Graduate Courses, Summer & Fall 2003


English 624: Henry James--The American in Europe
Professor Howard Silverstein
Tuesday/Thursday, 4:00 to 6:15 pm

This is an examination of the international theme in James's fiction. The course will focus on three seminal novels dealing with this theme: The American, Portrait of a Lady, and The Golden Bowl. These novels will also be used to examine the advance in James's craft of fiction as well as their position as forerunners of the modern novel.

Requirements will include oral presentations and a ten page essay on topics to be announced.

FALL 2003

English 524: Poetry Writing Workshop
Professor Lewis Warsh
Thursdays, 6:10 to 8:00 pm

In this course, we will trace the use of the first person pronoun "I" in American poetry, from Whitman to the present, and address the questions of truth-telling and disguise. Does writing personal poetry have a purpose and does it necessitate new forms? We'll discuss some of these forms and create our own, looking closely at recent models: Frank O'Hara, Elizabeth Bishop and Ted Berrigan. We'll also look at texts of personal writing by Lyn Hejinian and Marguerite Duras that blur the boundaries between poetry and prose. As much time as possible will be spent reading and discussing your work.

English 529: Seminar in Creative Writing: Visiting Writers Series

Students register for 529 and attend three successive sections.

Section One:  Noir Sensibility
Charlotte Carter
Wednesdays, 3:30 to 6:00 pm
9/1 to 10/1

The workshop will concentrate on writing with a noir sensibility, especially crime and mystery fiction. Expect there to be an emphasis on plotting—outlining, developing back stories, looking at character as a springboard for plot. Who is the detective figure? What are the advantages and limitations of first person ("I") narrative in crime fiction? What is evil? How interesting can a criminal be? How can genre writing also look at or illuminate history, societal ills, human nature itself? Ideally, participants will have manuscripts in progress that they wish to expand, improve, finish, or rewrite--or at least an idea for development. There will not be a great deal of in-class writing. Instead, workshop participants will sometimes be asked to create stories using assigned casts of characters or dramatic situations. While none of this implies that narratives must be traditional (linear), one purpose of the class is to help the writer achieve cohesiveness and accessibility.

Charlotte Carter is the author of four novels, Walking Bones; and three novels in the critically acclaimed Nanette Hayes series (Rhode Island RedCoq au Vin, and Drumsticks), featuring a young black woman musician and amateur sleuth. Published by Warner Books/Mysterious Press in the U.S. and by Serpent’s Tail in England, her books appear in translation in France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Portugal. In Summer 2003, Random House will publish the first entry in a new crime series by Carter, taking place in the late 1960s, the "Cook County" series. Carter is a long time fan of the mystery genre and lists among the writers she admires: Chester Himes, Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson, Horace McCoy, and Leigh Brackett. She is also indebted as a writer to the "black bohemians" such as LeRoi Jones, Nettie Jones, and Charles Wright, along with literary lights such as Henry Greene, Paul Bowles, Robert Stone, and Truman Capote. Carter was born in the Midwest. She has also lived in other parts of the world--North Africa, France, and Canada--but she has lived most of her life as a New Yorker.

Section Two:  Improvisational Writing—The Illusion of Narrative
John High
Wednesdays, 3:30 to 6:00 pm
10/15 to 11/5

During these four weeks we will explore improvisational techniques of writing in order to scrape beneath the veneer of fictional form and to more fully engage the texts that matter in our lives and stories. What is the illusion of form, and how do characters via our self-imaginings masquerade behind the screens of fiction? How do techniques of rupture and interruption expose a deeper awareness of craft and content? We will spend a week working with automatic writing, detective scripts and fictional autobiographies, a week experimenting with exercises in which we play with diaries and epistles, and a week in which we explore short-shorts, found artifacts, and postcard stories. From here we will dovetail into the illusion of film as text, writing mini-paper-movies for our "detective potboilers" and emerging characters. Each week will include lecture and discussion, in-class writing games and informal critiquing of our explorations during the month. Andrei Takovsky'sSculpting In Time, John Berger's Ways of Seeing and selected writings of Simone Weil will be among the course readings as well as home viewing of films to be announced. The goal of the intensive workshop includes completing one revised text for a final group reading and party.

