46202 Performance Theory: Action, Affect, Archive

(ENGL 46202, CMST 38346, TAPS 46202)

This seminar offers a critical introduction to performance theory organized around three conceptual clusters: a) action, acting, and forms of production or play, in theories from classical (Aristotle) through modern (Hegel, Brecht, Artaud), to contemporary (Richard Schechner, Philip Zarilli, others); b) affect, and its intersections with emotion and feeling: in addition to contemporary theories of affect and emotion we will read earlier modern texts that anticipate recent debates (Diderot, Freud) and their current interpreters (Joseph Roach, Erin Hurley and others), as well as those writing about the absence of affect and the performance of failure (Sara Bailes etc); and c) archives and related institutions and theories of recording performance, including the formation of audiences (Susan Bennett) and evaluating print and other media recording ephemeral acts, including the work of theorists of memory (Pierre Nora) and remains (Rebecca Schneider; Mark Fleishman), theatre historians (Rose Bank, Ellen Mackay etc) and tensions between archive and repertoire (Diana Taylor).(20th/21st)

2023-2024 Winter

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

23324 The Human Form in Contemporary Art

(ARTH 23324, MUSI 23324, GRMN 23324)

In a present where humanity faces planetary challenges with an unprecedented urgency, the human form – what Marx calls our "genus-being" (Gattungswesen) – has become a focus for artistic production of all sorts. The thesis of the class is this: Contemporary art is an actualization of the human form that doesn't presuppose the form, doesn't take it for granted, but instead troubles the form and poses it as a question. The class considers presentations of the form in performance art (Tino Sehgal, Anne Imhof, Wu Tsang), sculpture (Kara Walker, Cai Guo-Qiang, Cecilia Vicuña), writing (Friederike Mayröcker, Layli Long Soldier, Tracie Morris), sound (Maria Chavez, Christina Kubisch, Samson Young), and painting (Michael Armitage, Tammy Nguyen, Mark Bradford). The class contextualizes these artists with theoretical work by Sylvia Wynter, Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Peter Sloterdijk, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Jane Bennett, Achille Mbembe, Eva Horn, and Emanuele Coccia. Readings and discussion in English. 

Florian Klinger
2023-2024 Winter

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

22410/42410 Proust: The first volume

(DVPR 42410, FREN 22410, FREN 32410, RLST 28410)

This course will undertake in-depth readings of the first volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. While we will use a translation, any student who can read the French is strongly encouraged to do so (alongside the English, to facilitate class discussion). By doing close readings, we will explore the famous Proustian world, its textual and cultural complexities, the literary style it inaugurates, as well as the belle époque it depicts. The course will thus consider social, literary, historical, and critical approaches to this seminal text.

2023-2024 Winter

38600 Neoclassical Aesthetics: Transnational Approaches

(FREN 37000, SCTH 37000, ARTH 48301, REMS 37000 )

Though "aesthetic" philosophy first developed as an autonomous field in the mid-eighteenth century, it has important roots in earlier eighteenth- and seventeenth-century debates concerning literature and the arts. In the wake of Cartesian rationalism, could reasoned method be reconciled with non-rational creativity, or decorous order with the unruly "sublime"? Just what kind of "truth" was revealed by poetry or painting? What is the value of the Greco-Roman models versus authorial innovation? We will consider the relation between literature and other media (particularly opera and the visual arts) and read French texts in dialogue with other, and often contending, national trends (British, German, Italian). Readings will include Descartes, Pascal, Perrault, Félibien, Dryden, Du Bos, Addison, Vico, Montesquieu, Staël, and A.W. Schlegel.

Larry Norman
2023-2024 Winter

28870 Infinite Narrative: The Arabian Nights and its Global Refractions

(NEHC 28871, FNDL 20221)

The Arabian Nights, or A Thousand and One Nights, has had a profound influence on global culture. A shaping force in the formation of European Orientalism and Romanticism in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the work has since inspired a vast array of writers, filmmakers, and artists across the world. We will begin this course by studying the Nights as a product of the medieval Arabo-Islamic world, examining the major themes and formal features of the work. We will then investigate the translation and reception of the Nights in early modern Europe, before analyzing a selection of short stories, films, and novels based on or inspired by the Nights spanning the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. These will include stories by Edgar Allen Poe and Jorge Luis Borges; films by Masaki Kobayashi and Pier Paolo Pasolini; and novels by one or more of Naguib Mahfouz, Radwa Ashour, Salman Rushdie, and Isabel Allende. The primary texts will be supplemented with readings concerning narratology and the art of storytelling, the fantastic and magic realism, and contemporary debates about world literature. All texts will be read in translation, but students with knowledge of Arabic will be encouraged to participate in additional sessions devoted to reading parts of the Arabic texts in the original.

2023-2024 Winter

28871/38871 Horror, Abjection and the Monstrous Feminine

(GNSE 20137, GNSE 30137)

This course explores cinematic and literary works of horror (the uncanny, gothic, sci-fi, paranormal, psychological thriller, killer/slasher, gore) from around the world. As a mode of speculative fiction, the genre envisions possible or imagined worlds that amplify curiosities, dreads, fears, terrors, phobias, and paranoias which simultaneously repel and attract. Horror frequently explores the boundaries of what it means to be human by dwelling on imaginaries of the non-human and other. It often exploits the markers of difference that preoccupy our psychic, libidinal, and social lifeworlds—such as race, class, gender, and sexuality, but also the fundamental otherness that is other peoples’ minds and bodies. Interrogating the genre’s tension between desire and fear, our course will focus on the centrality of abjection and the monstrous feminine—as both thematic and aesthetic tropes—to works of horror. Films and fiction will be paired with theoretical readings that contextualize the genre of horror while considering its critical implications in relation to biopolitical and geopolitical forms of power. 


Content Warning: Course materials will feature graphic, violent, and oftentimes disturbing images and subjects. Enrolled students will be expected to watch, read, and discuss all course materials. 

2023-2024 Winter

29023/39023 Returning the Gaze: The West and the Rest

(HIST 23609, REES 29023, REES 39023, NEHC 39023, HIST 33609, NEHC 29023 )

Aware of being observed. And judged. Inferior... Abject... Angry... Proud... This course provides insight into identity dynamics between the "West," as the center of economic power and self-proclaimed normative humanity, and the "Rest," as the poor, backward, volatile periphery. We investigate the relationship between South East European self-representations and the imagined Western gaze. Inherent in the act of looking at oneself through the eyes of another is the privileging of that other's standard. We will contemplate the responses to this existential position of identifying symbolically with a normative site outside of oneself-self- consciousness, defiance, arrogance, self-exoticization-and consider how these responses have been incorporated in the texture of the national, gender, and social identities in the region. Orhan Pamuk, Ivo Andrić, Nikos Kazantzakis, Aleko Konstantinov, Emir Kusturica, Milcho Manchevski.

Angelina Ilieva
2023-2024 Winter
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