Seminars

Spring 2017

ENGLIT 2500 Seminar in Pedagogy | Angie Cruz & Cory Holding

This course provides the opportunity for first-year Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows to develop strategies for teaching, to reflect on those strategies, and to consider the larger social, historical, and institutional contexts that shape their teaching.  The seminar will place students’ work in the course they are teaching into dialogue with texts that focus on current critical questions and pedagogical theory and practice across English Studies curricula.​

ENGLIT 2525 Composition Studies | Ben Miller

This seminar will offer an introduction to Rhetoric/Composition/Writing Studies as an academic discipline – including some of the reasons for, and consequences of, its difficulty finding a name for itself. Drawing on both historical and current scholarship, we will explore threshold concepts of the field and consider the range of both methodologies and subjects engaged by RCWS research. Over the course of the semester, a series of short projects will help students locate themselves in relation to the field, whether they identify as compositionists or not. The final project for the semester will be a colloquium, with students presenting revised versions of their earlier work.

 

Fall 2016

ENGLIT 2499 Digital Pedagogy | Matthew Lavin

This course examines recent interventions in digital pedagogy in the humanities, with a particular focus on intersections with literary studies, film studies, composition, and creative writing. Today, technological innovation is at once seen as both a hotly contested, ideologically informed subject, and a potential force for creative disruption in higher education: Elizabeth Losh sees a “war on learning” in the age of Turnitin.com and Cathy Davidson sees technology playing a crucial role the radical remaking of how we learn. Rather than focusing on “best practices” for teaching with digital tools, this course will consider the political, social, and cultural underpinnings of various digital pedagogy movements, as well as the way scholars like Clement, Davidson, Losh, and Sayers have framed their work in relation to a rapidly shifting technological and academic context. Assignments will ask students to compose in traditional, written academic genres as well as engage in critically informed digital making, with an emphasis on they might reshape approaches to teaching and learning. No prior knowledge of software or coding skills is assumed or required. Likewise, this course is available to students with any amount of teaching experience.

ENGLIT 2528 Four Rhetorical Theorists: Aristotle, Kenneth Burke, Mikhail Bakhtin, Bruno Latour | Don Dialostosky

The seminar will read key texts of four major theorists whose work has been and continues to be fruitful for composition, literature, and criticism and will sample some recent inquiries and arguments informed by their work.  The first two address rhetoric directly as part of their more capacious intellectual enterprises, the latter two, without foregrounding rhetoric, touch upon it in their larger projects in ways that scholars across the humanities have found productive.  We will be interested in the imaginable dialogues among these thinkers, in the places in their work that have been generative, and in potentially interesting ideas of theirs that have not yet been taken up.  All of these thinkers cross our current disciplinary boundaries in ways that would interest students of composition, literature, criticism, writing, and communication, and student inquiries engaging them in those fields would be all welcome course projects.

ENGLIT 2608 Genres and Genre Theory | Paul Kameen

This course examines the always intrinsic and complementary interactivity between critical theory and creative writing, in relation both to broad historical “movements” and to individual creative enterprise. We will focus on multiple genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry) at two specific historical moments: the 1970s, when postmodernist systems emerged in concert with reconfigured genres on the creative side; and right now, as alternatives are taking their place in both arenas.  In the former case, we will look at a range of now-famous texts by writers and theorists. In the latter case, your own writing and that of your preferred mentor-models, both creative and critical, will be our subject texts. This course is designed for entering MFA students.  More advanced students and students in other graduate degree programs will be admitted if there is room.

 

Spring 2016

ENGLIT 2507 Queer Inscriptions | Peter Campbell

“Queer Inscriptions” examines the ways in which bureaucratic and judicial actors use language to inscribe normative raced, sexualized, and gendered subjectivity through and onto bodies, as well as various possibilities for resisting, revising, and queering these inscriptions. What agency is available for persons to direct the force of inscription, and to refract inscriptional rhetoric back onto institutions? If we are written, in what ways can we write back?

Participants will be invited to consider “inscription” as a hermeneutic for several topics related to bodies, identity, and institutional language, including: trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer rhetorical and legal theory; the state regulation of race, sex and gender identity; the bureaucratic operation of incarceration and punishment systems; immigration and asylum; the judicial regulation of “race-conscious” school policies; and race and sexuality in labor negotiation.

The semester will ideally help students gain practical and poetical tools for writing and inscribing identity and subjectivity within their own scholarly, professional, political, and everyday lives. Writers across modes and disciplines are welcome.

