Practices of Disruption

For as long as a dominant or otherwise sanctioned culture has been assumed as the norm, a misfit, an outcast, a dissenter, or a disrupter has emerged in its wake: the unruly one who "raises hell" and imagines a world otherwise.

The Craft of Critical Writing

Did you ever wonder how other people get their work done? Or where they get their ideas? Are you curious about the best strategies and habits for clear, forceful, and engaging writing? This seminar about writing and publishing is for you. You must have a seminar paper that you wish to revise for publication in the course of the semester. You must also commit to sending your revised essay out for review by a journal at the end of the semester. The vast majority of our time will be spent discussing the written work of the seminar members.

Studies in Renaissance Literature

In his reading of Rabelais, Mikhail Bakhtin foregrounds an imagistic style that reflects the “fullness of life” in a dialogic and carnivalesque manner. At the same time, he observes that early in the history of followers and imitators of Rabelais, this use of images starts to “disintegrate”; that “Rabelaisian images become petty”; that they “begin to acquire the character of genre and manners”, that their “universalism is considerably watered down”; and that they “began to serve the purpose of satire” where “a weakening of the ambivalent image’s positive pole takes place.

Studies in Literary Theory

In this seminar, we’ll study the relationship between literature and modern discourses on psychopathology. We’ll ask how literature informs and inspires psychoanalysis, schizoanalysis, and psychiatry. But, conversely, we'll also ask how these clinical practices alter the production and reception of literature. How do modernist and later writers respond to the claims of clinical knowledge, whether to borrow from, channel, suspend, complicate, contest, or refuse them?

Modern Greek Literature

What is historical trauma? How does it shape communities and individual lives, including those born generations after a traumatic event? How does trauma reconfigure notions of time, history, and narrative? Considering that trauma undermines memory, how have writers and filmmakers created aesthetic forms that grapple with knowledge in the wake of a traumatic event? At the same time, how have states instrumentalized and standardized trauma narratives with the aim of creating a coherent national identity?

Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

"Physically, New York and Los Angeles spread across the map and encompass multiple neighborhoods and communities, seemingly facilitating our ability to explore, access, and find new connections within the concrete jungle of the metropolis. Socially and economically, both cities have been figured as distinctly “American” dreamscapes—places of refuge and freedom, success, and self-invention—that hinge on the promise that the American city works like an open circuit, enabling unrestricted movement and mobility to and for everyone who visits or decides to make it home.

Literary Cultures

"In this course, we will analyze and compare a series of plays, novels, and films titled after objects: Plautus’s Pot of Gold and Rope, Goldoni’s The Fan, Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, Henry James' The Golden Bowl, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (1944), Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948), Yukio Mishima’s The Magic Pillow (1950), Eugene Ionesco’s Les chaises (1952), Jean Genet’s The Screens (1962) Melvonna Ballenger’s Rain (1978), and Raul Castillo’s Knives and Other Sharp Objects (2009). What is the relationship between language and objects? How does literature become material?

Intro to Comparative Literature

This class inquiries into how notions of time and subjectivity figure in different writing genres, literary traditions, and historical periods. In reading a diverse body of pre-modern and modern texts, we explore how time is constructed and articulated and how it is structured by narrative form and psychological content. We examine how diverse and competing temporalities underlie religious and secular worldviews and how they impact imaginaries of self and of society.

Senior Seminar

In this seminar we will engage in close and repeated reading of Tolstoy's novel, paying attention to its treatment in criticism and to its refraction in later work by Chekhov and Nabokov. Students should expect to read Anna Karenina at least twice as well as scholarly articles and fiction by other authors (including Nabokov's Laughter in the Dark). Members of the seminar will lead at least one discussion and write three to four five to eight page papers. No exams. Active participation in discussion is essential.

Senior Seminar

This course takes its title from a book by Edward Said, a critic and comparativist. In this study, Said acknowledges Sigmund Freud’s Eurocentrism but lays stress on “his work’s power to instigate new thought, as well as to illuminate new situations that he himself might never have dreamed of.” We’ll follow Said’s lead as we work to understand Freud’s engagements with the world beyond Europe and as we see how this world has taken up and transformed psychoanalysis.