Category Archives: AY 2021-2022

Spring 2022

Creative Writing

B3000 Fiction Workshop

Prof. Dalia Sofer
Mondays 4:45 – 6:35pm
Section 1FG (29274)

In this course we will read and discuss your manuscripts—short stories or excerpts from longer works. Together we’ll explore the elements that form a story, including point of view, character, setting, style, and language. We’ll talk about the possibilities of fiction—how, for example, the writer’s voice and language may differ from those of a character, or how setting can evoke character, or vice versa. We will also consider structure and form, as well as editing and revision. Ideally, you’ll each submit two pieces for discussion throughout the course. In each class, we’ll discuss two students’ works, and fellow students will provide written notes and critiques; I will do the same.My primary goal in this course is to focus on your intention, and on whether your piece successfully delivers that intention. I’m less interested in the “formulas” of storytelling than in a narrative’s ability to convey—through character, form, and most of all, language—what is unique to your vision. We’ll explore ways to sustain narrative tension while allowing a work of fiction the freedom to be what it wants to be, and we’ll talk about roadblocks and successes. Occasionally, time permitting, we may also take detours to read stories or essays (classic or unconventional) that may fuel our conversations.

Dalia Sofer is the author of the novels Man of My Time (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020)—a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Notable Book of 2020, and The Septembers of Shiraz (Ecco Press, 2007)—also selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, winner of the Sami Rohr Choice Award, a finalist for the Jewish Book Award, and longlisted for several prizes.  A recipient of a Whiting Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Sirenland Fellowship, the Santa Maddalena Foundation Fellowship, and multiple residencies at Yaddo, Sofer has contributed essays and reviews to various publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The LA Review of Books, and The Believer.  

B3000 Fiction Workshop

Prof. Salar Abdoh
Tuesdays 6:45 – 8:35pm
Section 2TU (29275)

This course is a standard graduate workshop. Each student is expected to submit (depending on class size) one time or two times during the semester. Submissions can be parts of a novel or short story. I will ask you to submit an additional copy of the critiques that you write for each writer’s work to me as well. My focus in the workshop is entirely on the students’ own pieces. While there is no minimum requirement on the number of pages submitted, there is indeed a maximum. What I pay attention to is the nuts and bolts of the text at hand. My style is not to do paragraph by paragraph edits of a work. Rather, I look at the overall arc of a piece, and address the fundamental elements of fiction within it – pacing, character, voice, dialogue, prose, etc.
Another aspect of my style of workshop is to not be overly intrusive. In other words, I try to work within the context   and formulations that the writer has created; I don’t believe in ‘hard intrusion’ into a writer’s intent, style and execution, unless on very rare occasions it is absolutely called for. Finally, my own focus and area of interest is usually strict realism. In other words, my forte is not experimental fiction, nor have I much read fantasy or children/YA literature.

Salar Abdoh’s latest book (2020) is Out of Mesopotamia.

B3000 Fiction Workshop

Prof. Keith Gandal
Wednesdays 6:45 – 8:35pm
Section 3HJ (29276)

Students in this Graduate Workshop course will develop the art of writing and rewriting stories, novellas, and/or novels.
Student writing is the focus of the course, and students will also read each others’ work every week. Students will submit original works of their own choosing for discussion and sharpen their skills of critique–and the ability to self-edit–as they evaluate and discuss peers’ writing. You will have your work critiqued three times during the semester, and each time will have the option of submitting a story or a portion of a longer story, a portion of a novella, or a portion of a novel.  You can work on and rework a single piece, or work on two or three different projects or parts of projects.
We will also be reading and discussing fictions of each type by published authors I think are, respectively, masters of their chosen format. My other criterion in choosing this select group of authors is their relative unfamiliarity to American readers, as they are well worth encountering.

Tentative Texts:

Stories: Isaac Babel, Red Cavalry and Other Stories
Novellas: Gregor Von Rezzori, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite 
Novel: Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head

Professor Keith Gandal’s publications have had three foci: urban poverty, war and mobilization, and modern medicine and illness. His books include War Isn’t the Only Hell: A New Reading of World War I American Literature (Johns Hopkins, 2018); The Gun and the Pen: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and the Fiction of Mobilization (Oxford, 2008); The Virtues of the Vicious: Jacob Riis, Stephen Crane and the Spectacle of the Slum (Oxford, 1997), as well as the novel Cleveland Anonymous (North Atlantic Books, 2002).

