Spring 2018

  • Dangerous Bodies: Cross-Dressing, Asia, Transgression

    This course examines "dangerous bodies" - bodies that transgress existing gender and racial norms in Chinese and Sinophone cultures. Situated at the intersection of literary, film, performance, gender and ethnic studies, this course provides an introduction to the shifting social meanings of the body in relation to historical masculinity, femininity, and Chineseness.
  • Korean Travel Narratives, 1100s-1930s

    Knowledge about the world has assumed a variety of forms over history. This course, centered on travel writings by Koreans and about Korea, pursues two interrelated goals. First of all, we will look into the epistemic coordinates that structure travelogue as a genre of perception. Secondly, we will learn about the changing political and cultural contexts around Korea, which defined the modes of mobility and experience of travel in different historical periods. This, in turn, provides us with a concrete historical location, from which we can look out onto the structures of the larger world.
  • Love and Violence through Words: Modern Chinese Literature in the Age of Revolution

    This course will introduce you to important works in modern Chinese literature from late 19th century to the present, which have served as tools of propaganda, national defense, cultural revolution, self-fashioning, gender-conscious communication, or complete depoliticization. Therefore, the multiple literary genres of novel, folklore tale, theater and poetry will be analyzed against related forms of film, opera, music-drama and painting.
  • Problems in Literary Study: The Postcolonial Family Romance

    The goal of this course is to rethink the project of the novel in the colonial and postcolonial world by shifting emphasis from the mimetic model of desire to what Freud called the family romance, the search for alternative worlds in the social order.
  • German Intellectual History: Literature and Science from Kepler to Goethe

    This course studies cross-pollinations between literature, science, and philosophy in the formative period of modern scientific and literary cultures. We will ask what narrative perspective in Kepler's early science fiction has to do with the Copernican Revolution in astronomy; how literature and philosophy explored the strange new worlds revealed by microscopes and telescopes; and why Newton and Goethe offered competing accounts of the nature of color.
  • Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory: Erich Auerbach and the Origin of Existential Realism

    This seminar takes seriously Auerbach's statement that "existential realism" lies at the core of Mimesis, and look for that realism's "origin" in the theo-philosophical apparatus of the book as well as in a selection of the texts about which he writes. Theories of Realism and existence are also explored. Students gain an overview of Auerbach reception to date and challenge some of the ways his work has been read as only concerned with a Eurocentric canon or as an expression of a post-colonial habitus.
  • East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations

    Second in the two-semester sequence on East Asian literary humanities, this course begins in the seventeenth century and covers a range of themes in the history, literature, and culture of Japan, Korea, and China until the contemporary period. Looking into the narratives of modernity, colonialism, urban culture, and war and disaster, we will see East Asia as a space for encounters, contestations, cultural currents and countercurrents. No knowledge of East Asian languages or history is required and first-year students are welcome to take the course.
  • Cybernetics, Literary Ghosts and the Italian Way

    "Will we have a machine capable of replacing the poet and the author?" asked Italo Calvino in 1967, hopeful that computers would write "the literature." In 1962 poet Nanni Balestrini instructed a computer to write a poem eager to hear "the voice of the machine." Rough novels and 200,000 non-fiction books have already been written through algorithms and a literary novel is expected soon. Can we instruct a computer to write a novel? Should we use an algorithm or machine learning?


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