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Fall 2021 Course Descriptions

Undergraduate Coursework


ENGL 2123: Creative Writing
Dr. Susan Kates

This course is meant to spark your literary interests, talents, and inclinations, so that you can walk away with a clearer image of who you are – or rather, who you might be – as a writer. This is a course for those who might have never written creatively before, as well as those who are fairly decided on their preferred forms of writing. We will read and analyze short stories, poems, and creative non-fiction, analyzing the stylistic choices of a wide range of writers. You will critique the work of your classmates and help one another to revise a portfolio of writing that will be produced over the course of the semester.

ENGL 2223.001: Poetry
Dr. Bill Endres
T/R 9:00-10:15

In light of events during the summer of 2020 (murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed) and the continued rise in the number of hate crimes, we will explore whether poetry can communicate across boundaries such as race, class, privilege, sexual orientation, culture, time period, and age. If so, how does it do it? We will focus on the U.S. tradition, beginning with contemporary poetry and then look back at early American poets such as Anne Bradstreet, Phyllis Wheatley, Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Allan Poe. However, American poets have found profound influence from traditions around the world; therefore, we will also examine a few of them, including surrealism, romanticism, haiku, Chinese poetry, and mystical poetry (such as the Sufi poet Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī).


ENGL 2243.001 Film Narrative
Dr. Rita Keresztesi
Tuesday/Thursday 10:30-11:45, Burton Hall 0208

This course introduces students to basic visual terminology, filmmaking concerns, film theory and aesthetics. We will survey different approaches to narrative filmmaking (for example, genre or auteur) and discuss how film and society mutually impact and influence one another. The course focuses on iconic film genres, such as: the documentary, the Western, science fiction, and world cinema. Most of the films we discuss in the class are available for online screening. Students are expected to watch the films attentively from beginning to end (through the credits) and should take notes while watching the films for camera work, sound, mise-en-scene, editing, and narrative structure.


ENGL 2273: Literary and Cultural Analysis - “Magic, Enchantment, and the Supernatural”
Dr. Justin Sider

TR 9:00am - 10:15am

The supernatural is a fixture of the literary imagination—from fairy tales and Arthurian legends to gothic novels and Romantic balladry. Even realist novels sometimes tease us with hints of the unexplained, mysterious, and magical. This semester, we’ll consider the role of magic in literary works. We’ll read about enchanted visions, witches’ prophecies, and servants of the devil in order to consider what magic helps writers make, see, and do. This class offers an introduction to the basic methods of literary analysis. Throughout our semester, we’ll learn about poetic forms and literary genres, and we’ll discover together the history and conventions that binds these works together in a conversation that reaches from classical literature to the latest work in fiction and cinema.


ENGL 2283: Critical Methods - "The Gothic and Psychoanalytic Theory" 
Dr. Daniela Garofalo

This course will focus on Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory in order to bring together this particular critical method and Gothic genres such as monster fiction, horror film, and ghost stories. We will consider how the conjunction of psychoanalysis and the Gothic permits us to study the uncanny dimensions of capitalism, empire, racism, and misogyny.

Specifically, we will place in conversation psychoanalytic theory with the following texts:

Edgar Allen Poe, short stories and poems  
H. Rider Haggard, She 
Nella Larsen, Passing 
Toni Morrison, Beloved 
Get Out (Peele 2017)


ENGL 2413: Introduction to Literature 
Dr. Ronald Schleifer

This course offering of “Introduction to Literature” will focus on the practical usefulness of literary studies for people committed to careers in the professions: teaching, higher education, the healthcare professions, law, social work, business, and even the arts outside of literary study.  In ancient times, Aristotle described what he called “practical wisdom” (phronesis), which grows from life-experience.  Literature represents and provokes “experience,” and the aim of this course is to develop sensitivity towards and strategies for increasing the “vicarious” experience of literary texts—fiction, poetry, drama—in ways that will serve students in their wider university experience and their subsequent careers.  An important aspect of this course is writing as well as reading, which itself is an art of practical reasoning and practical wisdom.