Course readings are likely to include works by authors such as Brenda J. Allen, Jonathan Alexander, Judith Butler, Cathy Cohen, Qwo-Li Driskill, Sara McKinnon, Erica Meiners, Janet Halley, Kent Ono, Claudia Rankine, Chandan Reddy, Ishamel Reed, Barbara Smith, Dean Spade, Siobhan B. Somerville, and Leti Volpp. 

ENGLIT 2850  Digital Archives, Book History, and Literary Circulation | Stephen Carr

Various developments in the history of the book and the digital humanities have newly focused critical attention on issues of circulation, remediation, and the diverse afterlives of the literary work.  On-line databases, for example, have made it readily possible to trace the various uptakes and re-appropriations of works in new venues and formats, in ways that only a few author-centered studies have managed, and newly visible practices of reprinting, abridgement, remediation, re-purposing, and the like challenge practices of textual editing and notions of literary history. This seminar will investigate circulation as a crucial mediation between production and reception. Much of its materials will be drawn from the long nineteenth century, especially works situated in trans-Atlantic systems of exchange, with case studies in children’s literature and in the emergent canon of poetry in English, and there will be a good deal of exploring digital archives in pursuit of the practices of print culture. As a result, we will necessarily also need to be thinking through issues of the digital at the present moment, of the uses and limits of different kinds of digital databases and digitally enabled methods of investigation. Final projects may work from the developing arguments of the course to different historical periods or topics of individual interest.

 

Fall 2015

ENGLIT 2850   Computational Media | Annette Vee

In this course, we will consider the affordances, processes, protocols and potential of computational media.

But: *all* media are now computational. Communicative and creative media artifacts are inevitably composed with, circulated through, and shaped by computation. Through computers and digital networks, computation is slipping into domains once dominated by text, with corresponding reverberations in our compositional and cultural practices. Looking at computation through the lens of media production and consumption, we will ask: What does computation mean for reading and writing? What makes a media artifact computational, and what practices must we cultivate to interact with it? Helping us to explore these questions will be theoretical work by Bogost, Galloway, Chun, Brunton, Losh, Wardrip-Fruin, C. Crawford, and J. Brown. We'll also read computational literature, play video games, and create computational texts. No previous technical knowledge is required.

ENGLIT 2532   History of Rhetoric: Figurative Language | Paul Kameen

Figurative language has had, from the outset, a vexed status in Western philosophical/rhetorical systems, conceived by some as an aberrant form of representational discourse, by others as the most foundational unit of meaning.  This course will examine selected texts from four specific historical moments, each of which handles the conundrum in a different manner: the Classical period (Plato, Aristotle, Longinus); the Romantic period (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson); the Modern period (T.S. Eliot, H. D., W.C. Williams, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, I. A. Richards, Cleanth Brooks), and the Postmodern period (Jacques Derrida, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, Charles Olson, Sylvia Plath, and Ed Dorn.) The readings will be both poetry and prose.

ENGLIT 2500   Seminar in Pedagogy | Angie Cruz & Cory Holding

This course provides the opportunity for first-year Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows to develop strategies for teaching, to reflect on those strategies, and to consider the larger social, historical, and institutional contexts that shape their teaching.  The seminar will place students’ work in the course they are teaching into dialogue with texts that focus on current critical questions and pedagogical theory and practice across English Studies curricula.

 

Spring 2015

ENGLIT  2006   Close and Distant Reading | Stephen Carr

Appeals to "close reading" are ubiquitous in critical and pedagogical practices across the fields and affiliated disciplines of English, yet the term covers quite different and even antithetical methods in ways that often remain unacknowledged. Moreover, since close reading became consolidated throughout the academy, numerous questions have emerged about the use, or value, or status of ever proliferating readings of canonical texts (or of new objects of study—student writing, films, new media, marginalized literary cultures, etc.). "Distant reading," a term polemically introduced by Franco Moretti and now broadly associated with the Digital Humanities, responds to some of the limit conditions of close reading, and seeks to establish a new research paradigm, though it too has its well documented problems. About half the seminar will be devoted to the careful study of some exemplary performances of, and leading arguments for and about, both these modes of reading. The rest will be given over to an active experimentation in modeling current practices of reading, adapting successful forms of criticism and pedagogy to new circumstances, and exploring emergent ways of doing English (in its most expansive articulations) at the present moment. Members of the seminar will present to the class what they consider to be especially influential or powerful instances of reading in their field or discipline, partly as a critical self-inventory and partly as an occasion for productive transfers or crossings across different academic interests.

