Current Graduate Courses

SPRING 2021 Graduate Courses

*All CLASSES WILL BE TAUGHT ONLINE

 

CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS

ENGL B1960 – YA Fiction: The Dangerous Journey into the Woods
Pamela Laskin
Tuesday 6:45-8:35

Young Adult Literature pushes the boundaries with an openness and honesty that enables young people to discard the mask. The “unmasking” enables the literature, with its focus on political and social discontent, to function as amoral compass for teens. The complex journey of self- discovery begins in the woods, and the teen’s experimentation in the forest expedites identity. This workshop begins with fairy tales; moves into form (novels in verse) and concludes with issue based young adult frequently dangerous landscape. Students will be required to submit a fairy tale piece; a form piece; and two young adult short stories or one longer young adult short story. Every student will have his or her piece workshopped twice during the semester. Revision will be stressed, so that each assignment might involve at least one draft. We will have one guest speaker, and students must attend two young YA readings and write a one-page synopsis for each. Students will also discover new and innovative ways of critically reading the course material, while also having fun! 

Pamela Laskin directs the Poetry Outreach Center at City College. Several of her children’s and poetry books have been published, most recently, Ronit And Jamil, a Palestinian/Israeli version of “Romeo and Juliet” in verse published by Harper Collins in 2017. BEA, a picture book, was a finalist for the Katherine Paterson Prize for Children’s Fiction. She teaches children’s writing in the MFA program. WHY NO GOODBYE, winner of the Leapfrog International Fiction contest as well as RONIT AND JAMIL.

ENGL B1965 – The Experiment in Fiction in the 20th Century
Prof. Mark J. Mirsky
Thursday 6:45-8:35

This course looks back on the tradition of the experiment in several literary classics of the last century. The instructor has chosen those that search the border between what is imagined in the minds of the characters and what is regarded as a depiction of the reality of its characters’ homes, lives, their social and political worlds, determined by the focus of their plots. The course also questions what draws the authors of these books to riddle what readers recognize as reality and what belongs to the realm of dream. The instructor may subtract from the syllabus or add to it as the class proceeds, trying to focus on a single story in a class or several classes in the case of a novel. two questions about each full-length book we read, or when discussing several stories by a single author, one of the author’s stories. He will respond to the questions submitted by students. The questions, and responses in emails and Zoom sessions in addition to his lecture notes on the texts will be at the primary method of instruction. The instructor hopes to initiate a discussion during classes among students as if it were a creative writing seminar. He requires a short final paper if between eight and ten pages. It can be a critical response, or a creative one that draws on the student’s personal experience as it is mirrored in a book or story on the list of required reading. Several of the novels are long and challenging but they are also books that the instructor read with a sense of having been changed as a writer in the process of reading them.

The instructor has been the editor of the journal Fiction since its founding in 1972. His publications include six novels, a memoir, essays, introductions to collections of fiction, and the journals of the European novelist, Robert Musil.

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 (listed among the 100 Essential Books of New England—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 Plot in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 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).

ENGL B2151 – Digital Publishing/Non-Fiction
Michael Archer
Monday 4:45-6:35

Online magazines have become home to established and well-regarded nonfiction writers, but are also giving up-and-coming writers more opportunities than ever to have their work read by a wide audience, and their careers launched. This course will examine some of the most respected and influential online magazines and journals, with the goal of students having a nonfiction piece ready to be submitted to one of these publications by semester’s end. Discussions will begin by asking what makes each of these publications unique, what makes submitting and publishing a nonfiction piece online different from print, what are each of these publications looking for, and which would be the best home for the students’ works. Periodically, we will have editors and/or authors from these publications visit sessions and join in discussions. While reading and critiquing a range of online nonfiction pieces (personal essay, memoir, reportage, literary journalism, etc.), students will be working on their own pieces, which will be workshopped and revised throughout the semester.

Michael Archer is the founding editor of Guernica Magazine (guernicamag.com), where he was Editor-in-Chief for 13 years and a recipient of the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing. He is currently the chief editorial advisor for both Guernica and Adi (adimagazine.com). His commentary, reporting, and fiction have appeared in numerous publications.