ENGL 2443: World Literature 1700 to Present
Dr. Amit R. Baishya

TR 4:30-5:45

This course is designed to explore the idea of “rewriting” or “writing back” focusing especially on texts from the colonial and post-colonial world. Some of the key questions that will guide us during the semester include: How does “rewriting” or “writing back” give voice to figures that are under-represented or occluded in well-known cultural texts? What are the political and ethical stakes of such forms of rewriting? If certain literary texts emerge from particular historical contexts that shape the ways in which they view the “world,” how do forms of rewriting re-imagine multiple ways of existing in such “worlds”? We will explore these questions by putting texts in dialogue with each other. Joseph Conrad’s journey to the Congo in Heart of Darkness will be reversed in the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih’s Seasons of Migrations to the North. The Caribbean writer Jean Rhys’s (Wide Sargasso Sea) rewriting of the history of the “madwoman in the attic” from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre will enable us to explore the intersections between colonial, racial and gendered forms of oppression. We will also see how figures that are viewed as “monsters” or “others” in particular texts (Caliban in Shakespeare’s Tempest, the unnamed Arab in Albert Camus’ The Outsider) become primary figures in rewritings set in different cultural locations [Aime Cesaire’s A Tempest, Daoud Kamel’s The Meursault Investigation]. We may end with a screening of Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner and attend to its rewrite in the Asian-Canadian sci-fi writer Larissa Lai’s short story “Rachel.” 


ENGL 2543: English Literature to 1700
Dr. Joseph Mansky

This course surveys English literature from the Middle Ages to the end of the seventeenth century—from Old English epic to Restoration poetry. As we move across nearly one thousand years of literary history, we will track a set of common themes (including heroism and villainy, love and desire, religious ritual, politics and violence, social critique, identity and otherness) and genres (epic, lyric, satire, tragedy), as well as the evolution of the English language itself. Each text will offer us a window into worlds impossibly distant yet unsettlingly familiar. Throughout the course, we will seek to understand the texts themselves, the periods in which they were written, and their place in the development of English literature.


ENGL 2713: Intro to Black U.S. Literature
Dr. Catherine John

This course is an introduction to African American literature and culture produced in the United States.  Its aim is to introduce students to important texts and their major concerns.  We will pay specific attention to the struggle in this literature between writing which criticizes racial injustice on the one hand and writing focused on celebrating Black cultural identity on the other.  With this as the guiding principle we will explore how this literature treats the cultural, political, and national territory described by some as the United States and by others as “America.”  We will view several films and documentaries on subjects connected to the course material.  Some will be in class while others will be required viewing outside of class.  We will read poetry, short stories, sociological and historical essays, non-fiction, and one autobiography.  The literature we will read was written as early as the 1700’s to as recently as the present.  We will pay particular attention to some of the literature produced out of the political climate of the late 60’s and early 70’s in the hopes that this will shed light on contemporary issues.  We will also occasionally listen to relevant music.


ENGL 2733: American Indian Literature: Early & Traditional
Brett Burkhart

For Native American peoples, story structures and animates the world around us and shows our right relationship to land, to plants, animals, and the elements, and to others with whom we share them. As the center of Native American cosmologies, story inhabits sacred songs and dances, traditional and fine arts, food ways and medicine practices. Story enriches ceremony and informs daily life. Oral traditions unique to each tribal nation serve as the first and oldest literatures of the United States. Native American literature recorded in the written word grew from these sacred storied traditions to include poetry, plays, novels, autobiographies, political treatises, as well as works that defy western genre and mix many forms together. Passed from individual to individual, nation to nation, ancient generations to future generations, this course honors the gifts we inherit in the present and helps us to better understand the connection between the Ancestors’ world and our own. This course will cover precontact oral traditions, utilizing recorded stories and graphic collections, and Native American written literature in English up to the year 1945 by authors such as William Apess (Pequot), Zitkala-Sa (Yankton Dakota), Mourning Dove (Okanogan), Samson Occom (Mohegan), Charles Eastman (Santee Dakota), John Rollin Ridge (Cherokee), Alexander Posey (Muscogee), among others.


ENGL 2773: American Literature Survey I
Dr. Henry McDonald

This course will survey early American literature before the Civil War with an emphasis on the influence of the classical tradition of republicanism during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Among the authors we will read are John Winthrop, Royall Tyler, Hannah Webster Forster, Thomas Paine, John and Abigail Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, and Rebecca Harding Davis.


ENGL 2970-001: Law & Literature - “Lawful Novels of America”
Dr. Jim Zeigler

This course focuses on literature that responds to landmark events in the history of law. An introduction to the field of “Law & Lit,” the class is open to students in all majors but will be especially relevant for first or second year students considering law school or careers in public policy. The specific design of each section of this course varies based on the research expertise of the instructor, but all versions examine the ways that genres of literature are influenced by and responsive to legal institutions, laws, and government policies. We’ll consider literary texts that represent the value of the “rule of law” and texts that reveal the ways in which legal systems seemingly dedicated to fairness can be used unjustly.