ENGLIT 2560   Narratives of Teaching and Learning | Nick Coles

This course will explore a wide range of narrative strategies for representing teaching and learning in pedagogical scholarship, literary texts, and film.  We will study the ways scholars and writers dramatize and reflect on their own teaching and that of others, and we’ll pay special attention to how teachers characterize students’ learning – its occurrence, meaning, and value. A basic premise of the course is that representations of teaching and learning are necessarily partial and provocative.   What are the potentialities and problems of narrative as a mode of representation for education?  Are some narratives more responsible than others?  How can we tell?  What does it mean to write “effectively” or “ethically” about one’s teaching or learning? Along with developing a research project, students will try their hand at narrating moments in their own teaching or learning in particular classrooms or other contexts.

ENGLIT 2506   Women and Literacy | Jean Ferguson Carr

How does gender alter the experience and effects of literacy? How have critics and historians in composition, literacy, gender, and literary culture represented women and literacy—as a research project and a critical issue? This course will investigate how formulations of literacy are disturbed by gender and by particular historical contexts. We will consider how women’s literacy has been constructed, shaped by schooling and criticism, and framed in relationship to readers’ expectations. How have women readers and writers of particular cultural moments negotiated the terms of their reading, writing, speaking, publication, and reception? We will explore situated tensions about women’s literacy in U.S. culture: constructions of schooling and childhood literacy, emerging notions of “women’s genres,” the rise in female readership and authorship in the early 19th-century, the entry of women in colleges, and the political and critical challenge shaped by feminist projects of the 1960s and 70s. We will read materials written by women, as well as materials prepared to advise, educate, and criticize women (and girls), and we will read various critical projects that attempt to account for women’s literacy as distinct and distinctive, as a problem and a possibility. Students will develop a cultural /historical project of their own, using various kinds of literacy materials to explore women’s literacy, language, education, and reception.

 

Fall 2014

ENGLIT 2509   Ordinary Language | David Bartholomae

This seminar will consider ordinary language (variously defined) and its bearing on composition and the teaching of writing. Readings will include an anthology of student essays, some standard work in composition (Shaughnessy, Williams, Slevin, Coles, Elbow, Kameen, Sinor), selections from two books on Robert Frost (Poirier and Jost), and a selection of work in rhetoric, pedagogy, literary theory, and philosophy, with particular attention to I.A. Richards, Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, Raymond Williams, and Stanley Cavell.

ENGLIT 2500   Seminar in Pedagogy | Angie Cruz & Cory Holding

This course provides the opportunity for first-year Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows to develop strategies for teaching, to reflect on those strategies, and to consider the larger social, historical, and institutional contexts that shape their teaching.  The seminar will place students' work in the course they are teaching into dialogue with texts that focus on current critical questions and pedagogical theory and practice across English Studies curricula.
 

Spring 2014

ENGLIT 2208   Cultures of American Literacy | Jean Ferguson Carr

This course will investigate historical constructions of literacy in the United States, paying particular attention to the instructional materials and practices that shape literacy and its measurement. Working with various archival materials of literacy instruction (for example, textbooks, teachers' manuals, educational treatises, periodicals, literary prefaces and anthologies, letter-writing guides, examinations, advice books, novels, college catalogs and course plans), we will consider how practices of reading and writing are represented, theorized, and shaped by institutional and social concerns. We will also examine how literacy and instructional projects are represented in histories of schooling, in public debates (both currently and in the 19th century), and in scholarly inquiries. Students will work with Pitt's Nietz Collection of Old Textbooks, a splendid archive of 19th-century schoolbooks, writing manuals, grammars, dictionaries, and anthologies. Our investigation will encompass materials designated for the schools and colleges, but we will also work with materials targeting specific groups of learners, for example, factory workers, immigrants, ex-slaves, home learners, women, adults in study groups, lyceum programs, creative writing circles, and the like. Each student will be asked to develop an "archive" of literacy materials to work on and to present to the group. Although our shared archival focus will be on 19th-century materials, students are welcome to develop projects that extend into the present.

ENGLIT 2523  The Art and Ideology of Teaching the Essay | Kathryn Flannery

What are we asking of students when we ask them to compose an essay? What knowledges are we hoping they will develop? Many claims have been made about the cognitive, personal, and political benefits of essay writing. But such claims have been challenged by work in Literacy Studies that calls into question the privileging of “essay-text” writing, a privileging that has consequences not only for the classroom but also for larger, public policy debates about literacy and education. Even though few of the critics would say that there is no value in essay writing, their work is sometimes used as justification for abandoning the essay altogether. How can we negotiate this apparent divide? In this course, we will consider what teachers mean when they say they are teaching the essay: what literally are students doing as evidenced in reports, scholarly literature, and textbooks? We’ll also explore both the justifications and the critiques in order to think through the potentialities and limitations of teaching this protean form whether in the formal classroom or in other venues. This course should be of interest to those currently teaching writing (whether in composition, creative writing, or literature classes) as well as those who plan to teach in the future whether in a university or high school setting or in alternative settings such as, for example, a women’s shelter, adult learning center, or prison.

