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: A Nation and its Lost Paradise
How and why do national identities provoke the deep emotional attachments that they do? In this course we try to understand these emotional attachments by examining the narrative of loss and redemption through which most nations in the Balkans retell their Ottoman past. We begin by considering the mythic temporality of the Romantic national narrative while focusing on specific national literary texts where the national past is retold through the formula of original wholeness, foreign invasion, Passion, and Salvation. We then proceed to unpack the structural role of the different elements of that narrative. With the help of Žižek’s theory of the subject as constituted by trauma, we think about the national fixation on the trauma of loss, and the role of trauma in the formation of national consciousness. Specific theme inquiries involve the figure of the Janissary as self and other, brotherhood and fratricide, and the writing of the national trauma on the individual physical body. Special attention is given to the general aesthetic of victimhood, the casting of the victimized national self as the object of the “other’s perverse desire.” With the help of Freud, Žižek and Kant we consider the transformation of national victimhood into the sublimity of the national self. The main primary texts include Petar Njegoš’ Mountain Wreath (Serbia and Montenegro), Ismail Kadare’s The Castle (Albania), Anton Donchev’s Time of Parting (Bulgaria).
Beautiful Souls, Adventurers and Rogues: The European 18th Century Novel
FREN 25301/35301; SCTH 38240
The course will examine several major eighteenth-century novels, including Manon Lescaut by Prevost, Pamela and fragments from Clarissa by Richardson, Shamela and fragments from Joseph Andrews by Fielding, Jacques le Fataliste by Diderot, and The Sufferings of Young Werther by Goethe. Taught in English. A weekly session in French will be held for French majors and graduate students. PQ: Not open to first-year undergraduates.
Before and After Beckett: Theater and Theory
Beckett is conventionally typed as the playwright of minimalist scenes of unremitting bleaksness but his experiments with theatre and film echo the irreverent play of popular culture (vaudeville on stage and screen eg Chaplin and Keaton) as well as the artistic avant garde (Jarry). This course with juxtapose these early 20th c models with Beckett’s plays on stage and screen and those of his contemporaries (Ionesco, Genet, Duras,). Contemporary texts include Vinaver, Minyana, in French, Pinter, Churchill, Kane in English. Theorists include Barthes, Badiou, Bert States and others ComLit students will have the opportunity to read French originals.
Introduction to Comparative Literature I: Problems, Methods, Precedents
As the study of relations among the world's literary and other expressive,traditions, comparative literature confronts a host of questions. What do,works from different times and places have in common? How can we meaningfully assess their differences? How do we account for systematic and extra-systemic features of literature? Is translation ever adequate? This course offers consideration of these and related issues through influential critical examples. This course is the first of a two-quarter sequence required for all majors in Comparative Literature.