Courses

Spring 2017 Course Listings 

ENGL 690 Studies in: _____
A study of a major topic of concern to English literature. May be repeated for credit as the topic changes. Capstone course. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least one 300- or 400-level English course. LEC.
Fall 2017
Type Time/Place and Instructor Credit Hours Class #
LEC Rowland, Ann
W 07:10-10:00 PM REGN 254 - EDWARDS
3 26017
LEC Baringer, Philip
McKitterick, Chris
R 04:00-06:30 PM WES 1003 - LAWRENCE
3 26037

Critical Digital Humanities: Theory and Practice. Instr. Lison. What would it mean to take the "digital" in the digital humanities as a way of thinking rather than a methodological imperative? What insights can analyzing the humanities' turn toward computing open up, and how can these insights inform the DH projects we create? This course introduces students to the digital humanities, which it understands as a combination of critical approaches to the study of contemporary digital culture and practical interventions into that culture. We will thus examine network infrastructure, net.art, emulation, software archaeology, cryptography, and video game modifications alongside more "traditional" DH projects such as data visualization, textual analysis, and mapping. Reading theoretical considerations of new media while also undertaking practical experiments with digital tools, projects, and culture will enable students to approach the digital humanities as more than the application of the latest software tools to existing disciplinary objects. No prior exposure to the digital humanities is necessary.

ENGL 690 Studies in: _____
A study of a major topic of concern to English literature. May be repeated for credit as the topic changes. Capstone course. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least one 300- or 400-level English course. LEC.
Fall 2017
Type Time/Place and Instructor Credit Hours Class #
LEC Rowland, Ann
W 07:10-10:00 PM REGN 254 - EDWARDS
3 26017
LEC Baringer, Philip
McKitterick, Chris
R 04:00-06:30 PM WES 1003 - LAWRENCE
3 26037

Science, Technology and Society: Examining the Future Through a Science Fiction Lens. Instrs. Baringer, McKitterick. Science and technology offer countless benefits to individuals and to societies while presenting new challenges. In this interdisciplinary course we read and discuss nonfiction and science fiction to explore the past, present, and possible future effects of science and technology on society and humankind, and how we shape science, technology, and society. The only thing certain about our future is that it will be different than today! Led by experimental particle physicist Philip Baringer and science-fiction author Chris McKitterick. Participants write weekly reading responses, a mid-term paper, a research paper or creative work as final project, and participate in a group presentation. Everyone leads at least two discussions. Students in the graduate section are also expected to perform relevant outside research and display mastery of the critical-paper or creative form while providing interesting insights into the readings. Meets with McKitterick’s ENGL 506. Syllabus and more details on the SF Center website: http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/courses.htm

ENGL 753 Writers Workshop
An intensive course in writing prose fiction and/or verse. Criticism (NEW) of manuscripts through group meetings and individual conferences with the instructor. Membership limited to students who submit manuscripts showing special ability in at least one of the creative writing forms. May be repeated for credit. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Fall 2017 semester.

Trans-Genre Writing. Instr. Harrington. Many writers nowadays are producing work that does not fit neatly into one or another genre. In the form of lyric essays, expository fiction, poet’s theater, verse essays, hybrid memoir/fiction – or texts that are truly sui generis – such “trans-genre” work is proliferating. This workshop is designed to provide a space for students to experiment with writing that is not solely fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or drama. Perhaps it alternates between them in the same work. Or maybe it uses a non-literary genre (index, footnote, grimoire, ephemeris) in a work of literature. Maybe it starts as memoir and ends up as science fiction. Or maybe it combines visual, musical, digital and literary arts. In any case, if the work you’re doing is neither fish nor fowl nor fur – or if you’d like to try such a thing – this is the place. We will also read extensively in trans-genre work. Each student will produce at least three substantial pieces of trans-genre writing over the course of the semester, and each will be expected to participate fully in dialogue and collaboration. The goal is to expand your versatility as a writer and to understand more fully how “the Law of Genre” enables or inhibits what you want to do. 

ENGL 756 Forms: _____
A study of literary works belonging to a particular genre or to multiple genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama etc), either in a particular form (short story, essay, sonnet, etc.), concerned with a particular topic, or illustrative of a particular element of craft (voice, point of view, character development, etc. ). Intended primarily for creative- writing students with an interest in developing their skills at reading as writers. May be repeated for credit as the topic varies. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Fall 2017 semester.

Literature for Children and Young Adults. Instr. Anatol. In 1973, historian Robert Hine stated: “What society wants its children to know reveals what that society wants itself to be.” Children’s and young adult literature, therefore, becomes a ripe site for exploring contemporary social issues. Prominent children’s literature scholars such as Jack Zipes and Jacqueline Rose have asserted that narratives for young people typically transmit conservative cultural values and encourage readers to accept and perpetuate mainstream models of behavior; like early texts that were overtly didactic, even contemporary writing that appears to be radical is inherently orthodox and moralistic. The selections for study in this course cover a range of genres and focus on publications from the past 50 years. We will interrogate the lessons and codes provided to young readers who are attempting to learn about themselves and the world around them, considering, among other things, how genre, form, and the age of the intended audience affect the accessibility of the piece and the effectiveness of an author’s message. We will also address how notions of childhood and audience have changed over time.  Primary Texts May Include: Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez; The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson; The Magicians by Lev Grossman; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis; Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson; Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell; Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor; 33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling; Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor; Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward; a graphic novel, to be decided.

