The imagination of how life will or might be is central to many definitions of literature that consider it as a form of social practice. In this course we will discuss how diverse dimensions of the future—as hope, anxiety, plan, as possibility or fear of transformation—shape the literary imagination. Our focus will be on Chinese fictional narratives and theories of literature of the 20th century, with particular attention to the periods of transition to and away from socialism, but we will also look at concepts of timeliness and untimeliness in critical and narrative theory elsewhere. Overall, our aim will be to explore how the function and fate of literature has been imagined in relation to other cultural, political, and social practices, an issue that inevitably emerges every time one tries to pin down the problem of Chinese literary modernity itself. In the second part of the course students will be asked to work on their own projects on texts, films, or other media of their choice. Readings may include Liang Qichao, Lu Xun, Mao Zedong, Zhou Yang, Li Tuo, Ge Fei, Mo Yan, E. Bloch, J. Derrida, G. Morson, F. Jameson, M. Bakhtin.
Filter by course level:
Filter by quarter:
Filter by academic year:
This seminar has a double focus: a reading of selected odes of Pindar with emphasis on the gods and titans; and a comparative study of the Pindaric tradition in Latin and European literature, including Horace, Ronsard, Hoelderlin, Klopstock, Celan, Thomas Gray, Wordsworth, and Whitman. Course requirement: a reading knowledge of at least one of the following languages: Greek, Latin, French, German.
This seminar will be directed to graduate students in Music and in English and Comparative Literature. We intend to bring together students from the graduate programs in these two departments in hope of encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration by creating occasions for the swapping of interpretive skills. We want to enable musicologists to draw on some of the methods and procedures of textual interpretation that are familiar to students of poetry; and literature students, to draw on some of the elaborate methods and even devices of formal analysis of music. We think that we can best serve the needs of musicology students by attending displaying some of the techniques of literary interpretation that are brought to bear on canonical short poems. Likewise we mean to offer to literature students an opportunity to take seriously the notion that the lyric is a genre of musical composition. Our objective too is to overcome the common distinction between mass and elite culture by focusing on song lyrics as a genre of popular poetry. The seminar will focus on potential overlap between songs—largely popular songs—and canonical poetry.
Since the 1970s, Mikhail Bakhtin's work has had an enthusiastic reception in the Western academe. In spite of – or, arguably, as a result of – its wide dissemination, it has also suffered much from reductionist readings. In this seminar, we will read Bakhtin's major works, seeking to restore them to the intellectual context of the Russian school of historical poetics. In addition, we will discuss primary texts that provided the impetus for Bakhtin's theories (Petronius, Plutarch, Dostoyevsky). All readings in English.
PQ: Reading knowledge of German. This course is a study in poetic idealization. Ancient Greece is unlike most other literary cultures: it stands for the actual historical realization of the highest artistic and broadly cultural values. No poet is so audacious as to suggest that Greece was somehow not quite good enough. Hölderlin and Pound, a century apart, imitated and translated Greek poetry. What did they see in that ancient poetry that fulfilled their own desires for the poems of their own times? Was Hölderlin's Sophocles the poet Pound translated into the 20th century? Why did Hölderlin admire and Pound despise the praise poems of Pindar? These are some of the questions we will engage in our reading of these poets. The course will be organized as a seminar. Each student will give one oral report and write one long essay.
Debt has become a paramount topic of discussion and controversy in recent times, fuelled by the financial crisis of 2008 and the different episodes of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, above all involving Greece. This has produced a great deal of commentaries, economic analyses, and journalistic polemics from all sides of the political spectrum. Yet despite this profusion of discourse, it still proves difficult to seize the exact contours of the problem. Debt affects both the most isolated individuals and the most powerful states, it is equally a matter of “cold” economic rationality and the “hottest” emotions and moral judgments, it appears at once as the most empirical thing with the hardest material consequences and as a mysterious, ethereal, abstract, and purely speculative entity (the unreal product of financial “speculation”). The concept of indebtedness not only characterizes an increasingly universal economic predicament, but also defines a form of subjectivity central to our present condition. This seminar will examine the problem of debt by first looking at how different approaches to it—economic, anthropological, and psychodynamic—were formed by Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, and then reading more contemporary authors on the theme, including Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, Graeber, and Lazzarato.
