Spring 2019

  • Literature and Photography

    Since its advent in the 19th century, photography has been a privileged figure in literature's efforts to reflect upon its own modes of representation. This seminar will trace the history of the rapport between literature and photography by looking closely at a number of literary and theoretical texts that differently address questions central to both literature and photography: questions about the nature of representation, reproduction, memory and forgetting, history, images, perception, and knowledge.
  • Holocaust Testimony

    This course focuses on major issues raised by but also extending beyond Holocaust survivor testimony, including genres of witnessing, the communication of trauma, the ethical implications of artistic representation, conflicts between history and memory, the fate of individuality in collective upheaval, the condition of survival itself, and the crucial role played by reception in enabling and transmitting survivors' speech.
  • Worlds Made with Words: Select Old English Literature

    This course concentrates on a constitutive problem in OE literature: the theme of "making" and "makers". What powers does a text assume when it makes an inanimate object speak? What temporal and spatial fantasies about English origins and ambitions do OE texts build? What ideas of identity? We'll scrutinize authorship, too, asking how one learned and shaped the poet's role, and how OE texts represented literary composition and understood the tools of singing and writing.
  • Criticism and Theory: Fredric Jameson

    Fredric Jameson is perhaps the most important theorist of our age with a global readership across all disciplines in the humanities for decades on end. In this graduate course, we discuss his entire body of work, appreciating the range and depth of his thought. Jameson has agreed to teleconference into our seminar at least once, and I welcome interested students to do some advanced reading to acquaint themselves with his ideas.
  • Tales of Hospitality: France, North Africa, and the Mediterranean

    Since the Revolution, France has declared itself a haven for refugees from all countries. Yet, a series of laws and often fierce debates have recently marred this benevolence with sometimes dramatic limitations. Keeping in mind different models of hospitality in the Western, Mediterranean, and Arab traditions, we will examine the 'case study' of France and North Africa by comparing ethical and political, individual and collective models of hospitality. We will address issues such as immigration, nationality, and cultural identity and reflect on what it means to welcome a stranger.
  • Le Monde par la bande

    This course explores representations of the World and History in major bandes dessinées (or graphic novels) published in French from the 1930s to the present, and produced by authors of various backgrounds (French, Belgian, Italian, Jewish, Iranian). Informed by theoretical readings, discussions will address key aesthetical, political, and ethical issues, including Exoticism, Orientalism, (Post)colonialism, national and individual identity, as well as the theory of reception, to critically assess the fluctuations of these visions between fantasy and testimony.
  • German Intellectual History: Margins of Enlightenment

    What mechanisms of exclusion accompanied the constitution of modern reason in the eighteenth century? Are the universalist ideals of the Enlightenment inherently flawed, or can they be recuperated by a more inclusive universalism? This course interrogates Enlightenment universalism by reading canonical eighteenth-century works together with texts that highlight the occult, gendered, and racialized undersides of Enlightened reason.
  • Topics in Hindi-Urdu: Art and Practice of Translation

    The course will focus on topics and issues related to literary translation, from Urdu into Hindi, Hindi into Urdu, as well as the translation of Hindi/Urdu literary works into English and from English into Hindi/Urdu. Readings will address issues of theory and practice, as well as selected literary works and their translations. Includes student translation workshops.
  • East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations

    This course explores East Asia in the global context of imperialism, colonialism, the Cold War, and neoliberalism. We will traverse a wide range of materials (literature, film, photography, installation art) to understand how they are connected by historical forces. Open to anyone interested in a critical understanding of modern East Asian cultures, this course offers an interdisciplinary introduction that draws upon methods from film and media studies, art history, literary studies, and critical race studies.
  • Humanistic Perspectives on History and Society: Revolution

    Intensive reading of texts of revolution as event, process, rupture, repetition, and metaphor. Worldwide examples considered in terms of a chain of displacements within and across historical time (C17th to contemporaneity; England, USA, France, Haiti, Russia, Mexico, China, Algeria, and beyond). Why and how is revolution different from other radical transformations such as national liberation? What are the openings and where are the dangers in the revolutionary situation, and how have both proponents and opponents of revolution represented them?

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