In fall 2021, “Lawful Novels of America” will focus on a selection of novels published in the United States from the late 19th century to the present. Our reading assignments will pair novels with policy proposals and official documents from all three branches of the U.S. federal government: legislation, judicial decisions, and executive orders.

The novels for the course will include Mark Twain’s Puddn’head Wilson (1893), Charles Chesnutt’s Marrow of Tradition(1901), Willa Cather’s My Ántonia (1913), John Okada’s No-No Boy (1957), and Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room(2018). Alongside these texts, we’ll examine the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which endorsed Jim Crow segregation; early 20th century immigration laws; the WWII internment of Japanese-Americans; and the rise of massive incarceration (up 450% in the U.S. since 1980 while crime rates have declined).

Major assignments for this class will include regular, lively participation in discussion and small group activities; two papers of approximately 2000 words each; and a DIY research project to create your own unit to conclude the course. Professionalization activities will include a workshop on law school application personal statements and at least one session with an OU alumnus who is a practicing attorney.


ENGL 3023: Literature and Medicine
Dr. Ronald Schleifer

Literature and Medicine is a course that aims to examine the relationship of the humanistic study of literature and language with the art and science of medicine. Specifically, it examines the conjunction of the interpretations of literature and the interpretations in the diagnoses of medicine and the place of representation in the understanding of general experience and of the specific experiences of health and illness. To this end, it focuses on the ways that training in literary narrative can make healthcare workers more effective and satisfied in their work. It discusses major issues in medicine – professionalism, empathy, problems of race, class, gender, age, the nature of “health” and “care,” death, pain, the relationship between diagnosis and detective narratives, etc. The course contains literary narratives and “everyday” narratives found in the clinic. In the past, I have team-taught this with practicing physicians, but I am not sure this will be possible during the pandemic. However, I expect that physicians may join us for individual sessions. The aim of the course is to (1) instill definite skills in interacting with patient storytelling – skills in listening, in rapport, in balancing empathy and professionalism, etc. – in a clinical situation; and (2) to widen the purview of the study of literature.


ENGL 3103.001: Writers and Their Readers
Dr. Kathleen Welch

Writers and Their Readers, an advanced writing course for any major, is a traditional writing workshop in which students' writings in the class are used as the primary course texts. The focus of the course is understanding which readers, or groups of readers, are important in a given work of writing and which are extraneous. The few published texts we will work on are Aristotle's On Rhetoric, Book 2 (with its dazzling list of emotions and their counterparts) and Meta G. Carstarphen and Kathleen Welch's "Race and Resentment: New Days of Rage" (Rhetoric Review).


ENGL 3103.002: Topics in Advanced Composition - "Autobiographical Writing About Place"
Dr. Susan Kates

In this course you will find ways to think and write about your experiences of being in all sorts of places in the world. Have you ever thought about why you feel comfortable in one environment and not another? How do the rhythms of place shape who you are and how you feel in certain locations? This is not strictly a travel writing course or a nature-writing course, though we will certainly examine examples of both travel writing and nature writing. Specifically, we will practice the following: We will learn how to write about those places important to us by closely examining and utilizing such elements as history, geography, language, and culture (through personal experience and research) in order not just to write more effectively about the places in our lives but also to better understand ourselves and our place in the wider global world. And, through close reading of the assigned texts, we will consider the various techniques used by established writers to convey a sense of place, as well as the roles place plays in their writing, ultimately adapting and utilizing these strategies in our own work.


ENGL 3123: Fiction 
Professor Rilla Askew

Intensive writing of short stories, with class attention to writing process, style, technique, revision and contemporary developments in the genre. Coursework includes reading published short fiction, assigned readings from the texts, written responses to the readings as well as written and oral analysis of fellow writers’ work presented in class.

This course focuses on the skills writers need to create compelling fiction. We’ll work on specific elements of the craft of fiction—concrete sensory details, point of view, plot, character, setting, dialogue, and so forth. Through feedback and peer review you’ll enlarge your understanding of your strengths as a fiction writer and the areas of craft that need improvement. You’ll increase your analytical strengths as you practice “reading like a writer” and offer constructive, detailed critique of fellow students’ work.