This course introduces undergraduates to some of the fundamental conceptual issues raised by novels: how are novels formally unified (if they are)? What are the ideological presuppositions inherent in a novelistic view? What ethical practices do novels encourage? What makes a character in a novel distinct from character in other fictive systems? Readings include Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Dickens, Great Expectations; Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway. Critics covered include Lukacs, Bakhtin, Watt, Jameson, McKeon, D.A. Miller, Woloch, Moretti, and others.
This seminar examines the implications of modern theories of multiculturalism and world systems for the study of classical literatures. It asks students to historically and theoretically explore the relation of classical literatures and ancient cultures to area studies, national and comparative literature departments, as well as to disciplines such as anthropology, linguistics and archaeology. How does scholarship on ancient cosmopolitanism, tracing ever more extensive networks of material and linguistic exchange, compel us both to reread ancient texts and to rethink their relation to the present? Who determines to whom a text or cultural artifact belongs? The class is primarily organized around theoretical readings relating to a set of problems (e.g. notions of cultural property, translation, writing systems, race, Silk Road Studies), but will also include readings of classical texts (primarily Chinese and Greek) available in translation. Authors will include Appiah, Bernal, Derrida, Engels, Frank, Kuper, Plato, Sima Qian, Spivak.
Humanism in the Renaissance was an ambitious project to repair what idealists saw as a fallen, broken world by reviving the lost arts of antiquity. Their systematic transformation of literature, education, art, religion, architecture, and science dramatically reshaped European culture, mixing ancient and medieval and producing the foundations of modern thought and society. Readings focus on primary sources: Petrarch, Poggio, Ficino, Pico, Castiglione, Machiavelli, and Thomas More, with a historiographical review of major modern treatments of the topic. We will consider such topics as the history of education, the history of science, the cultural and intellectual history, and the history of the book. The course will include hands-on work with manuscripts and early printed books with sessions on note-taking and other library and research skills. Flexible and self-directed writing assignments with a focus on advanced writing skills.
PQ: Upper-level ugrads with consent of instructor. Students w/ Latin, Gk, Italian, French, Spanish, or German will have the opportunity to use them.
This course will be taught by Boris Maslov (Comp. Lit.) and Richard Neer (Art History) with the continuous participation of Leslie Kurke (Classics and Comp. Lit., University of California at Berkeley). It will explore new ways of reading Greek poetry, and new disciplinary formations at the intersection of archaeology, art history, classics and comparative literature. Coursework will consist of close readings of Pindar with an eye to material and institutional contexts of poetic production. Topics will include the “thingly” or material nature of the poem; architectural metaphors; the emergent discourse of poetic professionalism; relation between epinician and traditional cult poetry; sites of poetic performance; Pindar’s allusions to monuments at Delphi, Olympia and elsewhere; the historical phenomenology of architecture and statuary; and the construction of sacred landscapes.
Students wishing to develop a closer familiarity with Pindar and Pindaric scholarship will meet, as part of an informal reading group, run by Boris Maslov, in the Winter quarter (starting in Week 4); those wishing to take part should send an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Prerequisites: Classical Greek required; graduate standing (seniors may be admitted; should email Prof. Maslov or Prof. Neer in advance).
In this seminar, we will approach conceptual history (a.k.a. Begriffsgeschichte) as a resource for philologically-informed study of cultural interaction, continuity, and change. We will begin by developing a theoretical background in historical semantics, conceptual history, Metaphorologie, and history of ideas (focusing on the work of Nietzsche, Spitzer, Koselleck, Blumenberg, and Hadot); the second part of the quarter will be dedicated to historical and theoretical problems in the study of concepts in literary texts and across cultures. Reading knowledge of two (or more) foreign languages is a strong desideratum. As a final project, seminar participants will be expected to choose a particular concept and trace its history and uses in literary texts, ideally in more than one language.
In this advanced seminar we will undertake an in-depth study of different aspects of the surviving corpus of Aeschylus (including meter, dialect, narrative, thematics, plot-construction, and ritual context), while placing it in a comparative context of early forms of drama and varieties of choral performance attested across the world. In addition to discussing all of Aeschylus’s surviving works in English translation, we will read at least two of his plays in Greek (most likely, Agamemnon and Seven Against Thebes). We will also read important scholarship on Aeschylus. Advanced knowledge of Greek is a prerequisite.
