Graduate Courses, Spring 2007

English 520: Non-Fiction Writing Workshop
Professor Deborah Mutnick
Wednesdays 4:10 - 6:00 pm

The nonfiction writing workshop is designed to give you the opportunity to develop your writing in a community of writers. The focus this semester will be on the personal essay in relation to nonfiction writing in general. The course explores various approaches to nonfiction writing, such as the use of autobiography to anchor criticism and of fictional techniques like dialogue and point of view to write about real places, people, and events. It also raises theoretical questions such as what distinguishes nonfiction from fiction. What constitutes "creative" writing? What does the personal essay tell us about larger social and historical issues? And what role does the "I" play in different types of nonfiction writing? You will benefit from a group of readers with different perspectives whose job it will be to provide close readings and constructive criticism of your work.

Those interested in oral history and ethnography will have the opportunity to participate in one of two ongoing documentary projects. "Making a Legacy: The Story of an Urban Public School" is a seven-year project tracking the progress of the pioneering sixth grade class at the Urban Assembly Academy of Arts & Letters, a new secondary school that started in fall 2006 and is located at 225 Adelphi Street, a few blocks from LIU. "Homegrown Stories" is an intergenerational storytelling project sponsored by the Prospect Lefferts Gardens (PLG) neighborhood association. PLG is an area in Brooklyn bordered by Prospect Park, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Parkside Avenue.

Throughout the semester, we will read published essays as models, identifying and experimenting with different techniques, styles, and approaches to nonfiction writing. 

Among the writers we will read are Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Vivian Gornick, Susan Griffin, Alice Walker, Richard Rodriquez, Edward Hoagland, Harvey Wang, Jane Lazarre, and Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan. The emphasis of the class, however, will be on your own writing, which will be discussed at least twice in workshop during the semester. You will be required to complete two short (4-6 page) essays, and one longer (15-20 page) essay or the equivalent, as well as keep a writer's notebook.

English 524: See Sun, Think Shadow—Poetry Writing Workshop
Professor Lewis Warsh
Mondays 6:10 - 8:30 pm

"See sun, think shadow" is a quote by Louis Zukofsky, a great poet of New York City, whose poetry attempted to capture the light and darkness of his immediate surroundings. "Sun" and "shadow" are states of mind and also emotional states-the external world of the sun (what we see) and the interior world lost in shadow (what we're feeling). One goal of poetry is to transcribe the shifts from one state to another and also recreate the experience of what it feels like to be in the sun and in the shadow simultaneously.

We will use this workshop to expand the range of what's possible as poets and will begin by exploring the traditions and the various forms of poetry (among them the sonnet, the sestina, the villanelle). One primary concern is the way that poetry changes through time (in the same way that painting and music changes) and how poetry reflects the time in which it is written. We will also discuss the notion of experimentation, and how writing is an act of risk-taking, i.e. without taking risks nothing ever changes. Is all great writing, for instance, experimental writing? In what ways is writing poetry similar to scientific discovery of invention? We will discuss, at length, what "experiment" means in relation to poetry. Among the poets we will look at closely are Louis Zukofsky, Charles Reznikoff, Ted Berrigan, Elizabeth Bishop, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Robert Creeley, Bernadette Mayer, Amiri Baraka, Alice Notley, Jack Spicer, Frank O'Hara, and Allen Ginsberg. We will also explore the ways in which poetry connects to theory, touching on essays by Maurice Blanchot and Lyn Hejinian.

English 525: Playwriting Workshop
Professor Katt Lissard
Wednesdays 6:10 - 8:30 pm

This course will be divided into three parts. We'll begin with a brief introduction to the history and basics of dramatic writing, using Aristotle's Poetics, David Ball's Backwards and Forwards and Shakespeare'sHamlet. The second phase will focus on scene and character development, through a series of written exercises and assignments, as each student begins drafting a one-act play. The final section of the course will be devoted to workshopping each student's play-in-progress. Ongoing discussion of playwriting craft, theory, and form will be directly related to the individual needs of participating student playwrights and the work each student is developing. Along with the texts mentioned above, we'll be reading relevant plays and using Keith Johnstone's Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre as an ongoing resource. The workshop will culminate in an evening of public readings of student work.

Katt Lissard, a writer and director, spent most of 2005 in Lesotho, Africa on a Fulbright Award - teaching in the Theatre Unit at the National University of Lesotho, producing and directing plays, and researching the dramatic response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Her most recent play, The Law of Falling Bodies, was part of the Third Millennium Festival. Her work has been seen at a variety of NYC venues, including: Dixon Place, HERE, NYU's Experimental Theatre Wing, the ArcLight, St. Mark's in the Bowery, and the former Circle Rep Lab. She is a Mabou Mines Resident Artist alum, an Affiliate Artist of New Georges Theatre Company and a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Lissard also teaches in the Goddard College Interdisciplinary Masters Program and at the State University of New York, Empire State College.

English 527: Web Authoring
Professor John Killoran
Tuesdays 6:10 -8:00 pm

According to a 2004 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 44% of American Internet users have contributed some of their own work to the online world. Projecting from current economic and cultural trends, we can reasonably assume that almost 100% of writers and professional communicators will be expected to author some part of the online world.

To increase their understanding of, participation in, and marketability for such online authorship, students of this course will learn the principles, research, and practices of creating and publishing work on the Web.

Classes will be devoted to such topics as…

•Web rhetoric practices by commercial and non-profit organizations, throughout civic society, and in        personal, professional, and communal publishing;
• information architecture and hypertext navigation;
• information design principles and Web layout practices;
• writing for and reading from the computer screen, screen typography;
• rhetoric of integrating text with photographs, graphics, and color;
• user analysis and usability testing.

