Brett Millier
Office
Axinn Center 304
Tel
(802) 443-5026
Email
millier@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Spring 2022: Monday, Thursday, and Friday 12:30-2:00 PM, and by appointment

Brett C. Millier is the Reginald L. Cook Professor of American Literature in the Department of English and American Literatures. She has been at Middlebury since 1986, and her teaching interests include twentieth century American poetry and fiction, gender studies, Canadian literature, and critical writing and pedagogy. Ms. Millier is a graduate of Yale University (BA) and Stanford University (Ph.D.) She is the author of Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It (U. of California Press) and, Flawed Light: American Women Poets and Alcohol (U. of Illinois Press). Most recent she has co-edited editions of the poetry and prose of the poet Adrienne Rich for W.W. Norton:  Poetry and Prose (Spring 2018) and Selected Poems (Fall 2018). Her essays have appeared in Verse, the Kenyon Review, the New England ReviewContemporary Literature, and elsewhere.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Independent Study
Select project advisor prior to registration.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Honors Thesis
For students who have completed AMST 0705, and qualify to write two-credit interdisciplinary honors thesis. on some aspect of American culture. The thesis may be completed on a fall/winter schedule or a fall/spring schedule. (Select a thesis advisor prior to registration)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Thesis
A senior thesis is normally completed over two semesters. During Fall and Winter terms, or Winter and Spring terms, students will write a 35-page (article length) comparative essay, firmly situated in literary analysis. Students are responsible for identifying and arranging to work with their primary language and secondary language readers, and consulting with the program director before completing the CMLT Thesis Declaration form. (Approval required.)

Terms Taught

Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022, Winter 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Special Project: Creative Writing
Approval Required.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Thesis: Creative Writing
Discussions, workshops, tutorials for those undertaking one-term projects in the writing of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Reading Literature
Please refer to each section for specific course descriptions.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

CW, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Pre-1900 AL)
This course will examine major developments in the literary world of 19th century America. Specific topics to be addressed might include the transition from Romanticism to Regionalism and Realism, the origins and evolution of the novel in the United States, and the tensions arising from the emergence of a commercial marketplace for literature. Attention will also be paid to the rise of women as literary professionals in America and the persistent problematizing of race and slavery. Among others, authors may include J. F. Cooper, Emerson, Melville, Douglass, Chopin, Whitman, Dickinson, Twain, Hawthorne, Stowe, Alcott, Wharton, and James. . 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

The American Modernists (AL)
American writers at the turn of the 20th century faced social, intellectual, and technological change on an unprecedented scale. Individually and collectively they worked to answer William Carlos Williams’s pressing question: “How can I be a mirror to this modernity?” In this course we will read, discuss, and write about poetry by writers such as Williams, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Wallace Stevens; and prose by Henry Adams, Edith Wharton, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Nella Larsen, Richard Wright, and others. (Not open to students who have taken ENAM 0207)

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

American Literature Since 1945 (AL)
In this course we will trace the development of the postmodern sensibility in American literature since the Second World War. We will read works in four genres: short fiction, novels, non-fiction (the "new journalism"), and poetry. Authors will include Saul Bellow, Joseph Heller, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O'Connor, Jack Kerouac, Vladimir Nabokov, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, and Don DeLillo. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

American Women Poets
We will examine the rich tradition of lyric poetry by women in the U.S. Beginning with the Puritan Anne Bradstreet, one of the New World's earliest published poets, we continue to the 19th century and Emily Dickinson, along with the formidable line of "poetesses" who dominated the popular poetry press in that era. We examine the female contribution to the Modernist aesthetic in figures like Millay, Moore, H.D. and Gertrude Stein; the transformation of modernist ideals by Bishop, Plath, Sexton, and Rich; and, among the postmodernists, Lyn Hejinian and Susan Howe. 3 hrs. lect. (National/Transnational Feminisms)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Faulkner and His Influence (AL)
William Faulkner was extreme: the most radical formal innovator among the American Modernist novelists and an outrageous (and subtle) thinker about the complex social and racial history of the American south. In this course we will read Faulkner’s major works (As I Lay Dying; The Sound and the Fury; Light in August; Absalom, Absalom!; and Go Down, Moses) and works by Flannery O'Connor, Charles Johnson, and others influenced by Faulkner's style and vision. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Dickinson and Bishop
In this course we will study, in significant depth, the lives and work of poets Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop. These authors are important and widely discussed; thus our topics will include a range of aesthetic, literary-historical, biographical, and political perspectives. And we will make use of a range of archival materials—journal entries, letters, drafts of poems—both published and unpublished. At the heart of our discussions, however, will be the poems these great writers produced. We will learn about ways to read and explicate poems, and about the use of archival materials in literary research and analysis. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking one-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the Senior Thesis Workshop (ENAM 700Z) in either Fall or Spring Term.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Advanced Expository Writing
In this course students will have the opportunity to work intensively to improve the style and impact of their expository (non-fiction) writing. Students will write short daily essays on assigned prompts, culminating in a longer essay on a topic of their choosing. This course is meant for ambitious writers who are confident in their basic composition skills. The course will be conducted asynchronously on Canvas, and students will read a selection of exemplary essays as well as work by their fellow students for inspiration. Each student will meet via Zoom with the professor at least twice per week to discuss their progress.

