English at UGA
The English Department at the University of Georgia is a diverse scholarly community of more than 40 faculty, 100 graduate students, and more than 600 undergraduate majors and minors held together by a common commitment to preserving, transmitting, and extending the rich cultural legacy of the English language. At the core of our discipline lie the complex skills of reading and writing, and though these can be productively applied to a wide range of professional goals our own work as scholars and teachers strives to deepen our understanding of the critical and creative imagination. A sympathetic participation in the verbal worlds of other times and places, drawing on the full range of linguistic tools, historical knowledge, and interpretive experience at our disposal, allows our students to enhance their appreciation for expressive possibility. The diversity of the faculty's interests and research methods helps ensure that an English major at the University of Georgia develops a sophisticated, practical grasp of the central role that language plays in the preservation of human institutions.
ENGL 4642, Films about the South
Fall Semester 2015, Barbara McCaskill
Meets Wednesdays 2:30-5:30 p.m., with weekly screenings Mondays 3:30-6:30 p.m.
This class examines both classic and contemporary films or film adaptations about this region, along with related books. During the first half of the semester, we will view and discuss classic films such as Gone with the Wind, Jezebel, and A Face in the Crowd. During the second half of the semester, we will focus on films with civil rights themes. These will include, to coincide with the author Alice Walker's visit to UGA this fall (Oct. 14-15), the fascinating documentary Beauty in Truth that situates her art within her civil rights, feminist, and environmental activism. I have included a stimulating segment on civil-rights themed documentaries set in Georgia, such as Old South, Southern Rites, and Gideon's War. Finally, I have scheduled the preview of a documentary-in-progress about a civil rights activist from Georgia by the group Cinethink, and we will discuss our responses with the producer and director. That's all I'm going to say about this new film, other than it examines themes very, very close to us in Athens. Don't miss a very relevant course that speaks to timely issues.
English/AFAM 4880: Autobiographical Cycle of Meaning
R. Baxter Miller, Fall 2015
How does studying African American autobiography –imaginative synthesis of literature and intellectual history—reveal linear story itself as flawed? The seeds of the once New Negro Renaissance of the 1920s existed within even the death cycle of the slave narratives of the late1900s just as the rebirth of Civil Rights already subsisted within the celebratory lyricism of the Renaissance only to blossom during the last forty years of the twentieth century. Indeed, the current cycle of a de-historicized, delightfully subjective narrative may have climaxed again for a while with the death of Maya Angelou on May 28, 2014. Literature and history become therefore at once cyclic forms of beauty yet of public transformation. Texts are by some of the most accomplished African American writers of the last 169 years: Frederick Douglass, Harriett Jacobs, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, Anne Moody, and, of course, Angelou.
English 3050, Introduction to Poetry: Ink, Paper, Thread
Fall 2015, Dr. Miriam Jacobson
What constitutes a poem? How is a poem like a machine? What is the relationship between a poem and the various material forms it takes? How is poetry a vehicle for critiquing, analyzing, and changing culture?
This course examines poetry written in English in all its forms, through a variety of historical periods, paying particular attention to the relationship poetry has to its tangible, material shape (faded brown pen ink on rag paper; gold and lapis on vellum; cut strips of paper; embroidery on a sampler; scribblings on a hatbox). Although the syllabus is organized chronologically, you will soon discover that many historical periods challenge traditional forms and invent new ones. Over the semester, we will read our way through the Norton Anthology of Poetry while making every attempt to hold, touch, and taste poetry, learning not only about specific poetic styles, forms, elements and diction, but how to interpret a poem, to imagine the impetus behind it, to connect it to its cultural milieu, and to think of it three dimensionally, as an object. Our assignments emphasize the inter-connectedness of reading, writing, and thinking.
ENGL4790, Richard Wright and Eudora Welty
Fall 2015, Professor John Lowe, TuTh 3:30-4:45
Mississippi, despite its poverty, has produced one of the richest literary traditions of any state. Two of their greatest writers are Natchez Native Son Richard Wright, and Jackson’s celebrated Eudora Welty. Wright wrote of the torments suffered by his fellow African Americans during the days of segregation, but he also included enduring portraits of white Southerners. Welty was especially attentive to the domestic lives of white women, but also attended to the struggles of the rural poor (white and black); she wrote historical fiction but had keen insights into the South’s entry into modernist society. Often she composed in a comic key; Wright, however favored tragedy. This course will compare and contrast their work, linking their autobiographies, their folk narratives, their tales of racial conflict, and their complex considerations of masculinity and femininity, respectively. We will attend to their differing approaches to the short story and novel, and also consider their forays into non-fiction.