B3200 Poetry Workshop

Prof. Michelle Valladares
Tuesdays 4:45 – 6:35pm
Section 2RS (29269)

Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d. I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
–Walt Whitman

Words had an energy and power and I came to respect that power early. Pronouns, nouns, and verbs were citizens of different countries, who really got together to make a new world. 
Audre Lorde

The power of poetry to reveal the divine, to honor our humanity and to transform the poet and reader will be addressed in this poetry workshop through student engagement with writing poems, reading contemporary poetry and discussing the poem on the page.   We will explore the different ways to travel from a draft of a poem to the final version.  We will investigate revision, write from prompts and explore new ways of becoming a reader of poetry.  Requirements include writing a poem a week and workshopping poems a few times in the semester. Students will memorize several poems and occasionally endure a lecture on craft.  The workshop is open to writers in all genres and will benefit both your writing and experience of the world in these unusual and challenging times.  We will take a deep dive into the power of language to shape our perceptions of the world, as poet and philosopher Thomas Merton writes.  When we experience the world as alive, we share an intimate connection with all that exists. We can see the world as being made of a life-giving language, and our awareness of this language goes deep into our psyches anddeep into the cosmos.

Michelle Yasmine Valladares is the Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and an MFA Lecturer in Poetry.  She is a poet, essayist and an independent film producer.  She is the author of Nortada, the North Wind (Global City Press) and several chapbooks.  She has collaborated on artists books.  Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has been published in literary journals and her work has been anthologized in Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond, (Norton)andother anthologies. She was awarded “The Poet of the Year”by the Americas Poetry Festival of NY.  She is the poetry editor for Global City Press and has co-produced three award winning independent films.  She received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her BA from Bryn Mawr College.  You can check out her work at michelleyasminevalladares.com.  Her graduate courses include Poetry Workshop, Prosody and The Conversation between Poetry and Art.

B3407 Workshop in Playwriting

Prof. Robert Barron
Thursdays 4:45 – 6:35pm
Section 4RS (29287)

This is a creative writing class in the playwriting form, which is open to both playwrights as well as other writers who have yet to experiment with the form. Whether you are a poet, a fiction writer or screenwriter, an experience in writing for the stage can be a huge benefit to your development as a creative writer. We will be writing in every class, as well as reading aloud the dramatic work of the class members. This is not a course in dramatic literature, but rather a practical workshop where we will practice how to effectively create character, dialogue, story and exposition. Students will be given an official playwriting manuscript format example, and will be expected to present work in this format. In addition to writing shorter exercises, everyone will be expected to write an original one-act play by the end of the term. Furthermore, at the end of the semester, students in the class will have the opportunity to see their work presented by Actors from the Theatre Department. The stage is a freeing, flexible and powerful medium, and this class will give students the pleasure and discovery of hearing their work come to life, which may very well affect and deepen their writing beyond any of their expectations. 

Rob Barron is a Playwright, a Director, an Actor and a Professor. As a Playwright, he is the author of twelve produced plays and musicals, including: Excavation (Dayton Playhouse/OH and the Jewelbox Theatre/OK); The Road to Washington5/31/89: The Flood (The Mountain Playhouse / PA); 1919: A Baseball Opera (Ensemble Studio Theatre / NYC); Ferdinand the Bull (Theatreworks USA), which he wrote with Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, the authors of Avenue Q; and a new musical version of The Phantom of the Opera, which enjoyed five national tours. Other shorter works have been presented at The Actors Studio (NY) and the Fisher Theatre (NH). As a Director, Rob has directed in New York, regionally, and in England. He has directed premieres at the Yale Rep, the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, and the Actors Studio in New York City, where he is a member as an Actor and a Director. He directed the premieres of Come Up and See Me Sometime – A Night with MaWest, and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen at the White River Theatre Festival in Vermont, and the premiere of Thomas G. Waites’ Dark Laughter at the Marin Theatre in California. He has also directed several shows at Theatreworks/Colorado and the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., where his productions have been nominated for several Helen Hayes Awards. His short film THE DICKS (with Burt Young) was screened at the Milan International Film Festival and the Lisbon Rendezvous. 

B3600 Non-Fiction Workshop

Prof. Emily Raboteau
Mondays 6:45 – 8:35pm
Section 1HJ (30009)

What defines creative nonfiction? Writers can’t even agree on the name: “Few seem willing to embrace the term,” writes essayist and memoirist Dinty W. Moore, “though by this point, almost everyone uses it.” And yet, the fundamentals of creative nonfiction are as old as Montaigne, and the genre has thrived in recent decades—from the experimental memoirs of Maggie Nelson to the online personal essay boom. More readers are feeling “reality hunger,” it seems, craving stories based in fact.
In this course, we’ll explore what creative nonfiction is, what it isn’t, and what it might be, examining a mix of published nonfiction works—personal essays, memoirs, lyric essays, narrative journalism—to better understand the array of styles and approaches writers bring to true stories they tell. Focusing on voice, details, perspective and language, we’ll analyze work that fits neatly within nonfiction norms as well as boundary-pushing work that lives on the fringe, and apply this craft awareness to our own writing.
During the spring semester, students will submit two manuscripts up to twenty-five pages each, and learn to critique the work of their peers. You’ll gain a strong foundational knowledge of creative nonfiction, along with a sense of its possibilities and where such work is being published. This class is ideal for writers looking to delve into this ever-evolving and flourishing genre, particularly those interested in expanding beyond the self in personal essay and memoir.  