ENGL 756 Forms: _____
A study of literary works belonging to a particular genre or to multiple genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama etc), either in a particular form (short story, essay, sonnet, etc.), concerned with a particular topic, or illustrative of a particular element of craft (voice, point of view, character development, etc. ). Intended primarily for creative- writing students with an interest in developing their skills at reading as writers. May be repeated for credit as the topic varies. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Fall 2017 semester.

Speculative Fiction. Instr. K Johnson. Designed for graduate students of creative writing, this course explores speculative fiction forms: science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, fabulist, surreal, and weird fiction. We will consider critical approaches, themes, narratives and toolboxes for these genres through a combination of reading, presentations, critical and creative writing, and workshopping.

ENGL 767 Studies in Modern Drama: _____
Reading of selected works in modern and contemporary drama. May be repeated for credit as the topic changes. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Fall 2017 semester.

August Wilson. Instr. Canady. August Wilson’s ten-play cycle chronicling the lives of African Americans in each decade of the twentieth century is widely considered to be one of the most towering achievements in American theatrical history. Actors and directors as varied as James Earl Jones, Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Lloyd Richards, and Angela Bassett owe major milestones in their careers to Wilson’s work. In this class, we will work our way through the entire “Century Cycle” and explore how Wilson’s dedication to finding nobility in poor and working class black characters created a unique, challenging, and ambitious vision of American life. Class discussion will not only focus on the plays as texts, but also as performances; students can expect to engage with both Wilson’s commentary on twentieth century black life as well as why he – a poet – would choose the stage as his medium of choice to tell these stories. Students will have the opportunity to create a research or creative project as the culminating assignment for the class.

ENGL 776 American Literature to 1900: _____
Intensive study of North American literary works before 1900. Topics may focus on a particular genre, theme, historical period or group of authors. May be repeated for credit as the topic changes. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Fall 2017 semester.

The Social Novel. Instr. Mielke. Traditionally defined, the nineteenth-century “social novel” approaches an issue such as slavery, women’s rights, or working-class poverty through a set of characters and situations that illustrate a range of positions and solutions. In this class we will read a number of social novels—including, but not limited to, Frank Webb’s The Garies and Their Friends, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Dred, William Dean Howells’ A Modern Instance, and A. Alice Callahan’s Wynema—in order to explore (among other things) the manner in which the “literary” and the “rhetorical” intersect in nineteenth-century US fiction. To both refine and complicate our study, alongside these social novels we will read Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s groundbreaking novel of social manners, Clarence, as well as George Lippard’s urban exposé, The Quaker City, and Herman Melville’s uncategorizable narrative of (un)sociability, Moby-Dick. Students will read a good deal of criticism as well, and rather than a final paper, they will complete a series of weekly written assignments reflecting the variety of genres in English Studies. Feel free to contact Laura Mielke (lmielke@ku.edu) with any questions about the course.

ENGL 800 Methods, Theory, and Professionalism
Acquaintance with resources and practice in techniques that are essential to other graduate courses. Major concerns include the writing and documentation of scholarly papers; basic reference and bibliographical aids; critical approaches to literature and literary historiography; and the place of language and rhetoric in English studies today. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Fall 2017 semester.

Methods, Theory, and Professionalism. Instr. Rowland. The goal of English 800 is to prepare students for subsequent graduate coursework and exams, the writing of a scholarly thesis or dissertation, and the submission of work to the larger scholarly community. Assignments will facilitate the acquisition of skills essential to these activities. Students will analyze or produce a wide range of professional genres, including conference proposals and reviews; they will learn more about their selected areas of study and the best venues for sharing work in those areas; and they will develop a comprehensive plan for their graduate studies. Throughout the semester, we will also take time to reflect on the state and status of English and the academic profession through readings on such topics as the history of the discipline and its subfields and the challenges of teaching in the humanities in a twenty-first century university.

ENGL 880 Topics in Composition Studies and Rhetoric: _____
Examination of selected topics in composition and rhetoric, such as literary studies, genre theory, dialogism, or writing across the curriculum. May be repeated for credit as the topic changes. Prerequisite: ENGL 780 or equivalent. LEC.
Fall 2017
Type Time/Place and Instructor Credit Hours Class #
LEC Farmer, Frank
TR 01:00-02:15 PM WES 3001A - LAWRENCE
3 24188

Political Economy of Composition. Instr. Farmer. In his featured address at the 2013 Conference on College Composition and Communication, education theorist and critic, Henry Giroux, urged composition scholars to reassert the value of university education as a democratic, public good rather than a commodity affordable by fewer and fewer families, or as vocational training for students hoping to find their place in the totality of a market-driven economy. This course will examine the changing function of the university in our neoliberal moment, with particular attention directed to the implications of these changes for composition scholars and teachers. In examining these problems, we will read the work of Henry Giroux, Nancy Welch, Tony Scott, Marc Bousquet, Chris Carter, Sheri Steinberg, Eileen Schell, Tom Fox, and other scholars who express deep concern about the privatization of the Academy, and the consequences of this development for compositionists.

