Graduate Courses

Spring 2015

ENG 427 | Writing for Nonprofits

Theories & Techniques of Writing for the Nonprofit Sector
Sally Stanton
Section 201 | Online

This course explores the theory, practices, lore, and written communication used by professional writers in nonprofit or social sector workplaces, such as theatres, museums, libraries, social service agencies, art centers, humane societies, and other community organizations.

Students will:

  • Learn about the purpose and defining characteristics of the nonprofit sector.
  • Understand the role of written messages in communicating social sector values and results.
  • Explore persuasive writing strategies for nonprofits (including donor and constituent messages, annual reports, and proposal-related communications).
  • Adapt business communication theories and strategies to the nonprofit sector.
  • Apply sector-specific theory and approaches to producing annual reports, websites, social media, grant reports, and other documents.
  • Gain practical experience in researching, designing, and writing documents commonly prepared by nonprofit professionals. Assignments will also require learning effective strategies for managing group writing projects, audience analysis, and collaboration. A group service-learning project is included.

For more information, contact Carolyn Sally Stanton at stanton@uwm.edu.


ENG 431 | Topics in Advanced Writing

Global Business Communication
Sonia Khatchadourian
Section 1 | MW, 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

This course will introduce and familiarize students with fundamental aspects of global business communication. Topics that will be included are:

  • Values, attitudes, and practices of our own and other cultures that affect communication styles
  • Appropriate format, organization, and writing style of documents (letters, emails, memos) for an international audience (region/culture specific)
  • Appropriate communication channels for an international audience (region/culture specific)
  • Role of technology in global business communication
  • Oral and non-verbal communication
  • Other topics that may be included are: a comparative analysis of business ethics and website analysis

For more information, contact Carolyn Sonia Khatchadourian at soniak@uwm.edu.


ENG 434 | Editing and Publishing

Carolyn Kott Washburne
Section 1 | W, 4 p.m. – 6:40 p.m.

This class will focus on revising essay drafts. Students will revise to improve their writing, to revise in a different mode/genre, and to prepare a text for publication. To do this, students will read theory and practical guides about revising, revise their own essays, and reflect on those revisions. In addition, students will practice giving feedback on each other’s writing and considering feedback from others when revising. Students will also research one other mode/genre of their choice and identify suitable publication venues for their work.

For more information, contact Carolyn Kott Washburne at ckw@uwm.edu.


ENG 443 | Grant Writing

Proposal Writing Geared for the Nonprofit Sector
Sally Stanton
Section 201 | Online

The aim of English 443: Grant Writing is to help students develop a reader-centered approach to researching and producing grant proposals and related documents, using an integrated Service Learning approach – the experience of working directly with and writing for a nonprofit organization – as the primary vehicle for your learning. More specifically, the course is designed to help develop students’ ability to:

  • Research and write about an nonprofit’s mission, programs, and activities.
  • Research, analyze, and report on the range of funding sources available to an organization.
  • Produce reader-centered grant proposals and related documents.
  • Incorporate constructive comments from others to effectively revise draft documents.
  • Offer colleagues helpful feedback on their writing.

Students who complete this course will be prepared to research and produce basic documents used in nonprofit fundraising, including print and online proposal narratives, cover letters and letters of intent, memos, and analytical reports.

For more information, contact Carolyn Sally Stanton at stanton@uwm.edu.


ENG 444 | Technical Editing

Rachel Spilka
Section 201 | Online

This course is a hands-on practicum in which students are responsible for both individual and collaborative editing projects. Students learn that in work contexts, the scope of editing tasks can vary dramatically: In some cases, editors “fix up” minor grammatical and usage errors (copyediting); in other cases, editors question, “re-envision,” and then reshape major aspects of a document such as its purposes, target audiences, content, style, organization, and design (comprehensive editing).

The primary goal of this course is to prepare students to handle both copyediting and comprehensive editing tasks in future work contexts. A secondary emphasis is on helping students better understand the roles and responsibilities of editors, the ethical dimensions of editing, how editors contribute to document effectiveness, how editors relate to writers during a document’s life cycle, and what is involved in becoming a successful editor.

Weekly course assignments are likely to include discussion forum posts on ethical issues and the editor-writer relationship, in addition to “mini assignments” aimed at developing skills and practice in copyediting; relearning (or learning for the first time) fundamentals of English grammar, spelling, mechanics and usage; and gaining competence in proofreading and editing visuals and quantitative material. Major editing assignments are likely to include copyediting and comprehensive editing tasks on actual work documents in a variety of content areas (such as public policy, science, and health/medicine). A final collaborative course project will involve working in a team to conduct a comprehensive edit on an actual organization’s document, website, or set of documents.

