Graduate Courses--Spring 2012

Graduate Students: Make an appointment with Marilyn Boutwell ASAP to register for Spring 2012!

English 502 Writers on Writing (Class ID# 4866)
Professor John High
Mondays 6:30-8:50 pm

The course will offer readings and discussions with prominent fiction writers and poets as well as writers of creative non-fiction. The guest writers will meet with us weekly during the course of the semester to discuss and read from their work.  The purpose is to give us a chance to interact with and question a diverse range of writers about their techniques and ways of thinking as artists.  Students will be asked to reflect on and consider their own writing process: How do you think as a writer? How do these writers expand your ways of thinking and experimenting as a writer? The goal is to explore and learn—in this case, first-hand—from other writers and their books in order to better inform our sense of what it means to be a writer today.
In addition to reading at least one book by each visiting writer, students will create weekly writing texts in the form of imaginary letters, poems, or stories that dialogue with the work of each visiting author. These texts will contain questions and/or responses prepared before the writer visits and will then serve as take-off points for discussion with the author. In addition, each student will research the work of one writer and introduce her/him on the night of the reading. There will be additional writing experiments, which evolve from the ideas and ways of thinking of the visiting writers that emerge in our dialogues.
On days when there are no visitors we will read, discuss, and perform our own work. At the end of the semester, you will create a chapbook of your writings, which will include an imaginary introduction to your work written in the third person point of view and which reviews your own method of thinking as an artist.

The visiting writers for Spring 2012 are as follows:

Fanny Howe is the recipient of the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Presented annually by the Poetry Foundation to a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition, the Ruth Lilly Prize is one of the most prestigious awards given to American poets. In recent years she has received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Howe is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, including Gone (University of California Press, 2003), Selected Poems (UC Press, 2000), On the Ground (Graywolf Press, 2004), and The Lyrics (Graywolf, 2007). She has also written novels, five of which have been collected in one volume called Radical Love. She has written two collections of essays, The Wedding Dress (UC Press, 2003) and The Winter Sun (Graywolf, 2009). She has lectured in creative writing at Tufts University, Emerson College, Columbia University, Yale University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her most recent collection is Come and See (Graywolf, 2011).

Francisco Goldman is the author of three novels: The Long Night of White Chickens, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award; The Ordinary Seaman, a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and The Divine Husband. Goldman is also the author of the non-fiction book, The Art of Political Murder: Who killed the Bishop?, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Economist. Goldman has been a contributing editor for Harper’s magazine, and his fiction, journalism and essays have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation grant and the T. R. Fyvel Freedom of Expression Book Award, and was a fellow at the American Academy of Berlin and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. His most recent book is the acclaimed Say Her Name. He currently directs the Premio Aura Estrada/Aura Estrada Prize ( Goldman divides his time between Brooklyn and Mexico City.

Vladimir  Druk was a founding member of the famous Club Poetry in Moscow during the waning days of the Soviet Union, along with Nina Iskrenko, Dmitri Prigov, Alexei Parshchikov, and Evgeny Bunimovich, among others. Druk is highly regarded for his experimental verse, echoing the work of Khlebnikov and the early Futurists of Russia, a vital poetry, which digs into the roots of language in an effort to untangle meaning beyond language. His collections include, The Switchboard, Disposable Birds, The Drawn Apple and The Second Apple. His poetry has been anthologized and published in Crossing Centuries: The New Russian Poetry, and Third Wave, among other anthologies, and literary journals. A former underground poet in the Soviet Union, he now lives in New Jersey.

