New Mexico Courses, Summer 2019

Group 1 (Writing, Pedagogy, and Literacy)

7017 Life Lines: The Art and Craft of Biographical Writing

A.Swan/T, Th 2–5

Ever since Plutarch brought Alexander the Great blazingly to life in his seminal Lives (second century CE), biography has illuminated history from the inside out, giving us the story—and the players—firsthand. Life Lines will be an exploration of the genre at its best. What do great biographies have in common—and how do they differ? How are scenes set, facts organized, and context provided? And is there, finally, such a thing as “truth” in biography—and especially autobiography? This class will explore the many ways a writer can tease out the “figure under the carpet,” as Leon Edel, the biographer of Henry James, put it. We will also practice the art ourselves, either by writing something autobiographical or else researching and writing a chapter of a biography. (There will be field trips to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and to Bishop Lamy’s chapel.) (This course may be used to satisfy a Group 3 requirement.)

Texts: Telling Lives: The Biographer’s Art, ed. Marc Pachter (excerpts only, provided in class); James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (Penguin Classics, 1986 abridged edition only, with Christopher Hibbert introduction); Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians (Penguin); A. J. A. Symons, The Quest for Corvo (New York Review Books); Paul Horgan, Lamy of Santa Fe (Wesleyan); Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (Vintage, excerpts only); Laurie Lisle, Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe (Washington Square); Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes (Scribner).

7090 Teaching Multimodal Writing in a Digital Age

C. Medina/T, Th 9–Noon

This course looks at how we can think about teaching writing with technologies so that these pedagogical practices are meaningful and creative and reinforce traditional writing processes. This class asks students to reflect on their teaching philosophies about writing and composing with technology by juxtaposing current writing studies research on multimodal composing. Students articulate and (re)mediate these teaching philosophies across multiple digital genres, paying attention to the affordances across modes. Reflecting metacognitively on our own design and translation choices across media will provide opportunities to consider what makes “good” writing and how these criteria can effectively be evaluated and assessed.

Texts: Jason Palmeri, Remixing Composition: A History of Multimodal Writing Pedagogy (Southern Illinois); Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, Cheryl E. Ball, Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects (Bedford/St. Martin’s).


Group 2 (British Literature: Beginnings through the 17th Century)

7252 Shakespeare & Company: English Renaissance Drama

L. Engle/M, W 2–5

This course will focus on the flowering of public theater in London from 1585 to 1625. We will read selected plays by Shakespeare alongside similar plays by other major playwrights such as Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, and John Webster, with attention both to the main genres and the peculiar institutions of Elizabethan and Jacobean theater. Students will write a shorter and a longer paper, contribute a weekly note or question on the reading, lead one class discussion, and participate in an acting exercise. Topics in order: revenge (Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy; Shakespeare, Hamlet; Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy); kingship and masculinity (Marlowe, Tamburlaine Part 1 and Edward II; Shakespeare, Macbeth); love and service (Shakespeare, Othello; Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling; Webster, The Duchess of Malfi); magic and theatricality (Marlowe, Doctor Faustus; Jonson, The Alchemist; Shakespeare, The Tempest).

Texts: English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology, ed. David Bevington, Lars Engle, et al. (Norton); William Shakespeare, The Late Romances, ed. David Bevington and David Kastan (Bantam); William Shakespeare, Four Tragedies, ed. David Bevington and David Kastan (Bantam). Any good modern annotated Shakespeare may be substituted by checking with me. Recommended, but not required: Lars Engle and Eric Rasmussen, Studying Shakespeare’s Contemporaries (Wiley Blackwell).

7290 Teaching, Reading (and Enjoying) Poetry

B. Smith/M, W 9–12

Anyone who likes music ought to like poetry, yet students (and sometimes, secretly, their teachers) often approach poetry with anxiety, if not downright hostility. This course is designed to change such attitudes. We shall begin by locating sound and rhythm in the body. Grounding ourselves in those physiological sensations, we shall proceed, period by period, to read, discuss, and enjoy some of the English language’s greatest designs on our bodies and imaginations. Participants in the seminar will be asked to carry out three writing projects: an essay in criticism, a plan for teaching one or more of the poems, and some poetry of their own devising. (This course may also be used to satisfy a Group 3 requirement.)

Texts: The Norton Anthology of Poetry, ed. Margaret Ferguson, Shorter Fifth Ed. (Norton).


