Riot and Riot Grrrl. Using the work of women psychoanalysts such as Melanie Klein, Helen Deutsch, Héléne Cixous’, and Luce Irigaray, as well as contemporary feminist theories addressing anger, aggression, negative affects, and rage in women—Sianne Ngai’s Ugly Feelings, Maud Lavin’s Push Comes to Shove: New Images of Aggressive Women, Virginie Despentes’ King Kong Theory, and others—the course will think through the relationship between earlier representations of angry women and the contemporary moment in which we are seeing an ever multiplying number of angry, alcoholic, and sometimes destructive women depicted in popular media, film, and literature. As we analyze the cultural anxieties circulating in these texts and explore various forms of female agency, oppression, revolt and resistance, we will create a genealogy of female rage and discuss both the specificity of that rage to any given social, political, and historical context while also examining the consistencies and inconsistencies we find between past and present representations.

ENG 6800 Shakespeare and Adaptation
Dr. Stephannie Gearhart

Since the early seventeenth century, countless artists have adapted William Shakespeare’s work in order to suit the aesthetic tastes and social sensibilities of their cultures. Why, we might wonder, have so many authors chosen to rework Shakespeare’s plays, many of which are themselves adaptations? What are the most fruitful theoretical models to turn to when discussing the relationship between the so-called “original” Shakespearean text and adaptations of it?

Treating adaptations both as intimately linked to the “original” Shakespearean plays and as works in their own right, in ENG 6800 we will examine how adaptations from the seventeenth century to the present have critiqued the Bard’s work and addressed contemporary issues. The course readings will include plays by Shakespeare and adaptations of those plays that span a wide range of time, genres, and cultures. To aid us in our study of adaptation, we will read the works of theorists Linda Hutcheon, Mark Fortier, Roland Barthes, and Michel Foucault, among others.

Ultimately, we will seek to develop a working definition of the term ‘adaptation’ and ask questions such as: Are prequels and sequels adaptations? How is the notion of the “original” or “source” text complicated by Shakespearean adaptations? Is the belief that the Bard’s work is “universal” confirmed or challenged by adaptations? And, how does Shakespeare’s high culture status affect responses to adaptations of his work?

ENG 6820 Medieval Cultural Studies
Dr. Erin Labbie

A seminar that examines the ways that different theoretical methodologies (psychoanalysis, Marxism(s), feminism(s), queer theory, film studies, sound studies, globalization, and aesthetic theories, etc.), influence the ways that we read and consider literary and cultural texts, concepts, and ideas from the long Middle Ages. Periodicity, authority, sovereignty, secularism, and the politics of temporality will be addressed within the context of a focus on the voice and the gaze in medieval literature and cultural objects read within a global perspective.