Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.001: What Makes a Classic?

T/Th 4:00-5:30 41 Evans Instructor: Jonathan Rowan

When we say that a work of literature is a “classic,” we mean that it has a special status in a culture: it is widely recognized as excellent or important, and its power to interest and delight is proven and expected to endure. In this course we will read and discuss classic works of literature of different periods, cultures, and genres (short stories, novellas, plays, and poems) with an eye toward explaining why they have this status. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17203

R1A.002: Stop Making Sense

T/Th 8:00-9:30 243 Dwinelle Instructor: Alex Brostoff Paco Brito

What does it mean to make sense of literature? Aren’t literary texts precisely those that don’t make immediate sense? Or are they perhaps those that can be made sense of in too many ways? To what degree must we draw on common sense and our shared senses when we read? And to what extent do our particular sensibilities and sensitivities shape our experience of literature? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17206

R1A.003: A Portrait of the Artist

FRI 11-1 4326 Dwinelle Instructor: Paul De Morais

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist,
will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”

—Émile Zola
While literature classes often touch on the relationship between the artist and his or her literary work of art, this class will focus especially on how artists reflect upon themselves as artists through their art. What happens when the subject of a literary work becomes the artist him or herself? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17209

R1A.004: Adventure Fiction

T/Th 9:00-11:30 2 Evans Instructor: Jessica Crewe

Tales of travelers questing across the globe have been a cornerstone of popular culture from Homer’s Odyssey to Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yet, while these adventure narratives continue to seduce large audiences, we must also consider the political and social ramifications of such texts. What ethical problems might authors face in trying to represent foreignness and “the exotic”? How does the notion of “adventure” become part of imperialist and nationalist projects from the eighteenth century to now? How do competing twentieth-century empires (such as those in Japan, China, and Britain) conceive of themselves — and of one another — differently? Is adventure a gendered enterprise? And how do contemporary writers rewrite and reconfigure earlier adventure narratives? We will consider these questions (among many) through active class discussion and regular writing assignments. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17212

R1B.001: The Empathy Archive: Literature, History, and Documentation

TU/TH 12:30-2 229 Dwinelle Instructor: Irina Popescu Nicole Jones

This class will be devoted to investigating the intersection between literature and history, especially as both relate to documenting global and local events. Empathy, or the ability to feel another, is a focal point for understanding the importance of literature and art as means of documenting pain, subjectivity, and individual stories. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17230

R1B.002: Architecture in and of Literature

MWF 11-12 243 Dwinelle Instructor: Layla Forrest-White Simone Stirner

In this course, we will look at the relationship between architecture and literature primarily through two different prepositions: first, in literature, as in the presence of the built environment, such as houses, buildings, roads, etc., in many different texts; second, of literature, as in the different structural forms of a variety of genres. What is the shape or space of the novel? How is a poem built—and how does it construct meaning? Naturally, we will also consider the two—in and of—together and examine ways in which they influence each other; how, for example, different forms of architecture have impacted different generic practices, and vice versa. Our readings take us from ancient Greece through the Paris of the 19th and 20th Century, from Virginia Woolf’s London to J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise. As this is an R1B class, writing is an essential component. In weekly workshops, students will have the opportunity to work on idea development, argumentative skills, and revision in smaller formats, with the semester’s efforts culminating in a 10-page research paper and its subsequent revision. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17233

R1B.003: Reading Illness

MWF 1-2 p.m Instructor: Johnathan Vaknin Amanda Siegel

We tend to think about illness in biological and epidemiological terms; much of our knowledge about health is communicated through the language of medicine and science—we look to doctors, pharmacists, nutritionists, and a range of other experts when seeking advice on how to lead a healthy life. But can science fully convey what it means to be ill? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17236

R1B.005: Which Lie Did I Tell? — Anatomy of Story—Hollywood and Literature

TuTh 5-6:30 79 Dwinelle Instructor: David Walter

In this course we pull out the guts of stories to try and understand how storytellers craft works that grip us. In the process we examine classic attempts to say what makes good storytelling and put to the test the idea that any story has certain “rules” that make it successful. We will analyze films, screenplays, novels and drama. One segment of the course will examine episodic story structure in the forms of epic and a season of television. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17242

