Spring 2016

  • Language & Subjectivity: Theories of Formation

    The purpose of the course is to examine key texts of the twentieth century that established the fundamental connection between language structures and practices on the one hand, and the formation of selfhood and subjectivity, on the other. In particular, the course focuses on theories that emphasize the role of formal elements in producing meaningful discursive and social effects. Works of Russian formalists and French (post)-structuralists are discussed in connection with psychoanalytic and anthropological theories of formation.

  • Dreams and Nightmares in Hispanic Fiction and Film

    From Artemidorus in antiquity to Freud in modern times, dreams and nightmares have been a perennial human concern. This course will explore political, philosophical, medical and psycho-sexual representations of dreams and nightmares by such authors as Cervantes, Zayas, Calderón, Cela, Martín Gaite, Muñoz Molina, Bolaño, Piglia and Vargas Llosa.

  • Obsession and Addiction in Early Modern Spain

    Early Modern Spain exhibits a variety of fascinating obsessions and addictions resulting from extreme and rapid political, social, and economic changes. Addiction to sex crimes, to transgendering and tobacco offer some of the most spectacular accounts of the period. The advent of mass culture produced by print technology, tabloid journalism, and public theaters leads to the rise of the "vulgo" which the elite seek to control and condemn.

  • Seminar in Modern Spanish-American Literature: Archival Research Workshop

    This seminar is conducted as a workshop to train students in the methodology of archival research. We work with the papers of Latin American writers housed at Firestone Library, especially with recent acquisitions of letters and manuscripts by Cuban writer Severo Sarduy. Theoretical readings include texts by Derrida, Barthes, Murat, Freud, and others. Students are encouraged to publish the result of their semester-long research.

  • What is Vernacular Filmmaking?

    We will study films that address global audiences while rooted in particular, local,vernacular sources of artistic creation. In order to understand this aesthetic phenomenon of World Cinema, we will examine theories of World Literature. Especially, we will focus on Auerbach's famous book, Mimesis and his work on the formation of vernacular audiences.

  • Masterworks of European Literature

    In this course we will examine the major forms and themes of Western Literature since the Renaissance: the drama, essay, lyric and novel. We shall read major works by British, Spanish, French, German, Russian and American authors, considering the unique contributions of specific nations and languages and the transformations of themes and genres over a span of five hundred years.

  • Topics in Comparative Literature: Performing the Planet

    An examination of how literature and the performing arts represent and interrogate climate change. The relationship between the human body and the earth, as seen in Classical Drama, early depictions of the New World, texts by early naturalists. The emergence of technologies of seeing and their effects on theater and dance. The relationship between conceptions of the internal body and the body of the earth (geology, landscape, maternity, the microbiome, the Sublime). Environmental theater, eco theater and dance.

  • The Gothic Tradition

    The purpose of this course is to analyze and understand the cultural meanings of the Gothic mode through a study of its characteristic elements, its historical, aesthetic, and political origins in eighteenth-century English and German culture and thought, its development across Western national traditions, and its persistence in contemporary culture, including film, electronic media, clothing, social behavior, and belief systems, as well as literature. Films, artifacts, web sites and electronic publications will supplement readings.

  • Love and Death on the Japanese Stage

    Love and death are staples of Japanese stage, as in many dramatic traditions. In traditional Japan, they take on a particular coloring, in response to specific cultural conditions and because of long-established and sophisticated conventions of performance. In this course we study how those conventions of performance depict and articulate these fundamental experiences of life. We study the ways gender and religion influence ideas about love and death, and how political change is reflected in dramatic performance.

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, and the Tasks of Literature

    An introduction to Tolstoy through his select short fiction and/or drama, critical essays, and all of [War and Peace] in the context of various theories of the novel. Our thesis--which is open to debate--is that Tolstoy's radical ideas on narrative have their counterpart in his radical ideas on history and the self, which, taken together, offer a coherent view of the human condition at odds with most Russian writers and philosophers of his time.


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