ENGL 896 Internship
Practical experience under professional supervision with the Writing Center, in editing, in theatrical production, or other activities relevant to the completion of an advanced degree in English. Prerequisite: Permission of Director of Graduate Studies. INT.
Fall 2017
Type Time/Place and Instructor Credit Hours Class #
INT Anatol, Giselle
APPT- KULC APPT - LAWRENCE
1-3 23207

Internship: Beecher's Magazine. Advisor Harrington. Students will serve on the editorial board of Beecher's Magazine, working to create the journal's annual print issue. 

ENGL 904 Seminar in Composition Theory: _____
Intensive study of one or more theoretical aspects of composition in English (e.g., rhetoric, text grammar, stylistics). Prerequisite: ENGL 800. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Fall 2017 semester.

Rhetorical Performances of Publics. Instr. Reiff. In their 2011 CCC article, Rivers and Weber note that “Public rhetoric scholarship and pedagogy could benefit from an expanded scope that views rhetorical action as emergent and enacted through a complex ecology of texts, writers, readers, institutions, objects, and history.” Drawing on this expanded scope, this seminar will explore the dynamic, emergent, dispersed, and multi-directional performances of public texts and actors across multiple contexts, social movements, digital networks, modes and media. We will begin by defining and discussing the “public turn” in rhetoric and composition (Wells, Weisser, Mathieu, Farmer), working to locate publics and to explore the nexus of interests of citizen-scholars and those participating in the public work of rhetoric. Our readings and topics for discussion will range from a focus on the rhetoric of social movements and social justice; to community-based and activist research; to pedagogical approaches to public writing, including multimodal approaches, social media advocacy, and service-learning initiatives. We will also take up the question that Susan Wells, in “Rogue Cops and Healthcare” posed 20 years ago in the article’s subtitle: “What Do We Want from Public Writing?” This is a question that has endured—along with the article’s focus on topics of police brutality and Clinton’s healthcare policies—and we will consider this question in our current disciplinary and political moment. We will also focus on readings that join scholarship on public writing with new materialist perspectives, exploring the historical-material conditions that shape discursive performances and the material, dispositional, embodied, and affective factors that may enable and limit productive public deliberation and action. Another major focal point will be an examination of online public forums, online advocacy, and networked publics, with a focus on the ways in which technology introduces distinct affordances that shape how people engage with publics. In addition to various articles and selected readings, tentative texts may include The Public Work of Rhetoric: Citizen-Scholars and Civic Engagement; Public Modalities: Rhetoric, Culture, Media, and the Shape of Public Life; Genre and the Performance of Publics (selected essays); Still Life with Rhetoric: A New Materialist Approach for Visual Rhetorics; Digitally Enabled Social Change: Activism in the Internet Age; Participatory Culture in a Networked Era; Texts of Consequence: Composing Social Activism for the Classroom and Community. Assignments will include two presentations (including a multimedia presentation), a short conference-length paper, and a seminar paper (20-25 pages) geared toward publication in an appropriate journal or other forum.

ENGL 980 Seminar In: _______
Advanced study in a topic related to literature, language, theory, or a special skill such as analytical bibliography or editing. Prerequisite: ENGL 800. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Fall 2017 semester.

Decolonizing Knowledge. Instrs. Santangelo, Adams. “For the colonized subject, objectivity is always directed against him,” Frantz Fanon. The purpose of this interdisciplinary graduate seminar is to reveal, interrogate, and disrupt the “coloniality of knowledge” in mainstream intellectual work. It has two primary goals: 1) to illuminate how hegemonic formations of standard knowledge are rooted in the epistemic violence of colonial power – that is, how supposedly politically innocent knowledge is imbricated with imperial projects; 2) to develop alternative conceptual tools that reflect and promote the interests of broader humanity – that is, to outline possibilities for de- or postcolonial ways of knowing and seeing. The course encourages synergistic engagement with the theme of decolonizing knowledge by scholars across such diverse disciplinary formations as African studies, anthropology, disability studies, environmental studies, feminist studies, geography, Latin American and Caribbean studies, literary studies, philosophy, and psychology. The first half of the course will focus on the work of well-known theorists associated with anti-colonial projects and postcolonial studies (e.g., Arturo Escobar, Frantz Fanon, Achille Mbembe, Walter Mignolo, C.T. Mohanty, Rob Nixon, Edward Said) and broadly accessible, discipline-specific investigations. The second half of the course will be largely determined by students’ interests and fields of study, and the course will culminate in research projects of the students’ own choosing. 


