Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Fall 2015
Home > Graduate > Courses > Fall 2015

ENG 801. Introduction to Graduate Studies
Professor Zarena Aslami
Monday, 4:10 – 7:00 pm                             

This course introduces graduate students to current conversations about the academic profession, recent critical interventions in the study of literature, culture, and history, and the practical skills necessary to conduct research. Together, these components are designed to support students as they embark on a graduate career in English. The critical component of the course is organized around some keywords and theoretical approaches that have focalized recent scholarship in the discipline of English. As we engage theoretically with the readings, we will also discuss how they open up pedagogically, metacritically, and professionally. Students will be introduced to print and digital archives. Requirements will include research, writing, and presentation projects.

ENG 813. Literatures in English before 1800: Hamlet and Early Modern Literary Scholarship
Professor Stephen Deng
Tuesday, 7:10 – 10:00 pm

This course focuses on arguably the most famous work of literature in the English language, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in order to examine the current state of scholarship in early modern literary studies and literary studies more broadly. In effect, rather than read Hamlet through a variety of critical lenses, we will “read” the critical contexts through the lens of Hamlet as a touchstone of early modern literature. We will first examine the early texts themselves – the two quartos and the folio version – in order to raise long-standing questions about the early modern publication process, the development of the idea of a literary author, relations between text and performance, the complex task of modern editing of Shakespearean texts, and the idea of textual “authenticity.” We will then look at an array of scholarship on Hamlet, from early- to mid-twentieth century “classics” of criticism, to studies “after theory” including poststructuralist, Marxist, psychoanalytic, feminist, and ethical approaches, to a broad historicist and materialist body of criticism considering political, legal, religious, economic and other “con-texts” for the play, to recent interests in cognitive, digital, ecological, political-theological, affective, etc. approaches. In conjunction with criticism on Hamlet, we will examine adaptations and works inspired by Hamlet, such as Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine, and Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well, as well as film versions of the play by Laurence Olivier, Franco Zeffirelli, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Almereyda, and Gregory Doran. By the end of the course we will consider the future of early modern literary studies, especially the apparent “return” to theory, and how Hamlet might inform these new critical contexts.

ENG 818, Section 001. Studies in Genre and Media: Narrative and Popular Culture Studies
Professor Gary Hoppenstand
Wednesday, 7:10 – 10:00 pm

This course will offer various theoretical and methodological perspectives of popular narrative entertainment in the 19th and 20th centuries. As entertainment is typically classified under the general heading of popular culture, the field of popular culture studies is very wide and quite extensive. Some scholars, such as Ray Browne, see popular culture as extending back to the origins of human civilization, as encompassing virtually everything in our lives, from the clothes we wear, to what we eat, to where we live and, of course, to what entertains us.

Naturally, such a broad interpretation is too much to handle in a single class, so our focus will be on entertainment following the Industrial Revolution at the turn-of-the-19th century in America, including story papers, dime novels, pulp magazines, comic strips and comic books, vaudeville, popular film, early commercial radio, and television.

In addition, we further narrow our examination of entertainment culture in American society (with one exception, namely vaudeville) to narrative, or story-based entertainments. Entertainment, technically, could potentially cover a much, much wider field (including board games, contemporary popular music, the internet and video games, to list but a few examples) but, again, including all examples and dimensions of entertainment would extend well beyond the scope of a 15-week course of study. Thus, we focus on storytelling in entertainment, how various categories of stories and mass-produced storytelling have entertained us over the past 200 years.

ENG 819, Section 001. Special Topics: Literature and Psychology Colloquium: Cognition, History, and Fictions of Mind
Professor Natalie Phillips
Tuesday, 4:10 – 7:00 pm

