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Writing the Jewish State

Submitted by vickylim on
30452
NEHC 30452
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Na'ama Rokem

This seminar examines the role of literature in the Zionist movement. We will read utopian descriptions of the Jewish State, poems about its foundation and short stories that criticize its actions. Particular attention will be paid to the literature of war and to questions of genre. How are generic choices motivated by the author's political positions and how do these choices define the impact of a work? If there is student interest, a section will be created for reading sources in Hebrew. Knowledge of Hebrew is not a prerequisite.

Oedipus Tyrannus: Thinking in and with Tragedy

Submitted by vickylim on
31222
SCTH 31222, GREK 24714, GREK 34714
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Laura Slatkin

Oedipus: exemplary sovereign or outlier? Savior of the city or its destroyer? Epistemophile or –phobe? Upholder or suspender of the law (including the laws of kinship)? Sophocles’ Oedipus tyrannos has been good to think with since its first production in the fifth century BCE. As a meditation on kingship as well as kinship, the play offers a complex Oedipus, if not, perhaps, an Oedipus complex. Sophocles’ meditation on the polis, law, family, knowledge, the structure of mind, desire, and the disease in and of state has proved especially rich for philosophers, psychoanalysts, and theater artists; the play also famously provides the core example for Aristotle’s meditation on tragedy in the Poetics. We will explore the OT as tragedy, as resource, as example and exception. Although no knowledge of Greek is required for this course, there will be assignment options for those who wish to do reading in Greek. Note: This course will be taught twice a week for the first five weeks of Winter 2015 on Tuesdays/Thursdays, 1:30-4:20pm in F 305.

Marxism and Modern Culture

Submitted by vickylim on
31600
ENGL 32300
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Loren Kruger

This course covers the classics in the field of marxist social theory (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Gramsci, Reich, Lukacs, Fanon) as well as key figures in the development of Marxist aesthetics (Adorno, Benjamin, Brecht, Marcuse, Williams) and recent developments in Marxist critiques of new media, post-colonial theory and other contemporary topics. It is suitable for graduate students in literature depts. and art history. It is not suitable for students in the social sciences. TuTh 1:30-2:50 for all students; If ten or more MAPH students enroll, they will also attend a tutorial session on Friday 8:30-10:20.

Brechtian Representations: Theatre, Theory, Cinema

Submitted by vickylim on
40500
ENGL 44500
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Loren Kruger

This course will examine the contribution of Brecht, the most influential playwright of the twentieth century and its principal theatre theorist, to the practice and theory of theatre and cinema. We will pay particular attention to the relationships between theory and practice in Brecht's own work so as to clarify the significance of terms that are both concepts and techniques--epic theatre, Verfremdung, gest, historicizing, refunctioning the apparatus, and the formation of the critical audience--and go on to consider the influence (and refunctioning) of Brechtian theory and practice in more recent work of playwrights (Heiner Müller, Peter Weiss,RW Fassbinder, Caryl Churchill, Athol Fugard, Lynn Nottage...), film-makers (Jean-Luc Godard, Alexander Kluge, Fassbinder ...), and theorists (Barthes, Adorno)

The Literary Life of Things in China

Submitted by vickylim on
41410
EALC 41400
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Judith Zeitlin

This course investigates traditional literary strategies in China through which objects are depicted and animated. Our emphasis will be on reading in primary sources, but we’ll also draw on secondary sources from anthropology, the history of material culture, literary theory, and art history, both from within and outside China studies. 

Each week will introduce some basic genre and key literary works while also foregrounding certain conceptual issues. Ideally, students will select a case study to work on throughout the quarter, which will become their final research paper and which will also help orient their shorter class presentations. The choice of subject for the case study is quite open, so that each student can pursue a project that relates to his or her own central interests. It might be a cultural biography of a real object or class of objects; it might be a study of how objects are deployed in a novel or play, encyclopedia or connoisseurship manual, but there are many other possibilities.  

Spectacle and Surveillance

Submitted by vickylim on
44624
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
W.J.T. Mitchell & Bernard Harcourt

Note: MA students require consent of instructor.

