Current courses


Fall 2017 Course Descriptions

ENGL 2123:002 Creative Writing 
Susan Kates
MWF 2:30-3:20

Prerequisite is completion of 1213 and departmental permission. Introduction to literary creative writing, especially creative nonfiction and poetry, and to the structural foundations of literary writing. Major emphasis on student writing.

ENGL 2243: Introduction to Cinema
Amit Baishya
TR 10.30-11.45
Film Lab: T 3.00-5.30

This course is an introduction to film analysis and film narrative. We will cover issues such as film form, techniques, styles and genre. The goal of this course is to equip you with the basic analytical tools that are required for a sustained critical engagement with cinema. We will begin with a section that covers basic film terminology and history. We will then transition to our second section on genre (we will cover film noir, the western, documentary and the superhero/ine movie). We will end by devoting time to a specific genre from a specific time period:70s horror. Movies we will watch may include Citizen Kane, Singin’ in the Rain, Rear Window, Chinatown, Do the Right Thing, Modern Times, Sunset Boulevard, Shane, Grizzly Man, The Dark Knight Returns, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead and Jaws. You will be graded on attendance and participation, a short formal analysis paper, a longer research paper, a group presentation and four quizzes.

Required Texts:

  • James Monaco—How to Read a Film: Movies, Media and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 4th Edition).
  • Jeffrey Geiger and R.L. Rutsky—Film Analysis: a Norton Reader (W.W. Norton and Co.)

Screenings/Film Lab: The films we are screening have been chosen to illustrate concepts in film analysis and to introduce you to a variety of types and genres of filmmaking. You are expected to watch the films carefully from beginning to end (through the end credits). The film lab is a requirement and you cannot skip them.

ENGL 2273: Literary and Cultural Analysis: Reality and Perception
Brett Burkhart
TR 10:30-11:45 

English 2273, Literary and Cultural Analysis, offers an introduction to literary and cultural analysis focusing on textual explication, interpretation, and critique. In literature, as in life, things are not always as they appear. More information may help us easily solve a problem that previously seemed insurmountable. Experience may afford us new access and tools that enable us to approach the world in new ways, and different experiences may reveal different truths. Literary study allows us to utilize different strategies and perspectives in understanding the art of literature which gives substance to our own thoughts, opinions, and experience and helps us understand language, thus enabling our own self-expression. Many, if not all, of the literary selections in this course may take on surprising interpretations depending upon one’s critical approach. Through literary analysis, our goal is to cultivate critical thinking and analytical skills and to strengthen writing strategies in such a way as to both increase our understanding and facilitate our communication of that understanding to others.

ENGL 2283.001 Critical Methods: Desire, Death and Psychoanalytic Theory
Daniela Garofalo
T/R 10:30-11:45

Desire and Death will examine theories of the death drive in Lacanian Psychoanalytic theory. Our focus will be on how the death drive manifests in Literature and Film in terms of violence, sexual desire, self-annihilation, racism, misogyny and monstrosity. The goal of this course is to help students to think about how theory is used in literary and film studies; thus this course focuses on literature/film as much as on theory and considers how literary/film criticism makes theory usable for the study of culture. Some texts we will study: the films of David Lynch (Blue Velvet; Mullholland Drive); Toni Morrison’s Beloved; Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby; Emily Dickenson’s poems; Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories. We will write 3-4 short papers.

ENGL 2433.001: World Literature to 1700
Chris Allen Carter
MW 1:30-2:45

This course surveys select literary works covering a span of four or five thousand years, depending on what you count. We will begin with ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt at a time, around 3000 BCE, when stories of the gods and heroes and kings were first appearing on cuneiform tablets and tomb walls decorated in hieroglyphics (Epic of Gilgamesh, Hymn to the Aten, Tale of Sinuhe). Then we will follow these literary developments to the land of the ancient Hebrews, where new myths, epics, fables, chronicles, histories, proverbs, poems, and other genres are being recorded on parchment scrolls (Genesis, Job, Psalms).

Next we will look at the Greco-Roman period (Hesiod, Homer, Sappho, Greek tragedy, Plato, Ovid, and Christian gospels). By the end of this period, crucial writings are taking the form of the parchment codex.

