Zhuangzi: Literature, Philosophy, or Something Else
FNDL 22306, EALC 31851
The early Chinese book attributed to Master Zhuang seems to be a patchwork of fables, polemical discussions, arguments, examples, riddles, and lyrical utterances. Although it has been central to the development of both religious Daoism and Buddhism, the book is alien to both traditions. This course offers a careful reading of the work with some of its early commentaries. Requirement: classical Chinese.
Literatures of the Christian East: Late antiquity, Byzantium, and Medieval Russia
After the fall of Rome in 476 CE, literatures of the Latin West and – predominantly Greek-speaking – Eastern provinces of the Roman empire followed two very different paths. Covering both religious and secular genres, we will survey some of the most interesting texts written in the Christian East in the period from 330 CE (foundation of Constantinople) to the late 17th c. (Westernization of Russia). Our focus throughout will be on continuities within particular styles and types of discourse (court entertainment, rhetoric, historiography, hagiography) and their functions within East Christian cultures. Readings will include Digenes Akritas and Song of Igor’s Campaign, as well as texts by Emperor Julian the Apostate, Gregory of Nazianzus, Emphraim the Syrian, Anna Comnena, Psellos, Ivan the Terrible, and Archbishop Avvakum. No prerequisites. All readings in English.
Prosody and Poetic Form: An Introduction to Comparative Metrics
This class offers (i) an overview of major European systems of versification, with particular attention to their historical development, and (ii) an introduction to the theory of meter. In addition to analyzing the formal properties of verse, we will inquire into their relevance for the articulation of poetic genres and, more broadly, the history of literary (and sub-literary) systems. There will be some emphasis on Graeco-Roman quantitative metrics, its afterlife, and the evolution of Germanic and Slavic syllabo-tonic verse. No prerequisites, but a working knowledge of one European language besides English is strongly recommended.
Poetics of Gender in the Balkans: Wounded Men, Sworn Virgins and Eternal Mothers
SOSL 27601/37601, GNSE XXXXX (coming soon)
Through some of the best literary and cinematic works from Southeastern Europe, we will consider the questions of socialization into gendered modes of being – the demands, comforts, pleasures and frustrations that individuals experience while trying to embody and negotiate social categories. We will examine how masculinity and femininity are constituted in the traditional family model, the socialist paradigm, and during post-socialist transitions. We will also contemplate how gender categories are experienced through other forms of identity–the national and socialist especially–as well as how gender is used to symbolize and animate these other identities.
Poetry and Translation: Theory and Practice
This course will introduce students to classic and contemporary texts of translation theory in the West, with an eye to the relevance of these theories for the difficulties and promises of translating poetry. We will read theoretical texts by Jerome, Dryden, Herder, Schleiermacher, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Pound and others, and will test these theories against one another and against various English translations of excerpts taken from Dante's Inferno, as well as translations of individual poems by Charles Baudelaire. Students will have the opportunity to produce their own translations as part of their required work for the course.
PQ: Reading knowledge of one foreign language.
Dialectic and Vernacular Culture in Nineteenth-Century Literature
The popularity and influence of dialect and regional language in Romantic- and Victorian-era literature may be said to reflect new social and scientific understandings of language as a dual phenomenon, both individual and social. This course will examine the mutual influence of literature and dialectology in the nineteenth century examining important questions about speech and regional oral traditions. We will read popular works by pseudonymic dialect figures like Tim Bobbin and Nathan Hogg, the rural poetry of Clare and Barnes, as well as canonical works by Burns, Mistral, Belli, Twain, Longfellow, Shaw, Hughes, and MacDiarmid. We will also discuss critical issues concerning dialect and vernacular in works by Dante, Herder, von Humboldt, Veselovsky, Bakhtin, Manzoni, Webster, Whitney, Schuchardt, and Bonaparte.
Early Novels: The Ethiopian Story, Parzifal, Old Arcadia
SCTH 35914, RLLT 24402, RLLT 34402
Thomas Pavel; Glenn Most
The course will introduce the students to the oldest sub-genres of the novel, the idealist story, the chivalric tale and the pastoral. It will emphasize the originality of these forms and discuss their interaction with the later Spanish, French, and English novel.