ENGL B3000 -- Fiction Workshop
Prof. Emily Raboteau
Monday 6:45-8:35

The primary focus of this workshop is on enhancing narrative structure in students’ own work. I aim to foster a positive atmosphere where different voices and genres are celebrated and where we can learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Students are expected to share two polished short stories or novel segments over the course of the semester and to formally and thoughtfully critique each other’s work. Using the mechanical vocabulary of the craft (tone, characterization, plot, conflict, point of view, point of entry, dialogue, pace, setting, theme, structure, ending, etc…) students will locate what each submission has going for it and suggest ways to make it grow, though our discussion will be heavily plot-driven and revolve around story-mapping. We’ll discuss outside exemplary material when useful and do brief in-class writing exercises on occasion. Students are required to keep a writing journal and encouraged to meet with me during office hours the week after their work is discussed.

Emily Raboteau is a novelist, essayist, and cultural critic.  She is the 2020-2021 Stuart Z. Katz Professor of Humanities and Arts at CCNY as well as 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 change and environmental justice, will be published by Henry Holt, who will also publish her next novel, Endurance. Bylines include The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York Magazine, McSweeney's, The Guardian, Best American Short Stories, and Best American Travel Writing.

ENGL B3000 –Fiction Workshop
Prof. Lyn Di Iorio
Tuesday 4:45-6:35

In this workshop, graduate students will focus mainly on writing and revising two or three self-contained and short works of fiction and critiquing the work of fellow writers (through both written and oral comments). Using the technical terms of the craft (such as characterization, structure, conflict, desire line, point of view, dialogue, beats, tone, setting, theme, etc.), we will discuss what each submission is trying to accomplish and suggest ways to help the writer strengthen the work. We’ll also discuss outside fiction when useful and chapters from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, 2nd edition, by Renni Browne and Dave King, a book which members of this class should purchase. In order to prepare for and project toward future submissions to literary journals or magazines, each student will also be assigned to read several issues of one literary journal and write and deliver an oral report assessing the type of work the journal tends to publish. I may also ask class members to distribute a story for the class to read that embodies the journal's preferences and expectations. With this assignment I hope to develop a mini archive of sorts of different publications appropriate for the diverse works written by our class.One or two professional practicing authors may also visit our class to discuss craft issues.

Lyn Di Iorio’s book-in-process, Hurricanes and Other Stories, won a 2018 Advanced Research Collaborative Distinguished Fellowship, a 2018 CUNY Office of Research Book Completion Award and a 2020 PSC-CUNY Research Foundation Award.  She has published short stories in The Kenyon Review, The Texas Review, Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas and The New Guard Review, among others; and articles in Public Books, Harvard Magazine, The Harvard Gazette, and others.  Her first novel Outside the Bones  (Arte Público Press) won the 2011 Foreword Review Indie Book of the Year Silver Award for literary fiction, the Latinidad  best debut award and was top-five finalist for the 2012 John Gardner Fiction Award.  She also authored Killing Spanish (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), a book of essays on Latinx literature identity, and co-edited Moments of Magical Realism in US Ethnic Literatures (Palgrave Macmillan 2012) and another book on Latinx literary criticism.  She has won residencies and fellowships from The Millay Colony for the Arts, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center and Ucross.  She left Puerto Rico to complete her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University.  Later, she was a Patricia Harris fellow at Stanford University’s graduate Creative Writing Program and received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.  She teaches creative writing workshops and critical practice and literature classes on magical realism, the short story, Caribbean and Latinx literature, and Gothic literary tropes in the Americas.  She does not really separate her life in books from reality and her apartment expands magically to hold books, mirrors, labyrinths, cats, antique radios and other old, odd objects.

ENGL B3000 – Fiction Workshop
Prof. Salar Abdoh
Tuesday 6:45-8:35

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 is the author of the following novels: The Poet Game (Picador), Opium (Faber), Tehran at Twilight (Akashic), and Out of Mesopotamia (Akashic). He is also the editor and translator of Tehran Noir (Akashic). His essays appear regularly in a variety of publications in the US and abroad.

B3000 -- Fiction Workshop
Prof. Keith Gandal
Wednesday 6:45-8:35

Students in this Graduate Workshop course will develop the art of drafting and rewriting stories. Students will read a variety of published short stories over the course of the semester, learning the elements of short fiction and developing a critical vocabulary of the craft. Students will also read each others’ work every week, and student writing is the focus of the course. Students will submit their own original works for discussion and sharpen their skills of critique--and the ability to self- edit--as they evaluate and discuss peers’ writing. The workshop trajectory of the class will be to move from short writing exercises to rough drafts of a short story to a polished story. More specifically, we will be working on producing writing that is socially and culturally specific, or, to put it another way, rooted in and animated by the specifics of culture, class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality nationality, family, disability, and so on—which you all have been shaped by whether you prefer to think about it or not. In this course, you will be required to think about such shaping. The texts I have chosen likewise reflect this aim. I have chosen writers who have managed to communicate their tales in their specific cultural idioms and thus to represent, not only persons or ideas, but specific places, communities, cultural moments. If you think about it, this is a very broad project I am describing, which comprehends all kinds of very different writing. Such a commitment to specificity or rootedness does not imply realism or any particular genre. As you will see, some of the writing we will look at is not realism; some of it is in fact surreal or outlandish. (But if you simply do not want to be pushed in any direction as a writer, you should not take this particular creative writing class.)

Keith Gandal is Professor of English at City College of New York, with a joint appointment in American Literature and Creative Writing. He received his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of five books: four scholarly monographs and a novel. His research has focused on two areas of American studies: literature and poverty, and literature and war. His scholarly books are The Virtues of the Vicious: Jacob Riis, Stephen Crane and the Spectacle of the Slum (Oxford University Press, 1997), Class Representation in Modern Fiction and Film (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), The Gun and the Pen: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and the Fiction of Mobilization (Oxford, 2008), and War Isn’t the Only Hell: A New Reading of World War I American Literature (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). The novel, Cleveland Anonymous (North Atlantic Books, 2002), combines a variety of genres, including comedy and mystery. At City College, he has served as MFA director, MA director, deputy chairperson, and chair.

B3200 -- Poetry Workshop
Michelle Y. Valladares
Tuesday 4:45-6:35

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 and deep 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) and other 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 – Playwriting Workshop
Prof. Robert Barron
Thursday 4:45-6:35

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 Teacher. 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 Washington; 5/31/89: 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 theYale 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 Mae West, 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) will be screened at the Milan International Film Festival and the Lisbon Rendezvous. He is also the Artistic Director of Two Beans Productions, a company devoted to producing theatre for family audiences all across the country.

B3606 – The Long Essay, Non-Fiction Workshop
Prof. Linda Villarosa
Wednesday 4:45-6:35

This course is designed to examine the creative possibilities that true stories hold. We will study at the intersection of journalism and creative nonfiction, exploring genres from news and magazine writing to memoir and personal essays. Students will learn the research, reporting and especially interviewing skills essential to nonfiction writing, as well as how to incorporate techniques traditionally associated with fiction writing into journalism and nonfiction. We will strive to find and shape what Phillip Lopate calls the "volcanic voice" into compelling narratives, reading and engaging with a range of nonfiction prose and quality journalism. Students will use workshop-style class time to share and shape work and develop skills as editors and as writers.

Linda Villarosa is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, covering race and public health and a former executive editor at Essence Magazine. In 2017, her cover story "America's Hidden HIV Epidemic" was honored with an Excellence in Journalism Award by the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists; that organization inducted her into its Hall of Fame in 2020. Linda's 2018 Times Magazine cover story on infant and maternal mortality in black mothers and babies was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Last year she contributed to the ground breaking 1619 Project. Her essay highlighted physiological myths, based on race, that have endured since slavery. Linda's April 29, 2020 cover story examined race, health disparities and covid-19 through the lens of the Zulu Social Club of New Orleans, and her August 2, 2020 article, The Refinery Next Door, looked at environmental justice in Philadelphia. Linda teaches journalism and Black Studies at the City College of New York and is writing the book Under the Skin: Race, Inequality and the Health of a Nation, which will be published by Doubleday in 2021. 