Group 3 (British Literature: 18th Century to the Present)

7017 Life Lines: The Art and Craft of Biographical Writing

A.Swan/T, Th 2–5

See description under Group 1 offerings.


7290 Teaching, Reading (and Enjoying) Poetry

B. Smith/M, W 9–Noon

See description under Group 2 offerings.


7363 Mostly Middlemarch

J. Nunokawa/T, Th 2–5

In this class, we will mostly read Middlemarch, what Virginia Woolf famously calls “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.” Woolf’s remark may be a kind of posh understatement. Eliot recruits her famous, sometimes staggering erudition in the service of her “Study of Provincial Life,” which gives a local habitation and name to the vagaries of German Idealism, the legal history of Wills, the state of modern medical science, the totality of what Victorian intellectuals regarded as “serious” literature, the history of religion, the development of the human sciences and the beginnings of Sociology and Anthropology, the comparative study of Mythology, the progress of electoral reform and the heightening of class conflict in the 19th century, and the “Woman Question.” But Woolf’s praise for Middlemarch may also be an acknowledgement that Eliot’s great novel tells a story that only grown-up people can understand: a story that visits middle-aged people—of how people who start with big hopes settle for smaller lives. We will see how this story of ordinary disappointment, along with the effort to convey that story to people who are too young to know it, dwells at the center of Middlemarch. Most of all we will see how in the novel large philosophical questions and broad historical movements come to bear on individual lives. Additional reading will include critical essays as well as passages from Milton and Wordsworth; we will begin with Austen’s Persuasion to introduce us to some rhetorical techniques (such as free indirect discourse) that are central to Eliot. Mostly though, we will read Middlemarch, a work of literature as fine and fun and funny and familiar and strange as anything ever attempted in prose or rhyme.

Texts: George Eliot, Middlemarch, ed. and intro. Rosemary Ashton (Penguin Classic ed. only); Wordsworth, “Tintern Abbey”; Milton, Paradise Lost (selections). The instructor will provide all additional readings.

7390 The Essay and Its Vicissitudes

J. Nunokawa/M, W 2–5

This course will introduce students to the range of the essay form as it has developed from the early modern period to our own. The class will be organized, for the most part, chronologically, beginning with the likes of Bacon and ending with some lustrous contemporary examples of, and luminous reflections on, the form. We will consider how writers as various as Bacon, Hume, Johnson, Hazlitt, Emerson, Woolf, Baldwin, and Elizabeth Hardwick define and revise the shape and scope of those disparate aspirations in prose that have come to be called collectively “The Essay.” The writing assigned for this course will seek to enlist the essays not only as objects of analysis but also as models for our own essays in the essay form.

Texts: A course packet containing the readings will be available through the Middlebury College Bookstore.

7440 Introduction to Graduate Literary Studies

J. Wicke/T, Th 2–5

Humans live by stories, and humanity urgently needs new narratives. The “narrative imperative” at the heart of culture gives literary humanities its vital purpose: articulating the stories, literary and critical, that we rely on to survive and change. Graduate literary studies stands at the crossroads where rethinking the uses of literature intersects with reimagining the narratives that shape knowledge, truth, and value. The course gives grounding in the key theoretical and critical methods that pose these questions and illuminates new models of reading and writing that expand the narrative horizon. This foundation will enhance graduate work, create community, and translate critical perspectives into teaching strategies. Most important is to discover and strengthen the critical voice each student brings to the graduate classroom and beyond as writers, thinkers, and educators.

Texts: Henry James, The Turn of the Screw: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism, 3rd ed. (Bedford/St. Martin’s); Virginia Woolf, Selected Essays (Oxford World Classics); George Orwell, Why I Write (Penguin); James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (Vintage); Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark (Vintage); Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (Graywolf); Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf). Additional readings will be provided.


Group 4 (American Literature)

7588 American Modernism

L. Hammer/T, Th 9–Noon

American modernism was a revolutionary cultural movement braiding art and daily life, in which writing and art were political and spiritual pursuits. Absorbing, but also resisting, the example of new European art and literature, modernism in this country articulated specifically American forms of thought and expression. Focused on the period from the Armory Show (1913) to the Stock Market Crash (1929), our course will examine this transformative moment against the backdrop of New York City and in regional settings from New England to New Mexico. While centering on poetry and fiction, we will read literature in the light of visual art and music, and in the context of First Wave Feminism, the New Negro, “Flaming Youth,” and self-consciously modern visions of democratic culture and American history. Students will prepare two papers and a presentation, choosing between critical and more pedagogically oriented options. Artists include Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, and Marsden Hartley.

Texts: Robert Frost, A Boy’s Will and North of Boston (Dover); Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio (Penguin); William Carlos Williams, Spring and All (New Directions); John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer (Houghton Mifflin); Jean Toomer, Cane (Norton); Langston Hughes, The Weary Blues (Knopf); F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (Scribner); Hart Crane, The Bridge (Liveright).

7673 Writing with, against, and beyond the Alphabet: Mexican American Reinventions

D. Baca/M, W 9–Noon

We will investigate how Mexican American writers challenge basic assumptions ingrained in the Western understanding of literature and its ties to alphabetic literacy, Hellenocentrism, civilizing missions, and unregulated global capitalist expansion. Common assumptions about written communication depend upon the alphabet as a precondition for literacy, thereby obscuring pictographic and nonverbal writing systems that still circulate among Mexican-origin communities. We will study how media-rich texts of significance account for a plurality of transmission practices that are unmistakably tied to the Valley of México, greater Mexico, and the peoples of the Rio Grande basin. Finally, we will examine how Mexican American aesthetic practices rooted in lived and livable experiences foster decolonizing relationships to body politics and to each other as well as to the natural world.

Texts: Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (Aunt Lute); Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Codex Espangliensis: From Columbus to the Border Patrol (City Lights); Carlos Aceves, Nine Seasons: Beyond 2012: A Manual of Ancient Aztec & Maya Wisdom (Indigenous Cultures Institute); Ana Castillo, So Far from God (Norton); Paul Martínez Pompa, My Kill Adore Him (Notre Dame); Valerie Martínez, And They Called It Horizon: Santa Fe Poems (Sunstone); Ilan Stavans, El Iluminado (Basic Books); José Manuel Mateo, Migrant: The Journey of a Mexican Worker (Harry N. Abrams).

7812 Creating Solo Performance: From Literature to Life

J. Fried/M, W 2–5

See description under Group 6 offerings.


Group 5 (World Literature)

7730 Global Journeys: Odyssey, Pilgrimage, Encounter

J. Wicke/M, W 2–5

This course is a journey into travel: the writing about travel that has made literature, the literature of travel that has made world culture. Narratives of travel map our minds, imaginations, and stories; travel is so widespread across time and place that it defines the human experience. We’ll explore the three literary templates of travel—the odyssey into the unknown, the pilgrimage to a sacred destination, and the encounter with otherness beyond borders—by pairing classic works of world literature with modern counterparts, to illuminate journeys of personal and social discovery. At a time when mass tourism intersects with the forced travel of refugees, migrants, and the displaced, we are all travelers, strangers in a strange land. All narratives of travel return in the end to the meaning of home, and hopes of homecoming.

Texts: Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Emily Wilson (Norton); Virginia Woolf, Orlando (Mariner); Geoffrey Chaucer, Selected Canterbury Tales (Dover); Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Penguin); Shailja Patel, Migritude (Kaya); Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, The Account of the Journey to the New World (Arte Publico); Laila Lalami, The Moor’s Account (Vintage); William Shakespeare, The Tempest, ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library (Simon & Schuster); Herman Melville, Benito Cereno in Bartleby and Benito Cereno (Dover); Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Toni Morrison, A Mercy (Vintage); Viet Thanh Nguyen, Refugees (Grove).


Group 6 (Theater Arts)

7812 Creating Solo Performance: From Literature to Life

J. Fried/M, W 2–5

Inspired by the Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble’s practices in the classroom, this course will adopt the actor’s process to examine recurring themes of reinvention, renewal, and identity within the literatures of the American West. As the culmination of this investigation, each student will produce a 10-minute solo play for the Bread Loaf community, focusing on the “solo actors” who exist outside the American mainstream: the loners, outcasts, nonconformists, visionaries, and explorers. Students will build their scripts from readings chosen in consultation with the instructor before the term begins and will dig deeply into those texts to ground their characters. Students will meet twice weekly with the instructor outside the class hours for one-on-one rehearsals. The course is for nonactors; no experience required. Bring your creativity! (This course may be used to satisfy a Group 4 requirement.)