25424/35424 Spiritual Exercises: Giving Form to Thought and Life from Plato to Descartes

(GRMN 25424, GRMN 35424)

This course will examine the tradition of spiritual exercises from antiquity to the early modern period. Spiritual exercises were at the core of classical paideia, the regimen of self-formation designed and promoted by ancient philosophers, orators, and other pedagogues. As Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault have demonstrated, ancient philosophy first and foremost has to be understood as a “way of life,” as a set of techniques and practices for shaping the self according to wisdom. It was not until philosophy’s critical turn with Kant that it shed its practical dimension and became a “theoretical” discipline. Early Christianity, stylizing itself as the “true philosophy,” eagerly adopted the ancient spiritual exercises and retooled them for its salvational ends. Throughout the middle ages and early modern period spiritual exercises and meditative techniques informed a host of religious, cultural, and artistic practices and media such as prayer and devotional reading, religious art and poetry, but also theatrical performances and musical works. We will focus on individual exercises like the meditation, the examination of conscience, the discernment of spirits, the application of senses, prosoche (attention), consolation, contemplation, etc., and discuss authors such as Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, John Cassian, Augustine, Bonaventure, Ignatius, Descartes, and others.

Christopher Wild
2023-2024 Spring

28024/38024 Ficción del siglo XX, tradición y canon: la narrativa en catalán

(CATA 28024, CATA 38024)

El curso ofrece una introducción al concepto de ‘tradición’ y a sus mecanismos de funcionamiento, y analiza su relación con la creación literaria contemporánea a partir del estudio de tres obras fundamentales de la narrativa catalana del siglo XX: "El quadern gris" de Pla, "Mirall trencat" de Mercè Rodoreda y "Estremida memòria" de Jesús Moncada. Estas obras de géneros distintos —diario y relato— serán puestas en relación con la ficción contemporánea universal: leeremos los textos de Pla a la luz de la tradición diarista contemporánea, de Woolf o Nin a Walser, Pavese, Gombrowicz, Torga, Ribeyro o Piglia; la novela de Rodoreda, desde el conocimiento de las técnicas experimentales del modernism; y la de Moncada, a través de los universos ficcionales de Faulkner, Bassani, Carpentier, o García Márquez, y de la novela clásica de aventuras de Dumas y Verne. El propósito es contribuir no sólo a clarificar un concepto esencial en las humanidades, como es el de ‘tradición’, sino a situar en el contexto literario de la ficción internacional tres autores de lengua catalana que han devenido clásicos por su éxito comercial y académico, por el elevado número de traducciones que han merecido, y por su ascendiente en autores posteriores. Estudiaremos el proceso creativo de la ficción contemporánea y sus lazos con la tradición a través de un enfoque comparatista que tiene en cuenta cuestiones como la tensión entre literaturas de lenguas minoritarias y literaturas dominantes.

Javier Aparicio Maydeu
2023-2024 Spring

43121 Translation Theory and Practice

(CRWR 43121, CRWR 51503, ENGL 43121)

This course introduces students to the field of Translation Studies and its key concepts, including fidelity, equivalence, and untranslatability, as well as the ethics and politics of translation. We will investigate the metaphors and models that have been used to think about translation and will consider translation as a transnational practice, exploring how “world histories” may be hidden within “word histories,” as Emily Apter puts it. In the process, we will assess theories of translation and poetry from classical antiquity to the present; compare multiple translations of the same text; and examine notable recent translations. Students will carry out translation exercises and create a final translation project of their own.

2023-2024 Winter

26624/36624 Ekphrasis

(ARTH 26624, ARTH 36624, ENGL 26624, ENGL 36624, GRMN 26624, GRMN 36624)

What happens when a text gives voice to a previously mute art work? Ekphrasis – the verbal representation of visual art – continues to be a central concern of word and image studies today. The understanding of ekphrasis as an often hostile paragone between word and image exists alongside notions of a more reciprocal model involving a dialogue or "encounter" between visual and verbal cultures. The affective dimension of the relationship -- ekphrastic hope, ekphrastic fear -- has also been prominent in recent scholarship, as well as attention to the “queerness” of ekphrasis. Drawing on literary works and theories from a range of periods and national traditions, the course will examine stations in the long history of ekphrasis. Why are certain literary genres such as the novel or the sonnet privileged sites for ekphrasis? How can art history inform our understanding of such encounters, and to what extent can we say that it is a discipline based in ekphrasis? What can we learn from current work on description, intermediality, narrative theory, and translation theory? Readings from Homer, Philostratus, Lessing, Goethe, Keats, A.W. Schlegel, Kleist, Sebald, Genette, among others.

