Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.001: The Quest

T/TH 9:30-11:00
185 Barrows
S. Sayar & B. Clancy

This course will examine the theme of the quest across several literary genres: the novel, a religious text, drama, and poetry. A primary goal of the course will be to identify and compare the various ways in which authors have worked with this theme throughout literary history. In our readings we will consider how the idea of the quest helps to shed light on the relationship between life and art, spiritual and religious doctrine, literary visions of social utopia, as well as the dilemma of fashioning a poetic self in the context of shifting forms of social and aesthetic values.


Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

The Mystical Poems of Rumi

Shakespeare, Hamlet

The Bhagavad Gita

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems

James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Ishmael Reed, Flight to Canada

Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Course Catalog Number:

R1A.003: Environment Without Borders: U.S./Mexico Read Ecologically

MWF 10-11:00
136 Barrows
J. Ramey

Although the U.S. and Mexico both have rich and varied genealogies of natural philosophy and nature-representation, the contemporaneous rise of environmentalism and postmodernism in the second half of the twentieth century brings a new cluster of problems and preoccupations into focus.  » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

R1A.004: Thinking and Its Pitfalls

T/Th 8-9:30
2062 Valley LSB
R. Lorenz

Students at UC Berkeley are supposed to learn to think critically. Certainly, critical thinking is a central component of a genuine education and a crucial ingredient in an open society—but what exactly does it mean? How does one do it effectively and where can it go wrong?   » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.001: Strangers in Strange Lands: Displacement and Identity in Fiction

T/Th 8-9:30
204 Wheeler
M. Fisher

A 3.5 GPA in HS English, a reading knowledge of a modern or foreign language is required or consent of instructor.

Do we travel to learn about others or about ourselves? When we enter “strange lands” and find ourselves displaced, out of context, we arguably become strangers not only to those around us, but to ourselves as well. This course will examine texts in which the experience of cultural displacement deeply threatens the very identity of the traveler–texts that explore in various ways the fear/fantasy of true conversion to a fundamentally different self. As an Honors course, this will require some work in a language other than English. Through individual conferences with the instructor, students will choose an appropriate text or portion of a text to work with in their chosen language.   Class discussions and papers will be in English.

Reading List:

Valmiki, Ramayana

Virgil, The Aeneid

Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Rudyard Kipling, Kim

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

E.M. Forster, A Passage to India

Mario Vargas Llosa, The Storyteller

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.001: Tripping: Traveling in Literature

MWF 10-11:00
72 Evans
L. Rubman

Travel has long been an important literary theme. The Bible, The Iliad, and The Odyssey all are road (or at least sea lane) stories. Before Jack Kerouac went on the road, crisscrossing America’s highway system, Don Quixote had traveled the dirt roads of early modern Spain.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.002: Word and World: Literature as Social Discourse

T/Th 11-12:30
2066 Valley LSB
K. Spira & K Dodson

How does literature relate to the social world?  Through what means of representation do literary works comment on societal issues?  How does literature intervene in social struggles?  Does the literary illuminate the social in unique ways?  How does genre shape literary interventions?

In this class, we will analyze literary texts that engage social issues.  Some of the texts treat social issues in a very direct manner, such as Tony Kushner’s 2001 play Homebody/Kabul about the relationship between Afghanistan and the West, while others, such as Kafka’s Metamorphosis, make more oblique interventions.  We will survey a broad spectrum of literary strategies for making the social manifest, paying close attention to various texts’ impacts on us as readers and analyzing by what means they achieve these effects.  Most importantly, we will seek to understand what (if anything) about the literary equips it to address the social in unique and transformative ways.

This class satisfies the second half of Berkeley’s two-semester Reading and Composition requirement.  As such, we will spend a good deal of time working on critical reading and analytical writing skills.  In particular, students in this class will learn how to construct convincing and insightful close readings of literary texts and compose works of original literary analysis.  In addition, over the course of the semester we will discuss and practice research skills and students will build toward writing a 10-page research paper on a literary work.  Students should be prepared to participate in class discussions, in-class writing workshops, and an assortment of small group tasks.

A preliminary reading list includes:

Shakespeare, The Tempest

Melville, Benito Cereno

Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Kushner, Homebody/Kabul

de Andrade, Oswaldo.  “Cannibalist Manifesto”

Woolf, “A Society”

Harding Davis, “Life in the Iron Mills”

Poems by William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Gwendolyn Brooks, Carolyn Forché, and César Vallejo

Essays by Theodor Adorno, Susan Sontag, Adrienne Rich, and Barbara Johnson

Short stories, poetry, and essays to be collected in a reader.

The class will include a trip either to an art exhibit, a film, or a play related to our topic.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.003: Poets and Genre

T/Th 9:30-11:00
2030 Valley LSB
M. Cudahy

With the exception of Goethe and Shakespeare, who are known as universal literary geniuses, all of the writers we will be reading this semester are known primarily as poets. While genre is not always defining of a writer (that is, writers can create successfully across genre), the qualities that make a great poet do not necessarily make a great dramatist or prose artist. In an attempt to get closer to the peculiarities of genre, we will be reading the poetry, prose and plays of several poets through the ages.

Books Required (with ISBN-10 in parenthesis):

Rudolph Flesch, The Classic Guide to Better Writing (0062730487)

Goethe, Elective Affinities (0140442421)

Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar (0061148512)

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (0486422453)

Edgar Roberts, Writing About Literature: Brief 11th Edition (0131540564)

Shakespeare, Macbeth (0743477103)

Course Reader (available at Copy Central)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.004: Forgiveness

MWF 11-12:00
108 Wheeler
S. Popkin

This course will explore the lineaments of 20th and early 21st century Western thought and literature – not only its fragmentation, dislocation, and disjointedness – but the fracturing of the concept of forgiveness.  The possibility, and promise, of ultimately being able to forgive, or be forgiven, becomes elusive in this period.  What renders forgiveness so difficult to give?  What does forgiveness come to signify? What is substituted for forgiveness?  How is the unforgivable, the shameful, the unmentionable, represented in literature?  We will begin our examination by developing a background and lexicon of forgiveness.  As our analysis will be comparativist, we will look at texts from a variety of genres and historical periods, including selections from the Bible, a Greek tragedy, a medieval epic and a19th century French short story.  We will then move to an examination of forgiveness in contemporary literature, including the texts of Morrison, Wiesel, McEwan and Safran Foer.  We will also consider how the problematics of forgiveness are echoed in the philosophical and psychoanalytic literature of this period.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.005: American Wanderings

MWF 12-1:00
136 Barrows
J. Ramey & A. Leong

Traveling poets, bodies electric, migrant laborers, road-trippers, tripmaster monkeys… “wandering figures” appear throughout many American literatures. Are these figures akin to each other? Is it possible to talk about them as belonging to a family of related texts?

