Graduate

  • Readings in Modern Arabic Literature

    This advanced reading course surveys the development of modern Arabic prose fiction from the 19th century nahda (Arabic renaissance) to the present. Special attention is devoted to questions of language and style, alongside discussions of major thematic concerns and the interaction of literature and society. All reading assignments are in the original Arabic, though English translations are available as a study aid. Open to qualified undergraduates with instructor's permission.
  • The Eighteenth Century in Europe

    This year's topic is "Reading Characters: Clarissa in Context." The seminar will consider the development of the modern novel during the European Enlightenment as a narrative epistemology of character, through an intensive reading of Richardson's Clarissa.
  • Introduction to Critical Theory: Dialectic and Difference

    Through a comparative focus on the concepts of dialectics and difference, we read some of the formative theoretical, critical and philosophical works which continue to ground interdisciplinary critical theory today. Focal works by Lukacs, Freud, Heidegger, Adorno, Derrida, de Man, Arendt, and Benjamin are included among the texts we read.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Topics in the History of Opera: Verdi and Shakespeare

    Over the course of his lengthy career, Giuseppe Verdi composed three operas based on plays by William Shakespeare. His operatic treatment of Macbeth (1847) was composed when Verdi was only 33-years old; he would wait another forty years before returning to Shakespeare for his two final (and arguably greatest) operas: Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1891). This seminar focuses on a close reading and analysis of these three operas; literary sources, ottocento operatic conventions, performance traditions, representations of race and gender, genre, etc.
  • Seminar on Andrei Bitov

    Analysis of works of one of Russia's most important contemporary writers. Focus on major novels, including "Pushkin House," the 1st Russian postmodernist novel. We explore his wide-ranging concerns, such as psychology; philosophy; science; other arts (including jazz & cinema); people's relationship to other biological species; integrity & societal and psychological obstacles to it. We examine him as a Petersburg writer. Focus also on his relationship to time, history, & other writers; his place in Russian & Soviet literature & culture.
  • Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory: Drive: Toward a Conceptual History

    This course tracks the concept of drive through a series of natural scientific, literary, and philosophical discourses between approximately 1780 and 1940. After a preliminary discussion of appetite and self-motion between Aristotle and Newton, we explore the surge of interest in the concept around 1800, followed by the emerging science of sexuality, before finally turning to psychoanalytic and 'cosmological' theories of drive from early 20c. Our focus is on changing conceptions of human motive, especially the difference between instinct, desire, and intelligence.
  • Seminar in Modern Spanish-American Literature: Mario Vargas Llosa:Literature and Politics

    This seminar discusses a selection of Mario Vargas Llosa's major political novels in dialogue with the works of political philosophy that shaped his thinking. Our discussion begins with Vargas Llosa's engagement with radical Marxism in his youth, his active participation in the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960s, leading up to his turn towards liberalism in the 1980s. Political theorists discussed include: Marx, Mariátegui, Sartre, Fidel Castro, Edmund Wilson, Karl Popper, Octavio Paz, Isaiah Berlin. Topics include: guerilla warfare, class struggle, the market, social justice.

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