R1B.006: Lost & Found in the American City

TU/TH 2-3:30 243 Dwinelle Instructor: Karina Palau

A Dominican-American writer who shuttles between New York and Santo Domingo while trying to piece together a story that haunts him. A poet who imagines the possibilities of a booming metropolis while riding an overcrowded ferry between Manhattan and Brooklyn. A nineteenth-century intellectual for whom the rise of urban centers in Argentina represents hope for civility, social order, and national prosperity. A photographer making art on the fringes of Rio de Janeiro, turning the city’s waste into portraits, and photojournalists who wander Mexico’s capital wiyh their cameras, capturing both the minute details and big stories of everyday city life. No matter how different, all these people produce and practice the city in some way: they write, they wander, they take photographs and ponder what their cities are and might become, all the while navigating urban space but also exploring the complexities of finding and losing histories, objects, and selves within it. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17245

R1B.007: Lost & Found in the City

TU/TH 9:30-11 243 Dwinelle Hall Instructor: Karina Palau Matthew Gonzales

A detective fiction author lost in the labyrinth of New York City’s streets. A transcendentalist poet who imagines the possibilities of a booming metropolis while riding an overcrowded ferry between Manhattan and Brooklyn. A nineteenth-century Argentine intellectual for whom the rise of urban centers represents hope for civility, social order, and national prosperity. A group of Chicano/a artists whose “hit-and-run” art tactics and play with public space reconfigure the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. Photojournalists who wander Mexico’s capital with their cameras, capturing both the minute details and big stories of everyday city life. Who—and what—gets lost and found in the city? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17248

R1B.008: Fictions of Technology, Science and Society

TuTh 3:30-5pm 243 Dwinelle Instructor: Kfir Cohen Molly Bronstein

In this course we will develop writing and argumentative skills through exploring theoretical and imaginative texts that revolve around technology, science and social order. We will read texts that take up the questions of artificial intelligence and human attachment (Ex-Machina), the relation between justice and techniques of scientific prediction (Foundation, Minority Report), and time travel (The Time Machine) among others. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17251

R1B.009: Fictions of Technology, Science and Society

TU/TH 12:30-2 105 Dwinelle Instructor: Kfir Cohen

In this course we will develop writing and argumentative skills through exploring theoretical and imaginative texts that revolve around technology, science and social order. We will read texts that take up the questions of artificial intelligence and human attachment (Ex-Machina), the relation between justice and techniques of scientific prediction (Foundation, Minority Report), and time travel (The Time Machine) among others.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17254

R1B.010: Fatal Attraction: Understanding Obsessive Love in Literature and Film

TU/TH 11-12:30 210 Dwinelle Instructor: Ma’ayan Sela

The topic of obsession, primarily in the context of [romantic] love, is extremely prevalent in literature, film, and popular culture. Authors and artists of various modes, genres, and historical periods often utilize the idea of obsession in order to produce works that are both aesthetically affective and, in some senses, universally interesting and relatable. In this class, we will be engaging with texts that grapple with the complexities of obsession, from “ordinary” unrequited love to murderous jealousy and rage. What is the relationship between obsessive love and artistic creation? What is it about the topic of obsession that allows an interesting and engaging narrative to unfold? This class will explore these and similar questions, drawing on works by (among others) Nabokov, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, and Alfred Hitchcock. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17257

R1B.011: The Real Thing

TU/TH 12:30-2 39 Evans Instructor: Ashley Brock

Once considered primarily a form of education and/ or propaganda, the documentary film is enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the 21st century as a form of entertainment and art. In an age crazed with reality television and celebrity biographies, the documentary genre throws into relief a number of questions that have long animated literature, photography, and film: What does it mean to show a life “as it really is”, to tell a story “as it really happened”? How can authenticity be measured and proven, and what responsibility does a storyteller have to do so? What are the ethical demands and pitfalls of telling someone else’s story, and how are these related to the fraught quests for objectivity, authenticity, and fidelity to “the truth”? Where does the line between art and document lie? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17260

R1B.012: Outlaw Literature

Tu/Th 8-9:30 205 Dwinelle Instructor: Carli Cutchin

“Every account of the origins of the state starts from the premise that “we”—not we the readers but some generic we so wide as to exclude no one—participate in its coming into being. But the fact is that the only “we” we know—ourselves and the people close to us—are born into the state; and our forebears too were born into the state as far back as we can trace. The state is always there before we are. . . . Those who chose and choose to stay outside the compact become outlaw.” –J.M. Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17263