This course will examine “wandering” and “kinship” as ways to approach questions of interest in the study of American literatures. How do songs of the nation as a welcoming family clash with the realities of the nation as a closed group that excludes wandering “strangers”? What is the relationship between the wandering gaze of the poet-artist and the wandering feet of a migrant laborer? Is wandering an infernal punishment or a delightful chance to “trip” about the world? Is it possible, or desirable, to destabilize the national boundaries of literatures in the Americas? What might the resulting trans-american literature look like?

Students must attend classes, participate in class discussions, work on group projects, and demonstrate thoughtful readings of the assigned texts. Students will turn in a diagnostic essay as well as two progressively longer essays totaling at least 16 typewritten pages, with at least an equal number of pages of preliminary drafting and revising.  Students will be asked to participate in an ongoing web-based dialogue and to give an oral presentation.

Required Texts:

The Inferno – Dante (trans. Allen Mandelbaum)

Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman

America is in the Heart – Carlos Bulosan

Lolita (Annotated) – Vladimir Nabokov

Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book – Maxine Hong Kingston

The Random House Handbook – Frederick Crews


The Holy Mountain – Alejandro Jodorowski

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.007: Poets and Genre

T/TH 8-9:30
108 Wheeler
M. Cudahy

With the exception of Goethe and Shakespeare, who are known as universal literary geniuses, all of the writers we will be reading this semester are known primarily as poets. While genre is not always defining of a writer (that is, writers can create successfully across genre), the qualities that make a great poet do not necessarily make a great dramatist or prose artist. In an attempt to get closer to the peculiarities of genre, we will be reading the poetry, prose and plays of several poets through the ages.

Books Required (with ISBN-10 in parenthesis):

Rudolph Flesch, The Classic Guide to Better Writing (0062730487)

Goethe, Elective Affinities (0140442421)

Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar (0061148512)

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (0486422453)

Edgar Roberts, Writing About Literature:Brief 11th Edition (0131540564)

Shakespeare, Macbeth (0743477103)

Course Reader (available at Copy Central)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.008: Confusion of Tongues

T/Th 11-12:30
136 Barrows
T. Warner & Z Weiman-Kelman

From the Tower of Babel through contemporary narratives of immigration, exile, and displacement, linguistic confusion is a venerable and evocative motif. So what can we make of a story that “stops making sense” because we can no longer understand the language in which it speaks? 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 baffle with secret codes or tantalize with open secrets. We will also discuss texts that employ mixed messages and media, as well as those that seem to speak in nonsense or simply leave things unsaid. By considering novels, plays, films, and poems that refuse to be transparent in their communication, we will take linguistic “confusion” not as a problem to be solved but as something productive and provocative in itself. 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 will be selected from the following authors:

Franz Kafka, Sappho, Theresa Cha, Gloria Anzaldúa, Emily Dickinson, Junot Díaz, Oscar Wilde, Tristan Tzara, Ahmadou Kourouma, Irena Klepfisz, Virginia Woolf, S.Y Abramowitz, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Baudelaire, as well as applicable selections from Genesis and Acts.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.009: Some Uses of Ornament

T/Th 9:30-11:00
2301 Tolman
D. Simon & T Wolff

Literary figures and conceits of style have often been perceived as threatening to language’s “proper uses,” e.g. its capacities to name, to mean, and to communicate. But how do we decide which aspects of a text are ornamental, and which parts functional? What separates the ornamental and instrumental uses of language? This course will pose the question by stretching the metaphor of the written ornament to match its use in each of our texts. We will begin by looking for the efficiency, productivity, and utility of apparently decorative uses of language, but we will follow this trajectory through to consider discourses that locate their value or potential in the absence of purpose. We will be especially concerned with the political consequences of activating literature for particular ends. Although our priority is to study these matters in relation to literary and rhetorical traditions, we will also consider comic books, television, architecture, cinema, visual art and new media.

Readings will be chosen from among the following:

Plato, selections from The Republic

Erasmus, selections from On Copia

Rabelais, selections from Gargantua and from the Quart Livre

Clément Marot, selections from L’Adolescence clémentine

Robert Herrick, selections from Hesperides

Blake, The Book of Urizen

Wordsworth, “The Idiot Boy”

Marx, selections from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon and from Capital

Weber, selections from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life

Pater, selections from The Renaissance

James, “The Figure in the Carpet”

Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest” or The Picture of Dorian Gray

Beckett, Mercier and Camier

Austin, selections from How to Do Things With Words

Barthes, selections from Mythologies “The World of Wrestling,” Ornamental Cookery,” “The New Citroën,” “Plastic”

Edward Gorey, The Curious Sofa, The Willowdale Handcar, or The Object-Lesson

Ponge, selections from Le Parti pris des choses

Barbara Johnson, “Is Writerliness Conservative?” “Strange Fits”

Pierre Alferi, selections from Oxo

Cole Swensen, selections from Goest

Wong Kar-Wai, In the Mood for Love

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.011: Rethinking Community

T/Th 11-12:30
174 Barrows
H. Cruz & C. Piser

In his Keywords, Raymond Williams explains, “community can be the warmly persuasive word to describe an existing set of relationships, or the warmly persuasive word to describe an alternative set of relationships.” What we define as a community, our community, is often difficult to pin-down specifically (though we’d like to think we know it when we see it). Still, it is this idea of community that can both defines us and do us in. In this course we will consider texts from varied cultural and geographical locations where the question of community (How we define it? How it defines us?) is a central issue along with questions of kinship, ethics, aesthetics, language, and the law. In these texts, we will consider how community is essential to the development of both content and formal matters. We will be particularly concerned with the potentially negative effects community produces through its exclusionary gestures. Ultimately, in comparing these texts and through supplementary readings, our goal will be to articulate alternative ways of thinking community that aim to avoid these negative effects while capitalizing on the potential of its “warm persuasiveness.”

