• Readings in Kiswahili Literature and East African Culture

    This advanced Kiswahili course will help students gain a higher level of language proficiency by applying grammatical skills learned in Elementary and Intermediate Kiswahili to topics addressing the language and culture of the Swahili speakers in East Africa. Coursework will focus on readings, writings, and oral performance activities on selected issues related to the history, geography, politics, language, literature, and cultural practices of the people of Kenya, Tanzania, and other Swahili speaking regions of Eastern Africa.
  • Radical African Thought and Revolutionary Youth Culture

    African thought continues to be marginalized, even though radical black intellectuals have shaped a number of social movements and global intellectual history. African youths are innovating new models that are revolutionizing the sciences, law, social and visual media, fashion, etc. In this class, we read classics of African thought and study contemporary African youth culture together to theorize what is happening in Africa today. This includes reading such African theorists as Frantz Fanon, V. Y.

  • Michelangelo

    A broadly based view of the artist's career, principally as seen through the writings of his first and most articulate fan, Giorgio Vasari, whose Lives of the Artists remains the founding classic of Art History. We will consider a wide range of works ranging within the complete Michelangelo corpus, including sculpture, painting, and architecture. Along the way, we will read Vasari carefully and compare what we see with what he saw; we will also have occasion to talk about what it means to read words about pictures.

  • Clues, Evidence, Detection: Law Stories

    The seminar will look at stories in the law and about the law: court cases that turn on competing versions of a story, and how narrative "conviction" comes about, as well as fictional and non-fiction accounts of mystery, crime, investigation, and detection in literature and film. The course will introduce students to some issues in criminal law and procedure as well as to the analysis of narrative.

  • Introduction to Jewish Cultures

    This introductory course focuses on the cultural syncretism and the global diversity of Jewish experience. It provides a comparative understanding of Jewish culture from antiquity to the present, examining how Jewish culture has emerged through the interaction of Jews and non-Jews, engaging a wide spectrum of cultures throughout the Jewish world, and following representations of key issues such as sexuality or the existence of God in different eras.

  • The Classical Roots of Western Literature

    A reading of some of the greatest works of literature in the European tradition from Homer to Shakespeare. The course is also designed as an introduction to Comparative Literature--that is, a reading of literary works across the boundaries of time, geography, and language. All works taught in English.

  • 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 literature? How do we distinguish between imagination, invention, and falsehood when considering a literary setting? How well, far, and fast do texts travel? How do contemporary texts convey the particulars of transient populations and non-native speakers? What does an individual text disclose about its origins and potential destinations? What does it mean to map a text?

  • The European Novel: Cervantes to Tolstoy

    A study of the classic European novel from Cervantes to Tolstoy, with particular attention to their charismatic (and often renegade) characters, their inventive, often sprawling forms, their battle with reality.

  • Postcolonial Literature/Postcolonial Criticism

    We examine visions of the future produced in areas that underwent processes of decolonization in the 20th century. Focusing on Africa and Asia, we look at how prospects for societies after decolonization were imagined by those struggling against imperialism. What was envisaged for the younger generations? How would alternative states be made? New kinds of international connections? Communities and relations between races, sexes and classes? Themes include Pan-Africanism, Socialism, nationalism, class, caste, gender, and race.

  • The Literature of Medieval Europe

    An introduction to medieval literature and the question of performative language in literature, linguistics, philosophy and theology. Works to be read include romance and lyric poetry from the French, German and English traditions, as well as selections from Scholastic philosophy, grammar and theology. We will also study some twentieth-century philosophical and linguistic accounts of speech acts. Topics to be discussed include lies, promises, oaths, baptisms, ritual speech and the structure of sacraments.


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