Emily Raboteau is a novelist, essayist, and cultural critic.  She is a contributing editor at Orion Magazine, and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.  Her last book, Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora, won a 2014 American Book Award. She is also the recipient of a 2020 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Nonfiction Literature Fellowship.  Her next book, Caution: Lessons in Survival, focusing on the intersection of climate.

Critical Practice

B1616 Bible, Myth, and Contemporary Literature

Prof. Mark J. Mirsky
Thursdays 6:45-8:35pm
Section 4TU (29279)

The Bible, Myth and Modern Literature is designed to introduce Creative Writing student who write fiction, or graduate students in Literature to how questions of good and evil, belief in an afterlife, the idea of the hero or heroine, human integrity, raised in texts from the world of Antiquity continue to concern writers in the Twentieth Century. Books like The Sumerian/ Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, and chapters of Homer’s Odyssey, will alternate with stories of the Polish writer, Bruno Schulz, readings from The Book of Genesis, The Book of Job. with Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and Max Frisch’s Homo Faber. Among the contemporary writers whose books are included is William Faulkner, Milan Kundera, Cynthia Ozick, Charles Baldwin, Bruno Schulz, Isak Dinesen, Jorge Luis Borges, and Donald Barthelme. The instructor requires the submission of two questions before each week’s class, about the reading assigned for that week. At the end of the course students must submit a critical paper on one or two of the books, or a creative response based on one of the books from the syllabus. This final paper should number between nine and ten pages or 2,500 words.
In addition to the books and stories that students are required to read, and ask questions about, the instructor will provide further reading as background to the class discussion. These will include pages from Hesiod’s Theogony, Chapters from The Book of Samuel 2, (the story of King David and Absalom), The Gospel of Matthew, work by Flannery O’Connor, Marcel Proust, Miguel de Unamuno and Robert Musil.

Tentative Reading List:

The Epic of Gilgamesh, 2nd Norton Crit. Ed.
The Odyssey, Richard Lattimore translation
Genesis: King James Bible
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (PDF)
The Book of Job, Edward Greenstein trans.
The Trial, Franz Kafka, Breon Mitchell trans.
“Sorrow Acre” Isak Dinesen (PDF)
Homo Faber, Max Frisch
Absalom, Absalom, William Faulkner
Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
Collected Fictions, Jorge Luis Borges trans. by Andrew Hurley
Sixty Stories of Donald Barthelme.  

The founding editor of Fiction in 1972, with Donald Barthelme, Max and Marianne Frisch, which  publishes from offices at The City College, Professor Mark Jay Mirsky is the author of five novels, Thou Worm Jacob, Proceedings of the Rabble, The Red Adam, Puddingstone, and Blue Hill Avenue (the last, listed among the 100 Essential Books of New England—by The Boston Globe.) He has published a collection of novellas, The Secret Table, as well as five books of criticism and journalism, My Search for the Messiah, The Absent Shakespeare, The Drama in Shakespeare’s Sonnets—”A Satire to Decay,” Dante, Eros and Kabbalah, and A Mother’s Steps in addition to numerous stories and articles.  He is the editor of the Diaries of Robert Musil, co-editor of the two volume History of Pinsk (Stanford University Press), and Rabbinic Fantasies (Yale University Press). His essays and reviews have appeared in Partisan Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Washington Post ‘s Book World, The Boston Globe, and other places.

This course is also available under Literature.


B1955 Writing for the Culture:
Finding Your Place as Writer, Author, and Literary Citizen

Prof. David Groff
Thursdays 4:45-6:35pm
Section 4RS (23379)

As an MFA fiction or nonfiction writer, poet, or dramatist, you can cultivate your vocation and establish yourself in the literary culture as an author with a vital voice. This course introduces you to the practices and strategies of publishing your work, as you write short literary nonfiction that prepares the way for your first book of fiction or nonfiction, your collection of poetry, or your play or script, as you define and advance your singular identity as a writer.

The course features two strands that will alternate and interact over the semester:

Becoming a published writer and author. As you learn about the “MFA vs. NYC” book publishing realms, literary journals, general interest magazines, online sites, reading series, and postgraduate options, you’ll explore various venues for your writing—ones that square with your ambitions and aesthetic—and submit your writing to them, composing and honing query and pitch letters. You’ll master the dreaded Artist’s Statement required for grant proposals and residency applications. You’ll deconstruct the dynamics of the annual AWP writers conference, to be held in Philadelphia this March. You’ll discover how to create new opportunities, build community, find readerships, and foster creative possibilities.