Prerequisite: ENGL 2123 Introduction to Creative Writing.


ENGL 3143: The Rhetoric of Social Media
Dr. Will Kurlinkus

In this course students will learn to critically analyze the rhetoric, history, politics, celebrity, and genres produced on four popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. Across these four platforms we’ll ask questions like: What turns has celebrity (and particularly social media “micro-celebrity”) taken in the last two decades? How has social media allowed for the circulation of dark misinformation (from anti-vaccination info to deepfake videos) but also #activism that has changed the world? Why are mundane videos and posts (unboxing videos, elevator rides, marble races, etc.) so popular? How have these digital platforms been designed to encourage and//or restrict certain types of posts? And, generally, how have social media changed the way we exist in the world? Of course, we’ll be exploring many more topics beyond the questions listed here, and students are encouraged to bring their own interests to the course conversation and projects. Coursework will include a midterm and final critical essay, a video essay, and a weekly journal. 


ENGL 3173.001: Imagining a New Beyond (Histories of Writing, Rhetoric & Technology)
Dr. Bill Endres
T/R 1:30-2:45

New technologies shift what is possible. From bots spreading messages on Facebook to embodied engagement with 3D models and environments in virtual reality, the frontier of thinking and communicating has shifted, and with it, what is possible. This class will work from theories and practices in rhetoric and the digital humanities to liberate our minds from what Kenneth Burke describes as a “bureaucratization of the imagination.” We will strive to grasp new potentials and draw from the rich tradition of humanistic inquiry so that we might visualize and shape this new beyond.


ENGL 3193: Working with Writers
Dr. Sandra Tarabochia

This course introduces students to the challenge and thrill of working with writers in a range of contexts and capacities. Designed for students planning careers in writing, editing, publishing, and industry, the course features direct experience with the new academic journal Writers: Craft & Context and the award winning OU Writing Center. Students will study theories of writing, interview working writers, develop their own self-defined writing project, and have the opportunity to submit for peer-reviewed publication.


ENGL 3253: Special Topics in American Indian Literature - Short Forms
Dr. Joshua Nelson

American Indian literature and film offer some of the edgiest work being written today. By turns controversial, poignant, revolutionary, and beautiful, Native American perspectives are challenging genres and identities in remarkable ways, and short works of fiction and non-fiction make their interventions all the more accessible—and powerful—due to their concentration. This course will sample energetic short stories, essays, poetry, and short films from established figures like Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and N. Scott Momaday in addition to emerging voices like Steven Paul Judd, Lisa Jackson, and Sterlin Harjo. Throughout the course, themes of tradition, innovation, and cultural self-determination will inform our discussions. Requirements will include several written reviews and a short project of your own (a screenplay, short film, or staged reading, e.g.).


ENGL 3483.001 Native American Writers: Contemporary Native Authors of Oklahoma 
Dr. Kimberly Wieser  

From the OU Catalog: Prerequisite: 1213. May be repeated once with change of content; maximum credit six hours. Investigates the ways Native American writers reflect their cultural histories and thought systems through their writing. By focusing on the emergence of Native literature over the past three decades or on Native writers of Oklahoma, students will learn how Native traditions have been translated into literature. (Irreg.) [IV-NW]  

This semester, we will focus on contemporary Native authors who are members of one of the federally-recognized tribes whose nations lie within the boundaries of Oklahoma. These authors come from a variety of tribes and have diverse backgrounds. It is my hope that a mutual understanding of one another, Native and non-Native alike, is nurtured by our readings, assignments, and discussions and that through working together in this course, we help to make Oklahoma and the world better places for us all.   

We will read four novels—Cherokee author Brandon Hobson’s The Removed; Cheyenne author Tommy Orange’s There There; Choctaw author LeAnne Howe’s Shell Shaker; and Kiowa author Thomas Yeahpau’s The X-Indian Chronicles. For our nonfiction selection, we will read Citizen Potawatomie scholar Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. We will finish the semester with two volumes from Muscogee Creek poet and US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings and An American Sunrise.

To meet our writing requirement for non-Western civ credit as well as our departmental writing requirements for upper division courses, we will do both in class and out of class short, informal writing assignments in multiple genres that will count for daily grades as well as a longer, researched, formal writing assignment.


