Graduate Courses -- Summer & Fall 2014

It's time to register for Summer 2014 and/or Fall 2014!

These descriptions are provided by the instructors teaching the courses.

For more information, write to them directly.


ENG 624A African American Literature
African American Short Fiction (Course ID# 2388)
Professor Louis Parascandola
Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-8:15

This course will examine masterpieces of African American short fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to the present. Some authors we will discuss include Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Edward P. Jones, Jamaica Kincaid, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat. Most of the works are classics, ones that you should become familiar with as writers and as scholars. Almost all of them are works that could be taught in high school or in LIU's English 16 or English 63 courses. However, there will be some by authors whom you might not be familiar with such as Eric Walrond and Thomas Glave.

The goal in the class is to make you not only a better reader and critical thinker but also a better writer and researcher. Students will be asked to write two short essays on particular stories and a longer (8-9 pages) research paper on two or three stories by ONE author. You may write your own short story influenced by (not imitating) with a metatext to substitute for the longer research paper. It is also possible to write a lesson plan on one or two of the stories instead of doing the longer research paper. Students will also give a brief presentation in class on one of the stories. We will have a class visit by one or two of the writers we discuss.

FALL 2014

ENG 504 Traditions and Lineages
Futurism, Negritude, Wabi Sabi, Quantum Physics -- & Technicians of the Ancient (Course ID# 6129)
Professor John High
Tuesdays 6:30-9 PM

Where do our literary traditions come from, and how do they affect the ways, consciously or unconsciously, we approach our own creative work? Who gave us our names and labels and do we have to accept them? While the conventions of popular culture imitate and mimic the past, art is constantly reinventing itself and simultaneously building upon the literary traditions that inform who we become as writers. We have choices. And these choices grow out of our understanding of the past artistic movements as well as the present, new pathways. Our goal in this course will be to make the unfamiliar familiar, to uncover the sources and lineages 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 language and the so-called primitive and postmodern while looking at origins and naming as method and performance in our own writing. We will explore the use of visions and spells, chants and repetitions, and verbal invention in ancient to contemporary texts from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Near East, Oceania, and the Americas. At the core of the course will be the question of how we can expand upon the techniques of our own poems and stories with the words inside words. Writers will include those from the Kato Indian to the Bushman and Navajo, the Tibetan and Aztec, the Eskimo and Egyptian up to contemporary poets and fiction writers who have played off these traditions and lineages and become models for 20th-Century, avant-garde movements. In particular the course study will include a close look at the Futurists & Oberiu (The Association for Real Art) movements, Negritude & the Black Arts Movement, and the aesthetic movements associated with Zen and Wabi Sabi. The New Physics (Quantum) will serve as a lens for observing the past and considering new artistic pathways.

ENG 509 Sociolinguistics (Course ID# 6629)
Professor Donald McCrary 
Mondays 4-6:30 PM


This course examines the social foundation of language and the linguistic foundation of social life. More specifically, the course explores how language and society intersect to construct and, in many ways, control both individual and group identity. The relationship between language and society has relevance to the teaching of writing in that both teachers and students possess socially constructed knowledge of language that undergirds their understanding of writing competence. The course explores how sociolinguistic constructions such as class, race, gender, academic discourse, and education might impact upon writing performance. The course analyzes sociolinguistic theory and practice, including the works of L.S. Vygotsky, Victor Villanueva, Geneva Smitherman, and Susanne Romaine.

523 Fiction Writing Workshop
Writing in the Vernacular (Course ID# 4056)
Visiting Writer: Robert Antoni
Tuesdays 4-6:30 PM

MFA Students Only.

This fiction workshop will focus on the short story, and participants will explore some aspect of the vernacular in their work. By vernacular we mean non-standard English, the sort of language that is generally heard rather than written. We encounter it on the street or subway, among the less-formally-educated, among immigrants, or when we travel abroad. It is the language heard in the schoolyard, not studied the classroom. The vernacular may incorporate slang, colloquialisms, dialect, profanities, made-up words, and fragments of non-English languages. It misuses and reinvents grammar. The vernacular often communicates as much by rhythm and music, as it does by meaning—which, indeed, is sometimes inverted (and subverted). The vernacular is the site of popular culture. It is decidedly impure and improper; it commands its own authenticity; by its very nature it is open, malleable, aggressively multi, and alive. 

These characteristics have made the vernacular attractive to prose writers, poets, and playwrights, who have incorporated it in their texts to greater or lesser extent, from Shakespeare and Chaucer to our most avant-garde and interesting present-day writers. Due to the slipperiness of the world in which we live, we may be seeing more writing in the vernacular than ever before; it may be the writing of the moment. The project for these writers, then—which must be negotiated anew with each new endeavor—is how to give this spoken language a written form: call it text-speak. 

We will begin by identifying the formal choices writers make (the systems they devise) in their attempts to get a particular vernacular down on the page. We will address these and other questions: How much or how little should standard spelling or usage be altered? How successful is the written language in capturing the vernacular as it is heard? What if the reader has no exposure to that spoken language? Can the writing actually teach the reader how to hear it? We will then apply these observations, and the techniques we have identified, to our own writing. 

