Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.001: Becoming Unbalanced

R1A:1
T/Th 9:30-11:00
156 Dwinelle
CCN 17203
R. Lorenz & J. Nelsen

In this course, we will read stories of people seduced away from a well-balanced life by the allures of beauty, art, revenge, sex, sentiment—or even by rational thought pushed to extremes. Although we could label these characters as mentally ill, many of the texts we will read portray their deviance as an ambiguous sort of exaltation. Accordingly, we will analyze how each text presents the terrible costs of losing grip, as well as how the characters, from the point of view of their extreme principles, offer a twisted justification for the unbalanced life.

These texts will offer stimulating material for the primary aim of the course, which is to teach you how to write convincing essays filled with intelligent analysis and argument. A considerable amount of class time will thus be devoted explicitly to writing instruction, so that you can exit the course with some well-honed and very useful practical skills. As in all R & C courses, 32 pages of writing are required, including first drafts and rewrites.

Texts:

Euripides, Medea

E.T.A. Hoffman, The Golden Pot

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Selections from Huysmans, Against the Grain

Poetry by Rimbaud, Eliot, Plath

Course Catalog Number:

R1A.002: Telling Family Stories

R1A:2
T/Th 11-12:30
224 Wheeler
CCN 17206
A. Brock

What family isn’t steeped in lore, haunted by skeletons in the closet, or delighted by its own humorous anecdotes no matter how many times they’ve been told? In this class we will explore the singular relationship between the family and story telling. What is the relationship between family, identity, memory, and narrative? To what extent do the stories that are passed down through our families shape who we are and determine what kind of a world we inherit? What is the importance of unearthing, reconstructing, telling, and re-telling the stories of how our families came to be?

These are some of the questions we will address while examining texts from a wide range of time periods and cultural traditions. In addition to emphasizing critical reading skills, we will hone our written and oral communication skills by striving to express our ideas and observations with ever-increasing clarity and ever-sounder argument. To this end, significant class time will be devoted to the skills required to build an argument about a literary text and to write a clear and compelling argumentative paper.

Required Texts (Available for purchase at the bookstore unless otherwise indicated):

Sophocles Oedipus the King

Shakespeare, William King Lear

Lispector, Clarice Family Ties (selections)*

Russ, Joana “Autobiography of my Mother”*

Faulkner, William The Sound and the Fury

Jones, Gayl Corregidora

Satrapi, Marjane Chicken with Plums

Alexie, Sherman War Dances (selections)

*Will be available on bspace in the Resources folder (you do not need to purchase these texts)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.001: The Social Network

CL R1B:1
Tu/Th 12:30-2:00
109 Wheeler
CCN 17224
P. Chatterji

This is not a class about Facebook. However, we will think about how contemporary experiences of social networking can help us to describe relationships between individuals, social systems, and the connections between them. We will trace back some of these issues by reading books and watching films that predate contemporary social networks. Particular attention will be paid to the role of technology. In the works that we encounter, technologies of communication – the letter, the apartment building, the telephone, the computer – play a large role in our understanding of the content of the message, the purpose of communicating, the boundary between public and private, our notion of belonging in a community, and even our sense of self.

This is a writing intensive course. We will spend considerable time in class on improving students’ writing skills by working on clarity, argument development and research basics. Students will participate in writing workshops and be asked to complete two papers, one of which will be a research project.

Works to be discussed include:

Plato, The Republic

Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Balzac, Père Goriot

Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy

Hitchcock, Rear Window

Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.002: The Language of Technology: Reading New Media through Literature

Instructor: Bonnie Ruberg Layla Forrest-White

R1B:2,
T/Th 9:30-11:00
136 Barrows
CCN 17227
B. Ruberg & L. Forrest-White

At a time when technology threatens to render the printed word obsolete, storytelling still permeates our lives as consumers of media. Far from relinquishing literature to the library, this class explores what we can learn when we bring our “old” literary reading skills to newer texts: video games, social media, interactive fiction. Highlighting the “comparative” in Comparative Literature, we pair canonical works — from Ovid to Shakespeare to Alice in Wonderland — with examples of new media. Along with an emphasis on essay writing skills, this creative reading list encourages students to consider with a new analytical eye issues of art, narrative, politics, and more in forms both traditional and high-tech.

Reading/Viewing List
The Golden Ass
The Metamorphoses
Hamlet
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Wire

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.003: On the Borders of Identity

R1B:3
T/Th 11-12:30
223 Dwinelle
CCN 17230
S. Sayay

It’s one thing to be a minority in terms of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference; but what does it mean to be a bisexual Arab-Jewish boy in Israel?  Or a Mexican-American woman in Texas?  In this course we will look at literature by and about the people who straddle many sides of the borders of identity, and use our readings perfect our skills in close analysis, thesis development and effective academic writing.

Texts will include:
David Grossman, “Her Body Knows”
Sanda Cisneros, “Woman Hollering Creek”
Gloria Anzaldua, “Bordelands/La Frontera”
A B Yehoshua, “Mr Mani”
The Book of Genesis
Poems of Rumi

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.004: Democracy in Verse: Lyric and Citizenship in World Literature

CL R1B:4
MWF 10-11:00
211 Dwinelle
CCN 17233
M. Bhaumik

 

Democracy—a term used almost daily by the press, governments, law, social movements, and many poets—is not a new word but has a long history and multiple meanings. In particular, poets writing in different languages and epochs have been moved by the possibilities of the word and concept from ancient Athens to contemporary social movements. One of the central theses of the class is that poetry offers a critical reading about the politics of truth at play in everyday life. During a time of national crisis in 1870, for example, Walt Whitman writes about the “spirit” of democracy in a long poem entitled “Democratic Vistas.” The work appears as congressional debates on the rights of enslaved populations to vote and count as citizens emerge in the public sphere. In many respects, poetry puts forth the question about who has a voice and who counts as a citizen within nation-states. In this class, we will interpret mostly poetry but also some dramatic texts, novels, critical essays, songs, multi-media and protests using lyrics in order to ask: what is the relation between verse and democracy? How is the depiction of democracy in poetic verse distinct from the legal or governmental definitions? In order to analyze these questions in depth, we will not just focus on poetry written in English and in the United States but look at the lyric across cultures. Drawing from critical approaches to literary studies in a comparative versus a purely nationalist frame, we will then also consider what it means to read poems in translation. Does translation—a mode of moving a literary text from its original location to another—offer a distinct notion of understanding between differently positioned speakers that is crucial for democracy to flourish? Our class will concentrate on the specific form of the lyric and also musical forms closely linked poetic verse (the ballad, corrido, ghazal, and Rabindra Sangeet) in order to engage with the important question of how democracy is contradictory, difficult, ironic, mythological, satirical, and tragic, but also imagined and possible. The primary reading for the class will be a course reader including the writings of Mahmoud Darwish, Charlotte Delbo, Robert Haas, Emily Dickinson, Jose Marti, Gabriela Mistral, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Pablo Neruda, Percy Shelley, Rabindranath Tagore, W.B. Yeats, and Walt Whitman. We will also read some short excerpts and critical essays by Aristotle, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, C.L.R. James, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Sophocles.

Longer Texts

  • Aeschylus, Ortesia
  • Herman Melville, Billy Budd
  • Alejo Carpentier, The Kingdom of This World (El reino de esto mundo)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.005: LITERARY GAMES: An Introduction to Comparative Literature

CL R1B:5
MWF 11-12:00
211 Dwinelle
CCN 17236
D. Inciarte

The Roman poet Horace famously wrote that our stories should aim to instruct and delight. Through the centuries authors have interpreted his advice in many different ways. One important way is by linking the experience of literature to the experience of play.  This connection—between literature and play—will be the focus of our course. Among the questions we will ask: How do our authors play with language? How do they play with their readers? Are their playful creations simply fancy mind games, akin to chess, or are they serious philosophical inquiries that, in the words of Mary Poppins add a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down?

Students will improve their analytical reading and expository writing skills through close reading, theoretical and contextual discussions, and critical research. Along with works of fiction, we will read critical essays that will introduce students to some of the different ways critics have developed theoretical approaches to the discipline of literary studies. Requirements will include a three to four-page diagnostic essay; short free writing assignments; writing workshops; short critical group presentations; regular postings for online discussion; and two progressively longer essays, each of which will be revised. While we will practice the basic skills of writing argumentative essays, the focus of the longer essays will also be on incorporating and utilizing research in an essay.

Please buy the editions specifically ordered for this class, except where noted.

Course Reading

Lucian, The True History, (IN READER)

Cervantes, Don Quixote, (IN READER)

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler 0-15-643961-1

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, 0-307-26489-0

Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spiderwoman 0-679-72449-4 (1976)

Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star 978-0-8112-1190-1

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 679-72316-1

Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters 0-226-04391-6

Cynthia Ozick, The Puttermesser Papers, available edition

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, 978-0-06-137694-8

Strunk & White, Elements of Style 0-205-31342-6

Movie: Lars von Trier, Dancer in the Dark

In reader: Selections from Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Shirley Jackson, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Anne Sexton, Billy Collins, Wislawa Szymborska, Mary Oliver

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.006: What if…? Alternate Histories and Political Imagination

CL R1B:6
Tu/Th 9:30-11:00
174 Barrows
CCN: 17239
M. Cohen & R. Carbotti

What if the Cold War became hot? What if John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry had succeeded?  What if the bomb under Hitler’s desk hadn’t missed? “What if” is the question that jump starts the imagination of children and scientists, writers and science fiction nerds, oppressed peoples and activists—everyone who thinks about making a different world possible. Science Fiction in general has sometimes been called “the literature of change”: take the world you know, imagine a possibly possible change, and chart the way from here to there. This course will zoom in on the hybrid child of science fiction and history: Alternate History. Alternate histories are science fiction that can take place in the past, the present or future, if only something in the “real world” had gone a little differently. We’ll look at examples from the hey-day of SF in 20th century US literature, but we’ll also explore older historical works and works from other literatures which ask the same question, “what if?”  Rather than escaping through a wormhole in search of sexy green aliens, we’ll investigate works in which “the literature of change” is concerned with this world: why are things the way they are? What’s gone wrong? And what are the political alternatives that might not be so fantastic, if we could only see the way from here to there?

