Graduate Courses: Summer & Fall 2013

504 Traditions and Lineages (ID# 2388)
Professor Barbara Henning
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6-8:30 PM

MFA students only

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 website 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.

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; oberto Bolano, By Night in Chile; Harryette Mullen, Sleeping with the Dictionary; Juliana Spahr, This Connection of Everyone With Lungs; Allen Ginsberg, Howl.

Also excerpts will be provided from: Walt Whitman, Jean Paul Sartre, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles 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 website. Also, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the course.  My email address is:


579 Seminar in Special Studies (ID# 2389)
Edgar Allan Poe
: His Literature, Life, and Legacy
Professor Louis Parascandola

Tuesdays & Thursdays 6:00-8:15 PM

Edgar Allan Poe is now established as one of the major figures in American literature. Most students early on in their education read his grotesque horror stories such as “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Yet Poe was more than just a master of the macabre. He is often credited as the father of the detective story as well as pioneering science fiction In addition, he was a noted poet and literary theorist. Yet perhaps even more than his own work, accounts (often inaccurate) of Poe’s tortured life have fueled readers’ imaginations. As a result, Poe’s life and works have spurred many American as well as foreign writers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers. This course will examine Poe’s writings, explore the mysteries of his own life, and discuss the various adaptations of his work. We will consider possible reasons for his enduring popularity. We will make a required class visit on a Saturday to the Poe Cottage in the Bronx, where he penned such classics as “The Bells” and “Annabel Lee.” 

In addition to English majors, this course is open to MFA and Education majors. It will be possible if you wish to write a creative piece or a lesson plan instead of doing a research paper.

Fall 2013

503 Theory of Writing (ID# 5632)

Theories of Voice andTime—A Contemplative Practice Toward the Book
Professor John High
Thursdays 6:30-9 

MFA students only 

Where do our literary theories come from, and how do they affect the ways, consciously or unconsciously, we approach our own creative work? While the conventions of popular culture imitate and mimic the past, art constantly reinvents itself and simultaneously builds upon the literatures that inform who we are and become as writers. We have choices. Our goal in this course will be to make the unfamiliar familiar, to uncover the sources and theories of our own art by making the past real and practical for the books we are writing in the 21st Century. We will do close readings of primal poetries and narratives and examine the crossroads as well as connections between oral and written theories of language and the so-called primitive and postmodern origins of naming and linguistic construction. We will explore the use of visions and spells, chants and repetitions, chance operations and automatic writing, meditation and dreams, and the use of verbal invention in ancient to contemporary texts from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Near East, Oceania, and the Americas. The ancient meets the post-postmodern, and our effort will be to welcome them both in the continuous practice of language as change.
A survey of writers and movements will include those from the Kato Indian to the Bushman and Navajo, the Tibetan and Aztec, the Eskimo and Egyptian up to those of the great Modernist inventors: Symbolists and Cubists, Dadaists and Surrealists, Futurists, Formalists, and Fabulists, to those of the Spanish Duende and Japanese Wabi Sabi and American Objectivists. From there we will move into the Harlem Renaissance inspired Negritude movement to European Absurdism, to Oulipo, and the Russian Oberiu, to The New Black Arts avant-gardists to The Beats and Language Poets, to the Metarealists, Polystylists and Conceptualists. But we won’t stop there. What is your theory of writing?

520 Nonfiction Writing Workshop (ID# 6601)
Professor Harriet Malinowitz

Tuesdays 4-6:30

This course is an intensive workshop devoted to writing creative nonfiction—or “literary”
essays. There will be three cycles, each focusing on a particular theme or sub-genre of creative nonfiction. Each cycle will start with reading and discussion of work by established authors, looking in particular at their form, their style, the rhetorical strategies they employ, their use of language, and the ways they interrogate the self and society via a subjective lens. Each cycle will then consist of writing workshops in which students’ essays are read and discussed in detail. The workshops constitute the core of the course. The main goal of the workshop critique is to help the writer move effectively toward revision. However, an ancillary goal is for each class member to develop, through these workshop discussions—as well as through our discussion of assigned published readings—a deepened understanding of, and facility with, creative nonfiction genres and techniques. The authors we will read include Vivian Gornick, Patricia Williams, Gayle Pemberton, George Orwell, Eric Liu, Jamake Highwater, Rachel Corrie, Atul Gawande, Joel Kostman, Barbara Ehrenreich, Lauren Slater, James Baldwin, Lillian Smith, Richard Rodriguez, Natalia Ginzburg, Adrienne Rich, Cheryl Strayed, and Phillip Lopate.

