Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Fall 2014
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ENG 801 – Intro to Graduate Studies

Professor Zarena Aslami

Monday, 5:00-7:50pm


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 keywords and theoretical approaches that have focalized recent scholarship in the discipline of English, with a particular emphasis on the status of evidence, practices of historicism, and theories of power. 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 820 section 001/432 – Seminar in Film History - Global Film Noir: Hard-Boiled Modernity

Professor Justus Nieland

Tuesday and Thursday, 10:20-1:10/12:10pm


The term "film noir" still conjures images of a uniquely American malaise: hard-boiled detectives, fatal women, and the shadowy hells of urban life. But from its beginnings, film noir has been an international phenomenon, and its stylistic icons have migrated across the complex geo-political terrain of world cinema. This film history seminar traces film noir relationship to the conditions of a global, hard-boiled modernity more broadly. We will discuss noir’s emergent connection to European cinemas, its movement within a cosmopolitan culture of literary and cinematic translation, and its postwar consolidation n the US, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. We will consider how noir dramatizes local crimes and the crises of local spaces in the face of global phenomena like world-wide depression, war, nuclear catastrophe, political occupation and exile, economic and cultural modernization, decolonization, and migration. We will also explore how noir’s exaggerated coded of race, gender, and sexuality crosses national boundaries, and speaks differently to diverse international audiences.

The class will also be offered to graduate students as ENG 820, and with a modified syllabus.

Feel free to contact Professor Nieland (nieland@msu.edu) with any questions.


ENG 820 section 002 – Empire and Globalization

Faculty of Record: Professor Salah Hassan

Wednesday, 4:10-7:00pm 


Seminar Faculty

Zarena Aslami

Ken Harrow

Jyotsna Singh

Terrion Williams

Is Globalization the contemporary form of Empire? Or are Empire and Globalization distinct systems for organizing, re-organizing and disorganizing the world? Can the periodizing scheme of pre-modern, modern and postmodern be used to explain the transition from Empire to Global? What are the principal cultural theories for understanding the effects of Empire and Globalization? If one of the effects of Empire and Globalization is homogenizing the world, how can we understand the historic partitions of the world into zones of otherness and difference? How are race, gender and sexuality articulated within the political orders Empire and Globalization? This course will explore these and other questions that relate to contemporary efforts to understand the conquests of the world and their culture effects.

This course is co-taught by several faculty in the Department of English whose scholarship covers a range of methods and traverses several historical periods and cultures. While the general frame for the seminar is cultural theories and narratives of Empire and Globalization, weekly readings and discussion will focus on specific texts as well as particular critical topics, such as the following: the cultural logic of exploration; sovereigns and subjects; war, violence and the politics of destruction; partitions of the world; indigeneity and cultures of settler colonialism; gender and colonial regimes; queering Empire; antiblackness and critical approaches to race studies; representing migrants, diaspora, nomads, and refugees; the paradox of rights; postmodernity as postcoloniality; and narratives of resistance, revolution and freedom. 

Some of the framing texts for the seminar may include the following titles: Alejandro Colas, Empire (2007), Judith Butler, Frames of War (2010), Mike Davis Planet of Slums (2007), David Harvey, Spaces of Global Capitalism (2006), Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages (2007), Wendy Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2014).