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Writing the Jewish Body: Health, Disease, Literature

Submitted by vickylim on
20222
JWSC 20222
  • Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2015-2016
Sunny Yudkoff

This course investigates the representation of the Jewish body in twentieth-century prose. We will focus on the European, American and Israeli contexts, exploring how the figures of health and illness are mobilized as commentaries on Jewish identity. We will also consider how representations of physical strength, physiological frailty, contagion and susceptibility shift in different landscapes and in different languages, paying particular attention to such figures as the ailing shtetl dweller, the Central European Jewish patient and the Zionist “New Jew.” Readings include works by Mendele Mocher Sforim, Franz Kafka, Philip Roth and Orly Castel-Bloom in conversation with theoretical texts by Susan Sontag, Walter Benjamin and Arthur Kleinman. All readings are in English. A section may be organized for reading sources in Yiddish.

Multilingualism and Translation in Modern Jewish Literature

Submitted by vickylim on
20225
JWSC 20225
  • Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2015-2016
Na'ama Rokem

Covering the period roughly between 1880 and 1980, this course touches on some of the transformations and upheavals that have formed modern Jewish culture: waves of migration, modernization, and assimilation; the rise of Jewish nationalism and the foundation of the State of Israel; and the Holocaust. Our driving questions will be: How do these different revolutions and upheavals influence the dynamic relations between the different languages in which Jews speak and write? What is the role of translation in Jewish culture? What do we learn from the Jewish case about language politics more broadly? How should we theorize and describe the monolingual ideologies that are dominant in the modern West? And how should we read bilingual literature?

Nowhere Lands: Utopia, Dystopia, and Afterlife of Empire

Submitted by vickylim on
21702
  • Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2015-2016
Leah Feldman

Otherworldly, fantastic and futuristic spaces often offer a forum for social critique or a window into the formation of systems of knowledge. This course examines the ways in which the experiences of empire, revolution and globalization produced utopian and dystopian spaces that challenged the boundaries of the human and society. While utopia has a long history in European literature and thought, this course will focus on the ways in which space is constructed outside of the imperial centers of the west including a selection of novels and films from Eastern Europe, Central/West Asia and the Middle East.

Intercultural Adaptation: Kurosawa and his Russian Sources

Submitted by vickylim on
21704
REES 29810
  • Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2015-2016
Olga Solovieva

Focusing on Akira Kurosawa’s cinematic adaptations of Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot, Tolstoy’s short novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Gorky's drama "The Night Asylum," and Arseniev's travel narrative Dersu Uzala, we will analyze these texts and their film counterparts in the context of Japanese postwar cinema. The course is meant to provide hands-on training in the interdisciplinary methodology of Comparative Literature, through close analysis of films, texts, and their relationships.

LOVE AND TRANSFORMATION

Submitted by jenniequ on
24110
ITAL 24110
  • Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2015-2016
Armando Maggi

This course analyzes the multi-faceted relationship between the love experience and an inner process of psychological, spiritual, or physical transformation. What is the relationship between Eros and human identity? Are friendship and love two distinct experiences? We will investigate these essential topics from a philosophical, literary, and religious point of view. We will study a variety of texts from different cultural traditions. Among other texts, this course will examine Plato’s Symposium, Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, Dante’s Purgatory, selections from Giovambattista Basile The Tale of Tales, which is the first collection of fairy tales of the Western tradition, selections from Martin Buber’s fundamental I and Thou, Junichiro Tanizaki’s erotic novel The Key, and Elena Ferrante’s recent powerful Italian novelMy Brilliant Friend

The class will be conducted in English. All books are available in English. Students in Italian will read the Italian texts in the original Italian and will write their midterm and final paper in Italian.

Writing Towards Freedom: Slave Narratives and Emergent Black Writing

Submitted by vickylim on
25014
  • Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2015-2016
Mollie McFee

In the late 18th and 19th centuries, slave narratives were authored to convince Europeans of the injustices of slavery as an institution and the humanity of enslaved black Africans. However, these texts were more representative of anti-slavery rhetoric and conventional morals than the voices of enslaved men and women. In this course we will investigate many of the central slave narratives of 18th and 19th centuries in order to understand how these texts worked to redefine concepts of the human. We will also examine the ways slave narratives relied upon and bolstered norms of gender, family, and religion. Using comparative methods, this course will investigate why the overwhelming majority of slave narratives come from the Anglophone world. We will compare American and British narratives, and examine the genres used in the francophone and hispanophone worlds to demonstrate the rights of the enslaved, particularly law. Major texts to be examined will include The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano; The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave; My Bondage, My Freedom by Frederick Douglass; Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriett Jacobs; and Autobiography of a Slave by Juan Francisco Manzano. Shorter readings would include excerpts from Saidiya Hartman, Michel Rolph Trouillot, The Memoires of Toussaint Louverture, and The Haitian Constitutions of 1801 and 1805.

Allegory in the Western Literary Tradition

Submitted by vickylim on
25015
CLCV 25015
  • Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2015-2016
David Orsbon

What kinds of power can a text have? Is it possible for language and literature to do far more than instruct and entertain? Indeed, might it be possible for a text to give us access to types of knowledge that a human being would otherwise be unable to obtain? In what ways can the study of allegory help us to better understand how (and why) other cultures interpret the world in ways that differ from our own? And how do we, as readers, respond when we reach the apparent limits of our texts?

