Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.002: Literary Borderlands: Old World Cultures and the Global Present

MWF 3-4 234 Dwinelle Instructor: Keith Budner Max Kaisler

The frontiers of the Roman Empire, dragon-infested England after the death of King Arthur, the Reconquista Wars between Christians and Moors, and conquistadors in New World America – perhaps these sound like settings you would encounter in a trans-historical survey of world literature, but they’re in fact worlds you will find within the pages of novels written just decades ago.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21028

R1A.003: “But Socrates!…”: The Difficult Art of Dialogue

Tu/Th 12:30-2 243 Dwinelle Instructor: Marianne Kaletzky Layla Hazemi-Jebelli

What makes a good conversation? In everyday life, we tend to think of a successful conversation as one that navigates around moments of tension: a primary if implicit aim of most conversations is to avoid conflict, misunderstanding, and awkwardness. This course, by contrast, will explore the possibilities offered by conversations that don’t go so smoothly. In readings from Plato and Shakespeare to Aimé Césaire and Hannah Arendt, we will consider how adversarial conversations might allow modes of understanding and forms of community that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.  » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21029

R1A.004: Flying Away

Tu/Th 11-12:30 204 Dwinelle Instructor: Jessie Singer

 Our fascination with flight has led to literary representations of heroic feats and tragic transformations. In this course, we will look at humans levitating, devising prosthetic machines, and turning into birds in a wide range of canonical and popular texts. We will consider how these characters are lauded and condemned by other characters as well as the language used to bestow these evaluative claims. We will look at how flight is used as a plot device and how it shifts narrative perspective.

» read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21030

R1A.005: Picking up the Pieces: A Partial History of Fragments

Tu/Th 2-3:30 204 Dwinelle Instructor: Louisa Kirk

Many of the literary texts we study today come to us incomplete. Perhaps the author passed away before the work was finished, or perhaps we know the text only through scraps of parchment used in the binding of a different manuscript. Still other texts consciously position themselves as fragments, even if this move is but an artifice on the part of the author. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30858

R1A.006: Dreaming the Revolution, Remembering the Apocalypse

MWF 12-1 211 Dwinelle Instructor: LiHe Han

In this course, we will explore the connection literary/artistic representations of apocalypse and revolution. We will explore a selection of literary, filmic, and theoretical texts that will help us chart the terrain of the volatile conjunction of eschatological imagination and revolutionary desire. For example: what are the material and historical conditions under which the idea of the total “do-over” become compelling? What are the philosophical and political grounds upon which a total disavowal of the status quo can be argued for? What is at stake in different invocations of the notion of the “end-times”?

» read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30859

R1A.007: Water, Rocks, Dew, Mangroves: Elements of Island Literatures

MWF 10-11 204 Dwinelle Instructor: Pedro Javier Rolón

The island is a territory of the imagination that cuts across linguistic and cultural boundaries: at once a fantasy land of conquest, domination, and punishment, and the site of new beginnings outside all that we know. In this course we will think together about what makes the island such a rich territory and a site of multiple (and often times contradictory!) imaginations. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30861

R1A.010: Property and Possessions

MWF 2-3 106 Dwinelle Instructor: Matthew Gonzales

A group of Chicanx artists spray paint the exterior of an art museum in protest of the museum’s exclusionary practices. An African-born woman writes poetry about the experience of becoming a slave. The son of a dying woman journeys to a land of the dead hoping to meet his long-lost father and reclaim his inheritance. A Native American man spends twenty-four hours trying to earn money to buy back a family heirloom. What does it mean to own property? What does it mean to inherit property—to share or withhold it from the ones you love? What does it mean to reclaim property? What does it mean to become property? What does it mean to forsake or destroy it? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30864

R1B.001: Double Takes

MWF 12-1 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Mary Vitali

“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

» read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21032

R1B.003: Mother Outlaws: Challenging the Archetypal Mother through Literature and Film

Tu/Th 8:00-9:30 189 Dwinelle Instructor: Erin Bennett

“A woman’s body does a thousand different things, toils, runs, studies, fantasizes, invents, wearies, and meanwhile the breasts enlarge, the lips of the sex swell, the flesh throbs with a round life that is yours, your life, and yet pushes elsewhere, draws away from you although it inhabits your belly, joyful and weighty, felt as a greedy impulse and yet repellent, like an insect’s poison injected into a vein.”

-Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter

For this course, we will explore texts that elaborate on motherhood as a multidimensional experience and that challenge the idea of the archetypal mother, » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21034

R1B.004: What is it like to be an animal? Imagining other minds between literature and science

MWF 9-10 234 Dwinelle Instructor: David Delano

“Nothing, as a matter of fact, is as closed to us than this animal life from which we are descended… The animal opens before me a depth that attracts me and is familiar to me. In a sense, I know this depth: it is my own. It is at the same time that which is farthest removed from me, that which deserves the name depth, which means precisely that which is unfathomable to me.” – Georges Bataille, Theory of Religion

What is it like to be an animal? A cat, a tick, or a horse? Can we ever really know? This course will examine literary and scientific approaches to these questions, while also exploring how modern understandings of subjectivity have rendered the problem of animal minds one of the basic ways of organizing our thinking about non-human life. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21035

R1B.007: “What Have I Done?”

MWF 3-4 263 Dwinelle Instructor: CFS Creasy

This course will examine the problematic interactions between experience, action, and knowledge. Focusing primarily on the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, we will read mostly narrative literary works that address a problem of knowledge and self-knowledge that seems to hinge, paradoxically, on a moment of error. To the casual observer, these works might be taken to be so many detective stories. Nothing is less certain. Thus, we will flirt mercilessly with that generic convention, as well as the not unrelated convention of the tragic, but we will refuse to allow ourselves to mistake either for truth, since it is the truth we seek. The relationship between literature and other discourses presumably concerned with truth (e.g. philosophy and something like science) also will be at stake, but above all we will address the ways in which these texts thematize and formalize problems of the relationship between knowledge, self-knowledge, action, and error—how they are about these problems, and how they create these problems for us as we confront them.

» read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21038

R1B.008: Textual Enigmas / Enigmatic Texts

Tu/Th 03:30-5 33 Dwinelle Instructor: Jocelyn Saidenberg

Why do oracles deliver their truths in riddles? Why do stories often leave us with more questions than answers? What can we learn from confusion, obscurity, even psychotic derangement? This writing intensive course will proceed from the proposition that literary bewilderment can be a guide, a mentor, and even a means to arrive at different forms of knowledge. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21039

R1B.009: Animation’s Art, Power, and Politics

MWF 2-3 3119 Etcheverry Instructor: Katherine Mezur

Animation captivates us with its extremes: the utter sweetness of animal-like creatures, the morphing shapes of sinister robot machines, the surreal landscapes of abandoned worlds, and the super-charged emotions that arise from impossible acts of heroism. In this writing intensive course, we will explore the medium and contents of a variety animation and analyze how this art form, technologically and aesthetically, produces these compelling narratives and characters with social and political resonance and impact. From Ghibli, to Disney, to Pixar, to international homegrown animation, the animated film has the power to motivate viewers to consider social, political, and ecological issues. We will examine and analyze how issues of race and gender, climate disasters, animal and human rights, war and forced migration play out across and through animation from different periods and cultures. Animation’s complex technology of digital layers, interfaces, and ever-changing technologies make it a volatile, frustrating, and demanding discipline. Animated film also intertwines these technologies with culture specific aesthetics, values, and social/political systems, which include the culture of animation production, its distinctive collective practices, and fan cultures.

» read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21040

R1B.010: Point of View: Critical Thinking through Fiction

Tu/Th 9:30-11 234 Dwinelle Instructor: Maya Kronfeld Donna Honarpisheh

The concept of point of view seems familiar enough — after all, everyone seems to have one. But as a key technique of literary experimentation and innovation, point of view becomes something radically unfamiliar. In this course we will draw on Francophone, Anglophone and Persian literary modernisms in order to study — and develop our own arguments about — the different ways author structure point of view. What kinds of possibilities and limitations are associated with the first-person point of view, or the third-person point of view? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21016

R1B.011: Female Frenzy

Tu/Th 5-6:30 4125A Dwinelle Instructor: Mary Mussman

“Putting a door on the female mouth has been an important project of patriarchal culture from antiquity to the present day.”

—Anne Carson, “The Gender of Sound”

This course is about literary representations of women who are “out of control”—women cast as melodramatic, hysterical, perverse, polluted, violent, and excessive. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21018

R1B.012: Fantasy Fiction

MWF 10-11 234 Dwinelle Instructor: Trinh Luu Jacob Malone

The creation of the universe. The mind wandering. Monsters in the dark. Fates foretold. Miraculous happenings. Travels to mysterious lands. These are the fantastic depths and distances of our literary imagination, extending to the ends of our perception and beyond.
The imagination relates to our fundamental power as writers and readers to create images both in order to assist in our understanding of the world and to provide us with the power to shape our reality. Fantasy thus becomes an important tool for understanding. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21019

R1B.014: Nature Poetry and the Nature of Poetry

Tu/Th 12:30-2 242 Dwinelle Instructor: Jordan Greenwald Pedro Hurtado Ortiz

Since antiquity, poets have been representing and reflecting on nonhuman “nature.”  What does nature offer the poet? And how has that changed over the course of history?