Fall 2016 

“Science, Technology and Society: Examining the Future Through a Science Fiction Lens.” Instrs. Baringer, McKitterick. Science and technology offer countless benefits to individuals and to societies while presenting new challenges. In this interdisciplinary course we read and discuss nonfiction and science fiction to explore the past, present, and possible future effects of science and technology on society, and how such change shapes us. The only thing certain about our future is that it will be different than today! Led by experimental particle physicist Philip Baringer and science-fiction author Chris McKitterick. Participants write weekly reading responses, a mid-term paper, a research paper or creative work as final project, and participate in a group presentation. Everyone leads at least two discussions. Syllabus and more details on the SF Center website: http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/courses.htm

Greatest Hits of the Renaissance. Instr. Lamb. This course will introduce students to the most important and popular writings of early modern England. The real problem with this goal, of course, is that the most important and popular writings in the period include texts you may never have heard of. What’s more, many texts you have heard of were not considered important, valuable, popular, or great until long after their writers’ bones had decomposed. Taking our cue from these twin problems, this course will explore the range of “great” early modern English works. We will read bestsellers of the period whose names are now forgotten: the anonymous play Mucedorus, Arthur Dent’s Sermon of Repentance, and Catharine Parr’s Prayers, or Medytacions. We’ll also study the Book of Common Prayer, the second most widely read text of the period. And we’ll read more familiar best-sellers, including Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy and Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis. Against these “popular” texts, we will read books that (for various reasons) achieved smaller audiences or none at all, including Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Sonnets and the writings of Thomas Browne. To convert this convenient diptych into a triptych, we’ll also read works that were hailed as “great” both then and now, including Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Philip Sidney’s prose romance, Arcadia, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. To study this great variety of writings, we will employ digital and archival scholarly methods while keeping in mind theoretical and conceptual frameworks that will yield fresh insight. Students should expect a lot of really awesome reading and discussion. The course will include 2-3 short papers and a substantial final project, several research-intensive projects, and the chance to practice reading aloud with a British accent. 

Fiction Writing III. Instr. Moriarty. This is an advanced course in fiction writing for students admitted to the graduate creative writing program. The class will be conducted primarily as a workshop, though students will also give presentations on relevant material of their choosing.

Poetry Writing III. Instr. Kaminski. This course will be an intensive and advanced poetry workshop. Our focus will be on student writing, and we will consider assigned readings as a guide to possibilities. Students will be encouraged to develop their strengths and to cultivate a distinctive poetic vision and voice, but must also demonstrate a willingness to broaden their range and experiment with new forms and notions of the poem. Rather than simply polishing individual poems, we will explore new possibilities for future poems. Other topics to be discussed: revision, developing individual poems into a manuscript, literary journals, book reviews, book presses, and publishing. We will have class visits from visiting poets. To receive a grade, students must submit all assignments and attend all meetings. Those requirements being satisfied, grades are based entirely on student contributions to the workshop conversation, spoken and written.

The Politics of Race, Gender, and Period in African American Literature. Instr. Hardison. Mid-twentieth-century African American writers critique Jim Crow segregation, debate social protest, and depict civil rights activism in their texts while late twentieth and early twenty-first century African American writers continue to reflect upon this historical and cultural period in the context of their contemporary moment. This class will study how the African American literary tradition represents as well as reimagines African Americans’ social and political aims with particular attention to gender and class in addition to race. While considering how literature produced in the segregation and post-civil-rights eras define black subjectivity, the course will also think about how African American writers historically respond to the politics of cultural production. Writers discussed in the course may include: Richard Wright, Ann Petry, Chester Himes, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Charles Johnson, Sapphire, Danzy Senna, and Colson Whitehead. In addition to reading selected novels, the course will engage relevant literary criticism and theory. Course requirements will include response papers, class facilitation, and a seminar paper.

Language and Social Justice. Instr. Grund. What social implications does speaking different varieties and dialects of the English language have (see, e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_3mSW8XUZI)? Why are different social characteristics attributed to varieties used in, for instance, Wisconsin, in New York, and in Louisiana, to ethnolects such as African American English or Chican@ English, or to different genderlects? What features of language carry stigma and what features do not (and how do we tell)? How do media (news outlets, movies, “the Internet”) play a role in conveying what is acceptable or unacceptable in language? How does the impact of these language attitudes and evaluations differ for different groups of people in their daily lives? These are some of the issues that we will consider in our exploration of language and social justice. We will roam widely in our discussions, considering literary and non-literary texts, Disney movies, language legislation (including that of Kansas, Stat. Ann. §73-28 (2801-2807)), online comments, and speeches by presidential candidates. The final project in the class will consist of a research paper that can be adapted to any specialty in language studies, literature, composition and rhetoric, education, or other areas. No prior course work or knowledge of language studies is necessary. Required texts: Rosina Lippi-Green. 2012. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. 2nd ed. London: Routledge; Deborah Cameron. 2012. Verbal Hygiene. London: Routledge.

Study and Teaching of Writing. Instr. Farmer. English 801 is a course required of all first-semester teaching assistants. It serves as a scholarly complement to the likewise required practicum, and its purpose is to acquaint students with the pedagogical scholarship that informs the discipline of composition studies. To this end, we will review best practices in the teaching of writing, but we will also examine how those practices have changed over time, and how they continue to change as writing instruction meets the recent challenges of digital, cultural, and global discourses, translingualism, multimodality, and, of course, the routine, everyday problems that face writing teachers in their classrooms. Students will be required to keep a reading journal, take a mid-term exam, conduct a teaching demonstration, and compose a twelve to fifteen page final paper. Required Texts: First-Year Composition: From Theory to Practice (Coxwell-Teague and Lunsford); After Pedagogy: The Experience of Teaching (Paul Lynch), supplemented by occasional other readings. 