Ruth Ozeki is an award winning novelist and filmmaker. Her most recent novel, All Over Creation, was a New York Times Notable Book and the recipient of a 2004 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, as well as the Willa Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction. Her first novel, My Year of Meats, was an international success, translated into eleven languages and published in fourteen countries, and winner of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Award.  Born and raised in the US, she received a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to do graduate work in classical Japanese literature at Nara University. During her years in Japan, she worked in Kyoto’s entertainment or “water” district as a bar hostess, studied flower arrangement as well as Noh drama and mask carving, founded a language school, and taught in the English Department at Kyoto Sangyo University.  Body of Correspondence (1994) won the New Visions Award at the San Francisco Film Festival and was aired on PBS. Halving the Bones (1995), an award-winning autobiographical film, tells the story of Ozeki’s journey as she brings her grandmother’s remains home from Japan. It has been screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, among others.  Visit

Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica. His most recent novel, The Book Of Night Women was internationally acclaimed and voted Best Book Of 2009 by the Library Journal. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Prize, and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Currently a professor of literature and creative writing at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, he is at work on a new novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. He divides his time between Jamaica, New York City and the Twin Cities. Visit
Zhang Er is the author of three collections of poetry in Chinese: Seen, Unseen (QingHai Publishing House of China, 1999), Water Words (New World Poetry Press, 2002) and Because of Mountain (Tonsan, Taipei, 2005). Her poems have also appeared in English translation in several poetry journals. Verses on Bird, Zhang Er's selected poems, were published in a bilingual, Chinese and English edition, by Zephyr Press in 2004. She worked as a contributing editor for several Chinese poetry journals, such as First Line, Poetry Currents and Oliver Tree. She is a co-editor of the Talisman Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry. Zhang Er teaches at The Evergreen State College in Washington.
Norman Fischer has published fourteen books of essays and poetry; his most recent collections are Slowly but Dearly (Chax Press, 2004), I Was Blown Back (Singing Horse Press 2005) Charlotte’s Way (TinFish 2008), and Questions/Voices/Places/Seasons (Singing Horse Press 2009). Loosely associated with the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets of the seventies and eighties, he maintains close creative and personal relationships with many writers from that movement.  Fischer spent five years living at Tassajara Zen Monastery in monastic Buddhist practice where poets Jane Hirshfield and Phillip Whalen were fellow students.  He has been a Zen Buddhist priest for nearly 30 years, serving as abbot for the San Francisco Zen Center from 1995-2000.  He has taught at Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Stanford universities.  Visit

Joseph Donahue’s volumes of poetry are Before Creation, Monitions of the Approach, World Well Broken, Incidental Eclipse and Terra Lucida.  Of Incidental Eclipse John Ashbery has written, "This sequence confirms Donahue as one of the major American poets of this time." He lives in Durham, North Carolina and teaches at Duke University.

Kaylie Jones is the author of five novels, including A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries, which was made into a Merchant-Ivory film starring Kris Kristofferson in 1998; Celeste Ascending, published by Harper Collins in 2001; 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 chairs the annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship.  Visit
Simon Pettet's many books include his Selected Poems and More Winnowed Fragments, both published by Talisman. He edited The Selected Art Writings of James Schuyler and collaborated with Duncan Hannah on Abundant Treasures and with Rudy Burckhardt on Conversations About Everything and Talking Pictures. Of Pettet's most recent collection, Hearth, Alice Notley writes: "We dig the purity, dogged love, and artistic devotion of this rare personage."  British by birth, he lives in New York City.

English 523 Fiction Writing Workshop (Class ID# 5030)
Professor Martha Southgate (Visiting Writer)
Thursdays 6:30-8:50 pm

This course will explore reading and writing fiction through writing assignments, in-class workshop style  discussion of student work, and analysis of published works of fiction, as well as texts (such as Prose’s Reading like a Writer and Burroway’s Writing Fiction) that examine the techniques of fiction writing.  We will do in-class writing  on a regular basis and  and discuss the discipline it takes to keep one’s writing going once you’ve left the confines of the MFA program. In class workshops will focus on the process of re-writing and polishing the work. 

Martha Southgate is the author of four novels. Her newest, The Taste of Salt, was published in September 2011 to critical acclaim. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.  Her July 2007 essay from the New York Times Book Review, “Writers Like Me” appears in the recent anthology Best African-American Essays 2009.  Previous non-fiction articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O, Premiere, and Essence. She also has essays in the recent anthologies Behind the Bedroom Door and Heavy Rotation: Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives. Web:

English 524 Poetry Writing Workshop (Class ID# 4479)
See Sun, Think Shadow
Professor Lewis Warsh
Tuesdays 6:30-8:50 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, James Schuyler, Eileen Myles, Bernadette Mayer, Amiri Baraka, Alice Notley, Jack Spicer, Frank O'Hara, Clark Coolidge 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 527 Topics in Professional Writing (Course ID# 5899)
Writing & Style
Professor Michael Bokor
Tuesdays 6:30-8:50 pm

You may be familiar with the rhetorical concept of “style” and even have your own “style” of writing. A writer cannot choose between using “style” and leaving it out of the discursive event. But what exactly is “style” and where does it come from? What is valued as “style”?
Focusing on the role of the English language in discursive practices, this course explores the cultural, theoretical, and practical perspectives of “style” to help you understand fully the relationship between language, culture, and personality and how these forces converge to define and shape the writer’s style.

Some of the pertinent questions to consider include:

i.              Is style “innocent” or is it the reflection of the personality, taste, and experience of the writer of the text or the culture of the writer’s society? Is it true that style is the writer in disguise?
ii.            Does style exist on its own, independent of the writer? Before the work, in the work, or outside it?
iii.           What shapes style? Is it the writer’s purpose and attitude to the audience?

Through various assignments, you will interrogate the functions of style and learn the numerous ways in which writers adapt their expressions (texts) to their purposes. By the end of the semester, you should:

  • Develop a high degree of clarity, fluency, and appropriateness in your writing;
  • Learn how to appreciate style within the context of genre-specific discourses; and
  • Use knowledge on style to improve your own writing.
This course is particularly good for students seeking opportunities to improve their rhetorical skills for effective academic, creative, and professional writing.

English 528 Seminar in Creative Writing (Course ID# 6314)
Resurrecting Bolaño: A Cross-Genre Writing Workshop
Professor Jessica Hagedorn
Wednesdays 6:30-8:50 pm

We will investigate the works of the late, great Chilean author Roberto Bolaño as inspiration for writing our own poems, stories, and maybe even scenes for a film or a play. Bolaño, who died in 2003 at the young and tender age of fifty, was a prolific author. Readings will include the gritty, sexy and sublime poems of Bolaño’s Romantic Dogs, as well as selections from his astonishing fiction: Last Evenings On Earth, Distant Star and the epic and terrifying 2666. We will screen a film which provides historical context for Roberto Bolaño’s life and times, and discuss cultural myth-making and what it means to read literature in translation. For MFA students only. Space limited.

English 532 Topics in Theory (Course ID# 6313)
Professor Deborah Mutnick
Theories of Space, Place, and Time
Mondays 6:30-8:50 pm


Literary and rhetorical theories of space, place, and time provide powerful lenses for understanding texts and the contexts in which they are situated and, perhaps more important, the impact of social, economic, and political policies and practices on the collective home we call Earth. In 2007, PMLA published a special issue on cities in which guest editor Patricia Yaeger calls for a “new metropoetics.” We will theorize about what such a poetics might mean as we read literary and rhetorical theorists along with geographers, sociologists, artists, and architects in a multidisciplinary approach to parsing the literal and metaphorical multidimensional worlds in which we live. That is, rather than approach “space” or “time” as natural, given phenomena, we will study how they have been constructed by the dialectic of the human imagination in response to the material world.  Course texts will be selected from among many possible theorists and writers including: Marx and Engels, Mikhail Bakhtin, Jurgen Habermas, Nancy Fraser, David Harvey, Gloria Anzaldua, Jamaica Kincaid, Rebecca Solnit, Anthony Vidler, Sylvia Molloy, Mike Davis, Paul Gilroy, Benedict Anderson, Nedra Reynolds, and Dolores Hayden.

English 624 Seminar in American Literature (Course ID# 5897)
Walt Whitman & Emily Dickinson
Professor Patrick Horrigan
Tuesdays 4:00-6:20 pm

An in-depth study of the two major American poets of the 19th century and their ongoing impact on American literature.  Using Ralph Waldo Emerson’s prophetic essay “The Poet” (1844) as a theoretical touchstone, we’ll start by looking at some examples of earlier American poetry, then read major works by Whitman, including the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass and Preface, the Calamus poems, and Civil War poems.  During the second half of the semester we’ll read most of Dickinson’s lyrics plus a selection of her letters.  Throughout the course, we’ll trace Whitman’s and Dickinson’s influence on modern poets such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Allen Ginsberg, Mary Oliver, Hart Crane, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens.  Students will have the opportunity to write both critically and creatively in response to these writers.

English 649 Seminar in British Literature (Course ID# 5900)
The Mythology of Ireland
Professor Maria McGarrity
Wednesdays 6:30-8:50 pm


This course will examine the central story of the main cycle of ancient Irish mythology: The Tain of the Ulster cycle. We will investigate the pre-history of Ireland, real and imagined, actual and mythic as well as study the development of the Celts in Ireland before the Viking invasions.  The transmission of pre-Christian, Celtic tales shaped the Irish literary and historical imagination for centuries and powerfully affected the Irish Literary Renaissance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  We will examine modern and contemporary imaginative works of W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge, Eavan Boland, Seamus Heaney, and James Joyce to discern how the Irish past so shaped the conception of the nation at home and abroad.
Students will be invited to reimagine an Irish myth in poetry, drama, or fiction for the first, short paper, should they wish to do so in lieu of a traditional paper.


Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Norton Critical, 0393926796
Kinsella, trans., The Tain, Oxford UP, 0192803735
Heaney, Opened Ground, Farrar Straus Giroux, 0374526788
Boland, New Collected Poems, Norton, 0393337308
Yeats, James Pethica, ed, Yeats's Poetry, Drama, and Prose, Norton Critical, 0393974979
Harrington, ed., Modern and Contemporary Irish Drama, 0393932430

English 700 Practicum in the Teaching of Composition (Course ID# 4232)
Professor Thomas Peele
Wednesdays 4:00-6:20 pm

Although the course will examine theoretical and practical implications of the teaching of writing, specifically, the course will prepare students to teach in the LIU/Brooklyn Writing Program. This is an important distinction because our readings and course discussions/exercises will serve to illuminate the theories and practices of teaching writing at LIU. However, the course should provide students with information and expertise to teach writing at other colleges or universities. The course will examine important teaching issues such as constructing course syllabi, integrating reading and writing assignments, promoting process writing, responding to student papers, contemplating the linguistic needs and abilities of a multicultural student population, and managing student behavior in the classroom.

Each student will create an English 16 syllabus that adheres to the program requirements. Moreover, each student will teach a fifty minute English 16 lesson plan and facilitate the class discussion of one course text. English 16 is a thematic course. Students can choose to teach a theme of either work or food. Once students have selected a theme, they must purchase a primary text of their own choosing, the program-mandated anthology of their chosen theme, Teaching Composition, and A Writer’s Reference.

English 707 Methods of Research and Criticism (Course ID# 4296)
Professor Lewis Warsh
Thursdays 4:00-6:20 pm

Let's begin with Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud—two 19th Century French poets. Baudelaire and Rimbaud were two of the main precursors to everything that happened in Western poetry in the 20th century. We're going to use our theoretical readings to look at their poetry and its reception, as well as all the strands that developed out of their work. Alongside these poets, we're going to read Walter Benjamin's study of Baudelaire, The Writer of Modern Life, and other essays by Benjamin, as well as many short essays by numerous poets and theorists. We're going to start off with Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, and look closely at The Field of Cultural Production by Pierre Bourdieu, The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, and The Shape of Time by George Kubler.

I want to test these two methods of research: the direct, more generic approach, where we go head on at something, and find out everything about our subject; and the indirect approach, where everything unrelated to the subject has the potential to count for something, The indirect approach is tricky, but it's also the way most rewarding. It allows you to put your individual stamp on a work of research.  As a way of doing this, we're going to study the ways of making connections between different branches of knowledge--literature, painting, music, film, especially--and look for relationships that didn't exist before. The field is endless. Let's try to do as much as we can, and build something we can use for the future.

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