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.
Approaches to Teaching Comparative Literature
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.
Technologies of Visualization: Florence Then and Now
CDIN 44621, ENGL 67107, ARTH 41600, ITAL 44621
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.
Michel Foucault: Self, Government, and Regimes of Truth
PHIL 50008, DVPR 50008, FREN 40008
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: Contemporary Critical Theory
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.
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.
Foucault: History of Sexuality
PHIL 24800, GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300, FNDL 22001
PQ: One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended. This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.
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.
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.