Required Texts:

As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

My Brother, Jamaica Kincaid

Billy Budd, Herman Melville

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett

…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, Tomas Rivera

Pedro Paramo, Juan Rulfo

The Lover, A.B. Yehoshua


“All About My Mother”

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

Course reader with supplementary texts

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.012: Down the Rabbit Hole to the 9th Circle or The Hero’s Journey—In Some Unlikely Places

T/Th 5-6:30
223 Wheeler
T. Singleton

Producing the name Odysseus, or Dante or Gilgamesh, poses no problem for one asked to recall a literary hero and/or a great journey. Some of these characters define for us the very meaning of a hero.  However, there are other places where this archetype of the hero on a journey can be found. Not only this, but upon close inspection, we may find that these unexpected places may even form the basis of the archetypal heroic journeys we know and love.  In this class we will ask questions that seek to broaden our perspective and conception of the hero and his or her journey. We will ask: What does the ancient divination practice of the Tarot have in common with Hegel’s master slave dialectic? What happens when Greek mythology gets rewritten, re-gendered and rendered as a modern day comic book? Can a woman embark upon a heroic journey? What changes about the conception of a hero or heroine when she does? What changes about the journey? We will read both the most recognized forms of the heroic journey and attempt to compare them with less likely yet similar forms of the journey. We will complicate our conceptions of the hero and use this complication to produce more profound questions about what the journey means for us today.

Reading List:

Gilgamesh, trans. Stephen Mitchell.

Homer, The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles

Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy Vol. I: Inferno.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Lispector, Clarice. The Hour of the Star.

Calvino, Italo. The Castle of Crossed Destinies.

Banzhaf, Hajo. Tarot and The Journey of the Hero.

Excerpts from: Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Moore, Alan. Promethea.

Borges, Jorge Luis. “Funes the Memorious.”

Film and Television:

Heroes & TBA

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.014: The Snapshot

T/Th 12:30-2:00
175 Barrows
S. Schwartz

Capturing a moment—pinning it down while it struggles to live, and then holding it hostage, immobile, apparently subdued—sounds a little like hunting a butterfly: a fragile art.  It must require a balance of invention and preservation, and a steady hand, because outside of the frame of the picture, things are always changing.  The people in a silver-tinted photograph from Paris, a century ago, are all gone now, and the streets and buildings you see behind them have been demolished or renovated beyond recognition.  The historical present never stays still:  what happened to that sailor kissing that nurse in Times Square, celebrating the end of WWII, or those empty-eyed women of the Depression who stood with their rough hands square on their bony hips, looking straight back at the camera, or those strung-out caricatures that populate Andy Warhol’s ‘Screen Tests?’ What happened in those moments, when the camera caught them and made them into flat images?

A snapshot may be a spontaneous moment, arrested by the photographer as if by the police. A snapshot may be a picture of what you love about someone—an adorable squint in the sun, a particular half-smile, a way of tilting one’s head to the side—or it may be the portrait of a mask, behind which there is no one.  A snapshot may be the thinnest slice of a second, even the instant between a bullet shot from a gun and the death of the man it finds. A snapshot is perfectly capable of distorting or blurring what the lens of the camera encompasses, but it can also seem more true than real life.  A snapshot must tell a whole history of something in only one breath.

In this class we will investigate the idea of the snapshot as it occurs in many media: novels, paintings, poems, plays, stories, dance, essays, films, and photographs.  As we discover how the elements of the snapshot—e.g. freeze-frames, voyeurism, figuration, spontaneity, disguise, composition, community, posing, pixilation, photorealism, chance, tricks of light, shadows of the dead, a sense of history—are at play in different ways in these texts, students will be able to form their own analyses of the works.  We will explore the texts in a way that gives students a sense of confidence in class discussion and general context, but also leaves students free to follow their own ideas and form their own opinions.  The papers will be a reflection of each student’s original thinking and research into the angle or concept that he or she finds most interesting in textual terms.




To the Lighthouse—Virginia Woolf

Pedro Parrámo—Juan Ruolfo

The Phantom Lady—Cornell Woolrich

Stories & Essays

The Portrait of Dorian Gray—Oscar Wilde

The Portrait—Gogol

Essay on the Leica (in The New Yorker)—Anthony Lane

Blow-Up –Julio Cortazar

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (excerpt)—James Agee and Walker Evans



La Jeteé—Chris Marker

Blow Up—Antonioni

Paris is Burning—Jenny Livingston

La Double Vie de Veronique—Kieslowski

Screen Tests—Warhol

Sunset  Blvd.—Billy Wilder

Run Lola Run—Tom Twyker


Nan Goldin, Gary Winogrand, Lee Miller, Robert Capa, Carrie Mae Weems, Larry Sultan, Walker Evans (New York Subway series + southern WPA documentary photos),Henri Cartier-Bresson

War photojournalism: Selected photos

Jesus Rodriguez-Velasco (and in-class lec-dem)

Selected Photos from the SFMOMA’s collection (tour)


La La La Human Steps

Merce Cunningham

Giselle (through Cal Performances)

Swan Lake (through Cal Performances)


Chuck Close

Gerhard Richter

Flemish inventory paintings

Flemish still-life



Fires in the Mirror—Anna Deveare Smith


“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”—Walter Benjamin

Camera Lucida (excerpt)—Roland Barthes


Wallace Stevens: The Emperor of Ice Cream, Nude as a Pear, 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, The man with the Blue Guitar

Keats: The Grecian Urn

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.015: Femmes Fatales: Fantasies of Feminine Evil

MWF 9-10:00
136 Barrows
S. Milkova & S. England

Goals of the Course:

This course fulfills the second portion of the undergraduate reading and composition requirement. It is designed to help you develop clearer and more effective writing as you also hone your critical reading and research skills. The course emphasizes reading and writing as processes that are shaped by communities of readers and writers.  This means that peer editing, oral presentations, and discussion in class and on the web-based discussion board will be important components of the course.

Theme of the Course:

Brazenly sexual, aggressive, perverse, and outright dangerous female characters have always haunted the Western creative imagination. Beginning with Salome, the image of the femme fatale, or woman as a man-hating fatal temptress, has emerged consistently in the history of literature and refused to be domesticated. More recently, the powerful and seductive femme fatale has taken over the cinema, from silent movies to animated films. But can we speak of a unitary, consistent image or rather, of many and different femmes fatales that inhabit our imagination? And why is it that in the battle between the sexes woman is often aligned with sin and deception? Why is our society often fascinated with seductive fantasies of feminine beauty and evil?

In this course we will consider these questions by exploring the character of the femme fatale in literary and visual representations from antiquity to the present. We will seek to both define and question the concept as it was worked out in a variety of texts, genres, and national traditions. We will pay specific attention to the decadent aesthetic at the end of the nineteenth century and its impact on later film representations of the femme fatale. We will also consider the cultural, literary, and political contexts that inform each incarnation of the femme fatale and the ways in which they are played out in each text. We will engage in critical reading and academic writing, and will learn how to conduct research and incorporate it in a research paper.