Becoming a literary citizen and culture worker. As you define your career path and develop and your writerly identity, you’ll become a contributor to your culture by writing and submitting for publication 3000 words of nonfiction—personal essays, reviews, interviews, literary criticism, and op eds—that complement the concerns of your other creative writing. You’ll read many examples of literary nonfiction and use them as models. You’ll workshop the nonfiction you write for the course and read and respond in writing to the work of your fellow MFA students. And you’ll interact with visiting writers/culture workers and publishing professionals who will give practical advice  about how to make yourself heard as a writer.

By the end of this course, you’ll have begun the challenging work of moving from MFA writer to professional author, with a distinctive voice that resounds for your readers and helps cultivate your culture.  

David Groff received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop and a master’s in nonfiction from the the University of Iowa. His first book, Theory of Devolution, was selected for the National Poetry Series; his second poetry collection, Clay, won the Louise Bogan Award. He has co-edited two anthologies, Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners, which won a Lambda Literary Award, and  and Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS. An independent book editor, he has taught poetry, nonfiction, and publishing in the City College MFA program since 2007.    

B1980 Hybrid Forms: Poetry and Nonfiction (ONLINE)

Prof. Nathalie Handal
Mondays 6:45-8:35pm
Section 1HJ (60766)

Maybe you have pieces that you want to fuse, or you write in a variety of genres and styles and can’t settle on one. This generative workshop/craft class explores hybrid poetics and nonfiction. We will discuss how writers use poetry and nonfiction (memoir, lyric essay, creative nonfiction) in innovative ways—blending them with interviews, conversations, translations, philosophy, history, other forms of literary art. Students will create new work in a variety of hybrid forms. Border works cross divides by crossing genres, forming a genre of their own. Students diversify their creative practices, and leave the course with hybrid works and a deeper understanding of the ways in which hybridity broadens their voice. 

NATHALIE HANDAL ‘s recent poetry books include Life in A Country Album, winner of the Palestine Book Award and finalist for the Foreword Book Award; the flash collection The Republics, lauded as “one of the most inventive books by one of today’s most diverse writers,” and winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing, and the Arab American Book Award; the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award. Her work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Nation, The Irish Times, among others. Handal is the recipient of awards from the PEN Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, Centro Andaluz de las Letras, Fondazione di Venezia, among others. She writes the column ‘The City and the Writer’ for Words without Borders magazine.

B3002 Craft of the Novel

Prof. Amir Ahmadi
Mondays 4:45-6:35pm
Section 1FG (29280)

Teaching the craft of the novel is a tricky business. Dissecting novels and looking at their constructing elements runs afoul of our reading habits. As readers, we receive stories as one whole: characters are indiscernible from plots, plots are entangled with settings, etc.
In this class, however, we are not just readers. We are writers too, and we read as writers. The writer’s eye is as different from the reader’s eye as the human eye is different from that of a fly. Writers need to have compound eyes for reading. It enables them to disentangle the seemingly inextricable elements of narrative, to explain how various layers of a story are created and merged.
In this course, we will read several works of fiction and develop the skills required to disentangle their constituting elements. In doing so, we develop tools and skills that help us apply what we learn to our own writing. In every class, I begin with a lesson about a craft element. Then we discuss the assigned piece for the week, selected in accordance with the craft topic.

Amir Arian Ahmadi  has published short stories and essays in The New York Times, New York Review of Books, The Guardian, London Review of Books, Massachusetts Review, Lithub, etc. His first novel is English, Then The Fish Swallowed Him, was published by HarperCollins in 2020. He earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the The University of Queensland in Australia, and an MFA in creative writing from NYU.​

C0910 Short Stories of the Americas

Prof. Lyn Di Iorio
Tuesdays 4:45-6:35pm
Section 2RS (29282)

In this class, we will read resonant short stories by writers from the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Building on Frank O’Connor’s notion of “the lonely voice” and Alejo Carpentier’s concept of “the marvelous real,” among other ideas, we will come up with further insights towards a sketch of a short story aesthetic encompassing the Americas (North, South, and in-between). As part of our critical practice, I will assign short “riffs” on the day’s reading for discussion in class (for example, if we are discussing stories about animals, assigned students can write a very short story featuring an animal). However, I also welcome more traditional literary analyses in lieu of the riffs. By semester’s end, each participant will complete an additional final well-developed short story with a self-critique or, alternatively, a work of literary research or analysis that builds on course reading.

Some of the authors we may read include:

Dorothy Allison, Charles Baxter, Gina Berriault, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Sandra Cisneros, Julio Cortázar, Ralph Ellison, Mariana Enríquez, Louise Erdrich, Rosario Ferré, Gabriel García Márquez, Lauren Groff, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Felisberto Hernández, Clarice Lispector, Carmen Maria Machado, R.L. Maizes, Rebecca Makkai, David Means, Frank O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Horacio Quiroga, George Saunders, Seamus Scanlon, Vladimir Sorokin, Alice Walker, Bryan Washington, Edith Wharton, and others.