To ask such questions as these—particularly in the case of allegory—involves much more than asking what a text means. Indeed, although the question of meaning is fundamental to allegory, to view a text as allegorical is to view a text as possessing some kind of power or insight that can transform the way in which we view the world (or, even, the divine) and our relation to it. In fact, for generations of thinkers—from the earliest interpreters of Homer to the Early Modern Period and beyond—allegory represents literature at its most dynamic and powerful. The study of allegory and the history of its interpretation provides us, therefore, with the unique opportunity to examine how generations of authors and interpreters have pushed their respective arts to their limit, as if attempting to communicate with words an idea that, by its very nature, defies verbalization.

Readings for this course will include the following: Plato’s Republic (in particular, the Allegory of the Cave), Virgil’s Aeneid, Chaucer’s dream-vision poetry, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, William Blake, and Italo Calvino.

The Archaeological Imagination

Submitted by vickylim on
25960
ENGL 25960
  • Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2015-2016
Lawrence Rothfield

This course looks at the various ways in which the rise of archaeology provided writers, artists, and filmmakers with themes, characters, ideological frames, and philosophical problematics.  We will look at, among other things, Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn”; Byron on the Elgin marbles; Egyptomania; Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King”; Hardy’s Tess; Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient; Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark; Stone’s Alexander; and Ai Weiwei’s “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.”

Health Care and the Limits of State Action

Submitted by vickylim on
28900
BIOS 29323,BPRO 28600,HMRT 28602
  • Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2015-2016
E. Lyon, H. Saussy
In a time of great human mobility and weakening state frontiers, epidemic disease is able to travel fast and far, mutate in response to treatment, and defy the institutions invented to keep it under control: quarantine, the cordon sanitaire, immunization, and the management of populations. Public health services in many countries find themselves at a loss in dealing with these outbreaks of disease, a deficiency to which NGOs emerge as a response (an imperfect one to be sure). Through a series of readings in anthropology, sociology, ethics, medicine, and political science, we will attempt to reach an understanding of this crisis of both epidemiological technique and state legitimacy, and to sketch out options.  Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the biological sciences major.

Intro to Comparative Lit I: Problems, Methods, Precedents

Submitted by vickylim on
29701
  • Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2015-2016
Haun Saussy

 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.

Intro to Comparative Lit II: Case Study: Davidismo

Submitted by vickylim on
29705
  • Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2015-2016
Chloe Blackshear

This course will examine the story of David in 1 and 2 Samuel in combination with some of its myriad literary and artistic afterlives in order to explore the nature of biblical narrative and (biblical) rewriting. The narrative’s familial drama, political intrigue, subtle characterization, and philological challenges have inspired a wide variety of reinterpretations in disparate literary traditions and historical periods, providing fertile ground for comparative analysis. Students will initially gain some of the skills and perspectives needed to approach the biblical text in translation as a literary artifact as well as an appreciation of the difficulties inherent in such a task. Subsequently, students will engage with literary reworkings of the narrative organized around issues such as gender, political power, and Jewish/Christian identity-formation and accompanied by select theoretical works treating rewriting and intertextuality. Why has this story— and David himself— had such lasting resonance? How do later works from different periods and linguistic traditions both capitalize on certain aspects of the ‘original’ and redefine it in important ways? What role do rewritings play in literature, and what does it mean to read these distinct interpretations together? The David Story offers rich opportunities for thinking through these and other comparative literary questions. Literary works will include plays and novels by Tirso de Molina, Gide, Faulkner, Heym, Weil, and Kalisky as well as selections from NBC’s critically-acclaimed 2009 drama, Kings; theorists may include Curtius, Warburg, Tynianov, Genette, Ben-Porat, and Rabau, among others.

Intro to Comp. Lit II: Case Study: Davidismo

Submitted by jenniequ on
29705
RLST 26680, JWSC 28800
  • Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2015-2016
Chloe Alexandra Blackshear

This course will examine the story of David in 1 and 2 Samuel in combination with some of its myriad literary and artistic afterlives in order to explore the nature of biblical narrative and (biblical) rewriting. The narrative’s familial drama, political intrigue, subtle characterization, and philological challenges have inspired a wide variety of reinterpretations in disparate literary traditions and historical periods, providing fertile ground for comparative analysis. Students will initially gain some of the skills and perspectives needed to approach the biblical text in translation as a literary artifact as well as an appreciation of the difficulties inherent in such a task. Subsequently, students will engage with literary reworkings of the narrative organized around issues such as gender, political power, and Jewish/Christian identity-formation and accompanied by select theoretical works treating rewriting and intertextuality. Why has this story— and David himself— had such lasting resonance? How do later works from different periods and linguistic traditions both capitalize on certain aspects of the ‘original’ and redefine it in important ways? What role do rewritings play in literature, and what does it mean to read these distinct interpretations together? The David Story offers rich opportunities for thinking through these and other comparative literary questions. Literary works will include plays and novels by Tirso de Molina, Gide, Faulkner, Heym, Weil, and Kalisky as well as selections from NBC’s critically-acclaimed 2009 drama, Kings; theorists may include Curtius, Warburg, Tynianov, Genette, Ben-Porat, and Rabau, among others.