John High is the author of six books, including his award-winning trilogy of poetic novels The Desire Notebooks and his recently publish selected writings, Bloodline. He has received four Fullbrights, two NEAs, and writing awards from the Witter Bynner Foundation, Arts International and the Academy of American Poets, among others. A translator of several books of contemporary Russian poetry, he was the chief editor for Crossing Centuries—The New Russian Poetry. He is also the founding and former editor of the Five Fingers Review. He lives in Brooklyn with his daughter.

Section Three:  Fiction Workshop
Richard Hell
Wednesdays, 3:30 to 6:00 pm
11/19 to 12/3

Good writers love to read books. What writers do you like? If you can explain why you like them you have a chance of being a good writer yourself. Good writing is good thinking. If you "know what you mean but you can't express it" you don't know what you mean. Instead, you could start by describing what it's like to not be able to express something. Once you've earned some confidence in your writing you can figure out what's going on by writing it. Don't worry about "finding your voice." If you know what you believe is good writing, then that's your aim as a writer: to produce some yourself. The rest will take care of itself. To paraphrase Nicholas Ray on filmmaking, the only meaningful aim of fiction is to produce something that heightens the reader's sense of being. The rest is just sociology and cultural chatter.

Be prepared to bring in a photocopy of a page or two of fiction you like. Exercises will include: writing fiction derived from the events of a given day of yours; rendering as fiction an incident from the life of Michael Jackson (or other widely reported event in a well-known person's life); and rewriting ("translating") a piece of existing fiction.

Richard Hell's first full length novel, Go Now, is an account set in l980 of a burned out junkie punk driving across America with a former girlfriend. It was published in l996 by Scribner and Fourth Estate in Britain. About Go Now, TLS review: "A splenetic journey that delights in changing lanes from one genre to the next without indicating. Hell slews into the oncoming traffic of Hemingway, Henry Miller, and P.J. O'Rourke, but he has sufficient fury to hold his own." The French translation was published by Editions de l'Olivier (Paris) in l999. A collection of mixed genre works, Hot and Cold, was also released in 200l from powerhouse books. Hell became famous in the mid-seventies as one of the originators of the punk movement.  His albums--Blank GenerationDestiny StreetR.I.P.Dim Stars--have often cited as the best of the year or the decade. He has also performed as a leading actor in many underground films.

English 525/Media Arts 600: Writing for Media--Story
Professor Claire Goodman
 (Media Arts Department, LIU-Brooklyn)
Thursdays, 6:00 to 8:50 pm

This cross-listed course is an introduction to the methods and principles of great STORYTELLING in the media. It is the cornerstone course for all forms of story: commercials, sitcoms, movies, experimental shorts, even documentaries and photographic essays. In the first half of the semester, by means of screenings and discussion, students will learn to recognize and analyze basic story elements such as narrative structure, character, setting, plot, design, irony, and comedy. In the second half, in workshop-style classes, students will work on creating their own stories using these elements. Each student will develop their own movie-short screenplay and treatment as a final project. A professional screenwriter will be a guest speaker at one of the classes.

Requirements: access to a computer, purchase of Final Draft writing software, permission of instructor to take the course.

English 624: African-American Drama
Professor Carol Allen
Tuesdays, 4:10 to 6:00 pm