Finally, we will fan out to various regions of the Eurasian continent and, after sampling literary classics from China, India, Arabia, and Japan, will return to Europe at the time, around 1500 CE, when new forms of essay and adventure story, including the novel, are starting to roll off the early modern printing press (Machiavelli, Montaigne, and Cervantes).

But the evolution of word-technology (clay tablet to scroll to paginated book to printing press) is just one of the ways we will frame our study. In order to deal with such a vast subject matter, we will zoom out for the big picture and zoom back in for close-ups. We will examine broad patterns of contact and exchange among the different cultures of the world, while also appreciating the details of literary craftsmanship through the close reading.

Required text: Martin Puchner, gen ed. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Third Edition. Volumes A and B. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2012.

Required work: papers, examinations, quizzes, attendance, and participation.

ENGL 2543: British Literature to 1700
Cortney Wilmering
MW 1:30 - 2:45

From the meditations on heroism and violence of Beowulf to Chaucer’s wry, sometimes bawdy wisdom in The Canterbury Tales, onto Shakespeare’s eloquent empathy and Milton’s unrelenting search for a just politics, early literature laid a foundation that generations of later authors have built on and responded to. This course will survey some of the significant texts and movements in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Catherine John
TR 1:30-2:45

This course is an introduction to African American literature and culture produced in the United States. Its aim is to introduce students to important texts and their major concerns. We will pay specific attention to the struggle in this literature between writing which criticizes racial injustice on the one hand and writing focused on celebrating Black cultural identity on the other. With this as the guiding principle we will explore how this literature treats the cultural, political, and national territory described by some as the United States and by others as “America.” We will read poetry, short stories, literary and historical essays, non-fiction, and one autobiography. The literature we will read was written as early as the 1700’s to as recently as the present. We will pay some attention to literature produced in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in the hopes that this will shed light on contemporary issues. We will also occasionally listen to relevant music.

ENGL 2773-001 American Literature: Eventful Histories of Early America
Professor Zeigler
MW 1:30-2:45

This survey examines significant writings of the Americas from 1492 to the U.S. Civil War. To confront such a lengthy, long-ago history, our strategy will be to identify how our readings contend with the novelty and tumult that surround two events: the European colonization of the Americas and the emergence of the United States as a constitutional republic. We will appreciate with particular acuity that to name these two remarkable events without reference to genocide and slavery would diminish the complexity of what happened and elide a stunning human toll. While we will investigate key historical events of the period in as much detail as possible, as students of literature we will be most attentive to how textual form shapes historical understanding. Reading will include John Smith’s original tale of “Pocahontas”; Shakespeare’s The Tempest all of the following and more: Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative; court records of the Salem With Trials; Equiano’s autobiography; Royal Tyler’s play The Contrast; “Rip Van Winkle”; the Cherokee Memorials; essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, and Margaret Fuller; stories by Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville. Students will prepare two essays of four to six pages, a group presentation about one of the witches executed in Salem in 1692, and a final examination.

MRS 3023: Exploring Medieval & Renaissance Studies
Joyce Coleman
TR 1.30-2.45

MRS 3023 is an interdisciplinary course taught through the Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies. It provides an overview of the history, literature, art, and music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including hands-on work with medieval manuscripts and early printed books. A unique feature of this course is that it will be taught by a series of OU faculty lecturing in their area of expertise. The classes will be coordinated by Prof. Joyce Coleman of the English Department, who will be present at every class and will serve as instructor of record. As a Presidential Dream Course, we will also be bringing in guest speakers and holding associated events, to all of which the students will be invited.The course has been approved for general-education credit and can be used for major credit in English. More information is available at

ENGL 3103:003 Writing and Power
Professor Kathleen Welch

TR 3:00-4:15

Writing and Power teaches students how to understand many kinds of power in their own writing and how to get more. Taught by an English professor who has won two teaching awards, the course will focus on how we can increase power by writing with it. The course will take place in a workshop format so that each student’s writing will receive maximum attention. The main text will be the students’ own writing, along with a few outside texts, including: Peter Elbow’s Writing with Power, a short book, and excerpts from Jacqueline Jones Royster’s edition of Ida B. Wells’ Southern Horrors and Other Writings.

