English Department Faculty Honor Graduates at Commencement

Congratulations from the faculty & staff of the English Department to all students who graduated on May 13. Especially the English majors!

Pictured above, L-R: English Department Professors Bernard Schweizer, Srividhya Swaminathan, Leah Dilworth, Deborah Mutnick, & Sealy Gilles.

Congratulations, Yoav Ben Yosef (MFA alum)

Congratulations to Yoav on winning NPR's Three-Minute Fiction Contest (Round Four) with his story, "Not Calling Attention to Ourselves."

Listen to the NPR story here.

Graduate Courses, Summer & Fall 2010

Summer Session 1 -- 2010

English 504 Traditions and Lineages
Professor Barbara Henning
Tuesdays & Thursdays 6-8:15

This class will be a writing workshop and reading seminar. We will be doing a close reading of six books (fiction and poetry) from 20th-to-21st Century writers, examining how their work fits within or transforms the poetics of previous movements/traditions (such as the American Transcendentalists, 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. I will set up a Google Group address and list you as a member. Every week I will post PDFs of other articles you might be interested in reading; you can download them from the group site. You won't be able to access the group until you receive an invitation. The address will be traditions--lineages@googlegroups.com.

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. Your writing must be new material that you are writing for the course. When the readings are assigned, you must also write a two to three page informal journal like 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; Roberto Bolanño, By Night in Chile; Harryette Mullen, Sleeping with the Dictionary; Juliana Spahr; This Connection of Everyone With Lungs; and Allen Ginsberg, Howl.

Also excerpts will be provided from: Walt Whitman, Jean Paul Sartre, Arthur Rimbaud, Charels Baudelaire, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, James Joyce, Gabriel Marquez, William Shakespeare, Jayne Cortez, Toni Cade Bambera, Raymond Queneau, and others. (Some of these will be required and others are provided for your own inquiry.)

Please send me an email as soon as you register for the course so I can begin to set up the Google site. Also, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the course. My email address is: barbhenning@mac.com.

Summer Session 2 -- 2010

English 624 Seminar in American Literature-African American Short Fiction
Professor Louis Parascandola
Tuesdays & Thursdays 6-8:15

This course will examine masterpieces of African American short fiction from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. We will be starting with Harlem Renaissance authors Zora Neale Hurston, Eric Walrond, Rudolph Fisher, and Claude McKay progressing through key figures including Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Ernest Gaines, and Alice Walker to emerging talents such as Edward P. Jones, Z.Z. Packer, and Thomas Glave. Contemporary short story writer Tiphanie Yanique will be visiting the class to read and discuss her work. Students will be asked to write two short papers (3-5 typed pages), and a longer final paper (8-10 typed pages).

Fall 2010

English 503 Theory Of Writing: Remembering The Present
Professor Lewis Warsh
Thursdays 6:30-8:50

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, Charles Baudelaire, E.M. Forester, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, Laura Riding, Gertrude Stein, Roland Barthes, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Walter Benjamin, M.M. Bakhtin, Tzvetan Todorov, Maurice Blanchot, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Charles Olson, Frank O'Hara, Amiri Baraka, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Lyn Hejinian, among others.

English 520 Nonfiction Writing Workshop
Professor Deborah Mutnick
Tuesdays 6:30-8:50

English 520 focuses on the literary essay in its many forms. Drawing on disciplines from journalism and ethnography to history, you will develop your own projects-either one longer piece or several shorter ones totaling 30 pages-through a process of drafting, revision, and editing. All work will be peer reviewed and we will spend a good deal of time reading nonfiction essays and one full-length book to be determined. Possible texts include: Mary Cappello, Night Bloom; Sarah Kofman, Rue Ordener, Rue Labat; John Elder, Reading the Mountains of Home; James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son; Robert Root, Landscape with Figures: the Nonfiction of Place; Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay; Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Atwan, The Best American Essays of the Century; Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University. There will also be opportunities for composing with new media, integrating visual images, video, and audio into multimodal essays.

English 523 Fiction Writing Workshop: The Narrative Voice
Professor Jessica Hagedorn
Wednesdays 4-6:20

(For MFA students only. Registration limited.)

We will explore various narrative strategies and ways of creating characters that are credible and complex. How do we give characters distinct positions in a story that develop perspective and purpose? Be prepared for weekly writing and rewriting assignments; you will be asked to present excerpts from your work for class discussion. The stories of Roberto Bolaño, Lydia Davis, Clarice Lispector, Antonya Nelson, Flannery O'Connor and others will be read and examined.

English 528 Seminar in Creative Writing: Writing the Rhizome-A Poetry Workshop
Anne Waldman
Tuesdays 6:30-8:50

"Any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other….The rhizome is altogether different, a MAP AND NOT A TRACING." -Giles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (U of Minnesota P, 1987).
With the image of the rhizome, a vertical inter-connected tuber system, we will pursue weekly "experiments of attention" to ground our extended semester-long projects-long or epic or serial poems, performance texts or hybrids. We will also participate in an activism of dissent, consider issues of alternative community and collaboration, and discuss what political activism means in relation to our poetry.

Required Text: Civil Disobediences, Poetics and Politics in Action, co-edited by Anne Waldman and Laura Wright (Coffee House Books).