ENGL 3613: 19th-Century British Literature - “Romance and Realism”
Dr. Justin Sider

TR 1:30pm - 2:45pm

This course covers the major writers of the Romantic and Victorian eras in Britain. This semester we’ll explore two complementary literary modes: realism and romance. Realist literature, such as the novels of Jane Austen and George Eliot, attempts to represent the world as it is. Realism tends toward social and political problems, the particulars of history and social life. Romance deals in dreams and desire, and its iconic form is the quest—tales of adventure, mystery, and enchantment. We’ll think about these modes both separately and together as we move through the century: novels by Walter Scott and George Eliot, poetry from William Wordsworth and John Keats to Christina Rossetti and Thomas Hardy, and non-fiction writing by William Hazlitt, John Ruskin, and Oscar Wilde. A survey of major nineteenth-century texts and authors, this class will also discuss the broader intellectual movements of which these texts are a part and consider how each text makes its own contribution to those movements through argument, mode of representation, or literary form.


ENGL 3623: 20th Century British Literature - "Black British Literature"
Dr. Amit Baishya 

Black British Literature has two connotations—a broad definition and a narrow one. More narrowly, it refers to literature produced by British writers of Afro-Caribbean descent. More broadly, it refers to literature by British writers from the former colonies of the British Empire in Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean. In this course, we will follow the broad definition and read a wide sample, largely of fiction, by writers of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian descent. Themes we will discuss will include contradictions and debates within the British variant of multicultural discourse, immigration with its promises and vicissitudes, the long historical presence of populations of color in the British Isles, the legacies of Windrush, race and racism, the reaction of minority populations to British nationalist discourse, forms of creolized popular culture, and imaginations of futurity beyond the color line. Texts we will discuss will probably include: SI Martin’s Incomparable World, Bernardine Evaristo’s Lara, Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners, George Lamming’s The Emigrants, Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia. We may occasionally watch movies like Gurinder Chadha’s Bend it Like Beckham and a couple of episodes from Steve McQueen’s film series Small Axe. Primary readings will be supplemented with theoretical/activist texts by Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy, Salman Rushdie, Claudette Williams, Amina Mama and Lola Young. Assignments will probably include two short responses (4-5 pages), a group presentation and a final paper (around 10-12 pages).


ENGL 3643: Caribbean Literature 
Dr. Rita Keresztesi

This course situates the Caribbean in the crossroads of modern literary and cultural production. We discuss how European colonization and the African slave trade impacted the region and its peoples. Through readings in a variety of genres, such as travelogue, historical essay, fiction, poetry and song, we study the literature and culture of several islands. We also revisit the texts of major figures of British and American literature from a postcolonial perspective. We enrich our reading experiences through film and music. Readings include fiction and essays by V.S. Naipaul, Earl Lovelace, C.L.R. James, George Lamming, Patrick Chamoiseau, Roger Mais, Michelle Cliff and Jamaica Kincaid, poetry by Christian Campbell, and the music of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and The Mighty Sparrow. Grades are based on participation in class discussions, a presentation, several reading responses, and a seminar paper.


ENGL 4013: Major Figures - "Charles Dickens’s Uncanny Worlds"
Dr. Daniela Garofalo

Charles Dickens wrote novels that brought together realism, the Gothic, the detective story, and the comic. He created works that reimagined class struggle, the industrial revolution, and capitalism in terms of ghosts, murder mysteries, haunted houses, and worlds in which objects seem preternaturally alive. This course will study Dickens’s startling vision of modernity and his haunted urban landscapes as well as his unique style, characters, and narrative forms.

Christmas Carol (1843) 
David Copperfield (1849) 
Bleak House (1852) 
Hard Times (1855) 
Great Expectations (1861)


ENGL 4323: The Harlem Renaissance 
Dr. Rita Keresztesi

The course focuses on the Harlem Renaissance era of American literature. The readings offer an engaged introduction to this important body of African American literary studies. During the semester, we study the literary and political agendas of the Harlem Renaissance era in the first half of the 20th Century when artists, writers, and musicians employed culture to work for goals of civil rights and social equality. Harlem, a diverse community of African Americans, became home to civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, the National Urban League, and Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Besides studying the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, we will situate this movement within a larger transnational context of the African Diaspora. We will read poetry, fiction, plays and essays and enrich our studies with film and music from the era. Grades are based on participation in class discussions, a presentation, several reading responses, and a seminar paper. 