As a major part of their course work, students will write, design, and publish a Web site on a topic of their specialty.

Web Knowledge, Skills, and Prerequisites

As this is a graduate-level course, much class time will be devoted to developing students' conceptual knowledge: the principles of and research on Web rhetoric. Students will also develop their Web authoring skills:

• hand coding XHTML and CSS,
•using a Web editor,
•creating basic graphics and modifying photographs in Photoshop,
•publishing and maintaining their sites.

The course is designed to accommodate students with little or no Web-authoring experience, though such students should…

• have regular computer and Internet access,
•be very familiar with the Internet,
•be willing to learn quickly.

Students who have already developed these Web-authoring skills will focus their learning on Web research and Web rhetoric and, in consultation with the professor, will be permitted to complete and submit certain basic in-class course work from home.

English 625: 19th Century American Literature
Professor Michael Bennett
Mondays 4:10 - 6:00 pm

In this course, we will be studying literature written in the United States between 1840 and 1900 and the body of critical work that responds to this literature. The first part of this course will be devoted to the antebellum period. We will consider why this period has been called "the American Renaissance" and explore what, if anything, that label adds to our understanding of American culture before the Civil War. The last part of this course will examine American culture in the postbellum period. We will explore the adequacy of the term Realism for describing American literature written during the period of rising industrialism after the Civil War. In both parts of the course, we will interrogate what is meant by some of our key terms: American, literature, author, culture. We will keep in view how issues of gender and race shape (or misshape) our understanding of these terms.
Readings from: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Fanny Fern, Rebecca Harding Davis, Mark Twain, Henry James, Kate Chopin, Charles Chesnutt.

English 641: Literacy/ Basic Writing
Professor Xiao-Ming Li
Thursdays 4:10 - 6:00 pm


In this course we will examine whom we teach and what we teach in basic writing courses, i.e. who are basic writers? And what is literacy? Based on the understanding of those two issues, we will discuss how to teach basic writers what we claim to teach. To answer the question of whom, we will read Shirley Brice Heath and Shondel Nero, whose studies of basic writers, the latter of students at LIU in particular, provide useful templates for our own ethnographic or case studies. For the question on literacy, we will read such influential educators as E.D. Hirsch, Paulo Freire, and Patricia Bizzell. To ponder the last question of how, we will examine models such as the Pittsburg model (Batholomae and Petrosky) and the Amherst model (Robin Varnum), and those described by Mina Shaughnessay and Geneva Smitherman in their well celebrated books. A Sourcebook for Basic Writing Teachers edited by Theresa Enos will be used as a companion book for all discussions.

All participants will keep a reading journal to "think aloud" all reading assignments. Each will also engage in a semester-long project to study one of the three key issues proposed above. The project will culminate in a paper of 10-15 pages, which should 1) synthesize and evaluate the readings pertinent to the issue; 2) analyze one basic writer's written texts throughout the semester in the context of the writer's life experience; and 3) propose concrete methodology tailored to this particular basic writer.

English 651: 16th & 17th Century English Literature
Professor Seymour Kleinberg
Tuesdays 6:10 - 8:00 pm


In this course we will explore the sonnets of Shakespeare, and the lyrics of John Donne, George Herbert, and Andrew Marvel (these last 3 known as the Metaphysical Poets). A term paper and a final essay in lieu of an exam are required. In addition, students will lead discussions each week. The course is a close reading of 4 major lyric poets to see how their ideas are expressed in their language and forms.

English 700: Practicum in Teaching Composition
Professor Donald McCrary
Tuesdays 4:10 - 6:00 pm

This course prepares graduate English students to teach in the LIU/Brooklyn Writing Program by examining the theories and practices that guide the program, including social constructionism, process writing, portfolio assessment, and thematic course design and applying those theories and practices to the creation of a viable English 16 syllabus. In addition, the course will explore managing the classroom, creating/integrating reading and writing assignments, responding to student texts, teaching grammar, organizing/facilitating teacher-student conferences, and addressing the linguistic issues of a multicultural student population.

Possible texts for the course might include Facts, Artifacts, and Counterfacts by Anthony Petrosky and David Bartholomae, The St. Martin's Guide to Teaching Writing by Cheryl Glenn et al, and Portfolio Assessment in the Reading Writing Classroom by Robert J. Tierney, Mark A. Carter, and Laura E. Desai.

English 707: Methods in Research & Criticism
Professor Bernard Schweizer
Thursdays 6:10 - 8:00 pm

This course will expose students to major schools of 20th-century critical theory, including New Criticism, Marxism, Feminism, Historicism, and Postcolonialism, and it will familiarize them with fundamental aspects of methodology and research. We will approach the critical heritage from three perspectives: first, we will engage in a discourse about the why and wherefore of theory in general, using Jonathan Culler's meta-theoretical Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction; next, we will encounter various schools of criticism" in action;" that is, we will see how specific critical tools are used in interpretations of our core text,Jane Eyre; third, we will compare two different critical editions of Jane Eyre, assessing the theoretical premises underpinning each edition and identifying the editorial assumptions that went into the making of these textbooks. Finally, we will put what we learned in the first half of the course into practice. The class will be divided into groups, each of which will put together a "critical edition" of their own. That is, each group will act as an editorial committee working with either Rebecca West's The Return of the Soldier or Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. The group is to collect a number of relevant critical treatments of these novels, write introductions, and collate the material to resemble an editorial apparatus. The groups are to give a progress report on their evolving critical editions week by week.

Assigned Texts: Jane Eyre, Bedford St. Martin's Critical Edition; Jane Eyre, Norton Critical Edition;Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, Jonathan Culler; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

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