ENG 5030 - Topics in Women's Studies (WS 5030)
Women Writing War
Margaret Jordan

This course is an investigation of the diverse ways in which women write about war. American wars factor largely in our reading, but we will also look to the works of women writing in literary traditions across the world. Among the issues we will explore are: gendered performance and expectations during a time of war; the causes, justifications and politics of war; strategic atrocity and rape as weapons of war, and the wages of war; survival strategies; the call to arms and pro-war writing; and, the call for peace and anti-war writing, among others. Crucial to our mission will be an examination of the experience of living with war. In this regard, attention will be paid to the literature of witness including that of war correspondents, citizen journalists, soldiers and civilians, and leaders and politicians through memoirs, diaries, autobiographical narratives, letters, novels, journals and essays. We will examine the function of tropes and metaphor along with avariety of other literary devices employed in the elucidation of war in the texts. Texts may include, but are not limited to: Women on War: An International Anthology of Writings from Antiquity to the Present, Daniela Gioseffi, ed.; Dessa Rose, Sherley Anne Williams; The Civil War Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut, M.B. Chesnut; A Son at the Front, Edith Wharton; The Journal of HeÌleÌ€ne Berr, H. Berr; The Man from Saigon, Marti Leimbach; Of Love and Shadows, Isabel Allende; Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Naphtalene: A Novel of Baghdad, Alia Mamdouh. Course requirements include essays (one research), a prospectus and annotated bibliography, frequent in-class writing assignments. Participation in class discussion is required. Attendance is mandatory.
 

ENG 5060 - Styles and Genres in Film
Hollywood Musicals: From Busby Berkeley to Damien Chazelle
Steven Shaviro

This class will trace the history of the Hollywood musical. As soon as the movies were able to use synchronized sound, filmmakers became interested in presenting music-making, singing, and dancing on film. Movie musicals originated in the late 1920s, and they have remained popular ever since. Musicals are unusual among popular movie genres, for their high degree of self-reflexivity, and their privileging of spectacle, or "the cinema of attractions," over plot. In a certain sense, musicals represent an idea of "pure cinema": they focus on sensory elements of space, time, camera movement, and physical gestures, at the expense of narrative and thematic concerns, At the same time, they are aggressively populist and proudly middle-brow or low-brow, in sharp contrast to high-brow art films that are equally self-reflexive and equally concerned with cinematic materiality. We will look at these issues as we trace the history of Hollywood musicals from their beginnings in the early sound era, where they took the form of either filmed operettas or large-cast extravaganzas, through the rise of the solo and partnered dances (Astaire & Rogers), to the MGM spectaculars of the 1940s and 1950s, and beyond, to the decreasing frequency but wild diversity of musical experiments in the post-classical era, and onwards to today. The class will be largely restricted to one national tradition, that of the United States and Hollywood; though we may also look at a few European films that present themselves as being explicitly in dialogue with Hollywood forms.
 

ENG 5450 - Modern American Literature
Humor and Satire in Modern American Literature
John Patrick Leary

The German playwright and critic Bertholt Brecht wrote that “One may say that tragedy deals with the sufferings of mankind in a less serious way than comedy.” In this class, we will explore uses of humor in modern U.S. literature, focusing in particular on its use in moments of social crisis and in texts exploring personal or social trauma. We will read theorists of humor like Lauren Berlant, Sigmund Freud, Glenda Carpio, Ralph Ellison, and Arthur Shopenhauer, and we will read and listen to humorists like Charles Chesnutt, Dorothy Parker, Paul Beatty, Patricia Lockwood, Zora Neale Hurston, Carolyn Rodgers, Joseph Heller, Fran Ross, Richard Pryor, Jerry Lewis, and Charles Shulz.
 

ENG 5480 - Topics in African-American Literature
Black Women's Writing
Lisa Ze Winters

This course will examine Black women's writing through the lens of Black women's health. Self-described black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet Audre Lorde famously wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” These words, written just four years before Lorde died of cancer, establish the point of departure for our readings of literature by Black women in the United States. Threats to and the protection of the physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional health in Black girlhood and Black womanhood are central themes in African American women's writing. This seminar will focus on a series of questions: What makes caring for Black women and girls an act of political warfare? What does self-care look like? Who else is responsible for the care of Black women and girls? How do Black women writers depict and theorize illness, injury, healing and redress in terms of race, class, gender and sexuality? What roles do social and state institutions play in black women's individual experiences of illness, injury, healing and/or recovery? What do healthy Black womanhood and girlhood look like? What systems of medicine, healing, knowledge and power do Black women writers critique, embrace, or imagine as crucial to the care of Black girls and women? Our readings of primary works will be supplemented by secondary scholarship grounded in a Black feminist tradition.
 

ENG 5710 - Phonology (LIN 5290)
Peter Staroverov

This course provides an introduction to phonological theory and phonological analysis. We will study linguistic sound patterns paying particular attention to two aspects: (i) the nature and structure of sound representations, and (ii) the nature of the mapping between the abstract representation of sounds in the mind and actual human speech. The course will also cover the relationship between phonology and the neighboring disciplines such as morphology and phonetics. Prerequisites: ENG/LIN 5700 (MA students and UG students), or 2720 (UG students only), or consent of the instructor.
 

ENG 5790 -Writing Theory
Clay Walker

In August of 2017, attorneys for the State of Michigan, which has had control over Detroit Public Schools since 1999, urged the Federal Court in Detroit to dismiss a lawsuit filed by seven DPS students that claims that the State has failed to provide these students with an adequate opportunity to read and write. In their motion to dismiss the case, the State’s attorneys argued that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of literacy and the State of Michigan is under no obligation to insure that these students are literate. The State of Michigan made a similar argument in 2014 in the Michigan Court of Appeals and won with a ruling that stated the State of Michigan’s constitution does not guarantee literacy for its citizens.

In this course, we will take up the issue of literacy and education in Detroit’s schools by asking questions about what literacy is, how do individuals become literate, and what does it mean to be literate in the 21st century. Course readings will include foundational texts in literacy studies as well as recent theoretical work that ties literacy studies to concerns related to transnationalism, materiality, and our digital world. Course projects will include shorter explications of literacy theories, student-led discussions of assigned readings, and a longer student-centered project that focuses on addressing theoretical issues related to reading and writing.
 

ENG 5830 - Introduction to Technical and Professional Writing Practices
Jared Grogan

English 5830, Introduction to Technical and Professional Writing Practices, is a Hybrid course meeting bi-weekly and working through projects and online modules. The course is designed to introduce you to the rhetorical principles and common professional practices you will need as a professional or technical writer. Although we concentrate primarily on the written word in this course, all of our projects will also model the work patterns of technical communicators who extend their expertise to forms of communication such as task analysis, document design, multimedia design, visualizations, and other more interactive forms of communication (e.g., usability testing, video production, rudimentary HTML and web design). To gain familiarity with the genres, design principles, digital technologies, and research methodologies of professional and technical writers, we will work individually and collaboratively in a problem-based method. Specifically, our course projects are designed as solving problems activities, where we design technical-communication processes that aim to respond effectively to professional and workplace writing challenges or scenarios. Our problem solving activities include: analyzing the rhetorical situation, writing genre analysis, applying heuristic strategies, contributing to open-author and open-access knowledge bases, social media analysis and
reporting, ethical visualization design, revising company webpages, writing memos and collaborating on researched technical reports.
 

ENG 5860 - Topics in Creative Writing
The Art of Autofiction: The "I" Who Writes and the "I" on the page
Natalie Bakopoulos

In a recent interview in The Paris Review, French writer Emanuelle Carrère, when asked if his own autobiographical novels were autofiction, noted: “I am always a little surprised to see presented as a recent fashion something that strikes me as one of the oldest urges that can push a person to write.”

The genre of “autofiction” is nothing new to international writers and readers but it has recently become increasingly popular among North American writers and critics. The French writer Serge Doubrovsky, in 1977, defined autofiction as “the fiction of facts and events strictly real,” and asserted its style was defined by “adventure of language.” The writer Lily Tuck similarly defines autofiction simply as “autobiography that is imagined. ” Further, the writer Jonathon Sturgeon says autofiction points to a new future “wherein the self is considered a living thing composed of fictions.” And finally, Karl Ove Knausgaard, the author of the massive multivolume tome My Struggle, a book which seemed to reignite the cultural conversation about autofiction, says: ““For me, there has been no difference in remembering something and creating something” (Karl Ove Knausgaard, Guardian interview).

This course, then, will explore the genre of autofiction, first-person writing that blurs the boundaries between autobiography and fiction and also subverts or redefines traditional narrative and story structure. We will examine the particularities of these texts—a genre that tends to merge the author, narrator, and central character; relies heavily on memory as an act of creation; focuses on day-to-day life; and becomes a search for the self—and the way the genre influences the way we approach issues of narration, story, plot, causality, character, and so forth. This course will aim to pose questions such as the following: Are there particular markers of autofiction that make it distinctly different from the memoir, or from novels that closely mirror the author’s autobiography? How does autofiction influence the concept of fiction? How does it expand and/or limit the possibilities of the novel?

In terms of approach, the class will focus on autofiction by both North American and international authors, as well as both critical essays around the form and fiction at large. Students will be required to both compose critical essays on the assigned texts as well as try their hand at imitations of the style of those texts, using their own lives as grist for the fictional mill.
 

ENG 5870 - Poetry Writing Workshop
Verse and Voice
Jamaal May

In this poetry workshop we will use some non-traditional approaches to the workshop format. This means not all sessions will center on critique. My aim is to offer writers challenges that interrogate their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses. For this it is important that writers become excellent readers of their own work, as they will be the final arbiter when there is no workshop looking over the should of the poem. The course will include discussion on where the modern field is and a look at three collections of poetry. I will also include a section on readings, publication and other ways to get work into the world

ENG 5885 - Topics in Creative Non-Fiction Writing
Donovan Hohn

Although this course will provide a broad survey of the different forms creative nonfiction can take, we will pay special attention to narrative essays, both personal and documentary, that make use of the investigative methods of scholars and journalists. Even some of the memoirists in this course do research.

Every week you will be expected to read, write about, imitate, quarrel with, and otherwise learn from several essays that illustrate some technique (conducting interviews, finding sources) or some particular form (the essay-as-quest, the profile, the immersion essay, the essay-as-experiment, the collage, the reconstructed narrative, to name a few). The subjects of readings will be, I hope, as various as the interests of the members of the class, ranging from the subculture of African truck drivers to the death of Tolstoy, from the psychology of football hooligans to the history of oranges. The reading list will include work by venerable essayists (the likes of Joan Didion, James Baldwin, John McPhee, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Mitchell, James Agee, Janet Malcolm) as well as by comparative newcomers (such writers as Elif Batuman, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Rebecca Skloot, David Foster Wallace, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Paterniti, Tom Bissell, Vanessa Veselka, Jeff Sharlet, Sharifa Rhodes Pitts, Leslie Jamison, Jeff Sharlet, Kiese Laymon, Roxane Gay).

Most weeks you will complete a writing exercise designed to give you practice in a different skill. Twice, you will be asked to turn one of these exercises into a proper essay. In the last weeks of the semester, we will undertake final projects that may well grow out of or otherwise make use of the writing you’ve already done in exercises, notebooks, and essays. We’ll then take these completed drafts through the stages of the editorial process as it's practiced at such publications as The New Yorker and Harper’s, acting as one another’s line editors, copy editors, fact-checkers, and proofreaders.
 

ENG 5992 - Senior Seminar
Adaptation and Transmedia Storytelling
Chera Kee

Have you ever told someone “The book was so much better than the movie!” Or have you ever followed a story across media: reading the tie-in novel based on a film based on a comic book?

These sorts of questions are at the basis of this class: what happens when we adapt stories or stretch them out across media? What happens when we refashion them for new cultures or contexts? And what happens to authorship when fans fill in the gaps of a narrative?

Using original source material such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as well as some of their adaptations as films, television shows, video games, and comic books, we will explore the complex exchanges that happen when a story is translated across media to study the various ways a narrative can be repackaged, recycled, and re-told. Along the way, we’ll tackle questions of authorship, authenticity, and faithfulness to find out what impact adaptation and medium have on the stories we tell.
 

ENG 5992 - Senior Seminar
Literature and the City
Michael Scrivener

The city and the country are imaginative, interdependent constructions as well as actual historical things, according to Raymond Williams and many other critics. Our readings and discussion will explore some of the dimensions of this cultural dynamic. We will be reading one early modern play—Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice—but most of our attention will be on the 19th to 21st century period: Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (London), Edward P. Jones’s Lost in the City (Washington, D. C.), James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain (Harlem), Dickens’s Oliver
Twist (London), Abraham Cahan’s Yekl (Lower East Side), Elmore Leonard’s City Primeval (Detroit), as well as poetry about the city by various poets. You are expected to attend the weekly classes, read the assignments, hand in on time the assigned papers, and be prepared to discuss the readings in class. Students will lead the class discussion for about fifteen minutes, compose an annotated bibliographical report, create short response papers, and complete a research paper of 10-12 pages.

 ↑ back to top