Spring 2018 Graduate Course Offerings

If you want more information about a course, please contact the faculty member.

ENGL 501. Introduction to Research in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication

Instructor: Prashant Rajan

Prereq: 6 graduate credits in English
Survey of the major rhetorical, qualitative, and quantitative methods used in research on communication and language in academic and nonacademic settings.

ENGL/LING 513. Language Assessment Practicum

Instructor: Volker Hegelheimer

Advanced practicum in language assessment.

SP CM 513. Proseminar: Teaching Fundamentals of Public Speaking

Instructor: Anne Kretsinger-Harries

Required of all new SP CM 212 teaching assistants. Introduction to the teaching of public speaking. Support and supervision of teaching assistants of SP CM 212. Discussion of lesson planning, teaching methods, development of speaking assignments, and evaluation of student speaking.

ENGL/LING 514. Sociolinguistics

Instructor: Gulbahar Beckett

Theories and methods of examining language in its social setting. Analysis of individual characteristics (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, social class, region), interactional factors (e.g., situation, topic, purpose) and national policies affecting language use.

ENGL 516. Methods of Formal Linguistic Analysis

Instructor: Sowmya Vajjala-Balakrishna

Knowledge about writing computer programs that can process text corpora is useful for anyone working with collections of texts. From doing basic corpus analysis to creating cool visualizations of language data, programming equips you with additional skills which are increasingly becoming relevant in the age of data driven scholarship across disciplines.  This course teaches you about the data structures to represent human language on computers and about computer programs that can read and process existing text data you already have, develop applications which allow you to interact with users, collect inputs from them and store the collected data in a database.

ENGL 517X. Corpus Linguistics

Instructor: Bethany Gray

Corpus linguistics is a method for analyzing language use and discourse using large collections of authentic language (a corpus), technology to facilitate the analysis, and both qualitative and quantitative techniques. This course provides a practical introduction to corpus linguistics methods to language analysis. In the course, students will learn about and put into practice the foundational concepts and methods of corpus linguistics, including corpus design, construction and annotation; quantitative and qualitative data in corpus studies; and tools and methods of analysis.
The course surveys major areas of linguistics that corpus methods are applied in, such as vocabulary, grammar, register and dialect variation, language change, pragmatics, semantics, stylistics, language learning and teaching, language development, and language testing, as well as applications of corpus linguistics in other language-related fields (e.g., technical communication, literary stylistics).
At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • apply principles of corpus design to evaluate existing corpora and to design and construct a corpus relevant to their research interests or teaching needs
  • formulate appropriate research questions that can be answered with corpus methods according to their needs and interests
  • use a range of computer tools to analyze corpus data, such as online and standalone concordancers, regular expressions, and programming skills (optional, for students with programming experience)
  • analyze, interpret, and report corpus data both quantitatively and qualitatively
  • apply methods of corpus-based research to a range of areas, with specific attention to how corpus linguistics can fulfill students own research and teaching needs.

As a methodology for investigating language use and texts, corpus linguistics is relevant to any student with an interest in language, discourse, and text construction. Students will have the opportunity to make connections between corpus linguistics and their area of focus, from literary stylistics, technical or business communication, language teaching, CALL, language testing, grammar, vocabulary, and so on.
Note: Computer programming knowledge is not required for the course. However, students with this experience will have opportunities to apply and build on programming skills they may have been developing in courses such as English 516x.

ENGL/LING 519. Second Language Assessment

Instructor: Gary Ockey

This course is an introduction to current issues in language assessment. Students learn about key concepts in language assessment, including, construct validity, reliability, authenticity, washback, and ethics.  They also gain experience in critiquing and creating various types of test tasks, including selected response item types like multiple-choice and true-false as well as constructed response item types such as summary writing tasks and group oral discussion speaking tasks. Students will learn how to use classical test theory statistics to analyze the psychometric strengths and weaknesses of assessment instruments. Procedures for analyzing both norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests will be covered. Students will use both Excel and SPSS to complete these analyses.

