Graduate Courses--Summer & Fall 2011

NOTE: Course Description & Instructor Change for ENG 520, Fall 2011. Updated 3 May 2011.

Summer Session One 2011

English 528 Seminar in Creative Writing (Course ID# 2772) / Topic: Flash Fiction
Professor Barbara Henning
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6:00 – 8:15 PM

For Creative Writing MFA students only. Registration limited.

In the first volume of Sudden Fiction, the editor writes, "It may well be that the new popularity of the short-short story began in the spirit of experiment and wordplay in the 1960s" (xiv). Since the mid-19th century, the spirit of the experiment has been important to American writers of poetry and fiction. This semester we're going to examine and practice experimenting (appropriating some techniques, forms and approaches typically used in poetry); we're going to think about and practice storytelling (with the autobiographical and fictional "I"); and we're going to examine and practice writing some anti-stories where different discourses and genres might overlap. Also we'll be reading a selection of very short works of fiction, as well as parables, and essays. Throughout the semester, we will also discuss traditional elements of fiction as they apply to your particular stories. There is no required book for the class; instead I have a series of letter/lectures (by me) and a selection of readings (PDFs). In addition to the reading assignment, for each workshop meeting, students will write one or two flash fictions. At the end of the semester, students will submit a portfolio with at least three revised stories. If students have questions about the course, feel free to email me at

English 579 Seminar in Special Studies (Course ID# 2773) / Topic: Narratives of Palestine
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Mondays & Wednesdays, 4:00 – 6:15 PM

In this course we will read a variety of narratives about Palestine, primarily written by Palestinians but including one work by an Israeli author and one by a non-Palestinian graphic journalist. It will include fiction, memoir, oral history, and film.
Students will first be introduced to the history of modern Palestine. Though the historical context will briefly cover antiquity to the nineteenth century, the focus will be on the events starting with the rise of Zionism in Eastern Europe in the 1880s and its impact in the Middle East, the end of the Ottoman Empire and years of the British Mandate in the early twentieth century, the events leading up to and immediately following the nakba (“catastrophe”) of 1948, the lives of refugees post-1948, and life in Palestine since then—both under occupation and for those Palestinians who remained in what became Israel. Authors may include novelists Emile Habiby, Susan Abulhawa, Sahar Khalifeh, Anton Shammas, Ghassan Kanafani, Sayed Kashua, and S. Yizhar, and memoirists Ghada Karmi, Ibtisam Barakat, Edward Said, and Suad Amiry. We will also read selected oral histories from the collection Homeland: Oral History of Palestinians and Palestine, and Joe Sacco’s work of graphic journalism, Palestine. Films may include Rana’s Wedding, Paradise Now, Arna’s Children, Lemon Tree, Divine Intervention, Private, and Budrus.
Students will be asked to do oral presentations in class and write one 15-20 page paper.
Undergraduates may be admitted with permission of instructor.

Summer Session Two 2011

English 626 Twentieth-Century American Literature (Course ID# 2774) / Topic: West Indians in the Harlem Renaissance
Professor Louis Parascandola
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6:00 – 8:15 PM

Anglophone (English-speaking) Caribbean immigrants played a vital, if often neglected, role during the Harlem Renaissance, an important literary and cultural movement between 1917-1935. There were, in fact, over 36,000 foreign-born Blacks, mostly West Indians, in Harlem in 1930. These immigrants, despite often facing severe discrimination, had a significant effect on American culture and history. In this course we will discuss Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, particularly examining essays (and poems) defining his role as a facilitator of the Harlem Renaissance/New Negro Movement. We will also study fiction and poetry by Claude McKay, one of the seminal figures of the Harlem Renaissance, fiction by Nella Larsen (of West Indian ancestry), short stories and essays by Eric Walrond, fiction/essays by J.A. Rogers and Amy Jacques Garvey (Marcus’ second wife), and drama by Eulalie Spence, the only Harlem Renaissance woman playwright to set her work primarily in Harlem. Finally, we will discuss the views of leading African Americans—including W.E.B. Du Bois and Zora Neale Hurston, on these pioneering immigrants. There will also be a field trip to Harlem Saturday July 30 from 12-2.

Fall 2011

English 504 Traditions and Lineages (Course ID# 6276)
Professor Lewis Warsh
Tuesdays, 4:00 – 6:20 PM

For Creative Writing MFA students only.

An attempt to understand our immediate past and where we come from as creative writers. The last century was rife with movements—a convenient but often inaccurate way of grouping writers who seem to be working on the same aesthetic ground during a particular period in time. We will look at the characteristics of these so-called groups, as well as the differences between the writers in each group, and we will also see how writing has progressed or backtracked in the course of the last one hundred years. Our main focus will be locating the tradition that each of us identifies with. (It is also important to note that many important writers over the last hundred years worked independently of any of these movements.) We will also discuss the idea of lineage as it relates to painting and music.
Writers we will read as models include Gertrude Stein, Jean Toomer, Lorine Neidecker, Robert Desnos, Andre Breton, Allen Ginsberg, Joanne Kyger, Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley, Bernadette Mayer, Alice Notley, James Schuyler, Ted Berrigan, and many others.

