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Page history last edited by Patricia Fumerton 7 years, 5 months ago
1550 to the Present



Graduate Course - English 238 - Winter 2017

Instructor: Patricia Fumerton

UC Santa Barbara

Wednesday 12:30 - 3:00 pm, South Hall 2635

        Office Hours: W 3-4, South Hall 2506


Riding the recent wave of studies in ephemera that has swept across humanities disciplines as an extension of the turn to the object as both a thing and a moment in time, this course will study a selection of ephemera from 1550 to the present. The objects of study are necessarily selectively and subjectively chosen and roughly take us chronologically from older to newer forms of ephemera: including, tracts and libels of the 16th and early 17th century, together with twitter and snap chat and other forms of contemporary on-the-fly communicationSchedule ; court masques of the early 17th century, considered together with contemporary balls and mardi-gras events; broadside ballads of the 16th- through 18th-century alongside contemporary jazz and rock and roll; woodcuts across the centuries and comic strips of the 18th to 21st centuries; newspapers, 18th – 21st centuries (guest speaker, Rachael King); miscellanies, excerpts, and marginalia of 16th and 17th centuries (guest speaker: Arthur Marotti); extra-illustrated books of the 19th century (this class includes a trip to the Huntington Library to view some of its famed collection of such books, with guest speaker Lori Anne Ferrell); games, focusing on one-time creations, abandonware, and temporary app stores of the 20th and 21st century (guest speaker, Jeremy Douglass), and the transitory nature of the world wide web, beginning in the 1990s to today, “404: Curating Networks” (guest speaker, Alan Liu).


An ongoing question the course will pursue is “what are ephemera?” The Ephemera Project at Rice University defines ephemera as “detritus or garbage that people produce without intending it to survive the moment.” Would you agree? What about recycling? What role do hobbyists and collectors play in such a definition and our study of ephemera? Why even produce let alone collect “detritus”? Why do we as cultural literary critics care about the ephemera of any historical period?


You will be encouraged in your class presentations to introduce what you consider to be a form of ephemera related to the period-type of the genre we will be focusing on for the day as seen from a specific historical period/field that you have chosen, which will then become the focus of your future discussions and your research paper (involving extensive research into and writing on your chosen field/approach to ephemera). As such, you will be able to apply to have the course count toward the departmental Area requirement your class participation and research has covered; you must fill out a form and request approval from the Graduate Committee.




Requirements for the course include two oral presentations (of 10-15 minutes); a trip to the Huntington Library to view its collection of extra-illustrated books, newspapers and news manuscripts; and a research paper of 10-12 pp.


Required Texts:


  • Half Humankind: Contexts and Texts of the Controversy about Women in England, 1540-1640, ed. Katherine Usher Henderson and Barbara F. McManus (U of Illinois P, 1985) (Amazon)
  • Ink, Stink, Bait, Revenge, and Queen Elizabeth: A Yorkshire Yeoman’s Household Book, ed. Steven W. May and Arthur Marotti (Cornell UP, 2014) (UCEN Bookstore)



Half Humankoind  Ink, Stink, Bait, Revenge, and Queen Elizabeth 










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