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    English 90kb. Poems of Seamus Heaney and Thomas Hardy

    Instructor: Elaine Scarry
    Thursday, 3:00-5:00 pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    Written a century apart, the poems of Seamus Heaney and Thomas Hardy create an urgent call and response between earth and under-earth. The poets share metrical virtuosity, compressed lyric forms, the unfolding of personal history within public crisis and transformation, and the recognition that the acuity of sentience - the daily practice of exquisitely precise perceptual acts - is the ethical center of our brief stay above ground.

    English 90ll. Law and Literature

    Instructor: Kelly Rich
    Wednesday, 9:45-11:45am | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    ​​​​​​​Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    This course will explore the complex relationship between literature and law, focusing on how each represents and responds to violence and its aftermath. As we survey a series of twentieth-century juridical paradigms (trials, rights, reparations, and reconciliation), our goal will not be to judge the efficacy of literary and legal projects, but rather to study how they imagine issues of guilt, responsibility, testimony, commemoration, apology and forgiveness. Our readings will include novels, short stories, poetry, legal theory, documentaries, and key documents of international law: authors will most likely include Hannah Arendt, J.M. Coetzee, Jacques Derrida, Franz Kafka, Michael Ondaatje, Julie Otsuka, and M. NourbeSe Philip.

    English 90wl. The Future of World Literature

    Instructor: Martin Puchner
    Tuesday, 12:45-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15

    The course serves as an introduction to world literature and aims to ask big-picture questions: when and under what circumstances did written stories first emerge? How were they stored? And how will they be transmitted to the future?

    The first part is exploratory and is based on working with the Norton Anthology of World Literature. We’ll read widely across 4000 years of literature, and, using the Norton introductions and headnotes for guidance, assemble the big picture of literary evolution. Topics of discussion will include the dynamics of writing technologies from Mesopotamian clay tablet to the internet; the emergence of new genres; the increasing differentiation of literature into religious, historical, political, and fictional stories; and the changing marketplace of world literature. Readings include the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Analects of Confucius, the Arabian Nights, The Tale of Genji, the Popol Vuh, and the Epic of Sunjata.

    The second part is a laboratory. Working individually and in groups, we’ll devise strategies for preserving literature for the future. Which texts and types of literature should we select? How should we store them to assure their survival? And how can we communicate the significance of these texts to humans living in the distant future? This laboratory workshop will give us a chance to challenge existing canons and to envision the literature of the future. Readings and selections for the second part to be chosen by students.... Read more about English 90wl. The Future of World Literature

    English 184cf. City Fictions

    Instructor: Tara Menon
    Monday & Wednesday, 9:00-10:15am | Location: TBA
    Course Website

    Cities are composed of contradictions: playgrounds for the rich and sites of concentrated poverty, highly organised and totally chaotic, an endless party and the loneliest places on earth. How do we write about them? In this course, we will examine how a range of writers represent city life in four major metropolises: London, Bombay, New York, and Tokyo. We will focus primarily on one book set in each of these cities—Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City, Teju Cole’s Open City, and Yu Miri’s Tokyo Ueno Station—and supplement our reading with short stories, journalism, sociology, and movies by writers including: Zadie Smith, Edith Wharton, James Baldwin, Katherine Boo, Spike Lee, and more. 

    What techniques do fiction writers, journalists, and filmmakers use to capture the constituent features of life in urban environments? How do these narratives represent social interactions? How do they depict interiority and consciousness? What kinds of characters are included in the field of vision? What kind of labour, if any, is represented? How, if at all, does the identity of the writer shape the stories they are telling? Other topics under consideration: class, race, gender, industrialisation, finance, greed, alienation, strangers, estrangement, economic inequality, cosmopolitanism, crime, immigration. 