Lyn Sandín Di Iorio is A 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a 2021-22 Rifkind Center Faculty Fellow currently working on Hurricanes and Other Stories, a short story collection. Her novel Outside the Bones was a top-five finalist for the 2012 John Gardner Fiction Prize and her book of literary criticism Killing Spanish focused on Latinx literature. Her story “By the River Cibuco” (Kenyon Review Online July/August 2020) was named a “Distinguished Story of 2020” in Best American Short Stories 2021. She also teaches at CUNY Graduate Center.

This course is also available under Literature.

Literature

B1616 Bible, Myth, and Contemporary Literature

Prof. Mark J. Mirsky
Thursdays 6:45-8:35pm
Section 4TU (29279)

The Bible, Myth and Modern Literature is designed to introduce Creative Writing student who write fiction, or graduate students in Literature to how questions of good and evil, belief in an afterlife, the idea of the hero or heroine, human integrity, raised in texts from the world of Antiquity continue to concern writers in the Twentieth Century. Books like The Sumerian/ Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, and chapters of Homer’s Odyssey, will alternate with stories of the Polish writer, Bruno Schulz, readings from The Book of Genesis, The Book of Job. with Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and Max Frisch’s Homo Faber. Among the contemporary writers whose books are included is William Faulkner, Milan Kundera, Cynthia Ozick, Charles Baldwin, Bruno Schulz, Isak Dinesen, Jorge Luis Borges, and Donald Barthelme. The instructor requires the submission of two questions before each week’s class, about the reading assigned for that week. At the end of the course students must submit a critical paper on one or two of the books, or a creative response based on one of the books from the syllabus. This final paper should number between nine and ten pages or 2,500 words.
In addition to the books and stories that students are required to read, and ask questions about, the instructor will provide further reading as background to the class discussion. These will include pages from Hesiod’s Theogony, Chapters from The Book of Samuel 2, (the story of King David and Absalom), The Gospel of Matthew, work by Flannery O’Connor, Marcel Proust, Miguel de Unamuno and Robert Musil.

Tentative Reading List:

The Epic of Gilgamesh, 2nd Norton Crit. Ed.
The Odyssey, Richard Lattimore translation
Genesis: King James Bible
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (PDF)
The Book of Job, Edward Greenstein trans.
The Trial, Franz Kafka, Breon Mitchell trans.
“Sorrow Acre” Isak Dinesen (PDF)
Homo Faber, Max Frisch
Absalom, Absalom, William Faulkner
Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
Collected Fictions, Jorge Luis Borges trans. by Andrew Hurley
Sixty Stories of Donald Barthelme.  

The founding editor of Fiction in 1972, with Donald Barthelme, Max and Marianne Frisch, which  publishes from offices at The City College, Professor Mark Jay Mirsky is the author of five novels, Thou Worm Jacob, Proceedings of the Rabble, The Red Adam, Puddingstone, and Blue Hill Avenue (the last, listed among the 100 Essential Books of New England—by The Boston Globe.) He has published a collection of novellas, The Secret Table, as well as five books of criticism and journalism, My Search for the Messiah, The Absent Shakespeare, The Drama in Shakespeare’s Sonnets—”A Satire to Decay,” Dante, Eros and Kabbalah, and A Mother’s Steps in addition to numerous stories and articles.  He is the editor of the Diaries of Robert Musil, co-editor of the two volume History of Pinsk (Stanford University Press), and Rabbinic Fantasies (Yale University Press). His essays and reviews have appeared in Partisan Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Washington Post ‘s Book World, The Boston Globe, and other places.

This course is also available under Critical Practice.

B1703 Literary Theory

Prof. Václav Paris
Wednesdays 6:45-8:35pm
Section 3HJ (29288)

Literary Theory – or Theory for short – is about how we read. It is both speculative and practical. It is speculative because it asks fundamental, often philosophical, questions, such as: what is an author? what is identity? what is the best way to interpret something? It is practical because the various answers to these questions often produce readymade lenses (methodologies and vocabularies) through which to read texts and write essays.
This course will serve as an introduction to literary theory in both these capacities: as an exciting 20th- and 21st-century philosophical field, and as a useful set of heuristic practices that students can apply in their own reading and writing. It begins with some of the classic questions, e.g.: are we supposed to  look for the author’s intentions in a given work? It then surveys a range of different possible approaches, including structuralism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, queer theory and critical race theory. In order to understand these theories, we’ll read key works, as well as a few literary texts through which we can illustrate them or test them. In the latter half of the course, a particular emphasis will be placed on asking after the state of literary theory now. What seem to be the most vital questions now, and how can we engage them?
Students will write a mid-term and a final paper on theoretical approaches or theorists of their choice. Evaluation will also be based on participation (this is a discursive class so being part of the discussion is fundamental).

