Spring 2021

  • Thomas Mann and His World

    This course focuses on Thomas Mann's great novels, The Magic Mountain and Doctor Faustus, and the fast-changing world that produced them. We will explore Mann's artistic sources (Goethe, Dante, Dürer, Beethoven, Schoenberg) and theoretical influences (Nietzsche, Freud, Adorno, Lukács). Themes include time and narrative; Mann as a queer author; medicine; music; and Mann's languages. Self-exiled from Germany, Mann spent the early years of World War II in Princeton.
  • Topics in Hindi/Urdu: Postcolonial Literature

    In the more than seventy years since India and Pakistan became independent countries, a vast amount of literature has been produced in Hindi/Urdu. We will read selected literary materials including fiction, poetry, and essays while also focusing on historical and literary contexts. Materials will represent a range of genres, topics, and trends. Literary texts will be supplemented with additional materials including film and documentary selections, music, and author interviews, etc. Literary sessions and workshops will be organized in connection with the course.
  • Sea Level Rise, Islands and the Environmental Humanities

    Sea Level Rise, Islands and the Environmental Humanities explores how islanders, predominantly but not exclusively in the Pacific and the Caribbean, are experiencing sea level rise and engaging it in literature, arts and film. Students in the seminar will learn the environmental science and policy related to sea level rise. They will consider solutions being put forward to address the impacts, such as hard engineering (sea walls or artificial islands) or soft engineering (restoring coral or oyster reefs, mangrove marshes or wetlands).
  • Sisters' Voices: African Women Writers

    In this class, we study the richness and diversity of poetry, novels, and memoirs written by African women. The course expands students' understanding of the long history of women's writing across Africa and a range of languages. It focuses on their achievements while foregrounding questions of aesthetics and style. As an antidote to misconceptions of African women as silent, students analyze African women's self-representations and how they theorize social relations within and across ethnic groups, generations, classes, and genders.
  • What is a Classic?

    "What is a Classic?" asks what goes into the making of a classic text. It focuses on four, monumental poems from the ancient Mediterranean and Near East: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, and Gilgamesh, which are discussed through comparison across traditions, ranging as far as Chinese poetry. Students will consider possible definitions and constituents of a classic, while also reflecting on the processes of chance, valorization, and exclusion that go into the formation of a canon.
  • What is Socialism? Literature and Politics

    While there is no single definition of socialism, the class introduces the historic diversity of socialist thinking. We ask: What is the "social" in socialism? How does socialism relate to communism and capitalism? How does it define democracy, equality, freedom, individuality, and collectivity? Are socialist ethics connected to religious traditions such as Christianity and Islam that teach human equality? How may we understand injustices committed in socialism's name alongside its striving for social justice?


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