Fall 2021 Courses: Graduate Seminars

ENG 5943: Problem Plays and Problematic Plays

Instructor: Dr. Mark Bayer
Class Time: T, 6:00-8:45 p.m.
Class Location: MH 4.02.40

Course Description
When I ask students what genre of Shakespearean plays they prefer, the vast majority choose the tragedies. But why? Why are we so attracted to tragedy? What attracted Renaissance audiences to tragedy? And are the answers to these questions the same? As early as 1623, Ben Jonson remarked that Shakespeare was “not for an age, but for all time.” This seems to have proven true. But does that mean that the drama resonates universally for audiences and readers, across time and place? Shakespeare’s plays seem to have meant something remarkably different to his audience 400 years ago than they do for us today, and probably this is no more evident than with the genre of tragedy. In fact, many today feel that the historical context is irrecoverable—that we can never know what Shakespeare meant in his own culture. Instead, what we do when we read Shakespeare today is simply use these plays to advance opinions about contemporary issues. Because of the ubiquity of tragedy in discussions of Shakespeare and the often unproductive avenues these discussions take us down, in this course I want to do something a little different. Specifically, I want to focus on what I’m calling “fringe” tragedies. These are plays that aren’t quite as canonical as the four most famous tragedies (Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello). Instead, they are plays that challenge neat generic categories (a set of three plays that have come to be known as ‘problem plays’), history plays that incorporate some kind of tragic component, or plays that Shakespeare’s audience might not have understood as tragedies, but easily might be considered such in different cultural dispensations. We’ll also look at a few plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries that also defy comfortable generic classification.


  • Stephen Greenblatt, ed. The Norton Shakespeare: Tragedies. (If you have other copies of the plays— either a complete works or single plays—fell free to use them)
  • David Bevington, ed. English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology.
  • A series of photocopied readings on reserve on Blackboard. I’ll post these over the course of the term

ENG 5763/6053: Women in Contemporary Latina/x Literature

Instructor: Dr. Kimberly Garza
Class Time: Th, 6:00-8:45 p.m.
Class Location: MH 2.02.20

Course Description
This course examines contemporary works in several genres (novels, short stories, and poetry) in order to understand thematic, critical, and creative concerns of Latina/x writers in the 21st century. Primarily, we will explore female identity: the variety of definitions Latinx writers give to their women characters, and how a female experience is expressed and portrayed in some recent works. Our critical scope will also intersect with themes such as family/gender roles, sexuality, indigenous and colonialist legacies, immigration, religion/faith, and the tension between tradition and change. How do contemporary Latinx writers consider and depict women and their experiences? How does female identity intersect—or collide—with other literary themes like race, sexuality, violence, immigration, etc. in these works? Do today’s Latina/x writers have a responsibility to represent female identity and experience in their art? To what extent are they, or should they be, beholden to their own identity and experience? Students will be expected to think critically and engage deeply with the texts through class discussion, critical responses, discussion leadership and presentation, and writing projects both creative and scholarly.

Required Readings:

  • The Lady Matador’s Hotel, Cristina Garcia, 2010
  • Of Women & Salt, Gabriela Garcia, 2021
  • Dominicana, Angie Cruz, 2019
  • Everything Inside, Edwidge Danticat, 2019
  • Everyone Knows You Go Home, Natalia Sylvester, 2018
  • Sabrina & Corina, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, 2019
  • Postcolonial Love Poem, Natalie Diaz, 2020
  • Gods of Jade & Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, 2019

AAS 4013.004/ ENG 5783.001/ ENG 7083.001: Rebellion and Resistance in Black Life Writing Since 1780

Instructor: Dr. Joycelyn Moody
Class Time: T, 6:00-8:45 p.m.
Class Location: Online

Course Description
“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” Over a century before the acclaimed African American anthropologist and novelist Zora Neale Hurston uttered this potent syllogism, writers of African descent had been generating literary and cultural texts expressing their own and other African-descended people’s collective defiance against white domination. This seminar centers auto/biographies and life writing by US Black people. Seminar participants will examine ways Black auto/biographers narrate individual and collective acts of rebellion and resistance to racialized subjugation. We will explore how African American life writers define and illustrate rebellion and resistance, and how they apply literary and cultural tropes to the representation of Black people fighting back against what the Combahee River Collective called “interlocking systems of oppression.” To enrich our readings of the required seminar texts, the course will begin with respective introductions to Critical Race Theory and Black feminist theories. Seminar assignments will include several short analytical papers, a multimodal collaborative oral presentation, and an action-oriented final seminar project.

