Undergraduate

  • The Gothic Tradition

    The purpose of this course is to analyze and understand the cultural meanings of the Gothic mode through a study of its characteristic elements, its historical, aesthetic, and political origins in eighteenth-century English and German culture and thought, its development across Western national traditions, and its persistence in contemporary culture, including film, electronic media, clothing, social behavior, and belief systems, as well as literature. Films, artifacts, web sites and electronic publications will supplement readings.

  • Love and Death on the Japanese Stage

    Love and death are staples of Japanese stage, as in many dramatic traditions. In traditional Japan, they take on a particular coloring, in response to specific cultural conditions and because of long-established and sophisticated conventions of performance. In this course we study how those conventions of performance depict and articulate these fundamental experiences of life. We study the ways gender and religion influence ideas about love and death, and how political change is reflected in dramatic performance.

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, and the Tasks of Literature

    An introduction to Tolstoy through his select short fiction and/or drama, critical essays, and all of [War and Peace] in the context of various theories of the novel. Our thesis--which is open to debate--is that Tolstoy's radical ideas on narrative have their counterpart in his radical ideas on history and the self, which, taken together, offer a coherent view of the human condition at odds with most Russian writers and philosophers of his time.

  • Conceptions of the Sensory

    In-depth discussion and analysis of conceptions of the sensory in writings by philosophers, poets, art critics and theorists, and artists, from the early modern to contemporary periods. We will investigate the ways in which the sensory is understood as the necessary basis for conceptual thinking of diverse kinds, including systematic and dialectical philosophy (Kant and Hegel), sign theory (Saussure), imaginative and figural writing, and theory and practice of the plastic arts (Rilke, Mallarmé, Adorno, Greenberg, Serra, Stella, Scully, Buchloh, Warhol, among others).

  • Lyric Form and Language II: The Modern Period

    This course is the continuation of a 2-semester sequence for undergraduates and graduate students, but may be taken independently of the fall semester course (COM 421). We will focus on reading major poets of the modern period in English, French, German and Spanish with additional readings in the theoretical reflections on modernity, poetry, and the arts written by several of the poets we read. These include: Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rilke, Celan, Garcia Lorca, Pax, Borges, Stevens, Bishop and Ashbery, among others. Secondary readings will include essays by major theorists and critics.

  • Masterworks of European Literature

    In this course we will examine the major forms and themes of Western Literature since the Renaissance: the drama, essay, lyric and novel. We shall read major works by British, Spanish, French, German, Russian and American authors, considering the unique contributions of specific nations and languages and the transformations of themes and genres over a span of five hundred years.

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, and the Tasks of Literature

    An introduction to Tolstoy through his select short fiction and/or drama, critical essays, and all of [War and Peace] in the context of various theories of the novel. Our thesis--which is open to debate--is that Tolstoy's radical ideas on narrative have their counterpart in his radical ideas on history and the self, which, taken together, offer a coherent view of the human condition at odds with most Russian writers and philosophers of his time.

  • Everyday Stories

    "How was your day?" "Tell me about yourself." Such commonplace prompts draw out "everyday stories" of real, unremarkable life. But what counts as real life or unremarkable life, and what happens when it gets into literature, too? What parts of reality do everyday stories suppress or show up? Drawing on writers from Homer to Jane Austen to Woolf to Christopher Isherwood, this course looks at novels, stories, diaries, and essays that present versions or theories of everyday life.

  • Junior Seminar: Introduction to Comparative Literature

    The junior seminar will investigate the literal and figurative meanings of the phrase "the place of literature." How relevant is geography to different types of literature? How well, far, and fast do literary texts travel? How much can we rely on analogies with markets or with ecological systems to explain the wide circulation or long-term survival of particular texts? What does an individual text disclose about its place of origin and its potential destinations? We will address these and related questions through both literary and theoretical texts.

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