The seminar will discuss on the workings of the face –as imprint of identity, as figure of subjectivity, as privileged object of representation, as mode and ethic of address – through film theory and practice. How has cinema responded to the mythic and iconic charge of the face, to the portrait’s exploration of model and likeness, identity and identification, the revelatory and masking play of expression, the symbolic and social registers informing the human countenance. At this intersection of archaic desires and contemporary anxieties, the face will serve as our medium by which to reconsider, in the cinematic arena, some of the oldest questions on the image. Among the filmmakers and writers who will inform our discussion are Balázs, Epstein, Kuleshov, Dreyer, Pasolini, Hitchcock, Warhol, Bresson, Bazin, Barthes, Doane, Aumont, Nancy, Didi-Huberman, and others.
PQ: All French works will be read in the original. Requirements for the course are one oral presentation, and one seminar paper. This course will look at Baudelaire and his surroundings, from the revolution of 1848 and its historians (Tocqueville in particular); to the artists that fascinated Baudelaire (Daumier, Delacroix, Guys, Wagner) and what the poet wrote about them; to the changes in Paris thanks to the Baron Haussmann; to the writers and political thinkers who most influenced the poet (Poe, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Hugo, de Quincey, Maistre, Proudhon); to Baudelaire's obsession with original sin; to, of course, Baudelaire's own works and development. We will also consider some of the major works of critical theory that concern the poet (including Benjamin, Burton, Chambers, Derrida, T.J.Clark, Blanchot, DeMan, and Poulet, to name a few).
This course will examine the extent to which Martin Heidegger’s redescription of Greek poetry and philosophy as an ontological project provided a normative horizon for avant-garde poetic practice in postwar France. We will begin with Heidegger’s encounter with René Char in Provence, and their rereading of the pre-Socratic philosophers in a series of seminars between 1966 and 1973. We will look at Heidegger’s response to Char’s poetic prose in connection with Heidegger’s call for thinking instead of philosophy, and at the philosophical commitments of poets who took Char as model, or who develop alternative accounts of the link between poetry and Being. Authors will include Ponge, Celan, Guillevic, Du Bouchet, Royet-Journoud, Albiach, Sobin, Susan Howe, and Daive. Texts may be read in the original or in English translation.
Whereas Freud believed with the Enlightenment that science would increasingly demonstrate religion to be an illusion, Lacan saw religion as that which would save us from the increasingly loud discourse of science. From Lacan’s early (Freudian) notion of the Nom-du-Père, to his later conflation of Freud and Christ (as rescuing the father), and finally to his Barromean knots and the sinthome, Lacan considers religion a “garbage can, for it has not the slightest homogeneity.” This course, then, will consider Lacan’s concept of religion. We will begin with readings from Freud’s texts on religion: “Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices,” “The Future of an Illusion,” “Totem and Taboo,” “Civilization and its Discontents,” “Moses and Monotheism.” We will then read the texts on religion from Lacan, considering how his views change on the subject, and what the stakes are in his efforts to separate psychoanalysis from science and religion.
Requirements: reading knowledge of French, basic familiarity with Lacan.
This course will undertake a close reading (in French) of seminal texts (essays and translation as well as poems) by Mallarmé. We will also read older critical interpretations (Mauron, Sartre, H. Friedrich, Robert Greer Cohn, Scherer, J-P Richard, Poulet, eg) and more contemporary theorists (Derrida, Blanchot, De Man, Jameson, Johnson, Kristeva, Rancière, bersani, Zizek). Finally, we will read him in conjunction with some other, more or less overtly philosophical texts (Heidegger, Badiou, Nietzsche, Meschonnic, e.g.). Reading knowledge of French is REQUIRED, though the course will be conducted in English.
PQ: Reading knowledge of French is required. An examination of the works of some of the most significant twentieth-century philosophers of Judaism. In the first part of the seminar we will examine the philosophical, theological, and ethical foundations of Modern Orthodox Judaism. The principal readings will be Joseph B. Soloveitchik's The Emergence of Ethical Man and Aharon Lichtenstein's By His Light. The second part of the seminar will focus on the post World War II emergence of a new philosophy and theology of Judaism in France. Primary readings will come from Emmanuel Lévinas, Léon Askénazi, Alexandre Safran, and Henri Meschonnic. Special attention will be given to the relation between philosophical argument and analysis, and theological conception and method.