    English 231. Divine Comedies: Graduate Seminar

    Instructor: Nicholas Watson
    Tuesday, 9:00-11:00 am | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    ​​​​​​​Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    A study of four poetic and/or visionary works written 1300-1400: Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, John of Morigny's Book of Flowers, Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Love, and William Langland's Piers Plowman. We consider the inter-relationship between the poetic and the visionary in light of the categories of "orthodoxy" and "discretion of spirits" during a period when both were fiercely contested.

    Note: This course is open, space permitting, to qualified undergraduates: please show up on the first day or contact Prof. Watson if you are an undergrad who wants to take the course.

    English 287ag. Black Literary Avant-Gardes: Graduate Seminar

    Instructor: Jesse McCarthy
    Thursday, 3:00-5:00pm
    Course Website
    ​​​​​​​Enrollment: Limited to 15

    In his classic manifesto “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” Langston Hughes declared that his generation of artists and poets—upstarts coming of age in the roaring twenties—was determined to build what he called “temples for tomorrow.” How should we read that phrase today? Recent debates in Black Studies and in African American Literature over temporality, periodization, affect, and antagonism, suggest that we may not have an adequate theory of the avant-garde, or at least we may need to update the one we inherit from Poggioli (1968). By revisiting the avant-garde, we renew a concept that touches on a wealth of topics of interest to contemporary theoretical and methodological debates: taste, politics, publics and counter-publics, signifying, archives, transnationalism, translation, incompleteness, failure, and the circulation and manipulation of new medias. There are also the classic questions: Who gets to decide what constitutes an "avant-garde" or avant-gardes? What is the relationship between avant-garde artistic movements and political or militant ones? This course will explore all of these themes comparatively, with readings drawn from poems, plays, novels, and films, and we will range widely across the African diaspora, without neglecting important formations in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America.... Read more about English 287ag. Black Literary Avant-Gardes: Graduate Seminar

    English 290eh. The Environmental Humanities: Graduate Seminar

    Instructor: Sarah Dimick
    Tuesday, 12:45-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    ​​​​​​​Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    This graduate seminar explores core concepts, questions, and methodologies within the environmental humanities. Rather than reading environmental literature and scholarship in isolation, we will trace their entanglements in environmental history, anthropology, philosophy, geography, and other adjacent disciplines.

    The syllabus will be tailored to support the particular interests and pursuits of students in the course, but topics may include animal studies, capitalism and consumption, climate writing, disability and environment, disaster studies, environmental justice literature, environmental racism, extinction discourses, extraction narratives, feminist environmental practices, food sovereignty, hope and pleasure, indigenous environmentalisms, land access, militarized and nuclear environments, natural histories and collections, public health, queer environmentalisms, speculative futures, toxicity, urban environmental life, water rights, or the problematic idea of wilderness.

    As a course designed to advance graduate research and increase fluency in an emerging field of study, assignments in this class will include a conference paper and a review of a book published in the last two years.

    English 297c. Experimental Criticism: Graduate Seminar

    Instructor: Beth Blum
    Wednesday, 12:00-2:00pm
    Course Website
    ​​​​​​​Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    During a time of rampant, albeit necessary, pre-professionalization, this graduate seminar is meant to both model and inspire academic risk-taking. It offers a selective overview of recent literary criticism that productively transgresses formal, conceptual, and disciplinary norms. Readings may include: Brent Hayes Edwards, Susan Stanford Friedman, Sianne Ngai, Saidiya Hartman, Eric Hayot, Paul Saint-Amour, Paul Stephens & Robert Hardwick Weston, and Wai Chee Dimock, among others. 

