Fall 2019

  • Seminar in Modern Spanish-American Literature: The Long 19th Century: Mimesis, Alterity, and Representation

    This seminar explores the role of mimesis in political representation and state formation in Latin America, focusing on some of its most powerful and enduring symbolic articulations in the massive legal, literary, and scientific archive it generated during the nineteenth century-a long and turbulent century, characterized by revolutions, mass political mobilization, subaltern uprisings,utopian thinking, and sweeping modernization. Drawing upon Taussig's work on mimesis and alterity, we study how the modern political produces spaces of equality and of extreme differentiation.
  • Studies in German Film: Fritz Lang - The Weimar Films

    This seminar subjects the surviving German films by Fritz Lang to a variety of critical interrogations --narratological, techno-historical, cultural-theoretical-- within the context of Weimar cinema. A combination of close film analyses and readings in film history, theory and aesthetics serve to both reassess and complicate the retrospective teleology of Siegfried Kracauer's canonical account of this formative and deeply heterodox period in German media history.
  • Language, Identity, Power

    Language determines our expressive capacities, represents our identities, and connects us across various platforms and cultures. This course introduces classical and contemporary approaches to studying language, focusing on three main areas: 1) language as a system of rules (structure), 2) language as a symbolic mechanism through which individuals and groups mark their presence (identity) and 3) language as a tool of communication (sign).
  • Studies in the Classical Tradition: Odysseys

    In 2019, is "the news in the Odyssey...still news," as poet Ezra Pound claimed? After reading through Homer's Odyssey in a variety of translations (from G. Chapman to E. Wilson), we will trace its modern and contemporary afterlives - from Joyce's Ulysses to Walcott's Omeros to Atwood's Penelopiad. To what uses has this ancient story been put, and do those uses change over time? Can a work as canonical as the Odyssey offer alternative or subversive cultural narratives?
  • The Classical Roots of Western Literature

    This course focuses on the classics of the Western literary tradition from Antiquity through the medieval period. We will examine the ways in which poets, playwrights, biographers, and other fabulists addressed questions of public duty and private emotion, domestic and exotic customs, and natural, unnatural, and supernatural events. All works are taught in English.
  • Junior Seminar: Introduction to Comparative Literature

    Thick Reading is the aim of the course, which is to say, "close reading" in the sense of paying heightened attention to the ways in which we read our object of study. Most of those objects will be literary, but we'll make room to interrogate and straddle the borders of the "literary" as well, considering visual arts, music and film. We will also try to thicken the canon, in reading beyond the Euro-American canon even as we acknowledge an interest in aesthetic critique.
  • The Modern European Novel

    Description; This course is designed for those 1) wanting to read landmark fictions in the modern European literary tradition; 2) intrigued by the question of "world literature" as it is posed in and by the European novel.
  • The Literature of Medieval Europe

    A seminar on medieval arts of love and the new forms of poetry and prose that are their expression. Our main focus will be literary works that present themselves as amorous inventions, from the Arabic and Hebrew poems of Islamic Spain to Juan Ruiz's Book of Good Love, from the troubadours and Minnesinger to the French, German and English romances of Lancelot, Tristan and Isolde, and Gawain. Yet we will also study medieval theoretical works by such authors as Ibn Hazm, Andreas Capellanus and Richard de Fournival.
  • Storytelling as Self Defense: Political Novellas

    Modern citizens' struggle for liberty produced a radical literary tool of defense: the novella. Part everyday life, part sudden event, these short forms gave advice to those fighting the Man: How can outcasts question authority? What is a feminist plot? Can resistance be a reader response? We will discuss and read how these stories organize, formulate, and intensify real-world arguments through fictional protagonists in examples from the Americas and Europe, esp. 19th-century Germany.

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