Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Spring 2019
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ENG 802: Literary Criticism and Theory
Dr. Yomaira Figueroa

Thursday, 5:00-7:50 

This seminar will offer an overview on disciplinary formations in the humanities and will focus on three distinct and intersecting areas of study: theories of the human, diaspora studies, and decolonial thought. This course should be of interest to students engaging in transdisciplinary approaches to literary and cultural studies, critical approaches to the study of race/gender/sexuality and those interested in epistemologies from below.

ENG 814:002: Literature in English after 1800

Dr. Cara Cilano, "Spatial Studies, Mobility Theory, and Postcolonial Belongings"

Thursdays 1:50-4:40

Through a framework informed by critical geography, sociology, cultural studies, and postcolonial theories, students will investigate how literary characters and non-literary actors occupy place and move through space. Our goal is to assess how, when, and why certain identities qualify as ‘proper’ subjects of place, while others are designated/targeted as ‘improper’ not because of the identities themselves but due to the relations that shape them. Locations, gender, race, religion, history (all as lived and imagined), as well as the ubiquitous presence of technology in our daily lives, are of particular interest to our analyses.

 Readings may include the following:

  • theoretical
    • Tim Cresswell
    • Doreen Massey
    • Mimi Sheller 
    • John Urry
    • Michel de Certeau
    • Jane Jacobs
    • Henri Lefebvre
    • Peter Adey
  • literary
    • Thomas King, Truth and Bright Water
    • Michael Ondaatje, Warlight
    • Sorayya Y. Khan, City of Spies
    • Bina Shah, Before She Sleeps
    • Bilal Tanweer, The Scatter Here is Too Great


ENG 818: Studies in Genre and Media (section 1);
Drs. A. Larabee and D. Stowe, “Theories and Methods of Popular Culture”

Tuesday, 7-9:50 

This seminar is designed to introduce graduate students to topics, issues, and debates within the broad field of Popular Culture Studies, and to acquaint them with a variety of methods for undertaking their own interdisciplinary research. We will investigate the historical, political, and theoretical development of PCS, chart its development amid related fields like communications, American Studies, and cultural studies, examine some of the critiques that have been and continue to be leveled against it, and show its promise for understanding the new digital environments.  Since Popular Culture Studies constitutes the study of particular forms--like television, popular fiction, comic books, and video games--the course will identify key approaches to these forms, including definitions of concepts (like “form,” “genre,” and the “popular”) and exploration of genealogies and archives, remediations and adaptations, and social and cultural contexts. While the course identifies key texts with which to begin, we expect it to be a collaborative one, in which students identify avenues of interest under expert guidance.  Professional development in the field will be provided, including an introduction to delivering conference talks and publishing.

Representative texts:
John Storey, Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, 7th edition, Routledge, 2015.
Robin D. G. Kelley. “Notes on Deconstructing ‘The Folk.’” American Historical Review 97 (1992), 1400-1408.
C. Levine. Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network. Princeton UP, 2015.
Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Adaptation, Routledge, 2012.
Janice Radway. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature.  1984; U of North Carolina P 1991
Sarah Projansky, Spectacular Girls: Media Fascination and Celebrity Culture, NYU Press, 2014.
R. Barthes. Mythologies. Trans. Annette Lavers. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1972.
Umberto Eco. “The Myth of Superman.” Diacritics 2.1 (1972), 14-22
Nick Sousanis, Unflattening. Harvard UP, 2016. 

ENG 818: Studies in Genre and Media (section 2)/FLM 480
Dr. Joshua Yumibe, “Color Cinema” 

Tuesday 9:10–12:00, Thursday 9:10–11:00

This course surveys the aesthetic and technological history and theory of color in cinema. Particular attention will be paid to cinema’s relation to other color media (photography, mass advertising, painting, stage design) and to theoretical debates in philosophy, art history, and literature over the physiological effects and ideologies of color. The course will also examine the ways in which color technologies circulate transnationally yet are received and interpreted in locally specific ways. Works to be covered may include films from early cinema (Annabelle Dances, The Red Spectre), narrative cinema of the 1920s (The Toll of the Sea, Redskin), Technicolor of the 1930s (Becky Sharp), melodrama and musicals (All that Heaven Allows, The Bandwagon), global art cinemas (Black Narcissus, Daisies, Touki BoukiThe Scent of Green Papaya), experimental film (Harry Smith, Oskar Fischinger, Stan Brakhage), and contemporary works (Days of Heaven, Blue VelvetHeroMarie Antoinette).