CRITICAL PRACTICE

ENGL B1965 – The Experiment in Fiction in the 20th Century
Prof. Mark J. Mirsky
Thursday 6:45-8:35

This course looks back on the tradition of the experiment in several literary classics of the last century. The instructor has chosen those that search the border between what is imagined in the minds of the characters and what is regarded as a depiction of the reality of its characters’ homes, lives, their social and political worlds, determined by the focus of their plots. The course also questions what draws the authors of these books to riddle what readers recognize as reality and what belongs to the realm of dream. The instructor may subtract from the syllabus or add to it as the class proceeds, trying to focus on a single story in a class or several classes in the case of a novel. two questions about each full-length book we read, or when discussing several stories by a single author, one of the author’s stories. He will respond to the questions submitted by students. The questions, and responses in emails and Zoom sessions in addition to his lecture notes on the texts will be at the primary method of instruction. The instructor hopes to initiate a discussion during classes among students as if it were a creative writing seminar. He requires a short final paper if between eight and ten pages. It can be a critical response, or a creative one that draws on the student’s personal experience as it is mirrored in a book or story on the list of required reading. Several of the novels are long and challenging but they are also books that the instructor read with a sense of having been changed as a writer in the process of reading them.

The instructor has been the editor of the journal Fiction since its founding in 1972. His publications include six novels, a memoir, essays, introductions to collections of fiction, and the journals of the European novelist, Robert Musil.

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 (listed among the 100 Essential Books of New England—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 Plot in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 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).

ENGL B1983 – American Poetry Mentors, 1945 to Now
David Groff
Thursday 4:45-6:35

As we learn where poets have gone before us, we can better venture where we need to go.  Our poet-forerunners can serve as mentors, guides, guardians, and inspirers for how we can write and read today. In this course, we will trace the paths of American poets who emerged between the end of World War II and contemporary times and discover how they can influence our own writing. From the Beats to the Confessional Poets, the New York School, the Black Arts movement, the New Formalism, feminist poetics, ecopoetry, language poetry, postmodernism, political poets emerging in the twenty-first century, and other movements in our own times, we will look at certain poetic “schools,” as well as the work of many poets resolutely un-schooled, and we’ll see what we can learn from them as we write poetry in our own era. We’ll have a special focus on writing by minority poets and other marginalized writers, non-American poets who have influenced their U.S. counterparts, and those mentor-poets who challenge prevailing concepts of what a poem can be and do. We’ll focus too on poets of our own times who can help us point out own paths.  Coursework for American Poetry Mentors will include (1) writing poems in imitation, response, reaction, rejection, or revision of the mentor-poets you are reading; (2) writing several short critical introductions and analyses of mentor-poets; and (3) completing a final prose/poetry project that integrates your study of your forerunners into your own vision for your writing and/or reading of contemporary poetry. You’ll share and workshop your poems and critical work with other participants in the course, so we all can benefit from what each student is discovering. Texts for American Poetry Mentors may include a published anthology along with handouts and linked texts. The course is for everyone intrigued by the modern lineage of American poets and how those poets can mentor us.

David Groff received his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. He also has an MA in English and Expository Writing from the University of Iowa. His two books of poetry are Clay (Trio House Press, 2013) and Theory of Devolution (University of Illinois Press, 2002). He has coedited the anthologies Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners.

ENGL B2151 – Digital Publishing/Non-Fiction
Michael Archer
Monday 4:45-6:35

Online magazines have become home to established and well-regarded nonfiction writers, but are also giving up-and-coming writers more opportunities than ever to have their work read by a wide audience, and their careers launched. This course will examine some of the most respected and influential online magazines and journals, with the goal of students having a nonfiction piece ready to be submitted to one of these publications by semester’s end. Discussions will begin by asking what makes each of these publications unique, what makes submitting and publishing a nonfiction piece online different from print, what are each of these publications looking for, and which would be the best home for the students’ works. Periodically, we will have editors and/or authors from these publications visit sessions and join in discussions. While reading and critiquing a range of online nonfiction pieces (personal essay, memoir, reportage, literary journalism, etc.), students will be working on their own pieces, which will be workshopped and revised throughout the semester.