ENGLIT 2570  Materialities of Writing | Annette Vee

What difference does it make whether we write with ink pens, stone tablets, quills, parchment, hyperlinks, computer code, scrolls or codices? How much of modern bureaucracy can be chalked up to the permanence and flexibility of paper and the organizational innovations of filing systems? How do computer databases enable government surveillance as well as sophisticated literary narratives? First explored by scholars such as Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan, questions about the materialities of writing have again become central to research on electronic literature, the history of the book, and the ways that objects accompany our compositional practices. In this seminar, we will focus on writing and materiality, paying attention to historical technologies as well as computational contexts of writing. In addition to Innis and McLuhan, we will read more recent work by Hayles, Kirschenbaum, Manovich, B. Kafka, Gitelman, Bogost and others. Assignments for the course will ask students to compose not only in traditional, written academic genres but also in sound, code, online spaces and physical objects.

 

Fall 2013

ENGLIT 2500 Seminar In Pedagogy | Nicholas Coles

This course provides an opportunity for first-year Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows in the English Department to reflect on the theory and practice of pedagogy within the social, historical, and institutional contexts that shape them. It will place students' work in the course that TAs and TFs teach (Seminar in Composition) into dialogue with published texts that focus on higher education and the classroom. Students will be expected to write responses to the readings, participate in presentations, and complete a final project that includes scholarly research.

ENGLIT 2524 Rhetorical Gestures | Cory Holding

This course explores historical, theoretical, and methodological approaches to gesture in rhetorical invention, moving from forgotten histories of gesture as a mode of both reasoned and affective persuasion to focus on current studies of the relationship between gesture and invention in neuroscience, performance studies, composition, and other disciplines. On the way, we will attend to affect, kinesthesia, sympathy, and other modes and manifestations of bodily suggestion. In addition to a substantial seminar project, students will have the opportunity to plan and produce hybrid written and gestural texts in response to course readings and discussion.

 

Spring 2013

ENGLIT 2532 History of Rhetoric: Figurative Language | Paul Kameen

Figurative language has had, from the outset, a vexed status in Western philosophical/rhetorical systems, conceived by some as an aberrant form of representational discourse, by others as the most foundational unit of meaning.  This course will examine selected texts from four specific historical moments, each of which handles the conundrum in a different manner: the Classical period (Plato, Aristotle, Longinus); the Romantic period (Coleridge, Shelley, Emerson, Whitman); the Modern period (W.C. Williams, Wallace Stevens, I. A. Richards, Brooks and Warren), and the Postmodern period (Jacques Derrida, Charles Bernstein, Charles Olson, Ed Dorn.) The readings will be both poetry and prose.

 

Fall 2012

ENGLIT 2500 Seminar in Pedagogy | Jean Ferguson Carr

This course provides an opportunity for first-year Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows in the English Department to reflect on the theory and practice of pedagogy within the social, historical, and institutional contexts that shape them. It will place students’ work in the Seminar in Composition into dialogue with texts that focus on critical questions across English, including composition, literature, creative writing, and film. Students will be expected to write responses to the readings, to participate in group presentations, and to complete a final project that includes scholarly research. This course is required of all first-year Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows.

ENGLIT 2502 Literacy and Pedagogy

This course will investigate the historical, cultural, and political constitution of "pedagogy" and the relation of its various historical and social practices to changing views of "literacy."

ENGLIT 2528 Four Rhetorical Theorists: Aristotle, Kenneth Burke, Mikhail Bakhtin, Bruno Latour | Don Bialostosky

The seminar will read key texts of four major theorists whose work has been and continues to be fruitful for composition, literature, and criticism and will sample some recent inquiries and arguments informed by their work. These thinkers cross our current disciplinary boundaries in ways that would interest students of composition, literature, criticism, and writing, and student inquiries engaging them in those fields would be all welcome course projects.

 

Spring 2012

ENGLIT 2728 Writing/Class | Nicholas Coles


This course will explore the workings of class in and through the practices of writing.  Class will be treated as both social-historical process and lived experience, legible in the varied sites of literary production, literacy education, and composition pedagogy.  We will investigate the intersections of class with race, gender, sexuality and other marks of power and difference, and the pressures and possibilities they bring to acts of writing, in and out of school.  Readings may include fiction, nonfiction and poetry by writers such as Raymond Williams, bells hooks, Richard Rodriguez, mike Rose, Tillie Olsen, Dorothy Allison, Walter Mosley, Janet Zandy, Pierre Bourdiey, as well as writing in zines, blogs and student projects.