    English 90hp. Harvard and the Puritans in Native America

    Instructor: Alan Niles
    Wednesday, 9:45-11:45am | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15

    Harvard’s still governing 1650 charter states the institution’s mission is “the education of English and Indian youth.” What were the ideas about race, culture, and colonialism that made such an idea possible? What was life like for the early Native American students who studied at Harvard, and what happened to the founding idea of a multiracial intellectual space in Harvard Yard over time? This course studies the Harvard Indian College and early Harvard history in the context of broader relationships between New England colonists and Dawnlands Native peoples. We will focus in detail on the surviving early writings of Caleb Cheeshateamuck, Benjamin Larnell, and Eleazar alongside colonial writings by John Winthrop, John Cotton, Anne Bradstreet, and others. We will learn about the catastrophic violence of King Philip’s War and the ways that conflict changed ideas about race and community in the seventeenth century. We will learn about Harvard’s continuing role throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in organizing relations with New England Indian communities, and the forms, genres, and rhetorics Indian activists and protesters developed in response. Throughout our course, we will bring Native American voices from Massachusetts, Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and other communities to the fore, in the past and in the present day.

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Migrations" requirement for the Class of 2022.

    English Cff. From Fact to Fiction: Finding & Shaping a Story: Workshop

    Instructor: Claire Messud
    Wednesday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    In this course, we will explore the evolution of a story from a factual anecdote or incident to a fictional creation. The aims of the semester are to learn to listen to someone else’s story in interviews, and to endeavor to find, from there, the necessary bones for a fictional narrative. What is most urgent? What is most emotionally affecting? What are the details from an interview that stay with you? And from there: what, from a broader account, is the story you are moved to relate? Once you make that choice, how do you do further research, if necessary? How do you select the point of view, the frame, the characters for your fiction? What are the ethics and responsibilities of these choices?

    In these riven and challenging times, storytelling is vital: learning to listen, to engage, and responsibly to relay what we discover. Each person we encounter is a bearer of wisdom and vast experience; so many urgent stories remain untold. How might we, as fiction writers, address reality, without simply writing about ourselves

    Several published writers will visit the class to share their experiences of research, and of the relation in their work of fact to invention. We will read published examples of fact-based fiction, and discuss the authors’ choices.

    The first third of the class will involve preparing and conducting interviews with a chosen subject, and sharing those interviews with the class. The second third will involve refining the story’s arc, research and formal decision-making, and writing a first draft. Finally, we will workshop the revised stories that have emerged from this process.

    Supplemental Application Information: Prior experience writing fiction is helpful but not required. Please submit a writing sample of 3-5 pages of fiction, narrative non-fiction, journalism or personal essay, along with an application letter explaining your interest in this course, any writing experience you feel is relevant, and listing examples of work that moves and/or influences you, explaining why it does.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Cgf. Genre Fiction Workshop: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Horror, The Ghost Story, The New Weird

    Instructor: Neel Mukherjee
    Wednesday, 12:00-2:45pm
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    The course will consist of two halves. In the first hour of each class, we will be doing close readings of an assigned text (please see ‘Syllabus’), with the aim of isolating some concept or aspect of the genre under discussion in order to take bearings for your own. The assigned reading is obligatory. We will be looking at questions of genre, and at the reasons for the quotation marks bracketing the word genre in the heading. We will also look at the convergences and divergences in the various kinds and modes mentioned in the title of the course. We will be thinking of generic topoi, conceptual underpinnings, imagination, style, world-building, storytelling, resolution, among other things.    

    In the second half of the class, divided into two equal segments of 50 minutes each, we will be workshopping the writing of two students. Our goal is for each of you to have two turns, and approximately 5-10,000 words of your work critiqued, by the time semester ends. The final project involves significant redrafting of a story or a portion of a novel.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of creative writing in prose (fiction is preferable, but non-fiction is also fine) along with a substantive letter of introduction in which you write about why you’re interested in this course; what experience you’ve had writing; some of your favorite writers; what some of your favorite works of fiction are and why.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Cns. Fiction Workshop

    Instructor: Namwali Serpell
    Tuesday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    This workshop is designed to explore and hone the writing of fiction. We will read and respond to some exceptional published stories in a variety of genres, and each other’s works in progress. We will compose and revise at least thirty pages of fiction—in whatever number, size, and form suit the writer—over the course of the semester. We will also discuss and practice some of the pragmatic matters of a fiction writing career, including giving readings, editorial engagement, and submitting work for publication.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a writing sample of 3-5 double-spaced pages of fiction, and a one double-spaced page letter of introduction about you, your writing, and your hopes for the course.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cafr. Advanced Fiction: Writing this Present Life: Workshop

