New Mexico Courses, Summer 2017

Group 1 (Writing, Pedagogy, and Literacy)

7000a  Poetry Workshop

S. Ortiz/T, Th 9–11:45

Poetry is your voice and my voice. Essential, immediate, present, and all around. Poetry is past, present, future. Poetry is speaking, telling, conveying, arguing, feeling, writing. Poetry is voice in the present here and now where we’re most present. Poetry is from deep within oneself and one’s connection to the universe. Our resource is personal and social. Writing is voice from within the self that joins with voice outside the self. Speaking, conversing, telling stories, laughing, cursing are self-expression, so we’ll put those into our written poetic voice. Weekly assignments will be expected, culminating in a 25-page manuscript by the end of the summer session.

Texts: Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon); Mark Turcotte, Exploding Chippewas (Triquarterly); Simon J. Ortiz, Out There Somewhere (Arizona); Esther Belin, From the Belly of My Beauty (Arizona); James Welch, Riding the Earthboy 40 (Penguin).

7017  Life Lines: The Art and Craft of Biographical Writing

A. Swan/M, W 2–4:45

Ever since Plutarch brought Alexander the Great blazingly to life in his seminal Lives (second century CE), people have loved to read—and write—biographies. This course will be an exploration of the genre at its best. What do great biographies and autobiographies have in common—and how do they differ? How are scenes set, facts organized, context provided? How novelistic can a biography be? And is there, finally, such a thing as “truth” in biography or autobiography? We’ll also explore the many ways a writer can tease out the “figure under the carpet”—as Leon Edel, the great biographer of Henry James, put it—by practicing the art ourselves, either by writing something autobiographical or by researching and writing a chapter of a biography. (This course may also be used to satisfy a Group 3 requirement.)

Texts: James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (Penguin); Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians (Penguin); Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (Knopf); Hermione Lee, Willa Cather (Virago); A. J. A. Symons, The Quest for Corvo (New York Review Books); Nigel Nicolson, Portrait of a Marriage (University of Chicago); Mabel Dodge Luhan, Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality (University of New Mexico).

7040a  Creative Writing in the Landscape

D. Denisoff/M, W 2–4:45

A coffee shop. A cabin. A dry creek bed. We all find different locations conducive for creative writing, but we rarely appreciate the full impact of the environment on the work we produce. This course takes advantage of our inspiring surroundings, combining creative non/fiction writing with the study of nature literature. Through exercises, readings, and fieldwork, we will explore topics such as solitude and community, spiritual identity, human/animal/plant relations, and gender politics. In addition to developing a sense of the nature-writing tradition in the United States over the past 100 years, students will also engage with diverse creative modes in order to challenge their own understanding of what the written word can do. Marks will be based on creative assignments, an artist’s statement, and a portfolio of revised course materials. Additional readings will be provided before the session. (This course may also be used to satisfy a Group 4 requirement.)

Texts: Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (Touchstone); Merrill Gilfillan, Chokecherry Places (Johnson); John A. Murray, Writing about Nature (University of New Mexico); Annie Proulx, Close Range (Scribner); Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust (Penguin).

7091  Multicultural Digital Storytelling

C. Medina/T, Th 9–11:45

This course looks at how stories and storytelling serve to connect writers with their communities and cultures. The class will discuss academic and nonacademic writing on storytelling and keep an online archive of storytelling examples. In addition, members of the class will present course readings and create activities that will ask their fellow students to write with special considerations of genre, audience, theme, and/or technology. An outcome is the production of a digital storytelling text that will demonstrate rhetorical understanding.

Texts: The Subject is Story, ed. Wendy Bishop and Hans Ostrom (Heinemann); Joe Lambert, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community, 4th rev. ed. (Routledge); Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, ed. Kristin Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl Ball (Bedford/St. Martin’s).


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

7240  Shakespeare & Co.: English Renaissance Drama

L. Engle/T, Th 2–4:45

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 twice-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 9–11:45

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/M, W 2–4:45

See description under Group 1 offerings.

7290  Teaching, Reading (and Enjoying) Poetry

B. Smith/M, W 9–11:45

See description under Group 2 offerings.

7390  The Essay and its Vicissitudes

J. Nunokawa/M, W 2–4:45

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: The texts are available in a course packet available through the Middlebury College Bookstore.

7475  Genders, Sexualities, and the Animal

D. Denisoff/M, W 9–11:45

Gender, sexuality, and desire have commonly been read through an anthropocentric paradigm that assumes the centrality of humans. And yet, our species makes up a minority of the planet’s sentient population. Engaging British literature of the past 150 years, this course addresses gender and sexuality through the theoretical lens of the animal. Using animality, feminist, queer, and gender theory, the course exposes the reliance of humanism and modern ethics on contentious notions of species distinctions. It also develops our awareness of the diverse philosophical and cultural issues that arise when nonhuman organisms are recognized as active agents in and influences on the formation of genders, sexualities, and desires. Topics for study include relations between animality and sexual/gender politics, our animal desires, subjectivity vs. collectivity; trans-species affection; race; and anthropomorphism. Please read Woolf before classes begin. Additional readings will be provided before the session.

Texts: Virginia Woolf, Flush: A Biography (Mariner); Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory (Simon & Schuster); Michael Field, Sight and Song (; H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (Dover).

Films: In advance of class, please view Peter Greenaway’s A Zed and Two Noughts (1985).


Group 4 (American Literature)

7040a  Creative Writing in the Landscape

D. Denisoff/M, W 2–4:45

See description under Group 1 offerings.

7620  Latino/a Literature

D. Baca/T, Th 2–4:45

In this seminar we will analyze contemporary works by Latino/a authors of Caribbean, Latin American, and Mexican origin. We will examine how our authors advance significant contributions to global literature and to the transnational reception of their cultures’ literary production. Latina/o writing arises from intertwining Indigenous, Iberian, and American contexts shaped by colonial power, especially the last two centuries of U.S. expansionism. We will read both with and against dominant historical narratives of nations, subjectivities, and aesthetic configurations. This course will further investigate the relationship of late global capitalism to Latino/a identity formation, multilingualism, family networks, wars of occupation, labor recruitment, the political economies of migration, and responses to Hispanophobia.

Texts: Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in the Americas (Penguin); Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (Aunt Lute); Ana Castillo, Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma (Plume); Eduardo Galeano, Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History (Nation); Roberto Fernández Retamar, Caliban and Other Essays (Minnesota); Junot Diaz, Drown (Riverhead); Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies (Algonquin); Esmeralda Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican (Da Capo); José Manuel Mateo, Migrant: The Journey of a Mexican Worker (Harry N. Abrams). Students should also read Damián Baca, Mestiz@ Scripts, Digital Migrations, and the Territories of Writing (Palgrave Macmillan), which will be on reserve at Bread Loaf.

7682  Asians in the Global/Planetary Imagination

R. Lee/T, Th 9–11:45

See description under Group 5 offerings.

7693 1977

J. Connor/T, Th 2–4:45

Cinema historians have long pointed to 1977 as an inflection point in Hollywood. Does that shift line up with other cultural changes? What is the relationship between cultural change and the onset of neoliberalism? (What do we mean by neoliberalism, anyway?) Though all our primary texts will be from 1977, we will consider both a range of narrative modes—family melodramas, new realisms, postmodern satires, self-conscious myth-making—and a host of contexts—the fallout of the Sixties, Watergate, second-wave feminism, the Republican party’s “Southern Strategy,” and the Democratic Party’s abandonment of the left. Students will write two papers (one brief) and make one class presentation. Students are encouraged to immerse themselves in the popular music of the era via the Spotify playlist “Bread Loaf 77.” One might also read Louis Menand’s review of City on Fire in the New Yorker. (The novel itself is 900 pages and may be more immersion than necessary.) We will discuss some foundational texts on neoliberalism as well as Roots, parts I and VI, in the opening session; Song of Solomon in the second session.

Texts: Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (Vintage); Michael Herr, Dispatches (Vintage); Leslie Silko, Ceremony (Penguin); Robert Coover, The Public Burning (Grove); Peter Taylor, In the Miro District (LSU); James Alan McPherson, Elbow Room (Fawcett); Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer (Vintage). A course packet containing supplemental readings will be available through the Middlebury College Bookstore.

Films: Roots (TV miniseries, 1977); Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep (1978); Werner Herzog, Stroszek (1977); George Lucas, Star Wars (1977); Soap (TV series, 1977); Hal Needham, Smokey and the Bandit (1977); Robert Altman, 3 Women (1977), Woody Allen, Annie Hall (1977); John Badham, Saturday Night Fever (1977).

Group 5 (World Literature)

7682  Asians in the Global/Planetary Imagination

R. Lee/T, Th 9–11:45

This course will focus on how Asians (and to a limited extent, people of other races) are used metaphorically or materially to express anxiety about contemporary issues: the threat of the Other, what is considered human and therefore sympathetic, the impacts of increasing commodification on sympathy and human relations, the globalized economy, and different ways to perceive time and narrative. Readings will consist largely of speculative fiction, drawn from Asian and Asian American authors, but also written by authors of various races about Asians. In addition to novels, short stories, poems, and secondary source criticism on the various topics will be provided. Students will also be expected to research, find their own secondary sources on a topic related to the class, and present in class. Central texts include On Such a Full Sea (Chang-rae Lee), The Buried Giant (Kazuo Ishiguro), A Tale for the Time Being (Ruth Ozeki), and Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People. (This course may also be used to satisfy a Group 4 requirement.)

Texts: Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (Penguin); Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant (Knopf); Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (Mariner); Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (Riverhead); Indra Sinha, Animal’s People (Simon & Schuster); Larissa Lai and Rita Wong, Sybil Unrest (New Star).