English 508 Linguistics (Course ID# 6277)
Professor Michael Bokor
Tuesdays, 4:00 – 6:20 PM

This course introduces students to the structure and functions of natural human language, focusing on English. Input from other languages may be used to explain linguistic theories, principles, and phenomena. We will examine the structure and functions of English and explore the rules and principles by which words are formed (morphology), sounds are combined and varied (phonetics/phonology), and syntactic units are structured and ordered into larger phrases for communication.
Emphasis will be placed on variations and changes within the English language, focusing on such dialects as Standard American English, British English, African American Vernacular English, Caribbean Creole English, and World Englishes. Some of the questions that will guide teaching and learning in this course include: What is the language we use made of? How can we account for its discrete units? How do languages vary and change?
By the end of the semester, students will:
• Understand variation and change within the English language and how they influence human communication;
• Demonstrate oral and writing competence, using appropriate linguistic theories and principles to explain linguistic phenomena such as language variation and change.
This course is particularly appropriate for students in the Creative Writing MFA program, the Writing & Rhetoric concentration, and such areas as education, language teaching, philosophy, anthropology, and computer science.

English 510 Technical Writing (Course ID# 6278)
Professor John Killoran
Tuesdays 6:30 – 8:50 PM

This is a writing course for professionals and graduate students in any field.
As college-educated professionals, much of what we write within and beyond college would be called “technical” writing: educational and training materials, research reports, proposals, administrative records, marketing documentation, and flurries of e-mail postings. Alas, the measure of our technical writing is the experience we create for our all-too-human readers: often uninformed, impatient, hypercritical, and only occasionally appreciative. However, our writing’s usability can influence how readers read and process (or skim and misunderstand) our documents, and then make decisions or take action based on that experience.
This course will explore the technical writing field’s research and best practices on how to write up information and design documents in such a way as to be optimally read, understood, and appreciated by real audiences. For their main course assignments, students will have some leeway to pursue their academic or professional interests, such as by writing instructional material for undergraduate students, employees, or customers in their field of study or employment. Students will also observe and interview readers as they read, act on, and reflect on their reading experience. By the end of the course, students will understand how such factors as sentence structure, form, rhetorical stance, document design, and cultural context influence readers, and students will have improved their ability to guide their readers through a cooperative and informative reading experience.
For more information, contact Professor Killoran at

English 520: Nonfiction Writing Workshop (Course ID# 5391)
Topic: Building Your Memoir
Visiting Writer Kaylie Jones
Mondays, 4:00-6:20 pm

For Creative Writing MFA students only. Registration limited.

Many people have the talent to write excellent sentences; few have the understanding of how to structure a marketable book. “Building Your Memoir” will first and foremost address the issue of structure in memoir writing. A memoir is different from a novel in that the events truly happened; the writer’s job is to organize the historical material in a cohesive, compelling way – in other words, to make order out of what might otherwise appear as chaos – to find the beginning of the story and to understand where the story ends.

Other topics will include: how to get past the problems of truth versus fiction; the universal fear of exposure and of offending family members or friends; how to attain equitability in addressing painful topics; how to get around problems of time sequencing and still remain true to facts; and how to achieve originality and emotional balance in the work.

Students will be given writing prompts and will submit work for workshop discussion. Selections from published memoirs will also be discussed in class.

Kaylie Jones is the author of five novels, including A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries, and Celeste Ascending, and the memoir Lies My Mother Never Told Me, published to critical acclaim in 2009. She has been teaching creative writing for almost 25 years and is Chairman of the annual $10,000 James Jones First Novel Fellowship.

English 523 Fiction Writing Workshop (Course ID# 4168) / Topic: The Narrative Voice
Professor Jessica Hagedorn
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:50 PM

For Creative Writing MFA students only. Registration limited.

We will explore various narrative strategies and ways of creating characters that are credible and complex. What do we mean by a distinct narrative voice? Why are setting and mood important? 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 BolaƱo, Marguerite Duras, Clarice Lispector, Aleksandar Hemon, Manuel Puig and others will be read and examined.

English 524 Poetry Writing Workshop (Course ID# 6279)
Professor John High
Mondays, 6:30 – 8:50 PM

For Creative Writing MFA students only. Registration limited.

