New Courses

Fall Semester 2016

LAS-E234 Modern and Contemporary Poetry
Lecturer Sarah Osment
This course will provide students with a foundation in modern and contemporary North American poetry. We will explore poetry as a vehicle for self-expression, thought experiment, political transformation, and world-building, and as a thing in its own right. What do poetic forms have to do with the ways that communities, selves, rights, nation-states and worlds have been reimagined in the modern period? Schools and movements will include: Imagism, Objectivism, the Harlem Renaissance, the Confessionalists, the Black Mountain School, the Beats, the New York School, the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, Conceptualism, Flarf, and experiments in New Media. We will also read from poets who seem to exceed easy categorization-Kathy Acker, Amiri Baraka, Sarah Blake, Cathy Park Hong, Susan Howe, Pamela Lu, Nathaniel Mackey, Fred Moten, Claudia Rankine, Lisa Robertson, Juliana Spahr and John Yau, among others. Rather than represent the range of practices that mark any historical moment, our goal throughout will be to trace particular lines, affiliations and antagonisms across moments within twentieth- and twenty-first century North American verse.
Sophomore and above

LAS-E260 The Detective Novel
Professor Jonathan Highlfield
The game is afoot, so it is time to rely on the little grey cells. In this course we will examine the development of the detective novel in its three primary manifestations – the private eye novel, the procedural novel, and the amateur investigation. We will start out with some classic texts from Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Georges Simenon, then move to contemporary texts, paying particular attention to the way the genre adapts culturally as it moves from Europe and North America into Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The final project will be a collaborative writing project that will result in the class creating its own detective novel.
Sophomore and above

LAS-E317 Precocity and Innocence: Narrating Children’s Consciousness in 19th and 20th Century Literature
Lecturer Elizabeth Brogden
While children have long been objects of literary representation, the practice of depicting children’s consciousness in imaginary literature intended for adults and the advent of literature devoted to captivating the imaginations of children both have relatively recent origins in the nineteenth century. In this course, we will read poems, short stories, and novels that privilege youthful subjectivity between 1850 and 1950 alongside contemporaneous debates about childhood, (im)maturity, and coming of age. We will ask what is at stake in the modern/ist enthusiasm for rendering children’s minds in fiction. To what cultural, political, and discursive uses were children put during this period? What sorts of desires, aspirations, beliefs, and anxieties are disclosed by texts that emphasize “underage” modes of thinking and feeling? How can we understand the significance of childish fears, longings, capacities,and limitations within transatlantic culture in the decades leading up to and immediately following the turn of the twentieth century? We will consider the relationships between childhood and social institutions such as slavery, boarding school, and organized religion, examining how race, gender, socioeconomic status, and geography influenced (and often determined) the experience and duration of childhood in the United States and Britain. Throughout the semester, current theoretical frameworks such as queer temporalities, minor affect, and dependency will orient our discussions of the time and space inhabited by children, and nurtured or vitiated by their guardians, from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.
Sophomore and above

LAS-E319 Frankenstein’s Lab: Weird Science and Mad Scientists in Literature
Lecturer Shannon Zellars-Strohl
Can we prove that ghosts exist? Are aliens going to invade the earth? Will technology destroy humankind? What are scientists *really* experimenting on their laboratories? For centuries writers have explored the weird side of science in literature, exposing a cultural discomfort with scientific advancements and human interventions in nature. From Dr, Jekyll to Dr. Evil, scientists become villains threatening the population with their amoral desire to wield power over human life through experiments in bizarre pseudo-sciences such as mesmerism, vivification, parapsychology, and artificial intelligence. In this course we will read a variety of texts about these fascinating villains and the “weird sciences” they practice.
Sophomore and above

LAS-E410 Intro to Non-Fiction Writing Workshop
Lecturer Phil Eil
So much of the writing we encounter in the world falls under the umbrella of “nonfiction”: memoirs, magazine articles, op-eds, travel narratives, celebrity profiles, true crime stories, biographies, personal essays, restaurant reviews, and more. This course offers an immersive introduction to the genre through reading, writing, and peer-editing assignments. Students will experiment with a number of different forms, including criticism, interviews, personal essays, and reportage. And they will also read the work of authors ranging from all-time masters like George Orwell and Joan Didion, to more contemporary luminaries like Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Sherman Alexie. By the end of the term, students will have not only gained a firm understanding of a branch of literature sometimes called the “art of fact,” they will have also generated a substantial nonfiction portfolio of their own.
Sophomore and above

Wintersession 2017

LAS-C508 Phototextuality: Literatures of the Embedded Image
Lecturer Karen Carr
Photography and Literature are often seen as separate, yet kindred, disciplines, each working to depict, contest, alter, and reframe that which we think of as reality. This course will explore various ideas about the melding of photography and literature by looking at texts that work to create dialogue between the two mediums, as well as theoretical writings that offer ways of contemplating such fusions. We will study texts by writers/photographers such as: Walker Evans, James Agee, W.G. Sebald, Sigmund Freud, Roland Barthes, Teju Cole, John Berger, Sophie Calle, Paul Auster, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Lance Olsen. Students will write several short essays about the readings, as well as a longer project, which will combine photography and writing.
Freshman and above

LAS-E327 Wendell Berry and the Ethics of Land Use
Professor Jonathan Highfield
The Kentucky writer Wendell Berry has created a body of work that examines the interface of the human and the ecological in poetry, fiction, and essays. Berry has developed what William Least Heat Moon calls a “deep map” in a very specific region of Kentucky, moving through time to reveal changing land use and loss of (agri)culture. We will be reading Berry’s work and posing questions about human responsibility and our own relationships to land and home.
Freshman and above

LAS-E384 Colorizing Film: The History of Black Film in the USA
Lecturer Gloria-Jean Masciarotte
This course will be an intense and focused examination of Black filmmaking in the USA. The critical journey will start with early 20th-century films, including those of Oscar Micheaux. We will then continue on to so-called Race films, marching through the L.A. Rebellion/Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers and Blaxploitation films. We will end with current independents, exclusive of Spike Lee and Lee Daniels. We will analyze form, content and theoretical interventions in order to sketch, if not fill in, an artistic, cultural, and political practice that remains in the literal shadows of Hollywood and White film hegemony. You MUST be prepared to screen many films, read critical and theoretical essays, and write thoughtful, cogent papers that will help us center filmmaking practices that are too often decentered.
Freshman and above