This seminar interweaves three interdisciplinary fields in literary theory: psychology and literature; the literary history of mind; and cognitive approaches to the arts. Discussing texts from the medieval to the post-modern, we use pivotal moments of engagement in the literary and scientific history of the mind/brain to engage a key set of theoretical questions. How and when does literature engage—or critique—contemporary theories of mind, and how do these literary depictions of thought and emotion shift across historical periods, authors, genre, and media? What can psychological theory (or studies) offer to us as literary scholars, and what, in turn, can interdisciplinary studies of literature tell us about cognition? How, when, and where can we make intellectual use of these connections with critical responsibility and rigor? Throughout, we will read key works in literature, psychology, and cognitive approaches to fiction, from long-standing figures in the field (Freud, Jung, Foucault) to more recent additions (Zunshine, Starr, Vermeule, Richardson), exploring the advantages—and profound challenges—of integrating work in psychology and cognitive science with literary history. At key moments, faculty from across the department will join us to lead discussion on a subject of interest, allowing us to discuss topics from Jane Austen’s use of contemporary theories of head injury in Persuasion to the Victorian neuropsychology of reading, from Stein's theory of automatic writing to today's neo-neural metaphorics of disability. The seminar will conclude by exploring recent work in the neuroscience of reading, teaching students how to use scientific databases, such as PubMed, to find (and critique) recent studies in neurobiology, developmental psychology, cognitive linguistics, neurocinematics, and cognitive aesthetics. Alongside their final historical research paper, students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively to brainstorm and design an interdisciplinary experiment that uses technologies from cognitive science—such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), EEG, or eye-tracking—to explore a central question about literary reading.


ENG 449/820, Section 001. Race, Ethnicity, and Literature: Decoloniality, Diaspora, and the Human
Professor Yomaira Figueroa
Wednesday, 4:10 – 7:00 pm

This course will serve as a meditation on three distinct and intersecting areas of study:
theories of the human, diaspora studies, and theories of decoloniality. We will begin the
semester with a consideration of writings on the human and the human condition
from the lens of key heretical and Enlightenment thinkers. We will then draw connections to
practices and experiences in and of diaspora by reading foundational texts in diaspora studies.
The final part of the course will undertake an analysis of fundamental texts in decolonial theory and
practice which, at their center, engage in theories of the human, modernity, and diasporan consciousness.
This course should be of interest to students engaging in transdisciplinary approaches to literary and
cultural theory, critical approaches to global theories of decoloniality, theories of the human as tied
to bodies of color and in particular queer and gendered bodies, and students who are interested in
epistemology from the “underside of humanity.” In addition to the required texts we will
read pieces in the fields of Diaspora Studies, Critical Race Theory, Decoloniality, Religious Studies,
History, and Feminist Philosophy.


FLM 400/ENG 820. Section 002. Seminar in Film History: Film and Architecture
Professor Justus Nieland
Monday, 12:40-3:30; Wednesday, 12:40-2:30 | 307 Ernst Bessey Hall

This course explores the relationship between film and architecture, and various histories of crossings between these media. We will consider cinema’s architectural qualities: the specific capacity of film to construct, organize, and sequence space, and to move spectators through space in time. We will examine the work of directors whose films are strongly interested in architecture, design, and transformations in the built environment, as well as the work of architects and designers who have worked in and with film, and have embedded their architecture and design practice in various cultures of the moving image.  We will explore the relationship between directors, art directors, and production designers in the construction of cinematic architecture, as well as the history of the architecture of the film studio itself. We will study films that foreground important works of architecture. And we will consider the role of film and multimedia in the artistic construction of immersive “environments.” While the course will place special emphasis on modern and contemporary architecture, we will consider a range of styles and idioms. Readings will be drawn from film theory and history, urban history and planning, architectural and design history and theory, sociology, and art history. Readings would likely include the work of Donald Albrecht, Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Giuliana Bruno, Beatriz Colomina, John Harwood, Sigfried Giedeon, Jane Jacobs, Henri Lefebvre, Reinhold Martin, Marshall McLuhan, Merrill Schleier, Fred Turner, Pam Wojcik, and Anthony Vidler.

Films might include:

L’Inhumaine (Marcel L’Herbier, 1924)

Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)

Conical Intersect (Gordon Matta-Clark, 1975)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997)

The Lonely Villa (D.W. Griffith, 1909)

Antonio Gaudí (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1985)

The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1959)

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchock, 1954)

Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard. 1963)

Old and New (The General Line) (Sergei Eisenstein, 1929)

Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies, 1936)

Grey Gardens (Ellen Hovde and Albert Maysles, 1975)

Panic Room (David Fincher, 2002)

Executive Suite (Robert Wise, 1954)

Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendoca Filho, 2012)

Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)

House: After Five Years of Living (Charles and Ray Eames, 1955)

The Big Lebowski (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1998)

The Big Clock (John Farrow, 1948)

London (Patrick Keiller, 1994)

Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Anderson, 2003)

The Naked City (Jules Dassin 1948)

Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

The Moon is Blue (Otto Preminger, 1953)

Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

Still Life (Jia Zhangke, 2006)