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What Is Art?

Submitted by vickylim on
32001
RLLT 32000, SCTH XXXXX
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2013-2014
Miguel Tamen

The course will address contemporary arguments and claims in aesthetics and the philosophy of art via a detailed discussion of a small number of major texts: Oscar Wilde’s “The Decay of Lying” and “The Critic as Artist” (1891), Leo Tolstoy’s What Is Art (1898), and Martin Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art (1935-7; published 1950). The extravagant claims of these texts are presumed to be of help in describing the ubiquitous attention to art in contemporary affluent societies. A number of more recent essays on aesthetics will also be discussed.

The Mirror and the Maze: Scenes and Sentences in Flaubert’s Sentimental Education and Moore and Campbell's From Hell— Two Cities of the Mind

Submitted by vickylim on
33602
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2013-2014
Samuel Delany

The Mirror and the Maze is a month-long seminar taught by Professor Samuel Delany, during January of 2014. The format of the seminar is a series of informal lectures and discussions. Attendance is required at all eight sessions and class participation is expected. 

Kurosawa and his Sources

Submitted by vickylim on
34410
CMST 34410, EALC 34410, SCTH 34012
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2013-2014
Olga Solovieva

This interdisciplinary graduate course focuses on ten films of Akira Kurosawa which were based on literary sources, raging from Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Georges Simenon, and Shakespeare to Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gorky, and Arseniev. The course will not only introduce to some theoretical and intermedial problems of adaptation of literature to film but also address cultural and political implications of Kurosawa’s adaptation of classic and foreign sources. We will study how Kurosawa’s turn to literary adaptation provided a vehicle for circumventing social taboos of his time and offered a screen for addressing politically sensitive and sometimes censored topics of Japan’s militarist past, war crimes, defeat in the Second World War, and ideological conflicts of reconstruction. The course will combine film analysis with close reading of relevant literary sources, contextualized by current work of political, economic, and cultural historians of postwar Japan. The course is meant to provide a hands-on training in the interdisciplinary methodology of Comparative Literature. Undergraduate students can be admitted only with the permission of the instructor. Prerequisites: Intro to Film or Close Analysis of Film class. Course limited to 10 participants.

Syllabus available here.

Russian Poetry from Blok to Pasternak

Submitted by vickylim on
34505
RUSS 34505
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2013-2014
Robert Bird; Boris Maslov

We will survey the selected poetry of major Russian modernists from 1900 to 1935, including lyrical and narrative genres. Poets covered include: Aleksandr Blok, Andrei Belyi, Viacheslav Ivanov, Nikolai Gumilev, Osip Mandel’shtam, Anna Akhmatova, Velimir Khlebnikov, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Marina Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak. In addition to tracing the development of poetic doctrines (from symbolism through acmeism and futurism), we will investigate the close correlations between formal innovation and the changing semantics of Russian poetry. Attention will also be paid to contemporary developments in Western European poetry. Knowledge of Russian required.

Hölderlin and the Greeks

Submitted by vickylim on
35614
GRMN 35614, CLAS 45613
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2013-2014
Christopher Wild and M. Payne

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 spoken discourse. All texts will be read in English translation, but a reading knowledge of German and/or Greek would be desirable. (Cross-listed with: Classics and Comparative Literature. Graduate).

Avarice, After All

Submitted by vickylim on
35713
CDIN 35713, GRMN 35713
  • Graduate
  • Autumn
  • 2013-2014
Eric Santner and Mladen Dolar

With the help of Freud, Marx, Lacan, Foucault, Agamben (among others) along with some highpoints of the European literary canon, we propose to develop a “critique of avarice,” a project to be sharply distinguished from the moralistic indignation at greed. Our historical and theoretical reflections on avarice open out on to a number of domains and modes of inquiry: from literary criticism to psychoanalysis, from the study of political economy to theories of biopolitics, and finally to the “Jewish question” in relation to all of this. The core text and touchstone of the seminar will be Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, in which the tensions, ambiguities, disavowals, hatreds, projections, and repressions associated with the “avarice complex” are magisterially staged and played out. Attention will also be given to the subsequent history of the figure of Shylock as well as to the capacities for mercy and forgiveness that were posited as the ideal opposites of avarice and usury. One of the goals of the seminar is to interrogate this very opposition.

Note: Consent of instructor required.

