2018 Summer Session

Graduate Seminars

Listed below are the seminars that we will be offering this 2018 Summer Session. Also see our course offerings for the 2018 Winter Session.

Studies in American Literature Since 1890
Term 1
Tuesdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

The Burns and Novick PBS documentary, The Vietnam War (2017), in ten episodes across eighteen hours of viewing time, is the seminar’s immediate occasion for a critical reassessment of how the Vietnam War--or the American War as the Vietnamese call it--remains a crucial subject of historical research, critical dialogue, popular entertainment, and political contestation in the age of American’s forever wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, and beyond.

Outside of our formal class meetings twice a week for three hours, screenings of the Burns and Novick documentary, and of such renowned films on the war as Hearts and Minds (1974), The Deer Hunter (1978), Apocalypse Now (1979), Platoon (1986), and Full Metal Jacket (1987), will be arranged.  The main work of the seminar, week to week, will be to explore the ways in which close study of some of the essential written representations of the war must complicate, undermine, or deepen the effect of this dominant visual record.

There will be two reading lists. The primary list will be common to all participants in the seminar, the basis of weekly discussions and presentations.  Participants will also help to compile a secondary reading list--a dynamic and open-ended one--in support of a series of independent research projects, both small and large, to be shared with the group.

Final selections for the primary list will be drawn, soon, from the following:

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Main-street” (1852)
  • Sigmund Freud: “Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through” (1914), "Mourning and Melancholia" (1917), Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920)
  • Jacques Lacan: “Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis” (1948)
  • Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1955)
  • William Lederer and Eugene Burdick, The Ugly American (1958)
  • Franz Fanon, “Colonial War and Mental Disorders” [from The Wretched of the Earth] (1961)
  • Joan Didion, “Letter from Paradise, 21° 19' N., 157° 52' W” (1966)
  • Neil Sheehan, ed.  The Pentagon Papers (1971)
  • Ronald Glasser, M.D.  365 Days (1971)
  • Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam         (1972)
  • Don DeLillo, End Zone (1972)
  • John A. Parrish, M.D., 12, 20 &5: A Doctor's Year in Vietnam (1972)
  • Michael Herr, Dispatches (1977)
  • Philip Caputo, A Rumor of War (1977)
  • Mark Baker, Nam:  The Vietnam War in the Words of the Men and Women Who Fought There (1982)
  • Stephen Wright, Meditations in Green (1983)
  • Wallace Terry, ed.  Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War (1985)
  • Keith Walker, ed., A Piece of My Heart: The Stories of Twenty-Six American Women        Who Served in Vietnam (1985)
  • Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (1988)
  • Le Li Hayslip, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (1989)
  • Truong Nhu Tang,  A Vietcong Memoir (1990)
  • Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried (1990)
  • Bâo Ninh, The Sorrow of War (1990)
  • Marilyn Young, The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990 (1991)
  • Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway, We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young:  Ia Drang—The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam (1992)
  • Eric M. Bergerud, Red Thunder, Tropic Lightning:  The World of a Combat Division in Vietnam (1993)
  • Jonathan Shay, M.D., Achilles in Vietnam:  Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character (1994)
  • Tobias Wolff, In Pharaoh’s Army:  Memories of the Lost War (1994)
  • Jerry Lembcke, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam (1998)
  • Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets:  A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (2002)
  • Ronald J. Glasser, M.D., Wounded:  Vietnam to Iraq (2006)
  • Henry Hamilton, M.D., Phan Rang Chronicles:  A British Surgeon in Vietnam,      September, 1966-May, 1968 (2007)
  • Karl Marlantes, Matterhorn (2010)
  • Nick Turse, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (2013)
  • Nick Turse, “The Ken Burns Vietnam War Documentary Glosses Over Devastating Civilian Toll” (2017)
  • Jerry Lembcke, “Burns and Novick, Masters of False Balancing” (2017)

Middle English Studies
Term 2
Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This course has two distinct movements. In the first, we shall examine various texts from medieval England to survey the ways that otherness operates as part of the process of identity group formation in late-medieval culture and literature. We will be reading texts as various as Gerald of Wales (on the Irish), Chaucer (on the Jews), and the anonymous romances (on the Saracens), Mandeville (on all of the above), amongst others. As part of this section we’ll be examining the role that otherness plays on proto-national identity, colonialism, religious identity, and upon medieval ideas of “race” and other categories. In the second movement, we will move on to think about how these ideas have a post-medieval legacy, examining how “the medieval” was used in the 19th century in the British Empire as an ethnographic tool, and then later to consider how medievalism can reveal the dangers of an imagined medieval past in our own moment today. This will bring us into conversation with public debates as various as the co-option of medieval images by the alt-right at Charlottesville, the rise of neo-facist groups who model themselves on an imagined “white middle ages” (Soldiers of Odin (and other Odinist groups), La Meute (in Quebec), and so on), the impact of such ideas within popular medievalism such as Game of Thrones, and the whiteness of medieval studies as a discipline (and the rise of the Medievalists of Color group, etc). We will be reading a combination of medieval texts alongside a wide range of secondary readings.