Graduate Courses, Summer & Fall 2009

Summer Session One 2009

(May 16 - June 29)

English 504--Traditions & Lineages
Class ID# 5723
Professor Barbara Henning
Tuesdays & Thursdays 6:00-8:15 pm

This is writing workshop and reading seminar. You will be reading books and participating in writing workshops. In this seminar we will be doing close reading of five books (fiction poetry) from 20th-to-21st Century writers, examining how these poetics work within or transform the poetics of previous movements or traditions such as Surrealism, the Harlem Renaissance, Oulipo, Cubism, Negritude, Magic Realism, Projective Verse, Language Writing, the Beat Generation and Investigative Poetry. With each book, we’ll also be reading short excerpts from earlier works. The goal of the class is to introduce you to some new writers, some new ways of writing, and to perhaps become more aware of the roots of your own practice.

Generally, our schedule will work as follows: On Thursdays we will discuss the new books and handouts. On Tuesdays we will hold a writing workshop. The assignment for the workshop will relate to the readings. When the readings are assigned, you must also write a two to three page informal response to the book (and handouts) and be prepared to share it with the class. At the end of the semester (6 weeks!), you will submit a 4-5 page informal consideration of the class and how you might now consider your own writing practice in light of the works you read during the semester.

The books we will be reading will be as follows:

Aime Cesaire. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
Italo Calvino. Invisible Cities
Harryette Mullen. Sleeping with the Dictionary
Roberto Bolano. By Night in Chile
Juliana Spahr. This Connection of Everyone With Lungs.

Summer Session Two 2009

(July 6 - August 16)

English 579--Seminar in Special Studies: Good or Evil?: Debating Slavery in the 18th Century
Class ID# 7836
Professor Srividhya Swaminathan
Tuesdays & Thursdays 6:00-8:15 pm

The end of the 18th century witnessed one of the most dynamic social movements in British history--the movement to abolish the slave trade. No other movement at this time enlisted such a diverse array of authors and literary media to argue both for and against abolition. This course will analyze a representative sampling of antislavery and proslavery literature in order to understand the major arguments that shaped the literary landscape in the late eighteenth century. We will mix traditional literary periods in order to examine gothic, sentimental, Romantic, and neo-classical texts by major writers of the time. We will also take a broader definition of the term "literature" and look at essays and pamphlets published to argue for each side. Additionally, students travel to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to learn how to approach and conduct archival research. Students will engage in rhetorical analysis and an examination of creative techniques in examining a range of texts that truly represent the greater diversity of English and West Indian writers of the later eighteenth century.

Fall 2009

English 503--Theory of Writing
Remembering the Present
Class ID# 4175
Professor Lewis Warsh
Tuesdays 6:30-8:50 pm

Writing theory is an all encompassing endeavor. It must take into account both the past and the present while pointing instructively towards the future. Many great 20th-Century theorists were fiction writers and poets themselves--their theoretical work derived from their practice as creative writers. One goal of this course is to develop and articulate our own sense of what we want to do as writers and what we expect as readers. We will use the ideas expressed in these essays to inspire and inform our own work.

Another goal is to create a dialogue between ourselves and these authors. Ezra Pound's notable quote (I'm paraphrasing) : "Don't take advice from anyone who hasn't written a great work" is something to keep in mind. What gives anyone the right to theorize? One of the ongoing threads in this class will be an attempt to understand the place of theory in our work as writers, beginning with the inescapable question: "Is it necessary?"

Among the authors we will read are Henry James, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, Laura Riding, Gertrude Stein, Roland Barthes, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Walter Benjamin, M.M. Bakhtin, Tzvetan Todorov, Maurice Blanchot, James Baldwin, Charles Olson, Frank O'Hara, Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Lyn Hejinian.

