Faculty Profile

Sarah Kersh

Assistant Professor of English (2014)

Contact Information

kershs@dickinson.edu

Historic President's House 2nd Fl, Room 6
717.254.8952
http://sarahkersh.com

Bio

Professor Kersh teaches courses on Victorian literature and culture, queer studies, and digital humanities. Her current research focuses on nineteenth-century sonnet sequences and queer temporalities.

Education

  • B.A., Muhlenberg College, 2003
  • M.A., Vanderbilt University, 2006
  • Ph.D., 2010

2018-2019 Academic Year

Fall 2018

ENGL 101 Monsters & Madness
Evil alter-egos, soul-sucking vampires, and detective thrillers—all have their roots in the literature of the nineteenth-century. From Dorian Grey to Dracula and the Hound of the Baskervilles, the sensational literature of the Victorian era sought to stimulate the mind and awaken emotion. This course will examine how monsters, mad scientists, and secret identities rose in the public imagination alongside of a rapidly-changing nation. The nineteenth century saw unprecedented growth of industry and leaps in scientific discovery; new and rapid global communication as well as transport; tenuous relationship of commodities, consumers, and economic stability; as well as changing conceptions of class, gender, and what it meant to be an individual. This course is intended to be an introduction to Victorian literature in a variety of genres, including poetry, the novel, and non-fiction prose by authors such as Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

WGSS 201 Writing, Identity, & Queer St
Cross-listed with ENGL 221-01 and WRPG 211-01. Kate Bornstein writes: "I know I'm not a man...and I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably not a woman either. The trouble is, we're living in a world that insists we be one or the other." In this reading and writing intensive course, students will investigate how we approach the space outside of “one or the other” through literature, film, and narrative more generally. Throughout the semester we will explore and engage critically with established and emerging arguments in queer theory, as well as read and watch texts dealing with issues of identity and identification. Although “queer” is a contested term, it describes—at least potentially—sexualities and genders that fall outside of normative constellations. Students will learn how to summarize and engage with arguments, and to craft and insert their own voice into the ongoing debates about the efficacy of queer theory and queer studies. Moreover, we’ll take on questions that relate “word” to “world” in order to ask: How might our theory productively intervene in LGBTQ civil rights discourse outside our classroom? How do we define queer and is it necessarily attached to sexual orientation? How do our own histories and narratives intersect with the works we analyze? Our course texts will pull from a range of genres including graphic novels, film, poetry, memoir, and fiction. Some texts may include Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Audre Lorde’s Zami, Jackie Kay's Trumpet, David Sedaris’ _Me Talk Pretty One Day_, and films such as _Paris is Burning_ and _Boys Don’t Cry_.

WRPG 211 Writing, Identity, & Queer St
Cross-listed with ENGL 221-01 and WGSS 201-01. Kate Bornstein writes: "I know I'm not a man...and I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably not a woman either. The trouble is, we're living in a world that insists we be one or the other." In this reading and writing intensive course, students will investigate how we approach the space outside of “one or the other” through literature, film, and narrative more generally. Throughout the semester we will explore and engage critically with established and emerging arguments in queer theory, as well as read and watch texts dealing with issues of identity and identification. Although “queer” is a contested term, it describes—at least potentially—sexualities and genders that fall outside of normative constellations. Students will learn how to summarize and engage with arguments, and to craft and insert their own voice into the ongoing debates about the efficacy of queer theory and queer studies. Moreover, we’ll take on questions that relate “word” to “world” in order to ask: How might our theory productively intervene in LGBTQ civil rights discourse outside our classroom? How do we define queer and is it necessarily attached to sexual orientation? How do our own histories and narratives intersect with the works we analyze? Our course texts will pull from a range of genres including graphic novels, film, poetry, memoir, and fiction. Some texts may include Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Audre Lorde’s Zami, Jackie Kay's Trumpet, David Sedaris’ _Me Talk Pretty One Day_, and films such as _Paris is Burning_ and _Boys Don’t Cry_.

ENGL 221 Writing, Identity, & Queer St
Cross-listed with WRPG 211-01 and WGSS 201-01. Kate Bornstein writes: "I know I'm not a man...and I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably not a woman either. The trouble is, we're living in a world that insists we be one or the other." In this reading and writing intensive course, students will investigate how we approach the space outside of “one or the other” through literature, film, and narrative more generally. Throughout the semester we will explore and engage critically with established and emerging arguments in queer theory, as well as read and watch texts dealing with issues of identity and identification. Although “queer” is a contested term, it describes—at least potentially—sexualities and genders that fall outside of normative constellations. Students will learn how to summarize and engage with arguments, and to craft and insert their own voice into the ongoing debates about the efficacy of queer theory and queer studies. Moreover, we’ll take on questions that relate “word” to “world” in order to ask: How might our theory productively intervene in LGBTQ civil rights discourse outside our classroom? How do we define queer and is it necessarily attached to sexual orientation? How do our own histories and narratives intersect with the works we analyze? Our course texts will pull from a range of genres including graphic novels, film, poetry, memoir, and fiction. Some texts may include Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Audre Lorde’s Zami, Jackie Kay's Trumpet, David Sedaris’ _Me Talk Pretty One Day_, and films such as _Paris is Burning_ and _Boys Don’t Cry_.

ENGL 341 Late Victorian Lit & Culture
The fin de siècle—French for ‘the end of the century’— is a period of literature and culture that has been portrayed as being “caught between two ages, the Victorian and the Modern” (Ledger and Luckhurst). This in between period is perhaps known best for its cry of “art for art’s sake” and the suggestion that morality is relative. Because it usually is characterized by decadence and questions of immorality, the end of the nineteenth century is too often overlooked as a period of enormous technological, political, social, and intellectual change in British literary and cultural life. In this course, we will examine literature, and art more broadly, in the context of discourses on urban problems, ‘The New Woman,’ imperialism and socialism, as well as place it in conversation with a number of developments in science, psychology, and sexology. We will read a range of different works of fiction, drama, and poetry by authors such as Oscar Wilde, Michael Field, Mona Caird, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, and William Morris.

Spring 2019

ENGL 220 Intro to Literary Studies
In literary studies, we explore the work texts do in the world. This course examines several texts of different kinds (e.g., novel, poetry, film, comic book, play, etc.) to investigate how literary forms create meanings. It also puts texts in conversation with several of the critical theories and methodologies that shape the discipline of literary study today (e.g., Marxist theory, new historicism, formalism, gender theory, postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, etc.). This course helps students frame interpretive questions and develop their own critical practice. This course is the prerequisite for 300-level work in English.

ENGL 321 Victorian Sexualities
Examines texts’ accounts of and implication in systems of power and privilege. These classes focus on questions of agency, gender, race, and ethnicity in both individual and collective identities. Course titles in this category have included “Shakespeare: Politics and Culture,” “Where Do Novels Come From?” “Celtic Revival/Harlem Renaissance,” “Literatures of the Global South: Migration & Displacement,” and “Studies in US LGBTQ+ History and Literature.” Prerequisites: ENGL 220, OR, for AMST majors, AMST 202.