Fall 2014

  • Reading Medieval Culture

    Medieval culture, literature and literary theory, as well as Modern critical debates currently being staged, highlight the diversity of cultural production in the European Middle Ages. This course explores such topics as Medieval textuality and reading, text and image, subjectivity and spirituality, premodern sex and gender, and myths and realities of Medieval nation-building.

  • Introduction to World Literature: Leaving Home Throughout the Ages

    Why does the act of leaving home generate literary masterpieces around the globe? What are the painful and productive aspects of displacement? This course takes a cross-cultural and cross-temporal approach to questions of exile and migration, following their depiction across centuries and continents in famous novels, stories, poems, and essays from East and West. We will read classic works alongside contemporary novels, and narratives of homecoming alongside narratives of no return, looking closely at the concepts of home, identity, language, and memory.

  • Everyday Stories

    "How was your day?" "Tell me about yourself." Such commonplace prompts draw out "everyday stories" of real, unremarkable life. But what counts as real life or unremarkable life, and what happens when it gets into literature, too? What parts of reality do everyday stories suppress or show up? Drawing on writers from Roland Barthes to Christopher Isherwood to Virginia Woolf, this course looks at novels, stories, diaries, and essays that present versions or theories of everyday life.

  • Introduction to African Literature and Film

    African literature and films have been a vital (but often unacknowledged) stream in and stimulant to the global traffic in invention. Nigerian literature is one of the great literatures of the 20th century. Ethiopian literature is one of the oldest in the world. South Africans have won more Nobel Prizes for Literature in the past forty years than authors from any other country. Senegalese films include some of the finest films ever made.

  • Junior Seminar: Introduction to Comparative Literature

    What does it mean to read comparatively across languages, disciplines, and media? How does Comparative Literature relate to the many cultures, traditions, and literary conventions of a globalized world? Where does translation fit into this scenario? We will address these questions and others by examining Comparative Literature as an historical institution and an evolving discipline.

  • Classical Japanese Theater

    In this course we study four major forms of pre-modern Japanese drama: Noh, Kyogen, Kabuki and Bunraku. These dramatic forms have close relation to other aspects of Japanese culture, especially literature and music, and give voice to a wide range of human experience within the context of an intricately articulated body of conventions, with surprises. No knowledge of Japanese is expected. We will devote a significant portion of our time to studying performances on DVD and/or VHS.

  • Contemporary Latin America in Literature and Visual Arts

    This course is an introduction to contemporary Latin American literature & visual arts with a transatlantic perspective. Placing special emphasis on the changing relationships between aesthetics & politics, it analyzes different genres & artistic styles that emerge with new forms of imagining the relations between culture & politics, from the 1960s to the present.

  • Stolen Years: Youth under the Nazis in World War II

    This course examines the gendered experiences of childhood & adolescence under the Nazis in World War II as witnessed, remembered, and represented in texts and images through a variety of genres and different nationalities. We include historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), photos, and film (documentary & feature) of 1st and 2d generations. While we focus on the fate of Jewish youth, who were deliberate targets of genocidal policy, not just unintended victims, we will also attend to others in the occupied countries.

  • Politics and Society in the Arabic Novel and Film

    This course examines how Arabic fiction and film has addressed major social and political issues such as the aftermath of colonialism, labor migration, war, social repression, women's rights, and dictatorship. The course covers novels from Egypt, the Sudan, Lebanon, Palestine, Morocco, and Iraq. Topics covered include the Lebanese Civil War, the Palestinian struggle, Islamic fundamentalism, Iraq under the Baathist regime, and the Arab Spring. The course will also look more broadly at experiences of the postcolonial world as reflected in modern Arabic writing.


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