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What–– You mean you don't have your courses all lined up for the fall?
Guess you must have missed the advising pizza parties right before break. These guys were there. And don't they look like they've got it all figured out?
Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Fact is, there is plenty of time to register for great English major classes that are being offered next fall. There will also be a mix of electives and required courses offered this summer, too. Decisions, decisions, decisions...
That's why we're dedicating this issue of English Matters to getting you geared up for next semester. This month we're giving you the rundown on all the courses you'll be able to choose from--and trust us, there are plenty. What's more, since there's so much to consider when putting together a program of study that works for you--and that gets you to graduation on time--Major Advisor Caroline Reitz has the scoop on a new advising pilot that's designed to plug you into the department and keep you on track in the major.
So read on, and enjoy!
Fall Course Preview
Registration for next semester is already open, so we here at English Matters thought we'd give you the inside story on the courses we're offering in the Major next fall.
The Idea of Justice
The John Jay English Department hosted its third biennial Literature and Law Conference last month–– and it was some serious business. We bring you an album of snapshots.
English Major Advisor Caroline Reitz reminds us that advising, like free pizza, is elementary, my dear Watson.
- DEPARTMENT ACCOLADES No less than four of your English professors won college-wide awards for their research and teaching this year. Richard Perez was named one of two Outstanding Scholarly Mentors at John Jay, while Valerie Allen won a Collaborative Award for reearch she is conducting into classroom outcomes with Shonna Trinch of the Anthropology Department. But that's not all! Alexander Long was selected for one of the college's Scholarly Excellence Awards, while Nivedita Majumdar received a coveted Midcareer Award for her record of outstanding scholarship. This is unprecedented success: kudos to your mentors.
Registration is now open for the Fall 2012 semester, as well as for the Summer 2012 sessions. We here at English Matters know that picking the right slate of courses is always tricky business. That's why we are again asking the professors who will be teaching in the major next semester to say a few words about what you can expect in their classes.
LIT 260: Introduction to Literary Study
Prof. Devin Harner
Students will develop a working vocabulary for discussing literature, and they will strive to become more active close readers over the course of the semester. Finally, they will learn to think critically and write confidently about literature as it relates to larger issues-- be they global in significance, or acutely personal.
LIT 260 will also be taught next fall by Prof. Alexander Long and Prof. Jonathan Gray.
LIT 300: Text and Context
Prof. Ann Huse
John Milton and Andrew Marvell were two of seventeenth-century Britain's preeminent writers —a status that means you’ll be expected to know their works when you go to graduate school. They were also politicians involved in the English Revolution that deposed and murdered the monarch, Charles I, and instated a representative government. This course, however, will focus on their humbler early days, when their middle-class situations prompted them to seek patronage from aristocratic families: Milton was commissioned to write Comus, a masque for the family of an earl, and Marvell served as a live-in language tutor to several Puritan youth while writing his lyric poems.
LIT 300: Text and Context
Prof. Alexander Schlutz
A Family of Radical Writers: William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice became a radical’s manifesto in the 1790s, one of the most turbulent decades in British history. His first novel, Caleb Williams, published a year later, made him a literary sensation as well. Mary Wollstonecraft, a prolific writer, political thinker and novelist, became one of the originating figures of modern feminism when she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein would become part of the Western cultural imaginary to a degree few other literary texts have. The three were also family – husband and wife, parents and daughter – and their texts are in many ways in dialog with each other. In this course we will read Godwin's, Wollstonecraft's and Shelley's texts as contexts for each other, and as evolving in relation both to each other and to a historical period of enormous political, cultural, and social change.
LIT 305: Foundations of Literature and the Law
Prof. Andrew Majeske
Do you want to discover the secrets of how literature was used & abused to help subjugate women, and learn how studying literature and law can show the way towards full equality of the sexes? Then take Literature 305, and help to secure a more prosperous, peaceful, secure and just world--all without needing to leave the comfort and convenience of your New Building classroom!
LIT 305: Foundations of Literature and the Law
Prof. Dale Barleben
This Writing Intensive Course will ask central questions about literary and legal narratives, as well as the nature of "justice" and “truth” in each discipline by examining testimony and trials, linking reality to the imagined. We will read articles that will introduce the ideas of justice, truth and personhood, consider legal constructs like the rule of law and rights, and read both literary and legal narratives that interpret these constructs. In the midst of these studies, we will watch films, read newspaper clippings, and scrutinize advertisements to better situate our understanding of the ways law inflects not only literary production, but also popular culture and its expression.
LIT 370: Topics in Ancient Literature
Prof. Jay Gates
This is a course in cultural contact and conflict: between Rome and the barbarians, between paganism and Christianity, between Christian Europe and Islam. We will consider how pagan Rome became the vehicle for the migration of the Eastern Christian religion into the West and how that shaped the development of Europe after the fall of Rome to the barbarians. We will examine how the barbarians adopted Christianity as their own and created for themselves a new empire. Then we will consider the cultural conflicts that arose in the territory of the former Roman Empire with the rise of Islam and its spread from East to West. Texts to be covered in this course include Vergil’s Aeneid, Prudentius’s Psychomachia, Augustine’s Confessions, Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, Ibn Ishaq’s Life of Muhammad, and The Song of Roland.