  • Benjamin Banneker, Letter to Thomas Jefferson (1791)
  • David Walker’s Appeal (1829)
  • Confessions of Nat Turner (1831)
  • Productions of Maria W. Stewart (1835)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)
  • Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)
  • The Story of Mattie J. Jackson (1865)
  • Marita Bonner’s “On Being Young – a Woman – and Colored” (1925)
  • James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1955)
  • Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals (1980)
  • Marilyn Nelson, The Freedom Business: Including a Narrative of the Life & Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa (2008)
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (2015)
  • Angela Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle (2016)
  • John Lewis, et al, March vol. 3 (2016)
  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective (2017)
  • Patrisse Cullors, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (2018)
  • Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives (2019)

English 5133/6023 - Theoretical & Research Methods as Rhetorical Praxis

Instructor: Dr. Kenneth Walker
Class Time: W, 6:00-8:45 p.m.
Class Location: TBA

Course Description
This seminar introduces graduate students to theories and methods of professional rhetorical and literary research in the context of cross-cultural and new materialist praxis. To ground theories and methods in specific contexts, students will explore a rich body of theoretical and methodological scholarship as they apply to literatures, films, public formations, political movements, and more. Students can expect a deep understanding of contemporary rhetorical and literary theories, engagement with a broad range of methodological approaches, and professional development through writing processes in teaching materials, review essays, reflective research statements, and research-based seminar projects.

Required Books (most books are available via the JPL, Inter-Library Loan, or the Interwebs)

  • Anzaldua, Luz in lo Oscuro
  • Boyle, Rhetoric as a Posthuman Practice
  • Butler, Parable of the Sower
  • Cintron, Democracy as Fetish
  • Gomez-Barris, Extractive Zone
  • Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
  • Mays, Rivers, & Sharp-Hoskins, Burke + The Posthuman
  • McKittrick, Dear Science
  • Ore, Lynching: Violence, Rhetoric, and American Identity
  • Powers, Overstory
  • Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None

Recommended Books

  • Graham, Where’s the Rhetoric?
  • McGreavy, et. al., Tracing Rhetoric and Material Life
  • McKittrick/Wynter, Being Human as Praxis
  • Walker, Climate Politics on the Border (available in October)

ENG 5013.001: Introduction to Graduate Studies

Instructor: Dr. Jeanne C. Reesman
Class Time: M, 6:00-8:45 p.m.
Class Location: TBA

Course Description
The entry course for M.A. Students in English at UTSA, ENG 5013 surveys period, and genre, directs attention to research methods in literary criticism and theory, and applies practical tips for close reading and analysis of texts on their own terms, dedicated to two seeming opposites: the “art” of literature and the growing cultural “spaces” it engages today. The course provides the students with a “tool-box” of literary philosophies, approaches, and terms, and describes the varying temper of the critical times for the last 100 years. Diverse genres, authors, time periods and settings, and narrative voices will engage us, following the approaches set out in the Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. In that volume are contained “To His Coy Mistress,” “Young Goodman Brown,” and “Everyday Use.” In addition to studying the Handbook’s chapters on various approaches, from Formalism through Postcolonial studies, we will also read Hamlet, Frankenstein, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as Never Let Me Go. This course depends upon the give-and-take of class discussion, so students should be there every week ready to discuss. We will look at one film “Never Let Me Go” and some scenes from various Hamlet and Frankenstein film versions.


  • A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. Ed. Guerin, Wilfred, et al., 6th edn. Oxford Univ P., 2010. (HCAL, including Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress,” Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown”; and Alice Walker, “Everyday Use.”)
  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Rpt. Pocket Books.
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818 edition. Ed. Gordon Hunter, 2nd edn. Norton & Co.
  • Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) (125th Anniversary Edn.) Rpt. Univ California P.
  • Ishiguro, Kazuo, Never Let Me Go. Faber and Faber, 2005.
  • Many of the texts ordered for the class contain references to critical and autobiographic sources.

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