Required Texts:

William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs

Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata

Oscar Wilde, Salome

Rachilde, The Juggler

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon


Course Reader: Short stories by Giovanni Verga and Yordan Yovkov, poetry by Aleksandr Pushkin, Charles Baudelaire, and Robert Browning, critical and theoretical readings by Max Nordau, John Berger, Sigmund Freud, Giles Deleuze, Helene Cixous, and others.


Double Indemnity (1944)

Gilda (1946)

Vertigo (1957)

Belles de Jour (1967)

The Taming of the Shrew (1967)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.016: Mourning and Modernity

T/Th 9:30-11:00
2505 Tolman
S. Herbold

Modernity often seems to be defined by a sense of loss and fragmentation. We will read several texts in which here and now seem largely to be defined by a there and then that are painfully absent, yet still consume the present. Paradoxically, the acts of remembrance performed in these texts take a strikingly innovative form. Moreover, writing itself can be said to be a way of leaving the past behind as well as of sustaining it. We will study how, and perhaps why, these writers both relieve and aggravate the tension between their longing to preserve the past and their desire to move forward into the present (and future). In particular, we will analyze how, and to what effect, these texts’ formal characteristics in themselves create continuity or disruption between reader, writer, and characters and time past.

Course Readings:

Vergil, Aeneid

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions (Books I-VI)

Book of Genesis (excerpt, in reader)

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Marguerite Duras, The Lover

Allen Ginsberg, “Kaddish”

Georg Lukacs, “Integrated civilisations” and “The historico-philosophical conditioning of the novel” (in reader)

Sigmund Freud, “Mourning and Melancholia” (in reader)

Sarah Herbold, Learning to Write in Comparative Literature 1A and 1B (reader)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.017: This Book Could Save Your Life

T/Th 3:30-5:00
106 Wheeler
K. Nielsen

This class on “the manual” will investigate what is particular about literary language by looking at fiction next to and as a form of “self help.” How does literature help us to understand the world—and how doesn’t it? How does literature help us to understand ourselves? And, again, how doesn’t it?   » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

R3B.001: Masterpieces of Spanish Literature: The “Boom” Generation

MW 2-4:00, Fr 2-3:00
223 Wheeler
D. Inciarte

Three years of HS Spanish or two years with B+ average

Comp Lit 3B is a reading and composition course designed to improve both students’ writing ability in English and their Spanish language skills through intensive writing practice and careful reading and analysis of literary texts in both English (translation) and Spanish.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number:


24: Freshman Seminar

Same-Sex Sexuality: Categories and Concepts

Instructor: Michael Lucey

M 4-5:00
279 Dwinelle
M. Lucey

Course can be taken for Pass/Fail only

Seminar Description: One point of departure for this seminar might be the recent “scandal” surrounding Senator Larry Craig.  What if we take him at his word that he is “not gay”?  What other concepts or categories might help us better grasp what we refer to as his “sexual identity”?  How do our categories and concepts affect our perception of sexuality in the world around us?  We will read some writings by sociologists and cognitive scientists to help us see how other people have addressed these kinds of questions, but the course will be centered on a close reading of a novel by Jean Genet, Querelle, which is a fascinating narrative inquiry into exactly these questions regarding forms of male same-sex sexuality.

Michael Lucey is a professor in the Department of French and Comparative Literature, and currently chair of the French Department.  He helped found Berkeley’s LGBT Studies minor program and the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture.  He is the author of 3 books, including, most recently, Never Say I: Sexuality and the First Person in Colette, Gide, and Proust.


Course Catalog Number:

41A: Introduction to Literary Forms: Forms of the Epic

The Arts of Epic

T/Th 9:30-11:00
24 Wheeler
S. Tramel

In “The Arts of Epic” we shall study the purposeful crafting and re-crafting of legends and stories into epic and epic’s own derivatives and mockeries for the literary founding of cultural narratives, moral and ethical frameworks, and personal, artistic fame.  We shall pay particular attention to techniques of allusion, paraphrase, representation, and re-contextualization within literary recollection and invention.  Throughout the course we shall study examples of the visual and performing arts inspired by epic to consider the virtues and limitations of non-literary aesthetic forms in conveying epic’s weighty themes.

Course requirements: Daily readings, participation in class discussion, three essays, a midterm, and a final examination.

The course will also include a visit to the Bancroft Library to view papyri fragments of The Iliad and early printed versions of Virgil, Dante, and Ariosto.


Homer, The Iliad  (Trans. Richmond Lattimore)

Virgil, The Aeneid (Trans. Robert Fagles)

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, Laocoön (Trans. Edward Allen McCormick)

Dante, Inferno (Selections. Trans. Robert Durling)

Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (Trans. Guido Waldman)

Music, Film, and Art:

Greek vase painting featuring scenes from The Iliad

David, Jacques-Louis, Paris and Helen and The Anger of Achilles (paintings)

Laocöon (sculpture)

Petersen, Wolfgang, Troy (film)

Manuscript illuminations of Inferno

Fragonard’s sketches of Orlando Furioso

de Berchem, Jacquet, La Favola di Orlando (madrigals)

Handel, Alcina (opera)

Course Catalog Number:

41A: Introduction to Literary Forms: Forms of the Cinema

Cinematic Cities

Instructor: Paul Haacke

T/Th 11-12:30
24 Wheeler
P. Haacke

Movie Screenings will be on Tuesday evenings from 5-8 in 101 Wheeler

What is the relationship between cinematic space and urban space, motion pictures and transportation, mise-en-scène and architecture? How have some of the most pressing problems of twentieth century urbanization and globalization played out through the history of film production? This course will examine not only how films have represented urban life but also how cities have shaped modes of cinematic representation. We will survey world cinema to some extent but the majority of the films will come from Europe and the United States (early urban actuality films, post-WWI city films, film noir, French Nouvelle Vague, American independent cinema,etc.); that said, we will consider all of them in transnational and worldly terms. Class time will be open to discussion and will likely revolve around questions of space and time, mobility and dislocation, montage and pluralism, vision and power, sexuality and desire, race and immigration, culture and capital, circulation and stratification, development and ruin, violence and terror. Our approach will try to balance the global and local, theoretical and historical, thematic and formal.

This will be an intensive course requiring active participation, careful reading of criticism and theory, regular short writing assignments, a midterm paper and one final research paper. Screenings will be on Tuesday evenings from 5-8 in 101 Wheeler.