English 520--Advanced Writing Workshop
Non-Fiction Writing
Class ID# 6030
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Mondays 4:10-6:00 pm


This is an intensive writing workshop with a focus on the personal essay. The first few weeks will be devoted to reading personal essays by published authors and analyzing their form, their style, the rhetorical strategies they employ, and their use of language. We will then move to a workshop format in which students read and critique each other's essays in detail. The goal of the workshop is to help the writer move toward effective revision; each student will be expected to produce either one long (20-30 pages) or two shorter (10-15 pages) revised piece(s) of creative nonfiction by the end of the term. We will use as a common text Philip Lopate's The Art of the Personal Essay, as well as selected handouts. The writers we will read may include George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Natalia Ginzburg, Atul Gawande, Richard Rodriguez, Patricia Williams, Cherie Moraga, Vivian Gornick, Adrienne Rich, and Gayle Pemberton.

English 523--Fiction Writing Workshop
Short-Shorts, Meta-Fictions & Cross-Genre Writing
Class ID# 1389
Professor John High
Wednesdays 4:00-6:20 pm

What critics generally refer to as the 'experimental' story has actually existed since the beginning of storytelling across the world and throughout different cultures, continents, and mythologies. In this course we'll examine the phenomenon of metafictions, short-short stories & cross-genre writing as an innovative form in contemporary writing that builds on such traditions. These 1-2-3 page stories often combine elements of poetry, parable, and performance writing within the basic framework of narrative. Their sudden impact results from both their brevity as well as their quick and potentially explosive pacing. This is an intensive writing workshop in which we will focus on our own stories and process of writing. We'll study the essential framework of fiction (character, setting, plot, pov, etc.…), while exploring the still undefined territory of the experimental narrative in forms ranging from postcard stories to flash fictions. How can we craft our narratives to move with urgency, immediacy, and surprise? Short, episodic writing requires a vitality of voice, the sudden and unexpected in plotting and conflict, and the mind's careful meditation on the subtle nuances and meaning of events. Particular attention must be paid to the sentence--how do we sculpt the line to get to the core essence? What is left unsaid? Where are the silences? How do we find the poetry of the prose?

We'll look at ancient parables and mythic writings as well as at what's being published now as a way to examine how other writers are experimenting with ways to tell a story. We'll read texts ranging from those of the ancient Sufi, Navajo, Eskimo, and Egyptian parables to stories by Yasunari Kawabata, Jayne Anne Phillips, Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson, Diane Williams, Lydia Davis, John Berger, Jamaica Kincaid, Jorge Luis Borges, Roberto Bolanño, Fanny Howe, Sam Shepard, John Edgar Wideman, and Michael Ondaatje. The course will include writing exercises that draw from childhood memories, personal experience, and the landscape of dreams. So we'll explore the possibilities of episodic writing in our work without restrictions of genre jurisdiction or hierarchy. The goal of the course includes completion of a chapbook of revised works of short fiction, a public reading and class party.

English 524--Poetry Writing Workshop
The City Below
Class ID# 1005
Visiting Poet Brenda Coultas
Thursdays 6:30-8:50 pm

In this workshop we will take our cue from the streets by writing about what is under our feet and surrounding us. We will root through the detritus, material and non-material, to discover lost histories of the city. Students will create a long work or series of related poems on this theme of the lost/hidden or perhaps even the imaginary city. This work could include investigations into extinct industries, disappeared populations or personalities, or buried ecologies. Students will go deep rather than wide in their excavation of an aspect of the city now lost or obscured by time or neglect. Expect in-class writing and sharing. We will borrow from the techniques of investigative poetics and poetics of place, and consider how our own voice or history may be influenced by the neglected city.

Our models include Charles Baudelaire, Walt Whitman, Italo Calvino, W.C.Williams, Lorine Niedecker, and onward into 21st century with Eleni Sikelianos, Anselm Berrigan, Renee Gladman, Marcella Durand and others.

Brenda Coultas is the author of The Marvelous Bones of Time (2008) and A Handmade Museum(2003) from Coffee House Press. A Handmade Museum won the Norma Farber Award from The Poetry Society of America, and a Greenwall Fund publishing grant from the Academy of American Poets. Since coming to New York City in 1994, she has served as program assistant and series curator at the Poetry Project in NYC, and along with Eleni Sikelianos, she edited the Poetry Project Newsletter. Coultas has taught at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado and at the Study Abroad on The Bowery poetry program at Bowery Arts and Science, and the Poetry Project in New York City. Her writing can be found in many publications including: ConjunctionsBrooklyn RailTrickhouse, and the Denver Review. Other books include Early Films (Rodent Press) and A Summer Newsreel (Second Story Press). She received a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) fellowship in 2005 and is currently a LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) artist-in-residence.