R1B.013: What’s Next? Reading (and Watching) a Series

TU/TH 9:30-11 214 Haviland Hall Instructor: Diana Thow

Some say that the TV series has recently supplanted the novel as America’s great art form, echoing the critic Brett Martin’s claim that the TV series has become, “the signature American art form of the first decade of the 21st century” in his book Difficult Men. But this idea of a series or sequential work of art can be traced back much earlier than the 21st century. This class will examine the idea of the series and the broader concept of seriality from a wide range of national cultures and genres (poetry, prose, radio, TV, as well as visual works of art and graphic novels) in an attempt to better understand and analyze this popular art form.  How do we analyze a serial work of art?  What challenges and questions does a longer sequence bring to the practice of close reading and analysis?  How does our approach to reading a series change from genre to genre?  How do authors use anticipation to construct their narratives?  » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17266

R1B.014: Breaking Rules: Desire and Transgression in Literature

TU/TH 11-12:30 51 Evans Hall Instructor: Adeline Tran

If, as Judith Butler suggests, “to desire is to err, but to err necessarily,” how can we tell when desire is a necessary, productive deviation from the norm, and when it becomes a dangerous, counter-productive force? In this course, we will explore the uneasy relationship between desire and the “erring” away from, or transgression of national, social, cultural, and sexual boundaries. How do we distinguish between “healthy” or “normal” desire and “deviant” or “abnormal” desire? Is it possible to err too far if we desire too strongly? In what ways does desire dictate the formation of the boundaries of one’s own self? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17269

R1B.015: Bestiary: A Menagerie of Literary Animals

T/Th 11:00-12:30 104 Dwinelle Instructor: Bristin Jones

What would you do if you fell madly and deeply in love with an iguana? How about if you started vomiting bunnies? How would you react if you turned into an axolotl after staring at it too much at the zoo? And if everyone around you started turning into rhinoceroses, would you yearn to do the same? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17272

R1B.016: The Wide World of Genre

T/Th 12:30-2:00 Dwinelle 209 Instructor: Howard Fisher Danny Luzon

If one accepts that all language is conventional, how do authors continually manage to produce literary works that have the power to charm and surprise us? This course approaches the question by addressing one conventional dimension of literary works: genre. Rather than tracing a single literary genre through its formation, development, and dissolution, this course considers several genres (the family tragedy, the gothic novel, the noir film) side by side to get at whether one can distinguish how they are generic. Is it the case that works of the same genre are necessarily concerned with the same subject matter? Do they share a typical structure? A certain look? A set of techniques for making meaning? Convey a special feeling? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17275


100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Desire and Narrative

TU/TH 12:30-2 3107 Etcheverry Instructor: Barbara Spackman

This course will examine the relation between narrative and desire in a selection of works from various historical periods, national traditions, and genres.  Questions to be considered include:How do desires generate narratives? How do narratives produce desiring subjects? How might desire interrupt narrative?  Does desire have a gender? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17311

152: Medieval Literature

MW4-5:30 175 Dwinelle Instructor: Annalee Rejhon

The course will present a survey of major works of medieval literature from some of the principal literary traditions of the Middle Ages, with an emphasis on epic and on Arthurian romance. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17317

170: Dramas of Queer Kinship

TU/TH 11-12:30 160 Dwinelle Instructor: Judith Butler

This course will consider the contemporary and queer fate of three Greek tragedies, Sophocles’ Oedipus, the King and Antigone, and Euripides’, The Bacchae. In our readings, we will pay attention to how “tragic” consequences take place when the actions of characters deviate from kinship norms or when kinship relations are not recognized. We will consider as well how queer rewritings of tragic scenes seek to generate alternative ways of thinking about non-normative kinship.  Are all forms of non-normative kinship tragic? What are the conditions under which we come to recognize new forms of kinship that do not lead only to tragic consequences?  The course will pair Greek tragedies with writings, films, and plays by James Baldwin, Colm Toibin, James Baldwin, Tony Kushner, Alison Bechdel, Monique Wittig, and Octavia Butler, among others. We will also read some theoretical essays on tragedy and queer kinship, including texts from anthropology, feminist philosophy and psychoanalysis, and consider contemporary films that replay – and rework – key themes of tragic kinship and queer life. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17323

