Graduate Seminars


Fall 2022


Graduate Proseminar

English 200 / Prof. Silva
Wednesdays, 9:00am-11:50pm

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.

Video Game Studies

Digital Theories and Methods
English 203 / Prof. Snelson
Thursdays, 12:00pm-2:50pm

This seminar explores emerging trends in scholarship on video games with a focus on theory and method. We will study recent monographs drawing from a diverse array of fields including media theory, code and platform studies, poetry and poetics, critical race studies, visual culture, art and art history, gender and sexuality studies, cinema studies, queer and crip theory, digital humanities, and performance studies, among others. In each instance, we’ll chart how and why approaches to video games might interface with these fields. The course will be built on books published in the very recent past and as they surface throughout the quarter. New works will be paired with optional readings in related constellations and foundational texts for further research, as well as a range of gameplay experiments and engagements. The final set of readings (and playings) will be determined in collaboration with seminar participants. Course requirements include: an informal presentation, Discord participation and critical Twitch streams, playing a bunch of games over the quarter, and a final research paper or project exploring new methods in video game scholarship.


This course meets the genre/theory/methods breadth requirement.

The Queer/Crip Eighteenth Century

Restoration and 18th-Century Literature
English 250 / Prof. Deutsch
Wednesdays, 12:00pm-2:50pm

The eighteenth century marks a key transitional moment in the mutually constitutive histories of sexuality and disability in the West.  The period that saw the institutionalization of the heterosexual/homosexual divide and the criminalization of homosexuality was also the great age of Enlightenment classification invested in legislating and defining the “normal.” Early modern scholars Susan Lanser and Valerie Traub have convincingly argued that the unprecedented proliferation of representations of same-sex love, desire and eroticism between women in the 17th and 18th centuries make queerness spectacularly central to modernity, rather than a closeted secret in need of scholarly detection. By contrast, Paul Kelleher has demonstrated how the period’s dominant philosophy and literature of sentiment anchored moral sensibility and virtue in heterosexual desire and conjugal love, while Jason Farr has shown how queer fictions informed by the interlinked histories of disability and sexuality question dominant norms of marriage, courtship, reproduction and family. More recently, critics such as Julia Ftacek have begun to consider what trans studies might mean for the eighteenth century. These scholars enable us to see how representations of queerness and disability are both marginal and absolutely central to the period’s social, political, and philosophical thought, and thus to the advent of what we call modernity.  Following their lead, we will explore this paradox by examining a range of authors and genres (going beyond the usual focus on the novel), including (possibly) Aphra Behn, John Wilmot (Earl of Rochester), Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift,  Mary Wortley Montagu, Phillis Wheatley, Mary Leapor, Jane Austen, and/or others, while also sampling recent and classic scholarship on the histories of sexuality and disability including (possibly) Randolph Trumbach, Michel Foucault, Didier Eribon, Georges Canghuilem, Henry Abelove, Felicity Nussbaum, George Haggerty, the authors cited above, and others.  Distinguished visitors are a possibility!

Course requirements: class participation, several short reading response papers, oral presentation, longer final paper (approx. 10-15 pages)


This course meets the pre-1800 breadth requirement.

Dracula and Other Vampires

Victorian Literature
English 252 / Prof. Bristow
Mondays, 9:00am – 11:50am

This seminar takes Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) as the starting-point for considering the shaping of the modern vampire in fiction, film, and television from 1819 to the present. The readings and screenings include John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819), Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872), F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922), Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931), Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories (1991), Joss Wheedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), and Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows (2019-2022). If time permits, we may screen an episode from V. E. Schwab and Felicia D. Henderson’s First Kill (2022), which pursues some of the racialized and lesbian motifs that feature in the earlier sources.


This course meets the post-1800 breadth requirement. 

Minoritarian Aesthetics

Interdisciplinary American Studies
English M299 / Prof. S.K. Lee
Tuesdays, 12:00pm-2:50pm

Minority artists can often bear the “burden of representation”: their work gets reduced to one’s biography and stands in for a social demographic, while aesthetic qualities are overlooked. Their work is evaluated on its political impact and cultural relevance, on how it can diversify and bolster institutional cultural spaces as sites of solution, recovery, and reconciliation, rather than on its use and experimentation with form and matter, and the affects and sensations it provokes. There is the implicit assumption that aesthetics are the provenance of white Eurocentric American art. This course works against this logic, taking up ways of reading, analyzing, and engaging with the aesthetic dimensions of literature, art, film, and performance by minority artists in the late twentieth century to the present. The course moves through critical theory, performance studies, cultural studies, art history, and philosophy to consider how a minoritarian aesthetics and its formal innovations can mediate and alter encounters with racial, gender, and sexual difference, offering alternative approaches to the political and ethical problems that surround the status of art and the minority subject’s relation to it.


This course meets the post-1800 breadth requirement. 



Winter 2023


Narrative Across Media

Narrative Theory
English 202 / Prof. Heise

This lecture aims to introduce graduate and advanced undergraduate students to basic concepts, theories, and methods in research on narrative across the media of fiction, nonfiction, fictional film, documentary film, videogames, graphic novels, and digital forms of narrative on and off social media. The class will explore storytelling situations, plot structure, character construction, fictionality and nonfictionality, cultural story templates, modes of reading/hearing narrative, image-text relations, and cross-media translation (text, film, games, Internet). We’ll also survey different approaches to these issues, from structuralist and sociological approaches to narrative theory in the 1960s and 70s, feminist and Marxist perspectives in the 1980s and 90s, to recent ones that emphasize empirical study, quantitative tools, posthumanist theory, and digital media. Throughout the course, you’re encouraged to explore and apply the theoretical and methodological tools you learn to your own areas of interest and research – different genres, periods, or media.


This course meets the genre/theory/methods breadth requirement.

Early Modern Empire and the Cultures of Encounter

Renaissance Literature
LAMAR Seminar
English 246 / Prof. Fuchs

This interdisciplinary seminar considers theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary questions. We will read together a corpus of historiographic and literary texts (Columbus, More, Poma, Behn) and host visits from specialists at UCLA and beyond in a range of related disciplines (History/History of Science/History of Art). 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 available in English.


This course meets the pre-1800 breadth requirement.

The Burdens of Representation and Chicana/o/x Life

Topics in Chicana/o Literature
English M261 / Prof. Perez-Torres

We will examine a variety of significant Chicana/o/x literary texts across six decades to consider the various ways that Chicanx thought has engaged issues of representation. The problem of political and cultural representation for Chicanx communities has been a long-standing one. Chicana/o activism was driven by a lack of representation and the need to articulate a collective identity so as to achieve social and political equity. The Chicana/o writers we study in this class wrestle with a central question: how to represent a racial-ethnic self in literary texts when that sense of self in a social and historical setting seems constantly under threat? Is representation all-encompassing, or can literary texts explore non-representational dimensions of Chicana/o/x experiences and understanding? This class will consider some of the conditions that have made Chicanx and Latinx life feel precarious, and – from this stand – study cultural representation as a politically and socially engaged act of self-definition and self-exploration. We will consider critical work on issues of precarity and biopolitics, coloniality and world systems theory, theorizations about surface and depth in aesthetic studies, and engagements with ideological critique and reparative critical practices.


This course meets the post-1800 breadth requirement. 

Diving Deep: Postcolonial Perspectives on the Oceanic Imaginary

Postcolonial Literature
English 265 / Prof. DeLoughrey

This course traces out the recent oceanic turn in the humanities, with an emphasis on postcolonial methods and approaches. We will examine contemporary postcolonial literature (poetry, short stories and the novel), visual arts, and films that represent the ocean as a space of migration, climate change, embodiment, fluidity, habitation, mining, and a place for an engagement with nonhuman others as well as alternative knowledges and ontologies. We will examine the relationship between empire and the oceans through postcolonial, feminist, and Indigenous methodologies, with a particular emphasis on texts from the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. Requirements include active class participation, weekly forum postings, a presentation, and a final essay/project.


This course meets the post-1800 breadth requirement. 

Edward Said

Issues and Developments in Critical Theory
English 270 / Prof. Makdisi

This class will read through and discuss the major works of Edward Said, including Orientalism, Culture & Imperialism and The Question of Palestine, as well as significant essays by Said on a range of topics from the status of the intellectual to late style.   We will spend some time toward the end of the quarter thinking through the absence of the question of Palestine from the field of colonial and postcolonial studies, which is ironic given that Said’s work helped to inaugurate the field to begin with.


This course meets the genre/theory/methods breadth requirement.


Spring 2023


History of Aesthetic Theory

History of Literary Criticism and Aesthetic Interpretation
English 201 / Prof. Huehls

This class will explore theories of art and aesthetics, focusing particularly on questions of judgment, form, feeling, politics, and autonomy. The course aims to be expansive, providing students an overview of aesthetic philosophy ranging from Kant and Hegel to Adorno and Rancière. We will read primary texts from these thinkers, but we’ll be accessing their work through more recent monographs on aesthetics from contemporary scholars like Sianne Ngai, David Lloyd, Nick Brown, Kandice Chuh, and Fred Moten. The goal is to develop a base understanding of the history of aesthetic philosophy while at the same time exploring contemporary scholarship that remains invested in aesthetics even as it critiques and challenges the historical canon.


This course meets the genre/theory/methods breadth requirement.

