Undergraduate Teaching at Northwestern University
Comparative Literary Studies 211: Topics in Genre: “Satire”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines satire as the genre “in which prevailing vices or follies are held up to ridicule.” As such, satire brings tools of literary construction—irony,metaphor, allegory, paradox, hyperbole, parody, etc.—to bear directly on society and culture. At times it is instructive, inspirational, and at others it laments or seeks to destroy. This course examines the tools and techniques of satire across periods, national literatures and genres. How does literature interact with its cultural and historical surroundings? With what tools does art provide cover for political speech? From Classical Antiquity to South Park and Stephen Colbert, we explore literary texts, cartoons, television and film,investigating the ways in which targeted laughter and masked critique can shape the world.
French 105: First-year Seminar “The Trial and the Quest”
Knights, battles, princesses and giants; these are the building blocks of tales of adventure. This freshman seminar explores heroes and the tests they face, the journeys they pursue, and the ways in which adversity and accident shape them. What is a hero? Why is a hero never born,only made? What are the lessons of failure and self-delusion that the quest teaches? Beginning with the Song of Roland, we will examine epic, Arthurian romance and comic parodies of knightly genres in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and then turn to contemporary film to trace the ways in which modern fantasy and superhero adventures raise old questions and provide new answers to the dilemmas and ordeals of the hero’s self-defining mission.
French 210: Reading Literatures in French: “Les Formes du mal”
The purpose of this seminar is to explore representations of “le mal” in French literature from the Middle Ages to the present, across literary genres. Our readings include including lais, ‘nouvelles’, epic poetry, novels, drama, the graphic novel, et cetera. We will discuss the origins of evil, its moral boundaries as well as the multiple forms of its representation. Why are we attracted to evil characters? What is their function in moral, social or political discussions that frame literary texts? How does gender shape the portrayal of evil in fiction? This course focuses on close reading and the development of critical writing skills.
French 273: Introducing French Poetry
Poetry is everywhere. It is one of the oldest forms of human art and expression, one shared by almost every culture. The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to the vast range of poetic forms and modes through the close reading and analysis of French poetry,from the Middle Ages to the present. We discuss the evolution of various forms,genres, themes and strategies within their historical contexts, including:epic, romance, sonnets, allegory, polemics, odes, elegies, dramatic poetry,fables, prose poetry and contemporary hip-hop. This course will also incorporate performances (the experience of poetry) and creative elements (the practice of poetry). The seminar format emphasizes student participation in class discussion.
French 310: The Middle Ages and Renaissance
The Middle Ages and Renaissance in France abounded in artistic, literary and philosophical production, but also in intense political and religious upheaval. As the territory we now know as France came together as a single political entity, and the French vernacular replaced Latin as its primary literary and administrative language, early French writers not only recorded history but made it. Developing or appropriating new literary forms like epic, romance, the lai, the nouvelle, the sonnet and the essay, they developed a literary canon whose influence spread across all of “Christendom”. Even as the country was torn apart by civil strife and the Wars of Religion in the late sixteenth century, the pen matched the sword as a new and powerful instrument of national consciousness. This course explores Medieval and Renaissance French literature within the context of their turbulent times,discussing literary texts in and as historical events. We pay special attention to issues of genre and imitation as well as the emergence of subjectivity, gender and the rise of literary nationalism.
French 333: Topics in Renaissance Literature: “Montaigne and Modernity”
The purpose of the seminar is to explore in depth the writings of Michel de Montaigne and some of his important interlocutors, in the context of the emergence of modern subjectivity in the period we call “Renaissance”. We consider a set of problems relative to the constitution of the self, especially in terms of historical,rhetorical, and epistemological paradigms. We use Montaigne’s writings as a gateway into a turbulent and transformative period of history, in which Old World confronted New World, and long-held religious and moral beliefs gave way to doubt and critical reconfiguration.
French 371: Giants, Cannibals and Critique
This course focuses on the works of the great French Renaissance writers François Rabelais and Michel de Montaigne, exploring the ways in which the 16th century imagined its “others” and shaped its ideals. We discuss satire and skepticism as social commentary, situating our primary literary texts in their historical and political contexts. How did the renaissance define itself against the religious, pedagogical, political, philosophical and literary norms of previous centuries? Why did images of giants, cannibals, monsters and imaginary places play such a critical role in redefining society in this period of intense political and religious upheaval?
Graduate Teaching at Northwestern University
French 420: Studies in the 16th Century: “Society and its Discontents”
This graduate seminar considers the intersections of literature and social commentary in Renaissance France and Europe. The sixteenth century saw the heights of humanism and the progression to what we now call early modernity. Focusing on the works of Rabelais and Montaigne who exemplify these two moments, we will consider the interactions between literature and society,politics and intellectual and religious culture. What literary techniques makeup the central engines of social commentary? How do texts construct a self and others as vehicles for critique? How do laughter, skepticism and vituperation enable and challenge critical interpretation? Examining the tools with which literature probes the world, we also read related works by Thomas More, Desiderius Erasmus, Etienne de la Boétie, Pico della Mirandola, Niccolò Machiavelli and others.
French 420: Studies in the 16th Century: “Violence and Form”
In thinking about “form” as both genre and body, this course traces images of violence through French literature of the sixteenth century, paying close attention to the transmigration of imagery, stylistic devices and discursive postures across literary kinds. How does the eroticized body of the Beloved in the Petrarchan sonnet become the wounded flesh of the Huguenot soldier during the Wars of Religion? How does the anatomized female form in the blason come to represent France torn apart by civil strife? How can we explain the preponderance of fragmentary literary genres (sonnet, essay, nouvelle, etc.) in this period of French history? We examine structural and formal conventions as well as historical and political contexts in exploring the conversations between our texts and the turbulent times in which they were created. We also considering larger questions of representation, metaphor and ethics in the portrayal of violence in literary genres.
Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Regina
English 211: Literature Survey I
This course provides an introduction to English literature from Beowulf to the 18th century. We trace the major currents (political, social, religious, international, etc.) that have shaped English literature and their impact on notions of genre and form,style, theme, imitation and theory. We will pay special attention to close readings and to the relationship between texts and the literary models with which they are in conversation, in order to carry out literary analyses that are grounded in both text and context.
English 302: Shakespeare’s Histories and Tragedies
This course explores some of the most important tragic and historic plays of William Shakespeare, including Titus Andronicus, Henry IV Parts I and II, Henry V, Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth. We discuss the greater historical, political and intellectual circumstances of Elizabethan England in order to contextualize Shakespeare’s dramatic production. We delve into the language of each play individually and also discuss major themes, stakes and metaphors that connect the plays to each other.