Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.001: Book Learning: What Can Literature Teach Us?

Tu/Th 08:00-09:30 210 Dwinelle Instructor: Laura Wagner

Can a work of the imagination teach us anything about real life? Can literature make us better people or thinkers, and if so, how does it convey its moral or intellectual lessons? Or does it instead provide dangerous  temptations and immoral models, leading readers astray? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13918

R1A.003: Reflections on the Revolution

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 215 Dwinelle Instructor: Paco Brito Tara Phillips

What is the relationship between literature and revolution? Can works of art and literature address political reality in a way that journalism or nonfiction can’t?  Can political art be more than mere propaganda? What does it mean to call an idea, a work of art, or a scientific theory “revolutionary”? What is the connection between revolutionary aesthetics and revolutionary politics? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13920

R1A.004: Property and Possessions

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 204 Dwinelle Instructor: Matthew Gonzales

A group of Chicano/a artists spray paint the exterior of an art museum in protest of the museum’s exclusionary practices. An African-born woman writes poetry about the experience of becoming a slave.  The son of a dying woman journeys to a land of the dead hoping to meet his long-lost father and reclaim his inheritance.  A Native American man spends twenty-four hours trying to earn money to buy back a family heirloom. A black woman abandons her home and previous marriages in search of true love. What does it mean to own property? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13921

R1A.005: The Rhetoric (and Art) of the Manifesto

M/W/F 10:00-11:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Gabriel Page

“A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of communism.” So begins the most famous and consequential manifesto of history. Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto inaugurated a new genre of writing that has influenced countless other manifestos—as well as literary texts, artworks, and political movements of course—since its publication in 1848.  What is a manifesto? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13922

R1A.006: Haunted: Ghosts, Specters, and Revenants

M/W/F 11:00-12:00 210 Dwinelle Instructor: Vanessa Brutsche

What does it means for a text or an image to be “haunted” – by the dead, by past traumas, or by occluded memories? What do “supernatural” occurrences in literature and cinema tell us about the visible and the invisible, about the material and the spectral, about belief and disbelief, or about reality and the imagination? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13923

R1A.009: Transatlantic Journeys: Conquista, Exile, Immigration

Tu/Th 02:00-03:30 35 Evans Instructor: Aurelia Cojocaru

“America! I put the word on a page, it is my keyhole,” writes Russian-Jewish- American poet Ilya Kaminsky in a poem that describes his journey from the Soviet Union to America. In this class, we will read travelogues, essays, fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Europeans who have visited, settled in or even “conquered” America. What can these authors tell us about America that the locals do not notice? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13926

R1B.001: Histories of the Body: Modernity’s Classicism and Savagery

Tu/Th 12:30-02:00 234 Dwinelle Instructor: Wendi Bootes Christopher Scott

How do writers, artists, and social scientists construct bodies as archaic, classical, and savage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? How is the body a site on which questions of political and social power are negotiated in relation to the archaic and the primitive? How do bodies suffer and inflict violence within these constructions of power? How are bodies racialized and sexualized in relation to the classical and the savage? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13927

R1B.002: The Limits of Description

M/W/F 11:00-12:00 234 Dwinelle Instructor: Molly Bronstein

In this course, we will explore a variety of approaches to description, from Classical examples of ekphrasis (that is, vivid visual description), to modern renewals of the technique.  We will read descriptions of fictional artworks from antiquity (Homer’s Shield of Achilles, Ovid’s Pygmalion) alongside recent fictional re-imaginings of the art world (Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World).  » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13928

R1B.004: Silence

Tu/Th 02:00-03:30 233 Dwinelle Instructor: Howard Fisher

If literature contains forms of language that seem not to fit in everyday speech, how is it that even literary works that minimize the representation of speech remain deeply interested in language as a social phenomenon? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13930

R1B.006: Benvenuti al Sud: Welcome to the (Italian) South

Tu/Th 02:00-03:30 210 Dwinelle Instructor: Bristin Jones

Florence, Rome, Venice… You may be familiar with Italy’s most famous destinations, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to venture further south and off the traditional tourist track? What is there in Italy’s South other than Cosa Nostra and ridiculously good pizza? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13932

R1B.008: Home and Away

M/W/F 11:00-12:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Marianne Kaletzky

This class aims to reconsider our assumptions about the family home. Contemporary popular culture celebrates the home as a refuge from the world, finding in its separation from public life and association with the nuclear family the promise of a nurturing, comfortable space where we can simply be ourselves. Yet literature and film are replete with another sort of home: isolated but never totally private, familiar but never completely safe. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13934

R1B.009: The Marriage Plot

Tu/Th 12:30-02:00 204 Dwinelle Instructor: Katie Kadue

From fairy tales to rom-coms, a story that ends in marriage – after many twists and turns, accidents and obstacles – is, by definition, a story with a happy ending.  In certain literary genres, marriage is so integral to narrative structure that “the marriage plot” is synonymous with plot itself. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13935

R1B.010: Gender\\Genre

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 79 Dwinelle Instructor: Alex Brostoff Thomas Sliwowski

Where once there was one, English now bears two.  Gender and genre come from Latin root gen, signifying “birth” and “race,” “kind” and “sort.”  Romance languages, however, tend to retain a single term: genre, genere, género, gênero, the French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese tell us. What can we make of these words, whose very root seems to describe the birth of another kind? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13936

R1B.012: The Pleasure Principle: Hedonism and Its Discontents

Tu/Th 08:00-09:30 204 Dwinelle Instructor: Johnathan Vaknin

In the opening pages of José Asunción Silva’s novel After-Dinner Conversation, the reader encounters a heated discussion between two of the work’s main characters, the poet José Fernández and his doctor friend Oscar Sáenz, about the former’s writer’s block. Oscar, the rational man of science, is quick to identify the source of José’s problem: his constant “prowl for new sensations.” In response, Fernández adamantly declares that all he desires is to “live life! To get drunk on it.” This course asks what it means to “get drunk on life” through the pursuit of sensual pleasure. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13938

R1B.013: Consumed and Consuming: Bodies in Narrative Representations of Poverty

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 242 Dwinelle Instructor: Keru Cai Taylor Johnston

Brandon Stanton has photographed over 5,000 random people on the streets of New York since 2010. His blog “Humans of New York” has 16 million Facebook followers, and his book by the same title spent 29 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list in 2015.  One of his most famous portraits – of a teenager named Vidal who witnessed a man being pushed to his death from the top of a public-housing tower – generated $1.4 million for Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13939

R1B.014: Daughters

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 210 Dwinelle Instructor: Layla Forrest-White

Daughters: we all either are one or know one. And yet, unlike those other familial categories—mother / father / son—the position and role of the daughter is fairly unexamined. In this class, we will read about many different daughters, dutiful—Shakespeare’s Miranda—and not—Sophocles’ Electra. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13940

R1B.015: Lost and Found in Translation

Tu/Th 3:30-5:00 243 Dwinelle Instructor: Lida Zeitlin Wu Amanda Siegel

What gets preserved, lost, and changed in translation? What makes a translation “authentic” or legitimate? This course examines translations that travel across the boundaries of language, literature, and artistic genre. We read writers who translate their own work or take the problem of translation as the subject of their texts. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13941

R1B.024: The Sincerest of Flattery?

M/W 05:00-06:30 79 Dwinelle Instructor: Tyleen Kelly

How do we understand a literary imitation? What is the nature of our intellectual double take when we perceive it? Does our recognition stir self-congratulation, delight, annoyance, disappointment—or lead us to skip over it entirely as the ‘mere copy’ of a more valued original?

Course Catalog Number: 13950


20: Episodes in Literary Cultures

Whose Body? Gender and Race in Transnational Performance and Media

Tu/Th 03:30-05:00 2 Evans Instructor: Katherine Mezur

In this course we explore theories and practices of gender and race through physical performances in interdisciplinary art works, which include theatre, dance, performance art, film, animation, and music in live and mediated forms. We will focus on how race and gender stereotypes shift, resist, and radicalize in art works, which travel outside national borders and encounter “other” bodies. Whose body is this in these aesthetic and popular representations? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 31682

24: Freshman Seminar

Trans-Cultural Histories of the Women’s and Gay Liberation Movements

Th 05:00-06:00 (new location 210 Dwinelle) Instructor: Michelle Koerner

“Sexuality brings into play too great a diversity of conjugated becomings; these are like n sexes, an entire war machine through which love passes.”

– A Thousand Plateaus.

This freshman seminar will offer students an opportunity to read primary documents (statements, manifestos, poetry, essays) from the women’s and gay liberation movements of the late 1960s and 1970s.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 33919

50: Creative Writing

Introductory Poetry Writing Workshop

Tu/Th 03:30-05:00 206 Dwinelle Instructor: Jocelyn Saidenberg

Note:  Enrollment by instructor approval only; email a maximum 5 page writing sample to instructor Jocelyn Saidenberg (  Selected applicants will be then notified and enrolled.

Course Description:  This introductory poetry workshop is open to all students interested in reading and writing poetry regardless of experience.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 33897

60AC: Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

(Re)Making History

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 182 Dwinelle Instructor: Karina Palau

What makes American history, and why would we want to—need to—remake it? This course explores literary and visual materials produced in the post-Civil Rights U.S. by artists and writers who ponder this question and approach history like a raw material that demands to be refashioned and constantly problematized. What versions of American history have they remade, and what new versions and visions of history do they produce in the process? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 31683

100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Studies in Narrative: Open Secrets

M/W/F 11:00-12:00 B1 Hearst Annex Instructor: Anne-Lise Francois

How do literary works and films simultaneously disclose and keep their secrets? This course examines the role of secrets in producing and blocking narrative movement, and in releasing and withholding meaning.  We give particular attention to secrets such as the gay closet or racial passing, that, like Poe’s “Purloined Letter,” hide “in plain sight,” and discuss the role of narrative and confession in the construction, circulation and concealment of public and private identities, marked and unmarked by gender, sexual identity, race, or class. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13954

112B: Modern Greek

M/W/F 12:00-01:00 4125A Dwinelle Instructor: 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.

» read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13955

151/Classics 161: The Ancient Mediterranean World

Histories of Sexuality

M/W/F 02:00-03:00 102 Moffitt Instructor: Leslie Kurke

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. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 31605

152: The Middle Ages

Ancient Myth and its Readers: Negotiating Herakles in Classical, Medieval, and Modern Literatures

Tu/Th 9:30-11:00 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Frank Bezner

This course revolves around the reception of classical myth and literature, focusing on what seems to be an unlikely mythical figure — Herakles.

Herakles, the slayer of men (and attacker of gods) may seem a simple, one-dimensional character, an embodiment of raw physical power triumphing over twelve nearly impossible labors.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13956

165: Myth and Literature

Comparative Mythology: Celtic, Norse, and Greek

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Annalee Rejhon

A study of Indo-European mythology as it is preserved in some of the earliest myth texts in Celtic, Norse, and Greek literatures. The meaning of myth will be examined and compared from culture to culture to see how this meaning may shed light on the ethos of each society as it is reflected in its literary works. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 31549

171: Topics in Modern Greek Literature

Novels of Obsession and the Unmaking of Identity in Modern Greek Fiction: 19th-21st Century

F 02:00-05:00 235 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

In this course we will study the relationship between obsession and identity, personal and/or national. Obsession according to Merriam Webster Dictionary is: “ A persistent disturbing preoccupation with someone or something or with an often unreasonable idea or feeling” » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13959

190: Senior Seminar


Th/Th 09:30-11:00 105 Dwinelle Instructor: Sophie Volpp

In this senior seminar, we will revisit an age-old problem in the study of fiction:  how do readers become involved in the lives of literary characters? In particular, we will ask how the representation of thought and feeling influence our conception of fictional character.  » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13960


210/Classics 230: Studies in Ancient Literature


Tu 02:00-05:00 308C Doe Library Instructor: Ellen Oliensis

In this seminar we will read Horace’s complete works, partly in translation and partly in Latin (the proportions will vary from student to student), in roughly chronological order, possibly spending some extra time with the Odes (but this will depend on the interests of the group).  » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 33661

212/German 205: Studies in Medieval Literature

Medieval and Renaissance Mysticism

Tu 04:00-07:00 282 Dwinelle Instructor: Niklaus Largier

So-called ‘mystical’ forms of thought and experience have played a major role in the history of medieval theology and spirituality.  They also were of importance to modern authors from Hegel to Georg Lukàcs, Martin Heidegger, Georges Bataille, and Jacques Derrida; and from Novalis to Robert Musil, Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann, Pierre Klossowski, to John Cage (to name just a few).  In this seminar we will read and discuss medieval key texts written by Ps. Dionysius Areopagita, Eckhart of Hochheim (Meister Eckhart), Henry Suso, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Antwerp, and Angela Foligno, some of the most significant medieval figures in this tradition.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13975

215: Studies in Renaissance Literature

The Baroque: Genealogy and Topography

M 02:00-05:00 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Timothy Hampton

Baroque culture is the first instance in the West of a “global” cultural movement. It also offers the first example of an artistic moment that is truly interdisciplinary. In this seminar we will study the emergence and development of Baroque literature and thought, beginning at the end of the sixteenth century, from Rome to Mexico.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 31548

250/English 250: Studies in Literary Theory

Idols and Ideology

W 02:00-05:00 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Victoria Kahn

The history of Western literary theory is often told in terms of the concept of mimesis. But there is another, equally powerful, anti-mimetic strand to this history, and that is the critique of mimesis as a form of idolatry. In this course, we will explore this critique from the prohibition against images in the Hebrew bible up through modern attacks on mimesis as inherently ideological.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 31627

254: Studies in East-West relations

M 11:00-02:00 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Harsha Ram

How are we to understand “East” and “West” as objects of study, as discursive constructs that have apparently congealed into self-evident geographical realities?

We will study this dilemma in two ways: » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 13978

260: Problems in Literary Translation

W 02:00-05:00 211 Dwinelle Instructor: Robert Alter

The course involves practical engagement in literary translation.   Each member of the group will have a translation project for the semester, which can be poetry or prose, in any genre, from any language, and from any historical period.  Every week two of the participants will circulate specimens of the their projects, and we will spend the afternoon discussing their work, raising questions and proposing solutions in a collaborative spirit.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 31547