ENGL/LING 528. English for Specific Purposes

Instructor: Elena Cotos

Prereq: ENGL 511 or LING 511 or an introductory course in linguistics
ENGL 528 is grounded in the field of English for specific purposes (ESP), or more generally language for specific purposes (LSP). This course addresses theories of specific purpose language use, major developments in ESP/LSP research, and methods of teaching and assessing context-specific language needed to successfully engage in target social practices. Topics include various approaches to the analysis of learners’ current and desired competencies, as well as principles for the development and evaluation of materials for specific-learner-centered instruction. Additionally, the roles of genre analysis and corpus-based technologies in ESP/LSP are closely examined from the perspective of linguistic and communicative conventions established by different academic and professional discourse communities. Students will have the opportunity to apply key concepts and methodologies in a small-scale needs analysis that will inform a proposal for an ESP scenario of their choice.
While of immediate interest to students in applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language, the course is relevant to students in other areas because LSP is a domain that draws from multi-disciplinary cultures and epistemologies. Also, LSP has bourgeoned into numerous branches nested under English for Academic Purposes and English for Occupational Purposes. The former may appeal to students interested in written and oral communication in different educational contexts, and the latter may appeal to those who want to learn more about various professional and vocational contexts (e.g., English for Business Purposes, English for Medical Purposes, English for Legal Purposes). ESP has also expanded to include language for sociocultural purposes, which is pertinent for students focusing on the needs of socially or physically disadvantaged learners.

ENGL 531. Topics in the Study of Literature: Science Fiction

Instructor: Jeremy Withers

This course introduces students to science fiction (sf) literature, and provides an opportunity to study both the long history of the genre as well as its more recent trends. We will cover the major historical eras of sf such as the pulp era, the Golden Age, New Wave, cyberpunk, etc. Additionally, we will sample a broad range of sub-genres within sf such as alien invasion narratives, utopia/dystopia, feminist sf, post-apocalypse, time travel, environmental sf, and so forth. In short, this class examines the quite popular genre of sf literature that (often for very good reasons) gets condemned as sub-par writing, or as the trivial obsession of nerdy, adolescent males. However, this class will abide by Sturgeon’s Law: in response to uninformed critics who labeled the sf genre as “trash,” the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon once replied that “90% of everything is crap.” This class, therefore, offers students the chance to study some of the roughly 10% of provocative and astonishingly well-written sf literature out there.
This class should be of interest to anyone wanting to deepen their knowledge of the various theoretical approaches to and vocabularies of literary studies in general and of sf studies in particular. Additionally, the seminar should also appeal to people interested in the history of science and the history of technology, and in the role technology currently plays in our lives. Sf is also – despite its apparent obsession with inorganic machinery like spaceships, computers, and robots – deeply invested in exploring issues pertaining to ecology and animal studies. Thus, people coming from an environmental humanities or environmental sciences background should also find much that speaks to their interests in this class.
Likely texts:

  • The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (ed. Arthur Evans, et al)
  • The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
  • The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
  • Neuromancer, by William Gibson
  • Science Fiction Criticism: An Anthology of Essential Writings (ed. Rob Latham)

ENGL 535. British Literature 1830 to the Present

Instructor: Sean Grass

During the period of Queen Victoria’s reign, London passed definitively from being the medieval “City” of a bygone time to being an increasingly modern (and even post-modern) center of government, finance capitalism, and industrial production characterized by the predictable problems of poverty, overcrowding, pollution, violence, disease, and organized crime. It was, in fact, the first city to face modern problems of industrialization and urbanization, and the authors who wrote amid its rapid transformations—Dickens, Marx, and Trollope, among others—turned their observations and anxieties into enduring works of fiction, poetry, and journalism. We will spend the semester reading works that take up the problems of Victorian London, such as Oliver Twist, London Labour and the London Poor, The Way We Live Now, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and also exploring both Victorian and post-modern takes on matters such as urban filth, death, and burial; industrial waste and ecology; the evolution of corporate finance; sex trafficking and Jack the Ripper; and London’s position as a cultural and literary center. Major projects will include an oral presentation and a seminar paper of approximately 15 pp.