190: Frankfurt School Aesthetics, Literary Theory, and Criticism

W 2-5 183 Dwinelle Instructor: Robert Kaufman

This senior seminar will offer students an introductory overview, as well as in-depth engagement with, the work in aesthetics, literary theory, and criticism developed by the Frankfurt School.  “The Frankfurt School” was the term eventually coined to identify a core group of intellectuals working in and around the Institute for Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung), founded in 1923 and affiliated to this day (except for its exile during and in the immediate aftermath of the National Socialist/Nazi regime) with the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17329


202B: Paul Celan and Poetry in the Americas

TU 2-5 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Robert Kaufman

How, in our recent past and contemporary moment, might a groundbreaking body of poetry—radically innovative in form and content, with great international resonance, and widely perceived to have “gone for broke,” as Theodor W. Adorno famously put it—find its poetics taken up by poets and others artists of different languages, cultures, and sociopolitical situations? This seminar will consider a telling episode in the history of that emphatically comparatist question.  We’ll spend approximately the first half of the semester reading the German-language poet Paul Celan (1920-1970); in the latter part of the semester, we’ll read poetry from across the Americas that responds to Celan’s work, or that has been received in dialogue with it.  More of our American-poetry readings will come from the United States than any other individual country in the hemisphere; but we’ll also be reading a good deal of poetry from the Caribbean (French, Spanish, and English-speaking); from México, Argentina, and Chile; and from both English-speaking Canada and Québec. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17353

212/Art History 192 D1: Studies in Medieval Literature

Cultural Dynamics of Medieval Manuscripts

Th 2-5 308B Doe Library Instructor: Frank Bezner Beate Fricke

In this course we will study medieval and early-modern manuscripts as complex intersections of materiality, aesthetics, politics, and institutionality. In a first part, students will be introduced into the fundamentals of codicology, paleography, and manuscript illumination: a hands-on phase for which we will use real manuscripts from Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. In addition, we will discuss some seminal critical work on the cultural dynamics of manuscripts. After this introductory part, our class will explore selected cases and genres such as medieval bibles, books of hours, poetic anthologies, and manuscripts with scientific texts. In the third part of the course, students will pursue their own research in collaboration with the instructors.

Course Catalog Number: 17356

227: Studies in Contemporary Literature

Narrative, Description, Affect

W 2-5 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Dora Zhang

In his recent Antinomies of Realism, Frederic Jameson identifies an unresolvable tension in the realist novel between two impulses. One is familiar enough: it goes under the banner of récit, the tale, the story, or simply “narrative.” It’s characterized by a movement of progress and a temporality organized by past-present-future. The other impulse, which Jameson curiously calls “affect,” is everything that impedes this narrative movement. In his analysis this affective impulse is characterized by a dilatory, perpetual presentness, and its growing dominance in the later 19th century leads to the dissolution of realism into modernism. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17358

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

Media and Method through East Asia: Toward Interdisciplinary Modes of Knowledge

M 2-5 262 Dwinelle Instructor: Miryam Sas

How do media shape the way we see, hear, feel, read, and think about ourselves and the world? How do works of art teach us how to think about media? Does the “media turn” in the humanities cause us to rethink our methods of study? Drawing examples primarily from modern and contemporary East Asia, we will open new frames of reference for understanding literature, film, visual art, and digital media.  How does the “media lens” give us a new window on works that we may have studied for other reasons, or on questions that have been important—such as gender, nation and transnational relations, urban space and environment, race and ethnicity? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17359

298.004: The Fate of Nature in the Anthropocene: The Humanities and the Environmental Turn

Wednesdays 2-5 pm 220 Stephens Hall Instructor: Anne-Lise Francois Dan O’Neill Carolyn Merchant

The earth—as we know it today—may cease to exist in the future. With this possibility arises the pressing need to rethink nature in the Anthropocene—the era in which human activities have had a significant impact on the earth’s ecosystems, especially since the advent of James Watt’s steam engine in the late 1700s. The Fate of Nature in the Anthropocene Collaborative Research Seminar brings together faculty and graduate students from the humanities and environmental sciences to develop a theoretical framework for the environmental humanities and to examine possibilities for an integrated approach to the recent environmental turn in the humanities. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17374