Dr. Catherine John 

THEME: “Emancipate Yourselves from Mental Slavery/The Struggle is Real” 

This course will do four things: I) introduce you to Hip Hop’s origins through exposure to the social and historical conditions that influenced the development of the culture ii) take you inside the music and lyrics of various artists iii) focus on the course theme of “mental slavery and freeing our minds” iv) and finally explore “knowledge of self” through active performance and journal entries. The music and culture of Hip Hop is wide and deep however and what we will cover in this class is just a teaspoon from this ever-growing ocean of music. 

We are living through a period in history in which fear, terror, anxiety, depression and stress has led to varying degrees of “mental slavery” and illness on one hand as well as to rebellion, resistance and revolutionary sentiment from a range of different places on the other. Jamaican artist Bob Marley stated, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” We will ponder Marley’s statement while using Hip Hop as our lens. We will watch documentaries, read critical essays, analyze albums, songs and music and engage in performance.


ENGL 4523: Shakespeare Comedies
Dr. David Anderson

Nowadays the word “comedy” is usually taken to mean simply “funny.”  Now, William Shakespeare is as funny as any writer who has ever lived, but in this class we will discover that “comedy” means much more.  On the one hand it means a kind of narrative, wherein a young couple overcomes obstacles on the way to the altar.  At the same time, it means a kind of worldview that, while not ignoring suffering and death, focuses on themes of renewal, birth and growth. 

Shakespeare wrote many comedies, but he never repeats himself.  Rather, he fills a familiar structure with endless freshness and intellectual complexity and strikingly original characters.  Sometimes he gives us “festive” comedies that exuberantly celebrate the coming together of young lovers, ending on a note of joyful harmony.  Sometimes he gives us “problem plays” that are structured like traditional comedies but that leave us with lingering questions and doubts about the action we’ve experienced.  Finally, several of his late plays have been classified as “romances”—comedies that tend to be more serious in tone (even flirting at times with tragedy) while involving elements of the supernatural. 

Over the semester we will read and talk about plays such as Much Ado About NothingAs You Like ItAll’s Well that Ends WellThe Tempest and others.  The course will be a mix of lecture and discussion.  


ENGL 4713: Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville
Dr. Henry McDonald

In contrast to the optimistic faith in scientific progress that characterized the thought of many nineteenth century American authors, the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville have often been described as dark and tragic, their fictional characters and poetic personas seeming to be motivated less by reason and will than by unconscious emotional and affective forces. Both Hawthorne and Poe were in fact deeply interested in -- and dramatized in their fiction -- the 19th century “science” of Mesmerism, in which the autonomy of the will is put in question. In this course, drawing on contemporary studies in the History of Emotion and Affect Theory, we will examine the interplay of reason and affect, as well as the cultural and historical contexts that influenced the literary forms it took, in the novels, stories, and poetry of these three authors.


ENGL 4823: The American Novel Since 1920
Dr. Joshua Nelson

The American story has often been conceived in chapters of war, or times between wars, as international conflicts propel the nation into seemingly discrete periods that structure entire facets of our lives, from industry and economics to artistic modes and social relations. For all the differences among the Indian Wars, the Civil War, World War II, Viet Nam, the wars in the Middle East, and more, race has been a strikingly common undercurrent, providing justification, outlet for violence, cause for guilt and grief, and, at times, avenues for progress. This course will explore uneasy intersections in race and war in American novels written since 1920, including masterworks by writers such as Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy, together with innovative approaches to form, such as Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel treating the Holocaust in Maus and Leslie Marmon Silko’s hybridization of prose, poetry, and American Indian oral tradition in Ceremony. Students will be required to write weekly responses to the readings, in a combination of short journal papers and online discussions, and will also compose a 20-page research paper, which we will begin early. As a 4000-level class conducted in a seminar style, expectations for outside research and a polished final draft will be high. 


ENGL 4853: Capstone - "The Quest for the Holy Grail” 
Dr. Joyce Coleman

The Holy Grail is as alive to the modern imagination as it was to the medieval, and an excellent vessel around which to organize study of many traditions, genres, periods, and perspectives on English literature and culture. This course will start with the biblical and medieval roots of the Grail, then watch those roots sprout through later ages. Along with canonical texts such as the Bible, Chrétien de Troyes' Perçeval, Malory's "Tale of the Sankgreal," Blake's "Jerusalem," Tennyson's "The Holy Grail," and Eliot's "The Wasteland," we will also watch some Grail movies and explore the New Age bizarreness of modern Glastonbury. Students will develop their own Grail projects for research and presentation.