Course Catalog Number:

50: Creative Writing in Comparative Literature


MWF 1-2:00
110 Wheeler
W. Smith

If you’ve ever finished a good book with the urge to write a better one… if you’ve always thought of taking a creative writing class but been reluctant to commit… if you’re ever tempted to let the dishes pile up and lock yourself with your laptop in a room of your own… then this course is your chance to explore the storytelling impulse in a supportive environment completely free of intimidation and pretension.

This course will suit the needs of beginning creative writers, but more experienced writers will find themselves engaged and challenged as well.  Whatever a student’s level of skill or experience, his or her work will receive individual attention, and each student will be taken on individual terms.

Class time will be divided between lectures by the instructor, student-led discussion of assigned readings, in-class writing exercises, and readings and workshops of student writing.  Readings will range from classic short stories to hip prose by just-emerging writers.  Discussion will focus on the nuts and bolts of craft: on how good writers do what they do, and on what we can learn from them.

Students will complete several assigned writing exercises.  By the end of the semester, each student will produce a significant, polished, rigorously revised work of around twenty pages.  Our discussions will focus primarily on fiction, and most students will choose to produce works of fiction as their final projects, but students with compelling interests in narrative non-fiction, poetry, screenplay, drama, the graphic novel, and other storytelling formats will be encouraged to pursue those interests, with the instructor’s guidance and permission.

Good citizenship is mandatory, and each student’s grade will be influenced by the quality of his or her participation.  Students must engage enthusiastically with the workshop process and be supportive of their fellow writers.  Most importantly, students must be willing to share their love of literature and to have fun!

Questions may be directed to the instructor, Lachlan Smith, at, or 415-225-1642.

Course Catalog Number:

60AC: Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

Representation, Recognition, and the Politics of Multiculturalism

MWF 11-12:00
121 Wheeler
M. Allan

Of what value is multiculturalism? In what ways are its values articulated, embodied and enforced—and with what future in mind? What categories make us different? Do these categories pertain across differing traditions, places and histories?   » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

60AC: Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

Common Grounds: American Cultures in a Hemispheric Context

T/Th 11-12:00
20 Wheeler
L. Ramos

This course takes as its object of reflection a question Cuban American scholar 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, peninsular and mainland, equatorial and polar, share—if not geographic—common textual ground? If so, what common literary strategies and similar historical concerns might such an ensemble of texts bring to the fore? In the process, how do those very strategies and concerns recast the idea of the Americas in a new light? 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 conquest and emancipation, 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 form. Keeping the above aims in mind, then, the course will be structured into four interrelated units: The status of enlightenment in foundational documents of both the American and Spanish American revolutions (1); the burden of chattel slavery in both Afro Cuban and African American testimonial narrative (2); the legacies of conquest in both American Indian and Mayan historical consciousness (3); and finally, the histories of Chinese new world migration in both Asian American and Cuban American fiction (4).

Course requirement: Consistent attendance, even more consistent participation, three essays (five to seven pages), and a formal presentation are all a must.

Literary texts:

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass

Biography of a Runaway Slave, Miguel Barnet

The Book of Lamentations, Rosario Castellanos

Storyteller (selections), Leslie Marmon Silko

Monkey Hunting, Cristina Garcia

China Men (selections), Maxine Hong Kingston

*A course reader including texts in political and social theory, most notably by Immanuel Kant, Simón Bolívar, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, José Martí, W.E. Dubois, Wilson Harris, the Zapatista communiqués, Jacques Derrida, among others, will form the bulk of our supplemental readings.

Course Catalog Number:

100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Narrators and Characters

Instructor: Kathleen McCarthy

T/TH 9:30-11:00
106 Wheeler
K. McCarthy

While characters usually occupy center-stage in our experience of narrative, it is only through the action of narrators that characters come into being and offer themselves as objects of our interest and curiosity.  Strictly speaking, narrators exist neither in the characters’ world nor in the readers’ but form the bridge between these two realms.  In this class we will read a variety of narratives that will help us to understand better the functioning of narrators and their relation to characters, as well as the role that narrators play in readers’ experience of narrative.  The primary readings will be drawn mostly from classical Latin and Greek, nineteenth-century British and French, and 20th Century English-language literature; they will include epics, novels, short stories; both first-person and third-person forms; both realist and non-realist narratives.  Secondary readings will offer a basic introduction to narrative theory and more focused analyses of specific works or narrative techniques.  Writing assignments will range from short, focused exercises of literary analysis to a final research paper of 8-10 pp.

Course Catalog Number:

100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Acts of Re-Writing

MWF 9-10:00
2030 Valley LSB
L. Garcia-Moreno

In this course we will consider a variety of written and cinematic texts, most of them produced in the twentieth century, in order to explore how ideas, plots, aesthetic and philosophical concerns, as well as narrative strategies and other formal elements travel across national and cultural boundaries and acquire new meanings, possibilities and interpretations in the process of being rewritten and re-contextualized. We will analyze individual texts to address their singularity and consider the different geographic locations (including Argentina, Brazil, U.S.A., Mexico, Martinique, England, and Dominica), along with the different historical, cultural situations in which they emerge. We will also attempt to place the texts in dialogue with one another and pay attention to intertextual allusions and shifts in signification and localization. Literary works by Jorge Luis Borges, Clarice Lispector, William Faulkner, Juan Rulfo, Aime Césaire, Patrick Chamoiseau, Charlotte Brönte, and Jean Rhys. Films by Jim Whaley (Frankenstein) and Victor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive).

Course Catalog Number:

112B: Modern Greek Language and Composition

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

MWF 12-1 pm 211 Dwinelle:  Maria Kotzamanidou

CCN:  17314

This course examines forms of Modern Greek writing (prose, poetry, drama) and the reading of literary texts as auxiliary to the acquisition of compositional skills.

Prerequisites: Consent of the instructor.

A reader for the course is prepared by the instructor.

Text:  A Manual of Modern Greek by Anne Farmakides,

Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-30003019-8

Course Catalog Number: 17314

112B: Modern Greek Language and Composition

M/W/F 12:00-01:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

MWF 12-1:00
225 Dwinelle
M. Kotzamanidou

This Course examines forms of writing (prose, poetry, drama) in Modern Greek and the reading of literary texts as auxiliary to the acquisition of compositional skills.

Prerequisite: 112A, or consent of the instructor

Course Catalog Number:

113: Analyzing Greek Modernity

W 2-5:00
185 Barrows
M. Kotzamanidou

No prerequisites, course is taught in English

This is an investigation of some of the main dynamics that informed Greece’s idea of itself as a modern nation emerging from the Ottoman Empire, while still contending with the legacy of its Classical and Byzantine traditions. The course will bring to light and place into a historical context the relationship among the elements that have defined Greece’s identity and modernity: language, literature and culture.