Medieval Drama

Old and Medieval Literature
English 244 / Prof. Chism

During the medieval period, drama had not yet become a profession, yet all over Europe and England for 500 years before Shakespeare, plays and spectacles were a crucial part of social life. Liturgical dramas and mystery cycles, cautionary allegories, and festive interludes were seasonally performed, often at great expense and with elaborate props, costumes and stage effects. For two hundred years the Corpus Christi cycles were staged yearly by guilds of merchants and artisans, counterposing artisanal, mercantile, clerical, and popular interests. At the same time, there were no institutionalized theaters with invisible walls to separate the actors from the audience, but rather mobile stagings that could take the itinerary of Christ’s life or the shape of human history and lay it like a web over an entire city.

This class explores the beginnings of English drama with attention to recent developments in gender studies, performance theory, and cultural studies. Beginning with continental liturgical and twelfth-century church drama, centering on the English Corpus Christi cycles, the saint’s and morality plays, and pursuing its line through the Reformation and the beginnings of the English professional theater, this course explores the way medieval society performed itself at some of its most contested cultural intersections.

We will explore the following questions:What does premodern, pre-fourth-wall, nonrealistic drama offer to modernist, postcolonial, surrealist recaptures and detournements of drama as social and cognitive intervention? What are the most profitable theoretical approaches to a drama that predates realism and falls between the abstractions of allegory on the one hand and the absorptions of individual psychology on the other? How do the plays negotiate the relationships between the material objects and bodies upon the stage, the historical and biblical narratives they embody, the verities they signify, and the conflicting social urgencies of their audiences. What civic spaces are realigned by these itinerant dramaturgies? What institutional orthodoxies are perplexed by the scandalous spectacle of Christ’s theatrically wounded body or Mary’s virginal, pregnant body? How can a theater be both popular and sacramental? How were the plays materially produced, and with what itineraries, stage-machines, censorships? How does the distinction between theater and performance break down when audiences went not only to watch but to participate? How did sixteenth-century humanism, the English reformation and the gradual professionalization of the theater affect the many forms of medieval drama and what continuities can we trace into subsequent periods?

The primary anthology, David Bevington’s Medieval Drama, is very approachable in terms of language: Latin, French, and German plays have facing page translations, and the Middle English ones are very well glossed. I’ve used this anthology for years with undergraduates.

Secondary texts may include: Herbert Blau, Richard Schechner, Sarah Beckwith, Theresa Coletti, Michael Pearson, and Richard D. McCall.


Requirements: 2 conference length papers, OR a draft and a longer term paper, OR a term project with both creative and analytical components (such as a performance and a debrief): (60%); short weekly response papers (25%); class presentation (singly or in a group).(15%).


This course meets the pre-1800 breadth requirement.

The Literature of Protest

American Literature to 1900

English 254 / Prof. Hyde

The word “protest” literally means to publicly testify. We often associate “protest” with images of collective demonstrations in the street, but the history of protest is also closely linked to another form of public testimony: the written word. This seminar introduces students to the traditions of U.S. protest literature that developed out of one of the most tumultuous eras of US history, the period between the American Revolution and the Civil War. From heated philosophical debates about the nature and limits of political rights to the rise of new literary traditions centered on social justice and political reform (the slave narrative, abolitionist literature, and reform literature)—the century that followed the American Revolution was a hotbed of political transformation as well as formal innovation. Students will use the period-specific expertise provided in the seminar to examine the relationship between literary experimentation, dissent, and political change. Readings will include select legal documents and political philosophy, as well as works by William Apess, David Walker, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Frances Harper, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Jacobs. Students will write weekly posts, prepare an annotated bibliography, and submit a final conference-length paper.


This course meets the post-1800 breadth requirement. 


Black Speculation: Science Fiction and Fantasy in the Diaspora

Studies in Afro-American Literature
English M262 / Prof. Yarborough

For quite some time, Black writers have engaged complex questions of future possibility while challenging formal artistic conventions that appear to foreclose rather than open up imaginative representations of Black lives. However, since the early 1980s, the scholarly and popular interest in speculative writing by Black authors has grown quite rapidly, as has the number of talented new voices in science fiction and fantasy. Indeed, the term “Afrofuturism” has been coined to describe the emergence of a whole movement made up of speculative artistic production of all kinds by people of African descent.


In this seminar, we will first read several important antecedents of the speculative fiction published over the past three-plus decades or so. Authors to be considered may include Pauline Hopkins, George Schuyler, Samuel Delany, Ishmael Reed, and Octavia Butler. We will then turn to a sampling of more recent novels by such writers as Nnedi Okorafor, Mat Johnson, N. K. Jemisin, Nisi Shawl, and Tade Thompson, to name only a few possibilities. (The selection will be determined in part by availability and in part by the limits of the quarter system since many books that merit inclusion are long.) Finally, while the emphasis in the seminar will be on the primary texts, we will read selected critical commentary as we make our way through the novels.



attendance and participation

weekly online posts

an oral presentation

two critical papers


This course meets the post-1800 breadth requirement.