Fall 2020

  • Special Studies in Modernism: Great Good Place: Modernist Utopias

    Utopias literally exist nowhere, but their moral and social hopes for an improved, ideally perfected Life congregate and are realized in a specific site: the Great Good Place. The phrase comes from the title of Henry James's only utopian fiction, in which "The Great Good Place" is equated with having "The Great Want Met." Our seminar explores the Great Wants that Utopian fictions at once acknowledge and hope to satisfy through their imaginative reclamation or transformation of place.
  • Making Sense: Real Poetics, Diderot through Freud

    As Hegel, most discursive philosophers, and every poet demonstrate, "sense" is a uniquely complex, necessarily temporal thing, as divorced from organic replication and animal mimicry as curiosity and history from transmissible illness or the concept of violence from violence itself. In this course we study primary modes of signification- from acts of indirection and association Freud called "detours" to "formal" delineations and transpositions of "content"--in which literary, cognitive and aesthetic sense are made.
  • Topics in the History of Modern Syria: Ba`thist Syria - Film, Literature, Power

    This seminar explores cultural production in Ba`thist Syria (1963 - present) - its conditions of creation, circulation, and reception - within a broad historical and theoretical framework. The course aims to contextualize and comment upon ongoing discussions surrounding modern and contemporary Syria through an introduction to historical debates in the scholarly literature on politics, aesthetics, and culture.
  • Topics in Literature and Ethics: Imagining Human Rights

    This course is an invitation for us to think about literature as an ethical and political project, one that raises enduring questions about the uniqueness of the human being, the relation of the self to the other, and the possibility of human understanding across cultural, ethnic, racial and national boundaries.
  • Great Books from Little Languages

    For historical reasons most books that come into English are translated from just a few languages, creating a misleading impression of the spread of literature itself. This course provides an opportunity to discover literary works from languages with small reading populations which rarely attract academic attention in the USA.
  • Journalism, Politics, and Power in Latin America

    Journalism has played an outsized role in Latin America's political and cultural life, whether as a form of witnessing, an instrument of analysis or a tool for resistance and revolt. This course will look at work from across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, exploring different approaches writers have taken, and highlighting a series of recurrent themes, foremost among them journalism's tangled relationship with power. We will mainly focus on print, but will also deal with film, TV, and photography.
  • Topics in Greek Literature: Jason and Medea: Argonautica 3

    This course focuses on Book 3 of the Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes: Jason arrives in Colchis, Medea falls in love with him and decides to help him retrieve the Golden Fleece. Students will gain an insight into the development of epic in the Hellenistic period. They will need to read selections from Homer, Sappho, Pindar and Euripides in translation, and consider Apollonius as a reader and scholar as well as a poet. The course will also investigate ancient ideas about love in its emotional, moral and physical impact.
  • The Classical Roots of Western Literature

    This course focuses on the formation of cultural identity in the West from Antiquity to the early medieval period through the imagined and actual encounters of the Greco-Roman world with so-called "barbarians." We will examine the ways in which Greek and Roman epic, romance, philosophy, history, travelogues, and drama evaluated, misinterpreted, and sometimes appropriated foreign ways of life. Our readings will also include several texts originating in cultures distinct from the Greco-Roman world, but in crucial contact with it.
  • Read Like an Egyptian

    A first course for students in reading ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Serious work in ancient Egyptian grammar, vocabulary building, etc. (the staples of a classical language course) plus work on the relation between hieroglyphs and Egyptian visual arts.


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