Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.001: Masculine Women and Feminine Men: Gender, Genre, & Politics

T/Th 8-9:30
109 Dwinelle
CCN 17203
H. Cruz

Taking on the attributes of the opposite gender is as ancient an act as it is problematic. What exactly is so threatening about this kind of crossing? As with most kinds of border disruptions, this one threatens to spread and multiply to other types or kinds of disruptions and must therefore almost always be contained. However, not all crossings are as dangerous. Some even serve to reinforce the received hierarchy of gender while others risk dissolving the very basis of our society. In this class we will examine various examples of masculine women and feminine men across a variety of genres and time periods, in order to identify any possible connections between gender and genre. We will also look closely at the political implications of these crossings for different communities, societies and the states.


  • Euripides, Medea
  • Catalina de Erauso, Lieutenant Nun
  • Federico Garcia Lorca, The House of Bernarda Alba
  • Jovita Gonzales, The Dew on the Thorn
  • Jose Donoso, Hell Has no Limits
  • Mauel Puig, The Kiss of the Spider Woman
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex


  • Pedro Almodóvar, Bad Education/Mala Educación
  • John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • Kimberly Peirce, Boys Don’t Cry

Course Catalog Number:

R1A.002: Confusion of Tongues

T/Th 9:30-11:00
109 Dwinelle
CCN 17206
T. Warner & Mandy Cohen

From the Tower of Babel through contemporary narratives of immigration, exile, and displacement, linguistic confusion is a venerable motif. So what is a reader to make of a story that “stops making sense?” In this course we will read and discuss many varieties of linguistic confusion. These will include multilingual texts that address multiple audiences, as well as works that mix sacred, profane, and even dead languages. Some of our readings will frustrate interpretation with secret codes while others will tantalize with open secrets. We will also discuss mixed media works that employ several genres. By considering novels, plays, films, poems and comics that refuse to be transparent in their communication, we will take linguistic confusion not as a problem to be solved but as a strategy that can be productive and provocative. This being a 1B course, the focus will be as much on writing as on reading. Our hope is that the confusion we confront in our readings will help us develop valuable analytical tools in class discussion and hone our ability to write subtly, critically, and insightfully.

Readings may include:

  • Franz Kafka – The Tower of Babel
  • Jorge Luis Borges – The Library of Babel
  • Samuel Beckett – Waiting for Godot
  • Anders Nilsen – Dogs and Water
  • Theresa Hak Kyung Cha – Dictee
  • Alain Resnais – Hiroshima Mon Amour
  • Gloria Anzaldua – Borderlands
  • Junot Diaz – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Sappho – Selected Poems (Anne Carson trans.)
  • Gertrude Stein – Selected Poems

Course Catalog Number:

R1A.003: Identification

Instructor: Nina Estreich

T/Th 11-12:30
122 Wheeler
CCN # 1209
N. Estreich

In this course we will be reading a range of literary works which suggest the complexities of identification. Through readings and discussion, we will explore aspects of affinity and antipathy, attraction and repulsion, complicated sympathies, and personal and political ambivalence. With attention to questions of identity and sociopolitical context, we will particularly consider relationships between individual and community, representations of dissidence, and the effects of recognition and misrecognition within literary narrative. Class assignments, including midterm paper and final essay, will emphasize the development of skills in textual interpretation, writing, and revision.


  • Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
  • Herman Melville, Billy Budd
  • Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Jamaica Kincaid, My Brother
  • J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace

Course reader will include short works and excerpts by Freud, Bowles, Kleist, Breytenbach, Oates, and others.

Course Catalog Number:

R1A.004: Revisions: Ancients and Modernists

T/Th 8-9:30
214 Haviland
CCN # 17212
J. Bulger

The term “Modernism” coarsely describes a cultural movement that began during the sunset of the nineteenth century and continued into the first half of the twentieth century. Modernists experimented with new ideas and forms in order to liberate their arts from tradition. Yet as artists strove headlong into the future, they did look in the rear-view mirror to the distant past – to antiquity. In particular, Greek and Roman ideas, forms and texts litter the modernist literary canon as modernist authors translate and transmute the works of classical antiquity in order to advance their artistic projects.

This course will examine the modernists’ engagement of classical Greek and Roman works. Why does the modernist author use the ancient in a project to create the new? How does the author give a new voice to ancient ideas and forms? What is lost or gained in the shuttling of material between 2000 years? How can ancient material refer to a modern context? As a reader, what is our relationship with the modern text, if we know the ancient source?

Our readings will focus on a series of paired texts – one classical and one modern. We will begin in the 19th century and see how authors are using classical texts so as to highlight the differences or similarities found in the modernists. In our journey between periods and texts, we will get to know figures such as Odysseus, Tiresias, Helen and Orpheus as both classical and modernist characters. As we engage with different texts and their respective heroes, we will focus on not only how the authors rethink “stories” or characters, but also how and why they rework genres, such as epic, lyric and drama. We will consider, furthermore, how modernist film and opera engage classical characters and stories.

This examination of how modernists read and revise ancient texts and literary structures will inform a sustained dedication to making you a better reader and reviser. Bouncing between millennia on the hunt for ancient voices and modernist re-vocalizations, you will be developing your own voice through a number of in-class and take-home writing assignments. As a 1A/1B class, you will learn to read texts closely and analyze them critically. With respect to your writing skills, you will master the basics of sentence structure, paragraph development and essay composition. In the spirit of this course, you will write and revise, revise, revise your old work.


  • Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 2006.
  • Euripides. “Helen.” Trans. Richmond Lattimore. Euripides II. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969. 189-260.
  • Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.
  • Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” Trans. Malcolm Pasley. The Metamorphosis and
  • Other Stories. New York: Penguin Books, 2000. 64-110.
  • Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. David Raeburn. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.
  • Sophocles. “Oedipus the King.” Trans. H.D.F Kitto. Antigone, Oedipus the King,
  • Electra. Ed. Edith Hall. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. 49-99.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.002: Vision and Revision

T/Th 9:30-11:00
209 Dwinelle
CCN #17221
Paul Haacke & Kristen Dickinson

This course will revolve around the arts of reading and re-reading, viewing and re-viewing, writing and re-writing. Focusing on selected works of literature and film, we will study a range of historical, theoretical and ideological questions related to the overarching topic of vision and revision, including the verbal representation of images, literary representations of visual art, narrative cinema, and the relationships between recognition and error, searching and research, spectacle and desire, difference and repetition, history and fiction, memory and translation.

Requirements will likely include: regular short analytical responses (ungraded); three 3-page essays and one 8-page research paper or independent project (which will involve first drafts, peer editing, revisions, and proofreading); one in-class presentation; prompt attendance, and active participation in group discussion.

Texts are likely to include the following:


Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Dante, The New Life

Orhan Pamuk, The New Life

Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima, Mon Amour

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Lewis Carroll, The Annotated Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and

Through the Looking Glass)


Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, 1929)

Orpheus (Jean Cocteau, 1950)

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

Hiroshima, Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959)

Blow Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)

Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)

Selections in course reader:

Charles Baudelaire, “The Eyes of Poor” and selections from The Painter of Modern Life; Rainer Maria Rilke, “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” “Orpheus, Euridice, Hermes,” “Going Blind,” “Self-Portrait,” “Dancer, O You Translation,” W.H. Auden, “Musée des Beaux Arts,” Wallace Stevens,“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Bird,” John Ashbery, “Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name” and “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” etc. Selections from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge Erich Auerbach, “Odysseus’ Scar” in Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature Italo Calvino, “Why Read the Classics?” Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility” Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life” E.T.A. Hoffmann, “The Sandman” Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny”

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.003: Writing Desire

MWF 10-11:00

156 Dwinelle

CCN #17224

S. Setter

How is it that what seem to be our most spontaneous, personal, and intimate experiences – love, desire, affection – tend to appear as banal, scripted ones? Or is this only a function of the way – highly formalized indeed – in which these private experiences are represented in communicable, repetitive, public words? What is the role of speech, linguistic gestures, address and call, narration and self-narration, in desire, and what is the relationship between desire and writing – the writing of desire and the desire to write? Is it possible to talk or write about desire without betraying it? Or in Raymond Carver’s words, “what do we talk about when we talk about love”?

We’ll start the course by considering Roland Barthes’s suggestion that the basic structure of a lover’s discourse is “someone speaking within himself, amorously, confronting the other, the loved object, who does not speak.” Then, while reading novels, short stories, poems, and letters, and watching films, we’ll follow, examine, refine, and complicate this structure. Among the things which might help us challenge, or maybe reinforce, it are: the possible existence of a speaking beloved, the significant role of the narrator/voyeur within the erotic scene, pederasty as an alternative organization of desire, pedophilia as a potential form of love, the ascetic/sexual love of knowledge, and the realistic utopia of an erotic community. In addition to reading widely in these different forms of writing desire, we will also try to increase our own, or at least improve our writing skills and get to know our desires better.

Texts will include:

The Song of Songs

Barthes, Lover’s Discourse

Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther

Duras, Ravishing of Lol Stein

Poems by Sappho, Frank O’Hara, Jack Spicer, Adrienne Rich

Poems/letters by Emily Dickinson


Capturing the Friedmans (Jarecki)

Contempt (Godard)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.004: No Laughing Matter

MWF 10-11:00
215 Dwinelle
CCN 17227
G. Zupsich

In this course we will investigate absurdist humor as a mode of social critique and means of philosophical teaching. Our discussions will touch on a broad range of theories of the absurd from Kierkegaard and Camus philosophical inquiries into social ethics and the human experience to Vian, Artaud and Beckett’s aesthetic responses to certain existential and social problems posed by philosophical Absurdism. Questions we might consider include What is absurdity and why does it make us laugh? Are there some subjects that should not be mocked? Why or why not? Should absurdity be a laughing matter?

We will examine various comedic treatments of absurdist themes in French, Spanish, British and American texts from Renaissance and neoclassical antecedents to the absurd to 20th-century American comedic film. Some of these texts explore the absurdity of marriage and family life, nobility, medicine and education, while others recount the adventures of absurdist heroes or comment on absurdity and the search for meaning in everyday life. Independent student research will be centered on theories of humor in film and literature. Students will write 3 papers, the first of which will be 3 pages and the following 7-8 pages each with outside critical support.


François Rabelais, Pantagruel

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote (Selections)

Mark Twain, Diaries of Adam and Eve

Alfred Jarry, Ubu the King

Boris Vian, “Pins and Needles” & “Blues for a Black Cat”

Samuel Beckett, Waiting For Godot

Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

David Foster Wallace, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”

Yasmina Reza, Art


Jacques Tati, Mon Oncle

Pedro Almodóvar, What Have I Done to Deserve This?

Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich

The Course Reader will contain short excerpts from the following works:

Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Alfred Jarry, Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll

Antonin Artaud, The Theater and Its Double

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.005: Women, the Body, and the Power of the Pen

T/Th 8-9:30
209 Dwinelle
CCN #17230
J. DeAngelis & J. Crewe

“What shall I do with my blouse?”

–Angela Carter, “The Company of Wolves”

“Into the fire with it too, my pet,” answers the wolf in one of Angela Carter’s postmodern feminist renditions of the classic fairy tale, “Little Red Riding Hood,” where the girl performs a seductive striptease for the wolf.  » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.006: Time and the Novel

Instructor: Adeline Tran

MWF 11-12
30 Wheeler
CCN #17233
B. Clancy & A. Tran

A central aspect of the aesthetics of the novel involves the task of representing the passage of time. This course will start by looking at how literary temporality is addressed in antiquity in order to gain a better understanding of the role that the representation of time plays in establishing the sets of criteria that help to define literary genres. Another concern of the course will thus be to determine the way in which the novel’s various approaches to time, particularly in the twentieth-century, play a crucial factor in the aesthetic innovation of the genre. Here we will examine time in relation to things such plot-structure, characterization, style, and epistemology. We will then focus on distinct techniques used by twentieth-century authors to engage with this problem, seeing how such techniques produce unique images of temporality, as well as what the broader implications of such developments might be for narrative aesthetics in general.


Aristotle, The Poetics

Homer, The Odyssey

Sophocles, Oedipus the King

Shakespeare, King Lear

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

James Joyce, Ulysses

Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.007: Moving Parts

T/Th 9:30-11:00
20 Wheeler
CCN # 17236
S. Schwartz & M. Zaydman

In this class, we will explore the idea that texts are made up of moving parts—not just that books are composed of pages that turn, or that “film” means a series of still images running through a projector.  We will also consider the possibility that the whole inside of a text consists of elements that are constantly, and not always predictably, in motion.  In an actual mechanical object, moving parts—housed inside a stable structure—are supposed to go on clicking and whirring and spinning and interlocking; that’s how the device works.  However, mechanically speaking, they are also the components in a machine that tend to break down and wear out, to cause trouble, to disrupt the process.

What happens when the mobile part of a story refuses to move the way it should, or when the images of a film won’t progress in the proper order? If a moving part fails, can another mechanical part substitute for it? Can some parts—characters, for example, or category nouns—be considered more or less interchangeable?  When the moving parts of a text confuse themselves with the stable structure that surrounds them, is it dangerous?

Mechanical designers generally try to reduce the number of moving parts, because of these components’ tendency to end up in some kind of entropic or chaotic state.  Poets, filmmakers, choreographers, photographers, writers, sculptors, and painters, on the other hand, seem to love this state—and all of the possible kinds of moving parts that get them into it.  Working with this premise, we will explore a set of texts with hyper-mobile parts, mechanical problems, bent wire and thin string, strange substitutions, the tendency to go backwards in third gear, shifting frames, frozen screens, lost directions, bad reception, and something that keeps rattling when you turn it upside-down.  Students will have the opportunity to analyze these texts individually as well as collaboratively, and to create written papers and multi-media presentations that express their unique insights and ideas.  This class includes two formal papers and many short writing assignments, and places a strong emphasis on active, creative student participation.


If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler—Italo Calvino

Othello—William Shakespeare

The Age of Wire and String—Ben Marcus


Vertigo—Alfred Hitchcock

Modern Times—Charlie Chaplin

The Mirror (Zerkalo)—Andrei Tarkovsky

Meshes of the Afternoon—Maya Deren

A Study in Choreography for Camera—Maya Deren

La Jetée—Chris Marker

Visual and Performing Art

Selected Untitled Film Stills (photographs)—Cindy Sherman

Selected paintings—Gerhard Richter

Artifact Suite (dance)—William Forsythe

Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced

(dance/architecture) —William Forsythe

Selections in the course reader: Metamorphoses (Ovid), “The Nose” (Gogol), Hopscotch (Cortázar),The Gay Science (Nietzsche), Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (Freud), Capital (Marx), “Art as a Device” (Shklovsky)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.008: Intriguing Identities

T/Th 11-12:30
123 Wheeler
CCN #17239
J. Bodik & S. Cochran

Literature is often about conflict—about individuals, nations, and worldviews at odds with one another. Within texts, characters “plot” and scheme against one another, and texts themselves can become involved in the social and political contentions that continually unfold in the real world.  Conflict in literature, in turn, is at the heart of narrative intrigue.  And intrigue often has a great deal to do with how individuals cope with their differences: how they define themselves and strive to define others.  In this course we will explore how intrigue as a literary phenomenon is not just a force that drives plot forward but also a lens through which to study the construction and representation of identity.

This is a writing-intensive course with an emphasis on the development of research skills.  In addition to frequent short homework and in-class writing assignments, students will be expected to write a midterm paper and a final research paper.