LIT 372: Topics in Early Modern Literature
Prof. Margaret Tabb
Hierarchy -- 400 years ago it pervaded life and literature, ruling the universe, society, the family, gender, even the human psyche. We will use hierarchy as a lens in our study of early modern (aka renaissance) literature, looking at how authors and their characters used, abused, defied, and submitted to it. We will read, talk and write about a selection of plays, poems, stories, and essays by the likes of Surrey, Spenser, and Shakespeare, Marguerite De Navarre and Mary Wroth, John Milton and John Webster, Bacon, Castiglione, Donne, Erasmus.
LIT 374: Topics in Nineteenth-Century Literature
Prof. Helen Kapstein
Victorian Sensations. Screaming, blushing, weeping, fainting, hysterics. This course looks at the Victorian novel and its sensibilities, with questions of psychology, memory, deviancy, and perception arising. We’ll pay special attention to how the novel form lent itself to constructing Victorian self-understanding and to reflecting its nervous conditions.
LIT 400: Senior Seminar in Literature
Prof. Caroline Reitz
WHY DICKENS MATTERS. Everywhere you turn, things are "Dickensian," from T.V. shows ("The Wire") to urban slums to governmental red tape. Come find out why Charles Dickens, at 200, hasn't aged a day. Alongside some of his most famous novels, we will read some of his journalism, letters, short fiction, and travel writing. In them, we will discover why, when talking about poverty, environmental disaster, industrialization, education, juvenile justice, urbanization, solitary confinement, the legal system -- not to mention Christmas -- we can’t stop talking about Dickens. If you are being educated for justice, Dickens matters. Students will collaborate on a class newspaper as well as write, individually, a capstone paper. Writing intensive.
LIT 283: New York City in Film
Prof. Jay Walitalo
How do people who don’t live in New York “know” about New York? They see it in the movies. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan are places New Yorkers call home, but in movies they can look and feel both familiar and faraway, often at the same time. This course will examine the image and idea of New York—both the city itself and the people who live in it—as portrayed in narrative and documentary film.
LIT 290: Latino/a Literature and Film
Prof. Belinda Rincon
“Illegal alien,” Latin lover, Latina sexpot, gardener, maid, drug dealer, gang-banger, convict, etc. You know these Latina/o stereotypes by heart. We will use Latina/o literature and films by/about Latinas/os to define, contemplate, deconstruct, analyze, interpret, critique, and theorize how representations inform our lives in both obvious and unexpected ways.
LIT 314: Shakespeare and Justice
Prof. Peggy Escher
Conspiracy! Murder! Vengeance! Crimes and punishments take center stage in Shakespeare and Justice (Lit 314). Who’s your favorite villain? Iago, the inhuman dog in Othello? Lady Macbeth, hands dripping with blood? Goneril, King Lear’s “unnatural” daughter? Learn how Shakespeare delivers justice, mercy and retribution in his comedies, histories, and tragedies. You be the judge.
LIT 315: American Literature and the Law
Prof. Veronica Hendrick
The shifts that created separate forms of bound labor--apprentices, servants, and slaves--are echoed in modern American legal and social structures. By reading letters, memoirs, novels, and court opinions, this course develops the ever-complicated position of laborers in America.
LIT 316: Gender and Identity in Literary Traditions
Prof. Liza Yukins
Have you ever stopped to wonder why, in this infinitely varied and complex nation, there are only two public restroom categories: “women” and “men”? In this course we will explore the reasons for and results of such a limited binary. By reading a diverse collection of short stories, plays, and novels, we will examine how different social groups imagine gender identity and we will explore relationships between gender, sex, race, and economics. Possible authors may include Achy Obejas, Maxine Hong Kingston, Junot Diaz, David Henry Hwang, Tim O’Brien, Toni Morrison, and Alison Bechdel.
LIT 316: Gender and Identity in Literary Traditions
Prof. Nivedita Majumdar
“One is not born a woman,” asserted Simone de Beauvoir, “but becomes one.” How does literature both reflect and challenge this “becoming” or the construction of gender identities? How do other identities, of class, nationality and race, intersect with that of gender? We will read literary and critical texts that illuminate these issues by authors from around the world. By the end of the course, you should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the texts, the authors and literary and social movements that produced them, and the elements of those texts, such as symbols, themes, and points of view. Texts will include those by Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sinclair Ross, Katherine Mansfield, Ahdaf Soueif, Ashapurna Devi, Friedrich Engels, Simone de Beauvoir, Elaine Showalter and Toril Moi.
LIT 327: Crime and Punishment in Literature
Prof. Toy-Fung Tung
Starting with Dostoevsky's classic cat-and mouse thriller, Crime and Punishment, we will branch out and look at many kinds of crimes and criminals, from the first FBI profiler of serial killers to a contemporary detective novel about a serial killer posing his victims in vintage red mandarin dresses. We will examine how criminals are caught and how they escape. We will look at guilt and psychology as factors in crime detection and evasion. We read about a crime committed by an entire town and about Tituba, the black witch of Salem, with a small dose of criminal law thrown in (for justice's sake).
LIT 342: Perspectives on Literature and Human Rights
Prof. Bettina Carbonell
This course focuses on literary texts that seek to represent and interrogate human rights issues. We'll examine how, at particular historical moments, American writers from a range of cultures and ethnic groups have alerted readers to the violation or the total absence of human rights. These abuses involve matters of: “due process”; natural rights; the right to habeas corpus; the right to self-determination and self-expression (including the right to write); the right to preserve and practice one’s cultural heritage; and the right to depart from socially constructed norms of behavior.
LIT 398: Geographies of Sensation in U.S. Latino/a Literature
Prof. Richard Perez
In U.S. Latino/a Literature sensations bring characters closer to themselves by creating intense forms of self-awareness. How do perceptions illuminate and deceive? What kinds of knowledge - historical, political, cultural - does the body store? Why is ethics located in pain and confusion? We will explore the role sensations play in the development of U.S. Latino/a identity through close readings of, among others, the writings of Junot Diaz and Helena Maria Viramontes, the music of Hector Lavoe and Aventura, and the paintings of Wilfredo Lamb and Yasmin Ramirez.
The course number for Prof. Perez' class is not yet available.
LIT 399: Introduction to Literary Theory
Prof. Paul Narkunas
Why did Plato want to exile all the poets from his perfect Republic? Why do people desire their own enslavement according to Sigmund Freud and Michel Foucault? How can we explore race, gender, and sexuality as contested social identities in literary texts? Introduction to Literary Theory will address these questions and more as we mix philosophical, literary, and social texts to probe the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose now?
On March 29-30, the John Jay English Department hosted its third Literature and Law conference, which drew scholars from across the country and the world to present research and engage in debate about the role that literature can play in the development of a just society.
The conference theme this year, "The Idea of Justice," was taken from the title of a recent book by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, who served as the conference keynote speaker. Here he is on the Lynch Theater's big stage, fielding questions after his keynote address.
Standing by is conference organizer Prof. Andy Majeske, who worked with Prof. Dale Barleben to put on the event.
The following day there were 17 panels and roundtable discussions, with more than 60 speakers, debating Sen's work and other topics, as well as an address by the First Amendment scholar Professor George Anastaplo of Loyola University Law School. Pictured here is Federal District Court Judge Jed Rakoff (SDNY) speaking about the Supreme Court's In Re Anastaplo case (at the panel devoted to Professor Anastaplo). Moderator Simon Fortin, a CUNY graduate student, is at left.
Prof. Anastaplo, at left, conferring with Prof. Sen.
In addition to the panels dedicated to the work of these scholars, Prof. Barleben moderated a panel discussion between Prof. Wai Chee Dimock and the soldier-poet Brian Turner, who wrote of his experience in the Iraq war in the books Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise.
Concluding the conference were a pair of panels on satire entitled, "Justice--the Very Idea!" The first session featured new research on the history and theory of satire as a mode of social critique. It was followed by a roundtable discussion joined by writers from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Portlandia, Pop-up Video and other satiric television and print media.
My dear Majors,
To quote Sherlock Holmes, "the game is afoot!" While Sherlock wasn't exactly talking about academic advising, he could have been as a new advising pilot for English has been in full swing for the past couple weeks.
As those of you who have 45-75 credits know, a stop was placed on your registration for summer and fall courses. You also received an e-mail from Academic Advising with a link in order to make an appointment to speak with an English Department faculty member about your progress in the Major and your courses for next semester. My colleagues and I have very much enjoyed speaking with you and look forward to more such meetings after the break.
For those of you not targeted by this pilot program, we held registration events to inform you about our exciting selection of courses and other things going on in the major. Our first two Registration Pizza Parties were a success and we look forward to having similar events in the week prior to Registration every semester, pizza and literature being two things that never go out of style. (The same could not be said for the music played during said events.)
If you managed to somehow avoid all of these advising efforts, you can check out a full list of our summer and fall course offerings here. Some of them are profiled in this issue of the newsletter. And don't hesitate to come see us if you have questions about your classes. Now that we are in the new building (7th floor), you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to find us!
Prof. Caroline Reitz, English Major Advisor
ENGLISH MATTERS 4.5 is a more-or-less regular publication of the John Jay English Department for the instruction and delight of students in our major and minor programs. Questions? Comments? Complaints? Want to get involved? Contact the editors, Professor Al Coppola and Professor Olivera Jokic
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