Course of Study
Rather than define our curriculum in terms of content and coverage, we organize it in terms of practices. The teaching of literary history remains a central component of what we do, but our newly revised curriculum re-inflects each level of coursework according to the wide range of practices we currently perform as academics. The set of courses offered at the 500-level are characterized by their hands-on focus on various practical and technical skills needed for a successful professional career. Our 600-level offerings are focused on various practices of reading in various fields (literary-historical period, theoretical approach, form and genre). Our 700-level seminars are focused on the practice of advanced research in the discipline.
These courses can accommodate quite varied approaches and content, providing extensive and intensive training in teaching of composition or literature, techniques and manipulation of critical or research methodologies, or techniques and analysis of critical writing. Practica are typically taken during the first semester of student teaching (as an aid to and support for the development of teaching skills), and during the semester students write and revise the prospectus for the dissertation. While some of these courses might be seen as “introductory,” and thus especially desirable for students just starting out in the program, this is by no means true of all of them, or of every version of any of them.
Readings Courses (600-level)
Such courses provide extensive and intensive training in professional modes of reading. These courses are meant as investigations of literary historical period, studies of form or genre, and theoretical approaches. Taking a number of readings courses allows a student to gain expertise with a wide range of reading practices, such as broad period or thematic survey; intensive formal analysis; training in a particular interpretive strategy or school of thought; comparative or inter-disciplinary reading; historical and contemporary scholarly discourse on a given theme, author, or period; cultural and historical contextualization; intensive study of English and related languages. Writing for these courses will vary according to the instructor’s goals.
The seminars offer practice in the sort of independent work required for professional writing, in the dissertation and beyond. Seminars ask students to conceptualize frameworks for literary-cultural study, apply theoretical models across a range of materials, and create meaningful connection between various kinds of texts. Although they may be used to satisfy historical distribution requirements, the research seminars proposed below are organized by critical problem or mode of inquiry. Although the content of these seminars may often be historically specific, they emphasize modes of inquiry in a way that encourages students working on a variety of historical periods to use seminars to further their own research. Such courses will typically require a longer paper, one that looks forward to a possible dissertation chapter or a publishable essay. We imagine the research seminar having a slightly modified structure, involving the inclusion some time during the term of an approximately three-week stretch devoted to independent research and writing during which students and faculty might meet only in workshop or tutorial settings.