Spectacle and surveillance have been central tactics in the production of political power since at least the early modern era, when the pageants of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, were accompanied by the spies of Cardinal Richelieu, who kept careful watch for potential rebellion in the provinces. The British empire’s musterings of uniforms, ribbons, and banners in mass formations of loyal subjects were probably as important to the maintenance of imperial power as the actual mustering of armed conflict. At the same time, Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon envisioned a world of incarcerated subjects, all exposed to the gaze of power at all times.  How does it stand with the relation of spectacle and surveillance today, the age of total information storage, retrieval, and big data?  The overall purpose of this seminar will be to reflect on the dialectical pairing of spectacle and surveillance as modes of image power—that is, power over subjects in the case of spectacle, over objects in the case of surveillance—and as modes of governing in our contemporary age of Big Data. While we are interested in the history of this pairing in theoretical discourses on visual culture, politics, law, media, and iconology, our major emphasis will be on contextualizing and analyzing the present state of the surveillance/spectacle dynamic, as well as exploring all the forms of resistance.

Readings will include Michel Foucault, Guy Debord, George Orwell, Glenn Greenwald and selected films dealing with surveillance and spectacle.

Comparative Literary History

Submitted by vickylim on
50203
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Boris Maslov

This seminar pursues a twofold agenda. First, we will survey the history of criticism and theoretical reflection on change, evolution, receptivity, and traditionality in literature. Second, we will debate how the writing of literary histories – whether national or comparative, form- or author-centered, “continuist” or period-based – can be approached today, and how such work may be useful for other kinds of literary scholarship. In addition to literary theorists, we will read pertinent work in cultural history, philosophy of history, and history of art. Texts discussed to include works by Hegel, Burckhardt, Veselovsky, Warburg, Benjamin, Tynianov, Bakhtin, Blumenberg, Jameson. This course fulfills the winter core requirement for first-year Ph.D. students in Comparative Literature.

Introduction to Drama: Adventures in Time and Space

Submitted by vickylim on
20601
ENGL 10600, TAPS 19300
  • Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
John Muse

This course introduces students to key concepts and interpretive tools to read and understand drama both as text and as performance. Students will learn to read and watch plays and performances closely, taking into account form, character, plot and genre, but also conventions of staging, acting, and spectatorship across historical time and geographic space. Through close reading, theater research, and trips to performances, we will consider how various agents—playwrights, directors, actors, and audiences—generate plays and give them meaning. Essential plays from a range of times and places: Sophocles, Shakespeare, Calderon, Strindberg, Ibsen, Wilder, Pirandello, Brecht, Beckett, Parks, McCraney.

The Global South Asian Diaspora in Literature and Film

Submitted by vickylim on
21970
CRES 21907
  • Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Chandani Patel

The migration of peoples from South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan)
abroad is usually divided into two distinct strands: the first is centered on the migration of
indentured laborers in the late 19th century to locales in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the
Caribbean, while the second takes shape around the post-1960s migration of South Asians to the
UK, USA, and Canada. Scholars whose work focuses on the various communities of South
Asians in all of these places use the word “diaspora” as one that links these groups together. The
term itself is of Greek origin, meaning to scatter or disperse, and in its earliest usages referred to
the dispersal of the Jewish community exiled from its homeland. But in its expanded use,
“diaspora” refers to communities of people who share a common national or ethnic origin, and
often, but not always, a common language and religious belief. This course takes up literary and
cinematic representations of the global South Asian diaspora in order to analyze how they create
narratives about diasporic experiences across historical periods and around the globe. How do
these texts represent the experiences of dislocation, marginalization, and acculturation usually
associated with migration? How do the ideas of home, longing, and belonging shift throughout
these texts? How do distinct historical, social, cultural and political parameters impact both the
writing and reading of these texts? Can we, and should we try to, read these multifaceted voices
of the South Asian diaspora together? To answer these questions, the course will draw on a
variety of perspectives from literature, history, and sociology and evaluate issues, such as gender,
politics, generational conflict, race, class, and transnational encounters as they pertain to the
course material. The texts under consideration will include novels by Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri,
and Monica Ali and films by Mira Nair and Gurinder Chadha, among others.

Balkan Folklore

Submitted by vickylim on
23301
33301
SOSL 26800/36800, NEHC 20568,NEHC 30568,ANTH 25908,ANTH 35908
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Angelina Ilieva

Immerse yourself in the magic world of vampires and dragons, bagpipes and uneven beats, quick-step circle dance. This course give an introduction to Balkan folklore from anthropological, historical/political, and performative perspectives. We become acquainted with folk tales, lyric and epic songs, music, and dance. The work of Milman Parry and Albert Lord, who developed their theory of oral composition through work among epic singers in the Balkans, helps us understand folk tradition as a dynamic process – how is oral tradition transmitted, preserved, changed, forgotten? how do illiterate singers learn their long narrative poems, how do musicians learn to play? We consider the function of different folklore genres in the imagining and maintenance of community and the socialization of the individual. The historical/political part will survey the emergence of folklore studies as a discipline as well as the ways it has served in the formation and propagation of the nation in the Balkans. The class will also experience this living tradition first hand through our in-class workshop with the Chicago based dance ensemble “Balkanski igri.” The Annual Balkan Folklore Spring Festival will be held in March at the International House.

The Burden of History: The Nation and Its Lost Paradise

Submitted by vickylim on
23401
33401
SOSL 27300 / 37300, NEHC 20573,NEHC 30573,HIST 24005,HIST 34005
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Angelina Ilieva

The Other Within the Self: Identity in Balkan Literature and Film. This two-course sequence examines discursive practices in a number of literary and cinematic works from the South East corner of Europe through which identities in the region become defined by two distinct others: the “barbaric, demonic” Ottoman and the “civilized” Western European.

This course begins by defining the nation both historically and conceptually, with attention to Romantic nationalism and its flourishing in Southeastern Europe. We then look at the narrative of original wholeness, loss, and redemption through which Balkan countries retell their Ottoman past. With the help of Freud's analysis of masochistic desire and Žižek's theory of the subject as constituted by trauma, we contemplate the national fixation on the trauma of loss and the dynamic between victimhood and sublimity. The figure of the Janissary highlights the significance of the other in the definition of the self. Some possible texts are Petar Njegoš's Mountain Wreath; Ismail Kadare's The Castle; and Anton Donchev's Time of Parting.

Forms of Lyric from Classical Antiquity to Postmodernism

Submitted by vickylim on
24501
CLCV 27109,SLAV 24501
  • Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Boris Maslov

Moving beyond the modern perception of lyric as an expression of the poet’s subjectivity, this course confronts the remarkable longevity of varieties of lyric that have remained in use over centuries and millennia, such as the hymn, ode, pastoral, elegy, epistle, and epigram. What kept these classical genres alive for so long and, conversely, what made them serviceable to poets working in very different cultural milieus? In an effort to develop a theory and a history of Western lyric genres, we will sample from the work of many poets, including Sappho, Horace, Ovid, Hölderlin, Pushkin, Whitman, Mandel’shtam, Brodsky, and Milosz. All readings in English.

Voices from the Iron House: Lu Xun’s Works

Submitted by vickylim on
27014
37014
EALC 27014/37014
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Paola Iovene

An exploration of the writings of Lu Xun (1881-1936), widely considered as the greatest Chinese writer of the past century. We will read short stories, essays, prose poetry and personal letters against the backdrop of the political and cultural upheavals of early 20th century China and in dialogue with important English-language scholarly works. 

Intro to Comp Lit II: Comparative Modernisms: China and India in the Modern Literary World

Submitted by vickylim on
29704
SALC 27300, EALC 25009
  • Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2014-2015
Adhira Mangalagiri

This course takes a comparative approach to the literary term “modernism.” Instead of reading the term as originating in the West and subsequently travelling to the East, we will explore modernism as a plural and globally constituted literary practice. In doing so, we will also challenge the literary and real categories of “East” and “West.” Reading the roles and imaginations of China, North India, and the (differentiated) West in a variety of texts, we will question the aesthetics and politics of representation, of dynamic cultural exchange, and of the global individual in the modern literary world. Through novels, short stories, poetry, and theoretical orientations, we will conduct close readings and develop working definitions of cross-cultural comparative modernisms. Contributing to recent interest in China-India relationships, this course also aims to uncover new dialogues between Chinese and Indian writers during the modern period. Literary readings include E.M. Forster, Franz Kafka, Lu Xun, Yu Dafu, Premchand, Nirmal Verma, among others. We will also consider the theoretical works of Fredric Jameson, Edward Said, and Georg Lukacs, and others. All readings will be in English.