Michael Archer is the founding editor of Guernica Magazine (guernicamag.com), where he was Editor-in-Chief for 13 years and a recipient of the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing. He is currently the chief editorial advisor for both Guernica and Adi (adimagazine.com). His commentary, reporting, and fiction have appeared in numerous publications.

B2032 – Hurston / Wright Archives
Nelly Rosario
Thursday 4:45 – 6:35

This course in generative writing and critical-practice course explores the role of writers as preservers of history and culture, as archive creators and curators, as archival subjects themselves. The course is part of the Harlem Archives Project, an initiative of City College’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and the Black Studies Program that “enables the next generation of writers to attend to the stories of the Harlem community at large.” As points of departure, we will examine the lives and works of Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and other Black writers, using archival storytelling strategies/tools and open-source digital collections. Projects will include development of the Langston Hughes Festival archives at City College and collaborations on the Hurston/Wright’s Legacy: 30 Years in DC anniversary project by the Hurston/Wright Foundation. The course aims to address the following:

  • What unique forms might an archive take beyond a physical collection of artifacts?  
  • How might the archive inform the creation—and definition—of literary work?  
  • What is the relationship between archives and power?
  • What information might the archivist/writer choose to include and omit, reveal and conceal?How might an archivist deploy a “radical empathy” that takes into account the record creator(s), record subject(s), records user(s), and the larger community?

Students submit weekly creative responses to course material and discussions, aligning with personal project goals wherever possible. Emergent creative work may aim to engage a specific community, contribute to existing archival efforts, conduct research for a writing project, and/or generate original writing for publication.

Nelly Rosario is Associate Professor in the Latina/o Studies Program at Williams College. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and is the author of Song of the Water Saints: A Novel, winner of a PEN/ Open Book Award. Her fiction and nonfiction work appears in various journals and anthologies, including Critical Diálogos in Latina and Latino Studies (eds. A. Ramos-Zayas, M. Rúa, NYU Press) and Teaching Black: Pedagogy, Practice, and Perspectives on Writing (eds. D. Brown, A. Lara, University of Pittsburgh Press), both forthcoming. Rosario is the recipient of a Creative Capital Artist Award in Literature for desveladas, a collaborative graphic-novel project of stories from the Americas. She was formerly on faculty at Texas State University and a Visiting Scholar at her alma mater MIT, where she has served as Assistant Director of Writing for the MIT Black History Project. Rosario is currently at work on a speculative novel about community medicine.


B3002 – Craft of the Novel
Amir Ahmadi
Monday 6:45 – 8:35

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 started his writing career in 2000 as a journalist in Iran. In Farsi, he has published two novels Cogwheels and Disappearance of Daniel, a collection of stories (Fragments of a Crime), and a book of nonfiction on the state of Iranian literature in the new millennium Graffiti on the Paper Wall. He also translated from English to Farsi novels by E.L Doctorow, Paul Auster, P.D. James, and Cormac McCarthy. He switched to writing in English in 2012, and has published short stories and essays in The New York Times, The Guardian, London Review of Books, Massachusetts Review, Asymptote, open Democracy. He earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Queensland in Australia, and an MFA in creative writing from NYU.


LITERATURE


ENGL B2028 – The Nineteenth-Century British Novel
Prof. Renata Miller
Monday 4:45-6:35

As we “hunker down” during Covid-19, this course will serve as your companion as we read three big novels: Charles Dickens’s Bleak House (1852-53), George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-72), and Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1894). These novels are big in the sense of their ambition, their scope, their influence, and their physical size. They are landmark works of nineteenth-century fiction, representing the Dickensian view of social class in a newly urbanized society, Eliot’s contributions to realism, and Hardy as a key figure in the turn from the Victorian era to modernism. As we read these novels we will play close attention to distinctive features of their form. Using online resources and archives, including Robyn Warhol’s Reading Like a Victorian site (https://victorianserialnovels.org/), we will try to understand how audiences experienced these works in their own time, and how these works help us to understand the Victorian era. For example, we will some of all of the novels in digitized images of their original form of publication—in serial installments. We will also read selected literary criticism. Following on the class activities, written work will ask you to consider the novel as a participant in the culture of its time. 