The major goal of this course is to develop and practice critical reading and writing skills for a broad range of analytical and research writing, with the alternate histories serving as rich, stimulating and hopefully fun material for our writing. Through workshops, revisions, and collaborative work we’ll improve our ability to read a text analytically, create interesting and meaningful arguments, and support those arguments through research. In addition to the works of fiction, we’ll read literary and historical essays both as writing models and to engage our readings with their ideas.

Readings (and films) for the course may include: Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Terry Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain, Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, stories by Jorge Luis Borges, the Coen Brothers’ “Inglorious Basterds” and Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.007: Going Hungry

Instructor: Katie Kadue

CL R1B:7
Tu/Th 11-12:30
118 Barrows
CCN 17242
R. McGlazer and K. Kadue

According to at least one influential definition of aesthetic experience, art begins when appetite ends. By this account, artistic and gustatory, or figurative and literal, taste cannot coincide; hunger and even “healthy appetite” must be satisfied before any aesthetic pursuit can take place. In this course, we’ll study works of literature and art that refuse this definition by taking denial, rather than satisfaction, as their point of departure.  Far from setting hunger aside, the texts we’ll consider try to set it to work.  Sampling from the fasting practices of medieval women mystics and contemporary couture models’ starvation diets, we’ll cultivate our critical reading, writing, and basic research skills as we consider the relationship between writing and withholding as staged in a range of contexts and cultures.  (For our purposes, “writing” will be broadly defined, to include art-making and self-invention.)  In addition to looking at mystics and models, we’ll listen to Italian Renaissance lyricists “starved” for love and to severely undernourished English Romantics.  We’ll then travel forward to the 1970s to spend time with anorectic All-American teen idols and dessert-obsessed Brazilian typists.  We’ll take virtual day trips to nearby Pelican Bay and distant Belfast, with a week’s stay in Wonderland.  Along the way, we’ll ask how hunger comes to serve as both a figure for desire (so that lyric speakers are said to hunger for affection, and scholars to hunger for knowledge) and a name for need (so that famine marks the most abject poverty).  We’ll also ask questions like the following: What do artists and writers have to teach us about “unhealthy” appetites?  What role does temperance, the moderation or curbing of appetite, play in aesthetic experience?  What happens when works of literature and art call attention to their own slightness, or lack of substance?  When, where, and in what ways has hunger become a tool of protest as well as an aesthetic category? How can we bring the work of “hunger artists” and hunger strikers to bear in our understanding of contemporary food politics, or in politics more generally?

Rather than answering these questions in abstract—and unsatisfying—ways, students will learn to read closely and to make clear and compelling arguments about literary texts.  Readings, screenings, and writing activities for the course will all encourage students to attend carefully to a wide range of aesthetic experiences, in order to develop tastes but also to work up healthy appetites for research.

In addition to reading some of the texts and watching some of the films listed below, we’ll read historical and critical works by Brown, Bynum, Deleuze and Guattari, Ellman, Klein, and Vernon, and we’ll study performance art pieces by Abramović and Mendieta, among others.

Literature:

Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Catherine of Siena, selected letters

Dickinson, selected poems

Goethe, Elective Affinities

Kafka, “A Hunger Artist” and “The Hunger Strike”

Lispector, The Hour of the Star

Mahasweta, selected stories

Milton, Paradise Regain’d

Petrarch, selected poems

Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

Shelley, Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude

Vallejo, selected poems

Film:

Buñuel, The Land without Bread (1933)

Haynes, Superstar (1987)

McQueen, Hunger (2008)

Pasolini, La ricotta (1962)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.008: Rogue Discourses

CL R1A:8
Tu/Th 8-9:30
79 Dwinelle
CCN 17223
Paul Haacke

In this class we will study works of fiction that revolve around rogues, tricksters, and outlaws, whether comic or tragic, sympathetic or monstrous. We will start with folktales, cartoons and picaresque stories, move on to novels, plays, films, and other narrative critiques of social mores, and also examine relevant theory and criticism that raise larger questions about rogue discourses. Particular attention will be paid to the period of economic boom and bust in the first half of the twentieth century and its implications for more current concerns. Topics for discussion will include narrative discourse, irony and point-of-view; social inequality and mobility; power, ideology, and tactics of resistance; cynicism and false consciousness; criminality and the law; and the ethics and politics of recognition and redistribution.

Through regular written assignments and in-class discussion, we will also work on developing skills for writing and revising argumentative, analytical essays. Requirements will include prompt attendance and participation, short writing responses on bSpace, a midterm essay analyzing course materials closely, and a longer research paper or independent project.

Books

Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)

Anonymous, Lazarillo de Tormes and Francisco de Quevedo, The Swindler (Penguin)

Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders (Norton Critical Edition)

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (Scribner)

Bertolt Brecht, “The Threepenny Opera” (Penguin)

Jean Genet, The Thief’s Journal (Grove)

Maxine Hong Kingston, Tripmaster Monkey (Vintage)

Roberto Bolaño, Distant Star (New Directions)

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan (or another text to be decided by students)

Films

City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

Selected clips to be decided

 

Course reader (to be purchased at Metro Publishing, 2440 Bancroft Way)

• Franz Kafka, “A Report To An Academy” in Stanley Corngold, ed. and tr., Kafka’s Selected Stories (New York: Norton, 2007)

• Diane Macdonell, Theories of Discourse: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986)

• Michel Foucault, “The Discourse on Language” in The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Knowledge, tr. A.M. Shedidan Smith (New York: Pantheon, 1972)

• Carl Jung, “The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious” in Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, tr. R.F.C. Hull (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966)

• Jacques Derrida, “License and Freedom: The Roué,” “The Rogue That I Am,” and “(No) More Rogue States” in Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, tr. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Nass (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2005)

• Robert Alter, Rogue’s Progress: Studies in the Picaresque Novel (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964), pp. 1-11, 35-58, 106-109

• Stuart Miller, The Picaresque Novel (Cleveland: Case Western Reserve, 1967), selections

• Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978), pp. 146-161, 226-262

• Miguel de Cervantes, “Rinconete and Cortadillo” in Exemplary Stories, ed. and trans. Lesley Lispon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

• Georg Lukács, Theory of the Novel, tr. Anna Bostock (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1983), pp. 29-39, 56-69

• Georg Lukács, “Class Consciousness” in History and Class Consciousness (Cambrdige: MIT Press, 1972)

• Bertolt Brecht, “The Literarization of the Theatre” in Brecht on Theatre, tr. John Willett (New York: Hill and Wang, 1964)

• Walter Benjamin, “On Epic Theater” in Selected Writings: Vol. 4, 1938-1940, eds. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003)

• Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, tr. Steven Rendell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 15-42

• Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, “From A Theory of the Criminal” in Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2002)

• Friedrich Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in an Nonmoral Sense” and selection from On the Genealogy of Morals (New York: Vintage, 1989), pp. 57-96

• Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, tr. Michael Eldred (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), pp. xxvi-xxxix, 3-9

• Gerald Vizenor, “Tricksters and Transvaluations” in The Trickster of Liberty: Tribal Heirs to a Wild Baronage (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988)

• Wu Ch’eng-en, Monkey, tr. Arthur Waley (New York: Grove Press, 1943)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.008: Telling Tales

Instructor: Laura Wagner

CL R1B:8
Tu/Th 8-9:30
224 Wheeler
CCN 17245
L. Wagner

In this course we’ll consider texts that dramatize the act of storytelling.  Each of the texts we’ll examine, whether an ancient epic or postcolonial novel, Renaissance drama or Romantic poem, fairy tale or work of literary theory, is interested in the act of communication between storyteller and listener, or writer and reader, that characterizes the sharing of a story.  We’ll think about what forms these stories take when they come to us on the page or the stage and consider what’s at stake in the choice to tell a story in a particular way.  We’ll look at the relationship between stories and physical spaces, narrative and the self, and speech and the written word; we’ll question the ethics and politics of telling or receiving a story; we’ll interrogate the interplay between stories, memories, and history; and we’ll consider what happens to stories when communication breaks down.  Most importantly, we’ll devote ourselves to the development of critical reading, basic research, and analytical writing skills, learning to become careful readers of stories of all types and to better shape the critical stories that we tell in writing our own interpretations of literary texts.

Course readings will be chosen from the following:

 

Texaco, Patrick Chamoiseau

Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

The Storyteller, Mario Vargas Llosa

“Max Ferber,” W.G. Sebald

The Tempest, William Shakespeare

A course reader will include “The Storyteller” by Walter Benjamin, “Eckbert the Fair” by Ludwig Tieck, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, excerpts from The Thousand and One Nights and Homer’s Odyssey, and varied resources on writing and research.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.009: The Social Network

Com Lit R1B:9,
MWF 10-11:00
185 Barrows
CCN 17248
P. Chatterji

This is not a class about Facebook. However, we will think about how contemporary experiences of social networking can help us to describe relationships between individuals, social systems, and the connections between them. We will trace back some of these issues by reading books and watching films that predate contemporary social networks. Particular attention will be paid to the role of technology. In the works that we encounter, technologies of communication – the letter, the apartment building, the telephone, the computer – play a large role in our understanding of the content of the message, the purpose of communicating, the boundary between public and private, our notion of belonging in a community, and even our sense of self.

This is a writing intensive course. We will spend considerable time in class on improving students’ writing skills by working on clarity, argument development and research basics. Students will participate in writing workshops and be asked to complete two papers, one of which will be a research project.

