Advising and Course Information

Program Directors

Director of Language & Literature

Dr. Steve Dilks
dilkss@umkc.edu

Director of Creative Writing

Professor Whitney Terrell
terrellw@umkc.edu

Director of Composition

Dr. Crystal Doss
dosscr@umkc.edu

I.Ph.D. Coordinator

Dr. John Barton
bartonjc@umkc.edu

Course Information

Our current class schedule is available in Pathway, the university’s online registration system, and our complete list of course offerings are available in the catalog. Review our course description listing to find reading lists, major assignments, and other details to help you select your classes for the upcoming semester:

ENGLISH 5503: Old English with Virginia Blanton

Online Synchronous Instr: TR 4pm-5:15pm

Have you read Maria Dahvana Headley’s new translation of Beowulf? It’s a feminist reading that very much illustrates the “bro” culture of early England. Here’s the opening:

Bro! Tell me we still know how to speak of kings! In the old

days,

everyone knew what men were: brave, bold, glory-bound. Only

stories now, but I’ll sound the Spear-Danes’ song, hoarded for

hungry times.

Their first father was a foundling: Scyld Scefing.

He spent his youth fists up, browbeating every bartsool-brother,

bonfiring his enemies. That man began in the waves, a baby in

a basket,

but he bootstrapped his way into a kingdom, trading loneliness

for luxury. Whether they thought kneeling necessary or no,

everyone from head to tail of the whale-road bent down:

There’s a king, there’s his crown!

That was a good king.

Translation is a very wonky practice, one that we have to engage in, if we are to read any of the early English literature that survives between 500 and 1200. I hope you’ll join me next semester as we work through some of the most evocative medieval prose and poetry composed in English. Most people today can only read this literature in translation, as Old English has some significant differences from Modern English. But, I want you to be in the club and be able to read it in the original to understand its nuances and its sentiments. Towards that end, I have framed this course so that you can read this literature in the original and become a proficient translator of the language. As we work, we will discuss not only the grammar of individual passages and the literary and linguistic aspects that emerge, but we will also examine the manuscript presentation of these texts and their survival. Some of the literature we will study are: The Dream of the Rood, The Wife’s Lament, The Battle of Maldon, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and Judith, as well as Beowulf.

MA and MFA students: if you need a second semester of foreign language to satisfy the language requirement, this course can count for that second semester as well as for a medieval requirement (MA) or literature requirement (MFA). So it double dips!

Required Text(s):
Introduction to Old English, 3rd edition (Blackwell)
A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 4th edition (Clark Hall)

ENGLISH 5550: Graduate Seminar: Advanced Technical Writing with Antonio Byrd

Online Asynchronous Instr

This course focuses on communicating technical knowledge for diverse audiences. Students will learn current theories and research methods in professional and technical writing. Students will apply knowledge and skills developed in their major to individual and team-based writing projects.

Required Text(s): Details will be included in the syllabus.

ENGLISH 5548: External Internship

Days & Time: Arranged

Students may complete an external internship involving writing and editing with a publishing company, trade magazine, literary or academic journal, other print or electronic media organization, or with advertising, public relations, or non-profit firms. Internships are granted on a competitive basis. Students will compile a portfolio of their work under the direction of the internship supervisor to be submitted for evaluation to the department’s internship coordinator.

Please review our Q&A about internships for full details: https://cas.umkc.edu/english/student-opportunities/internships/.

Required Text(s): n/a

ENGLISH 5549A: Publication Practicum: New Letters Magazine with Christie Hodgen

Online Asynchronous Instr

This publication practicum gives students behind-the-scenes experience at New Letters, one of the oldest and best-regarded literary magazines in the country. Students will read submissions to the magazine and help to make selections for upcoming issues, contribute to editing and proofreading efforts, gain exposure to layout and design decisions and processes, and write book reviews for possible publication in the journal or its digital companion, New Letters Online. Regular (Zoom) meeting times are from 12:00—1:30 on Wednesdays, though the class may also be completed asynchronously, if need be.

Required Text(s): All reading (and lots of it) will be provided to students.

ENGLISH 5549C-0001: Publication Practicum: Podcasting with Whitney Terrell

Online Synchronous Instr: W 7pm-9:45pm

This section of the Publication Practicum will teach students how to write, record, and sound edit a podcast. Students will get first-hand experience working on the Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast at Literary Hub, an internationally-known podcast that has been downloaded 500,000 times since January of 2019. Professor Whitney Terrell is the co-host of the podcast and he will lead students through every phase of production: booking guests, supervising social media coverage, recording advertisements and credits, writing scripts, editing sound, mounting audio on Megaphone, and communicating with the editor-in-chief of the podcast’s parent publication, Literary Hub. Students will also be assigned to a small group that will have full editorial control over a single episode of Fiction/Non/Fiction. They will choose a topic and guests for that episode, write the script, and edit the sound.

In addition to their work on Fiction/Non/Fiction, students will design, name, write, and record their own podcast on a subject of their choosing. We will study the various genres of podcasts, from scripted to unscripted. We will study the economics of podcasting. And we will talk to a series of guest speakers who will discuss their own real world experiences in podcasting.

No prior experience in podcasting or sound editing is required or expected.

Required Text(s): All texts are open source and free. Links will be provided in the syllabus.