Václav Paris is an assistant professor of English and Comparative Literature. He has taught courses on modernism and literary theory at City College since 2014. Currently he is writing a book about primitivism, eccentricity, and environmentalism in the 20th century, including chapters on the “Czech eskimo” Jan Welzl, the Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola, and others. His first book, The Evolutions of Modernist Epic, came out with Oxford University Press in 2021. Václav’s other work has appeared in the form of articles in numerous literary journals and edited books. Václav is also a passionate student of languages and a translator. His recent translations include Zdeněk Kratochvíl’s The Philosophy of Living Nature and Vilém Flusser’s “The Power of Images.” His blog, mostly about hiking, can be found at: https://vaclavparis.wordpress.com/

B1957 The Novel Now

Prof. Robert Higney
Mondays 4:45-6:35pm
Section 1FG (29271)

In this course, we will read a set of very recent novels, from about the past decade, with an eye to what they can tell us about the literary landscape of the present. These works engage with the urban environment, the figure of the refugee, migration, race and identity, history and memory, and other major themes. They raise questions about the status of English as a global literary language, about the continued relevance of modernism and avant-garde writing, and about the relationships between “literary” and “genre” fiction. We will also discuss some of the conditions under which contemporary fiction is written, circulated, marketed and read, including the role of cultural prizes, the consolidation of the publishing industry, Amazon, and issues around translation. 
In the past the syllabus for this course has included works such as Tom McCarthy,  Remainder; Zadie Smith, NW; Teju Cole, Open City; NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names; Mohsin Hamid, Exit West; Aravind Adiga, White Tiger; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; and Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven; plus critical/theoretical readings most weeks. This list is subject to significant revision for Spring 2022. Requirements: substantial reading, weekly discussion boards, 4-5 page midterm essay, 15 page final project. 

Robert Higney researches and writes about twentieth century British and colonial/ postcolonial literature, including authors such as Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, and Mulk Raj Anand, as well as contemporary fiction. Recent work has appeared in the journals Contemporary Literature, Modernism/modernity, and ASAP/J, and his book Institutional Character: Collectivity, Individuality, and the Modernist Novel is forthcoming in 2022. In the graduate program, he has also taught courses on twentieth-century British fiction and the historical novel. He has directed MA Literature theses on topic including Toni Morrison and folklore, border-crossing in Salman Rushdie and Ernest Hemingway, modern dance, and Indian and Bangladeshi fiction.

B2003 Medieval Epic and Romance

Prof. Paul Oppenheimer
Mondays 6:45-8:35pm
Section 1HJ (29284)

An exploration of some of the most notable medieval romances and epics, or poems and stories centering on courtly ideals and knightly adventures straight across the European literature of the High Middle Ages: it is these, together with their presentations of often corrupted passions, that form the basis of modern literature and which continue powerfully to influence how we write and think today. Some of the themes to be considered: courtly love and anti-feminism, the conflict between love and honor, the mystery of the quest, the grail challenge, the conflict between religious and secular codes, and the roles of magic and legend. Included in our readings will be Dante’s La vita nuova, Percival by Chretien de Troyes, Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg, and Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (often seen as the predecessor of the modern novel). All texts are in translation, except the Chaucer, which with a bit of assistance, will pose no problem, and will also allow the student to pick up a bit of Middle English. — One research essay and one brief in-class presentation of your essay topic.

Paul Oppenheimer, a professor of English and comparative literature at The Graduate Center and The City College of New York (CUNY), has taught The Vampire: An Exploration of Certain Ideas of Evil in Western Literature for over thirty years. In addition to Evil and the Demonic: A New Theory of Monstrous Behavior, he is the author of Rubens: A Portrait and, more recently, of Machiavelli: A Life Beyond Ideology. A specialist in medieval and modern lyric and narrative poetry, with degrees from Princeton and Columbia, he frequently teaches Chaucer and Shakespeare as well as courses in modern lyric poetry. His latest book is Poetry and Freedom: Discoveries in Aesthetics, 1985-2018.

B2033 The Language of the Landscape in Caribbean Writing

Prof. Kedon Willis
Thursdays 4:45-6:35pm
Section 4RS (39265)

This course investigates how Caribbean-born writers navigate the tension around their homelands as sites of beauty and horror. European contact with the Americas in the 15th century generated art and scientific studies that variously evoked this “New World” as boundless, Edenic, frightening and transcendental. For Indigenous, enslaved, and indentured populations, however, these lands were also sources of bondage or dispossession. In our discussions we’ll therefore try to answer: what is the language of the landscape within the works of Caribbean writers conscious of this history? How do notions of the idyllic collide with realities of forced labor and exile? And how do some contemporary writers frame the current ecological disasters that pose heightened risks to island and coastal territories? As such, the course takes an ecocritical approach in examining themes such as forced labor, migration, exile, and tourism that have traditionally been studied through a postcolonial lens. As a class, we will read creative works and theory moving us from the colonial period into the present and allowing us to visit locations throughout the Caribbean. Writers in the course may include Edwidge Danticat, Sam Selvon, Jamaica Kincaid, V.S. Naipaul, Wilson Harris and Jean Rhys among others.

