Spring 2018

  • Studies in Forms of Narrative: Jokes, Laughter, Comedy

    A grand old subject - why do we laugh and how does the comic function within literary works and cultural experience? - about which we'll see if we can say something new. Classic statements on the topic, e.g., Freud and Bergson, but some forays into more contemporary theories, including cognitive science. Literary materials mostly drawn from the early modern period - Erasmus, Rabelais, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Molière - alongside examples from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, to be chosen by the seminar members themselves.
  • Topics in Non-Western and General Literature: Ideographs

    Weekly three-hour seminar. The seminar focuses closely on selected plays from the repertory of noh drama, with attention to related texts regarding training, aesthetic values, patronage and the materialities of performance (masks, costumes, props, the stage, etc.)
  • Manga: Visual Culture in Modern Japan

    This course examines the comic book as an expressive medium in Japan. Reading a range of works, classic and contemporary, in a variety of genres, we consider: How has the particular history of Japan shaped cartooning as an art form there? What critical approaches can help us think productively about comics (and other popular culture)? How can we translate the effects of a visual medium into written scholarly language? What do changes in media technology, literacy, and distribution mean for comics today? Coursework will combine readings, written analysis, and technical exercises.
  • Chinese Cinemas

    This course is an introduction to contemporary Chinese cinemas in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. From postwar musicals and pan-Asian blockbusters, to new wave avant-garde films and experimental documentaries, the diversity of Chinese cinemas reflects cinema's relations to global capitalism, Asia's democratization movements, financial crises, and the arrival of (post)socialism. Creating urban nomads, songstresses, daydreamers, travelers, and terrorists, Chinese cinemas put on full display the forces of globalization in shaping the aesthetics and politics of film.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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