This course explores the literature of nation-building. Readings include the Aeneid; Kipling's White Man's Burden and The Man Who Would Be King ; Conrad's Lord Jim ; T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom ; and various contemporary writings on Iraq.
We will study ancient (Euripides, Ovid, Seneca) and modern (Racine, D'Annunzio, H.D., Kane) versions of Phaedra and her family system. Topics of discussion will include intertextuality, incest, abjection, and the relations between poetics and moral psychologies. No knowledge of languages other than English is required, but Classics and Comp Lit students will read one or more tragedies in the original language.
We live in an era of unprecedented global flows of cultural goods both tangible and intangible (artworks, antiquities, dancers and musicians, intellectuals, texts, films, images and ideas), and of unprecedented threats to culture from both market and ideological forces. How are these challenges being addressed by the cultural policies being pursued by states, international organizations, and non-governmental groups? We will focus on three main arenas of international cultural policy: cultural patrimony and restitution issues ranging from the Elgin marbles and Franz Kafka's unpublished papers to international efforts to protect archaeological sites and museums in failed states; initiatives focused on cultural diplomacy/exchange/engagement; and globalization/protectionism of cultural industries and institutions ranging from film and music to museums and universities.
This course explores the uses of technologies of visualization for the production of humanistic knowledge with Renaissance Florence as both subject (the origin of literary and artistic “picturing” techniques that enabled new modes of representing individuals as well as geographies, and stimulated new ways of relating the visible to the invisible) and as object of representation (in stories, novels, films, images, as well as more abstractly in social network mapping, virtual imaging, and even videogame construction). We will be looking at technological phenomena including the Renaissance-era invention of perspective, the telescope, cartographical and chorographical innovations, and improved mirrors, and their impact on conceptualizations of the self, knowledge, and power in Machiavelli and others. But we also will be considering Florentine technologies of representation as the prehistory of the contemporary transformation of the real into digitally-mediated forms via geospatial mapping, network analysis, cinematography, and even videogame production. We will be asking if the Florentines have any lessons to share about the possibilities, dangers, and pleasures of technologized representation.
This course will introduce students to the digital humanities by focusing on the acquisition of a single quantitative method (social network analysis) and its application to a single historical context (literary modernism). The course familiarizes students with ongoing debates surrounding the digital humanities and the use of computational methods for literary critique, but will also move past meta-discussion by providing an opportunity to explore these methods through collaborative projects. Readings will be focused on theories of literary modernism and sociological approaches to the study of culture. Students will learn how to build network datasets, manipulate visualization software, run simple analytics, and think critically about the potential uses of social-scientific methods. No prerequisites required.
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.
This is the first part of a two-quarter seminar devoted to Goethe’s Faust tragedy, with each segment devoted to one of the work’s two parts. Since three substantial new editions (plus commentary) have been published within the past two decades, scholarship now finds itself in an excellent position to develop theoretically informed readings of what is arguably the most significant work in the German canon. The main task of the first-quarter seminar will be to examine Faust I. However, we will also consider the Faust tradition, including the 1587 Volksbuch (so-called), Lessing’s Faust fragment, and some other contemporary and subsequent renditions of Faust. This segment will also provide an opportunity to survey Goethe’s poetic and intellectual development from 1770 to 1808, when Faust I was first published in its complete form. Of particular interest in our investigation of Faust I will be: a) the theological background; b) structural principles; c) linguistic figuration. Prominent interpretations of the play by Goethe’s contemporaries (e.g., Schelling, Hegel) will be considered. We shall also examine two sequences of Faust illustrations by Peter Cornelius and Eugène Delacroix as well as two performances of the drama (from dvd). This seminar may be taken alone, or in combination with the seminar on Faust II. Students taking both seminars are encouraged to write a single substantial research paper.
