Undergraduate

  • Writing Istanbul: City of Doubles

    Istanbul is haunted by its doppelgängers. Poised between Europe and Asia, the city straddles both the Greco-Roman and the Ottoman-Islamic legacies that shape our world today. This course will walk students through Istanbul's streets and neighborhoods as they've been written by the living voices of those legacies: the city's natives (primarily Greeks and Turks) as well as the internal migrants, refugees, and exiles who've found their way there over the past century.
  • Myth, History, and Contemporary Experience: Modern Greek Poetry in a Global Context

    This is an introduction to Modern Greek poetry in a broad context, with an emphasis on its relation to Anglophone poetry. How is the experience of modernity registered in poetic texts? What traditions do poets draw on, which contemporary experiences do they reflect or critique, and what futures do they envision? How are Greek poets exploring their relation to the ancient Greek past, and also responding to trends and experiments in global modernism as well as to current events?
  • Music through Fiction

    The aphorism that "writing about music is like dancing about architecture" frames musical writing as an act of absurdity. Yet write about music we do. Focusing on works of fiction that turn musical experience into literary experience and back again, this course explores music writing as a creative activity. How do we write compellingly about the sides of music that seem most technical, hermetic, or ineffable? Can we consider fictional accounts of "real" music to be works in criticism or analysis?
  • 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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