ENGL 3113 Indigenous Cartography: Remembering, Reimagining, and (Re)mapping Norman, OK
Gabriela Rios
MW 1:30-2:45

In this course, we will approach Nature & Environmental writing from the perspective of maps and Cartography. Specifically, we will look at how technologies likemaps influence our relationship to places & spaces. We will begin by offering a history & comparative approach to European and Indigenous mapping practices in the Americas. In Another America: Native American Maps and the History of Our Land, Mark Warhusexplains how Indigenous maps “wove together geography, history, and mythology” that often included agricultural or environmental knowledge.  In paying attention to diverse sets of ecological knowledge, we will work toward what Siv Visvanathan calls “cognitive justice.” According to Brendan Coolsaet,“In practice, cognitive justice is given shape through an ecology of knowledges: an active dialogue between different forms of knowledges and practices, both scientific and nonscientific.” The final project for the course will be a group project in which we willuse Indigenous mapping methodologies to create a public, digital, interactive map of Norman OK that will unearth and re-center Indigenous history and experience to dialogue with other sites of environmental knowledge in Norman, particularly as it relates tolocal ongoing environmental concerns. 

ENGL 3123: 001 Fiction Writing 
Eric Bosse
M 2:30-5:30

An intensive reading and writing course designed to increase the writer’s knowledge and skill in the craft of the short story. Through reading a wide range of short fiction, texts on craft, and fellow writers’ work, students deepen their understanding of literary short fiction and elements of craft as they develop their own creative work. Coursework includes written responses to assigned readings and written and oral analysis of fellow writers’ work in peer review and workshop. Prerequisite: ENGL 2123

ENGL 3143.001: Rhetoric, Literacy and Sexuality
Sandra Tarabochia
T/R 10:30-11:45

This course examines rhetoric and sexuality as vital dimensions of critical literacy—ways of reading, writing, thinking, and knowing required for active citizenship in a democratic society.

Students will explore intersections of rhetoric, literacy, and sexuality as they “function socially, culturally, politically, and personally.” We will learn “to work knowledgeably, engagingly, and critically” with the discourses of sexuality that shape our individual and collective lives (Alexander, Literacy, Sexuality, Pedagogy).

Course projects invite students to analyze the rhetoric of sexuality, craft sexual literacy narratives, and develop extended public arguments about issues that spark their passions. Student writing is the heart of this course, and class time is devoted to composing, revising, sharing, and experimenting with writing

Student’s say:

  • “This course opened me up to new topics and made me think about things that I normally don’t think about.”
  • “This course has expanded my personal worldview and encouraged ideas about writing that I will continue to have for the rest of my writing career.”
  • “This course has majorly influenced me as a writer and as a person.”
  • “Great course. Challenging and vastly improved my writing.”

Course texts may include: 

  • Rhodes and Alexander’s award winning digital book Techne: Queer Meditations on the Writing Self
  • Clare Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation
  • Koets “Astronomy of the Closet”
  • Winslow “Presidential Masculinity”
  • Texts we find in the world around us

ENGL 3163: The Rise of YouTube Celebrity: Analyzing and Creating Popular Videos
William Kurlinkus
MW: 3:00-4:15

This fall, English 3163, Writing, Rhetoric, and Histories of Technology, will focus on the rhetorical analysis and production of popular videos. On the analysis side, we will be focusing on the rise (and often fall) of the YouTube celebrity—from Miranda Sings, to Good Mythical Morning, to Epic Meal Time, to PewDiePie. At the same time (and somewhat separate from our analyses), however, students will also learn to use a camera, set up a multi-camera shoot, and deploy the video editing software Adobe Premiere to create their own short videos, including: VoxPop man on the street interviews, multi-camera subject profiles, abstract conceptual films, and basic short films.