Continuing the sequence begun in Winter Quarter, this seminar will examine Goethe’s Faust II. Due to the intricacies of this work, we shall devote two sessions to each of its five acts. In addition to the close study of the text, we will consider major issues in the scholarship: a) the question of allegory and its theoretical grounding in Marx and Benjamin; b) the question of the modern (Faust as tragedy of modern consciousness); c) the dialectic of the Classic and the Romantic; d) Goethe’s scientific and aesthetic views as embodied in the play; e) the theological frame, especially in connection with the play’s conclusion. In addition to the commentaries, certain critical works will also be discussed, including contributions by Kommerell, Emrich, Adorno, Schlaffer, Schmidt, and Anderegg. The world-literary background of Goethe’s play will likewise be an important theme of the seminar. This seminar may be taken alone, or in combination with the seminar on Faust I. Students taking both seminars are encouraged to write a single substantial research paper.
During the eighteenth century, European Enlightenment writers led a philosophical assault on the Americas. From Spain, France, and Britain, philosophers made various arguments claiming that in the Americas everything degenerated: humans and animals would, over generations, become smaller. The Americas, it turned out, simply paled in comparison to Europe. This class is an exploration of the American response to this rhetorical subalternization. To be clear, this class is not a study of the subalterns of the Americas; rather, we will focus on the elite Spanish American and British American response to their subalternization by Europe. We’ll examine then the emerging sense of what it means to be an American by focusing on the Spanish American and British colonies, and follow this through with the early national periods. The course is an interdisciplinary course. We’ll read literary, cultural, and social history for context and theories of imagined communities, reading publics, and literary history. Our focus, however, will be on the primary texts: non-fiction prose narrative, the rise of the novel in the Americas, short stories, political philosophy, journalism, and travel writing. Spanish-reading skills will definitely aid in comprehension, but all non-anglophone texts are available in translation.
This course will trace the progress of two bursts of dramatic creativity: tragedy in fifth century Athens and adaptations of tragedy in twentieth century Africa (including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt). We will read and discuss genre, thematic concerns, and interpretative problems in plays by Euripides and Sophocles. In alternating weeks, we will discuss these topics and issues of cultural and postcolonial identity as they relate to adaptations written by Wole Soyinka, Athol Fugard, Ola Rotimi and others in the 1960s and 70s. All plays will be read in their original language, but students without knowledge of Greek may enroll with instructor's consent.
This graduate course seeks to approach the region of South Asia through a focus on the peripheries – geographic, social and cultural – hoping to shed light on the historic role margins have played in shaping not just South Asia, but the larger world in which we live. The areas of focus will include Khushal Khan Khattak’s encounters with the Mughals, colonial attempts to subdue and control tribes in revolt, the Taliban, regional literatures, the arts, gender and Islam, hijras, mendicants, diaspora communities, resistance movements and orality. A concentration throughout the course on transregional and transnational networks will provide us with a broader framework to help interrogate state-centric approaches. Readings will include primary source materials in translation, scholarly engagements with the region and theoretical writings, from Althusser and Foucault to readings from the Subaltern Studies collective, Gramsci and Sayd Bahodine Majrouh, to name a few.
We will look at the figure of circulation arising from Harvey's anatomical investigations, philosophical enquiries from Descartes, Smith and Hume, and literary texts including Behn, Wycherley, Fielding, Austen, Smollet, Burney, Goldsmith and Pope and Worsworth as well as Kubrick's film of Thackeray's novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon, and will look at circulation, feeling and value from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. We will discuss the particular emergence of two sites for the performance of mobility: on one hand, the English landscape, with the impact of practitioners such as Vanbrugh, Capability Brown, and Humphry Repton, as well as Vauxhall Gardens and Stowe; on the other is the auction house: both as key tropes. Theoretical readings will include Marx, Veblen, Simmel, Benjamin, Habermas, Nancy Fraser. Literary and performance history of the early modern era suggests that there was considerable instability around matters of gender identity. In this course we will look at such historically particular cultural phenomena as 'the breeches part' and the 'castrato' in an enquiry into how passing (across class positions as well as gendered identities) gets deployed as a strategy for representing increasingly mobile conceptions of selfhood in an era of upheaval within the economic sphere.
