This is a list of course I’ve taught recently or will soon teach.
SEMINAR IN AMERICAN LITERATURE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL
graduate course; University of Maryland; Fall 2014
This course will introduce you to the critical study of comics and the graphic novel. We will discuss the history, formal characteristics, formats, and social worlds of comics. Though we will read texts from around the world, we will focus mostly on American cartoonists who have been prominent from the 1960s to the present.
Texts taught: Charles Burns, Black Hole; Phoebe Gloeckner, A Child’s Life and Other Stories; Gilbert Hernandez, Heartbreak Soup (Love & Rockets); Matt Madden, 99 Ways to Tell a Story; Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics; Andrei Molotiu, Abstract Comics; Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen; Joe Sacco, Footnotes in Gaza; Marjane Satrapi, The Complete Persepolis; Art Spiegelman, The Complete Maus; Lynd Ward, Vertigo: A Novel in Woodcuts; Chris Ware, Building Stories; Ai Yazawa, Nana, Vol. 1.
CRITICAL METHODS IN THE STUDY OF LITERATURE
undergraduate course; University of Maryland; Fall 2014
This course is the gateway to the English major. What is literature? Why study it? How should you write about it? By the end of the semester, you will be able to answer these questions. We will discuss literary genre; major critical approaches to academic literary study; and the place of literary study among other humanistic and scientific disciplines. You will be trained to incorporate primary and secondary research into your writing. Grades are based on regular participation, three short papers, and a final exam.
READINGS IN 20th CENTURY AMERICAN LITERATURE: INSTITUTIONS OF U.S. FICTION
graduate course; University of Maryland, College Park; Fall 2013
This course will investigate the institutional life of US fiction after 1945. How was modernism interpreted in the Cold War university? How have new media technologies transformed the scope — and the ambitions — of the novel? How have culture industry consolidations, and the rise of celebrity authors, reconfigured the US literary field? How have the institutional grounds of pluralism and multiculturalism changed from the sixties to today? How have transformations in family structure and countercultural challenges to normative ideas of gender and sexuality impacted post-WWII art? How have cultural developments tracked — or sought to resist — dramatic changes in the broader American economy?
Texts taught: John Hersey, Hiroshima; Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man; Mary McCarthy, The Group; Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint; Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven; Toni Morrison, Tar Baby; Don DeLillo, Libra; Chang-Rae Lee, Native Speaker; David Foster Wallace, “The Suffering Channel”; Alison Bechdel, Fun Home.
TWENTIETH CENTURY FICTION: GLOBAL EXPERIMENTAL FICTION
undergraduate course; University of Maryland, College Park; Fall 2013
This course will examine a wide range of experimental fiction from a global perspective. We will answer questions such as: How does narrative transform during the twentieth century in a variety of national contexts and how do these experiments travel across borders? How do writers respond to — and seek to move beyond — conventional notions of literary realism? What are the possibilities and limits of experimentation in fiction?
Texts taught: Gertrude Stein, Three Lives; Franz Kafka, The Trial; Virginia Woolf, Orlando; Jorge Luis Borges, Fictions; Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch; Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children; Teresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictée; Alain Mabanckou, Memoirs of a Porcupine.
THE POSTHUMAN IMAGINATION
University Honors class; University of Maryland, College Park; Spring 2013
Are you a transhumanist or a bioconservative? By the end of this course, you’ll know the answer to this question — along with many more you haven’t even thought to ask. This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the concept of the posthuman. Most discussions of the posthuman are centrally concerned with the implications of transcending human biology as it exists today or as it once existed. Whether writing argumentative essays or science fiction, everyone agrees that our future will be — or that we are already — posthuman in some sense. The significance of this transformation, however, is anything but clear.
Contemporary debates about our posthuman future incorporate discourses as diverse as science fiction, literary theory, feminism, bioethics, political science, cybernetics, theology, and animal studies. Giving a privileged position to imaginative literature, film, and graphic novels that try to imagine from within these possible futures, we will range across different senses of the term posthuman, explore the history of the concept, study different arguments that promote and critique the concept, investigate debates about technological singularity and artificial intelligence, and consider the conceptually related but distinct attempt to think not only about our posthuman future but about the possibility of a “posthumanities” that radically changes the focus of humanistic inquiry in the present.
undergraduate seminar; University of Maryland, College Park; Fall 2012 and Spring 2013
This course examines the development of postmodernism as an artistic style and a cultural epoch across a range of genres, including fiction, poetry, drama, film, and the graphic novel. What is the history of the concept of the postmodern? How is postmodernism related to modernism, realism, science fiction, and magic realism? What are the social determinants — racial, gendered, economic, and geopolitical — of postmodernism? What, if anything, comes after postmodernism?