Kedon Willis is an assistant professor of English at City College where he teaches Caribbean and Latin American literature. His areas of interest include comparative Caribbean literature, queer theory and diaspora studies. His research and publications examine the evolution (and limits) of queer liberation in the writings of contemporary queer authors of Caribbean and Latin American heritage.​

C0816 Melville: Typee to Billy Budd

Prof. Carla Cappetti
Tuesdays 6:45-8:35pm
Section 2TU (29283)

“Dante pilgrimaged farther than did Ulysses, but the wanderings of Melville outstripped them both.”  Raymond Weaver (1919). 

Introduce yourself to Herman Melville, the Homer and Dante, the Shakespeare and Cervantes of American literature, and dive into Moby-Dick, Melville’s world-renowned sea epic of whaling, arguably the greatest novel in American literature. 
In addition to Moby-Dick, we will read some of Melville’s early stories about natives, colonizers and missionaries in the South Pacific, about tyrannical captains and violent whales, mutinous sailors and revolting slaves aboard British, Spanish and American ships.  Next, we will read some of his landlocked stories set in Manhattan, the Berkshires, and the Galapagos about emaciated young workers and about the blind benevolence of their patrician employers.  We will sample some of Melville’s poetry, about young soldiers losing their innocence and old sailors recalling their adventurous youth.  Lastly, we will read “Billy Budd,” Melville’s final masterpiece and his most bitter work of fiction. 
In his long and short fiction, Melville looked below the masks of tattoos and skin color and under the veil of poverty and bigotry to write about the heroic dignity of the most despised
members of 19th century American society – Native Americans and “cannibal” harpooners, deserting sailors and runaway slaves, orphans and exiles.  Melville also lifted the veneers of charity, justice and civilization to expose the tyranny and the enslavement sanctioned by Christian missionaries, sea captains, and national heroes. 

Requirements: short weekly reading responses, oral reports and presentations, term paper proposal, 10-15 pp. term paper, and writing portfolio. 

Carla Cappetti is the author of Writing Chicago: Modernism, Ethnography, and the Novel.  She has published articles on Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, the Federal Writer Project of the WPA, and Natalia Ginzburg.  She is currently writing a book on wild animals in American literature.  She teaches courses and supervises theses on nature and animals in American Literature, urban literature, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright.  Honors: Fulbright Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, American Philosophical Society, Newberry Library Fellowship, Whiting Fellowship. 

C0910 Short Stories of the Americas

Prof. Lyn Di Iorio
Tuesdays 4:45-6:35pm
Section 2RS (29282)

In this class, we will read resonant short stories by writers from the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Building on Frank O’Connor’s notion of “the lonely voice” and Alejo Carpentier’s concept of “the marvelous real,” among other ideas, we will come up with further insights towards a sketch of a short story aesthetic encompassing the Americas (North, South, and in-between). As part of our critical practice, I will assign short “riffs” on the day’s reading for discussion in class (for example, if we are discussing stories about animals, assigned students can write a very short story featuring an animal). However, I also welcome more traditional literary analyses in lieu of the riffs. By semester’s end, each participant will complete an additional final well-developed short story with a self-critique or, alternatively, a work of literary research or analysis that builds on course reading.

Some of the authors we may read include:

Dorothy Allison, Charles Baxter, Gina Berriault, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Sandra Cisneros, Julio Cortázar, Ralph Ellison, Mariana Enríquez, Louise Erdrich, Rosario Ferré, Gabriel García Márquez, Lauren Groff, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Felisberto Hernández, Clarice Lispector, Carmen Maria Machado, R.L. Maizes, Rebecca Makkai, David Means, Frank O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Horacio Quiroga, George Saunders, Seamus Scanlon, Vladimir Sorokin, Alice Walker, Bryan Washington, Edith Wharton, and others.

Lyn Sandín Di Iorio is A 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a 2021-22 Rifkind Center Faculty Fellow currently working on Hurricanes and Other Stories, a short story collection. Her novel Outside the Bones was a top-five finalist for the 2012 John Gardner Fiction Prize and her book of literary criticism Killing Spanish focused on Latinx literature. Her story “By the River Cibuco” (Kenyon Review Online July/August 2020) was named a “Distinguished Story of 2020” in Best American Short Stories 2021. She also teaches at CUNY Graduate Center.

This course is also available under Critical Practice.

