Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

What is meant when we say someone or something “sounds American”? Can a person sound like a certain gender, social class, sexuality, or race? How would we possibly define that sound? And what might it mean to think of a culture by the ways it sounds and listens, instead of how it looks or sees? This course will explore these questions and others by studying podcasts, poems, songs, novels, and the changing forms of sonic technologies like microphones, radios, mp3s, turntables, and more.

Episodes in Literary Cultures: Literature and History

From antiquity to the present, writers and artists have addressed the question of how to lead a good life, as well as addressing the obstacles--fate, the gods, our own divided psyches--that have made it difficult for us to do so. They have presented conflicting notions of what the good life is, and what its relationship is to happiness and happenstance. In this course, we will explore a range of ancient and modern takes on these questions.

Berkeley Connect

Berkeley Connect is a mentoring program, offered through various academic departments, that helps students build intellectual community. Over the course of a semester, enrolled students participate in regular small-group discussions facilitated by a graduate student mentor (following a faculty-directed curriculum), meet with their graduate student mentor for one-on-one academic advising, attend lectures and panel discussions featuring department faculty and alumni, and go on field trips to campus resources. Students are not required to be declared majors in order to participate.

Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

Sometimes that thing called “reality” is just too much to face. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed. Other times, we struggle to represent or grasp what it is that grounds us, the earth around us, the difference between reality and fantasy, poem, or dream. A dream or a poem can seem to present a reality more true than any photograph. Or taking a photo without looking through the viewfinder can grasp a bit of the real beyond our limited view.

Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

"Modern art--and maybe modern poetry especially--is DIFFICULT"

Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

Consider these clichés: Poetry is what gets lost in translation. Reading literature in translation is like kissing your mother through a veil. Translation is the art of failure. The dangers of translation lie on both sides of a tightrope: literal fidelity and creative betrayal. Discussions about translation often use these and similar binaries and metaphors to depict translation as derivative. In this seminar we will integrate theory and practice to develop a renewed appreciation for the complicated task of the translator.

Topics in Modern Greek Literature

What is historical trauma? How does it shape communities and individual lives, including those born generations after a traumatic event? How do literature and film grapple with history, knowledge, representation, and time in the wake of a traumatic event? How can creative practices facilitate the work of survival and repair? How have states instrumentalized and standardized trauma narratives with the aim of creating a coherent national identity?

The Modern Period

From Louis Bonaparte’s 1798 conquest of Egypt to the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), colonialism has been a determining force in the shaping of Arab modernity. For almost two centuries, the Arab region has undergone a major restructuring along the nation-state model after the dismantling of the Ottoman empire and the peripheral integration into global capitalism.

Eighteenth- and 19th-Century Literature

Taking writing in the widest sense possible to include inscription, drawing, and the making and unmaking of traces, this class will focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writings about and with plants, while also considering the metaphor of “plant writing” as something performed by plants themselves. We will consider the analogy between “close reading” and the slow work of observation and description necessary to such writing.

The Ancient Mediterranean World

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.