Works to be discussed include:

Plato, The Republic

Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Balzac, Père Goriot

Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy

Hitchcock, Rear Window

Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.010: Ghostly Matters: Language, Speech and Silence in Literature

CL R1B:10
Tu/Th 5-6:30
221 Wheeler
CCN 17251
T. Singleton

It is about putting life back in where only a vague memory or a bare trace was visible to those who bothered to look.[1]

—Avery Gordon

Taking cues from Avery Gordon, this course will consider seriously the matter of ghosts in literary texts. Ghosts are not simply the incorporeal return of the dead associated with religious or spiritual practices and beliefs. Rather, they are public, social figures whose haunting can take us to “that dense site where history and subjectivity make social life.”[2] Their practice of haunting underscores contemporary concerns about narratives of exclusion and silencing, as well as the concern with what can actually be known and the ethical considerations that such investigations should demand. The course will ask the following: 1) What is the political status of ghosts in memory, commemoration, and the nostalgia of exile? 2) What can our study of ghosts reveal about the historical and linguistic structures that are the sources of their haunting? 3) What conceptual and ethical dilemmas must we confront in such an investigation? 4) How do we capture the ghostly-speak?

Required Texts:

Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Anzia Yezierska: Bread Givers: A Novel

Nguyen Du: Tale of Kieu

Maxine Hong Kingston: The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

Truong, Monique, The Book of Salt,

Le Thi Diem Thuy. The Gangster We’re All Looking For

Bao Ninh, The sorrow of war

Other readings:

Selections from the Bible

Selected poetry of  Friedrich Hölderlin


[1] Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.22.

[2] Gordon, 8

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.011: The Art and Science of Politics

Instructor: Kfir Cohen

CL R1B:11
MWF 1-2:00
109 Dwinelle
CCN 17254
K. Cohen

In this course we will ask what are political relations and how are these imagined in both political protocols and fictional texts. Central to our exploration of this topic will be distinctions between economic, private, and political relations and how these are understood in different historical moments. We will look at a diverse array of texts, both ancient and modern from different cultural traditions.

Assignments will include: short analytical responses and other writing assignments; occasional responses to other students’ work; 2 papers engaging texts studied in class. Papers will require a first draft and a revision

Books (required)

Sophocles, Antigone

Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

Tolstoy, Hadji Murat

Joseph Williams, Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace

Course Reader (Aristotle, Nizam al-Mulk, Hegel, Marx)

Film

Tom Tykwer, The International

Television

David Simon, The Wire

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.012: Texts of the New World Frontiers and Hinterlands

CL R1B:13
MWF 1-2:00
204 Dwinelle
CCN:  17260
J. Caballero

This course is a writing course first and a crash course in comparative and historical literary study second.  We will be focusing on process writing (as set out in Writing Analytically, our course’s textbook) and dividing the course in halves for both reading and writing purposes.

In the first half of the course, we will work primarily through poetry to workshop the basic skills of literary study and of process writing, working over many weeks on a straightforward paper analyzing one work of poetry.  The literary reading load will be relatively low these weeks to accommodate more out-of-class, collaborative reading and writing exercises, and of course to allow time for reading the course’s hefty writing manual.

In the second half of the course, mostly devoted to novels and short stories, we will work through the skills not only of prose stylistics and narrative study, but also of research methods for relating works across time periods, to their historical contexts and subtexts, or to changing cultural and individual ideologies.

Poetry Unit will include (ALL included in a separate Poetry Reader):

–          *Alonso de Ercilla (Spain) – La Araucana (epic – excerpts!)  1578

–          *Esteban Echevarría (Arg) – La Cautiva (epic) 1837

–          *Henry Longfellow (USA) – Song of Hiawatha (epic – excerpts!) 1855

–          *Leopoldo Lugones (Arg) – Romances del Río Seco (lyric) 1938 (posthum)

–          *Gloría Anzaldúa (USA) – Borderlands (lyric) 1987

–          *Rosario Castellanos (Mex) – Selected Poems / Poesía no eres tu (lyric) 1969

–          *Elizabeth Bishop (USA) – Questions of Travel; Geography III (lyric) 1965; 1976

Possible works of the Narrative Unit may include (* = included in Excerpt Reader):

–          James Fenimore Cooper (USA) – The Pioneers (novel) 1823 [0140390073]

–          Carlos Fuentes (Mex) – The Crystal Frontier (short story) 1995 [B005DID9E8]

–          César Aira (Arg) – An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (novella) 2000 [0811216306]

–          Ignacio Taibo II (Mex) – Frontera Dreams: A Héctor Belascoarán Shayne Detective Novel (novel) 1990 [093831758X]

–          *Lucío Mansilla (Arg) – Excursion to the Ranquel Indians (episodic travelogue) 1870

–          *Álvaro Mutis (Col) – Maqroll (novella) 1996

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.012: Fetishist, Collector, Hoarder

CL R1B:12
T/Th 8-9:30
223 Wheeler
CCN 17257
R. Falkoff

This course is dedicated to three figures that lurk at the
fringes of capitalism and seem to represent at once the epitome, the
inverse, and even the undoing of its logics. Our aim will be to shed
light on the contemporary obsession with hoarding by studying the
hoarder in relation to two precursors of 19th and 20th century
narrative and theory: the fetishist and the collector. We will examine
the material practices and psychic mechanisms that define these
identities and authorize distinctions between them, as well as the
diverse historical contexts from which they emerge. More broadly, we will theorize the relationships between objects and narrative.

Our study of the fetishist begins with writings by Freud and Marx, along with selections from the vast body of theoretical work they inspired. Christian Metz’ “Photography and the Fetish” will propel our examination of still and moving images in short films dedicated to possessions: Miska Draskoczy’s “Here’s the Thing” webisodes and Martin Hampton’s Possessed. The unit on collecting will include the novel Cousin Pons by Honoré de Balzac, as well as William Davies King’s memoir Collections of Nothing. Moving from the collector to the hoarder, we will first consider the distinctions between collecting and accumulating set out by Susan Stewart in On Longing and Jean Baudrillard in System of Objects, then turn to contemporary texts dedicated to hoarding: E. L. Doctorow’s 2009 novel Homer and Langley, Jessie Sholl’s 2010 memoir Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding, and Randy Frost and Gail Steketee’s 2010 Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, as well as episodes of Bones and CSI.

Coursework will include readings and reading-responses, active participation in class discussions and frequent writing assignments and revisions. Regular attendance and participation is required. You will be encouraged to think critically about your own as well as others’ ideas, and you will learn how to express your interpretations in a coherent and cohesive way. This class will help prepare you for the rest of your academic career, regardless of your field of interest or the length of your studies.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.014: Self-Styling

CL R1B:14
MW 4-5:00
3401 Dwinelle
CCN 17263
J. Lillie

 

Rather than focusing on a specific theme or genre, this course focuses on a wide range of writing styles, operating on the premise that you can’t write with style unless you know how to read it. Like many of the selected readings and films, the course’s goal is straightforward yet challenging: to consider how style and form convey substance and character in a text, and thereby learn to convey our own arguments stylishly. With that goal in mind, we will discuss works that all have highly self-conscious, unique, and lively written voices. Works for the reading and viewing lists were also selected for their provocativeness (to encourage valuable debate), for the extent to which they teach the reader how to read them and thus reward close reading, and for overall degree of fun and weirdness (always good indicators of a work that takes its style seriously). In addition to being written in unique (and sometimes notorious) styles, many incorporate style as a theme of the narrative itself, in which the freedoms and trappings of the written language play a crucial role. We’ll also play with our own styles through mimicry and invention (on paper) and by analyzing works through a variety of media (including in-class performances).

Likely Readings:

  • Sei Shonagon, selections from The Pillow Book
  • Kawabata Yasunari, some Palm-of-the-Hand Stories
  • Murakami Haruki, “TV People,” “Where I’m Coming From”
  • Project Itoh, Harmony
  • Eileen Chang, “Lust, Caution”
  • E. T. A. Hoffmann, “The Golden Pot”
  • T. S. Eliot, “The Wasteland”
  • Henry Green, Back
  • Raymond Carver, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”
  • Lydia Davis, The End of the Story or selections from Break It Down
  • Donald Barthelme, “The Glass Mountain,” “Kierkegaard Unfair to Schlegel,” “The Abduction from the Seraglio”
  • Samuel Delany, Babel-17
  • Jenny Erpenbeck, The Old Child
  • Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler
  • Secondary Readings: Anne Carson on Simonides, D. A. Miller on Austen, Naomi Schor, Simone Weil on The Iliad

Films:

  • “Brief Encounter,” dir. David Lean
  • “La Jetée,” dir. Chris Marker
  • “Lost Highway,” dir. David Lynch
  • “Schizopolis,” dir. Steven Soderbergh

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.015: Literature and the Question of Race

CL R1B: 15
Tu/Th 3:30-5:00
262 Dwinelle
K. Agbodike

The notion that racial identity is socially constructed is by now a widely familiar one. Yet race continues to exert a powerful influence over how society is structured and how we view ourselves and others. If race cannot be meaningfully described as having a “real” biological or objective existence, why and how does it persist in shaping our social, cultural, and political practices? What exactly do we mean when we refer to race as a “social construct?” In this course we will discuss these questions by way of talking and writing about a series of texts  that take on the topic of race from a number of contexts and perspectives. We will be focusing on the question of the role literature has played in both the formation and questioning of racial identities, as well as the concept of race itself. A comparison of ancient and modern literature will allow us to ask whether there have always been racial forms of identity or whether they are specific to the modern era. The class will also consider the paradoxical tendency of literature to construct and define racial identities at the same time that it criticizes them and explores their problematic nature. Though we will be focusing on the particular case of blackness as a racial identity associated with the African Diaspora, a consideration of other identities and their interrelations will allow for a more wide-ranging discussion.