English 528--Seminar: Beautiful Bold Brutal Bolaño
[Note: Even though this course is taught by MFA faculty, this is a LITERATURE course!]
Class ID# 6032
Professor Jessica Hagedorn and Visiting Writer Jaime Manrique
Wednesdays 6:30-8:50 pm

We investigate the works of the late, great Chilean author Roberto Bolaño, who died in 2003 at the young and tender age of fifty. Readings will include the gritty, sexy and sublime poems of The Romantic Dogs, as well as selections from Bolaño's prodigious and astonishing fiction: Last Evenings On EarthDistant Starand the epic and terrifying 2666. We may even throw in an excerpt from the equally epic The Savage Detectives and screen a film which provides historical context for Roberto Bolaño's life and times. We will explore cultural myth-making, "magical realism" and other movements in Latin American literature (which Bolaño and his gang of agents provocateurs were rebelling against), and what it means to read literature in translation.

Jaime Manrique was born in Colombia. His first book of poems, Los adoradores de la luna, received his country's National Book Award. In Spanish, he also wrote a volume of stories, and a collection of film reviews. He has written four novels in English: Our Lives Are the RiversTwilight at the EquatorLatin Moon in Manhattan, and Colombian Gold-- translated to many languages. Manrique is the author of the volumes of poems My Night with Federico García LorcaTarzan, My Body, Christopher Columbus;Sor Juana's Love Poems, co-translated with Joan Larkin; and the memoir Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me. His reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book ReviewSalon,Washington Post Book WorldBOMB, and many other publications. Among his honors are grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He has worked as an associate professor in the M.F.A. program in writing at Columbia University from 2002 to the present. He's a member of the Board of Trustees of PEN American Center, and he chairs the Open Book Committee.

English 620: Theories of Writing & Rhetoric
Class ID# 13244
Professor Patricia Stephens
Thursdays 4:10-6:00 pm

In this course, we will examine rhetorical theories that help us understand and teach persuasive and analytic writing in the 21st century. We will start by reading some of the ancient rhetorics of Aristotle and the Sophists and then move into more contemporary (19th & 20th century) works by Gertrude Buck, Kenneth Burke, Michel Foucault, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Geneva Smitherman, Paulo Freire, Stephen Toulmin, James Berlin, Keith Gilyard, and others. As we read these texts, we will also look at the ways in which these rhetorical theories have influenced how writing has been taught in American universities.

Along the way, our explorations will be guided by many questions: What is rhetoric? Why is it important to learn about rhetorical strategies, particularly for those of us who teach reading and writing? What sorts of persuasive techniques have rhetoricians proposed? How have rhetorical theories influenced the teaching of writing in the United States? Should rhetorical strategies be taught in the writing class? If so, how? How do we distinguish between persuasion and propaganda? What is "truth," and how do we present "truthful" claims in academic and public writing? What is meant by terms such as "objectivity" and "bias"? What is the role of social context in individuals' acts of construing and constructing knowledge?

Each student will be responsible for 1) making a presentation to the class on one of the theories we read, suggesting questions for investigation and potential pedagogical applications; 2) transforming the oral presentation into a short written essay; 3) a 10-page paper which will address a theoretical question of the student's choosing.