By the end of this course, students are well positioned to apply competitively for part- or full-time editing positions and to excel in this type of work.

For more information, contact Rachel Spilka at spilka@uwm.edu.


ENG 449 | Writing Internship in English

Rachel Spilka
Section 1-4 | no formal classes will be held for this course

This flexible-credit internship is an invaluable opportunity for students to gain “real world” writing, editing, or related experience that can supplement their academic credentials and broaden their marketability for postgraduate positions in both academia and industry. Internship placements are available in publishing, public relations/advertising, and non-profit agencies and in larger businesses or corporations. Students might be called upon to complete a variety of tasks in an internship placement, but typically their work involves research, writing, editing, design, proofreading, and other activities related to communication.

You can enroll for ENG 449 for 1 credit (you would need to average at 5 or fewer hours spent on internship work each week), 2 credits (5-10 hours each week); 3 credits (10-15 hours each week); or 4 credits (15-20 hours each week). You can take ENG 449 for more than one semester or summer if you wish; students are eligible to earn between 1-4 credits per term and a total of 9 credits in the course across terms.

70% of each intern’s grade is based on the internship supervisor’s evaluations; the other 30% is based on two descriptive/analytical reports submitted to the instructor. Each intern is also required to meet in person or on the phone with the instructor around the fifth week of the semester to discuss options/strategies for handling problems and concerns.

If you are interested in setting up a spring 2015 internship, contact Rachel Spilka at spilka@uwm.edu in November, if possible, so that she can start working closely with you to set up a spring internship by the end of the fall term.

For more information, contact Rachel Spilka at spilka@uwm.edu.


ENG 547 | Studies in Theory and Criticism

Theories of Culture and Politics
Annie McClanahan
Section 1 | TR, 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

What does it mean to live in a period of capitalist crisis? What does it mean to forge one’s identity according to the imperatives of efficiency, self-management, and profitability? How does it feel to be raced and/or gendered in a culture that is ostensibly “post-racial” and equitable? How is the experience of education transformed by the debt you incur to pay for it? We’ll discuss these questions and many more by reading both critical theory and personal essays on the experience of daily life in contemporary “late capitalism.” Topics will include: RACE, SEX & GENDER, WORK, MONEY, SCHOOL, and RIOTS & REVOLUTIONS.

For more information, visit http://pantherfile.uwm.edu/mcclanah/www/ or contact Annie McClanahan at mcclanah@uwm.edu.


ENG 615 | Advanced Workshop in Fiction

Creative Writing Fiction Majors Capstone
Liam Callanan
Section 1 | T, 11 a.m. – 1:40 p.m.

This is the capstone course of the undergraduate creative writing program. It is intended for undergraduates finishing their writing career, and for graduate students beginning theirs. You must have taken introductory (English 233) and intermediate workshops (English 415, twice) before enrolling for this course. Anyone unable to read, write or critique at this level will have difficulty completing the course. If you have any questions about your ability to succeed in this course, please contact me as soon as possible. Please note: as has become tradition, to prepare writing majors for a professional writing life, a short daily writing assignment will be required.

For more information, contact Liam Callanan at liam@uwm.edu.


ENG 616 | Advanced Workshop in Poetry

Poetry of Place
Kimberly Blaeser
Section 1 | R, 3:30 p.m. – 6:10 p.m.

While studying the craft of poetry, we will give particular attention to poetry of place, including those kinds of works that have at various times been understood as nature poetry, ecopoetry, pastoral, or post-pastoral. Students will read poems from a range of fine writers and our engagement with poetry will also include examples of ekphrastic poems and hyper-text. During the semester, each student will also read and give a presentation on a collection of poetry not read by the whole class, thus broadening the classes’ range of exposure to practicing poets. As we read and experiment with writing poems, students will keep a journal and will have a number of assignments that involve that writing tool. Members of the class will write, revise, and critique poems throughout the semester, experimenting with forms, techniques, and voice. Since poetry depends so utterly upon sound, we will use various media to hear and see the performance of poetry, practice the presentation of our own poetry, and attend at least one live reading. During the course of the semester students will workshop their writing and, for a final project, will compile a portfolio of their best work. As a course finale, we will offer a public reading.

