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?
  • Traditions, Tales, and Tunes: Slavic and East European Folklore

    This course explores oral traditions and oral literary genres (in English translation) of the Slavic and East European world, both past and present, including traditions that draw from the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish East European communities. Topics include traditional rituals (life-cycle and seasonal) and folklore associated with them, sung and spoken oral traditional narrative: poetry (epic and ballad) and prose (folktale and legend), and contemporary forms of traditional and popular culture.
  • Classics of Japanese Cinema

    From the 1950s to the 1980s, Japanese films held the attention of large international audiences, seeming to parallel the emergence of Japan from the disasters of the Pacific War and its aftermath. Recognition in film competitions drove directors such as Kurosawa, Ozu and Mizoguchi to international stardom, and reflected back upon the domestic box office. This course will engage with several of these major films to learn how they interrogated the ethical and moral complexity of postwar Japan and its broader international significance.
  • Poetries of Resistance

    Poetry can be seen as a mode of reflection on history and, very often, as an act of resistance to it. This course will examine works written in Europe, Latin America and the US during the 20th and 21st centuries in different languages and historical contexts. We will explore their oppositional and also their liberatory effects: their ability to evoke their times, to disrupt our usual understandings while offering new political, artistic and ethical perspectives.
  • Contemporary Latin America in Literature and Visual Arts

    This course is an introduction to contemporary Latin American and Caribbean literature and visual arts. Placing emphasis on the changing relationships between aesthetics and politics, and subalternity and 'representation,' it analyzes genres and styles that emerge with new forms of imagining the relations between culture and politics since the 1960s. Class taught in English; readings and written assignments can be done in English or Spanish.


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