Each student will write three short (3-5 page) pieces—one for each cycle—and revise and
expand one of them (your choice of which) in a final longer piece of 10-20 pages. A draft of
each of the three shorter pieces will be presented in the workshop for in-depth critique.

523 Fiction Writing Workshop (ID# 4082)
The Narrative Voice
Professor Jessica Hagedorn

Wednesdays 4-6:30

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 reading list will include works by Colm Toibin, Roberto Bolaño, Julio Cortazar, Angela Carter, Aleksandar Hemon, Yiyun Li, Junot Diaz, Zadie Smith and other delectable surprises.

524 Poetry Writing Workshop (ID# 5429)
Writing for Everyone and No One: The Desk Drawer, the Notebook, and the Street
Professor Matvei Yankelevich (Visiting Writer)
Wednesdays 6:30-9

MFA students only

Our working group will commune with poetry at its outer limits as it approaches music, drawing, and cypher, taking cues from the gestural language of the outsider. We'll practice writing that sentences itself to infamy, obscurity, untranslatability; writing that is a performance on the page and notation for performance; writing that tests the boundaries of the printed word; and writing that leaves the page entirely to exist—ephemerally or physically—in the world outside the book.
We will examine writers in isolation (political, cultural, linguistic), writers who wrote “for the desk drawer,” or in the margins of culture, language, or sanity, and those who sought to break with the strictures of literature, of print, and even of the alphabet itself: Aase Berg, Hakim Bey, William Blake, Ivan Blatny, Bob Brown, Guy Debord, Christian Hawkey, Alexei Kruchenykh, Mina Loy, Daniil Kharms, Stéphane Mallarmé, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Osip Mandelstam, Henri Michaux, Gabriel Pomerand, Boris Poplavsky, Laura Riding, Lev Rubinstein, Gertrude Stein, Georg Trakl, Alexander Vvedensky. Because much of our reading focusses on foreign writers, we'll touch upon the transformations that occur through translation and "mis-translation" and the ways in which translation permeates our writerly practice.

Through our own practice and in discussions of the readings, we will try to answer some hard questions about the nature of writing, its relation to the medium and technology of language, and to the cultural constraint of Literature. Can a private language exist? Where does it intersect with the universal language of our utopian desires? What are the systems and technologies that administer or dictate writing? How does one write from outside the prevailing culture, against the grain?

Matvei Yankelevich is the author of the poetry collection Alpha Donut (United Artists Books) and the novella-in-fragments Boris by the Sea (Octopus Books), and several chapbooks. He is the translator of Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook/Ardis). He is one of the founding editors of Ugly Duckling Presse, where he curates the Eastern European Poets Series. He has taught at the Columbia University School of the Arts, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Naropa), Hunter College, and Colorado College, and is a member of the Writing Faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.

642 Computers and Composition (ID # 6597)
Professor Thomas Peele

Mondays 6:30-9

In this course, we’ll be investigating composition in the digital age. Students can use this course to help them think about and refine their own digital practices; all students seeking advanced degrees in the arts and humanities will find this course useful in helping them think through the impacts of the digital revolution on their fields of study.

If composition has historically been the production of text-based essays, what could it be now that students are writing more than ever, and writing for more varied audiences and purposes? What are the relationships between writing texts, status updates, and tweets on the one hand, and writing expository, explanatory, and longer creative work on the other hand? How can we make use of mobile platforms such as phones and tablets in our teaching so that they support student learning and increase student motivation? How can we take advantage of the interconnectivity that the Web allows? What parts of the teaching of literacy can we move to online spaces? How can we scale our models of instruction?