Homer, The Odyssey

Shakespeare, Othello

Thomas Wyatt, selected poems

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Dangerous Liaisons

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Franz Kafka, “A Hunger Artist”

William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily”

Martin Luther King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Ishmael Reed, The Terrible Twos


James Toback, Black and White

Beeban Kidron, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.009: Slackerism: Indecison, Inability, and Inactivity

T/Th 8-9:30
233 Dwnielle
CCN #17242
S. Chihaya

Contrary to popular belief, it takes a lot of energy to do nothing. This course will investigate the activity of inactivity – what do we really do when we’re supposedly not doing anything? From classic exemplars of idleness and indecision to contemporary depictions of procrastination and all-out ineptitude, we will examine the various anxieties, difficulties and pleasures that surround inactivity. How do characters “kill time” and why do they need to? How do writers and filmmakers depict this odd space of nothingness – and still hold our attention? What is it about the figures of the idler, procrastinator, and slacker that make them so appealing to us? How do we deal with characters that are actively indecisive, or alternately, decisively idle? Finally, why are we so fascinated with our own inability to act?

Through a wide range of readings and viewings, we will seek to answer these questions and more. Please be prepared to reflect not only upon the texts we encounter, but also on your own experiences of idleness and indecision.

Readings may include:

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard

“The Jelly Bean,” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger

Against Nature, J.K. Huysmans

Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” T.S. Eliot

Selections from The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

Selections from The Flowers of Evil, Charles Baudelaire

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Preface), Oscar Wilde

Viewings may include:

Rushmore, Wes Anderson

Withnail and I, Bruce Robinson

Rebel Without a Cause, Nicholas Ray

Spaced (selected episodes), Edgar Wright

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.010: Alternative Humanities

T/Th 3:30-5:00
103 Wheeler
CCN 17245
J. Lillie

This course includes a wide-ranging selection of texts and films that each involve deconstructing what it means—and reconstructing what it doesn’t mean—to be a human being. We will consider how experimenting with different ideas of alternative humanities, whether by human integration with the decidedly (or not so decidedly) nonhuman or by exposure to extreme circumstances, serves to highlight and/or question prevailing values. Such speculation and experimentation allows these texts to demonstrate their political and philosophical relevance, in addition to giving us the opportunity to analyze how fiction functions as an expository mode of writing. Likewise, a heavy load of writing assignments will emphasize how to assume a critical (as opposed to a moral or purely aesthetic/affective) stance and how make a logically coherent literary argument. Readings include fantastic, science fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction and film, in addition to several articles of literary criticism and relevant non-fiction essays that will act as models for your own analysis and research.

Readings: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Selections from Milton’s Paradise Lost, Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, Oka Shohei, Fires on the Plain, Kobo Abe, Woman in the Dunes, Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, in addition to texts by Franz Kafka, Isaac Asimov, Alan Turing, Donna Haraway, Komatsu Sakyo, Kurahashi Yumiko, Murakami Haruki and J. G. Ballard



“The Face of Another,” dir. Teshigahara Hiroshi

“2001, a space odyssey,” dir. Stanley Kubrick

“Apocalypse Now,” dir. Francis Ford Coppola

“Solaris,” dir. Andrei Tarkovsky

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.011: Anti/Hero, Counter/Narrative

T/Th 9:30-11:00
229 Dwinelle
CCN 17248
T. Wolff & J. Hock

Can one talk about a story without mentioning a hero? Must a hero always be the story’s center? If so, who (and what) is at the periphery — that is, what sets the hero apart from a crowd? What distinguishes traditional “foil” characters from the conventional hero (e.g. villains, outcasts, eccentrics, fools), and what happens when these characters gravitate toward the story’s center, i.e., begin to steal the show? How does the figure of the hero adapt and transform according to cultural desires and preoccupations? Perhaps we should agree that in the end, each hero is simply the product of a poet’s creative powers, as Maurice Blanchot suggests: “The hero is born when the singer comes forward in the great hall.” Then the question becomes: How does an author, or even the text itself, assume the hero’s vanity to become the centerpiece of a fiction?

In this course, we’ll try to attack some of these big questions about heroic stereotypes across various literary forms and periods, by looking at, for example, a clever domestic servant, an existential anti-hero, and a bumbling detective. Our underlying motive throughout, however, will be to observe and describe the story’s counter-narratives. We will experiment with imagining the story and its hero as one perspective or argument, and investigate what alternative perspectives, or “arguments against,” the story proposes. A recurring theme will thus be issues of narrative centrality and eccentricity, of deviation and social hierarchy. There will be extra assignments along the way (including readings, written work, additional film viewings, and in-class presentations), but the emphasis is on literary and critical analysis — though we will also be analyzing things like news media, advertisements, and cartoons.

Texts & Films:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
• Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro
• Brontë, Jane Eyre
• Zinneman, High Noon
• Godard, Breathless
• Edwards, The Pink Panther

Plus readings from Aristotle, Cervantes, Montaigne, Grimms Brothers, Propp, Michael Chabon, Poe, Conan-Doyle, Borges, Barthelme

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.012: The Dead and the Modernist Literary Imagination

MW 4:00-5:30
CCN #17251
A. Young

How do the dead speak?  How does history make itself felt as a painful or disquieting presence? In this course we will examine how the past haunts “the modern” in a number of theoretical and literary texts.