How to think about literature: the main notions

Submitted by vickylim on
36001
RLLT 36000, SCTH XXXXX (coming soon)
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2013-2014
Thomas Pavel

In literary studies new trends and theories rarely supersede older ones.  While in physics and biology Aristotle has long been obsolete, literary scholars still find his Poetics to be a source of important insights.  And yet literary studies are not resistant to change.  Over time, they have experienced a genuine historical growth in thinking. Perhaps one can best describe the discipline of literature as a stable field of recurring issues that generate innovative thinking. 

How to think about literature will introduce graduate students to the main notion of the field.  The aim of the course is to identify an object of study that is integral, yet flexible enough to allow for comparisons between its manifestations in various national traditions.

Decolonizing Literature and Film in Southern Africa

Submitted by vickylim on
41200
ENGL 44507
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2013-2014
Loren Kruger

While ‘postcolonialism’ may turn a complex and contradictory history into a tidy theory, decolonizing highlights the uneven and unfinished processes of writing and filming national, transnational and anti-national narratives, from the cultural nationalism of the 1940s and 1950s to the possibly post-national present. We will explore the links as well as the differences among the textual and cinematic cultures of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique and examine the potential and pitfalls of applying postcolonial and other theories to these cultures. Authors may include Nadine Gordimer, Athol Fugard, Zakes Mda, Shimmer Chinodya, Yvonne Vera, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Bessie Head, Luandino Vieira, and/or Mia Couto; theory and political analysis may include anticolonial writing by Fanon, Mandela, Neto, and Cabral and contemporary critics: Ann McClintock, Njabulo Ndebele, Kwame Appiah, Robert Mshengu Kavanagh and others.

Approaches to Teaching Comparative Literature

Submitted by vickylim on
41203
  • Graduate
  • Autumn
  • 2013-2014
Chandani Patel and Stephen Parkin

This course will explore distinct approaches and curricula related to teaching comparative literature in university and college settings. During the course, we will review what constitutes introductory and advanced courses in Comparative Literature and how to incorporate various topics, languages, and media within such courses. We will begin with a discussion about setting course objectives and how these are related to the missions of institutions, programs of study, and student demographics. Following this review, we will investigate how to align student learning goals with teaching strategies by assessing which classroom activities and assignments best enable students to meet learning objectives, keeping the particular challenges of teaching comparative literature in mind.  The overall goal of the course is to prepare graduate students to teach in a post-secondary setting by deepening their comprehension of what practices constitute effective teaching, and by producing documents related to the teaching of college-level courses.

Concepts, Metaphors, Genealogies: Historical Semantics and Literature

Submitted by vickylim on
42802
CLAS 42813, SLAV 42802, GRMN 42814
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2013-2014
Boris Maslov

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. 

Lacan and Religion

Submitted by vickylim on
43350
DVPR 49904
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2013-2014
Françoise Meltzer

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. 

Technologies of Visualization: Florence Then and Now

Submitted by vickylim on
44621
CDIN 44621, ENGL 67107, ARTH 41600, ITAL 44621
  • Graduate
  • Autumn
  • 2013-2014
Lawrence Rothfield; Niall Atkinson

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.

Network Analysis, Literary Criticism, and the Digital Humanities

Submitted by vickylim on
44622
CDIN 44321, ENGL 44321, EALC 40451, MAPH 41500 SALC 44500, NEHC 44321
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2013-2014
Richard Jean So; Hoyt Long

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.

Goethe’s Faust I

Submitted by vickylim on
46114
GRMN 46114, SCTH 44912
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2013-2014
David Wellbery


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.

Goethe’s Faust II

Submitted by vickylim on
46214
GRMN 46214, SCTH 44913
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2013-2014
David Wellbery

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.

Poetics and Rhetoric of Cinema

Submitted by vickylim on
47210
CMST 67210
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2013-2014
Noa Steimatsky

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.

Michel Foucault: Self, Government, and Regimes of Truth

Submitted by vickylim on
50008
PHIL 50008, DVPR 50008, FREN 40008
  • Graduate
  • Autumn
  • 2013-2014
Arnold Davidson

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)

Seminar: Catharsis & Other Aesthetic Responses

Submitted by vickylim on
50200
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2013-2014
Loren Kruger

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.

Seminar: Contemporary Critical Theory

Submitted by vickylim on
50201
DVPR 50201
  • Graduate
  • Autumn
  • 2013-2014
Françoise Meltzer

This course will examine some of the salient texts of postmodernism. Part of the question of the course will be the status and meaning of “post”-modern, post-structuralist. The course requires active and informed participation.