There is no prerequisite.No knowledge of Modern Greek is necessary.

Reading materials are in English, films are subtitled. The instructor is preparing readers for this course.

Course Catalog Number:

153: The Renaissance

Stage Blood: Theater, Sacrifice, and Identity in Early Modern Europe

MWF 11-12:00
24 Wheeler
O. Arnold

We will study the relation between blood sacrifice and theater in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain, England, France, Holland, and Mexico; to give ourselves some literary historical and generic contexts, we will also devote some attention to the theatrical cultures of ancient Greece and Medieval Europe and to early modern non-dramatic poetry and prose.  We will attend closely to the various kinds of religious work that theater has often done—disseminating doctrine, staging exemplary religious narratives—but our largest concerns will be the proposition that theatrical experience replaces blood sacrifice and the ways in which the logic and structure of sacrifice converges with and diverges from the logic and structure of compassion, revenge, political representation, the incest taboo, and theatrical representation itself.  Sacrifice will be our central problematic, but we will also consider theatrical representations and appropriations of communion, purgation, idolatry, iconoclasm, and scriptural exegesis.  The comparative work of the course will turn not only on religious difference but also on differences in political culture and theatrical culture.

Primary texts will include Euripides, The Bacchae and Iphigenia in Aulis; Théodore de Bèze, Abraham Sacrificing; George Buchanan, Jeptha; Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy; Shakespeare, Julius Caesar and Titus Andronicus;  Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor, Marriage Abroad: Portent of Doom; Cervantes, The Force of Blood; Calderón, The Dinner of King Balthazar and The Surgeon of his Honor; Corneille, Polyeucte martyr; Joost van den Vondel, Jeptha; Racine, Iphigénie; and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,  Joseph’s Scepter.  A course reader will include texts by Mary Douglas, Freud, Clifford Geertz, Aristotle, Roland Barthes, Georges Bataille, and René Girard.

Course Catalog Number:

155: The Modern Period

Beat Poetry at Home and Abroad

Instructor: Robert Kaufman

T/Th 11-12:30
103 Wheeler
R. Kaufman

Seminar-lecture mix.  Close reading–lots and lots of it–of the formal aesthetic dynamics and ethical/sociopolitical engagements of the poetry of the major “Beats,” including Allen Ginsberg, Diane DiPrima, Michael McClure,  Bob Kaufman, Ted Joans, Anne Waldman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and others.  While the course will spend much more time on poems than on documentary and contextual materials, we will pay significant attention to political and cultural pressures and movements–inside and outside the U.S.– that the poetry encountered,  was at least partially shaped by, and in some cases helped re-shape.  “At Home” will mean the poems written, and usually first published, in the U.S. (almost always in English).  “Abroad” will mean consideration of three things: (1) the European, Canadian, Caribbean, Latin American, Asian, and African influences on the U.S. Beats, and in some cases, the poets’ experiences traveling, living, and working outside the U.S.; (2) translations–literally, of Beat poems; metaphorically, of Beat culture–into Portuguese, Italian, French, Spanish, and German (with emphasis on the latter three); and (3) poems written by European, Canadian, Caribbean, Latin American, Asian, and African poets who found themselves influenced by–or who found themselves in dialogue with–the Beat poets of the U.S.

Reading List:

The Postmoderns: The New American Poetry Revised, Donald Allen,Published 1994,Grove Press

The Beat Book: Writings from the Beat Generation,Anne Waldman, Allen (FRW) Ginsberg,Contributor: Allen Ginsberg,Published 2007, Shambhala Publications

A Course Reader of Xeroxed Texts

Course Catalog Number:

155: The Modern Period

Novelistic Choices

Instructor: Michael Lucey

T/Th 2-3:30
80 Barrows
M. Lucey

How do novelists come to make technical choices regarding genre, point-of-view, representations of psychological states, inner thoughts, motivations, and so on?  What different kinds of meaning are carried by their technical choices?  » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

170: Special Topics in Comparative Literature

The Modern Greek Theater

Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

F 2-5:00
225 Dwinelle
M. Kotzamanidou

It has been recently emphasized by critics (Constantinidis: Modern Greek Theater a Quest for Hellenism, 2001) that Modern Greek Drama does not enjoy, certainly, the respect or the recognition from foreign audiences and critics that the Ancient Drama does but also that its position in Modern Greek literary histories is equally marginalized.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

The Image of Arthur in the Middle Ages

Instructor: Annalee Rejhon

T/Th 3:30-5:00
20 Wheeler
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. The French works that will be read are Chrétien de Troyes’ romances, Erec and Enide, Yvain, and Perceval; Marie de France’s Lanval and the anonymous lais, Graelent and Guingamor; Robert de Boron’s Romance of the Grail; The Quest of the Holy Grail; and Perlesvaus.  The Welsh works are:  the Arthurian romances, Gereint, Owein, and Peredur; the native Arthurian tales, Culhwch and Olwen and The Dream of Rhonabwy; the early Arthurian poems, “What Man the Gate-Keeper,” “The Spoils of the Otherworld,” and “A Conversation Between Arthur and Guenevere.”  The English Arthurian texts will include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and selections from Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthur and from The Alliterative Morte Arthur.  Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain will also be read as will the Irish tale, The Voyage of Bran.

The course is open to students with a competence in reading at least one of the literatures in the original language; all works will be available in English translation.  Particular emphasis will be given to the Celtic aspect of the Arthurian texts.

Course requirements will include a midterm and a final examination, an oral report and a term paper.