This seminar will undertake a reconstruction of Nietzsche's aesthetic theory and critical practice as developed across his entire oeuvre , from the Geburt der Tragdie to Der Fall Wagner . Although canonical interpretations of Nietzsche's views (e.g., Simmel, Heidegger, Deleuze, Danto) as well as recent commentary (e.g., Figl, Gerhardt, Nehamus) will be considered as frameworks of interpretation, the primary concern of the seminar will be the close reading of Nietzsche's texts themselves. A particular concern will be the elaboration of Nietzsche's views (much discussed in recent scholarship) on rhetoric and on the relation of philosophical and literary language. (Graduate students only. Reading knowledge of German is required. Limit 20 students).
This course is a successor course to the seiminar on Cavell's The Claim of Reason offered in Fall Quarter 2011-2012 by Prof. James Conant (Philosophy). Students may participate in this seminar, however, without having taken the Fall seminar. The aim of this seminar is to delineate and assess Cavell's contributions to literary studies. In particular, we shall consider: 1) Cavell's theory of interpretation and criticism (mainly in terms of the essays in Must We Mean What We Say); 2) his theory of genre (Pursuits of Happiness; Contesting Tears); his theory of tragedy (essay on King Lear in Must We Mean What We Say) and, more generally, his reading of Shakespeare (Disowining Knowledge); his interpretation of Romanticism, esp. of Emerson and Thoreau.
How do rhetorical figures – metaphor, metonymy, synechdoche, allegory, among other tropes so extensively studied in the verbal arts – mediate our perception? how do they inform stylistic and even theoretical conceptions of the moving image? Do they just mimic, or translate literary devices? Do they function merely as ornaments or puns, offering occasional poetic maneuvers in ambitious films? In this seminar we shall explore ways in which tropes can be seen to deeply inform the cinema's means of articulation and the dynamic workings of the image -- the coalescing and mutation of signs, the relation of visual and narrative or expository forms, the differentiation of styles, the very consciousness of the medium with respect to traditions and conventions. Readings will include some influential texts in poetics (eg. Dante, Coleridge, Auerbach, Fletcher, Benjamin, Jakobson, De Man) as well as writings devoted to questions of cinematic figuration (Munsterberg, Eisenstein, Kracauer, Perez, Williams, Rodowick). We shall discuss these in view of films by Eisenstein, Bunuel, Bresson, Franju, Pasolini, Snow, Burnett, Ruiz, and others.
In this seminar we will interpret Kleist's writing (letters, essays, stories, plays, journalism) from three distinct but complimentary points of view: as an elaboration of the skeptical imaginary (including skepticism about knowledge, meaning and other minds); as a play with contingency (metaphysical, narratological, semiotic); as an experiment in modes of intensity (energetic, affective, aesthetic). A major task of the seminar will be to elaborate a unified conception of Kleist's literary project that accounts for its historical and structural specificity. Students will be expected to engage critically with major contributions to the secondary literature. (Graduate students only. Readings and discussion in German).
This course will follow a seminar format: students will give reports to orient and initiate discussion of individual poets. In our discussion of poems—and the classes will focus on single poems—the role of musicality, oratory, and vernacular speech will figure prominently. We will be concerned to identify the distinctive features of these poets one by one: Edouard Glissant, Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott; Jay Wright, Nathaniel Mackey, Carl Phillips, Thylias Moss, and Elizabeth Alexander. Students will give a formal report on a poet of their choosing, and will write an essay at the end of the quarter.
PQ: Open to graduate students only. This course will include works by Andrei Bely, Osip Mandelstam, Anna Akhmatova, and Nabokov. Theoretical sources on intertextuality will include Mikhail Bakhtin, Julia Kristeva, Riffaterre, and Lotman.
PQ: Reading knowledge of one modern European language is required. This course, intended for M.A. and Ph.D. students, focuses on theories of poetry proposed by European writers of the 20th century. We will read essays by Mallarme, Valery, Benn, Eliot, Pound, Breton, Ponge, Heidegger, Celan, Bonnefoy, Oulipo writers, Kristeva, and others. Students will give one or two oral reports and write one essay on a poet of their choosing.
The German poet Friedrich Hölderlin submitted to the paradoxical double-bind of Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s injunction that “the only way for us [Germans] to become great or — if this is possible — inimitable, is to imitate the ancients.” As he wrote in his short essay “The standpoint from which we should consider antiquity,” Hölderlin feared being crushed by the originary brilliance of his Greek models (as the Greeks themselves had been), and yet foresaw that modern European self-formation must endure the ordeal of its encounter with the Greek Other. The faculty of the imagination was instrumental to the mediated self-formation of this Bildung project, for imagination alone was capable of making Greece a living, vitalizing, presence on the page. Our seminar will therefore trace the work of poetic imagination in Hölderlin’s texts: the spatiality and mediality of the written and printed page, and their relation to the temporal rhythms of lived experience. All texts will be read in English translation, but a reading knowledge of German and/or Greek would be desirable. C. Wild and M. Payne.
A close reading of Michel Foucault's Surveller et punir. Naissance de la prison . Some attention will also be given to the debates provoked by this book, and to the political activities of the groupe d'information sur les prisons. Reading knowledge of French is required.
PQ: Limited enrollment; Students interested in taking for credit should attend first seminar before registering. Reading knowledge of French required. Consent Only. A close reading of Michel Foucault’s 1979-80 course at the Collège de France, Du gouvernement des vivants. Foucault’s most extensive course on early Christianity, these lectures examine the relations between the government of the self and regimes of truth through a detailed analysis of Christian penitential practices, with special attention to the practices of exomologēsis and exagoreusis. We will read this course both taking into account Foucault’s sustained interest in ancient thought and with a focus on the more general historical and theoretical conclusions that can be drawn from his analyses. (I)
PQ: Consent of instructor. Outside students will be accepted, with the class size limited to 15 students, as long as the majority of the students are CompLit Grad students and PhD students in Classics. Fulfills the core course requirement for CompLit students. Students who wish to take this course but have already taken a Comparative Literature core course may take this course with permission of the instructor. Course readings include Greek, Roman, and early modern European tragic dramas (including Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Corneille, Racine, and Schiller) together with major works of literary criticism on tragedy and the idea of the tragic, from Plato, Aristotle, and Longinus to Sidney, Hegel, and Lacan. Each student must read at least one play in a language other than English.
PQ: Consent of instructor. Outside students will be accepted, with the class size limited to 15 students, as long as the majority of the students are CompLit Grad students and PhD students in Spanish. Fulfills the core course requirement for CompLit students. Students who wish to take this course but have already taken a Comparative Literature core course may take this course with permission of the instructor. During the early modern age, writing had a strong visual component. Poets and playwrights utilized the sense of sight since it was the highest of the Platonic senses and a mnemonic key to lead spectators to remember vividly what they had read or heard, long before spectacle plays were in fashion. One important technique for visualization was ekphrasis, the description of an art work within a text. For this purpose, playwrights often turned to the mythological canvases of the Italian Renaissance along with the portraits of great rulers and images of battle. The seminar will examine the uses of art onstage: mnemonic, mimetic, political, religious comic, tragic, lyric and licentious. It will also delve into different forms of ekphrasis from the notional to the dramatic and from the fragmented to the reversed. Although the course will focus on Spanish plays of the early modern period, it will also include dramas by Terence and Tacone; Euripides and Racine. Numerous Italian Renaissance and Spanish Baroque paintings will be discussed.
PQ: Consent of instructor. Outside students will be accepted, with the class size limited to 15 students, as long as the majority of the students are CompLit Grad students. Fulfills the core course requirement for CompLit students. Students who wish to take this course but have already taken a Comparative Literature core course may take this course with permission of the instructor. This course explores some of the fundamental conceptual issues raised by novels: in what way do plot, character, and authorial intention function in the novel, as opposed to other genres? How are novels formally unified (if they are)? What special problems are associated with beginnings and endings of novels? How do such basic features as titles and chapter divisions contribute to novelistic meanings? What are the ideological presuppositions — about gender, race, class, but also about the nature of social reality, of historicity, and of modernity -- inherent in a novelistic view? What ethical practices and structures of affect do novels encourage? Readings include Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther; Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Flaubert, L'Education Sentimentale; Salih, Season of Migration to the North. Critics covered include Lukacs, Bakhtin, Watt, Jameson, McKeon, D.A. Miller, Woloch, Moretti, and others.
