Faculty Profile

Claire Seiler

Associate Professor of English (2010)

Contact Information

seilercl@dickinson.edu

East College Room 310
717.245.1921

Bio

Seiler's research and teaching span modern and contemporary U.S., British, and Irish literatures and cultures. Her recent writing has appeared in Contemporary Literature, Modernism/Modernity, Auden at Work (2015), Around 1945: Literature, Citizenship, Rights (2016), and elsewhere. She is currently completing her first book, "Midcentury Suspension," which offers a new literary history of the immediate postwar and rethinks period and political frames that broadly govern the study of 20th-century literature. Recent courses include: Celtic Revival/Harlem Renaissance; War, Race, and U.S. Literature since 1945; Women Write War; and a senior research seminar centered on Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. In 2014-15, she was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; in 2016-17, she is serving as chair of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Education

  • B.A., Middlebury College, 2002
  • M.Phil., Trinity College, Dublin, 2004
  • Ph.D., Stanford University, 2010

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

WGSS 101 Women Write War
Cross-listed with ENGL 101-05. This course studies American women’s war writing from the Civil War through the “war on terror.” Our guiding questions include: what literary forms have women writers adapted or developed to represent war, as well as the social, political, bodily, and emotional effects of armed conflict? How has women’s war writing participated in debates about feminism, citizenship, civil and human rights, and the American project? How have women's intersectional experiences and changing social roles impacted the genre of war writing, and vice versa? Primary texts include works of poetry, fiction, and autobiography by Gwendolyn Brooks, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson, Elyse Fenton, Frances E.W. Harper, Naomi Shihab Nye, Leslie Marmon Silko, Toyo Suyemoto, and Natasha Trethewey.

ENGL 101 Women Write War
Cross-listed with WGSS 101-01. This course studies American women’s war writing from the Civil War through the “war on terror.” Our guiding questions include: what literary forms have women writers adapted or developed to represent war, as well as the social, political, bodily, and emotional effects of armed conflict? How has women’s war writing participated in debates about feminism, citizenship, civil and human rights, and the American project? How have women's intersectional experiences and changing social roles impacted the genre of war writing, and vice versa? Primary texts include works of poetry, fiction, and autobiography by Gwendolyn Brooks, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson, Elyse Fenton, Frances E.W. Harper, Naomi Shihab Nye, Leslie Marmon Silko, Toyo Suyemoto, and Natasha Trethewey.

ENGL 101 Speculative Fict/Afr Amer Lit
Speculative fiction names a mode of world-making that is not constrained by the logic of “possibility,” insisting always on asking what if? What if King Arthur was the leader of an inner-city gang? What if nuclear warfare made the planet uninhabitable? What if magic was real? In this course, we will explore the imaginative worlds envisioned by 20th and 21st-century African American authors to ask what kinds of alternative pasts, presents, and futures they create, and what lessons those possibilities might hold. Our healthy mixture of novels and short stories may include works by Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Ishmael Reed, Lorraine Hansberry, Nalo Hopkinson, NK Jemisin, Walter Mosley, and Maurice Broaddus.

ENGL 101 Television's Golden Ages
Cross-listed with FLST 210-04.Since the early 2000s, television has seemed to eclipse cinema as the dominant cultural forum through which popular audiences negotiate the challenges of social representation and aesthetic form. Even though many describe our current moment as television’s “golden age,” this term has been used to describe TV at least two other times in its history. This course introduces students to “quality television” from the 1950s to the present, juxtaposing recent texts with their predecessors from television history. The course gives special attention to how television functions as a cultural forum and how certain texts garner cultural capital. Selected texts may include: Marty, Patterns, Twelve Angry Men, I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Duel, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Chapelle’s Show, Girls, True Detective, Inside Amy Schumer, The Get Down, and Atlanta.

FLST 210 Television's Golden Ages
Cross-listed with ENGL 101-02.Since the early 2000s, television has seemed to eclipse cinema as the dominant cultural forum through which popular audiences negotiate the challenges of social representation and aesthetic form. Even though many describe our current moment as television’s “golden age,” this term has been used to describe TV at least two other times in its history. This course introduces students to “quality television” from the 1950s to the present, juxtaposing recent texts with their predecessors from television history. The course gives special attention to how television functions as a cultural forum and how certain texts garner cultural capital. Selected texts may include: Marty, Patterns, Twelve Angry Men, I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Duel, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Chapelle’s Show, Girls, True Detective, Inside Amy Schumer, The Get Down, and Atlanta.

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 311 Contemporary American Auteurs
In this course, students will learn to analyze contemporary American cinema with the conceptual techniques of auteur theory. Auteur theorists understand film as expressing the personal vision of a unique author, usually the director. After establishing a conceptual foundation for auteur theory and authorship, students will engage an array of contemporary American auteurs, analyzing their films in depth, as well as reading an auteur memoir, auteur interviews, classic film criticism, film theory, and a recent novel. Students will also submit a weekly response to films and readings, conduct a shot-by-shot analysis of a scene, and write a major research essay. This course presents each auteur as representing a unique style of film, and so exposes students to the diverse expressions of contemporary American cinema. Selected auteurs may include: Brian DePalma, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, John Waters, David Lynch, Kelly Reichardt, and Barry Jenkins.

ENGL 321 Secrets in Afr Am Lit/Cult
Secrets mystify. We might say they do all kinds of curious work. This course aims to better understand the labor, both material and ideological, that secrets perform throughout the history of African American identity. In so doing, we will ask what a secret is, but also how secrets are mobilized around issues of community, identity, and safety (to name but a few). From passing to the down low, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter to the nation’s forgotten legacies of violence, this course is an invitation to revisit the untellable and revel in its revelations, and then perhaps regret doing so. Potential readings are also a secret, but one shouldn’t be surprised to find Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929), David Bradley’s The Chaneysville Incident (1981), E. Lynn Harris’ Invisible Life (1991), Barbara Chase-Riboud’s The President’s Daughter (1994), and Mat Johnson’s Incognegro (2008) among our company. In addition to two short analysis papers, students will also produce a creative final project that could take the many forms, among them a research paper, a podcast, or a presentation.

ENGL 321 Celtic Revival/Harlem Renaiss
This course studies two major art movements of the modernist period, both of which tie formal innovation to questions of national citizenship, racial equality, and political autonomy. How did these “minor” literatures challenge majority national or imperial cultures? What events and forms galvanized the social and aesthetic work of the Celtic Revival (Ireland) and the Harlem Renaissance (US)? Primary readings cover several genres (fiction, drama, poetry, and essays); primary authors include, among others: Langston Hughes, James Joyce, Nella Larsen, Alain Locke, J.M. Synge, Jean Toomer, and W.B. Yeats.