Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Fall 2012
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ENG 801: Intro to Graduate Studies

Professor Zarena Aslami

Monday, 4:10-7pm

This course introduces graduate students to ongoing 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 keywords and methodologies that have focalized recent scholarship in the discipline of English, with a particular emphasis on theories of power, liberalism, and capitalism. That is, while designed to introduce students to a range of current approaches and critical problems, the course will thematize such concepts as sovereignty, biopower, and globalization and their relationships to cultural formation. As we engage theoretically with the readings, we will also discuss how they open up pedagogically, metacritically, and professionally. Students will be introduced to using the library and using both print and digital archives. Requirements will include individual and group research, writing, and presentation projects.


ENG 813: Cultural Translation in the Early Modern Period: Theory and Practice

Professor Jyotsna Singh

Thursday, 4:10-7pm

The term “cultural translation” has increasingly been deployed in the humanities and social sciences as a way of mapping processes of interaction -- linguistic, social, and religious, among others -- between different cultures within a global dimension.  We generally consider cultural globalization in contemporary terms, but in this course we will examine both a clash and cross-pollination between cultures within a longer historical frame, mostly focusing on early modern works. This period not only saw a profusion of European translations of classical texts, but also a rise of vernaculars and translations between them.  Furthermore, its cultural framework was also shaped by contacts with non-European peoples and languages. Among issues to be covered will be the processes of linguistic translation -- both from European antiquity and from non-European languages -- the effects of colonial exploration and expansion, as well as the accompanying exchange of ideas, commodities, and languages over different regions and porous boundaries. 


ENG 819: Americans in Paris: Modernity and Expatriate Literature

Professor Ellen McCallum

Tuesday, 4:10-7pm

This course will examine the texts of Americans living in Paris in the long twentieth century, the century often called "the American century". While Americans have been looking to Paris ever since Benjamin Franklin appealed to the French to help finance the Revolutionary War, the significance of Paris in the twentieth century for American culture is both special and multifarious. If Paris was, as Walter Benjamin called it, the "capital of the nineteenth century," how does that importance persist or change in the twentieth century, especially for Americans, whose country supplanted France and Britain in global influence in the twentieth century? What role(s) did Paris play in the shaping of the American literary and cultural imagination? Why was it necessary to be an American in Paris (as opposed, say, to New York or San Francisco or St. Louis; or London, Madrid, or Berlin) in order to write, create, innovate? What forces--cultural, aesthetic, historical, and social--brought Americans to Paris? From Gertrude Stein to David Sedaris, or Edith Wharton to Adam Gopnik, by way of Djuna Barnes and James Baldwin, we will examine a wide array of writers and their reasons for living and writing in Paris during the century of American global ascendancy. 


ENG 820: Cognitive 18th Century and Beyond

Professor Natalie Philips

Wednesday, 4:10-7pm

This course interweaves two interdisciplinary fields in literary studies: cognitive approaches to literature and the literary history of mind. Discussing literary works from Persuasion to A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the course explores pivotal topics in the literary and scientific history of the brain, with a focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We consider, for example, how Descartes? attempt to locate the soul in the pineal gland influenced depictions of thought in Tristram Shandy; the satiric inspiration Hogarth and Blake drew from the century’s rising interest in anatomical dissections of the brain; Jane Austen’s use of contemporary theories of head injury in Persuasion. Throughout, we will read key works in cognitive approaches to fiction, including Zunshine’s Why We Read Fiction, Vermeule’s Why Do We Care About Literary Characters?, and Richardson’s Romanticism and the Science of Mind, exploring the advantages and profound challenges of integrating cognitive science with literary history. The seminar will conclude by exploring recent work in the neuroscience of reading, with a focus on alternate styles of literary reading and cognition in dyslexia, autism, and attention deficit. Students will learn to use scientific databases, such as PubMed, to find the latest studies in neurobiology, developmental psychology, cognitive linguistics, and neuroaesthetics. Alongside their final research paper, students will work collaboratively to brainstorm and design an interdisciplinary experiment that uses technologies from cognitive science such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) or eye-tracking to explore a central question about literary reading.