“Modernism” refers to a wide range of artistic trends that emerged out of the political, technological and social upheavals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the wake of monumental change, many writers and artists found conventional modes of representation inadequate, abandoning them in pursuit of novelty and formal experimentation. But breaking with tradition did not necessarily mean turning one’s back on the past. Indeed, how to reckon with the past is a question posed, either implicitly or explicitly, in many modernist texts. We will read works by Vallejo, Woolf, Eliot and other nineteenth- and twentieth-century authors who explore the demands the dead—both literal and figurative—make on the living.

Readings will include:

César Vallejo, selected poems

Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Juan Rulfo, “No Dogs Bark”

James Joyce, “The Dead”

Arthur Schnitzler, “The Dead Do not Speak,” “The Second”

Pablo Neruda, “From the Heights of Machu Picchu”

Paul Celan, selected poems

Additionally, we will read critical essays by Eliot, Woolf, Matei Calinescu, Raymond Williams, Octavio Paz and others.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.013: The Voices of Love in Discourse

Instructor: Gregory Bonetti

T/Th 9:30-11:00
223 Dwinelle
CCN # 17254
G. Bonetti & J. Weiner

Romance proposes that we discover love through the act of reading about the experiences of its protagonists.  These stories help us to refine our ideas of love, both in its constructive and destructive capacities.  Tales centering on love define it by way of other central human emotions and cultural activities.  Stories of wandering and lust, wars and conflicts within society, sickness, death and loss are the avenues along which literature’s heroes travel to discover, lose, and often recover love.  In this course, we will begin by exploring the romance genre, which has established the rules and the models of amorous narratives, and thereby conditioned our expectations of the love story.  How does it employ the literary artifices of providence, coincidence, and repetition to structure our experience?  And how do the social forces of loss and social upheaval create the conditions and produce the circumstances for the elaboration of familial and romantic love?

After introducing the romance paradigm, we will go on to explore other models emphasizing different aspects of the human psyche and our various cultural and social conflicts across the centuries.  Focusing on the opposition between constructive and destructive love, we will read stories centering on loss, lust and the compulsion to repeat, sickness and death, money, social upheaval, and class strife.  We will also encounter less comfortable passionate expressions of the human psyche, such as mourning, narcissism, sadism/masochism, and the death drive.  Readings come from the French, Italian, Spanish, German, Latin American, and Anglophone traditions, spanning the first through twentieth centuries.  We will supplement our reading of the literary texts with psychoanalytic theory, philosophy of literature, structuralist and post-structuralist theories.

NOTE:  This class includes several long novels and should only be undertaken by those who have the time to spend reading.  Students are expected to read Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind before the first day of class.


•       Selections from the Bible and the Apocrypha (Genesis, John, Nicodemus)

•       Dante, selections from Inferno

•       Tasso, selections from Jerusalem Liberated

•       Cervantes, selections from the Exemplary Novels

•       Racine, Phèdre

•       Abbé Prévost, Manon Lescaut

•       Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs

•       García Márquez, Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother

•       Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman

•       Roy, The God of Small Things


•       A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951)

•       All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999)

•       Salomé (Richard Strauss)


•       Freud, Selections from Beyond the Pleasure Principle, On Narcissism, The Unconscious, Mourning and Melancholia

•       Frye, selections from The Secular Scripture

•       Genette, selections from Narratology

•       Nussbaum, selections from Love’s Knowledge


Course Catalog Number:

R1B.014: Of the Devil and Other Demons

T/Th 8-9:30
262 Dwinelle
CCN # 17257
N.  Cleaver

“In Bologna I once heard many vices of the devil told, among which I heard that he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Inferno 23.142-4)

“Hail, horrors, hail, / Infernal world, and thou, profoundest Hell, / Receive thy new possessor: one who brings / A mind not changed by place or time. / The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heaven out of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” (Paradise Lost 1.250-5)

“Think, now: where would your good be if there were no evil and what would the world look like without shadow?” (Master and Margarita)

Monsters, demons, witches and other evil creatures have surfaced almost continuously in the cultural imagination, from classical epics to the horror film.  In this course, we will examine representations of evil in its purest form, the figure of the Satan himself. How does the portrait of the devil change over time and across various cultural boundaries? If evil is that which a society strives to avoid, why does the devil appear so often in literature, and why does he make so charming a protagonist? Why and how are we encouraged to sympathize with him as an anti-hero?  In artistic terms, is Evil simply more interesting than Good?

Beginning with Dante and Milton, we will consider the character of the devil in theological terms. What explanations do these texts offer for the existence of evil? Is it fundamentally a human quality, or is it divine/supernatural in nature? With these authors, as well as with Bulgakov and Rushdie, we will also examine the way in which the character of the devil reflects their concerns with the political conflicts of their time as a contemporary assessment of the nature of human evil: the turmoil of trecento Italy, Reformation England, Soviet Russia, and post-colonial India. What are the political consequences of representing the world as an eternal opposition between good and evil?

We will conclude with readings from Barnes and Garcia Marquez which move beyond this dualism, and question whether there exists anything which can be characterized as good or evil, and whether a belief in absolute evil may not be dangerous in itself.  Throughout this course, we will also consider related examples from the visual arts, including the drawings and paintings of Gustave Doré, Hieronymus Bosch, and William Blake.