Renata Kobetts Miller is deputy dean of Humanities and the Arts and professor of English. Her most recent book is The Victorian Actress in the Novel and on the Stage (Edinburgh University Press, November 2018). She is also the author of a book on reinterpretations of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and of articles on the Victorian novel, theater, and culture. She regularly mentors work on any area of Victorian literature and culture, and she particularly welcomes student projects on various topics in the area of English literature and culture of the 1890s, and on science and literature in nineteenth-century England. Because of her work supporting the use of Digital Humanities tools in research and pedagogy, she is also amenable to working with students interested in using digital platforms.

ENGL B1968 – The Historical Novel After Modernism
Prof. Robert Higney
Monday 6:45-8:35

Over the past 20 years, about 75% of novels nominated for major American literary awards have been set in the historical past. Critics used to describe historical fiction as a nineteenth-century genre (think Sir Walter Scott, or Tolstoy’s War and Peace) that lost relevance with the formal experiments of modernism, and that lived on primarily as a nostalgic entertainment genre. Yet today the historical novel has become arguably the dominant form of prestige literary fiction. When, how, and why did this happen? In this course we’ll revisit the history of the genre itself and major critical statements, and examine both historical fiction and historical writing itself as narrative genres. But our reading will focus primarily on developments in historical fiction since the mid-twentieth-century, and on the uses to which it has been put by postcolonial, diasporic, and contemporary writers. Exact reading list is still very much TBD, but texts may include works such as Alejo Carpentier, The Kingdom of This World; Toni Morrison, Beloved; Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower; Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions; Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba; Laila Lalami, The Moor’s Account; and others. Coursework will include brief weekly posts, a short midterm assignment, and a final research or creative project. 

Robert Higney researches, teaches 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 global Anglophone fiction. Recent work has appeared in the journals Novel, Contemporary Literature, and Modernism/modernity. In the graduate program, he has taught courses on contemporary fiction and the twentieth-century British novel, and he has advised MFA fiction theses and MA theses on topics including Toni Morrison’s use of the supernatural, border-crossing in the novels of Ernest Hemingway and Salman Rushdie, early women novelists in India, and early sci-fi and “weird fiction.”

ENGL B2140 – Immigration Literature: Place-Language-Identity
Grazyna Drabik
Tuesday 4:45 – 6:35

Much of literature of immigration revolves around the issues of dislocation, non-belonging (the need & desire to belong), and the dynamic of forging connections with a new place. We'll approach this complex dialectics of place, language, and identity from different but overlapping perspectives: the life in the borderlands, with focus on Chicano/a & Native American voices; the displacement of exiles and refugees; and the conflicts, dualities and new options of the second generation of immigrants. We'll pay special attention to the writers, our contemporaries, who speak with the "forked-tongue." Writing from the perspective of bi-cultural, marginal, and/or transnational experience, they are particularly attuned to complexities and contradictions of on-going cultural transformations. Our readings include a couple of novels, a play, two collections of short stories, personal essays, as well as a special selection of poems, secondary & theoretical writings.

Grazyna Drabik teaches World Humanities & Immigration Literature at City College and a seminar on Arts in New York at Macaulay Honors College, CUNY. My areas of special interest are cross-cultural exchanges and challenges of literary translation. I have recently published the translation of Andrzej Bobkowski’s Wartime Notebooks: France, 1940-1944 (Yale University Press, 2018) and I am currently preparing a large selection of poems by Brazilian poet Adélia Prado, to be published in Polish.