Potential Readings

Regina Lee Blaszczyk, The Color Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012).
David Batchelor, Chromophobia (London: Reaktion, 2000).
Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century, (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1992).
Rosalind Galt, Pretty: Film and the Decorative Image (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2011).
Carolyn L. Kane, Chromatic Algorithms: Synthetic Color, Computer Art, and Aesthetics after Code (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2014).
Esther Leslie, Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry (Reaktion Books, 2005).
Michael Taussig, What Color Is the Sacred? (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2009). 

ENG 819: Special Topics in Language and Literature
Dr. Divya Victor, “Extreme Texts (The Ordinary in/and the Extraordinary)

Wednesday, 3:00-5:50

How do we continue to live, ordinarily, through the extraordinary catastrophes of history and into the present? This seminar is concerned with contemporary poetry’s response to two polar categorizations of life-- the ordinary and the extraordinary. We will study the ordinary (conventional, established, assumed) and extraordinary (innovated, extreme, hazarded) formal methods poets have recently deployed in order to represent, enact, and witness these categories of existence. We will be preoccupied with the outermost edges— the extremities— of lived experience, be they endotic or exotic, and the poetic practices that query their symbiosis. Thus, we will track contemporary poetic responses to the polar edges of lived experience—the quotidian and the limit event, OR, the everyday and the calamity— to examine how they theorize subjectivity and collective experience. In other words, we will study poetry to understand how the order of things— the ordinary— hinges on that which lies outside the normal course of events. 

My role will be that of a curator. I will bring together a cross-sectional gallery of poetry— broadly defined— selecting across generic, aesthetic, periodic, and national boundaries. The syllabus will not offer a survey of a period, movement, or method. Rather, the texts we examine and live with will show us emerging approaches to the imbrications between the disparate categories of the everyday, the commonplace, the banal, the extreme, the calamity, and finally, the limit event. We will strive to imagine how poetry could offer a holographic bridge to the diachrony of these categories of experience. Readings will consist primarily of post-war and contemporary poetry, selections from critical theory, continental philosophy, interviews and correspondence. *You will track your response to these galleries by keeping a live and ongoing catalogue of the infra-ordinary, witnessing your everyday life, interiority, and your reading experience as they intersect with the extraordinary movements in the political world.   

We will pursue a rigorous amateurism, as a way of moving against the grain of devotional and compulsory professionalism, in order to recuperate the foundational impulses of intellectual activity-- pleasure, embodiment, social alignment, and purposeful study of literature beyond the service to arbitrary fields ascribed by institutions. In this, we will pursue the greater project of decolonizing the practice of literary criticism, as theorized by Edward Said. To wit: We will study, create, and converse without “losing sight of the raw effort of constructing either art or knowledge” in order to examine and experience “knowledge and art as choices and decisions, commitments and alignments” and not merely “in terms of impersonal theories or methodologies” (“Professionals and Amateurs”). This goal will be carried out through two specific pedagogical methods: 1. Sustained and continual dialogue (in person and via Skype) with poets and critics, whose work and criticism we will study; 2. The active rehearsal of innovation in critical methods, exercised through *presentations that pitch your extant skill-sets against the grain of intellectual conformity. Ultimately, we will endeavor to theorize the contemporary as an emergent condition that tethers poetry (as a genre and an institution) to its practice and criticism. *You will demonstrate your investments and contributions to this emergent condition by proposing a substantial critical object, and by completing it through research, peer workshop, and consultancy with me.

* Refers to objects and activities that will be assessed in this seminar. 

A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm These Tiny Books: i.e. The Gallery

Primary Resources
(Either as books/performances, rarely, or more often, as selections) 