English 624--Seminar in American Literature
African-American Narrative
Class ID# 6033
Professor Carol Allen
Tuesdays 4:10-6:00 pm

This course looks at fictional and nonfictional narrative accounts by African American writers from the Slave Narrative to Barack Obama's recent autobiography. We examine closely four slave narratives from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries written respectively by Equiano, Douglass, Jacobs, and Wilson (hers is technically billed as a novel). Then we move on to the Harlem Renaissance and study texts by DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Zora Neale Hurston, and James Weldon Johnson. Our final unit highlights contemporary texts that may include narratives by John Edgar Wideman (perhaps Fanon), Shange and Kennedy (to explore why African American women resist narrative), and Obama. We will foreground such questions as why do African Americans write autobiography and/or fictional accounts that use first person narration, what are the gender differences, and what are the politics of writing for an audience that may be unfamiliar with the cultural currency in the text.
Several papers and presentations will be required.

English 646--Individual and Small Group Writing Instruction
Class ID# 4173
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Wednesdays 6:10-8:00 pm

This course is designed to introduce tutors and teachers to the theories and practices of tutoring writing (one-on-one, small groups, and online), with an emphasis on the specific needs of writers who use the LIU/Brooklyn Writing Center. Practical concerns about tutoring will be addressed: structuring sessions and setting goals; assessing, diagnosing and responding to student writing; developing strategies to teach planning, drafting, organizing, revising, proofreading and editing; working on specific grammatical issues; helping students with reading comprehension; responding to ESL concerns; noticing interpersonal dynamics and maintaining boundaries; and building awareness of cultural and ethnic differences. Participants will also become familiar with the curriculum and pedagogy of the LIU/Brooklyn Writing Program and interdisciplinary writing concerns (through WAC) on campus. Classes will be conducted as seminars/workshops so that all students have the opportunity to participate in class presentations, mock tutorials, etc. All students are required to tutor for one hour per week during the semester and attend staff development meetings at the Writing Center. Each participant will write an observation report of a session conducted by another tutor and audio/video tape one session with a student (for use in a self-study).

English 650--Seminar in Medieval Literature
Arthurian Traditions
Class ID# 6034
Professor Sealy Gilles
Mondays 6:10-8:00 pm

Tales of the legendary Celtic king Arthur Pendragon and his court have captured political, historical, and artistic imaginations since the first mention of Arthur in the ninth century by the Welsh chronicler, Nennius. The most complete, and fantastic, records of Arthur and his court are literary, and it is this tradition that forms the core of the seminar. The narratives have enormous appeal; they are exotic, fast-paced, and full of emotion. They also raise difficult questions concerning gender, class, and the exercise of power. There are no easy answers in Arthur's court, where adultery strains deep personal loyalties, and heroism has many shades. Issues of personal integrity and authority combine with the fundamental otherness of the Middle Ages to create a challenging and intriguing body of literature. The last third of the course will explore 19th and 20th century incarnations of Arthurian legends, from Tennyson's Idylls of the King to Monty Python and Kennedy's Camelot. The seminar culminates in a research project and presentation. Possible topics include: studies of archaeological evidence; incarnations of Arthur's court in the visual arts, opera, or politics; theoretical approaches such as gender studies or new historicism; prophecy and magic; and creative projects such as an original short story, narrative poem, or set of lyrics accompanied by a metatext.

MFA Reading Series Event: Through the Eyes of Another

A Fiction Reading Hosted by Lewis Warsh

When & Where

May 6th, 4pm
English Dept. Lounge
4th Fl. H bldg


Christine Francavilla
Stephanie Gray
Tamara Lebron
Jon L. Peacock
Beatriz Rodriguez
Wendi Williams
Yoav Ben Yosef

contact for more information

click the image to see larger version of flyer for this event

LIU English Department Book Scholarship for Fall 2009

The English department gives out FIVE $100 award certificates for books every spring and fall semester. A student may win the award multiple times in different semesters. Apply now!

Eligibility: The student must be registered for an upper-division course in English (numbered 100 and above) for Fall 2009. Majors and non-majors are welcome.

Pick up an application in the ENG Department today!

You will need to give the following information on the application:

Student name
Student ID
Email & phone contact
Your Major at LIU
List of all English courses you have taken at LIU Brooklyn

Then you must put your application in Wayne Berninger’s mail box, English Department, 4th Floor, Humanities Building.

The Book Scholarship program is generously funded by Barnes&Noble, through the Brooklyn Campus Bookstore.