ENGL/LING 537. Corpus Approaches to Grammatical Analysis

Instructor: Bethany Gray

Prereq: ENGL 220 or LING 220; ENGL 219, LING 219, ENGL 511, LING 511, or introductory course in linguistics; graduate classification
Corpus-informed analysis of syntax in authentic writing and speech, with emphasis on approaches used in applied linguistics.

ENGL 543. The Study of Environmental Literature

Instructor: Brianna Burke

The Literary Environmental Humanities Through Climate Change

This semester we will use Climate Change as the critical lens through which we will explore how previously constructed boundaries—such as race, class, gender, species, even academic disciplines—are complicated by living within an era of increasing resource scarcity, ecological instability, and a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. With Climate Change as a broad focus, the course will range through the Environmental Humanities, the largest growing theoretical, transdisciplinary field in our profession today, allowing us to explore not only a range of theories, from Material Ecocriticism to Cosmopolitics, from Animal Studies to Environmental Justice but also those theories as they intersect with emerging work in the sciences, sociology, rhetorical theory, linguistics.
The design of the course will be loose, letting us choose where we want to go next with two caveats: first, I will choose the texts, and second, they will be from the 20th and 21st centuries. Genetics, transhuman hybrids, petro-politics, Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge, global food insurrections, speculative fiction versus climate fiction, climate justice, animal studies, ecofeminism… the list can go on and on, the field is growing so fast. We can decide together.
Because the course is based in the Literary Environmental Humanities, we will also talk about practical matters, such as what it means to engage in transdiciplinary work, and how the humanities can engage with the social and political world outside of academia. The assignments for the course emphasize professionalization, and require writing a range of documents to fit your professional needs and goals, depending on your program of study and career aspirations.
Texts may include Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (2009), The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (2010), Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2004), Mama Day by Gloria Naylor (1989), Tracks by Louise Erdrich (1989), Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (2010), A State of Wonder by Ann Pachet (2014), Tropic of Orange by Karen Tai Yamashita (1997), Beasts of the Southern Wild  (2012), The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008), Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (2012), and Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes (1996).

ENGL 554. Graduate Fiction Workshop

Instructor: David Zimmerman

Prereq: ENGL 550 and graduate classification. Open to graduate students outside MFA in Creative Writing and Environment with permission of instructor
Individual projects in fiction on a workshop and conference basis. Readings in short fiction. Discussion of elements of narrative such as plot, point of view, characterization, theme, setting.

