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Spring 2021

Spring 2021 registration begins December 1, 2020. 
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all fall courses will be offered online.

BAM 70300 - Approaches to Life-Writing
Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, Room 4419, 3 credits
Annalyn Swan
Class number 54909
Ever since Plutarch brought Alexander the Great blazingly to life in his seminal Lives (2nd century CE), people have loved to read—and write—biographies. Approaches to Life Writing will be an exploration of the art and craft of the genre. What do great biographies have in common—and how do they differ? How are scenes set, facts organized, context provided? How novelistic can a biography be? And is there, finally, such a thing as “truth” in biography or autobiography, or a “definitive” account?  From biography as gossipy inside edition (Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson), to biography as irreverent debunking (Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians), to contemporary biography and memoir, we will explore the many ways a writer can tease out the “figure under the carpet,” as Leon Edel, the great biographer of Henry James, put it. For those who wish to do so, this is also a course about practicing the art ourselves. For the final paper, in lieu of a more conventional essay, students will have the opportunity to write an autobiographical chapter, or else research and write a chapter of a biography.
BAM 70200 – Research and Methodology
Tuesdays, 6:30 -8:30 PM, 3 credits
Katherine Culkin
Class number 54908
This core course will teach students historical methodologies and basic research skills in the writing of biography or memoir. They will learn how biographers and autobiographers acquire information through interview techniques, oral history collections, research in government and private archives, or sophisticated use of databases and digital humanities sources.

BAM 70500 - 20th Century Lives on the Road to Peace and Freedom
Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits
Blanche Wiesen Cook
Class number 54911
This biography/memoir seminar will explore the work of writers, visionaries, activists whose contributions we most need now.  This is a participatory class, which will emphasize student interests and enthusiasms.  Below is an introductory list, from which weekly readings and volumes for individual review may be drawn.  Students are encouraged to suggest additional and alternative readings.  Requirements:  Each student will be responsible for an introductory essay-memoir, five book reports a final research paper.
Book list here.
BAM 72000 – Writing Workshop for Thesis or Capstone Project
Thursdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits
Sarah Covington
Class number 54912
This is a hands-on research and writing seminar open to  BAM students who are beginning to work on their thesis or capstone project. The course is designed to help students organize and analyze their material, formulate a research question and hypothesis, and design methodologies to structure their theses. Students will also be given a platform in which they can share with the professor and other students an outline and timeline, a critical review of the literature and a working bibliography, and an early draft of the project. In addition to sharing writing and research strategies, students will also sharpen their abilities to offer and receive feedback, and to navigate the sometimes-arduous process of revision. The goal is to offer a structure to students as they embark upon their thesis or capstone, and to position them on their way to working with an advisor and successfully bringing their project to completion. Students who enroll in this course are expected to be in their final or penultimate semester of coursework. Please note that this course can only be taken once. Students who hope to graduate in Spring 2021 ideally should also register for BAM 79000: Thesis/Capstone Project Supervision. They may also take BAM 79000 after this course, but not before. Interested students should write to Program Director Sarah Covington (, cc’ing APO Marilyn Weber (
Syllabus here 
BAM 79000 - Thesis / Capstone Project Supervision
3 credits
Advisors TBD
Class number TBD
Students finish their BAM by working with an advisor write a thesis OR to complete a capstone project.  The adviser must be a Graduate Center faculty member who is interested in the proposed thesis project. They do not need to be faculty members within the BAM Program. Regardless of when a student begins work on his or her thesis, the thesis course is registered for only once, in the student’s final term. Please write to Program Director Sarah Covington ( and APO Marilyn Weber ( if you are interested in this for the Spring. 


FREN 77400 - Women’s Stories in Premodern French              
Tuesdays, 4:15pm - 6:15pm,
2/4 credits
(Please note: BAM students must register for the 4 credit option)
Prof. Sara McDougall   
Class number 58677                                
In the premodern era, French language and culture spread far and wide beyond the borders of "l'hexagone". This course will explore French stories told to, for, about, and by women between 1100 and 1700. These texts document the words and deeds of both real and imagined women, famous and infamous, and also women who history has forgotten. Our sources will include romances, poetry, plays, letters, trial records, medical and legal treatises, conduct literature, and illuminated manuscripts (the premodern version of the graphic novel). We will work from translations as well as the original, according to and accommodating the skillsets and interests of each student. Knowledge of French helpful but not in the least essential.

Comp Lit 85000- Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time
Tuesdays; 4:15pm-6:15pm
2/4 credits (Please note: BAM students must register for the 4 credit option)
Professor André Aciman
Class number 58280

Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time tells of an elaborate, internal journey, at the end of which the narrator joyfully discovers the unifying pattern of his life both as writer and human being. Famed for its style and its distinctive view of love, art, and memory, Proust’s epic remains a dominant and innovative voice in the literature of intimacy and introspection.  This seminar, designed for students who wish to understand the complex relationship between memory and the modern novel will examine how Proust’s epic had challenged and redefined not just the art of writing, but the art of reading as well.  The course will be taught in translation, but students able to read French are encouraged to read Proust in the original.

ENGL 87500. Memoir/Illness/Graphic/Grief
Thursdays 4:15PM-6:15PM.
2/4 credits
 (Please note: BAM students must register for the 4 credit option)
Nancy K. Miller
Class number 54655

“Considering how common illness is,” Virginia Woolf writes in On Being Ill, “how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings,…it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.” Contemporary nonfiction and fiction have long since belied Woolf’s 1926 lament. The theme of illness occupies a prominent place in postwar culture, and the seminar will explore its many variations through a wide range of literary and visual representations of bodily and mental suffering, including cancer, AIDS, depression and mourning. We will also map the social and political contexts of illness, in particular through collective research on the national experience and discourses of Covid-19. What have we learned about healthcare and how does the pandemic reframe our understanding of the sick and the well, and the meaning of recovery? It’s too soon to predict the forms this experiment in collaborative criticism will take. 

Among the writers and artists: Elizabeth Alexander, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Audre Lorde, Eve Sedgwick, Susan Sontag, Tolstoy, and Woolf; graphic narratives by Bobby Baker, Anne Carson, David B., Miriam Engelberg, Ellen Forney, and David Small. 

ENGL 75000 - American Renaissance
​David Reynolds
Wednesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM.
2/4 credits. (Please note: BAM students must register for the 4 credit option)
Class number 54608

Known as the American Renaissance, the decades leading up to the Civil War are generally regarded not only as the peak moment in American cultural expression but also as a watershed of themes reaching back to ancient and early-modern periods and looking forward to modernism.  The American Renaissance saw the innovations in philosophy, ecological awareness, and style on the part of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau; the metaphysical depth and cultural breadth represented by the fiction of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne; the poetic experimentation of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson; the psychological probing and ground-breaking aesthetics of Edgar Allan Poe; and landmark portraits of race and slavery by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, and Frederick Douglass. Urban life and class conflict were dramatized in fiction by George Lippard, and gender issues were vivified in writings by Margaret Fuller and Sara Parton. Lincoln’s speeches crystalized the nation’s enduring political themes. In addition to reading central works of American literature—among them Moby-Dick, “Bartleby,” Incidents in the Life of a Slave GirlThe Scarlet Letter,  Leaves of Grass, Walden, Poe’s tales, Emerson’s essays, and Dickinson’s poems--we discuss current approaches to American Studies, criticism, and cultural history. 



The Writing Center manages a range of professional development courses designed to help students at the Graduate Center in their careers and professional activities. These courses do not carry credit, are ungraded, and do not appear on the student’s transcript. Students register for these courses as they do their academic classes: log into CUNYFirst; go to Student Center and select “Search,” which takes you to the “Search for Classes” page. Select the institution (Graduate Center) and term,and enter the course number (listed below).
Effective Academic Writing for Native English Speakers (PDEV 79403)
Professor: David Hershinow
Time: Mondays, 11:45 AM-1:45 PM
What are the elements of effective academic writing? How do we know effective academic writing when we’ve read it? Is there a disconnect between what is valued as academic writing and what we value as readers and writers? If so, how can we bridge the disconnect? This course—at once a seminar and a workshop—seeks to explore, unpack, and answer these questions as they relate to the specific writing concerns, experiences, and interests of the participants. Through our discussions, readings, writing exercises, and peer-review of participants’ current writing project(s), we will identify how writing practices, language and style, research, the conventions of disciplines, and our own values and passions contribute to effective academic writing.
Effective Academic Writing for Non-Native English Speakers (PDEV 79403)
First Section
Professor: Sharon Utakis
Time: Tuesdays, 11:45 AM-1:45 PM
Second Section
Professor: Maria Jerskey
Time: Thursdays, 2-4 PM
This course is a workshop that aims to help non-native English-speaking students take control of their writing process as they move forward in their graduate studies. We look at the conventions that shape academic writing, keeping in mind that these conventions vary from discipline to discipline and from genre to genre. We focus on the writing process by looking at various steps we can take in order to create “effective academic writing,” with emphasis on discussing writing in progress. Students work on improving writing projects connected to their coursework. We deal with grammar and other writing convention issues as needed.
Advanced Spoken English: Teaching and Presentation Skills (PDEV 79400)
Professor: Christine Jacknick
Time: Tuesdays, 2-4 PM
This course introduces students to teaching and presenting in university classrooms. Students will improve their spoken English through increased interactional awareness. This course will prepare students to make informed choices about leading and facilitating classroom interaction, including consideration of the role of technology in teaching and presenting.
Teaching Strategies (PDEV 79401)
Professor: Luis Uribe
Time: Fridays, 11:45 AM-1:45 PM
This course provides Graduate Center students with community and structure to help them prepare for and reflect upon their development as teachers. Work in the course proceeds from an understanding of the social contexts of teaching, as well as the positionalities of graduate student instructors and adjuncts. Short theoretical readings will help guide participants’ exploration and development of their own teaching philosophies and materials, and the curriculum and structure of the course will be responsive to both the needs of the group and to the realities of the moments in when we teach. The course will have particularly utility for instructors who are preparing for or are in the process of adjusting to teaching online as a result of the 2020 public health crisis. Foundational topics explored in the course will include classroom community, student-centered and active learning approaches, accessibility, course design and policies, lesson planning, assignment design, assessment, educational technology, writing pedagogy, affective responses in classroom settings, and Critical University Studies.