Researching and Writing about Writing. Instr. Devitt. This course will give graduate students the opportunity to develop their research and scholarly writing in the field of Rhetoric and Composition, English language studies, or other fields that study writing and the teaching of writing of all kinds. We will familiarize ourselves with the work being published in different journals in our fields, examining their research methods and rhetorical strategies as well as the current conversations they are joining. Students will learn how to position their own research interests within those current conversations and will practice framing their ideas in multiple genres (depending on student interest, possibly grant proposals, IRB applications, or doctoral exam literature reviews, along with academic papers and journal articles). Together, we will work on designing, gaining approval for, and writing up research projects, including moving toward writing and submitting journal articles. I will ask students further along in their research to share their work to serve as examples and gain feedback from the class, while students newer to the fields may develop research proposals and write shorter pieces to further their interests. Students with ongoing research programs can expect to have considerable room for revising that work toward publication or dissertation proposals. Feel free to contact Amy Devitt at devitt@ku.edu or 3131 Wescoe Hall to discuss how the course might work for you. Texts: Students’ work, articles on Blackboard, and online resources.

Internship: Beecher's Magazine. Advisor Harrington. Students will serve on the editorial board of Beecher's Magazine, working to create the journal's annual print issue. 

Seminar in 19th-Century British Literature: Empire and Imperialism. Instr. D Elliott. In the nineteenth century, “the sun never set on the British Empire” and “Britannia ruled the waves.” At the same time that the empire reached into the “darkest corners of the earth,” Britain’s colonial encounters with new cultures and peoples fundamentally changed England itself. In addition, the unprecedented wealth that flowed into England from the colonies underwrote the profound technological, scientific, and cultural “progress” that Britons were so proud of. In this course we will consider the ways that Victorian literature, particularly the novel, reflected, constructed, and critiqued imperialism. We will also consider the ways the novel as a form, according to Benedict Anderson and Edward Said, may have been implicated in inventing British nationalism. We will read novels set both in the colonies and in England, looking at the ways these novels represent Englishness as well as the way they portray the indigenous peoples they encountered. We will also read and discuss selected theoretical and critical essays about imperialism, nationalism, and literature. Students will write a short paper (5-6 pages) and a longer seminar paper (15-20 pages), plus a response to someone else’s paper. Texts will include Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814); Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son (1848); Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone (1868); Marcus Clarke’s His Natural Life (1875); Olive Schreiner’s Story of an African Farm (1883); H. Ryder Haggard’s She (1887); and Sara Jeannette Duncan’s Set in Authority (1906), as well as selected theoretical and critical essays posted on Blackboard.

The Text and the Nonhuman Turn. Instr. Drake. This course explores the nonhuman and articulations of nonhumanness through various literary and theoretical works that span from the mid-19th century to the present moment. The nonhuman turn in the humanities, arts, and social sciences directs attention to the emergence of nonhuman actors (animals, plants, technologies, geophysical phenomena, etc.) as forces in our shared world. While this movement has developed in conversation with recent intellectual and theoretical developments (e.g., the rise of the anthropocene as a geologic epoch, critiques of anthropocentrism and essentialisms of various forms, the “linguistic turn” of the late-20th century), concerns about the nonhuman have a long genealogy in both Western and non-Western intellectual traditions. Beyond tracking major intellectual and theoretical developments associated with the nonhuman turn (affect theory, actor-network theory, animal studies, new materialism, speculative realism), we will examine some of the major challenges and opportunities that arise when the figure of the human no longer mediates our encounters (as readers, writers, teachers, and critics) with texts. Texts will likely include the following works: Darwin, The Descent of Man; Ferrante, Days of Abandonment; Sinha, Animal’s People; Ward, Salvage the Bones; Latour, Aramis or the Love of Technology; Barclay, Melal; Wood, Tambora; and works by Kafka, Capek, Borges, Tsing, Haraway, Uexkull, and a healthy dose of theory. Assignments will include response papers, class presentation/moderation, and a research paper. 


Summer 2016 

Science Fiction Institute: The SF Short Story. Course Coordinator McKitterick; Guest Instructors-in-Residence Nathaniel Williams, Benjamin Cartwright. Become fluent in SF by becoming familiar with some of the most-influential short works that shaped the genre. The Anatomy of Wonder 5 comments: “The University of Kansas continues its role as the leader in science fiction education. I can do no greater service to teachers than to repeat the advice that I gave in Anatomy of Wonder 4: you should attend one of the Intensive English Institutes on the Teaching of Science Fiction offered at the University of Kansas each summer” (Dennis M. Kratz). Teachers and scholars also often join us from other parts of the world. A semester’s work is covered in two weeks by meeting from 1-4 pm for 12 consecutive days (including Saturday and Sunday). Texts are 24 novels that shaped the direction of the genre. The class discusses these important works and their place in the evolution of the SF novel, from Wells to modern works. Students write reading responses, lead discussions, and write a scholarly, educational, or creative final project demonstrating insight and expertise. This year, the two guest professors (who are also SF authors) will be staying on-site for one week each. Financial support available. For full details, reading list, syllabus, and to register, see the CSSF website: sfcenter.ku.edu/courses.htm  Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop. Instr. McKitterick; Guest Authors James Gunn, Andy Duncan. Using the short-story form, master the elements that create great SF. An intensive, two-week course in writing speculative fiction, including genres such as slipstream, magical realism, fantasy, horror, and science fiction. This year's guest author-in-residence for Week Two is the award-winning Andy Duncan; SF Grand Master and Hall of Fame inductee James Gunn is once again guest author for Week One. Attracts attendees from around the world, most of whom take the Workshop for professionalization rather than credit, so you have the opportunity to meet and work with new peers. Attendees workshop three stories, and revise one during the first weekend. Membership is limited to applicants who submit, well in advance, manuscripts showing special ability. Financial support available. May be repeated for credit. See the CSSF website for full details: sfcenter.ku.edu/SFworkshop.htm  Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

