We will take a transatlantic and hemispheric approach to examining the political, epistemological, and aesthetic dimensions of the concept of the Baroque, by reading European and Latin American theory and poetry from three centuries (17th, 20th, 21st). The course is purposefully designed to put modern and early modern texts in constant dialogue. The literary essays of 20th-c. Latin American writers such as Lezama Lima and Alfonso Reyes, for instance, will illuminate the 17th-c. poems of Góngora and Sor Juana, while these will be read in conjunction with those of José Kozer, Luis Felipe Fabre, and Tamara Kamenszain. The remarkable persistence of the Baroque across centuries, geographies, and cultures raises a number of questions. Why has the Baroque not gone out of fashion, but rather, been reborn again and again? How does this apparently recondite mode manage to remain politically relevant and articulate urgent ideas in its moment? How does the Baroque provide poets with a prism through which to explore questions of subjectivity, originality, and capital? How does the Baroque contribute to or complicate notions of intertextuality? How does a Baroque aesthetic theorize accumulation and waste in developing capitalist and late capitalist societies? How does the connection between the neo-Baroque and antropofagia, the Brazilian notion of cultural cannibalism, play out in poems not only written in Brazil, but also throughout Latin America and in the U.S.? Although the course will be conducted in English, most of the materials will also be available in Spanish.
CMST 36200, TAPS 44500
Brecht is indisputably the most influential playwright in the 20th century, but his influence on film theory and practice on cultural theory generally is also considerable. In this course we will explore the range and variety of Brecht's own theatre, from the anarchic plays of the 1920's to the agitprop Lehrstück and film (especially Kühle Wampe) to the classical parable plays, as well as the work of his heirs in German theatre (Heiner Müller, Peter Weiss) and film (RW Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge), in French film (Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker), film and theatre in Britain (Mike Leigh and Lucy Prebble), and theatre and film in Africa, from South Africa to Senegal. Crucially for graduate critical work: we will also give due attention to the often unacknowledged impact of Brecht's theorizing on a range of genres and media on this better known contemporaries Adorno, Benjamin, Lukács, as well as on cultural theory elsewhere from the Situationists to digital labor. Requirements: oral presentations, short midterm and final research paper. This course is designed for students in MAPH or HUM PhD programs; open to MFA with prior permission of instructor.
The Literary Life of Things in China
This course investigates traditional literary strategies in China through which objects are depicted and animated. Our emphasis will be on reading in primary sources, but we’ll also draw on secondary sources from anthropology, the history of material culture, literary theory, and art history, both from within and outside China studies. Each week will introduce some basic genre and key literary works while also foregrounding certain conceptual issues. Students will select a case study to work on throughut the quarter, which will become their final research paper and which will also help orient their shorter class presentations. The choice of subject for the case study is quite open, so that each student can pursue a project that relates to his or her own central interests. It might be a cultural biography of a real object or class of objects; it might be a study of how objects are deployed in a novel or play, encyclopedia or connoisseurship manual, but there are many other possibilities.
CDIN 42918, ENGL 42918, RLLT 42918, SCTH 42918
Haun Saussy, Jennifer Scappettone
Focusing on the theory, history and practice of poetic translation, this seminar includes sessions with invited theorists and practitioners from North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Taking translation to be an art of making sense that is transmitted together with a craft of shapes and sequences, we aim to account for social and intellectual pressures influencing translation projects. We deliberately foreground other frameworks beyond “foreign to English” and “olden epochs to modern”—and other methods than the “equivalence of meaning”—in order to aim at a truly general history and theory of translation that might both guide comparative cultural history and enlarge the imaginative resources of translators and readers of translation. In addition to reading and analysis of outside texts spanning such topics as semantic and grammatical interference, gain and loss, bilingualism, self-translation, pidgin, code-switching, translationese, and foreignization vs. nativization, students will be invited to try their hands at a range of tactics, aiming toward a final portfolio of annotated translations.
Phaedras Compared: Adaptation, Gender, Tragic Form
This seminar places Racine’s French neoclassical tragedy Phaedra within a wide-ranging series of adaptations of the ancient myth, from its Greek and Latin sources (Euripides, Seneca, Ovid) to twentieth-century and contemporary translations and stage adaptations (Ted Hughes, Sarah Kane), read along with a series of theoretical and critical texts. Particular attention will be paid to critical paradigms and approaches in the evolving fields of classical reception studies, theater and performance studies, and gender studies. Reading knowledge of French strongly preferred.
Note: Reading competency in French preferred.
Literary Theory: Pre-Modern, Non-Western, Not Exclusively Literary
Readings in theories of literature and related arts from cultures other than those of the post-1900 industrialized regions. What motivated reflection on verbal art in Greece, Rome, early China, early South Asia, and elsewhere? Rhetoric, hermeneutics, commentary, allegory, and other modes of textual analysis will be approached through source texts, using both originals and translations. Authors to be considered include Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Zhuangzi, Sima Qian, Augustine, Liu Xie, Abhinavagupta, Dante, Li Zhi, Rousseau, Lessing, Schlegel, and Saussure. This course fulfulls the Autumn core requirement for first-year Ph.D. students in Comparative Literature.
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.
Destruction of Images, Books and Artifacts in Europe and South Asia
The course offers a comparative perspective on European and South Asian iconoclasm. In the European tradition, iconoclasm was predominantly aimed at images, whereas in South Asian traditions it was also enacted upon books and buildings. The combination of these traditions will allow us to extend the usual understanding of iconoclasm as the destruction of images to a broader phenomenon of destruction of cultural artifacts and help question the theories of image as they have been independently developed in Europe and South Asia, and occasionally in conversation with one another. We will ask how and why, in the context of particular political imaginaries and material cultures, were certain objects singled out for iconoclasm? Also, who was considered to be entitled or authorized to commit their destruction? Through a choice of concrete examples of iconoclasm, we will query how religious and political motivations are defined, redefined, and intertwined in each particular case. We will approach the iconoclastic events in Europe and South Asia through the lenses of philology, history, and material culture. Class discussions will incorporate not only textual materials, but also the close collaborative study of images, objects, and film. Case studies will make use of objects in the Art Institute of Chicago and Special Collections at the University Library.