Bryant, Nigel, tr.  The High Book of the Grail:  A Translation of the 13th Century Romance of Perlesvaus.  Rochester, N.Y.:  D.S. Brewer, 1996.  (ISBN:  0-85991-510-7)

Burgess, Glyn S., tr.  The Lais of Marie de France.  New York:  Viking Penguin, 1986.  (ISBN 0-14-044476-9)

Davies, Sioned, tr.  The Mabinogion.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2007.  (ISBN  978-0-19-283242-9)

Meyer, Kuno, tr.  Imram Brain:  The Voyage of Bran.  [Reprint] Wales:  Llanerch Publishers, 1995.  (ISBN:  1-897-853-20-3)

Matarasso, P.M., tr.  The Quest of the Holy Grail.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1997.  (ISBN 0-14-044220-0)

Raffel, Burton, tr.  Chrétien de Troyes:  Yvain, The Knight of the Lion.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1987.    (ISBN 0-300-03837-2)

Raffel, Burton, tr.  Chrétien de Troyes:  Erec and Enide.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1997.   (ISBN 0-300-06771-2)

Raffel, Burton, tr.  Perceval:  The Story of the Grail.  New Haven & London:  Yale Univ. Press, 1999.   (ISBN:  0-300-07585-5)

Rogers, Jean, tr.  Robert de Boron:  Joseph of Arimathea, A Romance of the Grail.  London:  Steiner, 1990.  (ISBN:  0-85440-426-0)

Stone, B., tr.  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  2nd ed.  Penguin Classics, 1974.  (ISBN:  0-14-044092-5)

Thorpe, Lewis, tr.  Geoffrey of Monmouth:  History of the Kings of Britain.  Penguin Classics, 1986.  (ISBN 0-14-0441-700-0)

Weingartner, Russel, ed. & tr.  Graelent and Guingamor: Two Breton Lays.    New York:  Garland, 1984.   (ISBN 0-8240-8914-6)

Course Catalog Number:


202C: Approaches to Genre: The Novel

The Novel

Th 3-6:00
211 Dwinelle
M. Bernstein

According to Friedrich Schlegel, the nineteenth-century writer, philosopher, and critic, “Novels are the Socratic dialogues of our times.” What is at stake in such a view of the novel? What is its relationship to subsequent theoretical formulations like Georg Lukács’ influential pronouncement that “the novel is the epic of an age in which the extensive totality of life is no longer directly given, in which the immanence of meaning in life has become the problem, yet which still thinks in terms of totality?” Although we will begin with a pair of emblematic nineteenth-century novels, Balzac’s Pere Goriot and Flaubert’s Sentimental Education, in which many of the problems and technical devices of the modern novel are first articulated and then subject to a radically sophisticated reconceptualization, I am not concerned to trace a historical trajectory. Instead, I want to devote the bulk of the semester, to a single work, Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, in which the formal concerns of the novel  — indeed, in which the very possibility of writing a novel – are at the core of a text conceived as a fully self-conscious thought-experiment. In Musil, the relationships between changing conceptions of language and desire, of the individual subject, and of the pressures of history, as these are figured in the possible rhetorics and structures of the novel, are explicitly thematized and will provide the central axes of our investigation. I am interested, as well, in pursuing these issues further as they are tested and clarified in a series of other high modernist novels, each of which saw itself as a kind of summa of the European novelistic tradition, including Joyce’s Ulysses and Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and as time allows and the interests of the seminar members guide us, I hope we will be able to explore, at least in part, a number of these other texts. Regular and active in-class participation and a willingness to engage in unusually complex and copious reading are the sole prerequisites for the course.


BALZAC, Honoré

Pere Goriot (Paris: Folio classique) ISBN-13: 978-2070409341

Old Goriot (Penguin Classics) ISBN-13: 978-0140440171


L’éducation sentimental (Paris: Folio classique ) ISBN-13: 978-2070308798</br> Sentimental Education ( Penguin Classics) ISBN-13: 978-0140447972

MUSIL, Robert

Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften  (Rowholt); 2 vols.(both volumes are required).

Vol. 1: ISBN-13: 978-3499134623

Vol.2: ISBN-13: 978-3499134630

The Man Without Qualities (New York: Vintage ) 2 vols.(both volumes are required).

Vol. 1: ISBN-13: 978-0679767879

Vol. 2: ISBN-13: 978-0679768029

Course Catalog Number:

215: Studies in Renaissance Literature

The Road to Westphalia: Religion, Politics, and the Rise of the (Nation) State, 1550-1648

T 2-5:00
104 Dwinelle
J. Newman

Is it time to abandon “the Westphalian label” of territorial states as the main actors on the global stage? The question is justifiable at a moment when corporate and civic, religious and secular, as well as academic “globalizers” all around see the trans-nation as the only real present and the only possible future political form (this in spite of a neo-Westphalian attention to ensuring ‘national security’ around the world). In this course, in addition to actually reading the Treaty of Westphalia, we will consider how a series of literary and visual texts as well as texts of political theory responded to nearly a century of modern European political and confessional conflict, asking what it was that called for the erection of the (nation) state as the sole legitimate source of sovereignty. Readings will include select narratives of the tensions both between the Church, the Empire, and the (national) State and within the State between the center and its internal and external peripheries, in texts by Rabelais, Tasso, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Calderon, and Corneille, as well as the devastating account of the Thirty Years War in Grimmelshausen’s novel, Simplicissimus, and the artist Diego Velazquez’s highly ambiguous image of Spinola’s siege of Breda in the painting, “Las Lanzas.” Using works by Machiavelli, Erasmus, Luther, Bodin, Hobbes, and Grotius, we will also investigate how, at a rhetorical and ideological level, the realm of the secular state eased its way into the shaky monopoly on power that the literary texts so often address. Among topics to be discussed: the shift from sacred to temporal legitimations of the polity and the ensuing new definitions of sovereignty, the rise of modern military culture in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the spilling over of internal European conflicts into politically and commercially motivated colonial enterprises across the Atlantic and into the Pacific as well, and the inconvenient truth that the Ottoman Empire, on the one hand, and the lingering Islamic threat from North Africa, on the other, may well have been the only reasons that select European states occasionally saw themselves as allied.

Of interest to students in Art History, CL, English, French, German, History, Religious Studies, and Political Theory. Students are encouraged to read Richard Falk, “Revisiting Westphalia, Discovering Post-Westphalia” (The Journal of Ethics 6, 2002) in any case, but also as preparation for this seminar, and to contact the instructor (Prof. Jane O. Newman, Dept. of CL, UC Irvine: for a reading list and to discuss possible research topics.

