Fall 2017

  • Bollywood Cinema

    Bollywood generates more films each year than other global film industries, circulating films across Africa, Asia, and beyond. What are the dominant trends and genres of popular South Asian cinema since independence? We will assume a capacious meaning of "Bollywood" as a global phenomenon. Course topics include the recent resurgence of Pakistani film industry as well as "Third Cinema," against which the popular is often defined in studies of postcolonial cinema. Course topics include melodrama, the popular, translation, diaspora, migration, nationalism and affect.
  • The Bible as Literature

    This course will study what it means to read the Bible in a literary way: what literary devices does it contain, and how has it influenced the way we read literature today? What new patterns and meanings emerge?
  • Topics in Literature and Ethics: Modern Evil

    This is a course on the problem of evil in the modern world as it is represented in works of literature and film. What is the nature of evil and how is it imagined? How can the noble ideas that define the modern world--justice and human rights, for example--be reconciled with the terrible events of the twentieth century: genocide, racial violence, and war? Why do good people do terrible things to others? What can reading books on evil in distant places teach us about ourselves?
  • Special Studies in the 18th Century: Literature and the Early Enlightenment, 1650-1760

    What is Enlightenment? And when, if at all, did Enlightenment happen? In this course we approach these familiar and crucial questions with an eye to literary forms and <i>fabulae</i>, tracing how poetry, tragedy, and novels participate in the work of biblical exegesis, theology, natural philosophy, and emancipatory political though--that is, the common terrain of Enlightenment philosophy and administration.
  • Modernism and Modernity: The Avant-Garde and the Pastoral Drive

    "Good proletarian art is usually Covert Pastoral," wrote the critic William Empson in 1935. This seminar examines the rebirth of pastoral in the avant-garde literature, film and photography of Germany and Soviet Union, exploring topics such as: the revolutionary intelligentsia and the countryside; the return of Naturalism and landscape genres; poetic archaism and narodnost'; modernization and the agricultural mode of production.
  • East Asian Humanities I: The Classical Foundations

    An introduction to the literature, art, religion and philosophy of China, Japan and Korea from antiquity to ca. 1400. Readings focus on primary texts in translation, complemented by museum visits and supplementary materials on the course website. The course aims to allow students to explore the unique aspects of East Asian civilizations and the connections between them through an interactive web-based platform, in which assignments are integrated with the texts and media on the website. No prior knowledge of working with digital media is required.
  • Freud and His Readers

    The seminar explores a wide selection of texts by Sigmund Freud, especially those that seem to illuminate the creative or poetic or fiction-making function of mind while reflecting on practices of reading as vital to Freud's own activities as both a psychoanalyst and a writer. A smaller selection of texts by Sandor Ferenczi, Jean Laplanche, and Jacques Lacan are addressed as commentary on fundamental Freudian concepts, and as interpretations of Freud's texts that themselves thematize reading.
  • Topics in the History of Opera: The Origins of Opera

    This seminar examines the origins of opera in Italy from the late sixteenth century until the inception of public opera in Venice in 1637. Offered in conjunction with the PU Opera Theater production of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo (1607) in January 2018, the seminar considers the cultural and intellectual context for Monteverdi's opera and others produced in Rome, Florence, and Mantua, considering the relevant literary and musical sources, questions of aesthetics, networks of patrons, performance practice, with special attention to the problems of producing baroque opera today.
  • Nietzsche

    An examination of Nietzsche's central views, including the role of tragedy, the place of science, the eternal recurrence, the will to power, and the primacy of the individual. We will also examine Nietzsche's ambiguous attitude toward philosophy and his influence on literature and criticism.


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