Coming Back To The Line
As Place in Poetry

Poetry has always served as a place for expression that cannot be uttered in prose, in stories or essays, and in the 20th Century it became refuge for the mapping of language outside of film and other visual mediums as well. The unsayable as home to poetry: the line, that essential music of the poem, is often (as with its cousin in prose, the sentence) neglected in the larger discussions of the meaning and underlying technique or structure of poetry. Yet from Homer, Sappho, and Li Po through Shakespeare and Yeats up to contemporary masters of poetic expression, the line itself exposes the poem’s inner mechanics and elusive mystery. Its sculpting allows the inclusiveness of vastly differing voices, traditions, lineages, and movements. In mapping the geography and music of the line, we will road trip together and make linguistic discoveries of time, meaning, and emotion. Without a heightened awareness of the line, our own poems suffer the delusion of endless repetitions and received language.
The focus of our workshop will be on the line then, which is not to say that our discussions will not include every aspect of craft. Rather, we will begin by looking closely at each line in every stanza and study how the line is or isn’t facilitating the poem’s entry into the larger context we are striving to reveal in our work. We’ll look at other poets ranging from the ancient to the contemporary: Homer, Sappho, Shakespeare, Rimbaud, Emily Dickinson, George Oppen, Louis Zukofsky, Paul Celan, Wallace Stevens, H.D., Osip Mandelstam, Aime Cesaire, Edmond Jabes, C.D. Wright, Roberto Bolano, Alice Notley, Akilah Oliver, Nina Iskrenko, Norma Cole, Renee Gladman, Ivan Zhdanov, Cole Swensen, Simon Pettet, Norma Cole, Will Alexander, Forest Gander, and Fanny Howe, among others.
In the book you are writing, what underlies the voice, time, being and place of the work? We’ll begin here and discuss the act of writing poetry as one of risk-taking and investigation, of reinventing poetic language in our own discoveries as we let our poems become truly our own and something new in this act.
A final chapbook, consisting of all your new, edited poems, is due at the end of the semester. We will also schedule a party and reading of our work at The Bowery Poetry Club.

English 571 Eighteenth-Century English Novel (Course ID# 6280) / Topic: A Novel Approach to the 18th Century Novel
Professor Srividhya Swaminathan
Wednesdays, 4:00 – 6:20 PM

What conditions of eighteenth-century life proved favorable for the formation of the literary genre referred to as the “novel”? How did the novel gain popularity over the course of the century? How did themes and plot elements change to reflect the socio-political times during which the authors wrote? In what manner did the form of the novel take shape and what literary precursors helped determine the framework? These questions are only a beginning in an entire field of literary studies that examines the emergence of the English novel in the eighteenth century. In addition to reading a sampling of novels published over the course of the century, we will orient ourselves as to the political, economic, social, and cultural changes taking place during the time. Novels were not produced in a vacuum and to read them we must understand contemporary circumstances surrounding their production. This course will combine close reading of primary texts (in other words, what was Swift’s purpose in depicting Gulliver as a giant in the land of Lilliput and a midget in the land of Brobdignag?) and background historical research to understand how and why the genre of the novel took shape in the eighteenth century. A secondary objective in this course will be to develop research and writing skills. Class assignments require students to read secondary criticism, understand the argument advanced, and integrate the argument into their own critiques of the novels. Students are encouraged to explore electronic databases as well as other libraries in the city to conduct their research. Students will also hone critical reading skills by evaluating secondary research on the novel as an emerging genre. PLEASE NOTE: Since this is a course on the novel, students should expect to read a complete novel every two weeks.

English 625 Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Course ID# 6281) / Topic: Masking and Minstrelsy
Professor Carol Allen
Thursdays, 6:30 – 8:50 PM

This course looks at Nineteenth Century American Literature through the lens of minstrelsy and masking, minstrelsy being the period’s dominant popular entertainment vehicle. We encounter oblique and direct references to it in poems, plays, novels, and advertisements. In fact, the minstrel becomes a sign that unites Americans across class, ethnic, and gender barriers while it further segregates on the basis of race. Over the semester, we will examine how various writers bend, shape, and adopt this American icon—especially its mediating qualities—to make art more accessible to a growing body of literate citizens. We will also pay close attention to cases where the minstrel is transformed into the trickster, the conjurer, the martyr, and the hero (making way for the masked comic book heroes of the twentieth century). Texts by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Chestnutt, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, William Wells Brown and Pauline Hopkins will be featured along with appropriate criticism and historical writing. A shorter interpretive essay, a research paper and leading class discussion round-out the formal assignments (informal written responses are also required).

English 646 Individual and Small Group Writing Instruction (Course ID# 5042)
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Thursdays, 4:00 – 8:20 PM

This course is designed to introduce tutors and teachers to the theories and practices of tutoring writing (one-on-one, small groups, and via phone or Internet), 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, ethnic, and linguistic 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. Required for new TAs in English and recommended for prospective Writing Center tutors. Note: All students are required to tutor for one hour per week during the semester and attend biweekly staff development meetings at the Writing Center.
Course requirements: (1) regular participation on class listserv; (2) a written description of an observed tutoring session; (3) a final reflective essay.

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