Texts taught: Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Ishmael Reed, Flight from Canada and Mumbo Jumbo; Kathy Acker, Don Quixote and Great Expectations; David Foster Wallace, “Octet” and “Good Old Neon”; Tao Lin, Shoplifting from American Apparel; Sheila Heti, How Should A Person Be?; Kenneth Goldsmith, Traffic ; Anne Carson, Nox; Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot.
TWENTIETH CENTURY FICTION: ANGLOPHONE FICTION AND THE NOBEL PRIZE
undergraduate seminar; University of Maryland, College Park; Fall 2012
This course will study a range of Anglophone novelists who have won the Nobel Prize. We will investigate the dynamic relationship among canonicity, prizes, and the sociology of literature across the twentieth-century. How have our ideas of what constitutes a great writer and great literature changed? What, if anything, unites the authors the Nobel Committee for Literature has chosen? How is canonicity linked to cultural, economic, and political centers of power and prestige?
Texts taught: Rudyard Kipling, Kim; Pearl Buck, East Wind: West Wind; Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King; V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River; Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman; Toni Morrison, Beloved; J.M. Coetzee, Foe; Nadine Gordimer, The Pickup; Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot.
LITERATURE AND CULTURE AFTER 9/11
undergraduate seminar; Princeton University; Spring 2012
This course will explore literature and culture after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The term “after” refers both to literature about the attacks as well as literature published during the first decade of the twenty-first century. In addition to novels, we will study a range of television programs, films, government reports, political debates, graphic novels, poetry, and video games that in some way respond to the terrorist attacks or the events that followed.
Texts taught: An episode of 24; Paul Greengrass, United 93; William Gibson, Pattern Recognition; Claire Messud, The Emperor’s Children; Michael Muhammad Knight, The Taqwacores; Don DeLillo, Falling Man; David Foster Wallace, “The Suffering Channel”; Juliana Spahr, This Connection of Everyone with Lungs; Keston Sutherland, Stress Position; Ian McEwan, Saturday; Cormac McCarthy, The Road; Colson Whitehead, Zone One.
SCIENCE FICTION IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
undergraduate lecture; Princeton University; Spring 2012
Science fiction has always had global ambitions. On the one hand, science fiction authors have been part of artistic conversations across national traditions and borders. On the other, science fiction as a genre has been obsessed with making sense of how we are connected across space, time, cultures, nations, and species. This course will study innovative science fiction novels, films, and comics from around the world that try to imagine the human (and posthuman) condition from a global perspective. Over the semester, we may study adventure narratives, Utopias and dystopias, cyberpunk, postcolonial and ecological narratives.
Texts taught: Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth; Evgeny Zamyatin, We; Olaf Stapledon, The Star Maker; Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants; Stanislaw Lem, Solaris; Samuel Delany, Nova; Ridley Scott, Blade Runner; Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell; Nalo Hopkinson, Midnight Robber; Lauren Beukes, Moxyland; Neill Blomkamp, District 9.
RISE OF THE GRAPHIC NOVEL
undergraduate lecture; Princeton University; Fall 2011
Over the last twenty years, the American graphic novel has garnered literary prizes, media attention, and publishing contracts. Yet the recent “rise” of the graphic novel threatens to conceal the fact that graphic narrative has had a long and vibrant history, from its origin in newspapers through the underground comics movement of the 1960s to its present moment of ascendency. Surveying the 20th century, focusing largely on the U.S., this course will explore the representational possibilities of graphic narrative and the history of its incorporation into high culture.
Texts taught: Winsor McCay, Little Nemo in Slumberland; George Herriman, Krazy Kat; R. Crumb, Zap Comix; Trina Robbins, Girl Fight Comics; Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics; Harvey Pekar, American Splendor; Will Eisner, A Contract with God; Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen; Art Spiegelman, Maus; Joe Sacco, Safe Area Goražde; Alison Bechdel, Fun Home; Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis; Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth; Gene Yang, American Born Chinese.