In this course we’ll address both the theory and practice of computers and writing. So that we can think more deeply about changes in the ways that text is produced, distributed, and received, and how these changes have affected learning and knowledge, we will read specialized and popular literature. Here are some possible titles: The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr; Now You See It, by Cathy Davidson; Cognitive Surplus, by Clay Shirky; The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki; Remix, by Lawrence Lessig

We will also be learning or improving our practice with digital applications. Instead of simply moving textual production online, we’ll try to rethink the relationships between information, writing, and distribution.

Please note that in order to complete the course work you’ll need to open accounts at a few Web sites (such as Google) that offer online learning applications. The other digital applications that we will learn will depend on the hardware and software that is available to us, but here are some possibilities: Blackboard, iMovie and iBooks, Jing, Photobooth, Dropbox, Digital Readers, .Mobile Apps.

Scan this QR code to go to the preliminary course site and to ask questions or leave comments. Computer expertise is NOT a prerequisite.

646 Individual and Small Group Writing Instruction (ID# 4842)
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Thursdays 4-6:30

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; learning to conduct distance tutoring and lead small group workshops; 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, through WAC, of interdisciplinary writing concerns on campus. Classes will be conducted as seminars/ workshops so that all students have the opportunity to participate in class presentations, mock tutorials, etc. Pending administrative approval, this will be a blended course (i.e., some meetings will take place online).

All students are required to tutor for o ne hour per week during the semester and attend biweekly staff development meetings at the Writing Center. There will also be weekly Blackboard discussions, several observations of experienced Writing Center tutors, and two short (circa 5 pages) papers.

579 Seminar in Special Studies (ID# 6600)
Virginia Woolf & Modernism
Professor Patrick Horrigan
Mondays 4-6:30


Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is one of the most challenging and significant writers of the twentieth century.  The main purpose of this course is to trace the development of her work throughout her career and to enjoy the rare opportunity of studying her work at length and in depth.  Special attention will be paid to the process by which Woolf became a modernist.  In addition, we will sample some of the work of her contemporaries as well as later critical responses to her work.  In so doing we will gain an appreciation for the broader movements of modern art and feminism of which she is a defining figure.  We will read Woolf’s major fiction, including The Voyage Out, Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and The Waves; non-fiction, including A Room of One’s Own; memoir, including “A Sketch of the Past”; selected short stories and essays; and excerpts from the diaries.  Works by contemporaries will include Sigmund Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia,” director Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel.  The course will include a field trip to the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, which houses the world’s largest collection of Woolf’s papers and first editions of her work.  Because Woolf was strongly influenced by the cutting-edge visual art of her day, we will also make a field trip to the Museum of Modern Art to look at modern painting.  Students will write a series of short essays and research papers as well as a creative response to Woolf.

624B Themes in American Drama (ID# 6599)
Professor Carol Allen
Tuesdays 6:30-9

This course will be divided into three parts: a short unit of no more than three weeks on the origins of American Drama including the shaping influence of Shakespeare, minstrelsy, and the theater industry; another short unit on the revolutionary innovations coming out of the early twentieth century; and a third extended cycle on contemporary drama from the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Primary texts will be supplemented with critical works. Expect to critique such dramatists as William Wells Brown, Susan Glaspell, Eugene O’Neill, Marita Bonner, Clifford Odets, Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Lillian Hellman, Tennessee Williams, Ed Bullins, Amiri Baraka, David Mamet, Sam Shepard, Adrienne Kennedy, Richard Foreman, August Wilson, Lynne Nottage and/or Suzan-Lori Parks. We’ll be looking at form as closely as content while thinking about what constitutes a “play,” a “stage,” an “audience.” What are the limits of performance? Be advised that this is a broad field. So, our class will not be exhaustive but will provide the basis for further specialized study.
Assignments will include a short paper, presentation that requires research, and longer project in the form of a research paper or creative response with metatext.

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