Terms Taught

Winter 2021

Requirements

ART, CW, WTR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Nineteenth-Century American Literature
This course will examine major developments in the literary world of 19th century America. Specific topics to be addressed might include the transition from Romanticism to Regionalism and Realism, the origins and evolution of the novel in the United States, and the tensions arising from the emergence of a commercial marketplace for literature. Attention will also be paid to the rise of women as literary professionals in America and the persistent problematizing of race and slavery. Among others, authors may include J. F. Cooper, Emerson, Melville, Douglass, Chopin, Whitman, Dickinson, Twain, Hawthorne, Stowe, Alcott, Wharton, and James. . 3 hrs. lect./disc.(Formerly ENAM 0206)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required. (Formerly ENAM 0500)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking one-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the Senior Thesis Workshop (ENAM 700Z) in either Fall or Spring Term. (Formerly ENAM 0700)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

The Poet’s ‘I’: Poetry and Autobiography
In this seminar we will work to discover the sometimes subtle connections between the "objective" events of a poets’ lives and the poems that they produced. Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins are known as reticent, self-concealing poets; nonetheless their poems tell their life stories. John Berryman is a "confessional" poet; yet questions about the relationship between his poems and his life are similar. Lyn Hejinian is a postmodern poet who complicates all of those questions. We will read a great many poems, as well as letters, diaries, drafts, published biographies, and autobiographical prose by each poet. 3 hrs. sem./disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Poetry and Poetics
This seminar is an introduction to the formal and generic aspects of lyric poetry in English. We will work to develop sensitivity to the various strategies of meaning available to poets—meter, rhyme, sound, diction, imagery—in order to read poems more closely, thoughtfully, and with pleasure. We will also attend to the historical, cultural, and biographical contexts of poems and poets, but our emphasis will be on lyric poems by a variety of poets from a range of periods and traditions. This is a literature, rather than a creative writing, course; but student poets are welcome to join. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Literature and Moral Choice
Literature’s subject is almost always morality; that is, how human beings treat one another. We will read and discuss difficult moral and ethical decisions made by characters in fiction and poetry, including works by Toni Morrison, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky among others. We will also acquaint ourselves with major theories of moral development and moral reasoning, and through reading, writing, discussion, and preparing oral presentations, we will explore how human beings, including those portrayed by writers who are great students of the human spirit, try to do the right thing in a complex modern and postmodern world.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts
The current pandemic, and all the questions it brings to the fore about what we value in a college experience, make this an ideal moment to consider the meaning and purpose of your liberal arts education. At the heart of this exploration will be a question posed by physicist Arthur Zajonc: “How do we find our own authentic way to an undivided life where meaning and purpose are tightly interwoven with intellect and action, where compassion and care are infused with insight and knowledge?” We will examine how, at this pivotal moment of decision making, you can understand your college career as an act of “cultivating humanity” and how you can meaningfully challenge yourself to take ownership of your intellectual and personal development. Through interdisciplinary and multicultural exploration, drawing from education studies and philosophical, religious, and literary texts, we will engage our course questions by way of student-led discussion, written reflection, and personal, experiential learning practices. In this way we will examine how a liberal arts education might foster the cultivation of an ‘undivided’ life, “the good life”, a life well-lived. (The course is open to sophomores and second semester first-year students. Juniors by permission only.)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

CMP

View in Course Catalog

Publications