Professor of Literature
Additional teaching and research interests include the literature and culture of the Southern U.S.; women's writing and the representation of gender; the representation of childhood and children's literature; and Irish literature and culture.
She is currently engaged in a study of Virginia Woolf as a reader of Shakespeare.
In her 1924 essay "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown," Virginia Woolf observed, "On or about December 1910, human character changed." Drawing inspiration from Woolf's famous phrase, this course focuses on modes of redescribing personhood in the work of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, placing their writings in the larger context of British culture between the First and Second World Wars. In addition to reading texts by these two foremost modernists to explore their experiments with form and voice, we will also read lesser-known writers whose work is in conversation with the modernist canon. Themes to be addressed include the disjointedness and fragmentation of modernity; war, violence, and trauma; gender, sexuality, and the nation. Frequent short responses and a substantial research paper will be required. This course is designed for students concentrating in literature, history, and cultural studies, and prior coursework in literary studies is strongly recommended.
"All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances. . ." --this over-quoted line belongs to the cynic, Jacques in As You Like It. But from the earliest plays though The Tempest at the end of his career, Shakespeare's characters struggle to address Lear's desperate question: "Who is it that can tell me who I am?" They struggle in the face of the realization that, whether they want to or not, they play "parts"-roles given them by birth and family, by their positions as social insider or outsider, by gender and the conventions of sexual desire, clothing, and language, by chance and circumstance. In this discussion-based, writing intensive seminar, we shall work through the texts of four of Shakespeare's plays, one from each of the major genres (history, comedy, tragedy, romance) and then collectively choose a fifth play for a final study and group presentations. We shall read the texts closely, with attention to metaphor, form, dramatic structure and historical context. We'll explore recent theoretical and critical approaches to the plays. There will be weekly short writing and two longer, revised essays. Students will collaborate on scene-studies and discuss several film versions of the plays.
"Lovers and madmen have such seething brains/ Such shaping phantasies, that apprehend/ More than cool reason ever comprehends." (A Midsummer Night's Dream) In this class we will set in dialogue texts of Shakespeare (five plays) and Virginia Woolf (four novels and selected essays). Our main focus will be on the texts, reading them with close attention to language and form as well as to their widely different literary and cultural assumptions. However, one thread tying together our work on these two authors will be their common interest in the ways human beings lose their frames of reference and their sense of themselves in madness, lose and find themselves in love or in sexuality, and find or make both self and world in the shaping act of the imagination. The method of the course will include directed close reading, discussion, and periodic lectures. Frequent short pieces of student writing are expected, together with two short essays and a developed longer paper
Our purpose in this class will not be narrowly comparative but rather to read intensively and extensively in each of these master practitioners of the modern novel, paying attention to questions of form and style as well as theme and historical context, and thinking particularly about how they each frame issues of personal identity, think about family, history and memory, and confront the American twentieth century dilemma of 'the color line'. The class will be discussion-based and involve frequent short writings and two longer papers.