2019 Summer Session

Graduate Seminars

We plan to offer these seminars during the 2019 Summer Session.
Please note that we also have our offerings for the 2019 Winter Session posted.


Studies in the Twentieth Century
Term 1
Tuesdays and Fridays - 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

“[Camp] is terribly hard to define but you’ll find yourself wanting to use the word whenever you discuss aesthetics or philosophy or almost anything.” – Christopher Isherwood

This seminar examines the origins (and trajectories) of the much-debated aesthetic sensibility known as camp. Widely understood as a celebration of artifice and stylized exaggeration, camp still struggles to be taken seriously because of its orientation toward humor and the un-serious. Although one of its earliest theorists, Susan Sontag, famously argued that camp was at its core “apolitical,” one of the questions students in this seminar will ponder is the potential political value (to queer and non-queer people alike) of camp style, performance, and gender critique. We will attempt to situate camp historically by locating its origins in the aesthetic strategies of 1890s Decadence before exploring its manifestations, transformations, and characteristic patterns across the twentieth century and beyond. In pursuit of this objective we will read literary and theoretical texts in addition to viewing several films. Our object will not be to construct a camp canon, but instead to observe how camp and Decadence speak to queer experience at distinct historical moments while at the same time retaining recognizably transhistorical characteristics.

Readings will include (theory): Walter Pater, Susan Sontag, Esther Newton, Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Lee Edelman, David Halperin, and others; (literature) Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, Ronald Firbank, Mae West, Noel Coward, Djuna Barnes, Christopher Isherwood, Joe Orton, and others. We will also view films by directors Robert Aldritch, John Waters, and Pedro Almodóvar.

Evaluation will be based on seminar presentations, informed and active participation, an annotated bibliography, and a final research paper.

DISCLAIMER: some students may find material in this course very offensive. If you are easily shocked, this is not the course for you.

Linguistic Studies of Contemporary English
Term 2
Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Conceptual structures participate in meaning construction in a variety of artifacts. Our understanding of language, in everyday communication, cultural artifacts, as well as in literature, is governed by principles rooted in cognition - in the way we conceptualize the world around us. In processing language we are not simply relying on the meanings of words and on the use of grammatical structure. More   accurately, we are using language expressions as prompts for mental construction of meanings.

In the course, we will study theories of communication and cognition (conceptual metaphor, blending, viewpoint theory, multimodal grammar) which offer new ways of analyzing the construction of meaning, in various contexts. We will apply the theories to a range of phenomena, especially those which participate in the expression of viewpoint. We will start with literary narratives and viewpoint forms in grammar, to then move on to the discussion of theatre and film (some scholars are now working on ‘cine-poetics’, a sub-genre of cognitive poetics). We will further consider visual artifacts (street art and advertising) and forms of on-line communication, such as memes. Students will familiarize themselves with the methodologies, to then apply the concepts they are interested in in the area of communication of their choice. Students are encouraged to explore various areas of usage, literary or non-literary, to uncover the interpretive potential of the theories in focus and develop their own research projects.

Readings will include a range of journal articles, videotaped lectures, and chapters from edited volumes, all talking about cognitive approaches to figurative language, narrative, theatre, visual artifacts and multimodal communication. All readings will be available through on-line library resources. There will be no assigned literary texts, though there will be a number of examples to be discussed in class, to model informative analyses.

Course requirements:

  1. Reading response and discussion (20%). We will discuss assigned texts in class, to clarify the deployment of theoretical Each week, students will be expected to give a short response to the article(s) assigned.
  2. Mid-term assignment (15%). A short assignment (about 5 pages) in which students will analyze an example of their choice in terms of the concepts This assignment is meant to let students test their ease in building a full analysis and can be used as an opportunity to prepare for the work on the final project.
  3. In-class presentation of the final project (20%). This is done towards the end of the class, to let classmates see new interesting examples, get feedback and refine one’s thoughts before writing the
  4. Term paper (45%). A research paper on the text(s) or example(s) of the student’s choice.