Holmes Institute: Biosemiotics and Relational Ontologies: Environments, Selves, Arts and Technologies. Instr. Wheeler. 7/5-15. The Summer Institute course will approach an understanding of both natural and cultural evolution through the lens provided by biosemiotics. This will involve an understanding of nature and culture as evolutionary processes of semiotic becoming based in an understanding of sign relations. The semiotic theory used here will not be the anthropocentric semiology associated with Ferdinand de Saussure. Instead, students will be introduced to the theoretical basis of biosemiotics which develops from the work of scientists and humanities scholars such as the American Charles Sanders Peirce, the German-Estonian proto-semiotician and founder of ethology Jakob von Uexküll, the informational systems thinker and cybernetician Gregory Bateson, founders of biosemiotics such as Danish molecular biologist Jesper Hoffmeyer and Estonian biologist Kalevi Kull and the American philosopher of semiotics John Deely. We will also discuss the relevance of the ecological philosophies of French philosophers of nature and technology Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Gilbert Simondon. The course overall will be structured around my new 2016 monograph on cultural biosemiotics Expecting the Earth: Life|Culture|Biosemiotics (https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/book/expecting-earth).

The second half of the course will develop the theme of the biosemiotic environment  and the ways in which that communicative and interpretive milieu shapes the organisms which live in its semiotic world (von Uexküll’s Umwelt). These organisms shape the Umwelt in return as they contribute to the ceaseless, cybernetic flows of information between organisms (microbes, plants, animals, people) and their Umwelten. This will introduce a new way of conceiving of ‘mind’ and ‘subjectivity’ in all living organisms. This part of the course will include readings from American writers of the prairie William Least Heat-Moon (PrairyErth) and Richard Manning (Grassland). This will be followed by a similar consideration of the umwelt of the Fenland of Eastern England in the novels of Graham Swift (Waterland) and Paul Kingsnorth (The Wake). Employing the ontologies of relations and becoming articulated by Deleuze, Guattari and Simondon, all of whom drew on the work of Charles Peirce and of Gregory Bateson, the course will conclude with considerations of the evolutionary and developmental life of the subject, first as a biosemiotic effect of sign relations and, finally, in relation to aesthetic and technological objects.

Wendy Wheeler is Emeritus Professor of English Literature and Cultural Inquiry at London Metropolitan University, Visiting Professor at Goldsmith’s College, University of London, and at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.


Spring 2016 

Media Archaeology. Instr. Lison. As an examination of the conditions of possibility for media forms ranging from ancient manuscripts to contemporary computing, media archaeology has reinvigorated not only film and media studies, but disciplines from history and sociology to literature and area studies. Situated on the border between the analog and digital, the visual and multimedial, the mass-distributed and networked, and—particularly with the advent of the digital humanities—between theory and practice, it unearths the technical foundations of media and explores their implications for our understanding of socio-cultural issues, up to and including what it means to be human. At the same time, as its name suggests, it places an emphasis on past technologies over and above the implications that technological developments may have for the future. Through readings, hands-on workshops, and the occasional screening, we will consider media archaeology in its own historical context. Does it, for example, represent a practice-oriented turn away from theories of postmodernism and poststructuralism, or an extension of them? How are digital materials themselves best examined and preserved? Readings from Foucault, Baudry, Krauss, Kittler, Nakamura, Ernst, Terranova, and more. 

Science, Technology and Society: Examining the Future Through a Science Fiction Lens. Instrs. Baringer, McKitterick. Science and technology offer countless benefits to individuals and to societies while presenting new challenges. In this interdisciplinary course we read and discuss nonfiction and science fiction to explore the past, present, and possible future effects of science and technology on society and humankind, and how we shape science, technology, and society. The only thing certain about our future is that it will be different than today! Led by experimental particle physicist Philip Baringer and science-fiction author Chris McKitterick. Participants write weekly reading responses, a mid-term paper, a research paper or creative work as final project, and participate in a group presentation. Everyone leads at least two discussions. Students in the graduate section are also expected to perform relevant outside research and display mastery of the critical-paper or creative form while providing interesting insights into the readings. Syllabus and more details on the SF Center website: http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/courses.htm

Digital Humanities and the World Out There. Instr. Ortega. This course engages critically with the way in which digital technologies have shaped–and continue to shape–our understanding of the world we live in. Digital Humanities and the World Out There sets out from the premise that we inhabit a post-Internet world where social, academic, artistic, economic, and political practices have to some degree been impacted by the development and popularization of the Internet. The course, then, touches on a variety of topics such as interface design, social media, Internet accessibility around the world, digital labor, media obsolescence cycles, and business models intersecting both current cultural production in the arts and humanities and the everyday understanding and involvement with our digitally mediated surroundings. Activities in the course include seminar discussions of important scholarly and creative works, workshop sessions aimed at equipping students with a working set of technical skills, and ultimately, the collaborative development of a creative or scholarly digital project. Digital Humanities and the World Out There builds upon the work done during ENGL690 Introduction to Digital Humanities (Fall 2015) but it is not serialized. No previous knowledge is necessary and all incoming students are welcome. For more information visit Dr. Ortega’s website http://elikaortega.net/courses after October 31st.