Readings

Herodotus, The Histories (selections)

William Shakespeare, Othello

Machado de Assis, Dom Casmurro

Herman Mellville, Benito Cereno

Aime Cesaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land

Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go

V. S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Additional readings will be available in a course reader

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.016: Ghostly Matters: Language, Speech and Silence in Literature

CL R1B:16,
Tu/TH 3:30-5:00
118 Barrows
CCN 17269
T. Singleton & T. Luu

It is about putting life back in where only a vague memory or a bare trace was visible to those who bothered to look.[1]

—Avery Gordon

Taking cues from Avery Gordon, this course will consider seriously the matter of ghosts in literary texts. Ghosts are not simply the incorporeal return of the dead associated with religious or spiritual practices and beliefs. Rather, they are public, social figures whose haunting can take us to “that dense site where history and subjectivity make social life.”[2] Their practice of haunting underscores contemporary concerns about narratives of exclusion and silencing, as well as the concern with what can actually be known and the ethical considerations that such investigations should demand. The course will ask the following: 1) What is the political status of ghosts in memory, commemoration, and the nostalgia of exile? 2) What can our study of ghosts reveal about the historical and linguistic structures that are the sources of their haunting? 3) What conceptual and ethical dilemmas must we confront in such an investigation? 4) How do we capture the ghostly-speak?

Required Texts:

Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Anzia Yezierska: Bread Givers: A Novel

Nguyen Du: Tale of Kieu

Maxine Hong Kingston: The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

Truong, Monique, The Book of Salt,

Le Thi Diem Thuy. The Gangster We’re All Looking For

Bao Ninh, The sorrow of war

Other readings:

Selections from the Bible

Selected poetry of  Friedrich Hölderlin


[1] Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.22.

[2] Gordon, 8

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.017: Culture High and Low

CL R1B:17
Tu/Th 9:30-11:00
215 Dwinelle
CCN: 17272
P. Brito & K. Budner

It’s almost impossible to encounter a new cultural object or experience without unconsciously slipping it into some category or another. We take it to be a work of art or an occasion for entertainment, an expression of elite or popular taste, something real and refined or crass and commercial. In this class we’ll take a look at how these judgments of taste fit together and what’s at stake when we make them.

Do these distinctions come about because of something special in the objects themselves or are they products of our cultural biases? By keeping these questions in mind as we look at a wide range of texts, both written and visual, we’ll be able to investigate why we consider certain kinds of texts worthy of being read and written about in a college setting.

The central focus of this class will be to improve students’ capacity to articulate their interpretations of literary texts. The bulk of the papers will be on the assigned texts but there will also be opportunities for students to write about cultural objects of their choice.

Texts will include:

Novels:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

Plays:

The Bacchae by Euripides

Blood Wedding by Federico García Lorca

Movies:

All About My Mother (written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar)

Adaptation (directed by Spike Jonze, written by Charlie Kaufman)

TV Shows:

Twin Peaks (created by David Lynch)

There will also be a course reader that will feature excerpts from Apuleius’ The Golden Ass; short fiction and poetry from William Wordsworth, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, César Vallejo, and Jorge Luis Borges; and theoretical work from Plato, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, Dwight Macdonald, and Pierre Bourdieu.11

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.018: Rogue Discourses

Instructor: Paul Haacke

CL R1B:18
Tu/Th 11-12:30
80 Barrows
CCN: 17275
Paul Haacke

In this class we will study works of fiction that revolve around rogues, tricksters, and outlaws, whether comic or tragic, sympathetic or monstrous. We’ll start with folktales, cartoons and picaresque satires, move on to naturalist novels and other narrative critiques of social mores, and also examine relevant theory and criticism that raise larger questions about rogue discourses. Particular attention will be paid to the period of economic boom and bust in the first half of the twentieth century and its implications for more current concerns. Topics for discussion will include narrative representation, irony and point-of-view; social inequality and mobility; power and tactics of resistance; ideology, cynicism and false consciousness; and the ethics and politics of recognition and redistribution.

Through regular written assignments and in-class discussion, we will also work on developing skills for writing and revising argumentative, analytical essays. Requirements will include prompt attendance and participation, short writing responses on BSpace, a midterm essay analyzing course materials closely, and a longer research paper or independent project.

Texts will be selected from among the following:

Literary Readings

Selected trickster tales of Hermes, Coyote, Krishna and Br’er Rabbit

Anonymous, Lazarillo de Tormes and Francisco de Quevedo, The Swindler

Anonymous, Journey to the West (abridged as Monkey: A Chinese Folktale)

Molière, “Dom Juan”

Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders

Stendhal, The Red and the Black

Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying”

George Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman”

Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Bertolt Brecht, “The Threepenny Opera”

Franz Kafka, “Report to an Academy”

Richard Wright, Native Son

Maxine Hong Kingston, Tripmaster Monkey

Roberto Bolaño, Distant Star

Films

City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, 1938)

Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)

Clips from Looney Tunes and other television shows

Theory and Criticism (selections in course reader or suggested for further research)

Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil and “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense”

Jacques Derrida, Rogues and “White Mythologies”

Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life

Peter Sloterdijk, The Critique of Cynical Reason

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The Signifying Monkey

Walter Benjamin, “On Epic Theater” and “Conversations With Brecht”

Georg Lukacs, Theory of the Novel and History and Class Consciousness

Robert Alter, Rogue’s Progress: Studies in the Picaresque Novel

James Wood, The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter in the Novel

Bruce Robbins, Upward Mobility and the Common Good

Nancy Fraser, “From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a ‘Post-Socialist’ Age”

Martin Jay, The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics

Sarah Palin, Going Rogue: An American Life

T.D. Allman, Rogue State: America at War with the World

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.019: Autobiography

Instructor: Nina Estreich

CLR1B:19
MWF 9-10:00
205 Wheeler
CCN: 17278
Nina Estreich

In this course we will be exploring texts which use the forms of autobiography in various ways.  Through readings and discussion, we will think about representations of self in fiction, poetry, memoir, and film; the relationships between memory and identity; and the ways in which autobiography and narrative are related.  Over the semester, we will consider interpretive approaches to different forms and styles of written prose.  Course requirements will include midterm and final papers, as well as regular writing assignments.  Texts on syllabus include Kafka, Rhys, Kincaid, Duras, Rousseau, Dickinson, Herzog.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.021: Literary Games: An Introduction to Comparative Literature

CL R1B:21
MWF 2-3:00
211 Dwinelle
CCN 17284
D. Inciarte

The Roman poet Horace famously wrote that our stories should aim to instruct and delight. Through the centuries authors have interpreted his advice in many different ways. One important way is by linking the experience of literature to the experience of play.  This connection—between literature and play—will be the focus of our course. Among the questions we will ask: How do our authors play with language? How do they play with their readers? Are their playful creations simply fancy mind games, akin to chess, or are they serious philosophical inquiries that, in the words of Mary Poppins add a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down?

Students will improve their analytical reading and expository writing skills through close reading, theoretical and contextual discussions, and critical research. Along with works of fiction, we will read critical essays that will introduce students to some of the different ways critics have developed theoretical approaches to the discipline of literary studies. Requirements will include a three to four-page diagnostic essay; short free writing assignments; writing workshops; short critical group presentations; regular postings for online discussion; and two progressively longer essays, each of which will be revised. While we will practice the basic skills of writing argumentative essays, the focus of the longer essays will also be on incorporating and utilizing research in an essay.

Please buy the editions specifically ordered for this class, except where noted.

Course Reading

Lucian, The True History, (IN READER)

Cervantes, Don Quixote, (IN READER)

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler 0-15-643961-1

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, 0-307-26489-0

Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spiderwoman 0-679-72449-4 (1976)

Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star 978-0-8112-1190-1

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 679-72316-1

Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters 0-226-04391-6

Cynthia Ozick, The Puttermesser Papers, available edition

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, 978-0-06-137694-8

Strunk & White, Elements of Style 0-205-31342-6

Movie: Lars von Trier, Dancer in the Dark

In reader: Selections from Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Shirley Jackson, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Anne Sexton, Billy Collins, Wislawa Szymborska, Mary Oliver

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.022: Funny Games: Narrative and Manipulation

CL R1B:22
Tu/Th 11-12:30
209 Dwinelle
CCN 17286
S. Chihaya & S. Schneider

While the act of narration in general might fairly be called a kind of manipulation, this class will examine literary and filmic texts that explicitly play calculating and, more often than not, cruel games with their characters and/or readers. Whether these games are played out between characters, or between the text and reader, we will examine the dynamics of narrative manipulations ranging from plot arcs to conspiracy theories, storytelling to retelling, literary puzzles to thwarted expectations.

These concerns pose a number of questions regarding the idea of plot and manipulation: How does plot as a literary device relate to the action of plotting? Consequently, how do characters that are plotters, schemers, and conspirators reflect upon the idea of authorship? How can those caught up in the plot – here we may think of characters explicitly framed as victims or investigators, or ourselves as readers – respond to these kinds of manipulation? What do works of fiction have to tell us about the differences (or similarities) between play and reality? Does one stay faithful to the other, or conversely, what can we learn from their distortions?

Finally, this is the second class in the Reading and Composition series, and will specifically address the process of writing a research paper. We will build upon the analytical writing skills students have acquired through their experience in R1A, and gradually work towards producing a final research paper. Requirements for the course include a library workshop, in-class presentation, and annotated bibliography.

Texts may be chosen from among the following:

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Balzac, Le Père Goriot

Freud, “Dora”

Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Amis, Time’s Arrow

Perec, W, or The Memory of Childhood

Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Welles (dir), Citizen Kane

Singer (dir), The Usual Suspects

Gondry (dir), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Haneke (dir), Funny Games (1999 and/or 2007)

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.023: Rebel Texts

Instructor: Irina Popescu

CL R1B:23
T/Th 8-9:30
204 Dwinelle
CCN 17500
I. Popescu

Some texts rebel against a literary tradition, some against a political regime, and some against society as a whole. In this course we will consider works of fiction, film, music and photography, focusing particularly on their connections to rebellion and revolution. We will explore texts that explicitly deal with revolution and texts which deal with it on a metaphoric level. Together we will witness how literature and art work not only to provide awareness, but also as active agents with the power to incite national and global change.

Students will be expected to contribute weekly blog entries on b-space, participate in class discussion and write and rewrite academic papers. In addition to the reading we will spend time revising, learning how to frame analytical arguments and use research material, peer-editing, and developing critical reading skills.