Language and Literacy

B8100 Second Language Acquisition

Prof. Barbara Gleason
Tuesdays 6:45-8:35pm
Section 2TU (29286)
ONLINE

This course begins with an overview of different types of English language learners, including Gen 1.5 learners, adult immigrant language learners, and international students, and continues with a survey of language learning theories, e.g., the critical period hypothesis, interlanguage development, explicit learning of form via direct instruction, and informal acquisition of language in familiar contexts and everyday activities. We will consider factors that affect English language learners, influences on English language teachers, and issues related to equitable education for emerging bilinguals. A general discussion of how second language learning research can be applied to classroom teaching will lead to a focused look at curricula, instructional activities, and learning tasks in diverse educational settings. In addition, we will consider the differences between an English-only approach to teaching English language learners versus a translingual pedagogical perspective. A survey of scholarship on pre-college and college writing instruction for emerging bilingual students will be accompanied by a consideration of our own responses to samples of authentic student writing.

A packet of digital texts will include excerpts from  Applied Linguistics in the Real World  (Patricia Friedrich, 2019), Introducing Second Language Acquisition, 3rd ed. (Muriel Savielle-Troike and Karen Barto, 2017), Second Language Acquisition Myths: Applying Second Language Research to Classroom Teaching (Steven Brown and Jenifer Larson-Hall, (2012) and Teaching Language to Second Language Learning in Academic Contexts: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking (Jonathan M. Newton et al., 2018).

Learning activities include weekly discussions of assigned readings, guest speakers, group presentations, and formal & informal writing.

Required Text:

Between Worlds: Second Language Acquisition in Changing Times, 4th ed. by David E. Freeman, Yvonne Freeman and Mary Soto (2021)

Barbara Gleason currently serves as Director of the MA in Language and Literacy and as Editor of Basic Writing e-Journal. She has published essays on writing curriculum, adult learning, basic writing, and graduate education in numerous books and in journals such as College Composition and Communication, College English, The Journal of Basic Writing and Basic Writing e-Journal. She is co-author of The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Adult Learners (Macmillan, 2014), co-editor of Composition in Four Keys: Inquiring into the Field (McGraw Hill, 1995), and co-editor of Cultural Tapestries: Readings for a Pluralistic Society (Harper Collins, 1991). 

C0855 Teaching Adult Writers in Diverse Contexts

Prof. Barbara Gleason
Thursdays 6:45-8:35pm
Section 4TU (29285)

This course offers an introduction to adult development (health, physical change, cognitive ability, work, and social relationships), adult learning theory (e.g., transformative learning, self-directed learning, experiential learning), and best practices for teaching adults.  Among the scholars whose work we’ll consider are K. Patricia Cross, Stephen Brookfield, Jack Mezirow, Malcolm Knowles, Barbara Bjorklund, and Sharan B. Merriam.   

Discussions of curriculum & instruction, adult learners, and diverse contexts for adult education will start with a close reading of The Adult Student: The Population Colleges-and the Nation–Cannot Afford to Ignore (Goldie Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2018) and continue with a survey of scholarship presented in The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Adult Learners (Gleason and Nuckles, 2014).  We will examine reasons that adults pursue formal schooling, their motivations as learners, and educational barriers. A short introduction to narrative research will accompany our reading of learner experience narratives (from such books as Sisters of Hope, Looking Back, Stepping Forward: The Educational Experiences of African-American Women (Audrey P. Watkins) and Literacy in American Lives (Deborah Brandt). Our survey of diverse educational contexts will include self-sponsored learning communities, community colleges, tribal colleges, adult-oriented degree programs, High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation workshops, prison classrooms, adult literacy education, English language education for adults, workplace education, and online degree programs. Learning activities include class discussions, guest speakers, group presentations, and informal and formal writing.

Texts:

A free print copy of this book will be provided:

The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Adult Learners by Barbara Gleason and Kimme Nuckles (Macmillan, 2014)

A digital copy of this text will be provided:

The Adult Student: The Population Colleges–and the Nation–Cannot Afford to Ignore by Goldie Blumenstyk (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2018).

Brief Guide for Teaching Adult Learners by Cheryl Fleming and & J. Bradley Garner (Triangle Publishing, 2009)

Creating Courses for Adults: Design for Learning by Ralf St. Clair (Jossey-Bass, 2015)

Digital course pack with assigned readings

Barbara Gleason currently serves as Director of the MA in Language and Literacy and as Editor of Basic Writing e-Journal. She has published essays on writing curriculum, adult learning, basic writing, and graduate education in numerous books and in journals such as College Composition and Communication, College English, The Journal of Basic Writing and Basic Writing e-Journal. She is co-author of The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Adult Learners (Macmillan, 2014), co-editor of Composition in Four Keys: Inquiring into the Field (McGraw Hill, 1995), and co-editor of Cultural Tapestries: Readings for a Pluralistic Society (Harper Collins, 1991). 

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