B1809 – Virginia Woolf and her World
Prof. Václav Paris
Wednesday 4:45 – 6:35

All writers create their own world, but few are as rich, as strange, and as influential as that of Virginia Woolf. Woolf’s world is not easy to enter. Her novels, ranging from her early Voyage Out to her late Between the Acts are complex psychological structures that make few concessions to lazy readers. Her networks were often private. Orlando, a fantasy about (among other things) transsexuality and living through centuries, is also a love letter to her friend, Vita Sackville-West. But once you get into Woolf, you’ll find that it’s even harder to get out. Woolf changes the way you see things. She gives you a vocabulary for what is going on under the surface, for understanding pervasive features of everyday life that you didn’t even suspect before. Reading all of Woolf’s major novels, a range of her essays and short fiction, and some of the works of those in her circle, this course offers a way into her world, which is also—as we will come to see—increasingly our world. Evaluation will be on the basis of participation in class sessions, in the online discussion board, and through a midterm essay and final paper.

Václav Paris is an assistant professor specializing in literature from around the world from the first half of the twentieth century. My new book, a work of literary criticism titled The Evolutions of Modernist Epic, will be published in January 2021. It discusses texts by Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Jaroslav Hašek, Virginia Woolf, and Mário de Andrade in relation to Darwinism, new ideas about sexuality, and the literary genre of the epic. My other research deals with nature, primitivism (including in the Harlem Renaissance), literary theory, Finnegans Wake, translation, surrealism, Ezra Pound, and Walt Whitman. At City College I have advised masters theses on topics including modernism, comparative literature, queer theory, the Kafkaesque, contemporary feminism, literature and the environment, disability studies, and the experimental novel, as well as, occasionally, in innovative creative writing.


B2135 – Cruising Utopia on the Caribbean Seas
Prof. Kedon Willis
Wednesday 6:45 – 8:35

Cruising Utopia on the Caribbean Seas examines the aesthetic forms, cultural practices, political concepts and sexual exchanges that queer Caribbean authors since the 1980s have called on in their writings in order to imagine more ideal societies. The course is transnational in scope, reflecting the political, cultural and linguistic diversity of the region. Students will engage with writers and poets such, Marlon James (Jamaica), Rita Indiana (The Dominican Republic) and Rajiv Mohabir (Guyana), among others, to investigate how they address the shortcomings of independence and variously propose radical constructs that break down the limits of the modern nation-state. Students will therefore investigate concepts such as postcolonialism, postnationalism and queer futurity while engaging with the critical works of theorists such as Frantz Fanon, Audre Lorde and José Esteban Muñoz.

Kedon Willis is the current Pforzheimer Fellow and comes to City College from the University of Florida where he received his PhD in English. His research focuses on contemporary queer authors from the Caribbean, and he is particularly interested in the thematic concerns that unite them despite differences of culture, history and language. Kedon was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and came to the US as an undergrad to study journalism. He has since worked as a journalist in New York and Jamaica, and as a language assistant in France. He is also a passionate fan of curry dishes.
 

B2032 – Hurston / Wright Archives
Nelly Rosario
Thursday 4:45 – 6:35

This course in generative writing and critical-practice course explores the role of writers as preservers of history and culture, as archive creators and curators, as archival subjects themselves. The course is part of the Harlem Archives Project, an initiative of City College’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and the Black Studies Program that “enables the next generation of writers to attend to the stories of the Harlem community at large.” As points of departure, we will examine the lives and works of Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and other Black writers, using archival storytelling strategies/tools and open-source digital collections. Projects will include development of the Langston Hughes Festival archives at City College and collaborations on the Hurston/Wright’s Legacy: 30 Years in DC anniversary project by the Hurston/Wright Foundation. The course aims to address the following:

  • What unique forms might an archive take beyond a physical collection of artifacts?  
  • How might the archive inform the creation—and definition—of literary work?  
  • What is the relationship between archives and power?
  • What information might the archivist/writer choose to include and omit, reveal and conceal?
  • How might an archivist deploy a “radical empathy” that takes into account the record creator(s), record subject(s), records user(s), and the larger community?

Students submit weekly creative responses to course material and discussions, aligning with personal project goals wherever possible. Emergent creative work may aim to engage a specific community, contribute to existing archival efforts, conduct research for a writing project, and/or generate original writing for publication.