ENGL 4923/5923: Advanced Fiction Writing
Professor Rilla Askew

Intensive writing workshop designed to increase developing writers’ skills in the craft of fiction. The course is designed to engage writers in the act of discovery. Students are encouraged to investigate their sources and subject matter and to stretch themselves in terms of style and voice.

The format of the class is a traditional writing workshop wherein students submit new works of fiction, offer constructive detailed critique of fellow students’ work, and hone the craft of revision. Coursework includes assigned readings on Canvas and detailed written responses to fellow writers’ work as well as verbal analysis and feedback in workshop.

Prerequisites: ENGL 2123 Introduction to Creative Writing and ENG 3123 Fiction Writing or by permission.


Graduate Coursework

ENGL 5113: Teaching College Composition
Dr. Roxanne Mountford

Writing instruction arrived in the modern university long after the classical system of education had passed away, taking with it the study and practice of such arts of citizenship as rhetoric. When the 1960s arrived and students began to protest against required writing courses they considered irrelevant to their needs and experience, English faculty were largely unprepared to respond to them. Rhetoric and composition studies arose around 1971 to answer questions about how to teach writing in a modern university in a way that mattered to students. Since then, composition pedagogy has evolved to meet new challenges posed by social contexts within/beyond the university. Through a broad overview of theories and practices in the teaching of writing, this course will prepare you to join a community of scholar-teachers who are reinventing writing for the needs of twenty-first century students. In particular, we will consider how writing prepares students to be citizens.

This class will also emphasize the core values of the OU FYC curriculum. This means that along with following the trajectory of the field from past to present, we will spend time exploring the significance of some key elements of rhetorical education that are highlighted in the curriculum you are teaching, including rhetorical listening, public speaking, deliberation, citizenship, and rhetorical analysis. Our goal is to prepare you to think about composition in a broader sense and to make connections to OU FYC's curriculum.

By the end of this course, students will know:

  • Major approaches to writing instruction, including the history and theory of rhetorical education
  • Ideological concerns with the teaching of writing
  • Methods for teaching writing as process, including responding to student writing
  • Methods for teaching critical thinking
  • Approaches to teaching public speaking
  • Their own teaching philosophy


ENGL 5373: Grad Topics in Native American Literatures—American Indian, Indigenous, and Cultural Rhetorics
Dr. Kimberly Wieser

Culture is the “spaces/places people share, how people organize themselves, and how they practice shared beliefs . . . to do cultural rhetorics scholarship under this idea of 'culture' allows scholars to [focus] on how a specific community makes meaning and negotiates systems of communication to disseminate knowledge. So, what cultural rhetorics scholars do is investigate meaning making as it is situated within a specific cultural community…[t]o do cultural rhetorics work is to value the efforts and practices used to make and sustain something and use that understanding to build a theoretical and methodological framework that reflects the cultural community a researcher works with" (Andrea Riley Mukavetz, “Towards a Cultural Rhetorics Methodology,”109-110).

This course will survey the scholarship on American Indian and Indigenous Rhetorics—as well as give an introduction to Cultural Rhetorics, the larger field that grows out of AIR—covering Earnest Stromberg’s American Indian Rhetorics of Survivance, Kimberly G. Wieser’s Back to the Blanket: Recovered Rhetorics and Literacies in American Indian Studies, Scott Lyon’s X-Marks, Birget Rasmussen’s Queequeg’s Coffin, Lisa King et al’s Survivance, Sovereignty, and Story, Thomas King’s The Truth About Stories, Shawn Wilson’s Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods.

Students will contribute to a (1) digitally published annotated bibliography of articles and books on American Indian and Indigenous Rhetorics; (2) produce a material rhetorics object of their choice with guidance from the instructor; (3) do several short writing assignments; and (4) write a final paper.  The content of all assignments will count toward a required word count for the semester.


ENGL 5453: Special Topics: “Difference” in Writing, Research & Pedagogy 
Dr. Sandra Tarabochia

What is “difference” and what difference does “difference” make in writing, research, and pedagogy? What role does “difference” play in how we read? How we design, carry out, and report on research in rhetoric and writing studies? How we build curriculum, imagine and enact pedagogies? How we understand ourselves and others? These questions will drive our work in this course as we explore the social construction and material realities of difference. We will inquire into constructs of difference—through lenses such as race (including “whiteness”), religion, class, queer and gender theories, and disability studies—and consider how writing, research and pedagogy are theorized to address them (or not). Participants will draw on their own experiences as learners, readers, writers, teachers and researchers to explore the impact of social differences in their lives.  


