Courses

Spring 2020

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. Primary sources include letters, treatises, and chronicles but also maps, archeological layouts, frescos, inscriptions, and rock art.
Instructors: Wendy Laura Belcher, Francois-Xavier Fauvelle
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. Primary sources include letters, treatises, and chronicles but also maps, archeological layouts, frescos, inscriptions, and rock art.
Instructors: Wendy Laura Belcher, Francois-Xavier Fauvelle
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. You will develop your own approach to the humanities that combines methodologies in archaeology, art, literature, intellectual history.
Instructors: Guangchen Chen
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. You will develop your own approach to the humanities that combines methodologies in archaeology, art, literature, intellectual history.
Instructors: Guangchen Chen
Topics in Critical Theory: Comparative Literature Writing and Dissertation Colloquium
The Writing and Dissertation Colloquium is a biweekly forum for graduate students in Comparative Literature to share works in progress with other graduate students. The seminar welcomes drafts of your prospectus, article, dissertation chapter, conference paper, exam statement and grant or fellowship proposal. Work is pre-circulated. The 90 minute sessions, done in conjunction with a rotating COM faculty member, are designed to offer written and oral feedback.
Instructors: Claudia Joan Brodsky
Topics in Critical Theory: Comparative Literature Writing and Dissertation Colloquium
The Writing and Dissertation Colloquium is a biweekly forum for graduate students in Comparative Literature to share works in progress with other graduate students. The seminar welcomes drafts of your prospectus, article, dissertation chapter, conference paper, exam statement and grant or fellowship proposal. Work is pre-circulated. The 90 minute sessions, done in conjunction with a rotating COM faculty member, are designed to offer written and oral feedback.
Instructors: Claudia Joan Brodsky
Topics in Germanic Literatures: Happy Endings and the Politics of Affirmation. From Homer to Hollywood
Happy endings are better than their literary reputation might suggest. This course will challenge the widespread misconception that happy endings are simply trite, conventional, and reactionary. By looking at diverse examples from entertainment to high art, from Disney's "The Little Mermaid" to Milton's "Paradise Lost", from Goethe and Schiller to Jordan Peele, we will examine the political dimension of the happy ending as an intriguing cultural phenomenon. Affirmative art can make valuable contributions to social cohesion and democracy. And, happy endings are joyful.
Instructors: Nikolaus Wegmann
Topics in Germanic Literatures: Happy Endings and the Politics of Affirmation. From Homer to Hollywood
Happy endings are better than their literary reputation might suggest. This course will challenge the widespread misconception that happy endings are simply trite, conventional, and reactionary. By looking at diverse examples from entertainment to high art, from Disney's "The Little Mermaid" to Milton's "Paradise Lost", from Goethe and Schiller to Jordan Peele, we will examine the political dimension of the happy ending as an intriguing cultural phenomenon. Affirmative art can make valuable contributions to social cohesion and democracy. And, happy endings are joyful.
Instructors: Nikolaus Wegmann
Topics in Hindi/Urdu: Literature and Cinema
Reading and viewing of select Hindi/Urdu literary works and their cinematic adaptations, covering a wide-range of registers, genres and styles: drama, short story, novel (excerpts), as well as commercial and alternative cinema. Attention will be given to historical and social context, as well as different styles and trends. Stories and films will address issues of discrimination, inequity, and reform, representations of gender, social and cultural norms and conventions, stereotypes, taboos, and transgressions. In-depth classroom discussion in Hindi/Urdu of all materials.
Instructors: Robert Lowell Phillips
Topics in Hindi/Urdu: Literature and Cinema
Reading and viewing of select Hindi/Urdu literary works and their cinematic adaptations, covering a wide-range of registers, genres and styles: drama, short story, novel (excerpts), as well as commercial and alternative cinema. Attention will be given to historical and social context, as well as different styles and trends. Stories and films will address issues of discrimination, inequity, and reform, representations of gender, social and cultural norms and conventions, stereotypes, taboos, and transgressions. In-depth classroom discussion in Hindi/Urdu of all materials.
Instructors: Robert Lowell Phillips

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