Required Texts:

  • Sarah Busse, et. al., “Echolocations: Poets Map Madison”
  • Susan Firer, “Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People”
  • Ted Kooser, “The Poetry Repair Manual”
  • N. Scott Momaday, “Again the Far Morning”

Additional materials will be available in a Course Reader, on D2-L, and as handouts.

For more information, contact Jocelyn Kimberly Blaeser at kblaeser@uwm.edu.


ENG 624 | Seminar in Modern Literature

21st Century Experimental Fiction
Annie McClanahan
Section 1 | TR, 3:30 p.m. – 6:10 p.m.

The 21st-century literary scene was witness the explosion of what might most broadly be called “experimental literature”: narratives with non-realist plots, unbelievable characters, and unconventional language. In this class, we will read some of these novels, and we will think about the relationship between fiction and consciousness, between language and violence, between representation and power. We’ll also discuss what it means to read literature that is so decisively “of our moment,” including what it means that our choices constitute an act of canon formation. Writers will include Tom McCarthy, George Saunders, Ben Lerner, Helen Oyeyemi, Lynn Tillman, Ben Marcus, and China Mieville.

For more information, visit http://pantherfile.uwm.edu/mcclanah/www/ or contact Annie McClanahan at mcclanah@uwm.edu.


ENG 627 | Seminar in Literature and Culture

Race in White Popular Fiction and Film
Gregory Jay
Section 1 | W, 4:30 p.m. – 7:10 p.m.

From the beginning of American literature, white writers have frequently produced influential works intending to protest against slavery, racial bigotry, and discrimination. I call this tradition “racial liberalism,” and it forms a fascinating history from Stowe to Stockett. Racial liberalism has also been an important genre in popular film, including many movies made from best-selling novels, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help. This seminar will examine the tradition of racial liberalism, exploring its achievements and limitations.

For more information, contact Gregory Jay at gjay@uwm.edu.


ENG 632 | Seminar in American Indian Literature

Louise Erdrich Seminar
Margaret Noodin
Section 1 | T, 3:30 p.m. – 6:10 p.m.

This seminar will focus on the work of Louise Erdrich including her fiction for both adults and children, her poetry and her non-fiction about family, culture and language revitalization in the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe / Chippewa) community. Methods of literary analysis will be modern traditional close readings, post-modern literary criticism and Anishinaabe aesthetic exploration. Students do not need any prior knowledge of Erdrich, American Indian literary history or the Anishinaabe language, but can expect to learn about each of these subjects and how they relate to the author as part of this course. Ambe, gindaasodaa (so, let’s read!)

For more information, contact Margaret Noodin at noodin@uwm.edu.


ENG 754 | Post-Secondary Composition-Topics in Pedagogical Theory

Multicultural Literacies
Mary Louise Buley-Meissner
Section 1 | T, 5:30 p.m. – 8:10 p.m.

This course offers an introduction to literacy studies as a foundation for working effectively with students from diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. By focusing on first-person and community experiences of learning to read and write, the course addresses key issues related to literacy education in multicultural American society. Class discussion will cover the meanings and consequences of literacy for people in a variety of educational settings, including Hmong refugees in the urban Midwest; Latina/o students in a rural, predominantly white high school; African American students labeled “at risk” in high school and college; and immigrant students in a Chinatown middle school. For a deeper understanding of the personal meanings of literacy, we will delve into the autobiographies of two poets (June Jordan and Jimmy Santiago Baca); a family biography by “a child of war” (Kao Kalia Yang); and a collection of first-person essays by Asian American college students addressing self-formation in higher education. For more information, please contact the instructor (meissner@uwm.edu).


 

ENG 772 | Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature

Sex and Enlightenment
Barrett Kalter
Section 1 | W 4 p.m. – 6:40 p.m.

The Enlightenment is commonly understood as a philosophical movement that affirms society’s progressive discovery of universal moral principles and natures laws through the public use of critical reason. Sexuality, by contrast, is often seen as a private facet of identity that emanates in unruly ways from the body and its passions. This course will explore the relation between these contradictory categories as represented in eighteenth-century literature, considering: 1) modern notions of sexuality as products of Enlightenment thought; 2) the challenges sex poses to Enlightenment values of self-control, equality, normalcy, and consent. Our discussion will center on the following: the bawdy poetry of the Earl of Rochester; Eliza Haywood’s Love in Excess, an early bestseller rivaled in popularity only by Robinson Crusoe; John Cleland’s pornographicMemoirs of a Woman of Pleasure; and Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, a Gothic tale of religious prohibition, transgressive desire, and revolution; and von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. We will also read selections from works by Enlightenment intellectuals, including the early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the Marquis de Sade, as well as recent work on the history of sexuality and and queer theory. Topics to be discussed include: libertinism as instance of and resistance to political tyranny; romantic love, intimacy, and private life; pornography, censorship, and freedom of expression; biopower, population, and reproduction; prostitution, urban sexual subcultures (e.g., the proto-homosexual mollies), and the legal and medical definition of deviance.

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement.

For more information contact Barrett Kalter at bkalter@uwm.edu.


ENG 782 | Contemporary Literature

After Postmodernism: 21st Century Texts & Methods
Theodore Martin
Section 1 | T 4 p.m. – 6:40 p.m.

What do literature and literary study look like in the twenty-first century? How have transformations of form, content, and criticism made it necessary to dispense with older ways of periodizing contemporary literature? And what might such transformations tell us about the place of writing—and of writing about writing—in our current cultural moment? This course aims to answer these questions by following two parallel trajectories: in alternating weeks, we’ll study six major novels and six significant critical works or debates from the last decade and a half. Our task will be, first, to make sense of the major novels of the period; and second, to see how changes in literary form have been accompanied by changes in how critics understand things like the nature of reading, the idea of meaning, the significance of context, and the relevance of institutions. On the side of literature, we’ll be concerned with what experimental writing looks like after metafiction; the struggle between irony and sincerity; the rethinking of genre and convention; and new representations of political engagement. On the side of criticism, we’ll grapple with debates about the scale and scope of literary reading; changing frameworks of periodization; institutional historicism and the rise of sociology; the recovery of aesthetics and the turn to affect; and theories of ecology and economy. Taking stock of what both literature and literary criticism look like today, our main goal in this course will be determine what, if anything, is distinctive about the contemporary period—and why it is necessary to make such periodizing claims about our present in the first place.

Writers to be studied may include Tom McCarthy, Zadie Smith, Rivka Galchen, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Ben Lerner, Ed Park, David Mitchell, and Colson Whitehead. Critics will likely include Sianne Ngai, Amy Hungerford, Walter Benn Michaels, Mark McGurl, Stephen Best, Heather Love, Caren Irr, Lauren Berlant, Ursula Heise, Kenneth Warren, and Colleen Lye.

For more information, contact Theodore Martin at marti449@uwm.edu.


ENG 815 | Seminar in Fiction Writing

Modulating Tension
Mauricio Kilwein Guevara
Section 1 | M, 5 p.m. – 7:40 p.m.

This writing seminar will be designed to encourage you to write, receive feedback on, and revise fiction that is most important for you in your development. You can submit for discussion selected chapters or a section of a novel-in-progress, or short stories, or some other project involving prose fiction (flash fiction or hybrid writing). Know that I want us as a community to serve you with insight, productive feedback, and support. We’ll look at the construction of narrative tension and release; conflict and connection; reader anticipation and surpise; language, voice, and architecture. As a group we’ll read one work of published fiction early in the semester, as yet undecided, perhaps Death and The Penguin by Andrey Kurkov.

For more information, contact Mauricio Kilwein Guevara at maurice@uwm.edu.


ENG 816 | Seminar in Poetry Writing

Brenda Cárdenas
Section 1 | R, 3:30 p.m. – 6:10 p.m.

This course will focus on the creation, critique, and revision of student poems written in series that explore particular subjects/themes and/or forms/approaches (for example, a sonnet cycle, lyric sequence, or series of prose, collage or aleatory poems). By working in series and presenting three poems at a time for workshop, students may begin to form sections of their dissertation manuscripts or a chapbook. To this end, we will also examine and discuss published books comprised of poem series to analyze how the poems in each series compliment, are in conversation with, and are juxtaposed to one another, as well as the tensions and effects that emerge from their arrangements and combinations. With a partner, each student will present a critical response to and lead discussion on one of the required books. Students will also complete and submit a manuscript of revised poems produced during the semester with a critical introduction that explores the student’s poetics, approach and influences in creating this particular project. In addition to the required texts listed below, we will read selections posted on D2L by Sharon Dolin, Noah Eli Gordon, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jackson Mac Low, Mark Nowak, Ed Roberson, and Orlando White.

Required Texts:
Gimenez Smith, Carmen. Milk & Filth. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-0-8165-2116-6. List Price: $15.95.

Kearney, Douglas. The Black Automaton. Albany, NY: Fence Books, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-1-934200-28-5. List Price: $17.00.

Lundy Martin, Dawn: Discipline. Callicoon, NY: Nightboat Books, 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0-9844598-4-1. List Price: $15.95.

Park Hong, Cathy. Engine Empire: Poems. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-393-34648-0. List Price: $15.95.

Santos Perez, Craig. from Unincorporated Territory: Saina. Richmond, CA: Omnidawn Publishing, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-1-890650-46-9. List Price: $15.95.

Wright, C. D. One Big Self: An Investigation. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-1-55569-258-2. List Price: $15.00.

For more information, contact Brenda Cárdenas at cardenab@uwm.edu.


ENG 819 | Project in Creative Writing

Brenda Cárdenas
Section 1 | Day/time: TBA | Hybrid course; meetings will be scheduled to accommodate students’ schedules

This one-credit course, which is linked to both the Creative Writing Program’s Visiting Writer Series and the greater Milwaukee area’s literary life, explores creative writers’ craft, process, and presentation of their work. To this end, students will read and discuss one-two recent books by the visiting writer/poet and write a critical/craft essay regarding his/her work to be supplemented by interviews, craft essays, any available criticism regarding the work, and/or other supplementary materials related to the work. Students will also attend the visiting writer’s reading and craft talk, participate in two workshop sessions (one led by the visiting writer) regarding class members’ original creative work, attend readings by three other established writers or poets, and write short critical responses to/reviews of the fiction or poetry those writers present.

For Spring 2015, our visiting writer will be poet Dawn Lundy Martin (March 6-7). If it is released on time, we will read her forthcoming volume Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life, due from Nightboat Books on December 2, 2014 (ISBN-13: 978-1937658281, List Price: $15.95). If this book is not released by the start of the semester, we will read her book Discipline (Nightboat Books, 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0-9844598-4-1. List Price: $15.95). All graduate students are welcome to enroll, regardless of their primary genre. This is a hybrid course with the majority of our work taking place on D2L; in addition, at least three face-to-face meetings will be scheduled so that all enrolled students may attend.

For more information, contact Brenda Cárdenas at cardenab@uwm.edu.


ENG 855 | Seminar in Theories of Business and Technical Writing

Rhetoric and Visual Cultures
Scott Graham
Section 1 | T, 5:30 p.m. – 8:10 p.m.

Metaphors of the visual are pervasive in western cultures. From scientific discovery and medical imaging to NSA surveillance and body image, sight takes center stage. As a result, there has been a great deal of rhetorical and cultural theory devoted to exploring, critiquing and developing pedagogy that accounts for the role of visual metaphors in a variety of spheres from western cultures writ large to localized practices of scientific inquiry and technical documentation. Even more recently, new intellectual efforts under the rubrics of new materialisms have sought to reject the visual entirely as a central concept, replacing looking with doing. Correspondingly, the Spring 2015 edition of English 855 is devoted to exploring central figures and concepts in theory and pedagogy of the visual as well as the criticisms of/from new materialisms.

For more information, contact Scott Graham at grahams@uwm.edu.


ENG 871 | Seminar in African American Literature

Black Literature & Film — Africa & the African Diaspora
Sandra Grayson
Section 1 | TR, 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Incorporating technology and traditional methodologies, English 871 focuses on works by contemporary black filmmakers and writers. Examples of topics to beconsidered include: alternative constructs of history (departures from a linear progressive construct of history); the use of community-based narratives; oppositional cinema; the representation of alternative worldviews; the text as political.

For more information contact Sandra Grayson at sgrayson@uwm.edu.


ENG 875 | Seminar in Modern Literature

Becoming Modern: Gendered Narratives
Kumkum Sangari
Section 1 | W, 1 p.m. – 3:40 p.m.

This course will explore `modernity’ as an ensemble of expectations, desires, class and colonial impositions, alternative visions or critiques, and material transformations through the emergence of gendered public spheres in the late 19th and early 20th century. The sites of `becoming modern’ include literacy, reading and writing; new women; colonial exhibitionary complexes and civilizing missions; the city and visuality alongside the gendering of urban labor and consumption; and early cinema as a tutelary and phantasmatic public sphere. The texts to be studied, both formally and historically, are drawn from several countries (England, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, the Caribbean, India, northAmerica), include short stories, dreams, autobiographies, personal narratives, lectures, polemical essays, posters, sketches, silent films and critical theory. They lead, potentially, into a theorization of the so-called global modern.

For more information contact Kumkum Sangari at ksangari@uwm.edu.


ENG 877 | Seminar in Film Theory

Colonial and Postcolonial Cinemas
Gilberto M. Blasini
Section 1 | M, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The seminar examines the ways in which colonial and postcolonial discourses have been implicated in cinematic practices, particularly in the so-called “developing” or “third world.” The first part of the course focuses on broader theoretical perspectives for apprehending questions about colonialism and postcolonialism in general, and colonial and postcolonial cinemas in particular. Along with the study of key works by Frantz Fanon and Edward Said (and their analysis of how racism, colonialism and imperialism find articulation in cultural artifacts), we will explore writings and manifestos by Latin American artists/filmmakers that specifically deal with questions related to cinema and its connection to culture and politics in any society. These cinematic theories and practices in post-1950s Latin America—such as Solanas and Getino’s Third Cinema in Argentina, García Espinosa’s Imperfect Cinema in Cuba, and Rocha’s Aesthetics of Hunger in Brazil—will help us understand not only the emergence and development of the term “Third Cinema,” but also its iterations during the last five decades, both in Latin America and in the US and England. From its inception, Third Cinema was constituted as a type of political and cultural intervention in societies whose formations have been directly affected by the power struggles and oppressions that the processes of colonialism and imperialism bring with them. In order to understand these processes, This examination will help us trace the reception and recontextualization of these theories in US and British academia (particularly through the work of scholars such as Teshome H. Gabriel, Stuart Hall, Korbena Mercer, Hamid Naficy, B. Ruby Rich, Ella Shohat and Robert Stam), where Third Cinema became both “Non-Western Cinema” and “Third World Cinema” before returning to its initial name.

During the second part of the seminar. our intellectual undertaking will be to interrogate the different forms that Third Cinema has taken in the Anglophone academic environment from the mid-1980s onwards (diasporic and exilic cinema as well as accented cinema, to name a few). Some of the questions that we need to keep in mind while pursuing this undertaking are: What are the continuities and discontinuities that exist between the original term and the new iterations of Third Cinema? Has the concept gained or lost specificity (or both) in the academic context? How have the political and economic changes of the last 25 years transformed Third Cinema as well as the possibilities for its existence? Is Third Cinema still a political cinema even if it is not directly connected to specific cinematic movements (such as the New Latin American Cinema)? Can we still talk about Third Cinema in the new millennium? How has the current era of globalization affected Third Cinema?

For more information, contact Gilberto M. Blasini at gblasini@uwm.edu.


ENG 885 | Seminar in Critical Theory

Affect and Mediation
Richard Grusin
Section 1 | W 5-7:40 p.m.

The seminar will begin with a look at the history of thinking on affect in aesthetic and literary theory—perhaps going as far back as Aristotle and Longinus, and touching on 18th-20th century aesthetic theories. We will trace out three main strains of late-19th/20th/21st century affect theory: the psychological (including William James, Sylvan Tomkins, and Daniel Stern); the philosophical (including Bergson, Heidegger, Deleuze, and Massumi); and the political (including work in the Marxist tradition by figures such as Benjamin, Raymond Williams, Maurizio Lazzaratto, and Michael Hardt). The seminar will culminate with a unit on affect and media theory, including work by McLuhan, Steve Shaviro, and Mark Hansen.

What all of these diverse treatments of affect have in common is a resistance to the totalizing narratives of psychoanalysis and ideology critique, what Eve Sedgwick calls “paranoid reading,” in which literary, cultural, and media texts and artifacts are understood chiefly in terms of the ways in which they work either to subvert or to enable the hegemony of global capital, patriarchy, or ideology. Rather than focus on exposing or revealing the evidence of power in structures of representation and signification, affect theorists seek instead to focus on the functionality of literature, media, and culture, on the ways in which our embodied selves are affected by these various literary, cultural, and media events prior to and independent of their cognitive impact or interpretation. Thus thinking of literature, culture, and media in terms of affect is to think not only in terms of structures of signification or symbolic representation but more crucially in terms of discipline, governmentality, and control. An implicit concern throughout the seminar is to think about the relationship between affect and mediation.

This seminar will provide students in Literature and Cultural Theory with a foundation on which they can build preliminary exam lists on Affect Theory and to a lesser degree Media Theory. In addition the seminar will be valuable for students in Media, Cinema, and Digital Studies, especially those interested in thinking through the place of affect and mood in media of all kinds. Students will be asked to write regular short papers (what I call précis and explications) throughout the semester. Each student will be asked to introduce one reading over the course of the seminar. Finally students will write a final seminar paper of 15-20 pages on an approved topic.

For more information, contact Richard Grusin at grusin@uwm.edu.