Undergraduate

  • 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.
  • Women in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

    An investigation of the literary, medical and philosophical treatment of women in medieval and early modern Europe. We will consider works by both female and male authors, thus enabling us to compare ways in which women saw themselves with the ways in which they were seen by men. The cult of women as well as misandry and misogyny, and debates centering around such crucial matters as childbirth, witchcraft and the evil eye will be explored.
  • Gender and Sexuality in African History

    This course explores the history of gender and sexuality in Africa. By reading an eclectic range of historical sources (including films, novels, and anthropological works) alongside recent secondary literature, students will explore several important questions. How have African cultures, religions, experiences of colonialism, political formations, medicines, and youth, shaped, and been shaped by, understandings of gender and sexuality? What link is there between contemporary LGBTQ activism and African history? Why do debates about Africa often center on issues of gender and sexuality?
  • Realism and Representation: Forms of Fiction

    This seminar investigates pathbreaking "realist" fictions that, spurned in their own eras, are now considered "classics" indispensable to our understanding of literature. Looking closely at their heterodox use of descriptive and narrative modes incl. verbal tense, figural patterns (e.g. repetition, extended analogy, metonymy), non-"descript" speculative vocabulary, irony, embedding, and parataxis, alongside key theoretical works, we examine how these works apprehend "the real" in its relation to temporality, causality, historicity and historical reflection in general.
  • Creative Writing (Literary Translation)

    Practice in the translation of literary works from another language into English supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Criticism by professionals and talented peers encourages the student's growth as both creator and reader of literature. Students must be fluent in their chosen language.
  • Advanced Creative Writing (Literary Translation)

    Students will choose, early in the semester, one author to focus on in fiction, poetry, or drama. All work will be translated into English and discussed in a workshop format. We will address the challenges of revising, with the goal of arriving at a 25-30 page sample of the author's work. Weekly readings will focus on the comparison of pre-existing translations and also on some translation theory.
  • Dangerous Bodies: Cross-Dressing, Asia, Transgression

    This course examines "dangerous bodies" - bodies that transgress existing gender and racial norms in Chinese and Sinophone cultures. Situated at the intersection of literary, film, performance, gender and ethnic studies, this course provides an introduction to the shifting social meanings of the body in relation to historical masculinity, femininity, and Chineseness.
  • Postwar Japanese Narrative: Modern to Postmodern

    This course examines postwar Japanese experience through major literary, cinematic, and intellectual achievements. The objective is first to analyze a multitude of struggles in the aftermath of the Asia-Pacific War, and then to inquire into the nature of post-industrial prosperity in capitalist consumerism and the emergence of postmodernism. The course will cover representative postwar figures such as, Oe Kenzaburo, Dazai Osamu, Mishima Yukio, as well as contemporary writers such as Murakami Haruki.
  • Nature vs. Culture: A European Problem

    Where does nature end? Where does culture begin? In this seminar, we will walk the contested borderlands claimed by both, exploring key works of literature, art, and film from the Middle Ages to the present that challenge, represent, perform, condition, and subvert our notions of morality and human conduct. Is nature cruel or edifying? Should human values be informed by botany? How can an earthquake become an act of natural justice? Is the environment a field of scientific study or a human-made reality?
  • Afterlives of the Artists

    We will examine the ways in which Giorgio Vasari's "Lives of the Artists" have morphed into modern and postmodern literature, focusing on the novelistic and lyric subversions of the original model. Adjustments to the standard narrative include biographies of wretched artists, artsy dealers, and aesthetically inclined criminals; texts set within the imagined world of a painting; tales privileging the instrument or materials over the artist; and dramatically rewritten or unwritten lives of the usual suspects.

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