Bäcker, Heimrad. transcript (2010)
Bergvall, Caroline. “Ride” (2006)
Bernstein, Charles.“My/My/My”from Asylums (1975)
Berrigan, Ted. The Sonnets (1964)
Brainard, Joe. I Remember (1970)
Brown, Brandon, “Poem for my Future Children”
Clifton, Lucille. “4/30/92 for rodney king” from Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton (1991)
Cole, Barbara. Situation Comedies: Foxy Moron (1998/2004)
Conrad, CA. A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon (New Somatics) (2012)
Cortez, Jayne. “Rape” from Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (2013)
Eshelman, Clayton. “Hardball” from Under World Arrest (1994)
Fitterman, Rob. Holocaust Museum (2011)
Gallagher, Kristen. Dossier on the Site of a Shooting (2015)
Gladman, Renee. Calamities (2016)
Goldsmith, Kenneth. Fidget (1994)
Hayden, Robert. “Middle Passage” from Collected Poems (1985)
Hayes, Terrance. Wind in a Box. (2006)
Jones, Saeed. “History, According to Boy” from Prelude to a Bruise (2014)
Kearney, Douglas. The Black Automaton (2009)
Kinnell, Galway. “Blackberry Eating” from Mortal Acts, Mortal Words (1980)
Kotecha, Shiv. Item Numbers (2011)
Le Fraga, Sophia. I RL YOU RL (2014)
Levertov, Denise. “When We Look Up” from Poems: 1960-1967 (1966)
Lockwood, Patricia. “Rape Joke” (2013)
Low, Trisha. Purge: Vol 1: The Last Will and Testament of Trisha Low.  (2012)
Mayer, Bernadette. Midwinter Day (1982)
McCaffery, Steve. “The” (Various)
Melgard, Holly. “Stay” (Various)
Morris, Tracie. “Chain Gang,” “Afro-Futurism,” “My Great Grandmother Meets a Bush Supporter” (Various)
Neruda, Pablo. “Ode to Salt” from Odas Elementales (Elementary Odes) (1954)
O’Hara, Frank, Meditations in an Emergency (1957)
Perec, George. An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris (1974)
Philip, NourbeSe. Zong! (2008)
Place, Vanessa. Tragodía Vol. 1 Statement of Facts. Los Angeles: Insert Blanc  (2010)
Plath, Sylvia. “Daddy,” “Metaphors,” “You Are” (Various)
Ponge, Francis. Mute Objects of Expression (2008)
Rankine, Claudia. Excerpts from Citizen (2014)
Reznikoff, Charles. Excerpts from Holocaust (1975)
Rich, Adrienne. “Rape.” Diving Into the Wreck. (1973)
Spero, Emji. almost any shit will do (2014)
Stein, Gertrude.  Tender Buttons (1914)
You, Mia. I, Too, Dislike It (2016) 

Secondary Resources (very brief selections from the following:)

Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963)
Baldwin, James/ Howard, Jane. “Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are” (1963)
Barthes, Roland. Mourning Diary (1977/2012) and Pleasures of the Text (1973)
Benjamin, Walter. Brief selections from “The Storyteller” from Illuminations (1968)
hooks, bell “Keeping Close to Home: Class and Education” from Talking Back (1989)
de Certeau, Michel. “Pedestrians” and “Walking” in Practice of Everyday Life (1980)
Dean, Jodi. Solidarity of Strangers: Feminism after Identity Politics (1996)
Dickinson, Emily. The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition (1998)
Greenaway, Peter. Windows (1975)
Hartman, Saidiya. “Innocent Amusements: The Stage of Sufferance,” from Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America (1997)
Highmore, Ben. “Questioning Everyday Life” from The Everyday Life Reader (2002)   
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis (1915)     
Lacapra, Dominick. Writing History, Writing Trauma (2001)
Lakoff & Johnson. Metaphors We Live By (1980)
Lorde, Audre. “The Master’s Tools will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981)
Mansfield, Nick. Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway (2000)
Nancy, Jean-Luc, Corpus (1992)
Perec, George. “Approaches to What?” from Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (1973/1997)
Said, Edward. “Professionals and Amateurs” from Representations of the Intellectual (1996)
Tehching Hsieh, One Year Performance 1978–1979 (Cage Piece), One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece) 

ENG 819: Special Topics in Language and Literature /ENG 478A
Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “The Interface”

Monday, 4:10-7pm (Monday)

As our practices of reading and writing become increasingly screen-based, the materiality of our engagement with texts becomes all the more important to the ways we construct and interpret them, as well as the ways we understand what a “text” is in the first place. This course will explore the interfaces through which we read and write — including those based in paper, those that appear on screens, and perhaps some others as well — and the ways those interfaces are deployed and represented in both fiction and criticism. 

- Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
- Richard Powers, Plowing the Dark
- Ellen Ullman, The Bug
- Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
- Jon Bois, 17776
- G. Willow Wilson, Alif the Unseen
- Reif Larsen, Entrances and Exits 

- Jerome McGann, Radiant Textuality
- Vilem Flusser, Does Writing Have a Future?
- Lisa Gitelman, Paper Knowledge
- Matthew Kirschenbaum, Track Changes
- Terry Harpold, Ex-foliations
- Paul Ford, What Is Code?
- Matthew Fuller, “It looks like you’re writing a letter”
- Shannon Mattern, “Tuning Into the Invisible”