    Instructor: Claire Messud
    Thursday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    Intended for students with prior fiction-writing and workshop experience, this course will concentrate on structure, execution and revision. Exploring various strands of contemporary and recent literary fiction – writers such as Karl Ove Knausgaard, Rachel Cusk, Chimamanda Adichie, Valeria Luiselli, etc – we will consider how fiction works in our present moment, with emphasis on a craft perspective. Each student will present to the class a published fiction that has influenced them. The course is primarily focused on the discussion of original student work, with the aim of improving both writerly skills and critical analysis. Revision is an important component of this class: students will workshop two stories and a revision of one of these.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of fiction, along with a letter explaining why you'd like to join the workshop, what you hope to get out of it, and what you're working on currently. Please also list your previous writing experience. Your literary and narrative interests are also relevant - what books, films or other artworks speak to you and/or influence your work?

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cfa. Advanced Fiction Writing: Workshop

    Instructor: Neel Mukherjee
    Monday, 12:00-2:45pm
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    The course will consist of two halves. In the first hour of each class, we will be doing close readings of an assigned text (TBA), with the aim of isolating some aspect of the craft of writing in order to take bearings for your own. In the second half of the class, divided into two equal segments of an hour each, we will be workshopping the writing of two students. Our goal is for each of you to have two turns, and approximately 5-10,000 words of your work critiqued, by the time semester ends. The final project involves significant redrafting of a story or a portion of a novel.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of creative writing in prose (fiction is preferable, but non-fiction is also fine) along with a substantive letter of introduction in which you write about why you’re interested in this course; what experience you’ve had writing, especially what Creative Writing workshops you’ve already taken at Harvard; some of your favorite writers; what some of your favorite works of fiction are and why.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cmag. Introductory Fiction Workshop: Writers’ Voices

    Instructor: Allegra Goodman
    Section 001: Monday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Section 001 Course Website

    Section 002: Thursday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Section 002 Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    Some say that to write well, you need to find your authentic voice.  In this workshop we will explore a different proposition—that a writer can adopt many voices, depending on the situation and the story.  We will experiment with different kinds of narrators, and we will practice writing dialogue as we study the structure and craft of the short story.  The syllabus will include stories by writers such as Franz Kafka, Anton Chekhov, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Eudora Welty, Tillie Olsen, Raymond Carver, Jamaica Kincaid, Lydia Davis, Gish Jen, T.C. Boyle, Zadie Smith, and Helen Oyeyemi.  In the first weeks of the course, you will write short sketches.  You will then write two short stories which we will workshop in class.  At the end of the semester, you will choose one of these stories to revise and submit as your final project.    

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of prose—either fiction or nonfiction—and a cover letter. In the letter, please share a little about yourself and your interests, why you would like to take the class, and what you like to read.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)... Read more about English Cmag. Introductory Fiction Workshop: Writers’ Voices

    English Cihr. The I’s Have It: Writing and Reading the Personal Essay

    Instructor: Michael Pollan
    Monday, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA
    Course. Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    In this advanced workshop, we will read widely in the tradition that begins with Montaigne and write essays of our own in a variety of lengths and forms. A principal goal of the course will be to develop a voice on the page and learn how to deploy the first person, not merely as a means of self-expression but as a tool for telling a true story, conducting an inquiry or pressing an argument.