Course Readings

Dante Alighieri, Inferno
John Milton, Paradise Lost (selections)
Mikhail Bulgakov, Master and Margarita
Salmon Rushdie, The Satanic Verses: A Novel (selections)
Julian Barnes, A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters (chapter 10 ½)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Of Love and Other Demons
In-class screening of “The Howling Man” and “I of Newton” from The Twilight Zone

Required Texts:


The Craft of Research. 3rd ed.
Dante Alighieri. Inferno.
Mikhail Bulgakov. Master and Margarita.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Of Love and Other Demons.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.017: The Unsayable

M/W/F 10:00-11:00 204 Wheeler Instructor: Suzanne Scala

MWF 10-11:00
204 Wheeler
CCN #17266
S. Scala

How do you say something that can’t be said? A wide range of authors has grappled with this paradoxical problem. Medieval mystics struggle to convey to their readers the inexpressibility of god. Hamlet can’t bring himself to accuse his uncle of murder. E. M. Forster writes about “the love that dare not speak its name.” » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17266


20: Episodes in Literary Cultures

Shakespeare and the World

Instructor: Timothy Hampton

MWF 10-11:00
213 Wheeler
CCN #17269
T. Hampton

Discussion Sections:

  • Mon 3-4:00, 103 Wheeler, Freed-Thall, H
  • Wed 4-5:00, 263 Dwinelle, Freed-Thall, H
  • Th 2-3:00, 187 Dwinelle, Jimenez, J
  • Fri 2-3:00, 103 Wheeler, Inciarte, D

In many ways Shakespeare is the literary inventor of modernity. His plays depict the psychological, political, economic, and social upheavals that mark the transition from the pre-modern world to a world that is recognizably our own. But he is also the most international of all writers. This course will explore Shakespeare’s extraordinary literary originality by studying his most influential plays in an international context. We will locate Shakespeare in the culture of his period by reading his plays in dialogue with masterworks from across Renaissance Europe. We will consider how he and his contemporaries engage with issues of international scope at a time (like our own) of extraordinary political, religious, and economic turmoil. We will read eight major plays by Shakespeare, as well as works by Machiavelli, Montaigne, Rabelais, Cervantes, Erasmus, and Petrarch. This course thus offers an introduction to early modern Europe, an exercise in reading literature in an international context, and an in-depth study of a major author.

Reading List:

  • Shakespeare-Plays
  • Rabelais, Gargantua
  • Machiavelli, The Prince
  • Calderón, Life is a Dream
  • Cervantes, Exemplary Stories

Course Catalog Number:

24: Freshman Seminar

Reading and Reciting Great Poems in English

W 04:00-05:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Steve Tollefson

W 4-5:00
225 Dwinelle
CCCN 17284
S. Tollefson

People today don’t have enough poetry in their heads, and everyone should be able to recite one or two of their favorite poems. In addition to its purely personal benefits, knowing some poetry by heart has practical applications: in a tough job interview, you can impress the prospective boss by reciting just the right line, say, from Dylan Thomas: “do not go gentle into that good night/rage rage against the dying of the light.” Or at a party sometime, you’ll be able to show off with a bit of T.S. Eliot: “in the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo.” » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17284

24: Freshman Seminar

Telling Tales

Instructor: Kathleen McCarthy

Fri 1-2:00
202 Wheeler
CCN 17287
K. McCarthy

In this class, we’ll examine the special form of communication that happens when we tell stories. Narrative is a such a common way of conveying information, attitudes or perspectives that it can seem almost to work invisibly, but part of our goal in this class will be to learn how stories work, why they take the forms they do, what effects can arise from specific choices in how they are told, etc.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

41D: Introduction to Literary Forms: Forms of the Drama

Theatres of Cruelty

T/Th 9:30-11:00
20 Wheeler
CCN 17296
A. Gadberry

In this course, we will consider the importance of cruelty to theatre and the various ways in which theatre portrays and defines it.  We will look at plays that have particularly savage acts at their center (or just offstage…), and we will ask ourselves how and why these plays cast cruelty, its victims, and its agents as they do.  In doing so, we’ll consider what it might mean to use this medium in particular to represent cruelty, what the stakes are of allowing the cruel to gaze back into its viewers.   We’ll ask ourselves what the theatre of cruelty can do and how it might (and might not) continue its work into the theatre of the world.  How does theatre modulate, exaggerate, or banalize the cruelty of its protagonists?  How does it handle the victim, the bystander, the “collateral damage” ?  What’s left after the cruel performance; what catharsis from cruelty is available (or not)?  What relationships do these plays forge between the cruelties they portray and the viewer who beholds them?

We will read plays across cultures and time periods, and we will examine other primary and secondary texts that concern themselves with both cruelty and theatre — in particular those that worry about real cruelties in the real world — as well as spectacles of punishment and power as we consider the dimensions political, social, and aesthetic of cruelty on stage.

Please note:  There will be required screenings of film adaptations of some of the plays we  discuss in class, and there likely will be an excursion to a local theatrical performance.

Required Texts:

– Aeschylus.  Agamemnon.
– Sophocles.  Oedipus Tyrannus.
– Shakespeare.  Titus Andronicus.
– Marlowe.  Tamburlaine.
– Marie-Joseph Chénier. Jean Calas.
– Voltaire. L’Affaire Calas.
– Montaigne.  “On Cruelty.”
– Artaud.  The Theatre and Its Double. (selections)
– Brecht.  The Measures Taken.
– Camus.  Caligula.
– Beckett.  Rough for Theatre I and II.
– John Osborne.  Look Back in Anger.
– Sarah Kane.  Blasted.