ENGL 3343: Literature of Empire: Adventure, Science Fiction and Steampunk 
Amit Baishya
TR 12.00-1.15

This course explores the enduring impact of empire building and imperialism by focusing on three interconnected genres: the adventure fantasy, science fiction and steampunk. We will begin by studying the representations of fantastic journeys in “other” locales and lost worlds, the representations of race, gender and sexuality, and fantasies and fears about evolution in three iconic 19th century novels: H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, James De Mille’s A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder and H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. If time permits, we may also read James Hilton’s Lost Horizon. In the latter half of the course, we will explore how many of the themes, fantasies and anxieties of the 19th century adventure/science fiction novel about empire are extended, subverted or revised in contemporary examples of “steampunk” or “weird fiction.” The three texts we will consider are China Mieville’s The Scar, Carolyn Ivers’s Isles of the Forsaken and Alan Moore’s comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Primary readings will be supplemented by theoretical essays by Edward Said, Anne McClintock, Mary Louise Pratt and John Riede among others. Requirements will include a short paper (6-7 pages), a longer research paper (10-12 pages), a group presentation and a final exam.

ENGL 4303 001 Special Topics in Criticism"Poetics of Invention" 
Jonathan Stalling
TR 10:30 AM - 11:45

In this class students will explore what it means to "invent" something new, to bring novel ideas into the world, to innovate and disrupt old paradigms and how these ideas have been scaled to change the world. We will explore how the new operates inside literary and art world as well as in science and technology. The course will include guest lectures by some of the most exciting, innovative figures in the fields of entrepreneurship, technology start ups, history of science, and the arts. Students will get opportunities to design their own disruptive, novel ideas and to begin  framing the plans for bringing their ideas into being. We will explore the ways novelty is valued in different fields (patents vs copyright etc) and how OU Innovation Hub, the Library Edge and other programs are helping OU students and faculty move from "ideation" to "fabrication" to "commercialization" and beyond.  Finally, the course will coincide with events planned for a major exhibit at OU Libraries called "Anatomy of an Invention."

Catherine John
TR 3:00-4:15

In this class we will examine the phenomenon known as Hip Hop from three different angles: 1) The social and political context that has produced the music and made it into a cultural phenomenon 2) through an analysis of the lyrics from assigned songs and albums, looking at the philosophical worldview, regional outlook, and social commentary at stake 3) through an examination of the poetics of the form. This course requires a willingness to address controversial issues and occasionally have uncomfortable discussions about explicit material. It may push you outside of your comfort zone. On the other hand, the examination of the poetics of the form and participation in active performance has been an empowering aspect of the experience for previous students of this course. The texts include Fernando Orejuela’s Rap and Hip Hop Culture, Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation as well as various songs, albums, essays and relevant documentaries.

ENGL 4323.001 Harlem Renaissance
Rita Keresztesi
T/R 10:30-11:45 a.m. 

This course surveys and evaluates the literature and political agenda of the Harlem Renaissance. During the period between the 1920s and 1940s artists, writers, and musicians employed culture to work for goals of civil rights and social equality. Harlem, a diverse community of African Americans, became home to civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, the National Urban League, and Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Besides studying the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, we will situate this movement within a larger transnational context of the African Diaspora. Grades are based on class participation, short weekly writings, and a term paper.


Patton, Venetria K. and Maureen Honey, eds. Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology (Rutgers 2001)

Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk

Toomer, Jean. Cane

Larsen, Nella. Passing and Quicksand

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God

Thurman, Wallace. The Blacker the Berry

McKay, Claude. Home to Harlem

Woodson, Carter G. The Mis-Education of the Negro (OU Library Online)

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man


W. E. B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices

Midnight Ramble: The Story of the Black Film 

English 4533.001: Shakespeare Tragedies 
Sara Coodin
MW 4:30-5:45

This course will engage in a close study of selected Shakespearean tragedies, including the late romances. We will consider the plays both as poetic texts and as theatrical works in order to understand Shakespeare’s language and his culture. Although Shakespeare’s dramatic works have become canonized and lionized as “great works” in the western literary tradition, they were not perceived as high art in Shakespeare’s time but as works of popular culture. We will endeavor to keep both of these aspects in mind—the use of Shakespeare as a standard for high culture and his popularity. We first begin by learning to read his often highly metaphorical language, paying some attention to Renaissance poetic and rhetorical theory and practice. As we consider the works as playtexts for performances, we will also learn something about the practical components of Elizabethan stagecraft, the material aspects of the theater, and the audiences for these theatrical productions. The course will incorporate some brief performances and blocking of scenes in class as a method to understand Shakespearean and Renaissance stagecraft. We will also study the political and social realms in which Shakespeare’s plays and early modern popular theater emerged. To connect the literary with the historical, we will trace important themes in the Shakespearean canon: gender, social class, performance, the transformative agency of art and language, power, and the nature of kingship. The final paper is a research paper that will be the culmination of the semester’s work. We should leave the class with a greater facility in reading Shakespeare, a firmer grasp of his dramatic art, and a better understanding of these plays in their historical context.