Catriona MacLeod
2023-2024 Winter

22900/42900 Cinema in Africa

(CMST 24201, CMST 34201, ENGL 27600, ENGL 47600, GNSE 28602, GNSE 48602, RDIN 27600, RDIN 37600)

This course examines Africa in film as well as films produced in Africa. It places cinema in Sub Saharan Africa in its social, cultural, and aesthetic contexts ranging from neocolonial to postcolonial, Western to Southern Africa, documentary to fiction, art cinema to TV, and includes films that reflect on the impact of global trends in Africa and local responses, as well as changing racial and gender identifications. We will begin with La Noire de... (1966), by the “father” of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene, contrasted w/ a South African film, African Jim (1960) that more closely resembles African American musical film, and anti-colonial and anti-apartheid films from Lionel Rogosin’s Come Back Africa (1959) to Sarah Maldoror’s Sambizanga, Sembene’s Camp de Thiaroye (1984), and Jean Marie Teno’s Afrique, Je te Plumerai (1995). The rest of the course will examine 20th and 21st century films such as I am a not a Witch and The wound (both 2017), which show tensions between urban and rural, traditional and modern life, and the implications of these tensions for women and men, Western and Southern Africa, in fiction, documentary and fiction film. (20th/21st).


2023-2024 Spring

22668/32668 Suffering and Justice

(HMRT 22668)

What is suffering, and what is its relationship to justice? This course explores the construction and circulation of understandings of suffering and justice through literary and aesthetic representations, the law, non-governmental organizations, and intellectual discourses. We will consider how local and transnational contexts shape understandings of suffering and the various attempts to respond to it (through, for instance, human rights advocacy, revolutionary politics, humanitarianism, and bearing witness). Readings will include works by Rigoberta Menchú, Antjie Krog, Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, Ariel Dorfman, Hannah Arendt, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martha Nussbaum, Elaine Scarry, Didier Fassin, and Paul Farmer.

2023-2024 Winter

46150 Heidegger and the Poets

(GRMN 46150, THEO 46150, DVPR 46150 )

An investigation of the role(s) that poetry plays in Martin Heidegger's thinking. We will begin by focusing our attention on Heidegger's reading of the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin. We will then consider his interpretations of figures such as Rainer Maria Rilke, Stefan Georg, and Georg Trakl. We shall conclude by examining poetic responses to Heideggerian thought by figures such as René Char and Paul Celan, among others.

Ryan Coyne and Eric Santner
2023-2024 Spring

33723 Musical Selfhood

(MUSI 33722, GRMN 33723 )

What sort of subject is the musical self? Within the already brief historical moment of subjectivity in its Western modern shape that is no more than a few hundred years old, an even briefer moment is associated with the idea of a musical subject, a subject or self entirely made up of music. This idea seems of one piece with the idea that music can be pure - or, as it was called at the time, absolute - that it can fully be an end in itself. What does this even mean - that music could be its own end, and that a self could entirely consist of it?

Discussion in English, readings in English or German. Undergraduates by permission only. 

Florian Klinger
2023-2024 Spring

35993 The Sublime

(SCTH 35993, CLCV 25521)

The sublime has traditionally been thought to have had a merely marginal place in ancient Greek and Latin aesthetics and literary theory; but some scholars have recently argued that it was instead more central, and it is difficult not to apply this category to many ancient literary works. However the explicit category of the sublime did not become central to European aesthetics until the 17th century and then continued until the 19th century to play a central role in discussions not only of art and literature, but also of religion, politics, and other fields. By the middle of the 19th century the wave of interest in the sublime seems to have subsided, but in the past forty years this concept has returned to play an important role in aesthetic theories. The seminar will consider the odd history of the sublime, examining central texts from ancient (Longinus), early modern (Boileau), and modern aesthetics (certainly Burke, Kant, Schiller, and Hegel; perhaps also, depending on students' interest and preparation, Tieck, Schlegel, Schelling, Solger, and Jean Paul) as well as some more recent discussions (again depending on student preferences, Nietzsche, Lyotard, Adorno, Zizek). It will also ask whether the concept of the sublime can still play an important role today, or, if not, then what has taken its place. We will deal primarily with theories of the sublime but also to some extent with works of art. Open to undergraduates with consent. 

Glenn Most
2023-2024 Spring

42503 Renaissance Humanism

(HIST 42503, ITAL 42503)

Humanism in the Renaissance was an ambitious project to repair what idealists saw as a fallen, broken world by reviving the lost arts of antiquity. Their systematic transformation of literature, education, art, religion, architecture, and science dramatically reshaped European culture, mixing ancient and medieval and producing the foundations of modern thought and society. Readings focus on primary sources: Petrarch, Poggio, Ficino, Pico, Castiglione, and Machiavelli, with a historiographical review of major modern treatments of the topic. We will discuss the history of the book, cultural and intellectual history, and academic writing skills especially planning the dissertation as a book and writing and submitting articles to journals.

A. Palmer
2023-2024 Spring
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