Poet Anne Waldman has been an active member of the "Outrider" experimental poetry community for over forty years as writer, performer, professor, editor, magpie scholar, infrastructure and cultural/political activist. She has also collaborated extensively with a number of artists, musicians, and dancers. She grew up on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village where she still lives, and bi-furcated to Boulder, Colorado in 1974 when she co-founded The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics with Allen Ginsberg at Naropa University, the first Buddhist inspired school in the West, where she currently serves as Artistic Director of its celebrated Summer Writing program. She is the author of over 40 books of poetry including Kill or Cure,Marriage: A Sentence, and Structure of the World Compared to a BubbleManatee/Humanity (Penguin Poets 2009) is Waldman's most recent book. She is also the author of the legendary Fast Speaking Woman(City Lights, San Francisco), now translated into Italian, Czech and French; as well as the 800-page epicIovis trilogy (Coffee House Press), forthcoming in 2011. She is editor of The Beat Book (Shambhala Publications) and co-editor (with Lewis Warsh) of The Angel Hair Anthology (Granary Books), Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action (Coffee House) and Beats at Naropa (Coffee House, 2009). Her play Red Noir was produced by the Living Theatre and directed by Judith Malina in winter 2009-2010.

ENG 624 Seminar in American Literature-Contemporary American Literature
Professor Michael Bennett
Mondays 6:30-8:20

What is contemporary American literature? In one sense, the answer would have to be any creative writing by a living author who was born, or currently resides, in the United States. But what is the mark of the contemporary? One answer involves the range of techniques and technologies available at the current historical juncture that were not available before now. For the first few centuries of the history of American literature, traditional forms were predominant. Poetry was written, for the most part, in meter, using rhyme and/or rhythm and/or received forms. Fiction and drama utilized classical plot structures and observed, as much as possible, the unities of place, time, character, and action. But with the arrival of the twentieth century, something different happens: meter is abandoned, narratives fracture, unities break down. These evolutions in form and technique are related to socio-historical transformations-the impact of urbanization, industrialism and post-industrialism; the rise of mass consumer culture; the spread of new media technologies, such as film, television, the internet, hypertext; developments in other art forms, including music (jazz and rock), art (impressionism, expressionism, post-expressionism), and architecture (with its own modern and postmodern styles); "advances" in globalization and permanent warfare. By and large, modernists bemoan this cultural fragmentation while postmodernists celebrate, or at least accept, it. Where does this leave the contemporary American writer? With at least these options: attempt to revivify the traditional forms that evolved from the neo-classical era to the age of realism; join the modernists in lamenting, or postmodernists in making the most of, what has been lost; or try to form an avant-garde that is somehow post-postmodern. Together we will look at the literature that has shaped these choices and see how these forms are transposed in contemporary poetry, fiction, and drama written in the United States.

Required Texts: William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Jean Toomer, Cane; Thornton Wilder, The Skin of Our Teeth; Karen Tei Yamashita, The Tropic of Orange; handouts/electronic copies of poetry, fiction, and one-act plays; class anthology (to which everyone will contribute one late 20th- or early 21st-century work of American literature).

English 641 Literacy and Basic Writing
Professor Donald McCrary
Wednesdays 6:30-8:20

The course will attempt to identify and understand different literacies both inside and outside the academy and connect those literacies to the teaching of basic writing. We will examine public and private literacies, paying particular attention to the social construction of literacy and its ideological underpinnings. These are some of the questions the course will address: What literacies matter and why? Who or what creates, manages, and controls academic discourse, and how might academic discourse be interrogated? How might other-literate students acquire academic discourse, and what role should private literacies or discourses play in basic writing pedagogy? What role can and should new technologies play in both teaching basic writing and reimagining academic discourse? Is hybrid written discourse an efficacious and viable response to standard English linguistic supremacy? In addition to examining literacies in relation to basic writing, students will explore their own literacies, public and private, to understand how those literacies inform their beliefs and attitudes about teaching basic writers. Theorists and scholars we might read include Street, Gee, Bourdieu, Delpit, Smitherman, Perkns, and Tinberg.

English 646 Individual & Small Group Writing Instruction
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Mondays 4-6:20

This course is designed to introduce tutors and teachers to the theories and practices of tutoring writing (one-on-one and in small groups), 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 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.

English 649 Seminar in British Literature: From Trauma to Art-Global Wars and the British Literary Imagination, 1918-1945
Professor Bernard Schweizer
Thursdays 4-6:20

This course explores literary treatments of war by British men and women, between 1918-1945. Since war is a quintessentially masculine preoccupation, considerations of gender will partly guide our inquiry into the representation of armed conflicts and their social and psychological ramifications. But a range of other concerns will also guide our engagement with these masterpieces, including questions of trauma, the categories of hero and victim, political ideology, and even war as comedy. The assigned texts draw upon a range of genres, from poetry, to fiction, essay, and memoir. In addition to the primary works of literature, we will read some historical sources, as well as excerpts from critical works like Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory, Vincent Sherry's The Great War and the Language of Modernism, and Marina McKay's Modernism and World War II.

Note: The class will work with a critical edition of Rebecca West's The Return of the Soldier(forthcomingfrom Broadview Press in fall 2010), which began as a final group project of LIU graduate students in collaboration with Prof. Schweizer in 2007.

Texts: Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier; WWI poetry by S. Sassoon, W. Owen, M. Moore, and others; Essays by Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Rebecca West; Robert Graves, from Goodbye to all That; George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia; Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day; Evelyn Waugh,Sword of Honor Trilogy; 1930s war poems by women, including Naomi Mitchison and Stevie Smith.

Students should also read: Phyllis Lassner's British Women Writers of World War II and Helen Wussow'sThe Nightmare of History.