Assignments: quizzes, midterm and final exams; analytical papers; performance of scene; attendance and compelling participation.

Required Text:

Greenblatt, Stephen et al., ed. The Norton Shakespeare. 3rd edition. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015. (You may use any annotated, scholarly edition).

ENGL 4853.001 Capstone: Caribbean Literature
Rita Keresztesi
T/R 9:00-10:15 a.m. 

In this course we will read texts by writers from the Caribbean (from and about Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Haiti, Martinique, and the Bahamas). We will study how European colonization of the islands and the African slave trade have impacted their peoples and cultures. Through a variety of writings styles, such as travelogue, essay, novel, short story, and poetry, we reflect on the human condition in the “postcolony”. We enrich our reading experiences through watching films and listening to music. Grades are based on class participation, short weekly writings, and a term paper.


Naipaul, V.S. The Middle Passage

James, C.L.R. The Black Jacobins

Lamming, George. The Pleasure of Exile

Chamoiseau, Patrick. Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows

Lovelace, Earl. A Brief Conversion and Other Stories

Lovelace, Earl. The Wine of Astonishment

Cliff, Michelle. Abeng

Mais, Roger. Brother Man

Campbell, Christian. Running the Dusk


Life & Debt

Fire in Babylon

Joebell and America 

ENGL 5223.001: Indigenous Cinema 
Joshua Nelson

For decades, thousands of western movies have represented indigenous people in absurdly stereotypical ways. What happens to those images when Indiansthemselves point the cameras, tell the stories, and do the acting? This seminar will look at several films in which Native people play key roles in front of and behind the camera, going back to James Young Deer’s work in the silent era, on to pivotal shiftslike Zacharias Kunuk’s The Fast Runner and Chris Eyre’s and Sherman Alexie’s collaboration on Smoke Signals, Courtney Hunt andHeather Rae’s on Frozen River, and up to the latest works by Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi, and others. As we view feature presentations, short films, documentaries, animations, and more, we’llconsider how Indigenous critical theory and film theory might be brought into productive conversation, especially on crucial questions surrounding international Indigenism, nationalism, identity theory, cultural sovereignty, representations of the body, andrelationships to land, tradition, and community.

ENGL 5453 Decolonial Theories & Rhetoric and Composition 
Gabriela Rios
R 1:30-4:20

This course will offer a brief overview of postcolonial, anticolonial, decolonial theories as they have emerged from specific geo-political locations before focusingprimarily on decolonial theories that have emerged along the Mexico/U.S. & Canada/U.S. borders. Using a comparative approach, we will look at the potential & limitations of different decolonial theories along these geo-political borders as we consider theireffect on issues concerning sovereignty, cultural continuance, relationship to food, and education. We will then consider how these exigences can be framed within canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory & delivery.  Some potential readings include:Kimberly Weiser’s Back to the Blanket: RecoveredRhetorics and Lived Literacies in American Indian Studies; Qwo-Li Driskill’s Asegi Stories: Queer & TwoSpirit Memory; Joshua Nelson’s Progressive Traditions: Identityin Cherokee Literature & Culture; Audra Simpson’s Mohawk Interruptus: Life Acrossthe Borders of Settler States; Waziyatawin & Michael Yellowbird’s For IndigenousMinds Only: A Decolonization Handbook; Aimé Césaire. Discourse on Colonialism; Walter Mignolo’s The Darker Side of the Renaissance:Literacy, Territoriality, & Colonization (excerpts); Luz Calvo & Catriona Rueda Esquibel’s DecolonizeYour Diet;      Leigh Patel’s Decolonizing Educational Research:From Ownership to Answerability;      Excerpts from Djano Paris & Marsha Winn’s HumanizingResearch: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with Youth & Communities; Iris Ruíz & Raúl Sanchez’ Decolonizing Rhetoric& Composition: New Latinx Keywords for Theory & Pedagogy.