This course covers the period between 1848 to the present and features texts composed by African American playwrights. We begin with the historical context of the mid-nineteenth century with a special emphasis on the rise of minstrelsy and the construction of William Wells Browns' The Escape (1848). Next we cover black women's arrival on the stage with Pauline Hopkins' Peculiar Sam(1878), and we discuss the emerging black musical and how it helps to divide the public theatrical sphere along racial lines, a phenomenon that hastens the Harlem Renaissance and a burgeoning independent black theater movement, which takes hold securely by the mid-twenties, a period that engenders race plays, historical pageants, folk drama, and experimental abstract works. Accordingly, our early twentieth century unit will feature pieces by W.E.B. DuBois, Angelina Grimke, Marita Bonner, Willis Richardson, Zora Neale Hurston, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Eulalie Spence. We conclude that period with Langston Hughes' long-running evocative work Mulatto. Post-war offerings to be studied include those written by Alice Childress, Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Adrienne Kennedy, Charles Fuller, August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, and Anna Deveare Smith. Appropriate critical essays will be supplied, and I plan at least one trip to an area theater. I imagine that students interested in African American literature, those who are themselves playwrights, and those intrigued by American culture at large will welcome the course.

English 641: Literacy and Basic Writing
Professor Deborah Mutnick
Thursdays, 6:10 to 8:00 pm

This course aims to situate basic writing instruction on the college level in the broader field of literacy studies. We will address several key questions: What is literacy? What is orality? What social and historical forces account for patterns of literacy and illiteracy? What myths surround literacy? How can educators help promote literacy? What defines a basic writer? What kind of instruction can enable so-called basic writers to become proficient readers and writers? What discussions are currently taking place in the field of basic writing and what implications might they have for institutions like LIU?

The reading list includes works by Walter Ong, Paulo Freire, William Labov, Shirley Brice Heath, James Paul Gee, Mike Rose, Deborah Brandt, Linda Brodkey, Mina Shaughnessy, Min-Zhan Lu, Tom Fox, and Bruce Horner. Writing requirements will include a course journal, a literacy autobiography, and a research paper that may be based on library and/or field research.

English 655:  English Romanticism
Professor Louis Parascandola
Mondays, 6:10 to 8:00 pm

This course will discuss poetry and non-fiction prose by the traditional "big six" Romantic writers:  William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.  We will also examine some of the women authors who have been gaining increasing critical stature, including Dorothy Wordsworth, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, and Felicia Hemans.  Finally, we will be reading fiction by Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice), Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), and Thomas Love Peacock (Nightmare Abbey).

English 700: Practicum in Teaching Composition
Professor Patricia Stephens
Tuesdays, 6:10 to 8:00 pm

This course is designed to introduce teachers to the theory and practice of writing instruction in a variety of settings: college composition courses, high school English courses, and writing center tutorials. Intended as both a source of support and a forum for discussion for new teachers as well as teachers with some experience in the classroom, the course will explore the dynamic and often complicated relationship between theory and practice in the teaching of writing. Overall, the course aims to help students expand their repertoire of theoretical and pedagogical knowledge and become more thoughtful and self-reflective teachers. During the first half of the semester, we will concentrate on readings that explore theories and practices appropriate for various levels of teaching writing (college, high school, and one-to-one tutoring). Writing assignments for the course are intended to encourage teachers to respond to issues raised and problems posed both in the readings and in hands-on work with student writers. Students will create writing assignments and syllabi, analyze written responses to student texts, produce a written observation of a classroom teacher or tutor, and create a statement of teaching/tutoring philosophy. In addition to a course book provided by the instructor, other texts may include The Writing Teacher’s SourcebookTeaching in Progress: Theories, Practices, and ScenariosIn the Middle: New Understandings about Writing, Reading, and Learning; and The Practical Tutor.

English 707: Methods in Research and Criticism
Professor Bernard Schweizer
Wednesdays, 6:10 to 8:00 pm

The aim of this course is to practice theoretically informed ways of reading and to acquire familiarity with literary research methods. Specifically, we will deal with feminist, historicist and postcolonial approaches. Due to the course’s focus on research and criticism, only two primary texts will be studied: The Fountain Overflows (l956) by Rebecca West and Black Mischief (l932) by Evelyn Waugh. The significant ideological, thematic, and formal differences between these two works of 20th century British fiction will enable us to sharpen our critical discernment. The first few weeks will be spent studying the above-mentioned three critical approaches, followed by close reading and discussion of the two primary texts. At the next stage we will devise a research plan, conduct bibliographical research, assess the available resources, and craft individual semester papers. Every student will give two presentations over the course of the semester.

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