Nelly Rosario is Associate Professor in the Latina/o Studies Program at Williams College. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and is the author of Song of the Water Saints: A Novel, winner of a PEN/ Open Book Award. Her fiction and nonfiction work appears in various journals and anthologies, including Critical Diálogos in Latina and Latino Studies (eds. A. Ramos-Zayas, M. Rúa, NYU Press) and Teaching Black: Pedagogy, Practice, and Perspectives on Writing (eds. D. Brown, A. Lara, University of Pittsburgh Press), both forthcoming. Rosario is the recipient of a Creative Capital Artist Award in Literature for desveladas, a collaborative graphic-novel project of stories from the Americas. She was formerly on faculty at Texas State University and a Visiting Scholar at her alma mater MIT, where she has served as Assistant Director of Writing for the MIT Black History Project. Rosario is currently at work on a speculative novel about community medicine.
 

B0000 – Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Prof. Paul Oppenheimer
Thursday 6:45 – 8:35

The bawdy, delicate, beautiful, philosophical and damned: Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. This major work by the first great poet to write in English, and who influenced all other English-language poets of any consequence, will be the chief focus of a course that will also examine some of Chaucer’s shorter lyrics while considering medieval culture and its ideals, which continue to influence humanity and literature some six centuries later. Readings in easily mastered Middle English. One brief in-class presentation, one research paper.

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, just out, is Poetry and Freedom: Discoveries in Aesthetics, 1985-2018.


LANGUAGE AND LITERACY


ENGL B6100 – Sociolinguistics
Prof. Barbara Gleason

Tuesday 6:45– 8:35

This course offers an introduction to sociolinguistics, a field that focuses on how language works in our everyday lives and on the forms of language that we use. Sociolinguists study how we manage language in conversations—how we open and close conversations, take turns, interrupt other speakers, introduce new topics, and repair perceived errors in utterances. Sociolinguists also focus on language varieties: standard languages, regional dialects, social dialects, and ethnic dialects—such as African American Vernacular English and Latinx Englishes—and on creoles and pidgins. And sociolinguists study levels of formality (style), influences of our occupations and professions on language (registers), and discourse forms--such as advertisements, stories, personal essays (genre). In addition, gender and sexuality can influence our language, as can educational experience and media (print texts, email, Twitter, etc.).  We will survey this entire range of topics and consider some research approaches, with a special focus on ethnographic methods. Course participants will engage in weekly written and spoken discussions of class readings, observe language use and write informally about these observations, complete one exam (outside class meetings), and write a case study of one person’s language use. Attending & actively contributing to weekly online class discussions is required.
Textbook: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, 7th edition, by Ronald Wardhaugh and Janet M. Fuller (Wiley/Blackwell, 2015).

Barbara Gleason is a professor in the CCNY English Department, Director of the MA in Language and Literacy, Editor of Basic Writing Electronic Journal (BWe), and—with Anita Caref, James Dunn, Erick Martinez, Lynn Reid, and Maria Vint—the primary author of “Forming Adult Educators: The MA in Language and Literacy at The City College of New York.”
 

ENGL B8117 – Composition Pedagogies
Missy Watson
Wednesday 6:45– 8:35

This course surveys a range of pedagogical approaches to the teaching of college composition, including expressive, process, critical, rhetorical, new media, translingual, feminist, hip-hop, antiracist, and other approaches. Through reading seminal essays in composition studies alongside our course text—Gary Tate, Amy Rupiper Taggart, Kurt Schick, and H. Brooke Hessler’s 2nd edition of A Guide to Composition Pedagogies—we will uncover and emphasize connections between pedagogical theories and our everyday teaching practices. Further, we will investigate best practices in teaching composition, some of the challenges and opportunities of working with diverse learners, the politics of composition in higher education, as well as strategies for developing and enacting curriculum. While most relevant to college composition, the pedagogies and strategies reviewed may inform other teaching contexts. Part of the course will also include a guest lecture by Dr. Adam Banks who is Professor at Stanford, the 2015 Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and author of several books examining the intersections of African American rhetoric, digital divides, and composition pedagogies.