ENGL 5613/001 Sexual Transgression and the Victorian Novel
Daniel Cottom
M 3:00-6:00

In this course we will study nineteenth-century English novels in which sexual transgression is a central concern, and so throughout this semester we will pay attention to this topic and others related to it, such as Victorian conceptions of marriage, gender, and the family. (Three of these novels, for instance, use cross-dressing as a plot element; what nineteenth-century radicals called “free love” is an issue in others; and the relationship between sexual decorum and family honor or inheritance shadows them all.) I wish to emphasize, however, that our discussions will not be limited to any particular set of topics; the issues raised, questions posed, and directions taken by our discussions throughout this semester will be determined in large part by the interests of our group of students. These novels also deal with the class system, political economy, industrialization, violent crime, madness, and social ambition, among many other things, in settings that range from beautiful estates to smoke-choked cities, from schoolrooms to circuses, from an imaginary Africa to darkest England, and from farms, country fairs, and dances to genteel parlors, clamorous union halls, and lonely graves. Grades will be based on class participation, short weekly writings, and a term paper.

Texts (tentative):

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)

Charles Dickens, Hard Times (1854)

George Eliot, Mill on the Floss (1860)

Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret (1862)

Olive Schreiner, Story of an African Farm (1883)

H. Rider Haggard, She (1886)

Grant Allen, The Woman Who Did (1895)

Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895)

ENGL 5703 Special Topics in American Literature: Cold War Sexuality, Queer Theory, and Cultural Rhetoric Studies
Professor Jim Zeigler
Tu 4:30-7:30 

“America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.” -Allen Ginsberg

This American Studies seminar will investigate how in the early years of the Cold War the political culture of the US identified homosexuality and communism as indistinguishable threats to national security. In the long decade of the 1950s, Queer Americans found that social pressure to remain in the closet was reinforced by both programmatic and spontaneous collaborations between government, corporate, civic agencies as well as individuals convinced that a strictly heteronormative social order was a necessary inoculation against the coming Communist insurrection. As a consequence, during the height of McCarthyism the US government investigated and dismissed more federal employees for homosexuality than it did those suspected of involvement with communism. “Sex perverts,” a 1950 US Senate report explains, are uniquely “susceptible to the blandishments of the foreign espionage agent.” Postwar hysteria over communism, cultural historians now quip, was as much a “Lavender Scare” as it was a panic over the Reds. This course is an effort to explain how homophobia was such a ready supplement to the discourse of Cold War anticommunism and then to examine how the forbidding atmosphere of compulsory heterosexuality was nevertheless met by various literary, cultural, and activist expressions of queerness.

While this course investigates how the public culture of anticommunism in the US during the early years of the Cold War was punishing for all but the most perversely straight expressions of gender identity and sexual desire, it will also function as a practicum in Queer Theory. For students wary of a long-term commitment to the study of the culture of the Cold War or more broadly to US literature after 1900, this course is designed to reward you with a working knowledge of Queer Theory that will inform and excite your efforts in other fields. When all is said and done in our seminar, we’ll adjourn without regrets, apologies, or hollow promises to keep in touch. At the urging of queer theorist Michael Warner, we’ll consider how institutional endurance need not be the measure of a relationship’s value. In other words, there’s no shame in flirting with the Cold War for fifteen weeks; it might even be good for you. And when the seminar comes to its inevitable end, you may take our time with Queer Theory with you where you will.