The course reader will contain some of the shorter works from the list above and will also include theoretical writings from Walter Benjamin, Guy Debord, Michel Foucault, Clement Rosset, Susan Sontag, Slavoj Zizek, and others.

Course Catalog Number:

60AC: Topics in the Literatures of American Cultures

Common Grounds: American Cultures in a Hemispheric Context

T/Th 9:30-11:00
24 Wheeler
CCN 17299
Luis Ramos

This course takes as its object of reflection a question Gustavo Pérez Firmat nearly two decades ago posed:  Do the Americas share a common literature? That is, do the two Americas, both North and South, mainland and insular, polar and equatorial, share—if not geographic—textual common ground? If so, what similar literary strategies and common critical concerns might such an ensemble of texts bring to the fore? This course takes up these questions from a historical—and materialist—perspective; that is, from one that views history (and by extension, literature) from the violent and traumatic conditions from which they both emerge. In so doing, however, we will not subscribe to a deterministic or defeatist view of either, but rather, to one wherein both emancipation and conquest, resistance and domination, dispossession and regeneration, are accounted for in equal measure. Thus students should expect not only to devise novel strategies of conceiving the relation between literary traditions typically understood as distinct, but moreover, to articulate previously unforeseen ways of thinking about the Americas as an expanded category of aesthetic and geopolitical thought. In keeping with the above aims, the course will be structured into four related units: The meaning of freedom and self-awareness in Anglo American and Latin American republican thought (1); the burden of chattel slavery in Afro Cuban and African American testimonial narrative (2); the legacies of conquest in American Indian and Mayan historical consciousness (3); and finally, the histories of Chinese new world migration in Asian American and Cuban American fiction (4).

Required texts:

  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
  • Biography of a Runaway Slave, Miguel Barnet
  • City of Kings, Rosario Castellanos
  • Yellow Woman and the Beauty of Spirit (selections), Leslie Marmon Silko
  • Monkey Hunting, Cristina García
  • China Men (selections), Maxine Hong Kingston


  • The Longest Journey, Rigoberto Lopez
  • A Place Called Chiapas, Nettie Wild

*Course reader including seminal texts in political and critical thought (Jefferson, Bolivar, Emerson, Marti, Arendt, Derrida Saldivar and Hartman) will be available the first day of class.

Course Catalog Number:

100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

American Poetry's Ethical-Political Dilemmas Since 1950: Some Comparatist Perspectives

Instructor: Robert Kaufman

Tu /Th 11-12:30
215 Dwinelle
CCN 17311
R. Kaufman

[PLEASE NOTE: This “introduction to the comparative literature major” is expressly designed for students  in the Comparative Literature Department’s major and/or students majoring in particular literatures, or in closely related areas within the humanities.  » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Crises of Patrilinearity and the Generation of Narrative

Instructor: Leslie Kurke

TuTh 12:30-2
221 Wheeler
CCN 17314
L. Kurke

Comp. Lit. 100 is designed to present students with texts from various genres and historicial periods, to introduce them to the methods of comparative study. Students are expected to have some competence in at least one foreign language and to be acquainted with the rudiments of literary analysis. The thematic focus of this course will be crises of patrilinearity—family romances gone sour. More specifically, we will be looking at how such family crises enable and generate narratives, but also perturb them; how subjects are constituted and deconstructed through descent groups; how the crisis of patrilinearity can become an emblem in literary texts for other cultural crises; and how this theme intersects with the issues of gender and race. Course requirements include three short writing assignments and a final paper based on an oral presentation of a text chosen by the student and read outside of class.

Our reading will embrace both literary texts and theoretical/critical discussions of them. Primary reading will include:

Homer Odyssey (tr. Lattimore)

Aeschylus Oresteia (tr. Lattimore)

Sophocles Oedipus the King (tr. Fagles)

Euripides Medea (tr. R. Warner)

Shakespeare King Lear

Balzac Père Goriot

Faulkner Absalom, Absalom!

Toni Morrison Beloved

Course Catalog Number:

112A: Modern Greek Language

M/W/F 12:00-01:00 211 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

Open to all students, no prerequisites

MWF 12-1:00
211 Dwinelle
CCN #17317
M. Kotzamanidou

Modern Greek is unique among languages in that it is the only modern language directly descended from Ancient Greek. In this course, the student studies reading, writing, pronunciation and use of contemporary spoken idiom, all within the historical and cultural context of the language. By the end of the course, the student should have a strong grammatical and linguistic foundation in Greek as it is spoken today. (No Prerequisite)

Course Catalog Number: 17317

155: The Modern Period


Tu/Th 11-12:30
20 Wheeler
CCN 17329
M. Bernstein

Although our subject is “Modernism’s Epic Ambitions,” I will not be concentrating solely upon the relationships of the works we are discussing to any single over-arching motif, nor to various more traditional literary-philosophical taxonomies. Instead, I want to explore a set of issues, both historical and theoretical, whose specific family resemblance will only emerge as our discussion itself unfolds.  Close attention will be paid to the ways in which modernist artists experimented with the technical issues of form and structure as well as with their innovative use of new thematic materials.

