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Fall 2022 LIT 499 Course Topic Descriptions

LIT 499-01 Seminar in Research and Theory: Greening the Canon
Tuesday/Friday 2:00pm-3:20pm
Professor: Jean Graham

This seminar focuses on ecocriticism and canonical works of literature, especially those frequently taught in high schools, such as Walden, Frankenstein, and The Things They Carried.


LIT 499-02 Seminar in Research and Theory: LGBTQ Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Monday/Thursday 12:30pm-1:50pm
Professor: Emily Meixner

In this seminar, we will examine narratives about as well as representations of LGBTQ youth in contemporary children’s, middle grade, and young adult literature. To do so, we will look historically at the development of this body of literature, drawing upon a variety of theoretical approaches including gender, post-structural, postmodern, and queer theory.


LIT 499-03 Seminar in Research and Theory: Diaspora in Asian American Literature
Monday/Thursday 2:00pm-3:20pm
Professor: Jia-Yan Mi

This course offers a critical study on the social and cultural formation of Asian American ethnic identity in Asian American literature. By selecting texts produced from various Asian ethnic communities (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Indian, and Vietnamese), we will explore a variety of complex issues of racialized identity, gender, sexuality, class, autobiography, history, and ethnic narrative in a volatile context of transnational immigration, multiculturalism, and diasporic citizenship. We will focus on these critical issues: 1. What does it mean to be Asian American and at what point does an immigrant become an American? 2. How do Asian Americans represent themselves in ethnic minority literature and what are the narrative strategies that are deployed to articulate their responses to the cultural and racial debates and contradictions? 3. How is the cultural articulation of their immigrant experiences crucial to the shaping of Asian American ethnic identities? 4. How is the representation of Asian American immigrant experiences linked to the issues of social formation, race, gender, and diasporic identities in a broader context of American history?

It is hoped that the study of Asian American literature and culture will help students gain better and deeper knowledge of the critical issues of race, ethnicity, and gender in minority literature in particular and American literature in general. Through the technique of close reading and engaged discussions, students are expected to acquire a more sophisticated point of view in reading and analyzing literary texts. 


LIT 499-04 Seminar in Research and Theory: Getting a Life: Life Writing
Monday/Thursday 11:00am-12:20pm
Professor: Lisa Ortiz

An intensive study of both traditional life writing practices, such as memoir and autobiography, as well as more contemporary automedial forms of self-representation found in online platforms. Through a sampling of self-reflexive genres and sub-genres by which authors have described their experiences of selfhood, seminar participants will study and apply attendant theory and collectively explore an array of artistic, professional, and cultural innovation of how we represent ourselves across various media. Focus on specific genres and acts of self-representation will allow deeper exploration of the literary tools of self-representation and how they can both obstruct and enable the way we record our lives.


LIT 499-05 Seminar in Research and Theory: Dante
Tuesday 5:30pm-8:20pm
Professor: Glenn Steinberg

In this course, we read the entire Divine Comedy and examine Dante’s poem in the light of current literary theory (including Louis Althusser, Judith Butler, and Jacques Derrida).  Themes explored in the course include Dante’s role in reassuring (or challenging)his readers as subjects within a particular ideology (particularly in terms of gender politics) and the nature and limits of language (particularly in relation to metaphor).