Download the complete descriptions of the spring 2019 MA in Literature courses.
This MA-level course explores a variety of interpretative approaches to the study of literature andcomposition. Our central focus this semester will be on composure—especially on finding anequilibrium and a sense of self-command as a professional in the fields of literature and/or composition. Our main initiative will be to develop habits of mind, habits of reading, and habits of analysis that improve our research and presentation skills. Our main goal will be to present our disciplinary knowledge in public forums.
Prevailing canons of American literary realism and regionalism written between the Civil War andthe turn of the century tend to privilege upper-class domestic dramas and quiet local color pieces.But such a picture of postwar American literature elides a fervent of political activism during the incredibly tumultuous periods of Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, and the Progressive Era. This course considers politically committed writings—from Rebecca Harding Davis’s protest against industrialism to Hamlin Garland’s agrarian populism to Frances Harper’s alternative vision of Reconstruction to Mark Twain’s anti-imperialism to Jose Marti’s hemispheric vision—in light of their late nineteenth-century historical contexts in order to rethink what it means to write, and to read, realism.
Next semester, Syrian poet and fiction writer Osama Alomar, a resident at Pittsburgh’s City ofAsylum, will visit campus to present his work at a Six O’Clock Series event on April 8. This classwill be structured around that event, Alomar’s work, and the experiences and work of many other Middle East writers and filmmakers as well. These artists are presenting a first-hand perspective of their lives, one that American media rarely presents even a glimpse of. Yet, we have their marvelous stories and films to learn from. So that’s what we’ll do while also producing two or three short essays and a research paper.
This course explores how a selection of 19th-century British women writers and one contemporarywoman writer (Tracy Chevalier) have changed the way we think about time, morality, science andreligion. We will begin by considering the changes in narrative time and morality occasioned by Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology (1830). Written well before Charles Darwin’s Origins of Species (1859), Lyell’s work had a significant impact on ideas about determinism, moral action, and the afterlife. Women writers were particularly influenced by Lyell’s argument that very slow an gradual change, rather than apocalyptic disaster, characterizes the history of the planet Earth. Lyell’s work energized women to think about the world in new ways that were less dependent on prevailing ideas about sin and salvation than on the possibilities inherent in the imagination and apprehension of plenitude.
ENGL 773/873: Topics in Minority LiteratureAsian American and Asian Diasporic Literature and Criticism
This course examines the dynamic multinational and multiethnic literary tradition of the 20th- and21st-century Asian American and Asian diasporic literature, criticism, and culture in the global context. There is a rich array of literary forms and genres. We will interpret selected novel, autobiography, short story, poetry, drama, and criticism by East Asian, South East Asian, South Asian, West Asian and Asian diasporic male and female writers, artists, and critics. Mediation between form and content, Asia, Asian America, America and the world, our interpretations are situated in the heterogeneous Asian American and Asian diasporic historical, intellectual, cultural, social, and geographical contexts.
This course will focus on the post-9/11 novel from a global perspective including British, Australian,Pakistani, and Middle-Eastern perspectives. Drawing from a range of theoretical discourses includingOrientalism/Neo-Orientalism, Media Theory and Islamophobia studies, the course will consider how the novel responded to the events and aftermath of the events of 9/11. Consideration will be given to the writers’ own ideologies as they confront the attack on American soil as well as the psychological impact on the characters. Students will write two papers—a mid-term and a final—and a presentation on one of the novelists on the list.
Provides an introduction to both the history of the language, and the pedagogy thereof, for currentand future teachers of English. No previous study of linguistics or early languages is expected (butwill certainly be useful). In the course of reviewing the history of English per se, students will critique the various textbooks, etymological dictionaries, and online resources used for teaching this fascinating though intimidating subject (one sometimes derided for its acronym HEL’s similarity to “hell”). Interconnections to literature, composition, rhetoric, TESOL, lexicography, and otherbranches of English studies that are of interest to enrollees will be variously illuminated by the historical linguistics of English.
Download the complete descriptions of the fall 2018 MA in Literature courses.
An introduction to literature for and about young adults. The course emphasizes critical study of the literature and its classification as well as resources and rationales for using young adult literature in the middle, secondary, and college classroom.
This MA-level course addresses several intertwined issues central to success in a graduate English program: professionalization, research techniques, reading and writing disparate academic genres, textual studies and bibliography, and archival work.
What does it mean to be a professional reader of literature? How does the profession work? This course explores these questions with the aim of preparing students to pursue their graduate study as professional training.
A seminar and workshop course in which we’ll focus as pragmatically as possible on current approaches to teaching introductory courses in literature—as informed by recent theory as well as the real constraints of the classroom, the institutional setting,
and the needs of our students and ourselves—and we’ll consider the teaching of literature in non-academic contexts.
What did 19th-century American literature and culture mean to readers then, and what do they mean to us now? How, and why, have 20th- and 21st-century writers, filmmakers, and other artists adapted source material written during the period retroactively
labeled the “American Renaissance”? Just as important, what did these texts mean to their original audiences?
The course will look specifically at adaptations of a selection of Shakespeare’s plays in novel form, focusing in particular on the Hogarth Press that recently commissioned a number of contemporary novelists to rework a Shakespeare play into a contemporary
This course will explore the contemporary long-form graphic novel by placing it in both its historical and global contexts. Core readings will be selected from works published since 2000.
Continually wriggling out of static definition, postmodern literature remains notoriously slippery and difficult to define—yet, in this course we will work to build arguments to support our working definitions of postmodern literature and culture.
This course provides students the opportunity to develop critical understanding of the writers, texts, themes, and methods that comprise the canon—better yet, and with a nod to Beyoncé, the canon in formation—of African American women playwrights and
Areas of Expertise and Interest
British and European Literature 1660–1850 (Restoration, Eighteenth Century, Romanticism, EarlyVictorian); The Rise of the Novel; Women Writers; Intellectual History (Classical Period toEnlightenment); Empiricism; Aesthetics; Feminist Theory;
Thing Theory; Literature of Conquest and Travel Literature; Fairy Tales, Folklore, and Mythology; the Gothic and Literature of theUncanny
Film studies, feminist theory, 20th-century American literature, horror, sci-fi/fantasy, postmodernism, warin film and literature
Critical theory, American literature, cultural studies, institutional critique
Summer 2018 MA in Literature course descriptions
Spring 2018 MA in Literature course descriptions
Fall 2017 MA in Literature course descriptions