Texts will include:

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Ken Kesey, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

There will also be a course reader which will include selected short stories, poems and critical pieces by Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges, Jose Marti, Pablo Neruda, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Norman Manea, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Allen Ginsberg, and others.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.024: The Art of Murder: Aesthetics and Crime in Literature and Film

Instructor: Adeline Tran

CL R1B:24
MWF 10-11:00
61 Evans
CCN: 17503
A. Tran

Is there such a thing as the perfect crime?  Can murder be considered beautiful or artistic?  What exactly is the relationship between art and murder?  In this class, we will be exploring the gruesome interplay between violence and beauty in literature and film.  We will start with essays by De Quincey and Oscar Wilde, both of whom advocate for an aesthetic appreciation of murder.  We will look at texts where crimes are presented as beautiful masterpieces, where murderers see themselves as artists, and where detectives consider the act of solving a crime as an artistic or intellectual pastime.  We will also be questioning the role of ethics in our examination of the aesthetics of crime: if a murder is artistically beautiful, then can it exist outside of moral considerations?  If a detective succeeds in solving a crime by “becoming” the killer (i.e. identifying completely with the criminal’s mind), then is the detective’s own morality compromised?  In our study of films for this course, we will examine how the dark art world, with its murderous painters and corrupt art collectors, is represented visually on the big screen.  This class includes two formal papers and places strong emphasis on active student participation.

Texts:

Balzac, The Girl with the Golden Eyes

Baudelaire, “A Martyr,” “Mademoiselle Bistouri”

De Quincey, “On Murder, Considered As One of the Fine Arts”

Wilde, “Pen, Poison, and Paper” and The Picture of Dorian Gray

Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”

Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder”

Caspary, Laura

Nabokov, Lolita

Films:

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Scarlet Street

Laura

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.024: The Art of Murder: Aesthetics and Crime in Literature and Film

Instructor: Adeline Tran

CL R1B:24
MWF 10-11:00
61 Evans
CCN: 17503
A. Tran

Is there such a thing as the perfect crime?  Can murder be considered beautiful or artistic?  What exactly is the relationship between art and murder?  In this class, we will be exploring the gruesome interplay between violence and beauty in literature and film.  We will start with essays by De Quincey and Oscar Wilde, both of whom advocate for an aesthetic appreciation of murder.  We will look at texts where crimes are presented as beautiful masterpieces, where murderers see themselves as artists, and where detectives consider the act of solving a crime as an artistic or intellectual pastime.  We will also be questioning the role of ethics in our examination of the aesthetics of crime: if a murder is artistically beautiful, then can it exist outside of moral considerations?  If a detective succeeds in solving a crime by “becoming” the killer (i.e. identifying completely with the criminal’s mind), then is the detective’s own morality compromised?  In our study of films for this course, we will examine how the dark art world, with its murderous painters and corrupt art collectors, is represented visually on the big screen.  This class includes two formal papers and places strong emphasis on active student participation.

Texts:

Balzac, The Girl with the Golden Eyes

Baudelaire, “A Martyr,” “Mademoiselle Bistouri”

De Quincey, “On Murder, Considered As One of the Fine Arts”

Wilde, “Pen, Poison, and Paper” and The Picture of Dorian Gray

Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”

Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder”

Caspary, Laura

Nabokov, Lolita

Films:

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Scarlet Street

Laura

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.025: Possible Worlds, Parallel Universes

CL R1B:25
MW 4-5:30
279 Dwinelle
CCN: 17506
M. Gordon

According to the philosopher Gottfried Liebniz, we live in “the best of all possible worlds.”  Whether or not that’s true, it hasn’t prevented us from ceaselessly imagining – or even creating – alternate realities: shiny fantasy worlds where our most cherished dreams come true or, when we’re feeling less optimistic, nightmarish dystopias where they are mercilessly crushed.  What constitutes a possible world or parallel universe?  How and why is it constructed?  By what rules is it governed?  Who or what inhabits it?  Where is it located in time and space – in our own backyard or in a distant galaxy, amidst our personal memories or a thousand years into the future?  How does it bring the “real world” – whatever that might be – into relief?  These are some of the questions we’ll be asking as we survey the possibilities and parallels presented by poets, philosophers, filmmakers, novelists, and science fiction writers.

As this is a writing intensive course, a significant portion of our time will be dedicated to refining your prose. You will be responsible for writing a total of three papers: a two-page diagnostic essay and two longer essays, both of which require substantial revisions.  The final paper will incorporate independent research.  In addition, there will be a number of shorter assignments designed to hone your skills as critical readers and writers.

Texts may include:

Gottfried Liebniz, selections from Theodicy

William James, selections from A Pluralistic Universe

Voltaire, Candide

Thomas More, Utopia

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust

Franz Kafka, “In the Penal Colony”

Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

Fyodor Dostoevsky, “White Nights”

Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths”

Yurii Olesha, “The Cherry Pit” and “Love”

H. G. Wells, The Time Machine

Ray Bradbury, “The Veldt”

Fritz Lang, Metropolis

Chris Marker, La Jetée

Alain Renais, Smoking/No Smoking

Mike Cahill, Another Earth

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.026: Historical Fictions: (Re)Writing, Recovery, Resistance

CL R1B:26
MWF 9 – 10
262 Wheeler
CCN: 17509

Given the violent and tragic history of the Caribbean it is hardly surprising that many of the region’s greatest writers have sought to challenge historical injustice, and its legacy into the present, through literature. Some of the questions we shall consider in this course include: How does literature function as counter-history? How does writing resist historical erasure and oblivion? How do certain literary texts attempt to recover or re-imagine lost or suppressed histories? How can writing, rewriting, and “writing back” challenge or revise partial representations and misrepresentations of Caribbean history and subjectivity? And finally how does a radical engagement with the past open up new aesthetic and political possibilities for the present and future? This is a reading and writing intensive course with a research component that fulfills the second half of the University Reading & Composition requirement.

Texts: The Tempest (Shakespeare), Une Tempête (Césaire), I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (Condé), The Kingdom of this World (Carpentier), Wide Sargasso Sea (Rhys). A course reader will include a selection of Columbus’ letters, excerpts from De las Casa’s The Devastation of the Indies, Derek Walcott’s “The Muse of History,” and additional essays and historical documents.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.027: Lethal Passions

CL R1B:27
Tu/Th 2-3:30
109 Wheeler
CCN 17512
M. Cudahy

Death, by murder, illness or suicide is the end result in many of literature’s most compelling stories of romantic love. From the topos of the fallen woman that permeates the 19th century novel, to the performances of awesome vengeance in Hedda Gabler and Medea, women heroines often take the brunt of society’s censure of “inappropriate” passion. The protagonists (both male and female) are always marked by their difference, which is often based on their willingness to confront society. They are somehow smarter, more interesting, more confused, and more demanding than everyone else. These tales inspire agile reading practices that incorporate an understanding of authorial, cultural and historical pressures at work in the formation of the text.

In this course, you will be expected to write in a number of ways: 1) a 5-6 page paper and a 7-8 page research paper, both of which will be extensively edited and re-written, 2) one-page response papers, and 3) in-class freewriting. In addition, you will be responsible for group presentations on literary and historical issues that will be assigned in the beginning of the semester.

Heinrich von Kleist, The Marquise von O-(reader)

Theodore Fontane, Effie Briest ISBN-13: 978-0140447668

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice (reader)

Kate Chopin, The Awakening (reader)

Hinrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler ISBN-13: 978-0486264691

Euripedes, Medea ISBN-13: 978-0872209237

Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road ISBN-13: 978-0375708442

Selected Poetry (reader)

Lunsford/Connors, The Everyday Writer ISBN-13: 978-0312413231

Gardner, Writing About Literature: A Portable Guide, ISBN-13 978-0312607579

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.028: Narrative Unbound

R1B:28
Tu/Th 8-9:30
332 Giannini
CCN 17515
Brian Clancy

What are the different binary oppositions that terms like representation and fiction tend to set up and how do different texts, and the novel in particular attempt to free our analytical thinking from oppositions like fiction vs. non-fiction and art vs. reality? How might we begin to understand the relationship between language and the world without seeing these respective spaces as being easily juxtaposed or spaces that are easily set apart? In this course, we wish to expand our understanding of the concept of fiction beyond the idea of stories about the world, plots with easily recognizable parts, as well as stories that make complete sense. How can we think about narrative beyond the idea of a story? In this course we will learn that the creative productions of fictional art are oftentimes quite vast in their scope while also seeing why it is difficult to set clear boundaries for what a literary text is about. We also hope to explore how literary form shifts dramatically over time. Beginning with texts in antiquity and the medieval period, this course will examine debates over concepts like mimesis, the transition from epic narrative into other literary forms, vernacular language, meta-narrative, and in particular the relationship between fictional language and the novel form, with an emphasis on novels written in the 20thcentury.

Early in the course we hope to gain familiarity with different viewpoints on concepts like mimesis, plot, narrative temporality, verbal poetical structure, and the problem of referentiality. We will also examine throughout the course novelistic techniques such as characterization, narrative unreliability, and represented speech and thought. Here we will also consider the relationship between narrative and the representation of time, the relationship between fiction and epistemology, while examining historical shifts in the way in which the reader approaches narrative art epistemologically in the 20th century, with a particular focus later in the course on developments in the novel form during the 1920’s.

Course texts:

Aristotle, Poetics

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

James Joyce, Ulysses

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Franz Kafka, The Trial

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.029: Speak of the Devil: Representing the Devil in Literature

Instructor: Jordan Greenwald

R1B:29
MWF 11-12:00
81 Evans
CCN 17524
J. Raisch and J. Greenwald

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”

-Proverb (Unknown Origin)

In this class, we’ll explore encounters with the devil in novels, poetry, film, music, and drama. By tracing the literary tradition of representing the devil, we will examine various incarnations of the diabolic, from byronic hero, to cunning deceiver, to the embodiment of evil’s pervasive everyday power. Where does our conception of the devil originate? What contributes to the devil’s allure as a literary figure? What is at stake in representing the devil as a character? When does the devil cease to be literal and begin to be figural, and how do we understand this distinction? How does the idea of the devil manifest itself in a contemporary context? We’ll address these, and many other questions, through class discussion and written assignments.