Requirements: frequent reading quizzes, two papers (one involving research), midterm and final examinations.
ENGL 4331, Shakespeare on Screen around the World
Explore the Globe and the globe with "Shakespeare on Screen around the World" this Fall semester. Students will read six plays by Shakespeare and watch and study several versions of those plays adapted for the screen. "Screen Shakespeare" comprises TV series, web-series, mobile phone live tweets, and other multimedia venues as well as feature films. Plays to be studied will include Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, and Macbeth. Screen Shakespeares will come from a variety of settings and countries, ranging from Akira Kurosawa's classic samurai movie Throne of Blood (Macbeth; Japan) to Tom Gustafson's fluffy gay-themed high-school musical Were the World Mine (A Midsummer Night's Dream; USA) to Vishal Bhardwaj's Bollywood gangster flick Omkara (Othello; India).
Interested students will also have the opportunity to meet scholars and directors of theatre and film at November's international Shakespeare conference right here at UGA, and to plan next year's 400th anniversary Shakespeare film series.
ENGL4340: RENAISSANCE DRAMA
Fall 2015, Prof. Miriam Jacobson
Poisoned skulls, Incestuous marriages, wax corpses, cross-dressed lesbian lovers, Turkish pirates, topsy-turvy universes: the world of Renaissance Drama does not belong to Shakespeare alone. In many cases, plays by his contemporaries and successors Ben Jonson, John Lyly, Thomas Middleton, John Webster and John Ford had crazier plots, more biting satire, and certainly reached more heights of dramatic violence, humor, ridiculousness and all-out chaos on stage. In this course we will read eight plays from a collection of playwrights, supplementing our reading with some history of Renaissance stagecraft and materials of performance, filmed performances of plays, and our own interpretations. We’ll spend the most time on Revenge Tragedy, but also explore the genres of City Comedy, Court Comedy, Masque, and Pirate or Adventure Plays. Throughout, we’ll examine the big questions these plays raise about the social order, gender, religion, race, and the power of performance.
ENGL 4685: Postcolonial Satire
Humor, Laughter, and its Consequences in Postcolonial Literature
Esra Mirze Santesso, Fall 2015, T/R at 11:00-12:15
This course will study postcolonial satire as a genre that complicates politics of representation by using humor to comment on the plight of previously-colonized nations. Looking at literature written in India, Pakistan, the Caribbean, and Africa, we will trace the way postcolonial writing employs satiric devices such as ironic attack and parody (mimicking familiar forms only to undermine them). Our reading list will tentatively include Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger, Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, V.S Naipaul’s The Suffrage of Elvira, Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah, and Christopher Hope’s A Separate Development.
English in Cortona, Italy
Offered Spring Semester
These active, writing-intensive courses are designed to complement the arts elements of the Cortona Program. The program invites applications from juniors and seniors, as well as from sophomores with solid credentials.
Taught by Dr. Tricia Lootens
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at UGA
Borrowers and Lenders
Borrowers and Lenders, winner of the CELJ Best New Journal Award in 2007, is a peer-reviewed, online, multimedia Shakespeare journal (http://www.borrowers.uga.edu). The journal is indexed in the MLA Bibliography, World Shakespeare Bibliography, and other databases.
General Editors: Christy Desmet and Sujata Iyengar, University of Georgia
Associate Editor: Robert Sawyer, East Tennessee State University
Creative Writing Program: graduate student welcome session
New graduate students to the Creative Writing Program are invited to meet with CWP faculty and current students, who will welcome them, make brief presentations about campus and community life, and answer questions. Please feel free to bring a lunch. The session will last 45 minutes. Venue to be announced.
Creative Writing Program new student reading
New graduate students in the Creative Writing Program will read from their work. To be held 7-9 p.m. in the Lab Room at Ciné, 234 West Hancock, Athens. Free and open to the public.
Greetings, Park Hall alumni and friends!
Campus has a different look in early May, the presence of more parents than students (and the students conspicuous for their black gowns and mortarboard caps) announcing the end of another school year. On May 7th, we celebrated our undergraduate and graduate Class of 2015 in a ceremony that also highlighted annual awards for students and faculty.
The awards, both internal and external, are numerous, covering everything from research accomplishments to excellence in teaching. The Department of English has much to be proud of, but success in the classroom is surely at some kind of peak. At least that’s the impression I got earlier this year when I compiled the faculty reports of accomplishments for 2014. Reading the teaching evaluations of the faculty, I was reminded of the line in Garrison Keillor’s long-running radio broadcast, A Prairie Home Companion, about the fictional town of Lake Woebegone, “where all the children are above average.” But there’s nothing fictional about teaching in Park Hall, a place where it can truthfully be said that most of the professors are not just “above average,” but wayabove. Over the moon, out of the ballpark, however you want to put it.
Student comments are far more revealing than the numerical indicators (but the numbers are astounding in themselves: with 5 being a perfect score, I estimate that the department average is about 4.7). Comments say a lot about the different ways successful teaching makes an impact. Many students are impressed by the preparation their professors bring to the classroom, especially when it means the teacher is prepared to make discussion thrive. It’s easy, of course, for professors to come across as knowledgeable, but students value a certain generosity when it comes to dispensing it, making it accessible to them. Students also appreciate the personal touch, the consideration for their own needs and inclinations. Some professors are prized for the way they come across as fully rounded human beings — the way they impart a quality of “keeping it real,” as it’s sometimes put in the evaluations.
A familiar stereotype in the mass media portrays English professors as self-absorbed, bookish types, barely able to get through a day in the “real world,” aided only by their endearing cluelessness. It’s a stereotype that has distant roots in fact. Until the big boom in postwar education after the Second World War, being an English professor was generally a prerogative of the leisure class, a sinecure for unworldly souls disinclined (or unfit) to run the family business. Those days are long gone, and the typical professor today would be up to the task of selling cars, trading stocks, or strategizing troop movements. Student evaluations are vivid reminders that successful teachers don’t teach a subject; they begin with a subject and spiral out from there. Evaluations consistently acknowledge that impassioned professors inspire intellectual curiosity: they convey the sense that one thing leads to another and another and another, until you find you started with a sonnet and ended up, not on that “silent peak in Darien” imagined by a dreamy English youth, but somewhere else altogether — crossing a bridge into Birmingham from a contested start in Selma, coming to terms with the slaughter of French cartoonists, or discovering how mercantile trade routes established centuries ago set in motion the frantic world of globalized interconnectivity we now straddle.
What makes a great teacher? Dedication and practice help, along with commitment to the students. But I think the secret is that all good teachers are themselves students: lifelong learning is a deep instinct. That’s the gravitational force you feel in the classroom — when it becomes apparent that everyone’s in it together, learning and teaching and learning until, to paraphrase an Irish poet, there’s no distinguishing the dancer from the dance.
For more, please read the latest version of the Park Hall Monitor, the department's newsletter.
This June, Dr. Rasula is publishing a book on the history of the Dada movement with Basic Books. Titled Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century, it explores the little understood, yet enormously influential, Dada movement and its relationship to art, writing, and culture. Marjorie Perloff, former president of the Modern Language Association and author of The Futurist Moment, calls Destruction Was My Beatrice “a genuinely delightful book!” Dr. Perloff writes, “The great feat of Jed Rasula’s extraordinarily lively and compelling narrative is to defamiliarize Dada, from its origins in the Cabaret Voltaire to its afterlife in contemporary photomontage or Punk Rock, so that we ‘see’ Dada as if for the first time.” Take a look at Destruction Was My Beatrice to see how Dr. Rasula “brings the Dadaists to life,” in the words of Timothy O. Benson, curator of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Dr. Cynthia Turner Camp’s new monograph, Anglo-Saxon Saints’ Lives as History Writing in Late Medieval England, considers the way late medieval individuals thought about their shared pasts. Specifically, she examines how Middle English poets wrote history through the lives of early English (Anglo-Saxon) saints, especially those deemed “incorrupt.” Because saints were thought to exist differently in time than other humans – belonging both to their time-bound earthly lives and an eternal heavenly stasis – they had special history-writing potential, an ability to link past with present despite massive fissures like the Norman Conquest. This perceived power was particularly strong when a saint was incorrupt – that is, when his or her body remained miraculously undecayed after death. The body of an incorrupt saint was treasured by its monastic community as both a sign of the saint’s now-heavenly authority and a direct figurative link to the community’s ancient past. Capitalizing on their communities’ incorrupt saints, fifteenth-century monk-poets like John Lydgate and Henry Bradshaw wrote long saints’ lives as a form of monastic history, striving to demonstrate their institutions’ continuous spiritual legitimacy and perpetual political authority in an age when monasteries were increasingly criticized.Tweets by @UGAEnglish