Getting Medieval: Greatest Hits of the Later Middle Ages. Instr. Schieberle. Popular culture has embraced the medieval – from Tolkien’s works and Game of Thrones to the upcoming Guy Ritchie-directed series of Arthurian films. What important medieval works, literary tropes, and cultural attitudes underpin these adaptations and creative mash-ups – and how do they still resonate for modern audiences? To answer that question, we will explore some of the “greatest hits” of the later Middle Ages: selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Gower’s Confessio Amantis (The Lover’s Confession); Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; selections of Arthurian works, especially Malory’s Morte D’Arthur; and other popular works, including beast fables and short romances. This course will not only provide students with the opportunity for thorough reading of popular medieval works but also prepare them for future teaching opportunities, presentations of research, and exploration of continuities among the medieval and later periods. Theoretical perspectives we will apply to our readings may include manuscript study, historicism, feminism, post-colonialism, and environmental approaches, among others – depending on student interests – in order to help students develop a sense of the methodologies useful for reading medieval literature. No prior knowledge of Middle English is expected, and some texts will be read in translation. Our goal is for you to leave the course with a strong sense of major late medieval literary works and practical methods for studying them (you’ll also be ready to view Ritchie’s first installment, due Summer 2016, with a critical eye!). Requirements: careful reading of all assigned texts; participation in seminar discussions; 1 or 2 presentations; a short close reading essay; and a 15-20 page researched essay. Students are encouraged to pursue their own scholarly interests in designing the final researched project, which must include text(s) from our course but may also address modern adaptations from the Victorian era onward.

Graduate Fiction Workshop. Instr. Moriarty. This is an advanced fiction-writing course for students in our graduate creative writing program. We will read some published texts, but the focus will be on the criticism, discussion, and support of student work. Each student will turn in two to three previously unworkshopped pieces, up to forty pages each. Students will write and present careful criticism of their classmates’ work; the general quality (timeliness, specificity, insight, etc.) of a student’s written criticism, along with the ability to show familiarity with assigned course texts, will largely determine his or her grade.   

Forms: Playwriting. Instr. Canady. An intensive course in the practice of crafting scripts for the stage. Combining literature analysis and a workshop model, students will investigate and gain experience in various methods of script creation; participants should expect readings across a variety of dramatic genres, in-class structural analysis, the creation of original short works, and to critique the work of peers. By analyzing the basic structure of strong dramatic storytelling, students will craft a series of scripts employing a variety of text-creation methods as well as provide some analysis of their craft process and how it compares to the work of the playwrights we will explore. 

Neo-Slave Narratives & Contemporary Fictions . Instr. Graham. Just as the cultural identity of America is constantly changing, so, too, must we question the changing identity of contemporary fictions. I am using “neo slave narrative” as a point of departure because it invites a key question: what is it we want fiction to do and what form should that “doing” take? Further, the neo slave narrative itself prompts our ideological (re)framing. These texts were the most widely written and published form of narrative expression in the history of American literature, a form through which black subjectivity was articulated, and yet the slave narrative disappeared from plain view in the 19th century. It made its reappearance amid intense transmigration and cultural geo-locations as well as questions not only about the meaning of slavery and freedom, but also about self and subjectivity, authority and agency, hypervisible and invisible, unacknowledged identities, and the redistribution of cultural space.  We will discuss these developments and look closely at the ways they provide complex layers and  histories for writers to uncover. We will also ask some of the hard questions: Why does the concept of fiction exist at all if the generic distinctions that once operated no longer hold? What makes it so difficult to distinguish fiction from autobiography or memoir? Does the invention of the term creative nonfiction provide a sufficient mediation? Our aim in the course is to understand contemporary fictions as the place where imaginative play is carried out and to examine several theories that seek to explain why and how these fictions do the cultural work that they do in the late twentieth century and the first decades of the twenty first.  You should assume a certain amount of border crossing throughout the course. Thus, we will always move between theory and practice as we read, share our thoughts and write, especially about why borders exist and we must cross them. The course is organized into four units: history and form in contemporary fiction (for ex. holocaust narrative, neo slave narrative); the science and technology of fiction (including Afro-futurism); the borderlands of race, gender and the body; and the persistence of genre fiction (for example, romance). Typically, I draw my theoretical selections from cultural studies, postcolonial and transnational studies. We will consider texts by the following authors and have a prepared selection of critical readings, responses to which you will provide in weekly written blogs shared on Blackboard: Octavia Butler, Edwidge Danticat, Buchi Emecheta, Charles Johnson, Hanif Kureishi, Salman Rushdie, Colson Whitehead, Elie Wiesel, and Zane. Required assignments: a working bibliography to accompany your selected area of focus, which you will identify within the first few weeks of class, and a completed draft of a major project/essay for publication. Be prepared to begin your project early in the semester.