We will begin by reading Shakespeare’s As You Like It and acquaint ourselves with the tradition of pastoral poetry. We will then turn to two modernizing takes on the pastoral tradition: Wordsworth’s poetry and Lee Francis’s Yorkshire romance film, God’s Own Country (2017) to understand how this poetic tradition has continued to represent the relationship between humanity and the environment. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21021

R1B.015: Study Abroad

Tu/Th 2-3:30 206 Dwinelle Instructor: Diana Thow

This course examines the ways in which literature and film have depicted travel as a form of study, from the 19th century Grand Tour to the institutionalized concept of “Study Abroad” on US campuses today.  We will focus on depictions of travel, how new senses of self emerge within new linguistic and cultural contexts, and will also consider a few examples of the influence that foreign writers have had on 20th century American literature in translation. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 24360


20C: Episodes in Literary Cultures

Experience of the Divine in Literature and Art

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 223 Dwinelle Instructor: Niklaus Largier

The notion of ‘mystical’ experience of the Divine, of Nature, or of Beauty plays an important role in the history of many cultures. In this course we will discuss the basic ideas of mystical theology from the so-called Western traditions. We will read and discuss key texts, analyze the ways in which they talk about about the Divine and about the possibilities to “see” or “experience” it. Based on this, we will look into traditions of art and literature where these notions of “seeing” or “experiencing” the Divine are reflected. Questions will focus on the ways how these experiences are narrated, constructed and framed, and how this plays a role in the aesthetic experience of the self from medieval art to modern abstract painting and music. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30818

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

Women Artists and Collective Art Labor: Producing/Performing Diversity

Tu/Th 0330-05:00 245 Hearst Gym Instructor: Katherine Mezur

Women Artists and Collective Art Labor: Producing/Performing Diversity
This course focuses on the collective and collaborative practices of production/performance and how women artists propel these dynamic and cooperative aesthetics of art labor. Through observation (stage load-in, tech rehearsals, performances, interviews), participation (workshops, postshow roundtables), and critical thinking and writing, students will examine the roles and methods of women artists in this arena of collective art labor by carefully considering the minor, shadowed, and subtle acts of collective creativity and their powerful meaning-making agency.

Course Catalog Number: 32704

60AC: Topics in the Literatures of American Cultures

Sounding American: Literature, Music, Technology, and Race

MWF 10-11 50 Birge Instructor: Tom McEnaney

What is meant when we say someone or something “sounds American”? Can a person sound like a certain gender, social class, sexuality, or race? How would we possibly define that sound? And what might it mean to think of a culture by the ways it sounds and listens, instead of how it looks or sees? This course will explore these questions and others by studying podcasts, poems, songs, novels, and the changing forms of sonic technologies like microphones, radios, mp3s, turntables, and more. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 24308

100.001: Introduction to Comparative Literature

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

Tu/Th 02:00-03:30 205 Dwinelle Instructor: Robert Kaufman

This seminar serves as an introduction to upper-division coursework in Comparative Literature, and it takes up an important question as a way to begin exploring what comparative literary study is.  How do American poets, from about 1950 to the present, attempt formally and thematically to engage ethics and politics? While there would be many perspectives from which to embark on this inquiry, we’ll focus on the ways that later-modernist and contemporary American poetry (mostly U.S., but with some attention to Latin American, Caribbean, and Canadian texts) have frequently sought to broach ethics and politics through a very specific dialogue: a dialogue with post-World War II German poetry and poetics. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 24126

100.002: Introduction to Comparative Literature

The Essay as Form

Tu/Th 12:30-2 55 Evans Instructor: Ramsey McGlazer

This introduction to the study of literature in comparative contexts will focus on the essay. We may have come to think of the essay as an academic chore, but at its best, and throughout its long history, the essay form is characterized by curiosity, openness, intimacy, patience, provisionality, paradox, and play. Neither treatise nor memoir, neither exposé nor op-ed, the essay enjoys what Theodor Adorno called a “freedom from identity” that makes it an apt place from which to begin to think seriously about literature’s place in the modern world. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 32107

112A: Modern Greek Language

MWF 12-1 B33-B Dwinelle (starting 08/29/18) Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

This is a course in beginning Modern Greek, involving speaking, reading and writing.

