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English Graduate Course Descriptions

Spring 2022

English 592: Writing Poetry

Professor Steven Wingate

On-Campus. Wednesdays 6-8:50 p.m.

The worldwide history and practice of poetry is steeped in sound, and it can connect us to deep modes of expression that predate written language. This course focuses on understanding and experimenting with the sound patterns that build poems, particularly the musicality of the poetic line and the structure provided by various received forms. Though we will not by any means be restricted to writing in form, we will approach form as the historical baseline of poetry from which contemporary verse springs. By paying close attention to sound and structure, poets develop their ears and learn to discover ever-greater interconnectedness in their own work—and in that of others.

Throughout the semester, large-group response workshops will give students experience sharpening their peer feedback skills. Students will also deepen their skills by revising their poems, culminating in the design and execution of a chapbook. This course serves both undergraduate and graduate students, with additional responsibilities at the graduate level.


  • A Little History of Poetry by John Carey.
  • Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters by Annie Finch.
  • The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics by Lewis Turco.
  • The Best American Poetry 2021 edited by Tracy K Smith.
  • Student work

ENGL 704.01: Introduction to Graduate Studies

Dr. Paul Baggett

On-Campus. Wednesdays 3-5:50 p.m.

Introduction to Graduate Studies is required of all first-year graduate students. The primary purpose of this course is to introduce students to modern and contemporary literary theory and its applications. Students will write short response papers and will engage at least one theoretical approach in their own fifteen- to twenty-page scholarly research project. In addition, this course will further introduce students to the M.A. program in English at South Dakota State University and provide insight into issues related to the profession of English studies.

ENGL 729: Seminar in American Literature Since 1900: The Vietnam War in Literature and Film

Dr. Jason McEntee

On Campus. Tuesdays 3-5:50 p.m.

In this course, we will consider how literature and film attempt to chronicle the Vietnam War. We will draw from Dispatches, A Rumor of War, The Things They Carried, A Piece of My Heart and Bloods as well as selections from The Vietnam Reader. There will be brief assigned readings for consideration in the context of the movies—selections from the Iliad and William James's "The Moral Equivalent of War," for example. Some of the movies that we will study include Apocalypse Now (the original version), Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Coming Home, Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Presidents and Hearts and Minds. Because we must do so, we will also look at some of the more fascinatingly outrageous yet culturally significant fantasies about the war, such as The Green Berets and Rambo: First Blood, Part II. This course will not encourage militaristic, pro-war sentiment or, conversely, pacifistic, anti-war sentiment: We will at all times study these narratives as literary critics.

ENGL 791.01: Literary Publishing Practicum

Professor Steven Wingate  

Independent Study

On-Campus and Online.

A hands-on, semester-long introduction to literary publishing centered on, but not limited to, the production of SDSU's literary journal Oakwood, founded in 1976. Our work will involve soliciting, editing, producing and promoting the magazine, as well as an overview of the publishing industry and an opportunity to craft a publishing resume.  This class will give you demonstrable experience with workplace practices applicable in fields from editing to corporate communications. It will be conducted as an independent study course, though we will arrange for common meeting times both in-person and online based on the schedules of those involved. Please note that both in-person and online M.A. students can enroll in this course.

Graduate courses will work side-by-side with undergraduates enrolled in ENGL 491 but with a different grading rubric and set of responsibilities, including an oral presentation and a written research report on a publishing topic developed by the student

ENGL 792.01: Topics in Literature: Arthurian Legend: Then and Now

Dr. Mick Nagy

Online Asynchronous.

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the main outlines of the Arthurian legend, to trace its development and to explore how it has retained its ability to hold the interest of creative artists despite immense changes in language, culture and artistic medium. Some of the themes that we will discuss throughout the semester will include myth, politics, the origins of war, science and magic, the idealization of women, artistic adaptation and reception and the quest for the Holy Grail (and any others that occur to us along the way).

Likely texts for the course are as follows:

  • Arthurian Romances of Chrétien de Troyes. Trans. D. D. R. Owen. London: Everyman, 1993.
  • King Arthur and his Knights: Selected Tales by Sir Thomas Malory. Ed. Eugene Vinaver. London: Oxford UP, 1975.
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • The Mabinogion. Trans. Gwyn and Thomas Jones, rev. ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.
  • Tennyson, Alfred. Idylls of the King. London: Penguin, 1996.
  • White, T. H. The Once and Future King. New York: Ace Books, 1987.
  • Zimmer-Bradley, Marion. The Mists of Avalon. Ballantine Reader's Circle, 1987. 


  • The Fisher King
  • Excalibur
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • The Green Knight

Summer 2022

ENGL 792.01 Topics in Film: Race, Gender and Sexuality in The Western

Dr. Sharon Smith


Though the Western is arguably the quintessential American genre, Western film narrative traditionally centers upon the experiences of a particular type of American. This American is straight, white, and male, certainly. However, the Western venerates a specific representation of straight, white masculinity, one that it invests with nearly mythical qualities. This man rides a horse and carries a gun; communicates with violence rather than words; and fights on behalf of “civilization” and domesticity—perhaps even his own heterosexual romantic yearnings—but can’t seem to settle down. He is the Western hero—the lone ranger, the tragic gunfighter, the wild cowboy. Even traditional Western narratives that center this mythical hero’s experiences, however, gesture toward other possible perspectives on frontier life—the perspectives, for example, of women, Native Americans, African Americans, and Chinese immigrants. More recent Western films develop, even center, some (though not all) of these perspectives, reminding viewers of the historical realities of “Western expansion” that are frequently glossed over in Western film, including its status as a euphemism for European-American settler colonialism and its role in moving slavery Westward. These and other recent Western films also interrogate the traditional Western’s dominant version of masculinity, offering alternative versions of masculinity, recognizing (if not always emphasizing) the experiences of women, and acknowledging the complexities and diversities of gender and sexuality.

In this intensive five-week seminar on Western film, we will consider representations of race, gender, and sexuality in both traditional and neo-Westerns. Likely films include Stagecoach (Ford, 1939), Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992), The Ballad of Little Jo (Greenwald, 1993), 3:10 to Yuma (Mangold, 2007), Brokeback Mountain (Lee, 2007), Reel Injun (Diamond, 2009), True Grit (Coen and Coen, 2010), Django Unchained (Tarantino, 2012), Wind River (Sheridan, 2017), Mad Max: Fury Road (Stevens, 2017), The Harder They Fall (Samuel, 2021), and The Power of the Dog (Campion, 2021).