In the first part of the semester, we will be investigating several of the most important modernists figures involved in both the theoretical conception and the artistic creation of a new sense of what a modernist masterpiece entails. From that foundation, we will read James Joyce’s Ulysses, the archetypal modernist prose masterpiece. Regular and active in-class participation and a willingness to engage in copious reading are the principal prerequisites for the course.

Required Reading:

Various hand-outs

James Joyce, Ulysses, Random House (paperback)

Course Catalog Number:

170: Special Topics in Comparative Literature

Exploring Myth and History in Modern Greek Fiction (1880’s-1980's)

Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

Course Open to All Students

F 2-5:00
125 Dwinelle
CCN 17335
M. Kotzamanidou

Modern Greek fiction writers have used myth and history to support various artistic and /or ideological purposes, to deepen and validate authorial concerns and to provide a common ground for communication and dialogue with their audience. This course explores the use of myth and history in modern Greek fiction through selected literary works from the 1880’s to the 1980’s.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

170: Special Topics in Comparative Literature

Literary Theory, Criticism and Aesthetics Since Plato

Instructor: Robert Kaufman

Tu Th 2-3:30
251 Dwinelle
CCN 17338
R. Kaufman

Introduction to the history of literary theory, criticism, and aesthetics in the Western tradition.  Particular emphasis on the development of attempts to define, locate, or engage “the literary” and/or “the aesthetic”–and on attempts to understand them in relation to philosophy, language, history, society, politics, sexuality, gender, race, psychology, etc.  Emphasis also on the history of efforts to understand the ways that literature, the other arts, and the aesthetic realm in general contribute–if at all–to knowledge and knowledge-claims.

Course Catalog Number:

190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

The Image of Arthur in the Middle Ages

Instructor: Annalee Rejhon

TuTh 9:30-11
262 Dwinelle
CCN #17341
A. Rejhon

The course will focus on Arthurian romance in medieval French, Welsh, and English literatures.  The figure of Arthur—his image and social function—will be examined in the three cultural contexts with special attention devoted to how his reception in each culture reflects the concerns of that particular milieu. » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature


Instructor: Eric Naiman

MWF 11-12:00
210 Dwinelle
CCN 17335
Eric Naiman

This course will be devoted to a careful reading of Nabokov’s most famous novel and to texts (by Nabokov and by authors whom he admired or detested) that preceded and shaped it.  We will consider the critical and ethical debates that have arisen around the novel, and we will look at the novel’s transposition to the screen (Nabokov’s screenplay, Kubrick’s and Lyne’s films).  The novel will serve us as a focus for an investigation of critical methodologies and their usefulness when applied to a resolutely self-conscious text.  We will reread Lolita throughout the semester: chapter by chapter.

Texts will include:

Vladimir Nabokov: The Annotated Lolita, Lolita: A Screenplay, TheEnchanter, Lectures on Literature.

Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

We shall also read a wide range of critical articles about Nabokov’s novel.

Course Catalog Number:


202B: Approaches to Genre: Lyric Poetry

Lyric and History

Instructor: Kathleen McCarthy

Th 2-5:00
125 Dwinelle
CCN #17380
K. McCarthy

This seminar will take up the intersections of lyric and history in two different ways. First, we will investigate the history of the lyric genre and consider both the continuities and discontinuities within what has been labeled “lyric” in different periods, literatures, cultures. What are the advantages and disadvantages of thinking of these disparate forms as manifestations of a common genre? Second, we will be examining the contexts in which lyric has been produced and circulated at any given historical moment — how do factors such as educational practice, orality, musical accompaniment, performance, printing, canonization, etc. affect the way lyric looks and sounds? These two sets of questions are not independent and throughout the semester we will be working on both tracks simultaneously. The selection of readings will include some classical Latin and Greek and some examples of English and Italian Renaissance sonnets. Other periods, languages and sub-genres will be chosen on the basis of student interests.

Course Catalog Number:

212: Studies in Medieval Literature

Literature and the Hermeneutics of Allegory: Ancient, Medieval, and Beyond

Instructor: Frank Bezner

Tues 2-5:00
204 Wheeler
CCN 17383
F. Bezner

“To say one thing, to mean another”: allegory, allegorical exegesis, and allegorical literature are omnipresent in the history of Western literature and thought – and often reduced to a single (or simple) dynamics. » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

227: Studies in Contemporary Literature

Dislocated Narratives

Instructor: Karl Britto

Mon 2-5:00
211 Dwinelle
CCN 17386
K. Britto

In this course we will consider a variety of written (and one or two cinematic) narratives, largely produced in the last decades of the twentieth century, all of which foreground the movement of individuals or communities across cultural, linguistic, and national borders.  In dialogue with a selection of theoretical texts, we will discuss a series of interrelated questions, including but not limited to the following: how do “dislocated” narratives attempt to come to terms with the historical ruptures and geographic displacements brought about by the experience of transnational movement?  » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

240: Studies in the Relations Between Literature and the Other Arts

Japanese Cinema and Visual Cultures

Instructor: Miryam Sas

Also Listed as Film 240:2

W 1-3 W 3-6 (Film Screenings)
226 Dwinelle
CCN 17392
M.  Sas

This course focuses on prominent and controversial works of Japanese cinema and visual culture, from female impersonators in early cinema to action art and photography, and from genre films of the 60s-70s to the most contemporary theories of sexuality and anime.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: