Undergraduate

  • The Nature of Reality in Medieval Arabic Literature

    This course will look at a variety of canonical texts and genres from the Classical Arabic literary heritage and examine them through the question of "truth" and "representation." In a culture that is often said to frown upon fictional writing, we will explore attitudes towards language as a means of gaining knowledge about the world, on the one hand, and as a way to depict "reality," on the other.
  • Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication

    Translation is at the heart of the humanities, and it arises in every discipline in the social sciences and beyond, but it is not easy to say what it is. This course looks at the role of translation in the past and in the world of today, in fields as varied as anthropology, the media, law, international relations and the circulation and study of literature.
  • Translation, Migration, Culture

    This course will explore the crucial connections between migration, language, and translation. Drawing on texts from a range of genres and disciplines - from memoir and fiction to scholarly work in translation studies, migration studies, political science, anthropology, and sociology - we will focus on how language and translation affect the lives of those who move through and settle in other cultures, and how, in turn, human mobility affects language and modes of belonging.
  • Passion

    Passion is a common word with a long, complicated history; the diverse meanings we associate with it engage our experience on the most ethereal and abstract as well as the most visceral and profane levels. In this course we will study a range of films from the past eight decades with the aim of understanding how the films situate their subjects, how they narrate and illustrate passion, and how they engage personal, social, and political issues in particular aesthetic contexts.
  • Learning Shakespeare by Doing

    A course on works of dramatic literature whose comparative dimension is theatrical performance. We will consider four Shakespeare plays covering a range of theatrical genres; the emphasis will be on the ways in which Shakespearean meaning can be elucidated when the reader becomes a performer. Students will move from the reading/performing of individual speeches to the staging of scenes to the question of how an overall theatrical conception for a play might be a key to the fullest understanding of the text.
  • The Golden Rhinoceros: Histories of the African Middle Ages

    Many assume that pre-twentieth-century Africa has no history. Rather, it has so much history that communicating all its richness can be a challenge. In this class, therefore, we focus on particular instances that speak to the tremendous diversity of the period from 300 to 1500 in Africa - its political systems, religious communities, and dynamics of cultural and economic conversation. We also address Africa's interconnectedness within and to the rest of the world as a vital part of the global middle ages.
  • Beastly Tales

    What does it mean to talk like an animal? Why and how do writers attempt such tricks? This course has as its focus a particular type of fiction, that of the speaking animal. We will examine the long-term development of this genre in novels, novellas, television and the occasional lyric, paying particular attention to the tension between the fantastic premise of the animal autobiography and a set of realistic concerns about the natural world.
  • What is Vernacular Filmmaking? - Rhetoric for Cinema Studies

    Few people know that Sergei Eisenstein, one of the masters of modern cinema, was originally a mechanical engineer. Not only that; his filmmaking is informed through and through by inventive tropes of engineering. In this course, we study the rhetorical art of invention (heuristics) as it is applied in filmmaking through close examination of ten masterpieces of cinema. Students will take away from the course a deeper understanding of how rhetorical invention can be used in non-verbal areas of learning as well as a set of skills related to film-making and film criticism.
  • One Text, Many Angles: Merchant of Venice

    This course will place Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice at the center of a many-sided scrutiny. It is a play about love, about the law (and the Law), about commerce, about Europe's discovery of the farther world, about the everlasting lure of Venice, about same-sex desire, about what it means to be a Jew, and about what Christians imagined it meant to be a Jew. The play also inserts itself in a nexus that includes many other texts, ranging from the Bible to Boccaccio to Marlowe to Philip Roth.
  • Topics in Comparative Literature: On Collecting: Anatomy of an Obsession

    Why do people collect objects? What desires motivate this obsession across cultures? How does a collection reflect and shape our relationship with objects? It is no accident that many writers are fascinated by the collector: Balzac, Eco, James, Pamuk and Proust all devoted significant creative energy to this figure. In this course, we will consider collecting as a serious mode of thinking. Analysis of key literary works will be combined with hands-on study of museum collections in Princeton and beyond.

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