Composition Studies. Instr. Farmer. English 780 is a broad, introductory survey of the discipline of composition studies. Through a variety of readings, discussions, and course assignments, we will examine the field’s history, literature, practices, methods, controversies, trends, and problems. We will give special emphasis to contemporary theories of pedagogy, and in so doing, we will learn about the multiple, often contending, perspectives on how best to understand writing and the teaching of writing. The goals of this course are therefore threefold. First, this course will acquaint students (in an unavoidably general way) to the field of composition studies; second, it will equip students to become reflective professionals—not only about the details of their classroom practices, but also about the many useful ways that research, scholarship, and theory can, and do, inform our practices; and third, it will introduce students to the various research methods used by scholars in the field. To accomplish these goals, we will examine  relevant theories of composing processes, of rhetoric, self-expression, cognition, ideology, community, and so on. Students will be required to keep a reading journal; contribute to prompts posted on Blackboard; develop, organize, and lead a class discussion on the significance of a recent publication in the field; and write a twelve to fifteen page pedagogical essay. For the most part, our class will be structured according to a Reading/Writing/Discussion format. As a general rule, for time devoted to theories of (and research in) composition, an equal or greater amount of time will be devoted to pedagogical applications and strategies, especially as these relate to the assigned readings on any given topic. We will have discussions, in-class writings and occasional small-group workshops, oral reports, guest speakers (and possibly a surprise or two).

Methods, Theory, and Professionalism. Instr. Lester. The goal of English 800 is to prepare students for subsequent graduate coursework and exams, the writing of a scholarly thesis or dissertation, and the submission of work to the larger scholarly community. Assignments will facilitate the acquisition of skills essential to these activities. Students will analyze or produce a wide range of professional genres, including conference proposals, journals, articles and reviews; they will learn more about their selected areas of study and the best venues for sharing work in those areas; and they will develop a comprehensive plan for their graduate studies. Throughout the semester, we will also take time to reflect on the state and status of English and the academic profession through readings on such topics as the history of the discipline and its subfields and the challenges of teaching in the humanities in a twenty-first century university.

Practicum in the Teaching of College English. Instr. Lancaster. The practicum is designed to be a practical help and support to you in your first semester of teaching English 102 at KU, as well as an opportunity to discuss the pedagogical issues underlying classroom work. The course builds upon your 801 experience, emphasizing designing sequences of assignments, teaching research, analysis and synthesis, and helping students inquire into academic topics. I want create a collaborative classroom where you all can work together and share your ideas with the hope that you will continue to develop a community of colleagues with whom to share teaching materials and support. This practicum meets once a week, for one hour. In class we will discuss pedagogical topics related to your teaching of 102 and have workshops in which you will collaboratively create individual units and assignments. Troubleshooting for classes and discussion of ideas for teaching will take place in Blackboard discussions.

You will have one writing project in this class that will be divided into two short written assignments, each of which is directly related to your teaching. One is based on peer class visits and one consists of determining how you would revise the paper assignments for the next time you teach. You will have four conferences with me: a conference during the week before the semester starts about your course plans, one over my visit to your class, one over my review of your grading, and one about the assignments you created in the course.

Genres For Social Action. Instr. Devitt. This seminar will give participants the background, time, and resources to use genres to act in their worlds in ways that matter to them. After some initial common reading to develop a shared background in genre theory and examples of how genres have participated in social actions, the seminar participants will shape projects that allow them to use genres to conduct research that engages their communities, whether school, work, social, or public communities. Since genres embody ways of acting in social contexts (the classic article in Rhetorical Genre Studies is Carolyn Miller’s “Genres As Social Action”), we can use genres for social action, to make a difference in those contexts. Some genres already work for change (petitions, for example). Other genres enable the work of people making a difference (the genres used by social workers, for example). Other genres could make a difference if they were changed (ineffective or limiting genres at school or work, like assessment methods or performance reviews, for example). And sometimes genres are just part of the action through multiple means (as a non-profit might promote itself through twitter, Facebook, and websites, using multiple genres on each platform). I expect to discover with seminar participants many more ways genres already participate in what matters to them. Readings will be articles and chapters made available through Blackboard. I encourage individuals to contact me to discuss the possibilities of the course for their own goals. 

The Neuromateriality of Genius. Instr. Outka. This course will take up the question of how the figure of the genius destabilizes “the human” in a particularly material, embodied sense, one that both parallels and inverts the more familiar theories about the stabilization of the human/normal in reference to a monstrous, raced, etc. other —aka the binary in all its various incarnations. We’ll also look at how genius poses representational problems and at the various mediating figures that allow us normals to recognize genius, and to incorporate that figure back into the human. We’ll read a variety of texts (Sherlock Holmes, some Edgar Allan Poe, etc.), watch several films (Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love, etc.) and will read a fair amount of theory as well.


Creative Writing Calendar
Follow us:

9th smartest city in America —Luminosity study, 2013
Top 10 college town —Livability.com, 2012
Vibrant downtown, youthful attitude, beautiful campus: "This is one great college town!" —Parents & Colleges guide, 2011
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
KU Today