At Stony Brook I teach courses in and beyond my specializations in early American literature and Native American studies.
Here are descriptions of some other courses I’ve taught in recent years.
literary analysis & argumentation (egl 204)
An introduction to the techniques and terminology of close literary analysis and argumentation as applied to poetry, fiction, and drama. The course includes frequent demanding writing assignments and is designed for students beginning their major study in English.
native american texts and contexts (egl 379)
In this course we will be studying Native American autobiography, fiction and poetry, from the mid-nineteenth century through the “Renaissance” in the late twentieth century. Our discussions will explore some of the critical issues surrounding Native American literature, including the interplay between writing and oral traditions, the notion of cultural authenticity, and the engagements between Native and non-native intellectuals.
topics in cultural studies (egl 585): literary studies and civic education
In this course, we will learn how literary studies, especially in high school, have been a vehicle for teaching patriotism and democratic values. We will consider how this civic emphasis informed approaches to literary pedagogy in general and to the teaching of the curricular mainstays of the twentieth-century, such as Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In addition to literary works, we will read works on literary criticism, educational policy and the history of education. This course may seem especially relevant to present or future K-12 teachers, but it may also be of interest to those pursuing careers in literary and American studies. One of its central premises is that the classroom – perhaps because it is right under our noses – is a seriously neglected site for scholars concerned with the “cultural work” of literary texts.
problems in teaching literature (egl 593): american tales and sketches
This course is on 19th century short fictional forms and the writers who employed them, including Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Chesnutt, and Gilman. The course readings, both primary and secondary, will consist entirely of e-texts.
period and tradition (egl 606): early american studies
Colonists and Indians as Historical Subjects and Objects of Representation
In Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (1991), Stephen Greenblatt expresses a wariness about treating the writings of early modern Europeans as source material on the Americas and their inhabitants: “We can be certain only that European representations of the New World tell us something about the European practice of representation” (7). This caveat is too strict, but it does speak to a continuing tension that attends the disciplinary encounter that Greenblatt helped to bring about. It is an oversimplification to say that historians look through representations of colonial encounters to see a real world, characterized by material circumstances, inhabited by historical subjects participating in real events, while literary scholars confine their analysis to those representations and the factors that shaped them – experience, perhaps, but also generic conventions, ideologies, and personal and political agendas. Yet the two disciplines bring different points of emphasis, methodologies, and evidentiary values to the same topics. And while literary scholars, since their relatively recent intervention into the field, have often positioned their arguments as correctives to the existing historiography, the institutional conditions within Early American Studies are such that it is they, rather than the historians, who are obliged to demonstrate the value of their scholarly contributions outside the bounds of their discipline.This course, accordingly, examines the relations between representations and history, and between literary and historical studies, in the early American period, particularly with regard to colonial encounters between Europeans and Native Americans.