Course Catalog Number:

223: Studies in the 19th Century

Fetishism and (Mostly) Nineteenth-Century Narrative

Instructor: Barbara Spackman

W 2-5:00
186 Barrows
B. Spackman

Taking the theoretical narratives of Freud and Marx as a starting point, this course will examine the links and tensions between Marxian commodity fetishism and Freudian fetishism as they manifest themselves in (mostly) late nineteenth-century literary narrative.  » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

225: Studies in Symbolist and Modern Literature

Modern Poetry and Frankfurt School Aesthetics

Instructor: Robert Kaufman

T 2-5:00
211 Dwinelle
R. Kaufman

Readings in modern, and especially modern lyric, poetry (mostly from the U.S., but also from Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa) in relation to major Frankfurt-School texts (on aesthetics, criticism, and social theory) that emphasize the significance of literature (as well as the other arts) in general and poetry above all; special concentration on the writings of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, and on their development of Kantian, Hegelian, and Marxian traditions of aesthetics and critical theory; sustained attention to how and why poetry turns out to be so crucial to the Frankfurters’ (and, in particular, to Benjamin’s and Adorno’s) overall analyses of modernity, mechanical/technical/technological reproduction (in both the economic and artistic-aesthetic spheres), and critical agency; consideration of how Frankfurt-School concerns and legacies might engage the changed sociopolitical circumstances and artistic-aesthetic tendencies–and, above all, the poetry–of the last three decades; analysis in turn of how later-modernist and contemporary poets’ work may challenge Frankfurt analyses of and assumptions about poetry, aesthetic experience, and critical agency themselves.  Readings of poetry throughout the course will tend to emphasize formal, stylistic, and philosophical-theoretical matters in order to highlight the consideration of how–and to what degree–artistic technique, in relation to aesthetic form and aesthetic experience (most specifically, lyric experience), may offer stimulus toward and insight into historical, sociopolitical, and ethical understanding and engagement.  Some treatment of Romantic and nineteenth-century poetry, and of 21st-century poetry, but the course will focus primarily on twentieth-century, modernist poetry (including modernist poetry written and published during the apparently postmodern period).  As a shared project throughout the semester, the class will all read and continue discussing together in a sustained manner one volume of poetry (Michael Palmer’s 1988 Sun), while for each week’s class, students and/or the instructor also will have distributed ahead of time xeroxed texts of work by other poets (whom they have chosen to present to, and discuss with, the rest of  the class).


Michael Palmer,  Sun (North Point Press, 1988); paper.  ISBN: 0-86547-345-5. [Note: This book of poetry is sometimes hard to get; but shipments of it can always be obtained from (the non-profit) Small Press Distribution, which can be reached at 1341 Seventh Street, Berkeley, CA 94710, tel (510)524-1668 or (800)869-7553, fax (510)524-0852,, <>.]

Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (Shocken, 1968); paper; latest edition;

Walter Benjamin,  Reflections (Schocken, 1978); paper; latest edition;

Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin,  The Complete Correspondence: 1928-1940  (translation copyright Polity Press, 1999; first Harvard UP paper edition, 2001); paper.

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer,  Dialectic of Enlightenment (Continuum; 1987); paper.

Theodor Adorno, Notes to Literature  volume one.  (Columbia University Press; 1991); paper.  ISBN: 0-231-06333-4.

Theodor Adorno,  Notes to Literature volume two.  (Columbia University Press; 1992); paper.

Theodor Adorno,  Aesthetic Theory (University of Minnesota Press, 1997); paper.

Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination, Rev’d edition (University of California Press, 1996); paper.

Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project.  (Harvard UP; 1999; 1st Harvard UP paper edition, 2002); paper; latest edition.

Theodor Adorno,  Minima Moralia (Verso, 1974); paper.

In addition, instructor will distribute numerous xeroxed handouts of required texts that will include work by Kant, Marx, Vallejo, Duncan, Marcuse, De Beauvoir, Brecht, Mayakovsky, Neruda, Rich, and many others.

Course Catalog Number:

232: Studies in Near Eastern-Western Literary Relations

Rewriting the Sacred: Modernity, Intertextuality, and the Traditional Jewish Library

Instructor: Chana Kronfeld

M 2-5:00
252 Barrows
C. Kronfeld & N Seidman

Also listed as Hebrew 204B & RAHR 5720 (Graduate Theological Union Course listing)

This course will explore the uses, appropriations, and reclamations of Jewish traditional texts in the poetry and prose of the modernist era, particularly in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English literature.  » read more »

Course Catalog Number:

250: Studies in Literary Theory

Desire, Pleasure, Enjoyment, and Their Politics

Th 2-5:00
6331 Dwinelle
Prof. Alessia Ricciardi

This course is also listed as Italian Studies 204

This course examines the genealogy and value of the libidinal vocabulary within some of the most urgent debates occurring at the contemporary intersection of political and psychoanalytic thought.

We will start by exploring Freud’s and Lacan’s respective theories of desire, examining in detail the constitutive relationship of desire to loss/lack.  We will continue by considering Deleuze and Guattari’s response to these psychoanalytic theories in A Thousand Plateaus.  We will discuss their notion of a productive desire, which has proved to be widely influential on other theorists from Hardt and Negri to Braidotti.  In considering the metamorphosis and political transformations of the concept of desire, we will examine the drift of desire toward love in its Spinozist and Christian resonances, as articulated by Negri in his essay “Kairos, Alma Venus, Multitudo.”

Next, we will analyze the notion of pleasure in Foucault’s late work, particularly as elaborated in the second volume of his History of Sexuality.  Why does Foucault deliberately abandon the vocabulary of desire in favor of one centered on pleasure?  What are the political and biopolitical consequences of his choice?

At the end of the course, we will consider the emergence of enjoyment as a necessary concept in Lacan’s later works, including a selection of Seminars VII and XVII, in order to assess his discussion of capitalism as the political organization of enjoyment.

The course will be taught seminar-style.

Works by Freud, Lacan, Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, Negri, and Braidotti.

Course Catalog Number:

254: Studies in East-West Literary Relations

Literary Texts and Material Culture

Instructor: Sophie Volpp

F 2-5:00
211 Dwinelle
S. Volpp

How ought we to think about the relation between the literary and the material? What is at stake in considering the roles that objects play in texts?  In this seminar, we will examine the ways in which anthropologists, art historians and sociologists as well as scholars of literature have related the interpretation of objects to the interpretation of texts. Topics include the metaphorical relation of object and text, concerns regarding the influence of commodity and gift relations on bonds of human relation, the development of conceptions of intellectual property, the aestheticization of waste. Theoretical writings focus on theories of the gift, the fetish, consumption, and commoditization. Fictional texts include works by James, Twain, Zola, Woolf, Morrison, Feng Menglong, Li Yu, and Lao She.

No knowledge of Asian languages is required.

Course Catalog Number:

260: Problems in Literary Translation

Instructor: Robert Alter

T 2-5:00
214 Haviland
R. Alter

This course is conceived as an advanced workshop in literary translation, founded on the assumption that the practice of translation is fundamental to the study of literature. Each student should have a semester-long translation project (a collection of poems or stories, part of a novel, a long poem, a memoir, etc.). There are no restrictions as to languages translated or periods from which the texts are taken. Each week the class will discuss samples from two of these projects in progress. The seminar sessions are intended to be collaborative discussions on the problems of literary translation rather than critiques of the work of the translators. We will not be reading translation theory.

Course Catalog Number: