Jewish Studies mini-Seminar

Although Freud’s “invention” of the Oedipus complex transpired in a particular cultural and historical setting, it rapidly became a hermeneutic bedrock, a cross-cultural and trans-historical paradigm which illuminates texts as remote from one another as Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Kafka’s Letter to His Father. Freud first conceptualized the Oedipus complex in 1897 while he was immersed in his self-analysis and he continued to redefine its modalities throughout his career.

Studies in Literary Theory

In this seminar we will discuss the significance of the notions and concepts of the imagination in philosophical and literary traditions. We will start with a discussion of basic texts by Plato and Aristotle; move on to the treatment of the imagination in classical rhetoric; and focus on four key areas where imagination, fantasy, and ‘Einbildungskraft’ play a significant role: the so-called mystical tradition up to Jacob Böhme; Baroque cultures of the imagination; poetic imagination in the 18th and 19th centuries; and 20th century philosophical approaches.

Studies in Contemporary Literature

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.

Studies in Renaissance Literature

An introduction to the literature of the English civil war and following decades, focusing on the work of John Milton, but including the work of Henry Parker, Thomas Hobbes, Andrew Marvell,Margaret Cavendish, Katherine Phillips, Lucy Hutchinson, and Anne Halkett. We will also address the explosion of pamphlet literature during the English civil war, the controversy over gender roles, the texts surrounding the regicide of Charles I, and the political, religious, and sexual radicalism of dissenting literary culture.

Studies in Ancient Literature

Ancient materials about Homer (philosophy and literary criticism mainly) will be discussed in the first half, and modern materials 2nd half, including Vico, Hegel, Nietzsche, Hokheimer and Adorno, E. Auerbach, S. Weil, R. Bespalof, D. Walcott.

Lyric Poetry

[Note: This Course is also listed as an Elective for the Program in Critical Theory.]  The German Bertolt Brecht, the Peruvian César Vallejo, and the American Louis Zukofsky exert—within their lifetimes, and in their posthumous reception to this day—special influence on experimental-modernist and marxian (as well as broader Left) traditions of poetry, poetics, and criticism. Like many artists who come of age early in the 20th century, these poets effectively begin their careers with romantic and symbolist poetics all but second nature to them; they proceed to adopt and extend “adva

Approaches to Comparative Literature

In this pro-seminar, we bring to the table those texts, whether literary or critical, that mean the most to us.

Senior Seminar

This course will explore the connections between detective fiction and psychoanalysis, starting from the near synchronicity of their first appearances and their mutually reinforcing methods and narrative structures. We will read Sophocles’ Oedipus the King as the archtype of both forms, considering why the question of guilt (“Who did it?”) insistently in these texts becomes a question of identity (“Who am I?”). We will also consider other aspects of identity—sexuality, race, and class—that appear repeatedly imbricated in the explorations of self of the two genres.

Modern Greek Literature

How is time expressed, through the narrative presentation of trauma, in contemporary Greek fiction and poetry? In recent years, trauma theory has focused more intensely on the  relationship between trauma and history. As such, trauma literature is seen to provide a mode of interpretation of history as well as as mode of penetration into history.

Myth and Literature

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.