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 grammatical and linguistic foundation in Greek as it is spoken today.  In this course, there is also an emphasis and practice of oral language skills.

(No Prerequisite)

Course Catalog Number: 21010

155: The Modern Period

Literature and Revolution

Tu/Th 12:30-2 259 Dwinelle Instructor: Harsha Ram

Also listed as Slavic 131:1

The 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution seems an ideal moment to go back and examine the history and literature of revolutionary Russia. This was an era of violent upheaval, material destitution and radical projections of social renewal and human transformation. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30866

171: Topics in Modern Greek Literature

Issues of Responsibility in Modern Greek Fiction

F 2-5 279 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

This class will examine the concept of responsibility through selected Modern Greek fiction by writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. We will look at responsibility and its confrontation, evasion and abdication. We will also examine the focus of responsibility toward the self, toward the law, and toward the other. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 20993

190: Senior Seminar

Postwar Literature and Film: Inheriting Cultural Disaster

Tu/Th 9:30-11 283 Dwinelle Instructor: Sophie Volpp

What does it mean to be born into the legacy of a cultural disaster that one did not experience oneself, but came to know only through the lives of others? How do major historical upheavals impact the generations that follow? What is a “second generation” survivor?  This course will focus on theories of violence, ethics, and memorial practices, with particular emphasis on World War II in Europe and Asia but with reflections on events from other regions and from more recent times.  » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21000


202B: Approaches to Genre: Lyric Poetry

Poetry and the Fate of the Senses

Th 2-5 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Anne-Lise Francois

This comparative seminar in lyric poetry borrows its title from Susan Stewart’s Poetry and the Fate of the Senses (University of Chicago Press, 2002), to ask about the relation between poetry and sensory deprivation (and/or plenitude) and prosthesis.  It’s been said that poetry is what is untranslatable, yet one poem often translates another, and many of us only read one another’s languages in translation. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30821

215: Studies in Renaissance Literature

Literature and Letters in the Renaissance

M 3-6 4125A Dwinelle Instructor: Victoria Kahn Timothy Hampton

Did the Renaissance have a conception of “literature”?  In this seminar we will study the genesis of modern secular literary culture during the fifteenth,  sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Our focus will be on the changing relationship between imaginative or “fictional” writing and the discourses that border the “literary” and help shape its emerging position center of the public sphere. Beginning with debates about the status of “poetry” at the end of the Middle Ages, » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30865

C 221: Aesthetics as Critique

Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (Combined with Rhetoric 221 and Critical Theory 205)

W 2-5 109 Dwinelle Instructor: Robert Kaufman

This seminar (which is cross-listed as Rhetoric 221 and Critical Theory 205) is not an introduction to Theodor W. Adorno’s work; rather, it will involve sustained reading and discussion of Adorno’s last major text, which he was still finishing at the time of his 1969 death: Aesthetic Theory (1970). » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30819

240/Law 214.4: Studies in the Relations between Literature and the Other Arts

Poetic Justice: Dostoevsky, Nabokov and Literature in the Shadow of the Law

TU 3:30-6 107 Boalt Hall Instructor: Eric Naiman

NB  The meetings for this class will follow the Law School schedule.  The first class will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 21.  The last class will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

In this seminar, offered jointly under the auspices of the Law School and Comparative Literature, we will examine some of the conceptual and thematic places where literature and law cross over into each other’s domain. The focus will be on novel reading – Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, Pnin and perhaps Lolita – and on texts where crime, judgment and punishment assume particular procedural, narrative, moral or metafictive importance. We will pay particular attention to the themes of transgression, healing and vengeance and how they play out in legal and metafictive contexts. We will discuss cases where ethics and aesthetics pull in opposite directions – where bad or even good writing can be a crime. Dostoevsky’s legal commentaries – the Kornilova and Kairova cases – will also be addressed. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 30823

375: Methods of Teaching Literature and English Composition

W 12-2 4125A Dwinelle Instructor: Karina Palau

This seminar offers practical support for Graduate Student Instructors beginning to design and teach Reading and Composition (R&C) courses on the UC Berkeley campus. Together and in dialogue with other instructors, we will explore a spectrum of theories and practices related to teaching literature and college composition, » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 21017