Graduate Seminars


Fall 2019


Graduate Proseminar: Approaches to Literary Research

English 200 / Prof. Cohen
Wednesdays, 3:00pm – 5:50pm

The Graduate Proseminar is an introduction to the profession of literary studies. The course will cover a wide array of topics related to issues in the profession and professionalization, including (but not limited to): the structures and histories of the discipline; writing and publishing for scholarly and general audiences; scholarly organizations and conference presentations; building a CV and a resume; developing professional skills; understanding the academic job market; humanities careers; and critical and methodological approaches to literary studies.

Theory and Method on the Internet

Computers and Literary Research
English 203 / Prof. Snelson
Thursdays, 3:00pm – 5:50pm

Research on and about the internet is characterized by information overload—too many genres, platforms, approaches, fields, and disciplines—put simply, too much information (TMI). This seminar explores emerging trends in scholarship on the internet with a focus on theoretical and methodological approaches to network culture. We will study recent works from a diverse array of fields including media theory, code and platform studies, poetry and poetics, social studies, critical race studies, visual culture, game studies, art and art history, gender and sexuality studies, architecture and design, cinema studies, digital humanities, and communication studies, among others. In each instance, we’ll chart how and why literary approaches to the internet might interface with these fields. The course will be built on works published within the recent past and as they surface throughout the quarter. A speculative set of writers might include Aria Dean, Erika Balsom, Hannah Black, Hito Steyerl, James Hodge, Lisa Gitelman, Lisa Nakamura, Patrick Jagoda, Paul Stephens, Rita Raley, Shaka McGlotten, Silvio Lorusso, Simone Browne, Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux, Tara McPherson, Tiziana Terranova, and Tung-Hui Hu. These new works will be paired with optional readings in foundational texts for further research. The final set of readings will be determined in collaboration with seminar participants. Course requirements include: an oral presentation, weekly response posts, and a final research paper/project exploring new methods in digital scholarship.

Paleography of Vernacular Manuscripts from the British Isles, c. 800 to 1500

Paleography of Latin and Vernacular Manuscripts
English M215 / Prof. Fisher
Tuesdays, 12:00pm – 1:50pm

Every manuscript is unique. There is no “history of the book” wholly separate from the history of individual books. This class will train students in how to read, look at, and generally make sense of manuscripts produced in Britain from the earliest writings to the beginning of print culture in England. As part of this conversation, we will necessarily consider the role of technology in re-mediating our encounters with manuscripts. The seminar will meet twice per week. One meeting each week will be held in UCLA’s Special Collections, working hands-on with UCLA’s remarkable and teaching-focused collection of medieval manuscripts, leaves, and fragments.

Though this seminar will primarily be focused on medieval books, our conversations about book history need not be so limited. Students working on early modern and 17th/18th century book history and material culture have taken the class and written final seminar papers commensurate with their interests.

Early Modern Empire and the Cultures of Encounter

Renaissance Literature (CMRS LAMAR Seminar)
English 246 / Prof. Fuchs
Mondays, 12:00pm – 2:50pm

This interdisciplinary LAMAR seminar will consider theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary questions. We will read together a corpus of historiographic and literary texts (Columbus, More, Ercilla, Garcilaso de la Vega, Poma, Behn) and also host visits from specialists at UCLA and beyond in a range of related disciplines (History/History of Science/History of Art/ Classics). How have various fields negotiatied the specificities of the European encounter with the New Word vs. larger questions of indigeneity and sovereignty around the globe? How has recent work on empire in a global context impacted the various fields? How do scholars in these fields move between the specificities of the local and the broader theorization of culture in imperial contexts? All readings will be available in English.

Revolutionary Traditions

American Literature to 1900
English 254 / Prof. Hyde
Tuesdays, 3:00pm – 5:50pm

The American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution—the late eighteenth century witnessed a proliferation of revolutionary traditions that had a profound impact on nineteenth-century U.S. literature, culture, and politics. This seminar introduces students to key works of nineteenth-century U.S. fiction and culture, paying special attention to the period’s obsession with the transformative possibilities that revolutions represented for political reform and artistic experimentation alike. The course will examine the cultural traditions of U.S. revolution through fictional and historical accounts of the American Revolution, enslaved resistance, women’s rights, transcendentalism, and American Romanticism. We will read works of fiction, political philosophy, as well as secondary criticism. Authors likely will include Burke, Paine, Jefferson, Walker, Apess, Hawthorne, Stanton, Douglass, Thoreau, Stowe, Melville, and Brown. Students will write short weekly posts and a final conference-length paper.

Fictive Kinships in Latinx Film and Literature

Studies in Chicana/Chicano Literature
English M261 / Prof. Torres
Mondays, 3:00pm – 5:50pm

This seminar will examine the imaginative construction of family and kinship in Latinx film and literature. We will look at how different forms of fiction, poetry and film propose and analyze ways of living together through broad metaphors of kinship, with a particular focus on imagined familial relations outside of marriage or consanguinity- such as gang fraternities, religious affiliations, political organizations, compadrazgos, and queer/chosen families. We will ask how it is that the family looms so large in the task of imagining relations, and in composing and breaking the ties that bind. Is family to be escaped, or embraced? In seeking to answer these questions, we will draw on a range of psychoanalytic, sociological, queer and economic theory in the study of a range of literature and film. Course Requirements: Either one long research paper, or there will be an opportunity for those wishing to develop their own short fiction to submit one creative fiction response as well as one short research paper.

Additional Courses

Prospectus Writing Workshop

Directed Individual Study – 4 units
English 596 Section 25 / Prof. Hornby
Thursdays, 3:00pm – 5:50pm

This writing workshop is designed to address the central problem of writing a prospectus: how do you begin when you don’t know where you are going. It is also meant to facilitate the transition between the stages of graduate study, from Part I to Part II qualifying exams, from the prospectus to first dissertation chapter. At the start of the course, we will consider the genre of the prospectus itself to get a better understanding of its form and function and to demystify the process of beginning to write one. Relying on a critical community of peer scholars, in the workshop you will draft a series of preparatory versions of your dissertation project, culminating in a completed prospectus by the end. The workshop is open to graduate students who are working on the prospectus and to those who are beginning to write the first chapter of a dissertation. The syllabus can be expanded to support various stages of dissertation writing, depending on the needs of the group. Please note that the seminar may not be used to fulfill the 14-course requirement for the PhD in English.  S/U grading only.

Winter 2020


Dreams, Visions, and Apparitions in Medieval Literature

Language and Literature
English 242 / Prof. Thomas
Thursdays, 3:00 pm – 5:50 pm

Dreams, visions and apparitions are constitutive of medieval literature writ large. They are ubiquitous in hagiographical writings, academic commentaries, theological treatises and poetic compositions. They often inaugurate treatises and tales, raise expectations, fulfill or even frustrate audience expectations. Wherever they occur, they offer a space for thinking through the relations between the real and the visionary, between the historical and the fantastic, between the empirically verifiable and the spiritually valuable, between medieval discourses or disciplines including rhetoric, history, law, and theology. In this course, we will explore dreams, visions and apparitions in texts ranging from the “lives” of holy women and men (such as the semi-autobiographical The Passion of St. Perpetua and Felicity, the anonymous biography of the bride Christina of Markyate, and Eadmer’s Life of Anselm) to the great poetic works of Chaucer (The Parlement of FoulesThe House of FameThe Canterbury Tales), Gower (Confessio amantis) and Langland (Piers Plowman). Our focus will be on the ways in which writers handle oneiric experiences not just for their content but also their form. We will read fictional compositions framed by dreams, visions and apparitions alongside relevant dream theories/commentaries such as Macrobius’s influential Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, glosses to his commentary and Augustine’s De Genesi ad Litteram. There will also be an optional Latin reading component to enable us to read some of the technical or academic texts on dreams in the original.


A familiarity with earlier forms of English language is not required for this seminar.

This course is approved for pre-1780 Breadth.

Queer Borderlands in Renaissance Literature

Renaissance Literature
English 246 / Prof. Gallagher
Wednesdays, 9:00 am – 11:50 am

This seminar will examine various confluences of methodological and theoretical programs that have shaped critical conversations and debates over how and where queer elements in early modern materials may be discerned, with attention to how metrics of assessment shift according to different textual expressions and conventions of genre. While scholarship in this area has gravitated toward drama, “Queer Borderlands” focuses on genres where the dispositive character of queer energies enlarges or recalibrates understanding of genre-specific markers of queer textualities. Questions drawn from queer phenomenology, affect theory, narrative theory, queer philology, and queer dimensions of sacramental, mystical, and trinitarian theologies will be brought to bear on examples of prose fiction, metrical verse narrative, and devotional poetry, including Sir Philip Sidney’s New Arcadia, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene (excerpts), Thomas Nashe’s Unfortunate Traveller, Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World, and poems by Richard Barnfield, Isabella Whitney, John Donne, Richard Crashaw, and Andrew Marvell. Course requirements: either one long research paper or two short critical position pieces, as well as regular online posts.


This course is approved for pre-1780 Breadth.

Feeling Critical

Restoration and 18th Century Literature
English 250 / Prof. Kareem
Tuesdays, 9:00 am – 11:50 am

What kinds of feelings characterize the critic’s relationship to the object of criticism? Whether a critic approaches an object in the mode of critique, connoisseurship, interpretation, or otherwise, what affective dispositions does the act of criticism summon in those who practice it? In this seminar, we will read a variety of eighteenth-century works that meditate on the mood and disposition of the critic, including writings by William Hogarth, David Hume, Laurence Sterne, Henry Home, Lord Kames, and Jane Austen. We will also think about how these eighteenth-century ideas about criticism can help us reflect on the critic’s role in our own time.


This course is approved for pre-1780 Breadth.

The Novel and The Archive

Studies in Novel
English 258.1 / Prof. Grossman and Prof. Hilary Schor (USC)
Wednesdays, 3:00 pm – 5:50 pm

Novelists in the nineteenth-century imagined their stories through the material, published shapes they took: serialized in magazines and monthly numbers, issued in three-volumes as “triple-deckers,” and, eventually, as still today, sandwiched solo between two covers. This course will meet in UCLA’s library’s Sadleir collection, the world’s largest collection of nineteenth-century novels outside of the British Library, to explore the archive of this print-culture world.Our aims are two-fold. We will both interrogate the novel as a material art form in the era in which it became dominant and, more broadly, discover the discipline, power, and lure that archival work can hold for scholars. You will thus have a graduate-level view of the nineteenth-century novel and of archival work by the end of this course. Each class session we will work with the stunning materials held in the collection. You will turn the pages of original monthly parts of Picwkick, of lurid “Yellowbacks” published for sale at railway bookstalls, and of the novels of “Anonyma” a female collective. You will have opportunities to engage now-little-known but once-famous sub-genres like the Newgate novel (crime), silver-fork fiction (class), Marryat’s pioneering of maritime fiction (Empire and race), and more.


We will chart our way together through this era’s vast and fascinating print culture by reading two novels especially reflective of it: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford (serialized irregularly from 1851 to 1853) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897 in one volume). Our main concern will be with authors and how they shape their stories in and for different contemporary mediums of print and different readerships, but this course welcomes students interested broadly in book history and the materiality of the book, digital humanities, and collection and information studies.

The course will be team-taught by Hilary Schor (USC) and Jonathan Grossman (UCLA). Students from both universities will be enrolled concurrently and meet together each week. In addition, you will have opportunities to work with the wonderful staff of YRL Special Collections. Guest speakers, whose work we will sample, will include Helena Michie, author of Love Among the Archives, and Richard Menke, author of Literature, Print Culture, and Media Technologies, 1880–1900: Many Inventions. Requirements for the course include a presentation about archival materials of your choice and a research essay related to the Sadleir archive (or with prior approval, another archive).

This course is approved for post-1780 Breadth.

Anatomy of the Novel

Studies in Novel
English 258.2 / Prof. North
Wednesdays, 12:00 pm – 2:50 pm

This will be a practical course in formal analysis of the novel. Thus we will read some of the important authorities on the topic: Genette, Bakhtin, Chatman, and a number of novels, including Joseph Andrews, Jane Eyre, Emma, Frankenstein, Mrs. Dalloway, and others. Our purpose will be to acquire a command of the basic categories in the analysis of the novel, but also to subject these to some critical pressure. For example, why is the apparently basic distinction between story and discourse so hard to describe and why are the names given to these two so variable? Is it appropriate to divide novelistic narration along the linguistic line between first and third person? What are the limitations to omniscient narration and how does the acknowledgement of limitations undermine the very concept? Is the term “psychological realism” an oxymoron? Requirements include a) two scholarly book reviews, or b) a seminar paper.


This course is approved for post-1780 Breadth.

Fredric Jameson, Postmodernity, and the City

Literary Theory
English M270 / Prof. Makdisi
Thursdays, 9:00 am – 11:50 am

In this seminar, we will read some of the key works by Fredric Jameson on the questions of modernity and postmodernity in relation to selected literary and visual texts addressing modern and postmodern urban space.  The aim will be to develop a two-way dialogue between literature and theory, to read the different kinds of texts with and against one another in order to develop a fuller understanding of the dynamics of modernity and postmodernity both in general and as grounded in one particular site in which these dynamics have worked (and continue to work) themselves out: London.  Texts by Jameson will include parts or all of Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late CapitalismThe Seeds of Time; A Singular Modernity; The Modernist Papers; and The Antinomies of Realism.  Texts engaging London will include work by Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Iain Sinclair, J. G. Ballard, Alan Moore, Patrick Keiller, Zadie Smith and Laura Ford.  

Interdisciplinary American Studies

English M299 / Prof. McMillan

This seminar explores recent interdisciplinary work in the humanities, under the rubric of American studies, that utilize distinct and innovative methodologies to examine the interplay between aesthetics, culture, and tactics of everyday life. Scholars working in the inter-disciplines–such as feminist theory, cultural studies, performance studies, American studies, and queer theory–will be foregrounded. Topics include: Cuban music, black aesthetics, modeling, urban history, and empire. Possible authors include Hazel Carby, Kyla Tompkins, Fred Moten, Gayatri Gopinath, Saidiya Hartman, Shane Vogel, and Alex Vazquez, among others.

Spring 2020


Life-writing in Early Modern England

Renaissance Literature
English 246 / Prof. Shuger
Tuesdays, 3:00pm – 5:50pm

The course will begin with a variety of martyrologies, including Foxe’s Acts and monuments and Archbishop Laud’s scaffold speech, but then turn to consider, among other things, the first full-length autobiography written in England (albeit not quite in English but a made-up phonetic code), Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio medici, Lucy Hutchinson’s magnificent biography of her regicide husband, Richard Baxter’s spiritual autobiography, the autobiography of George Herbert’s big brother, plus maybe a few diaries, collections of letters, conversion narratives, and the like. There will be a lot of reading; a weekly paper in which participants will sketch ideas for possible seminar papers, dissertations, and articles; but no actual seminar paper.

Keywords for the Contemporary

Contemporary American Literature
English 255 / Prof. Huehls
Tuesdays, 9:00am – 11:50am

This course provides a comprehensive view of twenty-first century U.S. fiction through a series of keywords germane to our contemporary moment: Affect, Post-Fordism, Biopolitics, Neoliberalism, Post-postmodernism, Afro-pessimism, Autonomy, etc. We will explore critical, theoretical, and fictional texts pegged to each keyword, developing a multi-layered understanding of the purchase these concepts have on literary study today. Novels will include but are not limited to work from Chris Kraus, Paul Beatty, Rachel Kushner, Colson Whitehead, and Ben Lerner. Theoretical touchstones will include but are not limited to work from Jacques Rancière, Walter Benn Michaels, Paolo Virno, Michel Foucault, Lauren Berlant, and Jared Sexton. No seminar paper, but weekly writing and shorter-format papers required.

Blake and Baraka

Studies in Poetry
English 257 / Prof. Nersessian and Prof. D’Aguiar
Wednesdays, 9:00am – 11:50am

This course invites students to read widely in and around the work of two major figures in the radical poetic tradition: William Blake and Amiri Baraka. We will move between these two writers and the periods or movements with which they overlapped—e.g. Romanticism and the Black Arts Movement—rather than proceeding chronologically. Readings will be many, varied, and by (to name a few) Baraka, Blake, James Boggs, Sean Bonney, Aimé Césaire, Eldridge Cleaver, Diane di Prima, C.L.R. James, John Milton, Frank O’Hara, Thomas Spence, Wendy Trevino, Gerrard Winstanley, William Wordsworth, and Edward Young.

Experimental Critical Theory: Truth and Knowledge

Studies in Criticism
English 259 / Prof. Reinhard
Thursdays, 5:00pm – 7:50pm

Pre-enrollment is not permitted for this seminar, which is the second in a two-quarter (winter and spring) core seminar of the graduate certificate program in Experimental Critical Theory.  Please direct any queries directly to the instructor.  The topic of this year’s seminar is “Truth and Knowledge,” and it will involve ideas, texts, and objects from antiquity to today.  Issues examined will include topics in philosophy, historiography, the history of science, the concept of the disciplines, literary and cultural studies, rhetoric and sophistry, pragmatism, relativism, nihilism, and denialism.

Big Books: Women of Color and the Epic Genre

Studies in Afro-American Literature
English M262 / Prof. Streeter
Thursdays, 12:00pm – 2:50pm

This course looks at the concept of the big book and the epic genre as deployed by women of color. Although the epic genre is identified with narrative poetry, the term has been used to describe novels dealing with broad and sweeping themes: myths, histories, religious tales, moral theories and most importantly, heroic legends and deeds. The epic novel is the purview of men, and the lengthy literary work is a signifier for mastery and canonical status. This class looks at the epic through a multi-ethnic feminist lens. We start with three signal works published in the 1990s. Leslie Marmon’s Silko’s Almanac of the Dead revises the history of the Americas through a Native American episteme. Toni Cade Bambara’s Those Bones Are Not My Child tells the searing story of the Atlanta Child Murders through the lives of one family, and Gayl Jones’s Mosquito examines the U.S. Southern border and migrant struggle through the eyes of a black female truck driver. We then focus on “The Thunder, Perfect Mind” from the Nag Hammadi scriptures, an exhortatory poem narrated by a divine female revealer. We look at the ways this poem is referenced in Toni Morrison’s Paradise, as well as Julie Dash’s film Daughters of the Dust. Lastly we move out of the U.S. and into the diaspora with Zadie Smith’s novel Swingtime.

Environmental Narrative and Science Communication

English M290 / Prof. Carruth
Wednesdays, 3:00pm – 5:50pm

This course is multiple listed as English M290 / Environment M242 and is designed as a cross-disciplinary seminar for PhD students interested in the environmental humanities / science studies and for graduate students in the sciences and engineering who are part of UCLA’s NSF-funded INFEWS program (Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems). It offers an opportunity for humanities and science graduate students to work together in studying methods and modes of environmental narrative, science communication, and public scholarship. We will examine a variety of new and old media—including popular science, documentary film, the op-ed, data visualization, and augmented/immersive storytelling. The seminar will pair such models with research on both science communication and narrative form. Throughout we’ll consider environmental concepts drawn from a range of disciplines—from literary studies and anthropology to ecology and climate science—with an eye toward understanding strategies for and challenges to conveying the scientific, technological, and sociocultural dimensions of contemporary environmental challenges. Through individual and collaborative assignments, students will test out different forms of science communication and will experiment with crafting environmental stories for diverse public audiences.