Course Catalog Number:

R3B.001: Roots/Routes/Ruptures: Experiences of Travel in and from Latin America

Instructor: Karina Palau

CL R3B:1
Tu/Th 9:30-11:00
224 Wheeler
CCN 17281
K. Palau

Course Description: From Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of the Americas to ongoing debates about immigration and labor, travel has played a significant role in Latin America’s story.  But what does it mean to travel? How does the experience of ‘taking a trip’ being ‘out of place,’ or encountering a ‘visitor’ have an impact on individuals, identities, and cultures?  How has Latin America been a site of travels in pursuit of personal roots and unchartered routes, but also a region touched by the unexpected ruptures that can emerge out of experiences of travel?

In this course, we will take these questions as a point of departure for our own semester-long journey through a rich body of materials, visual and literary, all of which touch on the theme of travel in and from Latin America.  Beginning with Columbus’ Segunda Carta, we will consider how travel and cultural contact were seminal to the way Latin America came to be constructed historically.  But we will also examine a number of materials that explore the possibility for travel to break open and re-negotiate these kinds of constructed histories and identities.

In our wanderings from descriptions of homecomings to touristy vacations, from journeys of ‘discovery’ to ethnographic missions, we will try to unpack the tensions inherent in questions of identity, movement, and the dynamics of cultural encounter that have played such an important role in shaping how the Latin American milieu has been both lived and imagined.

Course prerequisite: This is an intensive writing course that fulfills the second half of the University Reading & Composition (R&C) requirement and is designed to help you continue to refine skills taught in an R1A course. We will build on the skills taught in R1A and dedicate ample time to crafting our critical thinking and essay-writing skills, giving special attention to argumentation, analysis, and the basics of how to put together a strong and convincing academic paper.  We assume that you have completed R1A or the equivalent at another institution and that you come ready to write longer, more complex papers and engage more difficult texts than those assigned in R1A.

Language prerequisite: This is also a bilingual course designed to increase your language skills and familiarity with cultural production in Spanish.  Writing assignments will be in English, but we will read texts in the original and regularly conduct class discussions in Spanish. Students must have completed one of the following prerequisites: AP High School Spanish, score of 3 or higher on the AP Spanish exam, Spanish 4 or 25, or be a native Spanish speaker with adequate skills for the class.  A language exam will be given the first day of class.

Writing Assignments: One four-page diagnostic essay

One six-page paper (with rewrite)

One ten-page research paper (proceeded by outline & draft)

Frequent short writing assignments on thesis statement, close textual analysis, outlining, etc.

Possible Primary Readings and Viewings: (Please do not purchase books until after the first class session. We will read works originally in Portuguese in translation.)

 

Christopher Columbus’ Carta a Luis de Santángel

Peregrinaciones de una paria, Flora Tristán

Las Alturas de Macchu Picchu, Pablo Neruda

Los ríos profundos, José María Arguedas

“The Smallest Woman in the World,” Clarice Lispector

“El Etnógrafo,” and/or “El Sur,” Jorge Luis Borges

Selected poems by Nicolás Guillen

Photographs from Carl Lumholtz’ Unknown Mexico

Excerpts from The Motorcycle Diaries, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

Excerpts from O turista aprendiz, Mário de Andrade

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz

Babel, Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Theoretical Readings: Short selections from James Clifford’s Writing Culture and Routes, Mary Pratt’s Imperial Eyes, and works by Richard Rosa, Roland Barthes, and Lévi-Strauss

Course Catalog Number:

Undergraduate

60AC: Topics in the Literatures of American Cultures

The Imaginary West and the Making of American Identity

Instructor: Enrique Lima

CL 60AC:1,
MWF 11-12:00
215 Dwinelle
Professor Enrique Lima

In this course we will examine the development of “the West” as a historical and literary concept. We will investigate its role in the creation of American identities and as a space in which those identities may be contested and refigured. We will begin with Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous “frontier thesis.” The emptiness of the western frontier, argued Turner, was responsible for fostering the sense of individual responsibility that is at the core of American democracy. We will read Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop as a complicated rewriting of the West as the territory of self and national formation. Death Comes illustrates the ways in which the West has been configured as the productive place in which people of European descent become Americans. Unlike Turner, Cather does not empty the West of non-White peoples. She does, however, minimize the conflict that underwrote Western expansion. The effects of that historical process are at the heart of D’Arcy McNickle’s Wind from an Enemy Sky. McNickle’s novel is keenly interested in the effects of colonial subjugation on surviving native communities. The legacies of historical violence, McNickle suggests, continue to shape the lives of Native Americans. Just as conquest created Native America as we know it so too did it create the analogous place of Chicanos and Mexican-Americans as subjects that have been incorporated as external to the nation-state that is their home. Ramón Saldívar’s The Borderlands of Culture, Américo Paredes’ George Washington Gómez, and Helena Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus, one a critical/theoretical work, the other two novels, explore the meaning of the border on people of Mexican descent and on the very fabric of American culture. In the last section of the course we will turn to the history and aesthetics of violence as it relates to the West. Violence, Richard Slotkin argues in Regeneration Through Violence, is not just an Indian or a Mexican problem. Rather, he maintains, violence is one of the spiritual sources of American national identity broadly conceived. The western frontier has been conquered through violence and that violence, at once disavowed and sublimated, remains a determining feature of Americans’ vision of themselves. Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is a profound and aesthetically dense meditation on the role of frontier violence on American culture. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead is another. Almanac refuses to recognize any of the national borders that cut through the West as violent colonial inventions. The West, this course maintains, has a privileged position in the imaginary geography of U.S. nationalism. It has often been configured as the open space of possibility, the place where pure individualism has had the space to explore its limits. But this imaginary geography as the course’s readings will show has just as often come in conflict with the historical West as a colonized territory that continues to be contested by Native Americans, Mexicans, Latinos, and Anglos.

Course Catalog Number:

100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

University Fictions

CL 100:1
MWF 11-12:00
83 Dwinelle
CCN 17314
Professor Eric Naiman

In this course we will analytically and self-reflexively explore the genre of the academic or campus novel in its historical development and contemporary permutations. How have campus novels evolved and what can they tell us about our own anxieties and desires for academic experience? Although most of the texts we read will deal with the university campus, we will also look at some other settings, including the nursery school, boarding school and independent study. Texts will be chosen from works by Owen Johnson, Enid Blyton, Kingley Amis, David Lodge, Vladimir Nabokov, Muriel Spark, Shirley Jackson, Barry McCrae, Mary McCarthy, Gustave Flaubert, Zadie Smith, Shirley Jackson Jane Gallop and Jeffrey Eugenides.  Critical reading 2 papers, several shorter writing assignments.  Lots of reading, much of it enjoyable and all of it educational.

Reading List

1.Owen Johnson. Stover at Yale B004QZA2TE (ASIN), FQ Pub Books

Please note: “Stover at Yale” will not be available at the Cal Textbook Store.  We recommend that you purchase through Amazon or other vendor. This will be the first book read in class, so plan to purchase it in time for the beginning of the semester.

2. Tom Wolfe, I am Charlotte Simmons, ISBN-13: 978-0312424442, Picador

3. Mary McCarthy, The Groves of Academe, 978-0156027878, Mariner Books

4. Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin, 978-0679723417, Vintage

5. David Lodge,  Campus Trilogy. 978-0143120209,  Penguin

6. Elif Batuman, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, 0374532184, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

7. Jeffrey Eugenides, 978-0374203054, Farrar, Straus, Giroux

8. Jane Gallop Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, 978-0822319184, Duke UP

Course Catalog Number:

100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

“Saying I”. Constructing the Self in Western Literatures

CL 100:2
Tu/Th 11-12:30
251 Dwinelle
CCN 17317
Professor Frank Bezner

What does it imply to ‘say I’ in a literary work? In this course we will study the construction of the self in Western literature (Ancient to Modern) across a variety of epochs, genres, and authors, ranging from the earliest texts in which protagonists tell about themselves (Homer, Odyssey) via foundational autobiographical texts as Augustine (Confessions), Rousseau (Confessions), or Nabokov (Speak Memory) to more complex constructions where author and character are identical, but situated in a clearly fictional realm.

Key questions that will interest us include the relationship between self-narratives and literary genres or typical plots; the differences between inventing and disclosing a self; the tensions between memory/imagination and ‘truth’; the rhetorics of authenticity; the social, political, and cultural conditions that create the epistemic space for an ‘inner self’ to be revealed.

We will also read some seminal texts from the theoretical literature on the self (M. Foucault; J. Butler) and use S. Smith/J. Watson (eds.), Reading Autobiography. A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives.

All texts will be read in English translation, but students are encouraged to study the works written in ‘their’ language(s) in the original. Most theoretical texts will be made available via bspace.

Course requirements: two to three papers; active participation in class; keeping a reading journal; final exam.

Course Catalog Number:

112B: Modern Greek Composition

M/W/F 12:00-01:00 125 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

MWF 12-1:00
125 Dwinelle
CCN 17320
Maria Kotzamanidou

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: Comparative Literature 112A or consent of the instructor.

A reader for the course is prepared by the instructor.

Course Catalog Number: 17320

151: The Ancient Mediterranean World

History of Sexualities

Instructor: Leslie Kurke

CL 151:1
MWF 1-2:00, 213 Wheeler
CCN: 17232
L. Kurke

Discussion Sections:

Sec 1, F 1-2:00,  206 Dwinelle
Sec 2, F 1-2:00 109 Wheeler
Sec 3, F 2-3:00 2221 Wheeler

Course is also listed as Classics 161. Comp Lit Students can take this course to satisfy either the Historical Period Requirement or the Classical Literature for the major (but not both).  If possible Comp Lit Students should  enroll in discussion section 1, F 1-2:00 in 206 Dwinelle, but if this is not possible enroll in any discussion section for the course.

This course will study sexuality and gender in two very different historical periods–ancient Greece and 19th-century Europe.  Sexuality will be defined as including sexual acts (e.g. sodomy, pederasty, masturbation); sexual identities (e.g. erastes and eromenos); and sexual systems (e.g. kinship structures, subcultures, political hierarchies).  Readings and lectures will focus on situating queer sexualities relative to dominant organizations of sex and gender.  Topics will include Greek democracy and male homosexuality; the biology of sexual difference; the politics of sodomy; “romantic” friendship between women and men; and the emergence of strictly defined homosexual and heterosexual identities.  We will read literary texts along with historical documents and secondary readings to constitute a comparative analysis of ancient Greece and 19th-century Europe.

Authors to be read include Hesiod, Sappho, Aeschylus, Plato, Wilde, Freud, and Foucault.

There will be two papers and a final exam.  There will also be required weekly reading questions that will count towards your final grade.

Course Catalog Number:

155: The Modern Period

Kafka and World Literature

CL 155:1
Tu/Th 2-3:30
255 Dwinelle
CCN 17326
Professor Saskia Ziolkowski

Also listed as Italian Studies 117 (4 units)

“Kafka and World Literature” explores ongoing debates about what world literature means through the lens of Kafka, who has played a significant role in them. From the earlier works that Kafka re-imagined, including the Odyssey, Don Quixote, and David Copperfield, to works that in some way react to or adapt Kafka’s work, this course will examine the ideas of world literature, literary traditions, and influence. Using different genres and media, such as film (Federico Fellini’s Intervista) and graphic novels (Art Spiegelman’s Maus) and authors from Europe (Svevo, Robbe-Grillet and Gogol), North America (Philip Roth), South America (Borges, Márquez, and Lispector), and Asia (Kobo Abe) the course covers a wide range of works which will aid the class in our discussion of world literature and Kafka’s work itself. This course invites students both to compare texts as well as to question what is lost and gained when comparing works across time periods, languages, and genres.

Course Requirements: Active participation, frequent short responses, three short papers.

Texts:

Required Texts:

Franz Kafka, The Sons 0805208860

Franz Kafka, Amerika: The Man who Disappeared 0811215695

Franz Kafka, The Trial 0805209999

Clarice Lispector, Passion according to G.H. 0816617120

Gabriel García Márquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold 140003471X

Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Sand Dunes 0679733787

Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jealousy 080215106X

Philip Roth, The Breast 0679749012

Art Spiegelman, Maus 0394747232

Suggested (the parts required will be available on-line):

Albert Camus, The Stranger 0679720200

Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote 0060934344

J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello 0142004812

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield 0679783415

Elfriede Jelinek, The Piano Teacher 0802144616

Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories 0805210555

R. Crumb’s Kafka 1560978066

W.G. Sebald, Vertigo 0811214850

Italo Svevo, Zeno’s Conscience 0375727760

Course Catalog Number:

156: Fiction and Culture of the Americas

Transnational Indigeneity and the Novel in the Americas

Instructor: Enrique Lima

CL 156:1
MWF 1-2:00
251 Dwinelle
CCN 17329
Professor Enrique Lima

The representation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas is one of the central issues of the literature of the hemisphere. From the need to justify and rationalize the genocide and displacement of native peoples, to the persistence of an ambivalent fascination with Indians, to the aesthetic experimentation with native epistemologies, and, finally, to the contemporary reassessment of Native social and literary history, the broad geographic and historical distribution of the contested representations of indigeneity is crucial for understanding the literature of the Americas. The novel, the great narrative form of capitalist modernity, has been equally at home in capital’s peripheries. Urban spaces and rural “backwardness,” free market relations and coerced labor, social progress and in Roberto Schwarz’ words “the regressive potentialities of modernization,” the plasticity of American—used here in the hemispheric sense—novel has been capable of representing such extremes. In this course we will read South, Central, and North American novelists in order to examine the relationship between the representation of indigeneity and the development of the novel in the Americas.

Possible readings include: James Fenimore Cooper Last of the Mohicans, José María Arguedas Deep Rivers, Rosario Castellanos The Nine Guardians, Victor Montejo Mr. Putison’s Adventures Among the Maya, D’Arcy McNickle The Surrounded, and Louise Erdrich Tracks.

Course Catalog Number:

171: Topics in Modern Greek Literature

Fascism and Fiction: Re-defining the Modern Greek Historical Novel in the 20th Century

Comparative Literature 171
F 2-5:00
125 Dwinelle
CCN 17332
M. Kotzamanidou

This course examines certain aspects of the relationship between fascism and Greek fiction. From the 1930’s to the 1970’s, Greece experienced three different repressive fascist regimes: The dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas, the (Nazi) Occupation, and the military dictatorship of 1967. Fiction writers, dealing with that period, use prose fiction, particularly the novel, in order to make sense of the violent historical events and changes in political and social thought during those years. Trapped between exalting leftist ideologies and repressive fascism, the fiction of these writers points toward the theoretical perspectives of New and Modern Historicism which are being used as a reaction to repressive power structures. Thus, the position of these authors forces them to re-define the ways of writing historical and political fiction and ultimately to explore new aspects in the relationship between history and the novel.

Readings in history and theory are available in English.

Literary materials are available in Greek and in English translation.

Films chosen for the course are subtitled in English.

Course Catalog Number:

190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

Episodes From Modern Poetry: The New York School In International Dialogue

Instructor: Robert Kaufman

CL 190:2
Mon 2-5:00
204 Dwinelle
17338
Professor R. Kaufman


[Note: Students enrolling in this seminar will be assumed to have experience with the close reading and analysis of poetic form, content, and context, and to be at least somewhat familiar with  the main lines or moments in American poetry’s 19th-20thC. development, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, through the modernism  of  Eliot, Pound, Stevens, Moore, Hughes, Brooks, et al, the postmodernism of the Plath, Lowell, Sexton, the Beats, etc. ]

This seminar will center on the work of the poets of what’s popularly called “The New York School”  (initially meant to connect the poetry to “New York  School”  Abstract  Expressionist and post-Abstract Expressionist painting).  Perhaps more than any other grouping within post-1945 American poetry, the New York School has–controversially–been termed “The Last Avant-Garde,” in the specific sense of being deemed the last trend within experimental American poetry to have captured “mainstream” attention and admiration. The New York School poets have in some ways become legendary: John Ashbery has pulled off the trick of consistently emerging, over the last few decades, at the heart of debates about “who is America’s `greatest’ living poet?” and as a favorite case study in the “difficulty” or “obscurity” of modern and contemporary poetry; Frank O’Hara’s poetry has, for better or worse, been seen to constitute an oeuvre that manages to seem simultaneously hip, spontaneous, accessible, and yet brilliant, philosophically weighty, and culturally (also perhaps politically) provocative; Barbara Guest  has been repeatedly mentioned as one of postmodern America’s most innovative, rigorous practitioners and re-makers of lyric art’s forms and structures and ambition to capture social experience that might otherwise escape apprehension; while James Schuyler has become a model for crystalline figurings of how the temporal experience of everyday life can yield genuine philosophical complexity.

We’ll begin the seminar with brief but crucial readings in one of the international sources for much–though by no means all–of the New York School’s poetic education: the tradition of modern French poetry and poetics that extends from Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, and Mallarmé through the French surrealists; readings will be mostly of the English translations of these poets, though we’ll work with facing-page French/English editions, and we’ll pay some attention to the prosody of the original French texts. [Students will not be required to have reading knowledge of French,] We’ll then spend the bulk of the semester closely and carefully reading the poetry and criticism of and about the above-mentioned New York School poets (with special emphasis on poetic form and its experimental attempts to engage sociopolitical, cultural, and historical reality, and on the question of what does–or doesn’t–make certain kinds of poetry or poetic form aesthetically, socially, culturally, or politically “avant-garde”). Via the New York School’s own writings and other texts of criticism, theory, and aesthetics, we’ll think about New York School poetry’s relations to the French, British, and American poetry that precedes and influences it, as well as its conversations with the international poetry (and related art) contemporaneous with it, from the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Europe.  We’ll spend significant time thinking about the importance of Abstract Expressionist and post-Abstract Expressionist painting to the New York School poets, and we’ll therefore look at some of that painting and the art criticism and theory that has engaged it, including art criticism by the New York School poets themselves.  Finally, we’ll glance at the “second generation and after” New York School poets, as well as poets adjacent to and in conversation with the New York School, including Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Bill Berkson (who’ll visit our seminar), Bernadette Mayer, Ron Padgett, Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, and Eileen Myles.

Course Catalog Number:

190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

Traveling Fictions

CL 190:1
Mon 2-5:00
6331 Dwinelle
CCN 17335
Professor B. Spackman

This course will examine a selection of travel narratives within the context of contemporary postcolonial theory and “mobility studies.”  Throughout the course, we will be acquainting ourselves with recent theoretical work on travel, Orientalism, and tourism.  Readings of primary texts will begin with a glance backward to Marco Polo’s thirteenth-century account of his travels to the East and Columbus’s account of what he thought was his voyage to the East, as well the early modern accounts of the voyages of discovery by Bartolome de Las Casas and Jean de Léry. We will then shift to a selection of modern travel narratives, both fictional and non-fictional.  Questions to be addressed include: the relation between power and the production of knowledge as it manifests itself in such narratives; intertextuality and its ideological effects; modes of representation of racial, cultural, historical, and sexual otherness.   How does travel contribute to the construction of a place called “home,” and how might it disrupt that construction? What happens to Orientalist discourse when the Orientalist who enters and exits the harem happens to be a woman? What fantasy compels Europeans to find “cannibalism” in the East and the New World, over and over again? Authors read will include Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Bartolome de Las Casas, Jean de Léry, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Mark Twain, Xavier de Maistre, and Italo Calvino.  We will also read theoretical work by Said, Greenblatt, Culler, Kaplan, Pratt, Hulme, and others.

Course Catalog Number:

Graduate

202B: Approaches to Genre: Lyric Poetry

The Lyric – A View from the Margins

CL 202B:1
Tu 2-5:00
225 Dwinelle
CCN 17374
Professor Chana Kronfeld

This seminar will focus on lyrical poetry produced in the margins – or outside of — the modern Anglo-European canon in order to call into question static typological theories of genre, as well as what may be a majoritarian, heteronormative or Eurocentric set of biases behind contemporary attacks on the lyric as solipsistic, apolitical “personal expression.” Participants will draw on their own cultural and linguistic specialties to compile a multi-lingual course Reader of modern lyrical poetry marginalized by gender, sexuality, class, race, place or language. My own contribution to the readings will include selections from bilingual anthologies of Yiddish and Hebrew poetry, and examples of biblical poetry as an alternative model of the lyric, in which the distinction between the personal and the collective, the political and the “apolitical” is rendered meaningless. Through a series of historically and linguistically informed close readings, we will examine both standard and non-normative theoretical studies of the lyric, maintaining a critical awareness of the extent to which our paradigm examples affect our understanding of the genre. Questions we may want to ask include: How does the view from the margins problematize such western commonplaces as the coherence and authority of the lyrical “I,” the subject-object divide, the dichotomy between apostrophe and address, the conflation of the “lyrical” and “subjective” with the “feminine,” or the lyric’s purported freedom — or flight! — from the historical and the social?

Requirements: The seminar group will compile a Reader of modern lyrics as well as cultural and theoretical background materials relevant for the participants’ different languages of specialization. 1 in-class presentation and 1 seminar paper. COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS WILL BE ENCOURAGED.

Reading List:

1. Selections from: The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse (bilingual anthology), eds. Irving Howe, Ruth R. Wisse & Khone Shemruk. New York: Penguin, 1988. (Out of print; photocopy available at Instant Copying and Laser Printing).

2. The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, trans. Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996; paperback edition (available online for UC students). Hebrew readers will be supplied with the Hebrew texts.

3. The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poems (bilingual anthology), eds. Shirley Kaufman, Galit Hasan-Rokem and Tamar Hess, New York: Feminist Press, 1999.

Course Catalog Number:

212: Studies in Medieval Literature

Alien Worlds in Medieval Literature

Instructor: Niklaus Largier

CL 212:1
Th 2-5:00
225 Dwinelle
CCN 17377
Professor Niklaus Largier

Also listed as German 205

In this seminar we will read and discuss a range of medieval texts where the reader encounters the construction, the imagination, and the experience of alien, fantastic, imaginary, sanctified, and abject worlds. Texts will include visions, courtly novels, and travel narratives. Questions will focus on the figuration of the foreign, the construction of borders and distinctions, the work of the imagination, and the function of the imagination of the alien. A preliminary reading list might include: Visio Tnugdali, Wolfram’s Parzival, Hartmann’s Iwein, Mandeville’s travels, Herzog Ernst. Depending on student interest, we will finalize the list at the beginning of the semester. Students are encouraged to send me their ideas. Everyone should have read Wolfram’s Parzival either in German or in English translation by the first week of class.

Course Catalog Number:

215: Studies in Renaissance Literature

The Languages of the Renaissance, or Multilinguism and Modernity

Instructor: Timothy Hampton

CL 215
Wed 2-5
125 Dwinelle
CCN: 17380
Profs. Albert R. Ascoli and Timothy Hampton

 

Also offered as Italian Studies 215 (4 units only)

 

SEMINAR IN RENAISSANCE LITERATURE AND CULTURE

 

 

 

The period that we now (usually) call the Renaissance saw the emergence of the modern “national” vernacular languages and literatures as vehicles of “high culture” and socio-political institutions.  It also witnessed a movement, usually known as humanism, dedicated to the recovery, study, and appropriation of the ancient languages—first “classical” Latin (as against the ecclesiastical idiom that had emerged over the course of the middle ages), then Greek, eventually Hebrew, “Chalcydean,” and other tongues. The problem of language in the Renaissance touches every aspect of life: the relations between the social classes, the interactions between Church and an increasingly prominent “secular” domain, the discourse of nationhood and ethnic identity, the encounters—imperializing, missionary, or otherwise—with non-European populations, and so on and on. In this course we will introduce the question of Renaissance multilingualism as it emerges historically (from Dante’s early defense, in Latin, of the “illustrious vernacular” as political and poetic language to the contemptuous ‘push-back’ of Latin humanism, to the emergence of prestige vernacular literatures—still modeled on the classics—in the sixteenth century); as it affects different geographical areas differently, while constituting the vehicle of communication between them (most notably, Italy, France, Spain, England, Germany); and as it permeates the most fundamental aspects of individual and collective life (religion; law; colonialism; class-relations; court-culture; and so on and on). At the heart of the course throughout will be the encounters among multiple languages within the experience and writing of key individuals and groups.  We will be interested, not only in the literary implications for major writers of the new linguistic multiplicity that haunts the Renaissance, but also in the institutions and agents that help shape the emergence of linguistic variety–copyists, printers, ambassadors, mariners, vagabonds. Among the authors whom we might consider, depending on the makeup of the group and the contours of our discussions, will be: Dante, Petrarch, St. Catherine,  Alberti, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Rabelais,  Du Bellay, Garcilaso, Luther, Wyatt, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Cervantes

Course Conducted in English

 

Reading Knowledge of Italian, French, Spanish, or Latin desirable

Course Requirements: Students are expected to attend and participate regularly.  There will be occasional in-class presentations and some shorter writing assignments.  The principal assignment for the course is a research paper of ca. 6000 words (20-25 pages), an advanced draft of which will be presented to the seminar during the final weeks of the semester.  Topics must be closely related to the concerns of the course although they may focus on authors, texts and issues not directly treated in seminar.

Course Catalog Number:

250: Studies in Literary Theory

Literature and Indexical Meaning: The Uses of Novels

Instructor: Michael Lucey

C L 250:1, Studies in Literary Theory
Mon 2-5:00
125 Dwinelle
CCN 17383
Professor Michael Lucey

In this seminar we will be pursuing those aspects of meaning that occur not “in” texts but in between them – meaning that is to be found in the uses that  texts make of other texts, and that readers make of texts, in the histories that accumulate around texts and their different uses, in the histories also of their transmission and circulation.

We could say that during the seminar we will investigate the ground between two assertions Bakhtin makes in “The Problem of Speech Genres.”  Early in that essay he comments: “the novel as a whole is an utterance just as rejoinders in everyday dialogue or private letter are.”  A bit later he observes: “Utterances are not indifferent to one another, and are not self-sufficient; they are aware of and mutually reflect one another . . . . Every utterance must be regarded primarily as a response to preceding utterances . . . . Each utterance refutes, affirms, supplements, and relies on the others, presupposes them to be known, and somehow takes them into account.”  We will thus be interested in the particular kinds of “conversations” that link text-utterance to text-utterance, texts to users, texts to the uses that come to be made of them.  Reconstructing those conversations will involve us in careful thinking about different dynamic forms of contextualization, and about what is referred to as the indexical functioning of language: the way language produces meaning not simply semantically, but by drawing on other, prior uses of language.

Specifically, we will think about how novels make use of other novels through a reading of a set of novels that could be said to be mutually involved in a number of different conversations: about novelistic form, about the ambitions novels might have to be instruments of knowledge, about the kinds of knowledge novels might want to be able to produce.  We’ll be particularly interested in sociological and aesthetic forms of knowledge and the relations novels produce between them.

The novels we will look at are Scott’s Waverley, Balzac’s Les Chouans, Cooper’s The Pilot, Eliot’s Felix Holt, Proust’s A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleur, and Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.  (You are welcome to read in translation.)  We’ll accompany our reading of the novels with readings of a wide range of theorists and critics including Bakhtin, Lukács, Benedict Anderson, Franco Moretti, Catherine Gallagher, Margaret Cohen and others.

This seminar meets on Monday afternoons, and because of the spring semester schedule, there are only 12 Mondays on which we are scheduled to meet (instead of the usual 14).  So that we can start right in working on the material of the seminar at the first meeting, would interested students please begin reading Scott’s Waverley (Penguin) and also read Bakhtin’s essay, “The Problem of Speech Genres”, before the first class meeting?  Bakhtin’s essay is in the volume Speech Genres & Other Late Essays. You can also contact Professor Lucey if you’d like him to provide a pdf file to you.

Course Catalog Number:

265: Gender, Sexuality, and Culture

Queer Ecologies

Instructor: Anne-Lise Francois

CL 265:1
Fri 2-5:00
233 Dwinele
CCN 17386
Professor Anne-Lise Francois

 

A comparative course exploring the intersections of literature, psychoanalysis, queer studies, and environmental studies.

Popular environmentalist discourse is often portrayed as the province of misanthropes, lonely-hearts and “kill-joys,” whose “downer” ethics can only be articulated in the negative—as the demand to curb and curtail hedonistic consumption.   This course asks about the odd place of pleasure and desire in environmental literature broadly defined. What kinds of “romances” can be sustained with something called “nature” or with particular places or nonhuman others?  We will give special attention to stories that deviate from the dominant myth of an original fall from paradise and lost plenitude, and that re-imagine ideas of normalcy, home, and community.  Drawing on the multiple senses of “queer,” from its contemporary usage as a term for same-sex sexual orientation to its older meanings (“odd,” “deviant,” “of questionable character,” “oblique”), we will look at texts that break the normative yoking of sexuality to reproduction and offer alternatives lines of transmission and inheritance. We will compare different ways of thinking the relation between “madness” and “civilization” and of imagining community between humans and with other living beings.  We will also examine the surprising convergence of figures of secrecy, shame and lack—from “the gay closet” to the idea of nature as an “open secret”—in queer, gender and environmental studies.

Readings by Bersani, Butler, Carson, Coleridge, Darwin, Deleuze, Edelman, Erikson, Foucault, Freud, Hadot, Haraway, Jewett, Kropotkin, Morton, Malthus, Ovid, Rousseau, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Silverman, Thoreau, Winnicott, William Wordsworth.

Films by Hitchcock, Ang Lee, Herzog, Varda.

Course Catalog Number: