Graduate Courses: Summer & Fall 2012

English 528 Seminar in Creative Writing:The Prose Poem, or Poetic Prose (2491)
MFA ONLYTu&Th, 6:00-8:15 pm 
Professor Barbara Henning

“Which of us, in his ambitious moments, has not dreamed of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical, without rhyme and without rhythm, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of the psyche, the prickings of consciousness?” Baudelaire, Paris Spleen
The prose poem is a border genre that seems particularly suited to speaking a consciousness, the consciousness that the reader and writer encounter line by line, paragraph by paragraph, a natural prose lyricism composed from ordinary thought and speech. A paragraph can also be seen as a block, a visual space, a different type of border. Besides introducing you to the prose poem, this course is also designed to survey some of the theories and poems from movements in modern and contemporary off-center poetry, such as imagism, surrealism, objectivism, the New York School, Language writing, Oulipo, etc.. You will write prose poems (or flash fiction) in prose that interacts with the ideas and theories put forth in the lectures and readings.

If you are a poet, working with sentences and paragraphs might change your idea about what a poem is, revealing new possible rhythms, forms, approaches and possibilities with genre sliding. If you are a fiction writer, working with the prose poem may help you work on style and inventive structures for writing.
If you have questions about the course, contact Barbara at

BARBARA HENNING is the author of three novels and seven books of poetry.  Her most recent books are Cities & Memory (2010); Thirty Miles from Rosebud (2009); My Autobiography (2007); and Looking Up Harryette Mullen (2011).  Born in Detroit, she has lived in New York City since 1983. Besides teaching for LIU, she also teaches for Naropa University.

English 532 Topics in Theory: The Rhetoric of Fiction (2724)
M & W, 6:00 – 8:15 pm
Professor Harriet Malinowitz

Using Wayne Booth’s classic study The Rhetoric of Fiction as a foundation, we will examine works of fiction from the perspective of their craft—that is, by considering how authors create effects and move their readers through the use of particular fiction writing techniques.  With Booth and other theorists of fiction and narrative more generally providing schema for close analysis, we will read works of fiction—novellas, short stories, sections of novels, and one novel in its entirety—to trace the ways that narration, realism, character, setting, irony, ambiguity, scene and summary, and showing and telling are variously employed in the writing of fictional texts. 

In addition to Booth’s book, we will consider excerpts from the work of fiction and/or narrative theorists such as Seymour Chatman (Story and Discourse); Percy Lubbock (The Craft of Fiction); E. M. Forster (Aspects of the Novel); Mieke Bal (Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative);  Aristotle (Poetics);  H.W. Leggett (The Idea in Fiction); Gerard Genette (Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method);  Joan Silber (The Art of Time in Fiction);  Roland Barthes (S/Z); Henry James (The Art of the Novel);  H. Porter Abbott (The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative;) Scholes & Kellogg (The Nature of Narrative); James Wood (How Fiction Works); and Terry Eagleton (Literary Theory).  The fiction we will examine for its rhetorical moves may include works by Franz Kafka, Herman Melville, Thomas Mann, Gustave Flaubert, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera, Ian McEwan. Jane Austen, Zora Neale Hurston, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Abraham Cahan, Anchee Min, Alice Walker, Ghassan Kanafani, and Kate Chopin.
The principal writing assignment of the course will be for each student to write his/her own (fictional narrative) adaptation of the Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” and a coda explaining why particular content (story: the what) and rhetorical (discourse: the how) choices were made.  This course would be suitable and appealing for graduate students in three tracks—creative writing, literature, and writing and rhetoric—as it spans the concerns of those sub-disciplines.

Summer Session II, 2012 (7/02-8/13)
English 649 Seminar in British Literature: Gothic (Horror) in 19th Century British       Fiction and Film (2725)
Tu & Th, 6:00-8:15 pm
Professor Louis Parascandola

This course will explore the growth of the gothic (horror) novel during the nineteenth century in England. This period saw the rapid development of the sciences and social sciences, which often legitimized (while at the same time questioning) the prevailing Divine, social, scientific, and political hierarchies. The works examine the uneasy tension between rebellion (especially in the earlier Romantic Age, about 1789-1832) and following the established order (especially in the Victorian Age about 1832-1900) which marks the beginning of the modern sensibility. The period also marks the vast expansion of the British colonial empire which is reflected in several of the works. We will also be looking at some of the many movies made of these works and discuss why they are so attractive to filmmakers and cinema audiences. Works studied will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. MFA and Education majors as well as English MA students are welcome. In addition to the traditional research projects, students may choose to write their own horror short story or write a lesson plan describing how they would teach one of the works.

English 503 Theory of Writing: Remembering The Present (5922)
MFA Only
Professor Lewis Warsh
Tuesdays 4-6:30 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, 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 519 Editing (5921)
Professor Michael Bokor
Wednesdays, 6:30-9:00 pm


This course teaches students the theory, practice, and evaluation of editing skills as well as orientation to careers and professional concerns in academic and non-academic writing. It is framed around the fact that effective editing is a demanding task that requires a comprehensive command of communication skills, exacting attention to detail, good interpersonal skills, and the discipline to get work done on schedule. The course, therefore, includes a style/grammar review and emphasizes hands-on editing activities. It is suitable for students in all disciplines, especially those interested in improving their skills for academic and/or professional writing.

Students will learn how to critically edit documents and graphics to suit the needs of specific audiences. They will also learn how to make good editorial decisions as well as develop a better understanding of the legal and ethical issues that surround written communication. The major assignment for the course is an extended editing project that students can later use as a portfolio piece in the job-search process.

For more information, contact Professor Bokor at or on phone, 718–488–1050 Extension 1112.

English 520 Nonfiction Writing Workshop: The Personal Essay (5061)
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
uesdays 6:30 – 9:00 PM


This is an intensive writing workshop with a focus on the personal essay.  We will read personal essays by established authors, analyzing their form, their style, the rhetorical strategies they employ, and their use of language.  The heart of the course, however, will be a workshop 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: The Narrative Voice (3985)
MFA Only
Professor Jessica Hagedorn
Wednesdays, 4:00-6:30 pm

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? What does it mean to write kick-ass dialogue? 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 Bolaño, Elmore Leonard, Clarice Lispector, Aleksandar Hemon, and others will be read and examined.  For MFA students only. Registration limited.

English 524 Poetry Writing Workshop: Length and Overload (5481)
MFA Only
Visiting Writer Anselm Berrigan
Thursdays, 6:30 - 9:00 pm

This workshop will focus on the reading and writing of longer poems that are or may be deemed intrusively messy vis-à-vis their relationship to information (content, facts, details, amusements, lies, statistics, concepts, their opposites, documents, oral histories, emotional rubbish, questionable memories, cries, shots in the dark, and all other detritus of the classical/contemporary, post-contingency, idiosyncratic mind). Rigorous attention to detail expected, as well as a completely open mind as to what can go into a poem on literal, tonal and formal levels, among others. Inspiration may include being agitated, provoked, and/or horrified into writing, to go along with traditional, personal and other illogical notions of inspiration as well as anti-inspiration. Among the questions taken up in this discussion will be how to map and/or sense the interrelations of material, voice, and structure while writing, editing, and reading. Material at the level of the syllable sound, voice as phenomenon of generating and arranging material, and structure referring to both the continuous structure of the work in progress (a form of performance) as well as the structure of the “finished” piece.

Reading and recordings by Allen Ginsberg, Will Alexander, Harryette Mullen, Dana Ward, Marcella Durand, Bernadette Mayer, Basil Bunting, Fred Moten, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Lawrence Giffin, Alice Notley, and Caroline Bergvall, as well as others, will be closely attended.

English 528 Seminar in Creative Writing: A Writers Studio—From East to West, From Poetry to Stories—Zen, Wabi-Sabi, Haiku, & The Narratives of Haibun (5925)
MFA Only
Professor John High
Mondays, 6:30-9:00 pm

In the course we’ll examine writing techniques of the East and their influence & possibilities for our own writing in NYC. We’ll pursue an overview of aesthetics—open to poets, fiction and non-fiction writers—while exploring meditative and contemplative practices growing out of the spirit of Zen and wabi-sabi artistic techniques. The course will include workshops, film, artwork, and informal talks. How is perfection only mastered in the imperfection of form? How does the chaos of a story find structure in the harmony of imbalance?  How has the poetry of haiku, and the experimental and communal collaborations of haikai and hokku, so profoundly impacted the narrative structure of haibun?  If haibun is often described as narratives of epiphany, wabi-sabi concentrates on daily life. Both forms have manifested more as expressions of urban life and travel dialogues in American usage. We’ll play with these condensed forms of syntax and sensory impressions, experiment with writing in the present tense, and focus language on tone and setting in our weekly workshops.

Readings will include work from Basho, Buson, and Issa and a survey of the ancients. But our study will include masters as diverse as Yasunara Kawabata, John Berger, Emily Dickinson, James Baldwin, and Fanny Howe, as well as reflections on and comparisons with various European and American schools ranging from the Spanish duende to the poetics of the Negritude movement, American Objectivists, Beat, and New York schools of writing. Films will include Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mom Amour (based on Marguerite Duras’ novel) and Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love; museums and artwork will also be a component of the course study. The class work will conclude with a chapbook and manifesto of your own work for the semester.

English 579 Seminar in Special Studies-The Literature of Disbelief (5923)
Professor Bernard Schweizer
Thursdays, 4:00-6:30 pm
This graduate course will focus on literature that is borne out of religious struggle, spiritual rebellion, or even outright misotheism (God-hatred). While some authors use their creative talents to rewrite religion or to invoke their own religious mythology, other authors attack the premises of traditional religious beliefs, or they declare an all-out revolt against the almighty. This course will focus on poetry, fiction, and drama that draws its creative energy from the impulse to subvert and re-write Jewish and Christian religious tenets. Some of the questions that will preoccupy us throughout the semester will be: what are the religious targets of these writers? What is the relationship between the impulse toward religious subversion and legal barriers against blasphemy? What are the benefits of enlisting creative literature in the fight against matters of faith? What specific theological claims underlie these subversive endeavors? 

-          Selections from Shelley’s Queen Mab
-          Selections from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science
-          Selections from Algernon Charles Swinburne
-          Selections from Mark Twain, including “Reflections on Religion,” and “The Mysterious Stranger”
-          D.H. Lawrence, The Man Who Died
-          Selections from Rebecca West
-          Selections from Albert Camus, The Rebel
-          Anatole France, Revolt of the Angels
-          Elie Wiesel, The Trial of God
-          Peter Shaffer, Amadeus (book and movie)
-          James Wood, The Book Against God
-          Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God

English 620 Rhetorical Traditions and the Teaching of Writing (5924)
Professor Patricia Stephens
Mondays, 4-6:30

We will begin the semester by focusing on a few key questions: How (and by whom) has rhetoric been defined over time? How and why have these definitions changed and evolved? How do we, in this class, define rhetoric? What role does rhetoric play in the teaching of reading and writing? Our readings in the beginning of the course – from the Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle to the medieval and “feminist” work of Christine de Pizan -- will lay the foundation for our examination of other readings later in the semester – from 18th and 19th rhetoricians like Blair, Campbell, Grimké, Bain and Hill to contemporary and postmodern works by Bahktin, Burke, Perelman, Toulmin, Foucault, Cixous, Gates, Anzaldua, and others. Throughout, we will trace the influence of these ever-evolving rhetorical theories on the practice of teaching writing in American colleges from the 19th century to the present. By the end of the semester, students should be able to 1) discuss how (and by whom) rhetoric has been defined and practiced in various historical periods; 2) articulate shifts in definition and practices across historical periods; 3) discuss the influence of Western rhetorical tradition on the field of composition and rhetoric, specifically, the teaching of reading and writing since the 19th century; and 4) apply rhetorical theories to specific practices and problems in rhetoric and composition.
English 624 Seminar in American Literature: The American Short Story (5926)
Professor Michael Bennett
Wednesdays, 6:30-9:00 pm


Course Objectives:
  • Study the history of the American short story from its beginnings to the present day, examining how the form has evolved and speculating about why.
  • Write a critical essay about the short story as a genre, developing an original, well-reasoned interpretation that integrates primary and secondary sources.
  • Read independently one book of short stories by a living American writer and craft a review of that work.
  • Create a short short story and describe how you went about creating it (how form and content came together in your creative process) and what stories influenced you in its creation.
  • Engage in lively class discussions where everyone's voice is heard and appreciated.
  • Workshop all student writing to get feedback from a variety of perspectives and have the opportunity to employ this feedback in final revisions.
            1)  Essay (literary criticism of any short stories read for class; 12-15 pages):  As we study the history of the American short story, we will also read literary critical essays about each period in the genre’s development to serve as models for your own literary critical essays, which will need to include research, proper citations, and MLA Works Cited.
            2) Review (your response to a book of short stories by a living American author; 3-4 pages):  We will read reviews of contemporary American short collections to serve as models for your own reviews, which should follow a format similar to the reviews that we study.
            3) Short Story (your own short short story, plus a 2-3 page analysis):  You will write a short short story and then discuss the form and content of what you have written, with reference to a story or stories that we have read.

            *At the end of the semester, you will submit a portfolio containing the best of your work.  You must submit a critical essay, but if you are not happy with your review or your story, you can instead submit two reviews or two short short stories instead of one of each.

Required Texts:
            The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Ed. Joyce Carol Oates
The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, Eds. Lex Williford and Michael Martone
Handouts/Postings on Blackboard

            Participation (25% of final grade)
            Essay (50% of final grade)
            Review and/or Short Short Fiction (25% of final grade)

English 646 Individual and Small Group Writing Instruction (4793)
Tuesdays, 6:30-9:00 pm
Professor Harriet Malinowitz

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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