ENGL 556. Graduate Poetry Workshop

Instructor: Jennifer Knox

In his book on the origin of ideas, Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure, mathematician Cédric Villani concludes that illumination cannot occur in a vacuum. It presents itself to the “prepared mind” in a process that moves from hard work to illumination then back to hard work. That hard work and preparation, according to Villani, entails seeking out diverse ideas, solutions, thought processes, etc. and incorporating them into what we already know—i.e. folding new ingredients into our cake batter. Our work in this workshop will be to prepare our minds for illumination.
As a facilitator, my goal is to create a space where diverse ideas are heard, valued, and can be acted upon. The workshop is the ideal setting for this exchange, which is why poets at all levels return to workshops, residencies, writing communities, etc.: the more contact with ideas and artists who differ from us, the more connected, relevant and awake our work will be.
We’re all trying to make different music. Some of us are trying to make music that hasn’t been heard yet—not even by the people who are trying to make it. To pursue music that has yet to be heard (only knowing it must be heard) is difficult. My objective is to create a community in which those poets can manifest their unprecedented solutions to the unprecedented troubles of our time. Other poets have heard the music they’re working hard to make. Let’s listen to it.
The community we build together could be one of your strongest assets as a writer. That’s not hype. While my MFA professors at New York University (Shahid Ali, Mark Doty, Cornelius Eady, Marie Howe, Philip Levine, Sharon Olds and Marie Ponsot) had a profound impact on my poems, my classmates (Kazim Ali, Kathy Graber, Ada Limón, Pulitzer Prize winner Gregory Pardlo (who wore overalls on the first day of class) and Jason Schneiderman) continue to have a profound impact on my life—from artistic and emotional support to professional opportunities—over fifteen years later.
Never have we been able to connect with so many other poets, ideas, and meaningful, sustainable opportunities for artists. Though the current political climate can feel unbearably isolating, but in reality, we are unprecedentedly connected.
Sessions will be mostly reserved for workshop. We will collectively determine the structure, time allotment system/s, and frequency we wish to use. Poets from outside the class will be read to energize discussions of craft and publishing. Participants will also be asked to give short informal presentations on influences and illuminations. Regular conferences with the instructor and poetry dates with colleagues will be scheduled. www.jenniferlknox.com

ENGL 557. Studies in Creative Writing: Screens and Scripts  CANCELLED

Instructor: Barbara Haas

Born of sequential narrative, screen ink is the 21st Century wild child that chops and screws digital storytelling into a mash-up of vaporwave, future funk, solar punk, soundscape and city pop.
Screens & scripts are hybrid and eclectic visual pieces that blow the doors off genre and atomize our sense of conventional storytelling.   The work of this class asks you to combine text and images in a digital format for display on smartphones, tablets, touchscreens and social media feeds.
This hands-on workshop gives you an opportunity to compose multi-genre creative pieces and share them in a workshop format in order to receive feedback on them from other class auteurs.
Video- and image-centric, new media work in graphic narrative offers a fresh take on literary art.   Teetering at the nexus of film, games and the Internet, it is a foray into transmedia that looks to technology for its emotional resonance.  Augmented reality and geo-location pieces are invited.
Working in a visual medium provides a glimpse into each creative composition as an assemblage of moveable parts, discrete components to arrange and rearrange into an evocative whole.  Engaging in a process like this enriches a return to more conventional text-based writing, because it sheds light on heretofore unseen aspects of design.
Graduate students who are pursuing degrees other than the MFA will delight in a class like this for the opportunity it holds out to build a skill set in visual communication.  This is an elective Creative Writing course, but any graduate student, no matter the Program of Study, can acquire expertise in creating 2-minute, 5-minute and 7-minute electronic works.
More people consume narrative while seated before screens, or sauntering about with their screens, than any other way.  Ours is a privileged and transitional literary period, and there’s no going back.
When we stare into our screens the light brings out the color in our eyes, and the stories we find there sear a burning path of narrative right through the optical nerve.

ENGL 559. Creative Writing Teaching Internship

Instructor: Debra Marquart

Students assist in an introductory creative writing class. Some supervised teaching but mainly evaluation of submissions and individual conferences. Requirements and grades determined by participating instructors.

ENGL 560. Environmental Field Experience

Instructor: Debra Marquart

Students in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment register for three credits and spend a term on a project that requires environmental fieldwork. Fieldwork experiences might include the following kinds of activities: working for a federal, state, or private non-profit environmental organization; partnering with an environmental activism organization or advocacy organization working toward a cause of interest for the student’s research; or living and working in a specified natural area and engaging in environmental fieldwork that enhances the student’s understanding of environmental issues.
A proposal must be submitted to and approved by the English 560 field experience coordinator prior to the commencement of fieldwork. Students should confer with their advisors or the field experience coordinator prior to writing the proposal. An informational document, “MFA Guidelines for Completion of English 560,” and the approval form, “MFA Environmental Field Experience Proposal,” are both available for download on the following website:
http://www.engl.iastate.edu/graduate-students/resources-for-current-students-faculty/forms-2/. (On this webpage, see the links for the two 560 documents under the subheading, “Program Specific POS Forms.”)
The 560 field experience culminates in a formal public presentation of the student’s experience and a short creative reading of work that demonstrates the way the field experience has informed the writer’s work. A final portfolio of the writing samples and other documentation will be submitted to the field experience coordinator as a final requirement of the 560 Environmental Field Experience.

ENGL 587. Internship in Business, Technical, and Professional Communication

Instructor: (arranged) David Roberts

An opportunity to write, edit, and design business and technical documents in a professional setting.

ENGL 589. Supervised Practicum in Literary Editing

Instructor: Debra Marquart

In English 589, the Supervised Practicum in Literary Editing, MFA students gain expertise in publishing and editing in a hands-on, real world setting. During the spring semester, MFA students assume editorial duties for Flyway: A Journal of Writing and Environment, a nationally distributed literary journal.
Coursework includes the following activities: screening submissions, meeting in a roundtable discussion with fellow editors to discuss top tier submissions, corresponding with authors, editing and proofing accepted submissions, assisting with layout, overseeing contests such and the “Iowa Sweet Corn Prize” (fiction & poetry) and the “Notes from the Field” prize (nonfiction), and promoting the magazine on social media and in other venues. Editors of the journal also represent Flyway at AWP, the national conference of the Associated Writing Programs, each spring semester. (www.flyway.org)

ENGL 602B: Research Methods in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication: Quantitative Research

Instructor: Tina Coffelt

This course allows advanced graduate students who have completed ENG 501 or its equivalent to learn about research design and analysis using quantitative research methods. Students will:

  • read articles reporting quantitative research results in writing studies, including research in multimodal composition; organizational communication; and other English-related specialties where found and where students express interest
  • evaluate strengths and limitations of quantitative studies
  • understand the role of the IRB in human subjects research
  • design a quantitative research study using surveys, experiments, or content analysis
  • perform correlation, regression, chi-square, t-tests, and ANOVA
  • interpret the results of content analysis, correlation, regression, chi-square, t-tests, and ANOVA

This course will benefit graduate students who want to conduct quantitative research and produce the genres of quantitative research in English-related specialties.

ENGL 611A. Seminar in Rhetorical Theory: Genre Theory and Embodied Cognition

Instructor: David Russell

We will examine contemporary genre theory as a way understanding—and researching—the relationship between the social and the cognitive, the cultural and the individual dimensions of multi-modal communication, especially writing. Genre has been an important theoretical approach to the socio-cultural dimensions of writing studies, but genre is also becoming important to interdisciplinary theorizing and research about the cognitive, emotive, and identity dimensions of writing studies, especially the new work on embodied cognition, including mindfulness approaches to pedagogy based on it.

We’ll begin by considering literary and linguistic approaches to genre, before tackling a deep introduction to rhetorical genre theory—especially its claim the genres are more than forms of texts. In this view, they are forms of life, our cultural means of categorizing and acting in the world. We’ll look especially at the relationships among genre, ideology and social structure, to illuminate issues of language difference, race, class and gender.  We’ll then explore theories of embodied cognition and mindfulness, to see how individual writers categorize and act on the world. How do people perceive (and misperceive) genres? How are writers motivated (and blocked) in their writing of genres? What are the roles of emotion and identity in the ways writers go about creating genred texts—and knowledge and change.

We’ll do two collaborative research projects, beginning in the first half of the semester, which I hope will lead to co-authored publication for those who wish to continue with them. Around the halfway point in the term, seminar participants may identify projects that apply genre theory and analytic methods to their individual scholarly interests. Readings for the latter part of the semester will be selected to support these interests and to coordinate with those of guest speakers via distance link, such as Carolyn Miller, Clay Spinuzzi and Charles Bazerman.


At the conclusion of the semester, successful students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  • Articulate thoughtfully and thoroughly the concept of genre as it is understood in current scholarship.
  • Engage in scholarly discussion of the interrelated cognitive significance and social function of genres.
  • Formulate and explore independent lines of inquiry that build on and extend the scholarly conversations.
  • Apply a rhetorical understanding of genre to increase the effectiveness and sophistication of one’s own writing.


ENGL 611B. Seminar in Rhetorical Theory: Survey of Organizational Communication

Instructor: Stacy Tye-Williams

In this graduate level survey course we will explore the historical roots and foundational theories of organizational communication along with in-depth discussions of historical and contemporary issues related but not limited to technology, identity, power, emotion, diversity, conflict, and leadership. Organizational Communication involves the study of people and the structures that enable and constrain agency and voice. Given the centrality of communication in organizations it is important to understand how communication works or fails to do so in organizations. In this course we will examine the role of communication in creating, sustaining, and sometimes even destroying organizations.
Throughout the course students will apply organizational communication theories and research to their own areas of interest through a combination of discussion, organizational text analysis, presentations, and seminar length research papers worthy of conference or publication submission. Some examples of interdisciplinary research topics that might interest students studying creative writing, linguistics, and literature could be but certainly are not limited to:

  • Exploring the organization of and communicative constitution of smart cities and other built environments as inter-organizational collaborations
  • Analyzing business popular press books (e.g. Who Move My Cheese?)
  • Critiquing films about work (e.g. Wall Street, The Pursuit of Happiness, Office Space)
  • Examining language used in employee manuals and organizational policies

Course Objectives

  • Understand the historical foundations of organizational communication
  • Identify and critique theories of and approaches to organizational communication
  • Recognize the complex ways that organizational structure impacts communication
  • Apply organizational communication concepts and theories to practical situations

ENGL/LING 626. Computer-Assisted Language Testing

Instructor: Volker Hegelheimer

This applied linguistics & technology seminar covers principles and practice for the use and study of technology in second language assessment by 1) reviewing relevant work in technology and assessment, 2) examining students’ interests in the technology-language assessment connection, and 3) investigating new technology-based language assessments and research.  The course will socialize students into research and practice in this area through reading and discussion as well as through creation of their own pilot study assessment projects based on their plans for future research.  Students will be required to present, summarize and critique published articles; write a proposal for a pilot study on assessment; carry out their pilot study; and present the results orally and in writing.

ENGL/LING 630S. Seminar in Technology and Applied Linguistics: Computer-Assisted Language Learning

Instructor: Evgeny Chukharev

Language learning these days almost is almost always computer-assisted to some extent, simply because computers are ubiquitous and it’s hard to avoid their use. However, there are types of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) that enable pedagogical interventions that would be otherwise impossible. Such CALL applications can be adaptive (i.e. provide personalized learning experiences based on individual student’s needs), scalable (i.e. reduce the time teachers need to spend creating instructional materials), and most importantly, effective in helping students attain language-learning goals. This is often afforded by natural language processing (NLP), real-time capturing of learner behavior, and learner modeling.
Topics covered in this seminar will include: classification of modern CALL applications; identifying language-learning problems that can be best solved through CALL approaches; conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and evaluating CALL tools; planning for and ensuring sustainability of CALL applications. Activities will include critical reading and discussion of the relevant literature, as well as hands-on exercises, culminating in a project focusing on one or more stages in the lifecycle of a CALL tool. Experience with computer programming is a plus, but not required to take this class.

ENGL/LING 688. Practicum in Technology and Applied Linguistics

Instructor: Volker Hegelheimer

Focus on integrating theoretical knowledge with practical expertise. Assess client needs; develop, integrate, and evaluate solutions. Practical understanding of computer applications used in multimedia development. Create web-based or CD-ROM-based multimedia materials. Work with advanced authoring applications.