This seminar is an introduction to the formal study of narrative. Its purpose is to provide graduate students with a set of conceptual instruments that will be useful to them in a broad range of research contexts. Topics to be considered: 1) the structure of the narrative text; 2) the logic of story construction; 3) questions of perspective and voice; 4) character and identification; 5) narrative genres. After a brief consideration of Aristotle’s Poetics, we will move on to fundamental contributions by (among others) Propp, Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Greimas, Genette, Eco, Lotman, Marin, Ricoeur, and then finish with recent work in analytic philosophy and cognitive science. Readings in theoretical/analytical texts will be combined with practical exercises.
This course examines the Blood-Libel from the thirteenth-century to the present, with special focus upon the Damascus Affair of 1840 and its repercussions in the modern Middle Eastern and European contexts and in polemics today among Muslims, Christians and Jews. We will review cases and especially upon literary and artistic representations of ritual murder and sacrificial consumption alleged to have been carried out by Waldensians, Fraticelli, witches, and Jews, with special attention to the forms of redemptive, demonic, and symbolic logic that developed over the course of the centuries and culminated in the wake of the Damascus Affair. Each participant will be asked to translate and annotate a sample primary text, ideally one that has not yet been translated into English, and to use that work as well in connection with a final paper.
PQ: Willingness to work on a text from one of the following languages--Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Arabic, Modern Greek, or Turkish--at whatever level of proficiency one has attained. This course fulfills the autumn core requirement for first year PhDs in Comparative Literature
This seminar will explore Western literary criticism from Plato to the late eighteenth-century conceived of as a prehistory of comparative literature as a discipline. The course will take as its particular lens the critical treatment of epic in some of the following authors: Plato, Aristotle, Longinus, Horace, Montaigne, Tasso, Giraldi, Sidney, Boileau, Le Bossu, St. Evremond, Dryden, Addison, Voltaire, Fielding, and Burke. The course will also examine both twentieth-century comparative approaches to epic (e.g., Auerbach, Curtius, Frye) and more recent debates within comparative literature with an eye to continuities and discontinuities in critical method and goals.
Readings in theories of literature and related arts from cultures other than those of the post-1900 industrialized regions. What motivated reflection on verbal art in Greece, Rome, early China, early South Asia, and elsewhere? Rhetoric, hermeneutics, commentary, allegory, and other modes of textual analysis will be approached through source texts, using both originals and translations. Authors to be considered include Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Zhuangzi, Sima Qian, Augustine, Liu Xie, Abhinavagupta, Dante, Li Zhi, Rousseau, Lessing, Schlegel, and Saussure.
This seminar examines the ramifications of catharsis, tedium and other responses to texts and images, in other words it investigates the relationship between effect and affect. Beginning with Aristotle and present day responses to catharsis, we will investigate the kinds of aesthetic response invoked by tragic drama and theory (esp Hegel), realism (Lukacs, Bazin and Brecht), as well as theories of pleasure (Barthes, Derrida) and tedium (Heidegger and again Barthes). We will conclude with a test case, exploring the potential and limitations of catharsis as an appropriate response to the textual and cinematic representation of trauma and reckoning in post dictatorship Chile, particularly through the critical work of Tomas Moulián and Nelly Richard. The focus will be on theoretical texts but some reference will be made to literary and cinematic material by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Brecht, Renoir, and Guzmán. Because an essential part of the discussion will be the problem of translating key terms from one language to another as well as from one theoretical discourse and/or medium to another, the seminar is reserved for PhD students with a working knowledge of one or more of the following languages: French, German, Spanish and/or classical Greek.
Consent of instructor. Fulfills the core course requirement for CompLit students. Students who wish to take this course but have already taken a Comparative Literature core course may take this course with permission of the instructor. For other humanities PhDs: ACTIVE working knowledge of at least one of the following: French, German, (classical) Greek or Spanish. This PhD seminar examines the ramifications of catharsis and other responses to texts and images, in other words it investigates the relationship between effect and affect. Beginning with Aristotle and present day responses to catharsis, we will investigate the kinds of aesthetic response invoked by tragic drama and theory (esp Hegel), realism (Lukacs, Bazin and Brecht), as well as theories of pleasure (Barthes, Derrida), judgment (Kant, Bourdieu) and boredom (Spacks). We will conclude with a test case, exploring the potential and limitations of catharsis as an appropriate response to the literary and cinematic representation of trauma in and after the Argentine 'dirty war.' An essential part of the discussion will be the problem of translating key terms, not only from one language to another but also from one theoretical discourse and/or medium to another.