ENGLISH 5477NS: 19th-Century Studies: Race and Violence in American Literature with John Barton

Online Asynchronous Instr

Race has been a perennial issue in this country long before the founding of the United States, and scholars from different perspectives and cross disciplines have long noted America’s peculiar problem of violence.  This course investigates representations of, and responses to, race and violence over the long nineteenth century in US cultural and literary practices.  It begins with early nineteenth-century gallows literature and classic slave narratives by Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown and then turns to three seminal antebellum literary works concerning race and violence: William Wells Brown’s Clotel (1853); John Rollin Ridge’s (Yellowbird) Joaquín Murieta (1854) and Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno (1856).  The course will then examine several postbellum novels that explore issues related to lynching and mob violence: Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition (1901) Pauline Hopkins’ Winona (1902); Thomas Dixon’s The Leopard’s Spots (1902); and Sutton Griggs’s The Hindered Hand (1905).  The course will likely conclude with a few short stories or plays by African American writers engaged in anti-lynching activism and may William Faulkner’s novel, Light in August (1930). Throughout the course we will read literary works in light of popular print media dealing with race and violence.

Course requirements will likely include: discussion forum posts, weekly blogs on race and violence in literature; reading quizzes; and a major term paper (preceded by a annotated bibliography and working draft).

Required Text(s): Details will be included in the syllabus.

ENGLISH 5477TS: 20th- and 21st-Century Studies: Modern and Contemporary American Culture and Literature with Stephen Dilks

Online Asynchronous Instr

Beginning with American Modernism (6 weeks devoted to a selection of work by Willa Cather, T S Eliot; Hilda Doolittle; William Faulkner; Ernest Hemingway; Marianne Moore; Ezra Pound; Gertrude Stein; and William Carlos Williams), the course sets up a conversation about Post-World War Two American literature and culture. The second ten weeks of the course will focus on poetry, fictional prose, and creative non-fiction by authors including Jack Kerouac, Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Ntozake Shange, Ann Devere Smith, and Frederic Tuten.

Required Text(s):
Texts for the first six weeks will be provided on Canvas.
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road
McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian.
Morrison, Toni. Jazz.
Munro, Alice. Selected stories provided on Canvas.
Shange, Ntozake. For Colored Girls who have considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enough.
Smith, Anne Devere. Twilight Los Angeles: 1992.
Tuten, Frank. The Adventures of Mao on the Long March.

ENGLISH 5487FI: Creative Writing Fiction Workshop: Bootleggers, Speculators, & Trespassers with Christie Hodgen

Online Synchronous Instr: Tu 7-9:45PM

This creative writing workshop is devoted to the study and crafting of the short story, with an attendant focus on publication, and the short fiction “market.” Our readings will consist of several critically-acclaimed story collections published within the last five years or so, each of which, in one way or another, breaks the standard contract of the literary short story–crossing the boundaries of realism, hearkening back to the story’s roots in the fable. Coursework will include: two short story submissions (15-30 pages each), weekly Canvas responses to our reading, written responses to peer work, and of course rigorous, thoughtful participation in our workshop discussions. Each student will also study the fiction offerings of a literary journal of their choice, compile a report assessing the aesthetics of their chosen journal, and prepare a story to submit for publication.

Readings will include collections by Amelia Gray, Kelly Link, Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado, and Kevin Wilson.

Required Text(s): Details will be included in the syllabus.

ENGLISH 5487PO: Creative Writing Poetry Workshop with Hadara Bar-Nadav

Online Synchronous Instr: Th 7pm-9:45pm

Advanced Creative Writing (Poetry) is designed to help you become active and analytical writers and readers of poetry.  Emphasis will be placed on the study and writing of first books, culminating in mini-chapbooks of your work at the semester’s end.  We will explore ways to develop and structure a first book manuscript and discuss various publication opportunities, from literary journals to first-book contests.  Together we will consider strategies to develop and sustain your poetry projects both within this class and beyond the semester’s end.

As a learning community, we will critically examine poetry by a variety of writers with attention to how poems are made and how our observations can inform our writing.  Rigorous reading and discussion of poetry (which may individual collections of poetry, essays on craft, and literary journals) will help you to develop and strengthen analytic skills necessary for writing and revising your poetry.  We will participate in virtual workshop discussions, take literary risks, develop strategies for revision, and draw connections between our writing and reading lives. Authors studied may include Natalie Diaz, danez smith, Molly McCully Brown, and others.

Course requirements include engaged online participation in the workshop, rigorous reading and discussion of course texts, reading responses, a poetry presentation, and a final portfolio of your poetry.

Required Text(s): Details will be included in the syllabus.

ENGLISH 5500-0001: Graduate Study In English with Jennifer Frangos

Online Synchronous Instr: M/W 5:30-6:45PM

Course Description: An introduction to methods of research and scholarship related to English studies. The course uses a wide spectrum of print and digital materials, library facilities (including archives and Special Collections), databases, and other resources to explore English studies as an academic discipline and profession.

Required Text(s): None.

ENGLISH 5550K-0001: Graduate Seminar: Creative Writing Prose with Michael Pritchett

Online Synchronous Instr: M 7pm-9:45pm

Best Seller
In this course, we will only discuss books that sold a million copies or more. The making of a best-selling work of prose requires expertise with the structure of the form, and an understanding of relationships between form and content. This class will focus on techniques for planning and drafting the most popular prose form in literature — the best seller. We will explore how these prose forms are created and how novelists use content as a guide to inventing new forms. We will study examples of newly invented best-selling prose forms that have evolved over time.

We will examine the poetics and tradition of the best-seller as it has been handed down to us from previous generations of writers, to determine what parts of the tradition are most useful to writers in the here and now.

Required Text(s): Details will be included in the syllabus.