Queer Theory will refer in this course primarily to a disposition in the study of sexuality that emerged in humanities disciplines in the early 1990s to elaborate on the significance of poststructuralism’s critique of identity for any account of how sexuality relates to subjectivity. Our starting position will be selections from the middle period of Michel Foucault’s career that inform now classic texts by Warner, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Lauren Berlant, and Judith/Jack Halberstam. We’ll use the readings in Queer Theory to organize units on various topics in the study of Cold War sexualities. For example, our reading of Foucault will frame our investigations into HUAC, the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and the Army-McCarthy Hearings. Sedgwick will guide our discussions of the closeting of queer masculinity represented by the plays of Tennessee Williams as well as the liberating expressions of gay masculinity represented by Ginsberg’s Howl. Butler’s work on gender performativity will help us to read the theatricality of gay and lesbian civil rights organizations that were founded in the 1950s: the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, respectively. Halberstam’s work on female masculinity will instruct our “low theory” work with lesbian pulp fiction. Warner and Berlant’s collaborations on queer counterpublics will partner with Patricia Highsmith’s lesbian road novel The Price of Salt. One unit of the course will concentrate on a recent turn in Queer Theory to questions of race. We’ll borrow Roderick Ferguson’s designation “Queer of Color Critique” to direct our responses to texts by Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin.

In the final two meetings of the course we’ll consider more recent works that attempt to historicize how Cold War anticommunism involved closeting queerness: Todd Haynes’s film Far from Heaven (2003) and Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America (1993). Taking up these historical fictions that come after the end of the Cold War should help us to ask what, if any, is the relationship between the proliferation of Queer Theory in the early 1990s and the rise following the break-up of the Soviet Union of a popular discourse in the US that historian Ellen Schrecker calls “Cold War Triumphalism.” Haynes and Kushner’s texts are certainly critical of self-congratulatory pronouncements about an American “victory” in the Cold War, but they may also help us to conclude our course with a reflection on the historical conditions that enabled Queer Theory to flourish on the heels of the Cold War’s terminus. At every stage of the course, the methods of cultural rhetoric studies will afford us the critical distance to consolidate our several units into a coherent thick description of the public culture of Cold War sexualities and to evaluate the resourcefulness and limitations of each Queer Theory text. As formulated by Steven Mailloux, cultural rhetoric studies is an approach to interpretation especially conducive for assessing “theory” as an intellectual and social practice.

Participants will be expected to prepare a limited number of short response papers (in advance of the weekly seminar meeting), a formal paper proposal, a twenty-minute conference presentation, and an academic essay that contributes to literary studies, cultural studies, or rhetoric & composition (6000-8000 words). Provided that the research project has a demonstrable connection to the concerns of the course including the Cold War historical context, you will be free to write on texts or topics that do not appear on the syllabus.

ENGL 6103.001: Research Methods in Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy
Sandra Tarabochia
R 12:00-3:00pm

How do I craft good research questions? How do I situate my research questions within literature of the field? How do I construct appropriate theoretical and methodological frameworks for my research? How do I choose suitable methods for answering research questions and develop an ethical research design? How do I obtain IRB approval for research with human subjects or schedule a to visit the archives? 

This course orients students to scholarly research and introduces some common research methods in Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy with a focus on qualitative methods. Course participants will consider how various critical theories inform research design and reporting, how method enables and constrains what we learn from research, and how our choice of analytical lens makes certain insights available while obscuring others. We’ll examine major research trends in the history of the field and look at a range of research problems, contexts, and methodologies—including methodological interventions by feminists, theorists of race relations, and teacher-scholars working in transnational contexts.

Projects may include weekly response writing, journal or book review focused on methods analysis, annotated bibliography and literature review, and an extended research plan in the form of a “useable document”—IRB proposal, grant proposal, draft of a dissertation prospectus, etc. Key areas of inquiry may include writing pedagogy, classroom research, institutional ethnography, the history of rhetoric, digital communications, family and community literacies, and writing in the workplace. Special guests will share their expertise related to particular methods. For instance, we might hear from a representative of OU’s IRB, a librarian from the university archives, and scholars who have performed community research, created digital projects, won research grants, and published classroom research.

Because assignments and activities are designed to accommodate participants’ goals and interests, the course will be valuable for any student (regardless of discipline) looking for a basic grounding in research methods.

Possible Course Texts

  • Johanek, Composing Research: A Contextualist Paradigm for Rhetoric and Composition. 2000.
  • Locke, Spirduso, and Silverma. Proposals That Work: A Guide for Planning Dissertations and Grant Proposals. 2014.
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