    Supplemental Application Instructions: To apply, submit a brief sample of your writing in the first person along with a letter detailing your writing experience and reasons for wanting to take this course.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cnsr. Narrative Science Journalism: Workshop

    Instructor: Michael Pollan
    Wednesday, 3:00-5:45 pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    The arc of this workshop will trace the process of researching and writing a single long piece of science journalism: finding and pitching story ideas; reporting in depth and at length; outlining and structuring your story; choosing a narrative voice and strategy, crafting leads and “overtures,” and making connections between your story and its larger contexts.  As a group, we’ll also work as editors on one another’s ideas and pieces. And since reading good prose is the best way to learn to write it, we’ll be closely reading an exemplary piece of narrative science journalism each week. Students will be expected to complete a draft and revision of a substantial piece by the end of the term.

    Supplemental Application Information: To apply, submit a brief sample of your non-academic writing along with a letter explaining your reasons for wanting to take this course and describing your science experience, if any.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Cwp. Words & Photographs: Workshop

    Instructor: Teju Cole
    Wednesday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    For almost two centuries now, words have accompanied photographs, sometimes to sublime effect. In this writing-intensive workshop, we will model our work on the various ways writers have responded to photographs: through captions, criticism, fiction, and experiments. Assigned readings will range from William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature (1844–46) to Zadie Smith’s Through the Portal (2018). Students will learn close-looking, research, and editing, and will be expected to complete a “words and photographs” project using their own photographs or photographs made by others.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a photograph and up to a page of text responding (or perhaps not responding) to it, as well as a cover letter saying what you hope to get out of the workshop, and mentioning three books in any genre that have been helpful to your writerly development.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cbn. Creative Nonfiction: Before and Beyond the (Imaginary White) Reader

    Instructor: Joan Naviyuk Kane
    Tuesday, 9:00-11:45am | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    Writers of literary, lyrical nonfiction negotiate complex power dynamics with their selves, communities, subjects, and readers. In this workshop we will conduct an intensive study of the craft techniques writing of creative nonfiction, focusing on the balance between the politicization of witness, descriptive detail, and narrative voice. Given that one of the great imaginative allures of lyric prose is that it can invent its audience as much as it can invent its speaker, how do writers of creative nonfiction contend with social context? What are the ways in which we can write and revise lyrically that can allow our work to depart from, evade and amplify the experiential in its collaborations with language, history, and place? We will do some generative exercises and workshopping (each writer will be workshopped at least twice per semester) as well as discussion, of course. Participants will generate drafts, revise new work, and investigate the fundamentals of the genre of creative nonfiction.

    Supplemental Application Information: Applicants are requested to submit 3-10 pages of prose (double-spaced), a 2-3 page cover letter in which they may address how long they’ve been writing seriously, what previous study they have done in literary arts, any additional experiences that seem relevant to their application, what type of direct criticism and revision they are seeking from a workshop, craft approaches they would like to know more about, and discussion of any other writers in which the writers’ craft and/or ways in which the writers’ work has served as a model for the applicant’s own literary ambitions.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    ... Read more about English Cbn. Creative Nonfiction: Before and Beyond the (Imaginary White) Reader

    English Cacf. Get Real: The Art of Community-Based Film: Workshop

    Instructor: Musa Syeed
    Tuesday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    “I’ve often noticed that we are not able to look at what we have in front of us,” the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami said, “unless it’s inside a frame.” For our communities confronting invisibility and erasure, there’s an urgent need for new frames. In this workshop, we’ll explore a community-engaged approach to documentary filmmaking, as we seek to see our world more deeply. We’ll begin with screenings, craft exercises, and discussions around authorship and social impact. Then we each will develop a short documentary over the rest of the semester, building off of intentional community engagement. Students will end the class with a written documentary treatment and recorded material for a rough cut.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a 3-5 page writing sample of any genre. Also, please write a short note to introduce yourself and the community/communities you might be interested to work with and your relation to them. Include an example of films/filmmakers that have inspired you, your goals for the class, as well as any themes/subject matter/ideas you might be interested in exploring. Filmmaking experience is NOT necessary.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    ... Read more about English Cacf. Get Real: The Art of Community-Based Film: Workshop

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