Participants will compose two fully realized short stories which will be workshopped during the semester; one of these stories will be rewritten and submitted to the instructor at the end of the class. Writers will distribute hard copies of their stories to all members of the class and the instructor at the class meeting a week prior to their workshops. All members of the class will be expected to read, digest, critique, and to discuss each other’s stories: this workshop will be a collaborative enterprise. Participants are also advised to get a start reading the Rotten English anthology before the beginning of the course.

Required Texts:

Rotten English: A Literary Anthology, edited by Dohra Ahmad (Norton).
As Flies to Whatless Boys, a novel by Robert Antoni (Akashic).

Instructor bio: The inspiration for Robert Antoni’s writing is his long family history in Trinidad and Tobago, and his upbringing in the Bahamas.  His fictional world is the British West Indies—the region’s characters, atmosphere, history, folklore, and above all its vernacular languages;  it is informed by a pan-Caribbean consciousness of race, gender, religion, and class.  Antoni is the author of the landmark West Indian novel, Divina Trace, for which he received the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.  His other books include Blessed is the FruitMy Grandmother’s Erotic Folktales, and Carnival, short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers Prize in the Best Book Category.  For his recent novel, As Flies to Whatless Boys, he was named a Guggenheim Fellow.  Antoni’s books have been translated into Spanish, French, Finnish, and Chinese. His short fiction was selected as an Editor’s Choice, included in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, and chosen for the Aga Kahn Prize by the Paris Review. Antoni recently received the NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad and Tobago National Library.  He holds an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD from the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa.  He lives in Manhattan and teaches in the graduate writing program at The New School University.

English 524 Poetry Writing Workshop 
Writing the Long Poem: Everything We Know (Course ID# 5326)
Professor Lewis Warsh
Wednesdays 6:30-9 PM

The long poem is a place where we can include everything: knowledge of ecology and politics, all the various emotional states and upheavals that we’ve experienced, annotation of the present moment and the passage of time. Each student will initiate what might be a long poem of several pages or even a book-length poem written and accumulated over the course of the semester. We'll discuss the ways of bringing together data by direct observation and journal writing, by reading the newspaper (which is a kind of daily poem), and by sustaining a rhythm, a feeling, a theme. We'll pay attention to ways of improvisation, how to translate daily life into poetry, and how to use repetition and variation. We'll use as models some of the great long poems of the last century, most notably Paterson by William Carlos, Williams, Waltzing Matilda by Alice Notley, The Morning of the Poem by James Schuyler, The Skaters by John Ashbery, Midwinter Day by Bernadette Mayer, among many others. Mostly we'll look closely at each other's work, give each other feedback and advice, and share each other's concerns regarding the importance of poetry in the world.

ENG 525 Playwriting Workshop
Adaptation: From Short Story to the Stage & Beyond (Course ID# 6130)
Professor Jessica Hagedorn
Wednesdays 4-6:30 PM
MFA students only or by permission of the instructor.

What does it mean to write a play that is meant to be a “live” experience, performed by actors before an audience? How does it differ from writing for a visual medium such as film? Through the process of adapting an existing literary work, students will learn the basic principles of storytelling in two collaborative and thrilling artistic mediums: the stage and the screen.

Think of this workshop as providing a space in which to explore the many surprising ways the same story can be told. We will begin by immersing ourselves in reading all sorts of fun stuff. Expect in-class writing exercises, weekly assignments, presentations and discussions, film screenings, and one class excursion to an Off-Broadway play, TBD.

Midway through the semester, students will select a published short story and begin adapting it as a play and/or as a movie. The adapted versions will be workshopped and revised, then submitted in a final portfolio. For this portfolio, students are also expected to write a concise introduction (5-10 pages) reflecting on the source material (why were you drawn to the story?) and on what was gained or lost from adapting it into another medium.

Required Texts:
  • Adaptations: From Short Story to Big Screen: 35 Great Stories That Have Inspired Great Films (Stephanie Harrison, editor)
  • The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis (play)
  • Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn (novel)
  • Dogeaters: The Play by Jessica Hagedorn
  • The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean (non-fiction)
  • Adaptation: The Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman & Donald Kaufman 

ENG 526 Writing for Media 1: The Story (Course ID# 5869)
Professor Myla Churchill (Media Arts)
Thursdays 6-8:50 PM

For more information, contact the instructor, in the Media Arts Department.

ENG 579 Seminar in Special Studies
Virginia Woolf and Modernism (Course ID# 5859)
Professor Patrick Horrigan
Mondays 6:30-9 PM

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is among the literary geniuses 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. We will read Woolf’s major fiction, including Jacob’s RoomMrs. DallowayTo 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,” Roger Fry’s Vision and Design, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel. The course will include field trips to The Museum of Modern Art and The New York Public Library, which houses the world’s largest collection of Woolf’s papers.

ENG 646 Individual and Small Group Writing Instruction (Course ID# 4777)
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Thursdays 4-6:30 PM

This course is designed to introduce tutors and teachers to the theories and practices of tutoring students of writing (one-on-one, in small groups, and online), with an emphasis on the specific needs of writers who use the LIU-Brooklyn Writing Center. From the first week, you will be able to tutor students in the Writing Center with increasing confidence and mastery of relevant techniques.  By the end of the course, you will be able to effectively implement a variety of tutoring theories, strategies, and skills in your tutoring sessions. This course will combine face-to-face, seminar/workshop-style meetings with online discussions. 

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