ENGL 5463: Rhetoric and Technology
Dr. Will Kurlinkus

This course will introduce students to the breadth of ways technology has been studied in the field of rhetoric and writing studies. From the philosophy of technology, to multimodal composing, to the rhetoric of science and technology, to technical writing, to the digital humanities—we will focus on the complex dynamics between RWS and rapidly advancing communication technologies by looking at the cultural and social impacts of the digitization of the world. Course themes will include digital rhetoric, democracy, and #activism; the philosophy of technology and new materialism; race and technology; multimodal composition; and general theories of cyberculture as they relate to RWS.


ENGL 5543: Shakespeare’s Rome
Dr. Joseph Mansky

This course examines representations of antiquity in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. For Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Lodge, Ben Jonson, and other early modern playwrights, ancient Rome was not merely a lost civilization but a rich repository of gripping, timely tales. Dramatists drew on classical history in all sorts of ways: to make sense of the turmoil swirling around them, to interrogate Renaissance culture and politics, to forge their own artistic identities. Early modern plays set in antiquity accordingly open up an array of critical questions central to literary and cultural studies, including issues of translation and interpretation, rhetoric and politics, gender and power, and imitation and innovation. We will explore these questions and more by reading Renaissance drama alongside selected primary and secondary texts.


ENGL 5703 Forms of Protest: Dissident Lit & Social Movement Rhetoric
Dr. Jim Zeigler

This seminar will investigate sit-ins, manifestos, strikes, petitions, boycotts, open letters, riots, rants, sermons, vandalism, marches, exposés, assemblies, agitprop theater, satires, vigils, campaigns, occupations, commemorations, ‘zines, slogans, parades, and whatever other kinds of “punch up” collective complaints inspire our attention. We’ll work through a catalog of forms of representation that have been used to convey uneasy truths and political demands in the face of threats of reprisal. To orient our course, we’ll begin with Michel Foucault’s late work on the topic of “fearless speech” (parrhesia), which has been influential in the fields of Literary & Cultural Studies (LCS) and Rhetoric & Writing Studies (RWS). This seminar will provide opportunities for graduate students to develop independent research projects on forms of protest drawn from their areas of interest, but the syllabus will concentrate on cultural politics since the 1960s with an emphasis on conflict in and about the United States.

Key readings will likely include Michel Foucault Fearless Speech & the Rhetoric Society Quarterly’s 2013 forum on parrhesia; manifestos such as the Port Huron Statement, the Combahee River Collective Statement, the SCUM Manifesto, and the LEAP Manifesto. 5 Days that Shook the World on Seattle 1999, Occupy! Scenes from Occupied America on Occupy Wall Street in 2011, and Nick Estes’s Our History is the Future on Standing Rock in 2016, will be our documents of occupations. Open letters will include Sylvia Wynter’s “No Humans Involved” & George Yancy’s “Dear White America.” For riots and strikes, we’ll study Walter Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence,” Joshua Clover’s Riot, Strike, Riot, and Anna Deveare Smith’s play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Boycotts will pair with the plays of El Teatro Campesino, an arts initiative of  César Chávez’s United Farm Workers. We’ll revisit Second Wave Feminism’s advocacy for reproductive rights through the Wimmen’s Comix Collective in combination with new work in Social Reproduction Theory. Protests at COP 21 – the 2015 environmental conference that produced the Paris Agreement – could serve as a case study for artful inventions to contend with state censorship and the policing of dissent.

The plan will be under construction over the summer with the valuable aid of childcare made possible by COVID-19 vaccines. Thanks, science. It’s been a year, plus some months.


ENGL 4923/5923: Advanced Fiction Writing
Professor Rilla Askew

Intensive writing workshop designed to increase developing writers’ skills in the craft of fiction. The course is designed to engage writers in the act of discovery. Students are encouraged to investigate their sources and subject matter and to stretch themselves in terms of style and voice.

The format of the class is a traditional writing workshop wherein students submit new works of fiction, offer constructive detailed critique of fellow students’ work, and hone the craft of revision. Coursework includes assigned readings on Canvas and detailed written responses to fellow writers’ work as well as verbal analysis and feedback in workshop.

Prerequisites: ENGL 2123 Introduction to Creative Writing and ENG 3123 Fiction Writing or by permission.