In the Poetics Aristotle conceives anagnorisis or recognition as one of the three constitutive parts of the dramatic plot and defines it as the “a change from ignorance (agnoia) to knowledge (gnosis).” Implying the rediscovery of something previously known anagnorisis refers to the emplotment and staging of a certain kind of cognitive work characteristic of theater (as a locus of theoria or theory). For recognition is not only required of the dramatis personae on stage but also of the spectators who need to cognize or recognize a character whenever s/he enters. Just as the characters’ anagnorisis isn’t restricted to the filiation, i.e. identity, of other characters the audience’s cognition concerns the understanding the plot as a whole. In short, by focusing on anagnorisis we can gain insight in the specific cognitive work of theater (and drama). Naturally we will begin in antiquity and examine the instantiation of recognition in Homer’s Odyssey and several Greek tragedies as well as its first theorization in Aristotle’s Poetics. Then we will jump to the modernes, specifically Enlightenment theater’s obsession with anagnorisis and the cognitive work it performs, and investigate dramas by Diderot and Lessing. Kleist’s dramatic deconstructions of German bourgeois and classical theater test the Enlightenment’s claim to reason and reform of human cognition. Our last stop will be Brecht’s theater of “Entfremdung” that makes the alienation at the heart of anagnorisis into the centerpiece of his aesthetic and political project. If we have time, we will also take a look at comical recognition as self-reflection of its tragic counterpart. Readings and discussions in English.
The course will examine key genealogies, theoretical debates, and critical accounts of realism in the cinema. Questions of realism have been carried over from the “traditional” arts and literature, but had undergone a sea-change with the particular ontological and epistemological claims of the cinematic medium, across fiction and documentary, mainstream and experimental forms. While the concept seemed bracketed (or buried) with the advent of structuralism and post-modernism, reality effects—traversing types, genres, and ideologies of representation—still haunt the cinematic imagination. The claim to “presence” carried by photographic indexicality, the historical conventions of mimesis and illusionism, the shifting values of document, witness, testimony, of the material and the referential, of the authentic and the composed—all ensured the continued fascination with realism and its productive transfigurations through our time. We will explore examples from different cinemas and cultural moments, and consider debates on the political implications of realism and its capacity for transformation and revival.
Interpolation: Towards a Poetics of Philology in Early-Modern Europe
This course will examine the philological notion of interpolation - the insertion of new material into a text perceived to be faulty or lacking - not only as an operation of textual reparation or editorial alteration, but more importantly as constituting in and of itself a form of literary writing or authorship, whose poetics we will explore. What is, we will ask, the relation between literary scholarship and literary creation? We will concentrate primarily, but not exclusively, on early-modern writings, employing a comparative perspective which will allow the examination of other artistic practices beyond the literary, including music and sculpture. Among the authors to be considered will be Euripides, Pascal, Mme de Sévigné, Mme Dacier, Furetière, Milton, Swift and Baudelaire. In addition, theoretic readings will be discussed to examine problems such as the coherence and identity of literary texts, the role of the author, and the status of philology and literary criticism. The course will be in English, but students registering under the French course number will read French texts in their original language and conduct all written work in French.
Pascal and Simone Weil on the Human Condition
FREN 29100, FREN 39100
Pascal in the seventeenth century and Simone Weil in the twentieth formulated a compelling vision of the human condition, torn between greatness and misery. They showed how human imperfection coexists with the noblest callings, how attention struggles with diversion and how individuals can be rescued from their usual reliance on public opinion and customary beliefs. Both thinkers point to the religious dimension of human experience and suggest unorthodox ways of approaching it. The course will be taught in English. For French undergraduates and graduates, we will hold a by-weekly one-hour meeting to study the original French texts. Undergrads must be in their third or fourth year.
Le Règne des passions au 17e siècle
FREN 24301/34301, REMS 34301
This course is a study of the Early Modern vision of human passions, as reflected in literature. We read plays by Shakespeare, Corneille and Racine, narratives by Cervantes, d’Urfé, Saint-Réal, and Mme de La Fayette and maxims by La Rochefoucauld and Pascal. The course is in French and most required texts are in French. Undergrads must be in their third or fourth year.