ENGLIT 2525 Composition Studies | Jean Ferguson Carr


This course will investigate key topics in composition studies from the 1970s to the present, considering it as an emergent field, as an agenda for research and scholarship, and as an arena that shapes teaching and learning. We will examine some of the identifying documents of the field (chair’s addresses, prize-winning essays and books, journals, conference programs, research projects) and consider how shifts in theory, research, and critical conversations intersect with the  teaching of composition (curriculum, courses, assignments, teaching practices).



ENGLIT 2501 Topics in Literacy: Literacy and Technology | Annette Vee


We may think of literacy as an ability to express ourselves and communicate through technologies of inscription. In this seminar, we’ll look at the history and nature of these technologies (clay tablets, printing press, etc.) with special attention to more recent literacy technologies—the World Wide Web, mobile devices, computers, video games, etc. Students will blog for the class and as well as learn some new (i.e., non-print) literacy technologies. Readings will include work from Lisa Gitelman, Denise Schmandt-Besserat, Andrea diSessa, James Paul Gee, Elizabeth Eisenstein, Jack Goody and Walter Ong.

 

Fall 2011

ENGLIT 2333 Poetry As Utterance | Don Bialostosky

This course will examine the theoretical implications and pedagogical advantages of treating poems as imitations of utterances. We will elaborate this model of poetry from a verity of theoretical sources from Plato to the present, distinguish it from other models, especially the residual new criticism that still informs much of our teaching of “close reading,” and test it through reading of poems from a wide range of periods and genres of poetry in English. Both lyric and narrative poetry will be considered as will the extension of this model to reading artistic narrative prose. The model we will be using, developed mainly from the work of Bakhtin school, underwrites a version of English Literature 0500, “Introduction to Critical Reading,” that has proved effective in overcoming students’ “poetry anxiety” and developing their confidence and skill in pleasurably and responsibly reading demanding poems.

ENGLIT 2500 Seminar in Pedagogy

This course provides an opportunity for first-year Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows in the English Department to reflect on the theory and practice of pedagogy within the social, historical, and institutional contexts that shape them.  It will place students' work in the course that TAs and TFs teach (Seminar in Composition) into dialogue with published texts that focus on higher education and the classroom.  Students will be expected to write responses to the readings, participate in presentations, and complete a final project that includes scholarly research.  This course is required of all first-year TAs and TFs.

ENGLIT 2502 Theories of Reading and Writing


“To read is to write is to read. . . “: this chiasmic phrase, which became popular in the 1980s, incisively captured groundbreaking formulations of the interrelationship(s) between reading and writing, theories of reading and theories of writing. In composition studies especially, though not exclusively, the implications of this relationship raised radical and fruitful questions about pedagogy. For many teachers and theorists of composition, pedagogy became a cogent and responsible site where to reflect on and scrutinize the implications and consequences of reading theories for advancing their understanding of student texts, and for expanding students’ possibilities for learning by teaching them to unpack and to exploit the relationships between reading and writing in their own reading and writing practices. By the beginning of the 1990s the chiasmus lost its traction, and became a maxim that tends to obviate rather than cultivate theoretical reflection on pedagogy.

ENGLIT 2509 Ordinary Language | David Bartholomae


This course will serve as an introduction to the concept of “ordinary” language in literary production, in philosophy and in literary theory.  The course will include writing exercises as well as longer critical or theoretical paper.  Style:  This course will serve as an introduction to the concept of “style” in literary production, in philosophy, in linguistics, and in literary theory.  The course will include writing exercises as well as a longer critical or theoretical paper.

The aim of this course is to problematize what seems to have become obvious, even banal, about this relationship by historicizing and re-theorizing it. We will focus on (give and take) the 1980s-1990s: we will read several texts and collections of essays that explored the reading and writing relationship both in Composition and English Studies at large to examine and expose illuminating differences in insights and applications of them in the two fields. And we will trace the representations, appropriations, and effects of these theoretical inquiries in journals like CCC, CE, Composition Studies, JAc, and PMLA. At the same time we will read the work of theorists of reading most prominent in the 1980s to explore and speak back to the uses their insights were put to in the field of composition, to ponder why/how some of them remained relevant while others faded away, and to ask again, from the perspective of pedagogy, what it means for, and what are the implications of a teacher/practitioner of Iserian, or Bartseian, or Derridian (etc., etc.) theory to teach his/her students how to write by teaching them how to read in that particular way.

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